Hubble, bubble, email and trouble

Americans spent $9.1 billion on Halloween in 2017. If that didn’t bowl you over, did you know that a quarter of all the sweets sold annually in the US is purchased for Halloween? Uh huh – w.t.f.

Halloween is a goldmine holiday for retailers. It originated way back in the day as a Celtic festival called Samhain (prounound Sow-in). Druids would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off spirits and make offerings to appease the pagan Gods.

Today, however, Halloween – or All Hallows’ Eve – is a popular celebration where revelers trick-or-treat, carve pumpkins into Jack-O’-Lanterns and don ghoulish attire. It’s a great opportunity for marketers to drum up excitement and inspire customers to embrace the festivities.

Here are 5 ways to do just that:

1. Fang-tastic subject lines 

Cast a spell in the inbox! Frighteningly good subject lines can help boost your email open rates.

  • Use seasonal emojis to stand out from competitors 🎃👻😈🔮🍂🌕
  • Communicate something compelling – think FOMO, limited-time offers, etc.
  • Emphasize urgency in your language and use the scarcity tactic to inspire a quick response from customers
  • Makeover your subject lines with fun, playful words: ‘What’s your poison?’ is a good example from restaurant chain, Las Iguanas
  • Be mysterious and build intrigue; Halloween is all about the unknown, so excite customers with a ‘trick or treat’ proposition or the classic ‘Open if you dare!’

2. Dress up to impress

Halloween is a hotbed for marketing creatives. It’s the time of year to freshen up on design and gain an upper hand on the competition. The holidays only start rolling in from October 31st: Guy Fawkes night, Thanksgiving/Black Friday and Christmas.

Incorporating a Halloween theme in your email template helps stir up seasonal fervor. Spiders cascading down cobwebs, glisteningly  orange pumpkins and a scattering of autumnal foliage are all nice subtle tweaks. For a bolder look, why not try Michael Myers holding a bloody dagger? #gohardorgohome.

In all seriousness though, don’t throw your brand in the background. Make sure you maintain a healthy balance between your usual design and any spooky touches you make.

Here are some of our favorite creatives 💖

Halloween

Lands’ End takes a stab at Halloween email design in a creative way, using its very own products to compose a quirky collage.

 

Halloween

Not strictly Halloween, but similar vibes. NoteMaker sends this creepy Friday 13th email, offering a 13% discount across its site for a limited time. We loved how the brand played on the spooky superstition with the message: ‘unlucky for some, but not for you’.

 

Halloween

Baking Mad does a frightfully good job of inspiring subscribers to bake some homemade Halloween treats.

3. Creeping it real with your copy

Halloween is a great time to have a play with words. Have some fun brewing up a pun or two!

sale
Pun

 

3. Razor-sharp segmentation

Audience segmentation should always be top on the marketer’s agenda, and Halloween is no exception. Rather than blast out promotions to your entire database, filter your email audience by preferences and behaviors. Subscribers will be much more likely to engage with messages that are relevant to them – especially so this time of year, amid the ambient noise of the inbox.

Base dynamic content variations on:

  • demographic data such as gender, age or location
  • preferences submitted via a survey
  • personas specific to your brand

Use ecommerce insight to segment:

  • high-value customers
  • frequent buyers
  • recent purchasers

Filter your seasonal customers: 

  • such as those who purchased this time last year
  • or shoppers who’ve previously bought Halloween-themed products

Halloween

Shoedazzle sends a timely email to its VIP segment, prompting high-value customers to make a steal on Halloween morning.

4. Spook customers with SMS

SMS is the titan text tool. If customers don’t fall under your email’s spell, conjure up an SMS instead. Use this channel to communicate your devilish deals to customers in a fast and direct way.

  • Alert customers of time-sensitive offers
  • Trigger timely nudges to unresponsive email subscribers
  • Try your luck with an awful, spook-worthy pun

5. Celebrate El Día de los Muertos

Vividly colorful calaveras, splashes of face paint, exotic flower crowns and deliciously themed foods that make your mouth water – masses of opportunity for marketers! This festival may well be trendy and hip for us westerners, but for Mexico it’s a huge and beautiful religious celebration.

Literally ‘Day of the Dead’, this holiday is the Latin American equivalent of Halloween. It’s observed on November 1st and, not too dissimilar to All Saints Say, is a celebration of the life of departed loved ones. Although the literal translation of this holiday may put marketers off, it should by no means be ignored. Morbid connotations aside, Día de los Muertos is vibrant, colorful and packed full of Mexican flavor.

Tips:

  • Let iconic imagery be the focus in your email
  • Incorporate your products naturally
  • Demystify the tradition and educate subscribers

Day of the dead skull. Woman with calavera makeup. Dia de los muertos Text in Spanish. Stock Vector - 46753663

 

Hopefully this blog has awoken your creative juices and inspired you to treat those reveling consumers. They’ll be on the hunt for something spooktacular, and if you don’t serve up a treat, they’ll go knocking next door!

For more holiday inspo, download our email lookbook here.

If you’d like some creative guidance and support on your Halloween campaigns, please get in touch with your account manager.

 

The post Hubble, bubble, email and trouble appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 6 days ago from blog.dotmailer.com

dotties shortlist announced!

Our professional line-up of judges has spent hours analyzing more than 350 entries for this year’s dotties awards. After much deliberation, our digital experts have shortlisted 70 entry submissions spanning 14 customer categories. Also shortlisted are 15 partner agencies who empower our customers around the globe.

The quality of entries this year was better than ever before. Brands are bidding to become digital marketing champions, adopting innovative and creative tactics to win customers’ hearts.

