Email was 50 last year. But brands have only been using it as a revenue-generating channel for around 20 years. It’s frustrating when your emails don’t get opened and no one engages with your brand. But sometimes all it takes is sticking to the email rulebook, those commonplace tactics that actually work.
Email best practice is your bread and butter; and it’s easier and faster to get it right today, thanks to an avalanche of tech in recent years.
So, what are you waiting for?
Make 2020 the year of email
resolution, and start using your tech smarter. Remember, email
marketing has an ROI of 4200%. Get your customer engagement up to where it
should be with these seven email marketing best practices. You’ll be driving
more opens, clicks, and conversions in no time.
1. Improve your email deliverability
You may find that for whatever reason your emails are encountering
deliverability problems. Some of the common ones are:
Your contacts are complaining about unwanted
Your emails are going into the junk folder
You’re sending to spam traps
Your content contains spam keywords
Taking preventative measures can
protect your deliverability in the long term. Otherwise, it may take some time
for issues to resolve.
Sending wanted email is crucial, as well as emailing the people who actually open your emails. Make sure you’ve received explicit consent and are acquiring data through a robust process (double opt-in, etc.). Luckily, our data Watchdog protects you – plus catches anyone out who’s not playing by the rules. And don’t neglect your contact list hygiene. Sending to unengaged contacts doesn’t go unnoticed by ISPs, and puts your email sending reputation at risk.
The success of your email campaign rests partly on the subject line. It’s an essential bit of copy, and getting it right makes or breaks your campaign metrics. Communicate clearly what your email’s about. Testing is the best way to optimize the text: maybe your audience reacts better to emotive language; or perhaps emojis arouse more attention?
Tailoring your email content effectively to each recipient relies on how well you’re capturing data. Make sure you have a preference center in place that doesn’t ask too much or too little. Let contacts know why you want to get to know them more: to offer more personalized content. 77% of consumers want personalized content, so it’s a no brainer! You can use data to personalize in two ways: through dynamic content or segmentation, or both.
Relevant data include:
Date of birth
4. Use split testing to increase email engagement
Split testing is the best way to find the optimum email campaign. The great thing is that you can test a load of things: from name, subject line, content, call to action, send time and more. We’ve covered subject lines already, so let’s look at body copy.
Test what works best:
Fewer or more images
CTA as a button or link
‘Shop now’ vs. ‘Discover here’
Bestsellers or hottest drops
Blog placement – right or left?
Plus, multivariate testing means
it’s possible to test various email elements at once, for an even more
5. Tell stories that get contacts to click through
Storytelling is one of the most
important selling tactics in email. People bypass your product features and
benefits in search for an emotional connection. If you can’t tell a good story,
how are you going to sell your products and services?
Generating an emotive response
from subscribers means you need to cut the rhetoric. Put yourself in their
shoes. Focus on authenticity and imagination. Provoke feeling. Potential
customers need to see themselves using your products and services.
Here are some tips:
Share your customers’ experiences through reviews and interviews
Use people – not your business name – to narrate your stories
Avoid the classic sales pitch in favour of some inspirational editorial
Be real: use realistic images, videos, and commentary to support your stories
6. Use contact behavior to trigger relevant emails
Let’s cut to the chase. Triggered emails are highly relevant messages. And subscribers often react positively to them because they’re related to some previous action. Just think about when you receive an abandoned browse or cart recovery campaign.
Website behavioral data.Look at what contacts are browsing and send an email that complements their previous activity. Was it a high-intent page that needs a follow up from sales? Maybe it was a high-value product page that’s worth nudging the contact about.
Order history. Once customers start buying from you, you’ll start to understand what they like and how much they’re willing to spend. Use product and purchase data to inform what email product recommendations customers will likely respond to.
7. Measure campaign results and then optimize
Open rates and click rates are the most obvious metrics to measure for your email marketing. Rather than measure campaign by campaign, look your metrics over a period of time (i.e. 30 days) to get a better idea of your reach. You might discover that email engagement levels fluctuate because of the day or month, who you’ve sent to, or the content itself.
