Maximize your email delivery this holiday season

Email delivery is a tricky subject matter, and we never want to understand it more than during periods where we’re sending mass emails. This question from my line manager on a Friday afternoon started an interesting conversation for the delivery operations and deliverability teams. My first thought (well, not my first thought – that was the witty reply of “Saturday”, and much chortling ensued) was that they must be my least favorite American imports: Black Friday and its bumbling step-sibling, Cyber Monday.

I was pretty surprised to find out that it’s actually Singles Day on November 11th, a popular shopping day for our friends in the Asia-Pacific region. This year Alibaba set the record with sales surpassing $30.8 billion in just 24 hours.

We’re not yet on board with Singles Day here in Europe, but UK retailers and consumers have embraced the aforementioned Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity for pre-Christmas sales and bargains. This means emails. Lots and lots and LOTS of emails.

During busy periods, recipients receive so many emails that marketers have to vie for their attention. This kind of inbox exhaustion is a known challenge. But another common sentiment we hear from customers during the festive period is, “why is it taking so long to deliver my emails?”

Delays can be frustrating, especially if you’re sending time-sensitive emails for short-lived sales. So, why do delays occur and what can you do to avoid them?

Queues aren’t just a British thing

In email delivery, queuing happens in two places: on the mailserver sending out the emails and on the mailserver receiving the emails.

When sending emails, the server has to wait for an IP address to have an available outbound connection opportunity, then connect to the recipient mailserver, and finally deliver the email to that recipient server. While waiting for available IPs, the mailserver will create queues of emails which are all going to the same domain (gmail.com, hotmail.com, etc.) so that it’s ready when a connection becomes available to push as many emails through that connection as it can.

On the receiving end, the servers have the unenviable task of taking those inbound emails and making sure they end up in the correct inboxes. During this process, the emails are checked by filtering tools and algorithms to ensure they’re wanted mail. Queues will be created of emails waiting to be checked for spam, to then be allocated to the correct inbox, etc. Mailbox providers prioritize person-to-person communications (that thanksgiving update you sent to your grandma) over bulk marketing communications.

Just think of it like traffic: you have cars queuing at the barriers to exit parking lot A and get onto the road to their destination. There are only a certain number of exits and the road outside is busy, so they have to wait their turn. When they get to parking lot B, they have to queue for a security check and then queue to park on the right level and in the right space.

Email delivery gridlock

In general, when sending out emails, the more IPs you have the faster emails can be transmitted to a receiving mailserver. However, there are some pretty hefty caveats that apply on a day-to-day basis, even outside of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday and festive periods.

For example, most mailbox providers will apply various fair-usage limits on the number of inbound connections, the number of messages that can be sent per connection, the total number of messages they’ll accept per minute/hour/day, etc. These limits are often lower for IPs/domains which have poorer reputations and higher for those with better reputations, but most will have a cap — even for the best senders.

What happens when email volume is high?

It’s possible, and has happened historically, that receiving mailservers can be overwhelmed by the volume of email being sent during busy periods. When experiencing a high load, they may be more restrictive on the number of connections they’ll accept — even from IPs with excellent reputations.

When mailbox providers are telling our mailservers that they’re under high load, we automatically reduce our send rates and the number of connections we’re making. This slows down sending and lengthens queues, but it means that we’re less likely to irritate a mailbox provider to the point where they throttle the sending IPs (i.e. impose their own, even more severe, rate limits) or block them outright. Our system can detect when things are back to normal and send rates will increase again.

Even after emails have been accepted by receivers, during busy periods they may have enormous queues waiting for their filtering and allocation tools to check emails for spam and actually get them to the inbox. This is where person-to-person prioritization comes in: you might be able to send a single test email from your work Office 365 account to your personal gmail account and it’s delivered in seconds, but marketing emails from your ESP could take much longer. This is because recipients are more likely to complain to their mailbox provider about delays in receiving an email from their niece than complain about a delay in receiving a marketing email.

What you can do about email delivery

Firstly, choose a responsible ESP that understands the challenges of busy periods and has the ability to scale up during times of high load. Our deliverability operations team has been hard at work all year, expanding the number of IPs in use and bolstering our sending infrastructure.

Secondly, put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your emails. Just spend 10 minutes in your own personal inbox, being overwhelmed by the influx of marketing emails. Have some empathy for your recipients and use targeting and segmentation to send something really interesting to people who are likely to engage with your emails.

Finally, and most importantly, be sympathetic with mailbox providers. Their goal is to provide the best experience to their users and during busy festive periods they manage queues and prioritize accordingly. Don’t leave campaigns until the last minute; instead, think about spreading your sends out over a few hours or days. Every email you send to gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo uses up some amount of processing power and then some amount of storage space – and you don’t pay for that. Be patient and learn from experiences this holiday season to inform your future strategies.


Want more hands-on advice on email deliverability? Download our 101 guide here.

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Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Email deliverability: make Black Friday about consent, not spam

The last email deliverability blog I wrote was about how communicating to everyone in your lists needs to be done strategically, and that email may not be the best path. One of the seasons where senders feel pressure to expand their email audience is fast approaching.