So, here’s the big reveal…

Creative Flair: Best Subject Line

  • Macmillan
  • Tottenham Hotspur F. C.
  • Southampton F. C.
  • ActiveWin
  • Villa Plus

Inspiring Email Creative: The BIG Idea

  • Certsure LLP
  • Solera Autodata
  • Barbour
  • Fetch
  • Charlotte Tilbury

Content Excellence: Most Compelling Campaign

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Formula E Operations
  • Barbour
  • Virgin Active
  • Black Tomato

Data Creativity: Best Use of Data

  • Southampton F. C.
  • Certsure
  • intuDigital
  • JoJo Maman Bébé
  • British Heart Foundation

Omnichannel Pioneers: Most Connected Campaign

  • Habitat
  • ODICCI
  • Asthma UK
  • Barbour
  • Travel Chapter – Canine Cottages

Excellence in Automation: Most Powerful Program Use

  • Neal’s Yard Remedies
  • Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
  • Forest Holidays
  • Jack Wills
  • ICAEW

Excellence in Ecommerce: Most Compelling Campaign

  • Barbour
  • Southampton F. C.
  • Neal’s Yard Remedies
  • Jack Wills
  • Accolade Wines

Winning in Business: Best B2B Marketing Campaign

  • Certsure LLP
  • LV=
  • City & Guilds
  • Selco Builders Warehouse
  • Key Travel

Star Disruptor: Energizing Change in the Marketing Team

  • Jack Wills
  • T.M. Lewin
  • CarShop
  • Cats Protection
  • Schoolbooks.ie

Star Performer: Excellence in Marketing by an Individual

  • Oliver Bonas
  • Selco Builders Warehouse
  • Accolade Wines
  • Montreal Associates
  • Airmic

Big Impact, Small Bottom Line: Best Use of Budget

  • Greene King
  • Leads to You
  • CarShop
  • Action for Children
  • Mercury Theatre

Star of Non-profit: Best use of dotmailer to help others

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Asthma UK
  • CLIC Sargent
  • English Heritage Trust
  • CSSC

Star of Travel & Leisure: Best use of dotmailer to please

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • English Heritage Trust
  • icelolly.com
  • Forest Holidays
  • Tottenham F. C.

Innovation in Integration: Combining Tech Powers

  • icelolly.com
  • Virgin Active
  • CarShop
  • Shortlist Media
  • Rush Hair and Beauty

Agency of the year – UK

  • Netmatter
  • Pinpoint
  • Inviqa

Agency of the year – Rest of Europe

  • Vaimo
  • Nordic Web Team
  • Experius

Agency of the year – US and APAC

  • Absolunet
  • Corra
  • L&H Group

Integrated partner of the year

  • XCM
  • Nosto
  • Klevu

CRM partner of the year

  • Crimson Consultants
  • Trillium
  • Preact

 

If you made the shortlist, congratulations! Don’t forget to tell everyone by using #thedotties. We can’t wait to celebrate with you on the 1st November. The sparkling ceremony is taking place at The Troxy in London, with comedian Rob Beckett announcing the winners.

If you haven’t already RSVP’d to attend the dotties 2018, don’t miss out as spaces are limited!

RSVP here for a night to remember!

The post dotties shortlist announced! appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Faceted Navigation Intro – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by sergeystefoglo

The topic of faceted navigation is bound to come up at some point in your SEO career. It’s a common solution to product filtering for e-commerce sites, but managing it on the SEO side can quickly spin out of control with the potential to cause indexing bloat and crawl errors. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome our friend Sergey Stefoglo to give us a quick refresher on just what faceted nav is and why it matters, then dive into a few key solutions that can help you tame it.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name is Serge. I’m from Distilled. I work at the Seattle office as a consultant. For those of you that don’t know about Distilled, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, but have branched out since to work on all sorts of things like content, PR, and recently a split testing tool, ODN.

Today I’m here to talk to you guys about faceted navigation, just the basics. We have a few minutes today, so I’m just going to cover kind of the 101 version of this. But essentially we’re going to go through what the definition is, why we should care as SEOs, why it’s important, what are some options we have with this, and then also what a solution could look like.

1. What is faceted navigation?

For those that don’t know, faceted navigation is essentially something like this, probably a lot nicer than this to be honest. But it’s essentially a page that allows you to filter down or allows a user to filter down based on what they’re looking for. So this is an example we have here of a list of products on a page that sells laptops, Apple laptops in this case.

Right here on the left side, in the green, we have a bunch of facets. Essentially, if you’re a user and you’re going in here, you could look at the size of the screen you might want. You could look at the price of the laptop, etc. That’s what faceted navigation is. Previously, when I worked at my previous agency, I worked on a lot of local SEO things, not really e-commerce, big-scale websites, so I didn’t run into this issue often. I actually didn’t even know it was a thing until I started at Distilled. So this might be interesting for you even if it doesn’t apply at the moment.

2. Why does faceted navigation matter?

Essentially, we should care as SEOs because this can get out of control really quickly. While being very useful to users, obviously it’s helpful to be able to filter down to the specific thing you want. this could get kind of ridiculous for Googlebot.

Faceted navigation can result in indexing bloat and crawl issues

We’ve had clients at Distilled that come to us that are e-commerce brands that have millions of pages in the index being crawled that really shouldn’t be. They don’t bring any value to the site, any revenue, etc. The main reason we should care is because we want to avoid indexation bloat and kind of crawl errors or issues.

3. What options do we have when it comes to controlling which pages are indexed/crawled?

The third thing we’ll talk about is what are some options we have in terms of controlling some of that, so controlling whether a page gets indexed or crawled, etc. I’m not going to get into the specifics of each of these today, but I have a blog post on this topic that we’ll link to at the bottom.