Metrics to consider
Unsubscribe rate – Ideally you want to minimize opt-outs and maintain your lists. Ask for feedback on why people are unsubscribing and make changes accordingly.
Complaints rate – Marking your email as spam is a serious matter. If this rate increases, consider whether you’ve: purchased lists, missed the unsubscribe link, sent irrelevant content or to old addresses, or emailed too frequently.
Conversion rate – Completing a desired action depends on many factors. So, for people who click through to your website, make sure it’s optimized for conversions.
Bounce rate – Calculated as a percentage of emails that weren’t successfully delivered to recipients’ inboxes. A good one to look out for any deliverability issues.
Forward/share rate – This is a good judge of how many brand ambassadors you have. You want to increase this and generate more leads/customers.
Campaign ROI – This is easier to calculate on a campaign-by-campaign basis. But campaign performance is far-reaching; a campaign today could drive ROI in months to come.
Psst… To maintain your list at healthy level, keep your contacts happy with relevant content.
Whenever you change an email variable, watch these metrics like a hawk. They’re a good indicator of optimization and where you need to focus your efforts. To keep on top of your email marketing performance, download our email scoresheet here.
Make email great again
Email will always be the marketer’s preferred channel. But success comes down to best practice. You can’t optimize everything at once, so start with one practice and then move onto the next.
Hit the nail on the head and there’s so much engagement potential with every practice you perfect – your results will soar.
If you own or market a business location that makes a real-world community more serviceable, diverse, and strong, I’m on your side.
I love interesting towns and cities, with a wide array of useful goods and services. Nothing in my career satisfies me more than advising any brand that’s determined to improve life quality in some spot on the map. It does my heart good to see it, but here’s my completely unsentimental take on the challenges you face:
The Internet, and Google’s local platforms in particular, are a complete mess.
Google is the biggest house on the local block; you can’t ignore it. Yet, the entries into the platform are poorly lit, the open-source concept is cluttered with spam, and growing litigation makes one wonder if there are bats in the belfry.
Google comprises both risk and tremendous opportunity for local businesses and their marketers. Succeeding in 2020 means becoming a clear-eyed surveyor of any structural issues as well as seeing the “good bones” potential, so that you can flip dilapidation into dollars. And something beyond dollar, too: civic satisfaction.
Grab your tools and get your teammates and clients together to build local success in the new year by sharing my 3-level plan and 4-quarter strategy.
Residents, new neighbors, and travelers seeking what you offer will almost certainly find something about your company online, whether it’s a stray mention on social media, an unclaimed local business listing generated by a platform or the public, or a full set of website pages and claimed listings you’ve actively published.
Right now, running the most successful local business possible means acquiring the largest share you can of those estimated 1 trillion annual local searches. How do you do this?
By feeding Google:
Website content about your business location, products, services, and attributes
Corroborating info about your company on other websites
Local business listing content
Social media content
Remember, without your content and the content of others, Google does not exist. Local business owners can often feel uncomfortably dependent on Google, but it’s really Google who is dependent on them.
Whether the business you’re marketing is small or large, declare 2020 the year you go to the drafting board to render a clear blueprint for a content architecture that spans your entire neighborhood of the Internet, including your website and relevant third-party sites, platforms, and apps. Your plans might look something like this:
I recommend organizing your plan like this, making use of the links I’m including:
Begin with a rock-solid foundation of business information on your website. Tell customers everything they could want to know to choose and transact with your business. Cover every location, service, product, and desirable attribute of your company. There’s no chance you won’t have enough to write about when you take into account everything your customers ask you on a daily basis + everything you believe makes your company the best choice in the local market. Be sure the site loads fast, is mobile-friendly, and as technically error-free as possible.
Build out your listings (aka structured citations) on the major platforms. Automate the work of both developing and monitoring them for sentiment and change via a product like Moz Local.
Monitor and respond to all reviews as quickly as possible on all platforms. These equal your online reputation and are, perhaps, the most important content about your business on the Internet. Know that reviews are a two-way conversation and learn to inspire customers to edit negative reviews. Moz Local automates review monitoring and facilitates easy responses. If you need help earning reviews, check out Alpine Software Group’s two good products: GatherUp and Grade.Us.