Sometimes that pressure focuses on legal arguments.

To re-iterate from last time: Making sure that what you are sending and to whom is legal, is something I cannot advise on. Most often, when having a conversation on email deliverability, and specifically when I’m giving advice on who to send to, I get the response: ” but it’s legal”.

Please leave the legal conversation for the lawyers. For me – and this may seem harsh – I don’t care. The legal argument is just that – an argument. And it misses the point and moves the whole focus away from what the conversation should really be about.

Email deliverability: Wanted vs. unwanted

The focus of the conversation should be on: do the recipients of the emails you’re sending want to receive those emails?

Consent and setting expectations are both key to having a successful, revenue-generating email program. As we come up to the busy holiday period, it’s easy to let the pressures that come with it change this key part of the message. But there are no exceptions because of timing.

Mailbox providers have a job to do: to make sure that the emails being sent to recipients are wanted. They measure whether or not an email is wanted through many different indicators. Some of those include:

  • when recipients mark a message as spam
  • sending to an email address that’s being used to identify senders collecting email addresses without consent or continued consent (a.k.a ‘spam trap’)
  • sending to recipients that no longer exist at that mailbox provider

Once you reach one or more of those thresholds, mailbox providers (such as Gmail and Yahoo) can see clearly that you’re sending emails that their users – the owners of the email addresses you’re sending to – do not want.

Re-focus on email deliverability

If your biggest argument for sending an email is, “oh, but it’s legal”, then you need to re-focus. Because you run the risk of alienating people who actually do want to hear from you. These are the contacts that drive revenue or any other intended outcome of your email program.

Build a robust sending plan

Building back your reputation is hard; it’s better to build your sending plan for the busy upcoming holidays. Here are some email deliverability tips:

  • Use past years’ data to understand how your recipients interact with your emails. Look at the demographics of your recipient base and what they want to know.
  • Continue to respect recipients that have shown they are not interested. Consider carefully before sending to inactive contacts who may still be opted in. Whatever value you might get from sending a campaign like that is not worth the risk to your email deliverability. Find the data point where revenue drops. At what age of inactivity does the lack of revenue make sending to that data set irrelevant? Remember, the answer to this question will be different for each sender.
  • If there is consent and data to show a larger audience wants to hear about your Black Friday deals, then plan any volume increases accordingly – slowly build to the volumes where you need to be.

Who should I be sending to?

Want more advice on email deliverability during the busy festive period? Get in touch with your account manager to set up a consultation.

For more killer insight, download our email deliverability guide here.

The post Email deliverability: make Black Friday about consent, not spam appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

4 things that will make your email design great

And with your customers more visually literate every day, and their inboxes more crowded, nice email design isn’t just nice to have, it’s essential.

So, what do you need to bear in mind when designing a top-notch email? You should think about:

1. Your brand

Your emails are an extension of your brand. Stick to your company’s color palette and fonts (and be consistent with them!) and include your logo or other brand assets.

2. Placement of text, images, buttons, and white space

People tend to scan images and text in documents and emails in a F-shape pattern. This means that the top few lines, calls to action, and images will draw the most attention. Whereas subscribers will start to absorb less, the further down the page, and could drop off completely. Try to avoid anything important in the bottom-right hand space of your emails. Strong hero images with clear calls to action are important. As is white space, which will allow your content to breathe and permeate the thought space of your customers.

3. Storytelling

Having a clear narrative isn’t just important for your copy. Fluid design should signpost readers from start to end, and point them to the right place. Just like a story would divert your attention to something significant, so should your email design.

4. Optimizing for mobile

More emails are now opened on phones than on desktops and laptops. It’s more important than ever that your emails aren’t just ‘mobile-friendly’, but designed specifically for mobile, whether that’s in app or on a mobile browser.

Does it seem like a lot to consider? Well we have some good news. At dotdigital, our success is your success. Between us, we have a vested interest in your campaigns being amazing, and we love seeing all the beautiful emails you create and send out to your customers. Sexy-looking emails will always result in better engagement rates. So, with all this in mind, here’s what we came up with recently to make your job that bit easier, and your campaigns even better looking.

New email design templates are here!

And we haven’t just optimized design for the eye, we’ve also optimized further for mobile experiences. Image-led or editorial, there’s a wide selection for you to choose from, depending on your industry type or email purpose. Whether you’re a retailer with a product promotion or a charity with a special event, there’ll be a template for you. Pick the design that most aligns with your brand and message, and get started.

Templates make your life a lot easier, but you still have control

Using an email template doesn’t mean you can’t personalize for your brand. With Engagement Cloud templates, you can use your own logo, color scheme, and web-friendly fonts, and even drag-and-drop blocks in our much-loved Easy Editor. That’s not to mention ramping up your HTML editing expertise, should you want a bolder design. Templates aren’t here to take over your creative impulses. Think of them as an array of skeletons to build your sends up quickly.

Have
a look for yourselves!

Whether you work off a template or design emails from scratch, we hope our new templates highlight what’s possible in Engagement Cloud. There are even festive designs as we head into the winter shopping season!