The main, most common options that we have for controlling this kind of thing would be around no indexing a page and stopping Google from indexing it, using canonical tags to choose a page that’s essentially the canonical version, using a disallow rule in robots.txt to stop Google from crawling a certain part of the site, or using the nofollow meta directive as well. Those are some of the most common options. Again, we’re not going to go into the nitty-gritty of each one. They each have their kind of pros and cons, so you can research that for yourselves.

4. What could a solution look like?

So okay, we know all of this. What could be an ideal solution? Before I jump into this, I don’t want you guys to run in to your bosses and say, “This is what we need to do.”

Please, please do your research beforehand because it’s going to vary a lot based on your site. Based on the dev resources you have, you might have to get scrappy with it. Also, do some keyword research mainly around the long tail. There are a lot of instances where you could and might want to have three or four facets indexed.

So again, a huge caveat: this isn’t the end-all be-all solution. It’s something that we’ve recommended at times, when appropriate, to clients. So let’s jump into what an ideal solution, or not ideal solution, a possible solution could look like.

Category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory pages open to indexing and crawling

What we’re looking at here is we’re going to have our category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory pages open to indexation and open to being crawled. In our example here, that would be this page, so /computers/laptops/apple. Perfectly fine. People are probably searching for Apple laptops. In fact, I know they are.

Any pages with one or more facets selected = indexed, facet links get nofollowed

The second step here is any page that has one facet selected, so for example, if I was on this page and I wanted an Apple laptop with a solid state drive in it, I would select that from these options. Those are fine to be indexed. But any time you have one or more facets selected, we want to make sure to nofollow all of these internal links pointing to other facets, essentially to stop link equity from being wasted and to stop Google from wasting time crawling those pages.

Any pages with 2+ facets selected = noindex tag gets added

Then, past that point, if a user selects two or more facets, so if I was interested in an Apple laptop with a solid state hard drive that was in the $1,000 price range for example, the chances of there being a lot of search volume for an Apple laptop for $1,000 with a solid state drive is pretty low.

So what we want to do here is add a noindex tag to those two-plus facet options, and that will again help us control crawl bloat and indexation bloat.

Already set up faceted nav? Think about keyword search volume, then go back and whitelist

The final thing I want to mention here, I touched on it a little bit earlier. But essentially, if you’re doing this after the fact, after the faceted navigation is already set up, which you probably are, it’s worth, again, having a strong think about where there is keyword search volume. If you do this, it’s worth also taking a look back a few months in to see the impact and also see if there’s anything you might want to whitelist. There might be a certain set of facets that do have search volume, so you might want to throw them back into the index. It’s worth taking a look at that.

That’s what faceted navigation is as a quick intro. Thank you for watching. I’d be really interested to hear what you guys think in the comments. Again, like I said, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. So I’d be really interested to hear what’s worked for you, or if you have any questions, please ask them below.

Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Reblogged 2 weeks ago from tracking.feedpress.it

What’s an API? The marketer’s definitive guide is here!

I have a problem. At weddings, parties, or family gatherings, someone will generally ask what I do. “I’m a technical writer”, I reply. They look confused and then ask what that means. I find myself saying something about ‘documenting APIs’, at which point any audience I may have gathered has sidled away, keenly looking for their next canape.

 

Why is that? It’s probably because most people – certainly people who don’t work in any kind of IT-based business – don’t know what an API is. Moreover, most people don’t know what ‘API’ stands for.

API is an acronym and it stands for ‘application programming interface’. Explaining that doesn’t really help matters though! Let’s try with a very simple definition: an API is a set of functions and procedures that allow different computer systems to communicate with each other. That’s a bit better, but it still doesn’t really help visualize how one works. In which case, let’s go back to that canape – because the idea of food and restaurants serves well as an analogy for an API.

The API – an analogy

It’s best to think of an API as a menu that you’re given in a restaurant. A menu lists all the dishes and drinks on offer, and you request something off it if you want it returned to you from the kitchen or bar. If you order something that’s not on the menu, then the kitchen won’t be able to make it and can’t return it.

Now, think of two separate computer systems. How is data exchanged between them?

Answer: via an API. An API lists operations that can be used by one system to request data from the other system’s database. As with the menu though, if you request something that the API doesn’t list then the other system won’t be able to respond with it.

However, unlike a restaurant menu, you can do more with APIs than just ‘return ordered food’ (data) from ‘the kitchen’ (the other system’s database). An API can also let you send the other system new data, update existing data, and delete data (with a restaurant menu, you’ll be extremely hard-pressed to send any food that you’ve brought along yourself into the kitchen, or to force them to throw their food away!)

Chefs discussing menu on clipboard in commercial kitchen

 

So, there you have it. APIs work on a request/response cycle and they’re essentially the engine running under the internet’s hood, galvanizing all the online data connectivity that we’re constantly making use of.

For instance, APIs have enabled you to do all sorts of things, from ordering a pizza from your mobile phone using a food delivery app, to checking for the insurance deals on a price comparison site, to receiving a calendar notification that you’re due to check-in for a flight. Two or more systems are making this possible through the exchange of data via APIs.

The difference between private and open APIs

APIs can be used in different ways to facilitate different things. Some APIs are private ones, used solely within a company by that company’s software engineers to communicate between many different services and systems that make up the company’s overall infrastructure.

An open API (often referred to as a public API) is one that has been made available by a company for external users to consume. A company with a public API will have purposely designed their API to expose only a certain amount of services that their product offers (and not all, otherwise this would prove detrimental and a security risk), which will be documented online for software developers to make use of.

The better an API is designed and documented, the quicker a visiting developer can get up and running and start communicating with another system to build effective integrations.

