August 13th, 2012

New Research: Email Converts 10 Times Better Than Social Media [Infographic]

By Jamie Turner, Founder, 60 Second Marketer

If you’ve been hanging around the 60 Second Marketer for any length of time, you know that I’m a huge fan of email marketing. I’ve made that point on several occasions recently with posts such as “Email Marketing Benchmarks: What To Look for If You’re in a Hurry,”  “What is the Average Email Open Rate? New Study Provides the Answer,” and “What Are the Best Days of the Week to Send an Email?”

The other day, I came across an infographic from the folks at Monetate that drives home the point that email is a very effective — and underrated — marketing tool. In fact, one of the key pieces of information is quite stunning — email converts prospects into customers 10 times better than social media.

That’s huge!

Why is it that email converts prospects so much better than social? Because a visitor that lands on your site via social media is often a first-time visitor with no sense of trust or relationship with your brand. On the other hand, a visitor that lands on your site via email marketing has an established sense of trust and an ongoing relationship with your brand.

The result is that the email visitor sticks around and buys more stuff — at a 10 times higher rate than the social media visitor!

There’s plenty more data like that in the infographic below. Check it out and let us know about your experiences with email marketing vs. social media marketing in the comments section below the infographic.

 

August 9th, 2012

How and Why to Use Images in Email

By Crystal Gouldey, Education Marketing Associate, AWeber

Images look great in emails. People like them, they can make things visually appealing, and used the right way, they can bring in more click-throughs.

But images in emails can also be tricky. If a subscriber has images disabled in their settings or reads emails on mobile devices, images can make your email look a little wacky.

There are a few simple rules you can follow to ensure your email campaign only reaps the benefits of using images.

1. Don’t rely on images to deliver your message. While it may be easy to create your message as one giant image and plop it in your email, it’s not a good idea. If your subscribers have images disabled, they aren’t going to be able to see anything except a blank message. This can be annoying and confusing, which can cause readers to give up and unsubscribe.

For example, take a look how this email appears in an inbox with images disabled:

And here’s what it’s supposed to look like:

 

If I’m quickly going through my email, the blank one will be skipped over since I can’t see anything.

2. Make sure your text contrasts with the background – with or without images enabled. Let’s say you have a dark template with white text. If images are disabled, and your template is a background image, that means you’ll essentially have invisible text — and the same problems as the blank email scenario above.

3. Use alt text on all images. The images you do include should have alt text, which causes text to appear in place of the image. Instead of having white space, you’ll be able to explain to subscribers what exactly they’re missing. If the text makes them curious, they can enable images or click to view a web-based version of your email.

4. Provide a link to a web-based version of your email. Regardless of how much care you put into the design of your email, you may have some subscribers who still have difficulty seeing what you intended – either because they don’t know how to change their settings or they simply don’t want to. By including a link to a web-based version, you’ve provided them with an easier and safer alternative to messing with their settings.

5. Don’t forget to test. Once you’ve created your email, don’t forget to test it to multiple email clients and make sure it appears as you wanted. You want to make sure all email clients are displaying your images properly, or at least in a way you’re comfortable with.

If you follow these instructions, you should have an appealing and engaging email that your subscribers will be able to interact with.

 

About the Author: Crystal Gouldey is an Education Marketing Associate at AWeber, the leading email service provider for small-to-medium businesses. Crystal’s spent the past three years teaching email marketers how to optimize their campaigns. She currently writes for the AWeber blog, which you can visit for more tips on marketing with email.

 

August 6th, 2012

Email Marketing Benchmarks: What to Look for if You’re in a Hurry

By Jamie Turner, Founder, 60 Second Marketer

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of email marketing. In fact, I think it’s a marketer’s secret weapon. Other social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest are fleeting. Email allows you to keep an audience engaged and involved with your brand over the long-haul.

All that said, I don’t have the time (or the patience) to review all the data that’s available to me from AWeber (affiliate link). But that doesn’t mean I can’t get a quick snapshot by comparing my results to industry benchmarks.

That’s what I did this afternoon and it only took a few minutes. The benchmark data I used for comparison purposes is available in a post we did a few weeks ago called “What is the Average Email Open Rate? New Study Has the Answer.” Check it out.

In the meantime, here are the results from my own comparison. Perhaps you can use them as a guide for when you do your own review.

For starters, I don’t worry about averages. Instead, I look at the median. Averages can be skewed by data on the very high side or the very low side. The median gives you a better sense of what the typical benchmark is. Said differently, the median is the mid-point, which is what most people think they’re looking at when they look at averages.

So, the first thing I look at is the median for the gross open rate. That’s the total number of times my email is opened as a percentage of the total people who received it.

(Side note: Open rates in and of themselves are a sketchy metric because sometimes an email is tabulated as “opened” simply because the person’s email software displayed it on their screen. For all I know, they deleted my email without reading it, so don’t hang your hat on your open rate. A better gauge is your click-through rate which we’ll talk about in a second.)