Audit your competition. In competitive markets, come check out our beta of Local Market Analytics for a multi-sampled understanding of who your competitors actually are for each location of your business, depending on searcher locale.
Once you’ve found your competitors, audit them to understand the:
quality, authority and rate of ongoing publication you need to surpass
number and quality of Google posts, videos, products, and other content you need to publish
social engagement you need to create.
As to the substance of your content, focus directly on your customers’ needs. Local Market Analytics is breaking ground in delivering actual local keyword volumes, and the end point of all of your research, whether via keyword tools, consumer surveys, or years of business experience, should be content that acts as customer service, turning seekers into shoppers.
Use any leftover time to sketch in the finer details. For example, I’m less excited about schema for 2020 than I was in 2019 because of Google removing some of the benefits of review schema. Local business schema is still a good idea, though, if you have time for it. Meanwhile, pursuing relevant featured snippets could certainly be smart in the new year. I’d go strong on video this year, particularly YouTube, if there’s applicability and demand in your market.
The customer is the focus of everything you publish. Google is simply the conduit. Your content efforts may need to be modest or major to win the greatest possible share of the searches that matter to you. It depends entirely on the level of competition in your markets. Find that level, know your customers, and commit to feeding Google a steady, balanced diet of what they say they want so that it can be conveyed to the people you want to serve.
Let’s keep it real: ethical local companies which pride themselves on playing fair have good reason to be dubious about doing business with Google. Once you’ve put in the effort to feed Google all the right info to begin competing for rankings, you may well find yourself having to do online battle on an ongoing basis.
There are two fronts on which many people end up grappling with Google:
Problematic aspects within products
Litigation and protests against the brand.
Let’s break these down to prepare you:
Google has taken on the scale of a public utility — one that’s replaced most of North America’s former reliance on telephone directories and directory assistance numbers.
When you are marketing a local business, there’s a strong chance you will face one or more of the following issues while attempting to compete in Google’s local products:
Being outranked by businesses violating Google’s own guidelines with practices such as keyword-stuffed business titles and creating listings to represent non-existent locations or lead-gen companies. (Example)
Being the target of listing hijacking in which another company overtakes some aspect of your listing to populate it with their own details. (Example)
Being the target of a reputation attack by competitors or members of the public posting fake negative reviews of your business. (Example)
Being the target of negative images uploaded to your listing by competitors or the public. (Example)
Having Google display third-party lead-gen information on your listings, driving business away from you to others. (Example)
Having Google randomly experiment with local features with direct negative impacts on you, such as booking functions that reserve tables for your patrons without informing your business. (Example)
Being unable to access adequately trained Google staff or achieve timely resolution when things go wrong (Example)
Honest local business owners don’t operate this way. They don’t make money off of fooling the public, or maliciously attack neighboring shops, or give the cold shoulder to people in trouble. Only Google’s underregulated monopoly status has allowed them to stay in business while conducting their affairs this way.
Brilliant people work for Google and some of their innovations are truly visionary. But the Google brand, as a whole, can be troubling to anyone firmly tied to the idea of ethical business practices. I would best describe the future of Google, in its present underregulated state of monopoly, as uncertain.
A cause of employee protest over a very long list of employer projects and practices.
I can’t predict where all this is headed. What I do know is that nearly every local business I’ve ever consulted with has been overwhelmingly reliant on Google for profits. Whether you personally favor strong regulation or not, I recommend that every local business owner and marketer keep apprised of the increasing calls by governing bodies, organizations, and even the company’s own staff to break Google up, tax it, end contracts on the basis of human rights, and prosecute it over privacy, antitrust, and a host of other concerns.
Pick your battles
With Google so deeply embedded in your company’s online visibility, traffic, reputation and transactions, concerns with the brand and products don’t exist in some far-off place; they are right on your own doorstep. Here’s how to fight well:
1. Fight the spam
To face off with Google’s local spam, earn/defend the rankings your business needs, and help clean polluted SERPs up for the communities you serve, here are my best links for you:
Whether your degree of engagement goes no further than local business listings or extends to your community, state, nation, or the world, I recommend increased awareness of the whole picture of Google in 2020. Education is power.