APIs expand businesses

Public APIs are mutually beneficial. External developers get to extend their system or product by consuming the services of another company’s API, whilst the company offering the API benefit from lots of developers writing code and integrations that can be made public, shared – and in turn expands their product and business.

Shot of a man working in an office

 

Businesses are fast harnessing the money-making potential of APIs to expose those services and make data available to external audiences. This enables integration and creation of new revenue streams. For some companies, the API is the product, such as omnichannel communications platform service Comapi (a dotdigital company).

Why the dotmailer API benefits you – the marketer

dotmailer offers a powerful, flexible open API. As such, internal and external users consume our API for various reasons. It powers the premium eCommerce and CRM integrations that we offer, like Magento, MS Dynamics and Shopify Plus. It also allows partners and customers to develop and build their own custom integrations and technical solutions for the platform.

How does this benefit you? It means you can point your developers to our API documentation so they can start making some of your keenest marketing automation wishes come true! It enables them to quickly get to grips with our API and create code that not only gets data out of dotmailer, but gets your data in too – as well as automate various actions crucial to smarter marketing.

You’re no longer bound by the user interface of the app itself.

Find out more about how to use the dotmailer API by visiting our dedicated API support page.

Social media and global network concept.

What can I do to benefit from the API?

Let me provide you with a few common scenarios in which the API helps with custom marketing automation:

  • Import new signups to your site in real time: our API has several calls which means new signups are not only added to your CRM, they’re also added to dotmailer as contacts, so they can then be sent an automated welcome.
  • Import order data from your store so it can be used to send better targeted and personalized content: our API has a number of transactional data calls that enables you to not only import historical order data but to also schedule keeping this data up to date, as new purchases are made, and orders updated. Once this data is in, you can go on to create contact segments and, if you have it enabled on your account, use advanced personalization in content.
  • Export contacts’ email engagement data: our API features numerous calls that can export contacts’ key engagement data with your campaigns into your CRM, allowing you to create marketing lists and other actions to improve relevant targeting.

Get more automation tips and tricks from our free resources.

 

Hopefully the concept of an API is a lot clearer now, and you understand the benefits. In which case, back to that analogy before I leave you…

Feeling hungry for integration? Take a seat at the restaurant, bring along your developers, hand them that menu and put in your request.

In the meantime, I’ll wish you all ‘Bon API!’

See the dotmailer API in action: watch a super-quick demo.

The post What’s an API? The marketer’s definitive guide is here! appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

5 tactics for a successful email program

This year’s Hitting the Mark showcased the email and customer experience tactics of 100 global ecommerce brands. The report revealed both the triumphs and pitfalls of marketers as they bid to foster everlasting relationships from the inbox to the shop counter.

We’ve dissected the report and drawn 5 key tactics to help you optimize your email program ahead of the holiday season.

1. Focus on best practice

If you’re to wow the 3.82 billion email users worldwide, you’ve at least got to nail the basics.

Many brands in this year’s report consistently fell down on best practice. Even those who exhibited the strongest data-driven tactics and most compelling content missed the mark.

5 tips to make the grade in best practice:

Don’t overlook the ‘view in browser’ link

Why? Email clients such as Gmail and Hotmail won’t always render emails correctly – a common challenge for marketers. Continuous system updates can compromise the HTML code, corrupting the look and feel of emails as they land in the inbox.

A VIB link mitigates the effect of a broken email (a poor experience) as it incentivizes contacts to view a version optimized for URL. This maximizes click-throughs from those readers who would otherwise ignore a messy looking email with no VIB link.

Rather than the basic ‘View in browser’, why not try something more conversational:Having trouble viewing this email? See it here.

Populate the preheader space

Neglecting to use the preview text is a missed opportunity. It’s a useful space for inspirational copy and acts as a bridge between the subject line and email content.

When not used, the preheader space is populated by the next readable bit of text. This tends to be markup code; it means nothing to the reader and looks plain messy.

A blunder like this can cause confusion in the inbox, damage the credibility of your emails, and weaken your open rates.

To avoid this, add some commentary in the preheader space that:

  • supports the subject line
  • entices the reader to open
  • adds context to the email

Optimize the unsubscribe

The unsubscribe belongs in the footer of the email. Yes, the link should be visible, but it shouldn’t be blatantly obvious.

It’s much more important what you do after someone clicks through; shout about what they’re going to miss out on and ask for feedback on how to improve the email experience.

Balance imagery and copy

Not every email client (Outlook is one) will automatically download your email’s images. A sexy looking email that’s a full-length image, with copy placed on top, will lose its context if imagery is switched off. The message will be lost.

This runs the risk of:

  • subscribers closing the email automatically
  • the email looking like spam
  • recipients being unable to identify information quickly enough

To lock in engagement, you need to pair imagery with content so that relevance is always communicated.

Become mobile-first

The age of being mobile-friendly is waning. Doing the bare minimum is no longer good enough for consumers who interact with brands exclusively on a handheld device.

60% of ecommerce site visits will start on mobile. Plus, by 2019, consumers will spend over 2 hours per day on their smartphones. So, brands need to start their design concepts on mobile first, and then scale up to other devices such as tablets and desktops.

For tips on how to design email for mobile, grab our guide here.

2. Unlock the inbox using preferences

If you’d like to forge meaningful long-term relationships with your subscribers, then getting to know them should be top on the agenda. They won’t buy from you if you don’t serve up relevant content – so ask for preferences.

  • Think about what data your brand needs
  • Ask for the right amount information (too much can put people off)
  • Offer an incentive in exchange for details

Explicit data like location, date of birth and product preferences allow you to quickly build a profile of who your subscribers are. This information empowers you to tailor your newsletters so that they’re super-relevant.

