January 3rd, 2013

Email Marketing Tips for the Small- to Mid-Sized Business

EmailMarketingTips

Are you looking for email marketing tips to help you grow your business? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Successful email campaigns can reduce customer churn, improve customer satisfaction and increase your marketing ROI.

A quick tour of the internet offers plenty of blog posts with email marketing tips. Some of the posts I’ve researched have old or outdated information. But many organizations, such as the Email Stat Center, SilverPop and AWeber offer a great deal of email marketing advice and information.

Successful Email Campaigns. When it comes to designing an email marketing campaign, remember that many consumers are checking their emails from their smartphones. In fact, according to e-Dialog, 34% of consumers check email on their mobile device at least once a day and 21% check email on their mobile device more than once a day.

Let’s kick things off with one of the best email marketing tips I can offer — only send emails to people who have opted-in to receive them. In the old days, businesses could skirt around this issue with some sketchy tactics that grew their email databases quickly. But most people have grown weary of those tactics, so many businesses (including the 60 Second Marketer) require new subscribers to double opt-in in order to receive email campaigns.

If you don’t use the opt-in or double opt-in method, people who receive your emails will put them in their junk folder. If enough people do that, you’ll be blacklisted by the internet service providers, which vastly reduces the number of your emails that get delivered. That can really hamper your ability to do business with new prospects, so in the end, it’s always better to use the opt-in or double-opt-in process required by all legitimate email service providers.

With that in mind, what follows are some of the top email marketing tips I’ve come across in my research:

  1. Grow Your List by Simplifying the Sign-Up Process: Most successful email campaigns make the sign-up process very simple by requiring the completion of only one or two fields in order to begin receiving emails. That said, some companies (like HubSpot) have found that including multiple fields in the sign-up process is the best way to drive qualified leads to their sales force. In other words, their goal is to provide detailed information about their prospects prior to having their salespeople conduct a follow-up call. If you’re a B2B company selling something via salespeople, this approach may work for you. But if you’re a company that’s simply interested in providing ways to engage prospects or existing customers, then a simple 2- or 3-field registration form is enough.
  2. Reduce Unsubscribes by Telling People What to Expect. When people sign-up for the 60 Second Marketer e-newsletter, they receive an email that explains what to expect. Successful email campaigns tell new subscribers three key things — how frequently they’ll be receiving communications from you, how to contact you, and what additional resources they receive in return for being a subscriber. (For example, our new subscribers receive a 20% discount off of our 60 Second University course.)
  3. Improve Open Rate by Designing for the Preview Pane. Successful email campaigns are designed so that the reader can scan the information in their preview panes. If they like what they see, they can click to open and read the rest of the email. According to AWeber, up to 80% of your subscribers will first see their emails in a preview pane, so design them to be viewed and scanned easily via the preview pane.
  4. Increase Conversion by Using Your Re-Targeting Feature. A good email marketing campaign uses re-targeting to increase conversions. What do I mean by that? When you deploy your emails, you can see who opened and who clicked through. Pe0ple who click through on your email are indicating that they have a high degree of interest in whatever it is you’re selling. By sending a follow-up email specifically targeting the people who clicked through, you can increase your conversion rate. A better conversion rate means more revenue. That’s a good thing.
  5. Use Segmentation to Improve Conversion Rates. The more individualized your email marketing campaign, the better your chances are for success. In fact, one study showed that including a subscriber’s geographic location in the subject line can increase the open rate by as much as 24%. HubSpot requires a number of fields to be filled out in order to receive their information. That way, they segment their lists, personalize their follow-up messages and increase their conversion rates.
  6. Improve ROI by Testing Your Way to Success. If you want to improve the results of your email marketing campaign, the best advice we can offer is to test your way to success. We talk about A/B Split Testing in a very popular post called 19 Insanely Simple Landing Page Tricks You Can Use to Convert More Customers, but suffice it to say that the most successful email marketing campaigns are the ones that test their results and continuously try to improve upon them.
  7. Compare Your Results to Industry Benchmarks. It’s important to understand how you compare to others. For example, according to a study from Silverpop, email open rates averaged 19.9%–down from a 2009 average of 21.3%. Click-through rates averaged 5.4%–up from a 2009 average of 4.5%. Unsubscribe rates averaged 0.27%. (Nonprofits saw the lowest unsubscribe rate, at 0.10%.) Remember — these are averages for a wide variety of industries. The best way to compare your email marketing campaign is to use results from your specific industry. That way, you’ll be comparing apples to apples.
  8. Improve Your Email Marketing Campaign by Subscribing to Competitor’s Emails. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing ideas from your competitors, so subscribe to their emails. Study what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Then, toss out the bad stuff and use the good stuff for your own campaigns.

I hope you find these email marketing tips helpful. Want some additional information? Then check out the 60-second video below called 3 Email Myths Busted (also available on the 60 Second Marketer YouTube channel).

Jamie Turner is the 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. SignUpForENewsletter.001

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.