Let us know what you think in your account
or sign up for a free trial to see for yourself.

The post 4 things that will make your email design great appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

The beginner’s guide to email marketing automation

At dotdigital, we talk a lot about our platform Engagement Cloud, and all the amazing features, like automation, that can add value to your marketing. But what if you don’t quite know where to start with all this functionality? With all the buzzwords – omnichannel campaigns, segmentation, product recommendations, SMS, push to mobile, and social retargeting – channel marketing can be intimidating for some online retailers.

There’s a
perception that setting up automated customer journeys is a complex activity
that requires substantial investment in precious time and resources, and this
perception is often the biggest blocker to getting started.

In this
article I’ll show how you can see massive ROI with minimal effort through
Engagement Cloud automations. 

My advice is
to start simple:

  1. Decide which contacts you want to target and make sure
    you have a way to segment them
  2. Set up basic customer journeys for each segment

Program Builder, the automation tool in Engagement Cloud, makes step two easy, with pre-built templates you can choose from to get started. We’ve already done the hard work for you, all you need to do is add your campaign content!

I’ve included some recommended customer journeys below.

Give your new subscribers a great introduction to your brand with a basic welcome automation

Segment: Brand new
subscribers

A welcome journey is an automation triggered when a subscriber signs up to your newsletters. The content of your welcome communications introduces your brand and sets your contacts’ expectations for the types of communications they will receive from you.

The below example from Nude by Nature outlines the brand’s purpose: a commitment to natural, cruelty-free products. Plus, the message also incentivizes subscribers to make their first purchase by offering a discount coupon. The “Shop Now” button makes it easy to return to the website and start browsing.

Nurture your customers and inspire loyalty with a helpful post-purchase automation

Segment: New
customers

A ‘post-purchase’
journey is an automation triggered when a customer makes their first order from
your store.

Note that a post-purchase journey is separate to transactional emails, which contain order updates such as delivery status and postage information.   

This example from Baxter Blue is sent to customers after their expected delivery date to check in and make sure they’ve received their product. As well as reiterating the benefits of their glasses, customers are also given advice on what to do if they have still not received their delivery.

email automation

Help tentative shoppers make quicker decisions with abandoned cart or checkout reminders

Segment: Undecided
online visitors

Abandoned cart or abandoned checkout journeys and campaigns can be triggered via your store’s Engagement Cloud integration, as a reminder to customers who have left an item behind. A discount or an offer of free shipping might help entice them to follow through with the purchase, or you can take the opportunity to educate the recipient about your brand. 

This cheeky example from Remedy Drinks exemplifies the brand’s laid-back tone of voice, and the link to the product makes it easy for customers to click through and complete their purchase.

Entice lapsed subscribers back to your brand with re-engagement journey

Segment: Unengaged
subscribers

A re-engagement journey aims to reactivate subscribers or customers who are no longer engaging with your emails. This is a good opportunity to start experimenting with adding your contacts to social audiences to engage with them via another channel. You can use our Facebook retargeting automation template (below) or set up your own journey – it’s as simple as adding a node to your automation.

automation

Takeaways

Marketing automation isn’t supposed to be difficult. You don’t have to do everything all at once; prioritize and focus on the basics. Choose key segments you want to engage with and build simple customer journeys to capture their attention. You can grow your omnichannel strategy (and brand) from there. If you’re not a dotdigital customer, you can watch a quick demo of Engagement Cloud here.

And if you fancy your hand at more triggered programs, grab a copy of our free automation planning worksheet.

The post The beginner’s guide to email marketing automation appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

14 email marketing mistakes to avoid

We may be omnichannel marketers now, but email still plays an important role in every brand’s marketing function. That’s because email ROI is a whopping £42! (DMA Email Benchmarking Report.)

We’ve gone back to our roots and identified 14 email mistakes that you should avoid like the plague. Happy reading

1. Omitting the unsubscribe and privacy policy in email

This is a legal no-no. Absolutely unacceptable and dodgy AF. You’ll make subscribers angry if they feel like they have no option to opt out. Ensure the unsubscribe is unambiguously visible at the bottom of your email and always link through to your privacy policy. Subscribers will trust your brand much much more if you’re playing by the rules.

No email unsubscribe

2. Using bad grammar

Nothing will kill your conversion more than bad grammar and spelling errors. You’ll lose all credibility if you’re mixing up your yours with your you’res, your theres with your theirs and they’res. Awks. Cringe, right? Developing an eye for detail will put your email marketing in good stead. Good grammar is sexy, and so is your brand!

Email spelling

3. Forgetting to welcome email subscribers

Don’t get off on the wrong foot. Send new subscribers a welcome email that tells them who you are and what they expect from you. Include your USPs and ask for the preferences you need to tailor their email experience. Whether they engage or don’t engage with you depends on what you do with this one email, so get it right!

Welcome email

4. Placing the email’s call to action below the fold

This one is plain stupid. If you want subscribers to take an action, place the call above the fold where it’s clearly visible. Device optimization is key – make sure you test on mobile to make sure the experience mirrors that on other screens. Try the inverted pyramid method – it grabs attention, builds the anticipation, and draws the reader’s eye to the all-important action. All in all, it works a treat!