You’ve fed Google. You’ve fought Google. Now, I want you to flip this whole scenario to your advantage.
My 2020 local SEO blueprint has you working hard for every customer you win from the Internet. So far, the ball has been almost entirely in Google’s court, but when all of this effort culminates in a face-to-face meeting with another human being, we are finally at your party under your roof, where you have all the control. This is where you turn Internet-driven customers into in-store keepers.
I encourage you to make 2020 the year you draft a strategy for making a larger portion of your sales as Google-independent as possible, flipping their risky edifice into su casa, built of sturdy bricks like community, pride, service, and loyalty.
How can you do this? Here’s a four-quarter plan you can customize to fit your exact business scenario:
The foundation of all business success is giving the customer exactly what they want. Hoping and guessing are no substitute for a survey of your actual customers.
If you already have an email database, great. If not, you could start collecting one in Q1 and run your survey at the end of the quarter when you have enough addresses. Alternatively, you could ask each customer if they would kindly take a very short printed survey while you ring up their purchase.
Imagine you’re marketing an independent bookstore. Such a survey might look like this, whittled down to just the data points you most want to gather from customers to make business decisions:
Have pens ready and a drop box for each customer to deposit their card. Make it as convenient and anonymous as possible, for the customer’s comfort.
In this survey and listening phase of the new year, I also recommend that you:
Spend more time as the business owner speaking directly to your customers, really listening to their needs and complaints and then logging them in a spreadsheet. Speak with determination to discover how your business could help each customer more.
Have all phone staff log the questions/requests/complaints they receive.
Have all floor/field staff log the questions/requests/complaints they receive.
Audit your entire online review corpus to identify dominant sentiment, both positive and negative
If the business you’re marketing is large and competitive, now is the time to go in for a full-fledged consumer analysis project with mobile surveys, customer personae, etc.
End of Q1 Goal: Know exactly what customers want so that they’ll come to us for repeat business without any reliance on Google.
In this quarter, you’ll implement as many of the requests you’ve gleaned from Q1 as feasible. You’ll have put solutions in place to rectify any complaint themes, and will have upped your game wherever customers have called for it.
In addition to the fine details of your business, large or small, life as a local SEO has taught me that these six elements are basic requirements for local business longevity:
A crystal-clear USP
Adequate, well-trained, personable staff
An in-demand inventory of products/services
Accessibility for complaint resolution
Cleanliness/orderliness of premises/services
The lack of any of these six essentials results in negative experiences that can either cause the business to shed silent customers in person or erode online reputation to the point that the brand begins to fail.
With the bare minimums of customers’ requirements met, Q2 is where we get to the fun part. This is where you take your basic USP and add your special flourish to it that makes your brand unique, memorable, and desirable within the community you serve.
A short tale of two yarn shops in my neck of the woods: At shop A, the premises are dark and dusty. Customer projects are on display, but aren’t very inspiring. Staff sits at a table knitting, and doesn’t get up when customers enter. At shop B, the lighting and organization are inviting, displayed projects are mouthwatering, and though the staff here also sits at a table knitting, they leap up to meet, guide, and serve. Guess which shop now knows me by name? Guess which shop has staff so friendly that they have lent me their own knitting needles for a tough project? Guess which shop I gave a five-star review to? Guess where I’ve spent more money than I really should?
This quarter, seek vision for what going above-and-beyond would look like to your customers. What would bring them in again and again for years to come? Keep it in mind that computers are machines, but you and your staff are people serving people. Harness human connection.
End of Q2 Goal: Have implemented customers’ basic requests and gone beyond them to provide delightful human experiences Google cannot replicate.
Q3: Participate, educate, appreciate
Now you know your customers, are meeting their specified needs, and doing your best to become one of their favorite businesses. It’s time to walk out your front door into the greater community to see where you can make common cause with a neighborhood, town, or city, as a whole.