You can do this in dotmailer through the use of dynamic content in our EasyEditor tool, which is populated based on individual contact data.

Bulk Powders preference center

 

Bulk Powders, winner of Hitting the Mark 2018, uses its preference center to customize email content.

3. Use insight to contextualize your message

The top performers in Hitting the Mark combined their implicit and explicit customer data to build powerful segments and create personalized messages.

Implicit data communicates context:

  • Browse behavior
  • Order history
  • Email activity

Explicit information conveys relevance:

  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Product preferences

Combining both enables you to devise a pretty compelling message. This is because content is conceptualized on the basis of the individual, maximizing their propensity to act. Positive actions might be clicks, downloads or purchases.

The bottom line is that these types of hyper-targeted messages are proven to drive lead generation, boost ecommerce and lift ROI.

4. Curate quality content

The best copywriters can’t inspire readers if their content draws no relevance to the audience. Winning content should inspire readers to do something. Always ask yourself: why am I writing this copy, and what’s the point of it?

A little inspiration goes a long way; at dotmailer we like to say ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ – i.e. focus on the benefits rather than the tangible product.

Make sure:

  • your tone of voice reflects your brand’s personality
  • content is personable, conversational and not ‘hard-selling’

IKEA content

In this year’s Hitting the Mark, many brands showcased exceptional copywriting skills. A great example was IKEA, whose tone of voice was warm and inviting – like the home. Skillfully crafting content that comforts the reader enables the brand to position itself as the home-lover’s choice: there’s no place like IKEA…right?

5. Be customer-obsessed

Welcome new customers with open arms

14% of brands still fail to meet subscribers’ expectations: to receive a welcome message in real time. Making the right first impression is what counts, so brands need to step up to the plate.

Introduce yourself and get to know your subscribers. They won’t buy from you if you don’t. The welcome series is the most important time to get the messaging right – Bulk Powders stated (when we interviewed the brand) that it all boils down to the welcome program.

Nurture – and then nurture some more

The age of anonymity is over. As customers, we expect personalized experiences. Successful brands will use personalization as a nurture tactic to turn indifferent consumers into loyal customers.

When creating your newsletters and nurture programs, think about:

  • what subscribers actually want to receive over the products you want to sell
  • how you can use data to underscore your offering and garner real interest

Say thanks to customers for their purchase

A simple thank you is bound to make customers smile. An aftersales program that delivers how-to tips and advice transforms the shopping experience from a mere transaction into a personal conversation.

In our customer-centric world, asking for a review after purchase is a must; yet 53% of brands fail to do so. By taking an active interest in feedback, you’re showing your online shoppers that you care about customer satisfaction and product improvement. It’s a win-win.

Re-engage at-risk customers

Make it clear that a customer lapsing is a big deal – a real loss for your brand. This makes the customer feel valued. Go on a charm offensive to win them back.

Your re-engagement program could include:

  • a special offer that tempts a repeat purchase
  • a survey to find out more about the subscriber
  • some inspirational content to incentivize a browse

Optimize your emails to lift ROI

Below is a tidy summary of key takeaways that’ll help you drive up returns from email:

  • Following best practice helps you deliver an optimized email experience and facilitates a seamless customer journey from inbox to store.
  • Preferences and insight will help you maximize conversions; if your brand wants to stand out in the crowd, your messaging needs to be driven from data.
  • Content is how you transform data into relevant and contextual communication.

The last piece of the puzzle is embracing a customer-first philosophy. Translate everything you’ve built up into lifecycle automation programs; bring something meaningful to the table that inspires customers to act.

For our favorite automation examples from Hitting the Mark, download our bitesize guide here.

The post 5 tactics for a successful email program appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 4 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Drive relevancy with the unexpected

Today’s empowered consumer will only invest time in messages that communicate relevancy and drive value, and it’s up to brands to woo customers in order to win their business. In a crowded inbox – 269 billion emails are sent and received each day – uninspiring emails will be tossed into the trash without a second thought.

As marketers, it’s our duty to understand customers and treat them as individuals. And while context in email marketing is king, it’s easy to forget that surprising and delighting customers can also make a lasting impression.

5 tips to blend randomness with relevancy

1. Play with context

Email is your go-to touchpoint for customer interactions, and while it’s important to feature your product offering, it’s more important to showcase your intelligence and understanding of customers; these qualities drive brand credibility and loyalty respectively.

By leveraging rich customer insights – such as buying behaviour and location – you can contextualize messages, tying the customer journey back to the individual’s environment.

Irrelevant messages make email recipients likely to not only ignore email, but to take negative actions such as marking it as spam. Communications that ooze brand personality and resonate with customers are proven to maximize their engagement and prompt them to take the desired action.

A great way to contextualize your email marketing is by sending weather-related messages to contacts based on a live forecast. For example, you can recommend products that complement the weather in real time: barbecues when sunny, raincoats when drizzly and accessories for your snowman to don when the blizzards set in.

With the right level of insight, retailers can use weather rules to populate emails with smart, relevant content that incites emotion and maximizes engagement.

British Heart Foundation does a stellar job of this by sending emails to participants who’ve entered its MyMarathon campaign, letting them know when the weather’s good for a run.

2. Exceed customers’ expectations

To foster genuine advocacy, brands need to continually push the boat out. Today, simply delivering on your brand promise isn’t enough; you need to overdeliver in a meaningful way. Giving subscribers something when they least suspect it can truly enhance their experience.