Email pyramid

5. Not meeting email subscribers’ expectations

If you made a bold promise on sign-up, you need to stick to it. It won’t matter how amazing your product or how great your copy, people will unsubscribe. Subscribing to a brand’s newsletters and then not receiving what I agreed to (namely promotions, editorial, etc.) really gets under my skin. The answer is delivering on your content promise and managing your email frequency. So, just send subscribers what you promised them in the first place and everyone’s a happy bunny. Bosh!

Email expectations

6. Sending sh!t looking emails

Design should leave your subscribers hungry. Think about when you go to a restaurant. If you’re presented with a sloppy bowl of goulash and a more appetizing plate of silky mushroom risotto topped with a piece of seared salmon and a scatter of crunchy scallions, which are you likely to choose? We eat first with our eyes. By the same token, conversion starts with beautiful design.

Email design

7. Bombarding your email list

Don’t send to all. Use the data you hold on subscribers to segment your lists: preferences, demographics, website behavior, orders, email activity. The targeting opportunities are endless! Decide on who will want to hear from you and about what. Your engagement rates will soar because the message will be more relevant to the recipient.

Email segments

8. Not using data to follow up

Email activity is rich insight. If you send a new subscriber a welcome voucher and they open the email but don’t redeem the offer, send them a reminder. The rule is simple and you can set up an ongoing segment that triggers these nudges in the background. The same goes for your lucrative cart recovery and abandoned browse emails. You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Data-triggered email

9. Being too salesy

Cut the sales chat. Now. Talk to prospects like you would a friend. Make your prompts funny and be down to earth. No one likes a blanket sales email that has no relevance to them whatsoever. The same goes for B2C: Subject lines that refer to yet another sale or promotion will fall flat and get lost among hundreds of other similar emails in the inbox. Be personal and purposeful; talk about your customer, not you. Get a copy of our 14 free sales and marketing templates for some inspiration.

Sales

10. Neglecting mobile users

Mobile is nothing new. Mobile optimization is not revolutionary. Mobile-first strategies are no longer a game-changer. Hopefully you’re already sending emails that render flawlessly on Android and iPhone. Otherwise you might find that your email conversion rates have hit rock bottom. Design email for the mobile consumer first and foremost. Just think about it. We’re constantly on the move, tapping away. On public transport we’re digesting content, not talking to actual human beings! Sad, right? But that’s the status quo. Plus, the demise of the desktop has been a long time coming. For someone who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, admitting that desktop is dying a slow death is pretty tough. Who else misses the excruciating sound of the dial-up modem?

Best advice: go mobile and stay there. Don’t forget to test, too! Grab our best practice guide on designing email for mobile here.

mobile

11. Employing a robotic tone of voice

Authentic brands talk like their customers speak. It’s at simple as that. At dotdigital, our tone of voice is semi-informal, friendly, and conversational. I write how our account managers talk to customers over the phone. It’s our job to translate technical language into terminology that everyone can understand. We’re anecdotal and tell stories, because that’s what our customers do. So, to hit the nail on the head, converse with your customers and your tone will soon surface. Check out our copywriting guides for more on tone of voice.

tone of voice

12. Making your email a full-length image

No, no, no. Just no. Stick to the email rule book and mix images with text. Email clients such as Outlook, AOL, and Yahoo! Mail block images automatically. If your email is a full-length image it will look ugly when it lands in the inbox and subscribers may delete it straight away. There’s no guarantee that they’ll download the image(s). Whereas including copy in text format mitigates this effect because it communicates relevancy quickly. For any images you do include with your copy, don’t forget to use the alt text so subscribers can identify the images if they’re turned off.

13. Sending subscribers to a totally irrelevant landing page

If I had a pound for every time I clicked on a specific link and landed on a brand’s homepage, I’d be on a beach in Mauritius instead of writing this blog.

landing page

That’s it folks!

I hope this blog has given you good food for thought. Ridding your email campaigns of any blunders can have a real impact on your bottom line. Be sure to measure the results of any changes you do make. For more advice on how to finesse your email marketing, check out our free Back to Basics email marketing cheatsheet.

Back to basics email

The post 14 email marketing mistakes to avoid appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Email: 3 things you must do instead of ‘sending to all’

This is one of the most frequent conversations I have with dotdigital customers who want to email their entire recipient base about a change – and usually quickly.

They want help with minimizing risk and troubleshooting the damage. I get it, terms have changed, a new privacy policy has been put in place, or something else has happened that you’re being told has to be communicated to everybody. I’ve been there, I understand your pain and I want to shout: THERE’S A BETTER WAY. Dealing with the damage retroactively is not the only way to handle this situation. 

A word on legalities

Before I get into the whys and hows, please note that this is deliverability advice and is meant to help you get the most from your brands digital messaging.  you should always check the legalities with your legal team. 

Recognize your email KPI

Before
making the decision to send an email to your entire file, take a step back and
consider the impact it could have.