2020 is the year you become a joiner. Analyze all of the following sources at a local level:
Print and TV news
School newsletters and papers
Place of worship newsletters and bulletins
Local business organization newsletters
Any form of publication surrounding charity, non-profits, activism, and government
Create a list of the things your community worries about, cares about, and aspires to. For example, a city near me became deeply involved in a battle over putting an industrial plant in a wetland. Another town is fundraising for a no-kill animal shelter and a walk for Alzheimer’s. Another is hosting interfaith dinners between Christians and Muslims.
Pick the efforts that feel best to you and show up, donate, host, speak, sponsor, and support in any way you can. Build real relationships so that the customers coming through your door aren’t just the ones you sell to, but the ones you’ve manned a booth with on the 4th of July, attended a workshop with, or cheered with at their children’s soccer match. This is how community is made.
Once you’re participating in community life, it’s time to educate your customers about how supporting your business makes life better in the place they live (get a bunch of good stats on this here). Take the very best things that you do and promote awareness of them face-to-face with every person you transact with.
For my fictitious bookseller client, just 10 minutes spent on Canva (you have to try Canva!) helped me whip together this free flyer I could give to every customer, highlighting stats about how supporting independent businesses improve communities:
If you’re marketing a larger enterprise, a flyer like this could focus on green practices you’re implementing at scale, philanthropic endeavors, and positive community involvement.
Finally, with the holiday season fast approaching in the coming quarter, this is the time to let customers know how much you appreciate their business. Recently, I wrote about businesses turning kindness into a form of local currency. Brands are out there delivering surprise flowers and birthday cakes to customers, picking them up when they’re stranded on roadsides, washing town signage, and replacing “you will be towed” plaques with ones that read “you’re welcome to park here.” Loyalty programs, coupons, discounts, sales, free events, parties, freebies, and fun are all at your disposal to say “Thank you, please come again!” to your customers.
End of Q3 Goal: Have integrated more deeply into community life, motivated customers to choose our business for aspirational reasons beyond sales, and have offered memorable acts of gratitude for their business, completely independent of Google.
Q4: Share customers and sell
Every year, local consumer surveys indicate that 80–90% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. But I’ve yet to see a survey poll how much people trust recommendations they receive from trustworthy business owners.
You spent all of Q3 becoming a true ally to your community, getting personally involved in the struggles and dreams of the people you serve. At this point, if you’ve done a good job, the people who make up your brand have come closer to deserving the word “friend” from customers. As we move into Q4, it’s time to deepen alliances — this time with related local businesses.
In the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street, the owners of Macy’s and Gimbel’s begin sending shoppers to one another when either business lacks what the customer wants. They even create catalogues of their competitors’ inventory to assist with these referrals. In Q3, I’m hoping you joined a local business alliance that’s begun to acquaint you with other brands that feature goods/service that relate to yours so that you can begin dedicated outreach.
Q4, with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, is traditionally the quarter in which local businesses expect to get out of the red, but how many more wedding cakes would you sell if all the caterers in town were referring to you, how many more tires would you vend if the muffler shops sent all their customers your way, how many more therapeutic massages might you book if every holistic medical center in your city confidently gave out your name?
Formalize B2B customer referrals in this quarter in seven easy steps:
Create a spreadsheetheaded with your contact information and an itemized list of the main goods, services, and brands you sell. Include specialties of your business. Create additional rows to be filled out with the information of other businesses.
Create a list of every local business that could tie in with yours in any way for a customer’s needs.
Invite the owners or qualified reps of each business on your list to a meeting at a neutral location, like a community center or restaurant.
Bring your spreadsheet to the meeting.
Discuss with your guests how a commitment to sharing customers will benefit all of you
If others commit, have them fill out their column of the spreadsheet. Share print and digital copies with all participants.
Whenever a customer asks for something you don’t offer, refer to the spreadsheet to make a recommendation. Encourage your colleagues to do likewise, and to train staff to use the spreadsheet to increase customer sharing and satisfaction.
