You’ve known all along that rumors of e-mail’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It’s still the workhorse of online marketing. Check out our experts’ insights on everything from copywriting to deliverability.

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5 Keys To A Successful Holiday Email Strategy

email-marketing-featured You may not want to start counting the days until your in-laws arrive, but email marketers know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. After all, Christmas is just over three months away! Following are five keys to a successful holiday email strategy for you to focus on -- it'll distract you from the impending family invasion about to ensue. 1. Draft Your Schedule Increasing your frequency during holiday is a given. Many retailers will be sending every single day. Some retailers will be sending multiple times a day. Simply put, those who do not change their frequen [...]

A Matter of Preference: Go Beyond Barely Functional With Your Email Preference Center

I subscribe to an ever-revolving variety of email programs, looking at old, new, large and small email offerings, and the experience offered by each. A recent streak of unsubscribing highlighted a few trends in the design of preference centers. Preference centers revolve around a central idea: choice. This is the subscriber’s control center, the place where big decisions are made – the level of personal info they offer, the programs in which they participate, the kind of content they want, and whether they want to cut ties. The vast majority of brands are doing a capable job of offering [...]

Lifecycle Of An Email Subscriber: What To Send When

shutterstock_10482901-womanasleep Last year, HubSpot presented some research that showed the longer a subscriber was on a mailing list, the less engagement the subscriber had with those emails. However, it's also true that it's easier to turn an existing customer into a repeat customer than it is to find a new customer. The folks on your email list are your best prospects, but if the HubSpot study is any indication, subscribers are getting bored or emails are becoming irrelevant to them as time passes. So how do you create emails that everyone enjoys? The answer is you don't… not really. What you do instead is set up a [...]

How Comics Taught Me Email

The superhero movies this summer have me reminiscing on my life in comic books. See, prior to email I spent a number of years in the US comics industry, in various creative and production roles. The energy and variety was incredible, and I had the opportunity to be part of projects ranging from adaptations of blockbuster movies to an IT-themed daily webcomic for the world’s largest software company (there’s much more to comics than superheroes!). Looking back, I recognize remarkable similarities between the media of comics and email. Both industries are notably similar in the energy [...]

Explicit And Implicit Email Preferences

Email is seemingly tailor-made for collecting customer information. In a perfect program, collection begins at the point of sign up. Yet marketers know the fewer the questions asked, the more likely the customer is to opt-in. It's a balancing act, though, because marketers also know that the more demographic data they can collect at that point, the easier it will be to deliver relevant, timely emails throughout the span of the relationship. Lack of relevancy will result in unengaged subscribers, poor engagement metrics, junk-mail placement and, ultimately, unsubscribes. Building a smarte [...]

Are You Leaving Potential Email Subscribers On The Table?

If you're an experienced marketer, you probably have some tried and true techniques for getting more email subscribers. But you may be leaving many potential new subscribers on the table. How can you ensure you're accomplishing everything that's possible? Go beyond the tried and true and test new approaches. Split testing helps you figure out which factors of your online sign-up form are drawing subscribers and what changes you can make to draw more. There are many split tests you can run on your web form: using inline forms vs pop-ups, including a description of your emails vs disp [...]

Tracking Offline Email Conversions

Email is a unique channel. Because it is sent digitally, and click-throughs drive traffic online, retail email marketing is traditionally thought of as only driving ecommerce orders. It is often thought of in the same vein as something like search engine marketing, which directly drives traffic and conversions exclusively online in much the same way that direct mail has traditionally been thought to drive only in-store traffic. It’s time to reconsider the conventional wisdom, however. Used correctly, email marketing drives a significant amount of traffic and revenue in the online and i [...]

Four Responsive Email Layouts

Recognizing the industry needed a scalable design strategy that acknowledged the growing stable of web-enabled devices, Ethan Marcotte coined the term “responsive web design.” Designing responsively means planning for a site to span and appropriately adjust to a range of screens and resolutions, rather than creating unique interfaces or experiences for each. Marcotte’s recent book, also titled Responsive Web Design, defined the idea as having three key pieces: Flexible, grid-based layouts Flexible images (and media) Media queries Responsive Email Their powers combin [...]

Four Tips For Writing Emails That Sell

shutterstock_67073203-conversation Email  is a one-on-one conversation with your reader, which is part of what makes it so effective for marketing. Thousands of people may see your message (depending on the size of your list), but the conversation ultimately happens in one person's inbox at a time. Because email feels so personal, your messages need to connect with the people you're talking to. You need to keep each individual engaged with your message so that your email can sell. Here are four ways to draw a person into conversation in the inbox. 1. Draw Them In With Killer Headlines The subject line is your conversat [...]

Taking Triggered Email To The Next Level

For an average sender, triggered campaigns make up a low percentage of overall email volume, typically less than 5%. But don’t let the low percentage throw you. In a well-conceived and well-managed program, that 5% can be responsible for 20% or more of your email marketing revenue. In most organizations, these “low-volume, high ROI” triggers take standard forms — welcome messages, order confirmations, rating and reviews requests, abandoned shopping cart notifications, etc. But by dedicating some time and resources to incrementally raising the level of sophistication of you [...]