  • Surprise sign-up gift – thank subscribers for joining your mailing list with a surprise gift. It’s common practice for brands to use incentives as a prop to lure people in at the sign-up stage. However, the positive effect can be greater if you hold back and surprise prospective customers once they’ve joined your list; for instance, by sending them a coupon for £10 off their first order. Subscribers will feel like they’re getting something special for nothing – a gift rather than an exchange for data.
  • Out-of-the-blue freebie – offering a free product (i.e. a sample or voucher to redeem in store) to lapsed customers can awaken their love for your brand. To strike the perfect balance between relevance and randomness, thank the recipient for the last purchase they made using historical ecommerce data. It’s a great talking point and by making someone’s day, you’ll hopefully generate some great exposure for your brand through positive social posts and word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Rewards for feedback and reviews – to make customers’ experiences more memorable, surprise them with a gift for their feedback.

3. Celebrate random holidays

While it’s common practice for brands to email customers over popular holiday periods – such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day – your messages run the risk of getting lost in all the noise, endangering your engagement metrics. However, capitalizing on a holiday that isn’t as widespread can give you a competitive advantage in a quieter inbox.

In 2009, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba adopted ‘Singles Day’ – an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration – as a prime online shopping event during what’s considered a traditionally low volume sales period. Driving relevancy to the millions of singletons in China, Alibaba made a colossal $25.3 billion in sales on Singles Day 2017. This goes to show that brands can popularize unfamiliar holidays and make significant gains.

There are many weird and wacky holidays throughout the year, from ‘Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day’ to ‘Bicarbonate of Soda Day’ (which is on 30th December, if you’re interested).

When applying randomness to your email marketing, it’s important that the topic still resonates with customers. Make sure your holiday of choice:

  • marries up with your brand’s personality
  • provides a topic of conversation that inspires social sharing
  • drives customers to take your desired action

Download our full cheatsheet to get tips on our favorite random holidays – which include dress up your pet day!

4. Employ game mechanics

For an email to draw people in – over and above visual appeal – you need to invite them to participate and connect with you in an innovative, playful way. Gaming urges subscribers to interact beyond the bounds of a simple call-to-action, which can be uninspiring by comparison.

Capitalizing on the relevancy of the message can spur people to take an action; for example, associating the game with customers’ previous behaviors (sign-up, purchase etc.) makes an exchange of their time more appealing. You’ll need to ensure the game has that fun-appeal and is benefit-driven, otherwise subscribers won’t view it as worthwhile.

To gamify your email marketing strategy, explore activities that are all about chance:

  • Puzzles – encourage subscribers to unlock potential offers/win gifts
  • Spinning wheels – let customers gamble for discount types and amounts (i.e. percentage, money-off)
  • Online board games – prompt players to roll the dice in an attempt to win different prizes and advance various stages to enter exclusive competition draws

These techniques can enhance your KPIs – such as click-to-open and conversion rates – and boost revenue. What’s more, encouraging interaction in email can have a positive impact on your deliverability; email clients such as Gmail will attribute higher engagement rates to your domain, improving your sender reputation and inbox placement.

5. Shake up your subject lines

First impressions matter. The subject line is the first prompt for subscribers to either open, ignore or trash your email; 50% of recipients open emails based on subject line alone, whereas 69% report emails as spam on the same basis.

So, how do we incentivize the reader to open? Should the subject line mirror what’s in the email or should it just be completely random? Although some marketers opt for something outlandish that catches the reader’s eye, the subject line should echo the email’s contents, otherwise it could be damaging to click-through rates.

Brands are increasingly adopting subject lines based on context. By leveraging your real-time customer insights, you can drive out-of-the-blue messages with a well-timed tease that rouses interest and triggers those all-important opens.

People’s attention spans have, in the past, been likened to that of a goldfish. And the sheer volume of email traffic makes it an even tougher job for marketers to grab the reader’s eye. The key is to tap into those powerful emotions and feelings: urgency, curiosity, excitement and joy. To achieve this, you’ll have to be data-driven, original and conversational.

Download our cheatsheet for a deep-dive into contextual and captivating subject lines.

Give randomness a go!

As busy, always-on individuals, we’ve no time for meaningless communications. Today’s savvy consumers want to be treated like individuals through conversations that are thought-provoking and original. Don’t neglect your indispensable customer insight – which is your greatest asset – in place of a flat, uninspiring email strategy. Driving relevance on the premise of being unpredictable will win consumers over, every time.

For more insights into driving relevancy with the unexpected, download our cheatsheet here.

 

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Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Follow the Local SEO Leaders: A Guide to Our Industry’s Best Publications

Posted by MiriamEllis

Change is the only constant in local SEO. As your local brand or local search marketing agency grows, you’ll be onboarding new hires. Whether they’re novices or adepts, they’ll need to keep up with continuous industry developments in order to make agile contributions to team strategy. Particularly if local SEO is new to someone, it saves training time if you can fast-track them on who to follow for the best news and analysis. This guide serves as a blueprint for that very purpose.

And even if you’re an old hand in the local SEM industry, you may find some sources here you’ve been overlooking that could add richness and depth to your ongoing education.

Two quick notes on what and how I’ve chosen:

  1. As the author of both of Moz’s newsletters (the Moz Top 10 and the Moz Local Top 7), I read an inordinate amount of SEO and local SEO content, but I could have missed your work. The list that follows represents my own, personal slate of the resources that have taught me the most. If you publish great local SEO information but you’re not on this list, my apologies, and if you write something truly awesome in future, you’re welcome to tweet at me. I’m always on the lookout for fresh and enlightening voices. My personal criteria for the publications I trust is that they are typically groundbreaking, thoughtful, investigative, and respectful of readers and subjects.
  2. Following the leaders is a useful practice, but not a stopping point. Even experts aren’t infallible. Rather than take industry advice at face value, do your own testing. Some of the most interesting local SEO discussions I’ve ever participated in have stemmed from people questioning standard best practices. So, while it’s smart to absorb the wisdom of experts, it’s even smarter to do your own experiments.