When
building an email program, the goal is to hit the KPI that you are being
measured on. Whether that’s revenue, getting attendees to an event, pushing
forward a cause, attracting users to your app – there are many intended
outcomes from sending an email. Sending to a much larger group than those that
will support that KPI puts the program you have dedicated your time to at
risk. 

The risks of blanket email

Mailbox providers are held to their customers wants and needs – people like you and I who have email addresses, and they need to watch the positive and negative indicators closely to make sure the emails being allowed to reach the inbox are from brands that are sending wanted emails. When you send to your entire file, regardless of the status of that recipient, you run the risk of:

  • more complaints (recipients who mark a
    message as spam, complain to your ESP or complain to the mailbox provider)
  • high unknown users (email addresses that don’t
    exist)
  • sending to spam traps (email addresses used to
    identify senders sending with poor list hygiene or sending to recipients
    who haven’t given consent)

These
negative interactions, which can come from sending to all email addresses in
your file, can have a serious knock-on effect. Emails going to the customers
that keep you in business are put in jeopardy and are at risk of going in to
the spam folder or not making it to the recipient at all.

How can
you accomplish your goals without the possibility of causing damage to your
email program’s bottom line? Here are three steps to help you through this
situation:

1. Send an email to active recipients

Those who are actively participating in the email conversation with you will be interacting positively (i.e. opening, clicking) with your emails. Send them an email to explain any changes in a way that they will understand. Give them the ability to take it a step further by drilling down themselves. This shows that you respect them enough to make sure they really understand the changes that are being made. 

2. Segment recipients that are not being sent emails regularly into other digital messaging methods

Here, you minimize the risk to your deliverability. One of the benefits of using Engagement Cloud, offered by dotdigital, is that there are other avenues available to you. There are different channels where recipients may be interacting with you and more effectively reached.

3. Respect those that have actively said they don’t want to hear from you

If a
recipient has unsubscribed from your messaging – don’t send them any messages.
Explore other ways of communicating with those recipients. A couple of
examples:

  • If you have an online account available to your recipients, use a popover that communicates to users the changes that have taken place – and requires them to click through.
  • If you have an app, ask the user to agree to the new terms before using the app again. 

The bottom line

Approach the communications with your recipients/subscribers/customers as a conversation. It’s a reciprocal, two-way thing, where both parties are conversing. Why risk ending the revenue-generating conversations by sending an email to your entire database when you don’t have to? Instead, save yourself some pain and use the opportunity to communicate with your recipients in the way they want to hear from you. Make this about them. 

Want more advice on deliverability?

The post Email: 3 things you must do instead of ‘sending to all’ appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

4 Ways To Use Social Media With Email

But why is social media so popular? Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow audiences to stay connected and connect with people they never meet in real life.

Social influencers have emerged from this and are now instrumental in many successful marketing strategies. People love to hear what other people are wearing, buying and doing. That’s why, today, 69% of people trust social influencers and peer recommendations more than they do brands.

As a result, including social proof in your email marketing campaign – if not all your marketing campaigns – is essential. Tapping into your audiences’ social feeds sounds simple, right? After all, you have their email address, and there’s no better place to start than that. But encouraging them to actively share your content is a whole other ball game.

But have no fear, we’ve got four top tips to help you:

Follow us on…

Directing subscribers to your social accounts should be high on your to-do list. Especially when they’ve just signed up.

Introducing your various social media channels should be an integral part of your welcome program. New subscribers are engaged with your brand. Make the most of it and direct them to your social channels as quickly as possible.

Whether it’s the core of your message or at the end, make your CTA clear, easy to understand, and accessible on mobile devices.

GQ social media welcome

And, don’t just think of it as part of your welcome program. Social links should be a part of every email you send.

Make sharing easy

When you’ve invested time and effort into creating engaging content, don’t let readers forget about it when they close your email.

Most web content, especially mobile-friendly web content, has an easy-to-identify share button. To increase the lifespan of your work, make it as easy as possible for subscribers to share. If they find it interesting, so may their social circle. Email subscribers are 3x more likely to share content, so use this and make it as easy as possible.

Newsletters like The Skimm do this by including sharing links at the end of every content block.

The Skimm social sharing

But that’s not the only way to encourage your audiences to spread the word about your brand. People who discover a new brand through referral marketing are 4x more likely to buy from it.

Key to getting customers to refer are incentives. Once you’ve decided what you’ll offer them, invite customers to post referrals via social media. This has the dual benefit of promoting your business and giving them more opportunities to receive your referral perks.

Maude social refer a friend

Give customers a voice

We’ve already told you how important social proof is to the modern consumer. It’s important that your social accounts are an open and friendly environment. Your audience must feel comfortable talking to you, and the best way to do this is by encouraging them to express on your social channels.

You can achieve this by frequently sharing posts where your brand has been tagged and mentioned by fans and followers.

Paravel social media email

Alternatively, directly asking for feedback has the added
benefit of empowering your customers and making them feel like a valued member
of your audience.

Bellroy social media reviews

Never forget the importance of peer-to-peer reviews. They’re becoming ever-more influential in the decision-making process, so capitalize on your customers’ social habits. Give them a voice, help them be heard, and get good publicity for your brand at the same time.