Mobile In The Wild: A Look At Amazon Emails

Mobile email is no longer coming soon. It's here, and it's here to stay. Mobile-friendly tactics like single column, large text, and big tappable buttons have entered the industry’s collective list of best practices. Skinny emails and @media are a far cry from standard, but it’s much easier to find an example in my inbox each day than it was even a few months ago. To illustrate that point, I nabbed a few messages from my inbox. Amazon has been making impressive strides towards a mobile-friendly email program over the past few months. I'm seeing skinny messages, responsive designs and [...]

Seasonal Tips For Engaging Email Subscribers

email-growth-featured It's almost summer, and that means it's time to change up your emails. Why's that? Tailoring your emails to the season will help you meet your subscribers' current needs and acknowledge you care about what's on their mind. We've got some content ideas that will help you with meeting seasonal needs, but you can also use these ideas to spice up subject lines, provide bonus resources or ignite social media conversations. Here's what you can do by season: Summer What's on their mind: summer vacation, BBQs and fun outside. How your email campaign changes: Offer solutions: activit [...]

Staffing Your Email Team — 8 Key Roles

Well-run email marketing programs account for as much as 20 percent of a retailer’s online revenue. While some might view that as an aggressive number, I am of the opinion that a fully-developed program, complete with lifecycle messaging, triggered programs, segmentation strategies, abandoned shopping cart series, etc., will drive even more than that. Whatever the percentage, there is no arguing that email’s contribution is significant, and with this level of revenue on the line it is critical that retailers have a solid team in place to manage and execute this aspect of the busines [...]

“Optimizing” Pre-Image Optimization

The harsh truth on email image blocking comes as one of the earliest lessons in email design. It’s hardly a new one, though, and we have a standard best practices short list to “optimize for images-off” -- use live text for copy, include alternative text on images, make buttons bulletproof and so forth. The list is so standard that the word “optimization” gets tossed around a lot. As a designer, it’s a continual challenge to balance these best practice approaches with the goals we’re trying to achieve. Recent conversations on this topic with colleague @krudz had me thinking ab [...]

5 Minutes To A Bigger Email Audience

Email marketing is a highly effective way to make sales. Hopefully, you have a web form set up to invite your site visitors to subscribe. But what does your form look like, and what does it say? Do visitors respond well to it, or do they ignore it? Would a different form do better? By taking 5 minutes to create  a split test -- a presentation of two forms to see which does better -- you can find out. They’re very easy to set up. When you’re ready to, follow these instructions (or these if you use AWeber). But before you get started, let’s discuss: What You Should Test On Yo [...]

Adding Email Engagement To RFM Scoring

Spring has finally arrived, and for most retailers that means something of a lull in holiday frequency (once Mother’s Day has passed), making it an ideal time to get a fresh perspective on email reporting. RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) scoring has long been the go-to method of ranking the value of customers on file. Historically, this metric has focused solely on purchase data -- or lack thereof, if a customer is in the database but has not bought anything yet. Adding email engagement on top of your RFM Scoring data can deliver a fresh look at the value of your customers, resultin [...]

6 Creative Ideas For Email Subscriber Welcome Messages

shutterstock_86214664-neighborhood First impressions are a big deal, especially in email. Most subscribers will only ask to join an email program once. As senders, though, we have schedules to keep… emails going out the door every month, week, every day. With those operational demands, it’s easy to consider triggered or transactional messages to be necessary evils compared to the “real” program. In reality, they’re among the most important messages we send: the messages customers specifically expect, even look forward to receiving. Welcome emails are my favorite piece of an email program. They’re an introducti [...]

3 Steps To Writing A Better Subject Line

shutterstock_85560325.pdf The subject line is the gateway to your email message. Before your subscribers can read what you have to say, they have to click on your subject line  -- it needs to convince them that what's inside is worth their while. It doesn’t matter how many best practices your message follows; if your subject line flops, your subscribers won’t even bother with the rest of your message. Here are three steps -- plus a bonus insight -- to improve your subject lines and get the right kind of attention from your readers. Step 1: Get Into Your Customers' Mindset You might be tempted to turn every [...]

The Email Metric You Should Be Tracking, But Aren’t

Click-to-open rate trendline with click-through rate Most marketers rely on a few standard metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their company’s email campaigns: deliverability, open rate, click-through, conversion, and unsubscribe are the favorite few. But there is one key metric that many are overlooking, one that many Email Service Providers don’t even display: Click-to-open rate, often abbreviated CTOR. CTOR measures the relevancy and context of an email by taking the number of unique clicks divided by the number of unique opens, and then multiplying by 100 to show it as a percentage. What it tells you is simply this: Of the subscr [...]

The Basics: Numbers That Matter In Email Marketing

numbers-shutterstock Marketing is often about numbers. You want to increase revenue, improve growth, decrease the unsatisfied customers and so on. Email marketing especially relies on numbers. Click-through rates, open rates, bounces and more are piled on to the list of metrics to watch. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of these stats, so you need to prioritize. What numbers really matter and what ones can be set aside? Here are the most critical five numbers for success in email marketing. Bounces If an email doesn't make it to the recipient's inbox, it bounces. An email can bounce for a number of rea [...]

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