The median gross open rate for my industry (Media and Publishing) is 21.8% (see below). The gross open rate for the 60 Second Marketer e-newsletter is 49.5%. That means we’re off to a good start!

Despite those good numbers, in my opinion, gross open rate can be inaccurate because the data often shows people opening the emails many, many times. That’s why the unique open rate is more important to me. I believe that the unique open rate is more accurate because it only records each person once for their initial open, rather than for each time they open the email (or, for each time their email browser opens the email).

As you can see below, Media and Publishing has a median unique open rate of 14.9%. Mine is 30.1%, so again, it looks as though we’re doing something right with our e-newsletter.

Once I glanced at those metrics, I dug into the really important stuff. In fact, if you’re super short on time, I’d suggest that you could ignore the gross open rate and the unique open rate figures and dive right into the click-through-rate.

In my opinion, your click-through-rate is a better indicator of how engaged your audience is because they have to participate. In other words, they have to take action by clicking a link in order to get registered as a piece of data. It’s sort of like asking a classroom of people to raise their hands in answer to a question. By raising their hands, they’re showing that they’re interested and engaged.

Okay, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the click-through-rate for my industry — the median is 2.5%. Once again, I’ve done okay — ours is 6.8%, which is another good sign that people enjoy our e-newsletter. (By the way, if you’re curious and want to see a sample of our e-newsletter, just click here.)

But wait, there’s one more metric that’s even more important than all of these. It’s the click-to-open rate, which shows the number of clicks as a percentage of the people who opened the emails. To me, it’s a slightly more refined way to see how many people are really engaging with your email.

The median for my industry is 17.8% but my click-to-open rate is 13.8%. That’s an indicator that I still have room for improvement among the people who are reading our e-newsletter. Despite all the good news in the metrics above, this one indicates that there’s still more work to be done.

The biggest secret of them all. Okay, we’ve been through a lot in this blog post. We’ve discussed the difference between an average and a median. We talked about why the median is what you really want to be looking at. And then we’ve gone through several benchmarks and compared our results with industry results.

Keeping all that in mind, here’s the one thing I’d like you to remember — don’t compare yourself to industry standards, compare yourself to yourself. The key thing you want to see is growth and progress vs. where you were a month, six months or a year ago. That’s the only way to tell is you’re having real success.

Look at it this way, if I compared the results of the 60 Second Marketer e-newsletter to industry standards, for the most part I’d be pretty satisfied and might even relax a little bit. But I don’t do that (and I wouldn’t encourage you to do that, either). Instead, I compare my results to my own benchmarks. That way, I can test my way to success and see growth and improvement over the long-haul.

A final suggestion. If you like what I’ve written above, you might also want to sign up for our free e-newsletter. You’ll see a sample on the sign-up page, so you can check it out before you subscribe. And, as you might imagine, we’ll never sell, rent or give away your email address.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any comments about your email metrics. And I’ll see you again soon.


Jamie Turner is the CEO of social media and mobile marketing firm 60 Second Communications and is the Founder of the 60 Second Marketer.  He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

July 26th, 2012

What is the Average Email Open Rate? New Study Provides the Answer.

By Jamie Turner, Founder, 60 Second Marketer

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re probably wondering how your open rates and click-through rates compare to other email marketers. You may even be wondering how your unsubscribe rates compare.

Well, the good folks at Silverpop have just finished their 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study (click link to download copy) which examined the email messages of 1,124 participating brands. The report answers many of the most commonly-asked questions marketers have about email benchmarks.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • Open Rates: In 2011 into 2012, open rates averaged 19.9%–down from a 2009 average of 21.3%. The decrease can be tied to a number of industry developments, namely email service technology that blocks HTML imagery, and features such as Gmail’s Priority Inbox (or similar third-party add-ons). Social Media Tools
  • Click-Through Rates: In 2011 into 2012, click-through rates averaged 5.4%–up from a 2009 average of 4.5%. Click-through rates are a key measure for email efficacy – more so than open rates – and the notable increase in CTR can be attributed to a simultaneous increase in automated A/B testing (a June 2012 Forrester Research / Silverpop study surveyed 155 US marketers and found an increased adoption of marketing automation solutions).
  • Unsubscribe Rates: In 2011 into 2012, unsubscribe rates averaged 0.27%. However, Travel and Leisure emails were well above that mark, as they experienced an otherworldly 1.64% unsubscribe rate. As outlined in the report, this may be the nature of the industry—people often subscribe when researching or booking a vacation, then unsubscribe once the trip is complete. Conversely, nonprofits saw the lowest unsubscribe rate, at 0.10%.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the study, be sure to download the report by clicking here. You might also be interested in reading “What Are the Best Days of the Week to Send an Email Campaign?” on the 60 Second Marketer blog.

Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

April 17th, 2012

15 Additional Email Marketing Tips for Small- to Mid-Sized Businesses

Recently, the 60 Second Marketer posted 25 email marketing tips for small to mid-sized businesses. There were so many, we couldn’t fit them all in one post. Here are an additional 15 tips, tricks, and secrets to help you out in your email marketing ventures:

 

  1. Don’t Forget the Preview Pane in Your Campaign: The preview pane should be filled with the unique selling point of your campaign, with your most intriguing benefit or your best offer. Unsubscription instructions, long introductory copy, and disclaimers should be moved down the page so that they’re not the first thing people see in the preview pane.
  2. Get Subscribers by Partnering with Other Websites: Turn to Web sites that people who might be interested in your newsletter are likely to visit and cooperate with the owners of these sites in some way that can profit both of you, such as exchanging sign-up forms.
  3. Make Sure Unsubscriptions are Effective Immediately: Avoid a spam-like impression by making sure unsubscriptions from your newsletters or email marketing lists go into effect immediately.
  4. Choose the Right Day of the Week to Send Newsletters: The best way to figure out when to send your email is to test your way into success by deploying on a variety of days and seeing which day is best for your specific audience. If your newsletter is business-oriented and read at work, you might start by sending it on Wednesday or Thursday. If your newsletter is primarily read at home and focuses on spare-time activities, try sending it on Saturday or Sunday. (For more information on this topic, read “What Are the Best Days of the Week to Send an Email Campaign?” on the 60 Second Marketer blog.)
  5. Send Newsletters on Time:People love consistency. If part of your email marketing involves sending a weekly newsletter, send it out at the same time each week.

    These 15 tips, along with the 25 other tips in a previous post, should give you everything you need to get started with a successful email markeitng campaign.

  6. Successful Email Marketing is 1-to-1 Permission Marketing: Truly successful email marketing consists of personalized messages being sent to customers individually. Tailoring your communication to the needs of the individual customer is only possible if you know a lot about them. You can learn about your subscribers by analyzing the data in the sign-up form or by sending them a survey after they sign up.
  7. Test the Layout of Your Newsletter with Email Clients: Make sure your email marketing message looks good not only in your email program but in your recipient’s, too. You can do this by signing up for AOL, Google, HotMail and other free services, then testing the look-and-feel by sending yourself an email to your AOL, Google and/or HotMail accounts.
  8. Decide whether to use Opt-In or Double Opt-In: Email addresses on an opt-in list are not confirmed. On a double opt-in list, all email addresses must be confirmed by the user before they are added. A request for confirmation is sent to the submitted address, and the address owner must take some action to confirm that. At the 60 Second Marketer, we’ve found that a double opt-in list ensures a very high degree of engagement with our readers and a very low complaint rate.
  9. How to Get the Names of Anonymous Subscribers: Send a letter to those who have signed up for your newsletter but haven’t submitted their name periodically and tell them you’d love to greet them with their name instead of the stale “Dear Subscriber.” Chances are lots of them will be more than willing to reveal their name.
  10. Know Your Competition: Sign up for your competitors’ emails.  It will give you insight into what types of emails they send and what they are offering to their subscribers.  This can help you with promotional ideas as well as improvements to your own email campaigns.
  11. Monitor Reply-to Addresses: The “reply-to” address for your email campaigns should be closely monitored by a member of your team.  It is important that email remain a two-way street, and by having a valid reply-to address that is monitored and acted upon, your customers will know you are listening to them.  Don’t make the mistake of allowing the replies to pile up in your inbox and never looking at them.
  12. Remind the User how they Signed-up: People register for email subscriptions at different sources (store, point of purchase, co-registration, etc.). As a result, they may not always remember what they did to start receiving communications from your brand. By personalizing the copy based on the registration source, you can provide them with a gentle reminder of where they signed up, which can eliminate any confusion that might cause them to hit the unsubscribe link.
  13. Do Not Include Attachments in Your Emails: Some people will not open an email with an attachment for fear of getting a computer virus, so it is best not to include any. If want to share an image or coupon with your subscribers, it is more effective to incorporate it within the body of the email.
  14. Don’t Say it All in One Message: If you have a lot to tell the subscriber, say it over a series of communications. The user is more likely to retain information given in small batches than a lengthy email that requires them to “page-down” through multiple paragraphs. A well-integrated welcome series works wonders.
  15. Include a Sign-Up Banner at the Bottom of Your Blog Posts: See the e-newsletter sign-up banner at the bottom of this blog post? Steal the idea. Seriously, take the idea and incorporate it into your own blog posts. We’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Want more tips on Email Marketing? Visit About.com for more information.

About the Author: Brittney Leigh Smith is a marketing analyst for the 60 Second Marketer.