Promote your content across social

Give your content a new lease of life by repurposing it for social media. This is a useful tactic if you create editorial newsletters on a regular basis. Why not share the link to the web version of your newsletter on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook?

Sheerluxe instagram post

Or perhaps you have a dedicated landing page for each article. Share these links along with a CTA to sign up in the hopes of increasing your subscriber database.

Think about engaging ways content can be repurposed for social media. Pose a question to the audience, run a poll, turn features into a podcast, or create vox pops after an event. With each post, include a link for new subscribers.

Conclusion

Both social media and email are excellent channels from customer acquisition and retention. It’s only logical to use the one to support the other. Using the tactics outlined above, you’ll see your database grow, social followers increase, and customer engagement soar.


Suggested reading

Social media blog suggestion 1
Social media suggested blog 2
Social media suggested blog 3

The post 4 Ways To Use Social Media With Email appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

4 strategies to integrate PPC and email for better results

Have your digital marketing conversions hit a plateau? You know
what to do with your pay-per-click campaigns to get more traffic to your site.
And you know how to use email marketing to nurture potential leads. But have
you ever thought about how you could amplify your results by combining the two
channels?

Truth is, success depends
on more than optimizing each digital marketing channel in isolation. Generating
a killer ROI is all about integrating channels, from search to chat, display,
video, email, and even offline.

Combining email and PPC is
an easy place to start. 

Email marketing is still
one of the best-performing online marketing tactics, regularly outperforming Facebook or Twitter by
40X and generating $38 for every $1 spent.

At the same time, Google Ads are brilliant for brand exposure –
they can improve brand awareness by as much as 80%. Businesses make an average
of $2 for every $1 they spend, according to Google.

So, it makes sense to create a strategy that uses email and PPC
advertising in tandem to yield incredible conversions and an ROI worth shouting
about.

Read this post and we’ll show you four actionable strategies how.

Test your strategies using PPC

Did you know that almost 50% of recipients open an email based
solely on the subject line? (OptinMonster)

The more compelling your subject line is, the more people will
actually read your email.

The higher your open rate is, the more people will click
through on your offers and actually convert.

So how do you create a subject line that gets opened
and a call to action that converts?

That’s
where your PPC ads come in.

Use
your PPC ads to test your calls to action,
subject lines, copy, and offers BEFORE you use them for email campaigns.

Create two PPC ad campaigns using your email CTA or subject
line and see which gets more clicks.

Try one subject line to evoke FOMO (fear of missing out), with words like ‘urgent’, ‘important’, or ‘limited offer’:

The other could be tapping into their pain-points, like this one:

Let the campaigns run for at least a few days and see which one
performs better.

A simple A/B test gives you visible results without risking
email unsubscribes, making it a low-risk strategy. You won’t be wasting PPC
budget either, because you can monitor the results and quickly change things if
the test doesn’t yield good results.  

It works the other way, too. Track the subject lines that win the greatest engagement and use them to create your paid search ads.

Use email to remarket with pay-per-click ads

Studies show that 72% of online shoppers abandon their cart
before making a purchase. But one in four of them will return to complete their
purchase later – if they are retargeted.

Bottom line – if you want
to turbocharge the conversions you’re getting through marketing, your funnel must include
retargeting. This means monitoring your customers’ behavior and using what you
know to push them back to your site.

If someone has already shown interest in your brand by opting
into your emails, they are far more likely to convert than a ‘cold’ audience.

Run retargeting ads on Google Ads for people who have already
clicked links in your emails.

Let’s say they clicked on a link to a certain product or offer, you can display relevant ads when they visit other sites.

Grow your email list with PPC

Do you know one of the biggest challenges in email marketing?
Maintaining and growing a list of interested and highly qualified leads.

One easy way to do this is to include a subscriber form on your
website. So how do you get people to the signup form in the first place?

PPC ads.

Think about it – your PPC ads attract clicks from searchers who
are actively looking for products or
services you offer.

So, when they click on a PPC ad, you need to direct them to a
landing page that includes a way for you to stay in contact with these
prospects – even if they aren’t yet ready to make a purchase.

See how this one gets it right:

And one from Krispy Kreme that offers a free doughnut when you subscribe (who can resist that?!):

Upload your email lists to run personalized PPC ads

Squeezing the best results from your marketing budget is all
about customizing your campaigns.

It’s no secret that email best practice is to personalize your emails. Whether you send them an offer relating to their buying history or web browsing behavior, the goal is to build a relationship with subscribers by showing that you ‘get’ them. 

Here’s the thing – you can also customize PPC ads to your
specific audiences using your email lists.

All you need to do is upload targeted email lists into Google
Ads, or whatever platform you’re using. Google Ads has something called Customer Match, which lets you target
ads to your customers using data they share with you.

Then you can serve ads that are customized for that audience segment.

Pro tip: You can create a Google Ads campaign targeted to your email list on the Search Network, Google Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail platforms, but not on Google Display Network (GDN).

Over to you

Making PPC and email the
dream team will catapult your conversions and ROI.  Using data from your email campaigns to fuel
PPC, and vice versa, you can grow your subscriber base, optimize your messaging,
and better target your audience. That’s where the magic happens.