The best of local SEO news

Who reports fastest on Google updates, Knowledge Panel tweaks, and industry business?

Sterling Sky’s Timeline of Local SEO Changes is the industry’s premiere log of developments that impact local businesses and is continuously updated by Joy Hawkins + team.

Search Engine Roundtable has a proven track record of being among the first to report news that affects both local and digital businesses, thanks to the ongoing dedication of Barry Schwartz.

Street Fight is the best place on the web to read about mergers, acquisitions, the release of new technology, and other major happenings on the business side of local. I’m categorizing Street Fight under news, but they also offer good commentary, particularly the joint contributions of David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal.

LocalU’s Last Week in Local video and podcast series highlights Mike Blumenthal and Mary Bowling’s top picks of industry coverage most worthy of your attention. Comes with the bonus of expert commentary as they share their list.

TechCrunch also keeps a finger on the pulse of technology and business dealings that point to the future of local.

Search Engine Land’s local category is consistently swift in getting the word out about breaking industry news, with the help of multiple authors.

Adweek is a good source for reportage on retail and brand news, but there’s a limit to the number of articles you can read without a subscription. I often find them covering quirky stories that are absent from other publications I read.

The SEMPost’s local tab is another good place to check for local developments, chiefly covered by Jennifer Slegg.

Search Engine Journal’s local column also gets my vote for speedy delivery of breaking local stories.

Google’s main blog and the ThinkWithGoogle blog are musts to keep tabs on the search engine’s own developments, bearing in mind, of course, that these publications can be highly promotional of their products and worldview.

The best of local search marketing analysis

Who can you trust most to analyze the present and predict the future?

LocalU’s Deep Dive video series features what I consider to be the our industry’s most consistently insightful analysis of a variety of local marketing topics, discussed by learned faculty and guests.

The Moz Blog’s local category hosts a slate of gifted bloggers and professional editorial standards that result in truly in-depth treatment of local topics, presented with care and attention. As a veteran contributor to this publication, I can attest to how Moz inspires authors to aim high, and one of the nicest things that happened to our team in 2018 was being voted the #2 local SEO blog by BrightLocal’s survey respondents.

The Local Search Association’s Insider blog is one I turn to again and again, particularly for their excellent studies and quotable statistics.

Mike Blumenthal’s blog has earned a place of honor over many years as a key destination for breaking local developments and one-of-a-kind analysis. When Blumenthal talks, local people listen. One of the things I’ve prized for well over a decade in Mike’s writing is his ability to see things from a small business perspective, as opposed to simply standing in awe of big business and technology.

BrightLocal’s surveys and studies are some of the industry’s most cited and I look eagerly forward to their annual publication.

Whitespark’s blog doesn’t publish as frequently as I wish it did, but their posts by Darren Shaw and crew are always on extremely relevant topics and of high quality.

Sterling Sky’s blog is a relative newcomer, but the expertise Joy Hawkins and Colan Nielsen bring to their agency’s publication is making it a go-to resource for advice on some of the toughest aspects of local SEO.

Local Visibility System’s blog continues to please, with the thoughtful voice of Phil Rozek exploring themes you likely encounter in your day-to-day work as a local SEO.

The Local Search Forum is, hands down, the best free forum on the web to take your local mysteries and musings to. Founded by Linda Buquet, the ethos of the platform is approachable, friendly, and often fun, and high-level local SEOs frequently weigh in on hot topics.

Pro tip: In addition to the above tried-and-true resources, I frequently scan the online versions of city newspapers across the country for interesting local stories that add perspective to my vision of the challenges and successes of local businesses. Sometimes, too, publications like The Atlantic, Forbes, or Business Insider will publish pieces of a high journalistic quality with relevance to our industry. Check them out!

The best for specific local marketing disciplines

Here, I’ll break this down by subject or industry for easy scanning:

Reviews

  • GetFiveStars can’t be beat for insight into online reputation management, with Aaron Weiche and team delivering amazing case studies and memorable statistics. I literally have a document of quotes from their work that I refer to on a regular basis in my own writing.
  • Grade.us is my other ORM favorite for bright and lively coverage from authors like Garrett Sussman and Andrew McDermott.

Email marketing

  • Tidings’ vault contains a tiny but growing treasure trove of email marketing wisdom from David Mihm, whose former glory days spent in the trenches of local SEO make him especially attuned to our industry.

SABs

  • Tom Waddington’s blog is the must-read publication for service area businesses whose livelihoods are being impacted by Google’s Local Service Ads program in an increasing number of categories and cities.

Automotive marketing

  • DealerOn’s blog is the real deal when it comes to automotive local SEO, with Greg Gifford teaching memorable lessons in an enjoyable way.

Legal marketing

  • JurisDigital brings the the educated voices of Casey Meraz and team to the highly-specialized field of attorney marketing.

Hospitality marketing

Independent businesses

Link building

  • Nifty Marketing’s blog has earned my trust for its nifty local link building ideas and case studies.
  • ZipSprout belongs here, too, because of their focus on local sponsorships, which are a favorite local link building methodology. Check them out for blog posts and podcasts.

Schema + other markup

  • Touchpoint Digital Marketing doesn’t publish much on their own website, but look anywhere you can for David Deering’s writings on markup. LocalU and Moz are good places to search for his expertise.

Patents

  • SEO by the Sea has proffered years to matchless analysis of Google patents that frequently impact local businesses or point to future possible developments.