House flipping is a runaway phenomenon in the US that has remodeled communities and sparked dozens of hit TV shows. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the activity, as it can create negative gentrification, making life less good for residents.
You need have no fear of this when you flip Google, because turning their house into yours actually strengthens your real-world neighborhood, town, or city. It gives the residents who already live there more stable resources, more positive human contact, and a more closely knit community.
Truth: Google will remain dominant in the discovery-related phases of your consumers’ journeys for the foreseeable future. For new neighbors and travelers, Google will remain a valuable source of your business being found in the first place. Even if governing bodies break the company up at some point, the truth is that most local businesses need to utilize Google a search utility for discovery.
Dare: Draw a line on the pavement outside your front door this year, with transactional experiences on your side of the line. Google wants to own the transaction phase of your customers’ journey. Bookings, lead gen, local ads, and related features show where they are headed with this. If Google could, I’m sure they’d be glad to take a cut of every sale you make, and you’ll likely have to participate in their transactional aspirations to some degree. But…
In 2020, dare yourself to turn every customer you serve into a keeper, cutting out Google as the middleman wherever you can and building a truly local, regenerative base of loyalty, referrals, and community.
Wishing you a local 2020 of daring vision and self-made success!
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On July 16th, 2020, we’ll be hosting the fourth dotdigital Summit at Tobacco Dock in London. The Summit’s year-on-year success has not only earned it renowned distinction, but a status as the landmark event in your marketing calendar.
Our opening keynote is a familiar face who wowed audiences at our inaugural Summit back in 2017. I mean, who has better flair for the stage than Rory Sutherland? His rousing insight will make this keynote an unmissable opportunity to learn something new. On Summit day he’ll back with full force to impart the ideas behind the brain of Britain’s most remarkable ad man.
Madison Utendahl talks brand storytelling
We’ve secured a great young mind for our morning keynote: Madison Utendahl. Proud New Yorker, Madison is passionate about brand storytelling and experiential marketing, having led the creative front at Tonight with John Oliver, 29Rooms, and Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC). As Head of Content and Social, she grew MOIC’s digital presence to reach an audience of over 1 billion people in under 20 months. Her talk will inspire you to tell stories that send energy waves through your audiences.
Five tracks to choose from
Our breakout sessions will be split into five tracks, each carefully designed to help you curate the best customer experience.
Customer experience carries a lot of weight in a consumer’s decision to purchase with you over a competitor. Creating an experience that runs smoothly for everyone, everywhere, can seem like an almighty task. Like any journey, the start is the most daunting. The destination is far away and the trip is uncertain. This track is about being proactive, anticipating customer needs, and averting disruptions.
What’s the future going to throw at you next? As a marketer, your job is guided by the rapid pace of technology which is empowering consumers and raising their expectations. Know exactly what’s coming next: We’ll dig deep into the science behind the marketing and help future-proof your customer engagement strategy.
Converting leads or acquiring customers is about demand generation. Want to know how to target programs to drive awareness and interest in your products and services? Sit back and learn from experts. Discover the makings of profit-driven customer engagement tactics. And always remember that results speak volumes: Use your insight to optimize your campaigns and finesse the customer experience.
Data is the driving force behind every business decision. So, successful marketing always hinges on insight. It doesn’t matter how bold your idea is. That’s why crafting the best customer experience starts with data. And juggling data throughout the customer journey doesn’t have to be hard work. We’ll boost your data confidence and help you make one-to-one conversations a showstopper.
Our passion is meaningful conversation. We’re fiercely committed to empowering you personally and professionally. We want to challenge the status quo and engage in cultural debate. Whether that’s breaking the mental health taboo or promoting a better work-life balance. Our aim is for you to be the best person you can be. Push the boundaries, embrace every opportunity, and aspire for something great.
You can have an enticing website loaded with the latest features, offering a remarkable experience to the users. However, until and unless, your potential customers find you on Google and other popular search engines, you actually don’t exist for them. After hearing so, you may like to make your presence in the ever-evolving digital realm. … Continue reading “Top 4 SEO Tips That Will Help Your Website to Rank High in 2020”