Tell us, how do you integrate PPC and email results?

The post 4 strategies to integrate PPC and email for better results appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 6 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

7 tips to generate email engagement

Engaged and
loyal customers can help boost a company’s revenue. Engaging your email recipients
is vital for converting prospects and building customer loyalty. What’s more,
looking your best in the inbox increases your brand’s reputation.

Engagement can
be hard to measure numerically and objectively. Put simply, it’s an indicator
of how interested your contacts are, and therefore gauges the success of your email
campaigns. Generating more engagement means that you’re making a bigger impact
with your recipients.

The start is
always the hardest, but here you’ll find some great ways to increase customer
engagement and encourage your recipients to take more actions through your
email marketing.

What do we mean when we talk about customer engagement? The definition is broad and might change depending on who you’re asking, but let’s look at some examples of how to inspire customer engagement.

Personalize your campaign

Have you ever received an email which started with ‘Dear valued customer’? Chances are, you didn’t feel very valued at all. Whether you use a CRM or keep your data in other formats, it will contain plenty of valuable information, from recipients’ first names to their purchase history.

Ensure you use this information to create personalized subject lines and messages that speak directly to each individual recipient. It’s harder to ignore something that feels intended for you, which is why personalized email campaigns usually have higher open rates than generic ones.

Nobody wants to be treated as though they’re a cog in a machine – they want to feel like they have a personal relationship with your brand. If they get this impression, they’ll be more likely to engage.

Personalize by using your recipient’s names in your email campaigns. You can also extend this in landing pages and surveys.

Address specific audiences

The operative word here is ‘specific’. Like the denim jeans of this world, one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to email marketing. If you offer a variety of products or services, chances are you have different customer segments with unique characteristics. If you’re not using segments, why not?

To take full advantage of customer engagement, prepare messages that specifically address the needs, wants, and interests of different groups.

Inspire action

Don’t get lost in the crowd. Make life easier for your customers: write actionable subject lines that set the expectation of what your messages are about. You want to inspire customer engagement by letting customers know what they can do with the email.

Most emails are won or lost at the subject line

Most emails are won or lost at the subject line; not only does it determine whether your email is ever opened, but it affects your recipient’s mood and nature from the outset.

Write
something appealing, unique, and compelling; avoid using exclamation marks and
salesy language in favor of something clever and original.

Also, don’t
forget the preheader text. So many marketers don’t even know what this is, and
yet the preview, or preheader, text in your email can make or break your open
rates.

Generally, this is pulled from the first sentence when you’re sending personal emails, but, in the marketing world, it normally consists of image alt text or browser instructions.

Your dotdigital Engagement Cloud platform provides you with the space in which to choose what text gets shown in the preview. Using 35-90 characters to capture the recipient’s interest—and supplement your subject line—will help you get those higher open rates.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Your business is unique, and so are your recipients. You need to determine what types of emails drive customer engagement for your business. Experiment with different strategies and see what succeeds. In email marketing this is called A/B (or split) testing.

The idea is to run two nearly identical versions of an email campaign and compare the performance of each version. The campaigns might differ on variables such as subject line, layout, or friendly from name. Once you learn which factors lead to higher engagement, you’ll be able to create more effective campaigns in the future.

Allow omnichannel opportunities

Not everyone
wants to engage in the same way, and that’s OK. Omnichannel marketing means
retailers can now offer a consistent experience across all channels – you can
let your customer choose when and where to engage.

If you have a strong Facebook presence, get involved in our Facebook Audience Program Extension. A Facebook Audience channel extension can be used in programs to automate the enrollment of new contacts into your audiences. This enables you to easily maintain and grow your audiences and improve your re-targeting efforts. Optimizing your ad campaign spend, you can target your ads to people who aren’t engaged through other channels, such as email. You can read more here.

Easily maintain and grow your audiences

Offering multiple ways to engage with your business maximizes marketing results, customer engagement, and brand reputation.

Cater to mobile audiences

If your email design caters to mobile users by being stackable, clean, and easy to engage with, you’ll likely see far more customer engagement.

Making simple changes to the styling and layout of your mobile-first campaign can help you generate more engagement, multiplying your ROI.

47% of email is opened on a mobile device.

Take a look at this article I wrote that covers important mobile-first hints and tips.

Use triggered and automated emails

Triggered and automated email campaigns come in many varieties, but they all share the same incentive: sending custom emails to recipients based on their previous actions and interests, all without any manual input – perfect.

Captitalize on existing customer interest

Automation is super-effective not only because it saves you time, but because it lets you capitalize on existing customer interest and intent. For instance, you might send out reminder emails to customers who’ve put items in their cart but haven’t yet checked out. You could enrol contacts onto a replenishment program – this would work particularly well for stationery brands that supply their clients for monthly or annual events, for example.

To plan out your programs, download your automation worksheet here.

Let’s wrap it up

The examples in this article should help you get more customers engaging with your existing email marketing campaigns; they’re a great base to help kick-start your new engagement strategy.