Best local search industry newsletters

Get the latest news and tips delivered right to your inbox by signing up for these fine free newsletters:

Follow the local SEO leaders on Twitter

What an easy way to track what industry adepts are thinking and sharing, up-to-the-minute! Following this list of professionals (alphabetized by first name) will fill up your social calendar with juicy local tidbits. Keep in mind that many of these folks either own or work for agencies or publishers you can follow, too.

Aaron Weiche
Adam Dorfman
Andrew Shotland
Ben Fisher
Bernadette Coleman
Bill Slawski
Brian Barwig
Carrie Hill
Casey Meraz
Cindy Krum
Colan Nielsen
DJ Baxter
Dan Leibson
Dana DiTomaso
Dani Owens
Darren Shaw
Dave DiGreggorio
David Mihm
Don Campbell
Garrett Sussman
Glenn Gabe
Greg Gifford
Greg Sterling
Jennifer Slegg
Joel Headley
Joy Hawkins
Mary Bowling
Mike Blumenthal
Mike Ramsey
Miriam Ellis
Phil Rozek
Sherry Bonelli
Thibault Adda
Tim Capper
Tom Waddington

Share what you learn

How about your voice? How do you get it heard in the local SEO industry? The answer is simple: share what you learn with others. Each of the people and publications on my list has earned a place there because, at one time or another, they have taught me something they learned from their own work. Some tips:

  • Our industry has become a sizeable niche, but there is always room for new, interesting voices
  • Experiment and publish — consistent publication of your findings is the best way I know of to become a trusted source of information
  • Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, so long as you are willing to own them
  • Socialize — attend events, amplify the work of colleagues you admire, reach out in real ways to others to share your common work interest while also respecting busy schedules

Local SEO is a little bit like jazz, in which we’re all riffing off the same chord progressions created by Google, Facebook, Yelp, other major platforms, and the needs of clients. Mike Blumenthal plays a note about a jeweler whose WOMM is driving the majority of her customers. You take that note and turn it around for someone in the auto industry, yielding an unexpected insight. Someone else takes your insight and creates a print handout to bolster a loyalty program.

Everyone ends up learning in this virtuous, democratic cycle, so go ahead — start sharing! A zest for contribution is a step towards leadership and your observations could be music to the industry’s ears.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 1 month ago from tracking.feedpress.it

4 ways to achieve customer engagement on a mobile device

Marketers who want true customer engagement, take heed!

The opportunity to engage on mobile is now! Brands (like yours) need to adopt a mobile-centric strategy if they wish to extend their reach, acquire and retain customers, and increase their marketing ROI.

Why’s that? Ultimately, it’s because consumers’ shopping habits rely heavily on the smartphone and its capabilities. Today we’re inseparable from our mobiles.

The device equips customers with:

  • quick access to information
  • social proof
  • convenience of purchase
  • easy selection process and checkout
  • extensive product and service choice

Brands are under pressure to deliver a seamless ‘at-home’ experience now that the shopfront sits on the consumer’s coffee table. Since mobile is inherently personal to the individual, marketers need to be prioritizing personalization at every stage of the customer journey.

 

Here are 4 ways to deliver the best experience on mobile:

1. Implement a welcome program that’s fit for mobile

First impressions are what build the initial foundations of a long-lasting customer relationship. Brands aiming to nurture a loyal customer base should take an active interest in new subscribers. Winning them over on mobile can make all the difference.

  • Confirm subscription via SMS
  • Send a mobile optimized welcome email (promote your app if you have one)
  • Invite subscribers to fill in a fully responsive preference center
  • Segment contacts based on the information you capture

2. Deliver an on-the-go aftersales experience

The post-purchase journey is a honeymoon period (your customers are really into you, so it’s important to be really into them, too). This is where you can drive valuable mobile moments that build that all-important brand love.

Customers expect:

  • timely transactional notifications
  • informative delivery updates in real time
  • value-add aftersales content (‘how-tos’, reviews, promotions related to past behavior)

Whether these messages are delivered via email, SMS or push, they need to be contextual and relevant. Every mobile moment should mean something to the customer.

3. Engage customers at meaningful moments

Loyalty doesn’t come from one single purchase. Brands have got to invest in their customers – that means providing rich content and tailored product recommendations. It costs five times more to acquire a customer than to retain one, so nurturing tactics should be the cornerstone of your mobile marketing strategy.

Top tips:

  • Trigger a product review via email/SMS and offer an incentive to boost responses
  • Combine preference data with behavioral insight to power relevant communications
  • Send broadcast promotions/event-based notifications via SMS and push (flash sales, content drops, new arrivals, appointment/renewal/replenishment reminders)
  • Anniversaries are a great conversation starter – think birthdays, throwbacks, one-year-since-first-purchase etc.

4. Keep customers hooked wherever they are

Customers inevitably fall off the radar, and it’s a challenge for every business. Since acquisition is pricier than retention, marketers need to refine their re-engagement tactics and prevent customers from lapsing. But fear not: if you’re going to win them back, it’s going to be on mobile.

  • Agree on your lapse criteria (i.e. customer hasn’t opened an email in three months or purchased in six)
  • Build a winback program that incorporates SMS, push and email (using whichever channel subscribers are likelier to engage on)
  • Consider retargeting ads on Facebook and Google

 

Audience segmentation is the most important tactic for marketers to practice. The experience on mobile must be as personalized as possible; consumers won’t engage with messages that lack context or relevancy.

So, when planning out your mobile strategy, think about the reasoning behind every communication in the customer lifecycle. The devil is always in the data.

For deeper insights on how to engage customers on a mobile device, download our best practice guide here.

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Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com