Embracing new
strategies and ideas, while acting on useful information from industry experts,
can lead to increased engagement. All you need to have is the willingness to
experiment.

If you need a helping hand with implementing a tailored strategy, please reach out to your dotdigital account manager.

For more customer engagement inspiration, download our epic guide here.

The post 7 tips to generate email engagement appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 6 months ago from blog.dotdigital.com

5 ways you could be using email to secure longer-lasting loyalty from one-time BFCM customers

Once the stomping ground of only the biggest US brands, Black Friday has now become a universal sales period that for many – it is too costly to ignore.

There are brands out there who don’t embrace the annual price-cutting chaos – for example, Apple, Ikea, and the UK’s Walmart cousin, Asda. However, with 30% of annual retail sales occurring between Black Friday and Christmas (almost 40 percent for jewellery retailers), it’s easy to see why so many are still getting stuck in.

Discounting periods are proving costly for retailers the world over with UK-market leader, John Lewis, recently citing having to match twice as many discounting extravaganzas in 2018 as the key reason for a major fall in profits. The rising number of discount days retailers must acknowledge, combined with the lower lifetime value of a customer acquired during a discounting period, is a key reason why merchants must focus on securing longer-lasting loyalty from one-time shoppers acquired during the sales.

Let’s get started with five simple ways that you could be optimizing your email strategy in order to secure longer-term customer loyalty, both during BFCM and once the sales are over:

1. Segmenting your customer base from the get-go

When it comes to email, it’s tempting to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and send the same messages out to everyone. It’s even more tempting to take this approach following BFCM, when you have a large collection of customers who have only purchased once, but you want to re-engage with as soon as possible.

You might not know everything about these customers just yet, but use the information that you do have to segment your customer base and send the most relevant emails.

Whether you segment by the type of products purchased or by the brand or collection purchased from, make sure that the first message that you send post-BFCM is highly targeted and relevant. Customers who believe that you understand their individual behaviors are more likely to return and engage again.


2. Sending emails triggered by personal events

80% of customers are more likely to shop at brands that offer personalised experiences. At the most basic level, you can achieve this by sending special messages, offers or discounts on a customer’s birthday. At a deeper level, you can send messages that are tailored around their shopping anniversaries.

For example, celebrate with them each time they unlock a reward, qualify for a higher tier on your loyalty program, or reach a specific number of purchases with your store.

Whether you offer them simple discounts in return for their ongoing engagement, or offer them more exclusive perks such as free shipping or early access to sales or new product ranges, customers will appreciate the fact that they have received an email entirely unique to them and their actions or buying behaviors.


3. Re-engaging at-risk customers with incentives to return

Customers acquired during BCFM are proven to have a lower lifetime value than those acquired at other times of year. This means that they are less likely to return and make their next purchase, leaving them ‘at risk’.

In order to prevent at-risk customers from churning, ensure that you’re giving them reasons to come back and shop again. One approach is to credit customers with points within your emails.

Even if those customers do not immediately return to use those points, you have differentiated yourself by giving them something for doing nothing – something not many retailers will do. We recommend crediting enough points so that at-risk customers can instantly unlock a new reward.

You might also consider moving customers up to a higher tier in your loyalty program, allowing them to unlock more generous or exclusive rewards that are worth returning to use. There is no cost to this strategy, and also no doubt that your customers will be pleased they stopped to open that email!

4. Making the benefits implicit

Use emails you are already sending – such as post-purchase emails – to make sure that customers know what they are missing out on if they don’t return and repeat purchase. We don’t necessarily mean other sales or discounts they could be accessing, but instead, the rewards and benefits they could be unlocking with another purchase.

Use your post-purchase emails to show customers how many points they have or could have earned with their BFCM purchase, and remind them what that could translate to in terms of rewards and benefits.

You can also let them know how many points they would need to earn to unlock other, even more valuable rewards, incentivising them to come back to your store and shop again, sooner.


5. Reiterating your brand values

For many customers, purchasing decisions around BFCM are based solely on price, rather than shared values or beliefs. That’s why we encourage merchants to take the time to share their brand values once the shopping period is out of the way and customers are thinking more clearly.

Loyalty programs are all about community and relationships, and shared values are a key incentive for customers to join and engage more with your brand. Build messaging into your welcome and post-purchase emails, so that customers immediately see how your brand resonates with their own personal values. This is a key step to building longer-term relationships that will drive customer retention and increase lifetime value.

This year, all we want for Christmas is to see merchants making the most of every opportunity to turn Black Friday Cyber Monday into a resounding retention success story, rather than just a spike in acquisition. Have a chat with one of our team to find out more, or head to the LoyaltyLion Academy to learn more about improving the effectiveness of  loyalty emails.

 

About LoyaltyLion

LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement software for fast-growth ecommerce merchants. Thousands of retailers worldwide use LoyaltyLion to add their own fully customizable loyalty programs and increase customer engagement, retention and spend.  Stores using LoyaltyLion typically generate at least $15 for every $1 they spend on the platform.

 

 

The post 5 ways you could be using email to secure longer-lasting loyalty from one-time BFCM customers appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com