7 email marketing best practices for success in 2020

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
    emails
  • 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.   

Email

For a full flurry of deliverability advice, download our 101 guide here.

2. Nail the subject line

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?

Check out our 11 tips on how to write subject lines that get opened.

3. Personalize your content

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
  • Location
  • Product preferences
  • Lifecycle interests

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
optimized campaign.

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.

Sending these emails isn’t rocket science. You need two
streams of data going into your omnichannel
marketing automation platform
:  

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’d like some more email marketing advice, check out our guide on best practice here.

The post 7 email marketing best practices for success in 2020 appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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Getting the most out of your email design

From email experts to newbies just entering the industry, there are common design errors that are occurring time and time again. Perhaps it’s because you need results fast, or maybe you’re not aware of some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to designing your email campaigns.  

We’ve put together 10 simple steps to follow to get the most out of your email design. These will strengthen your campaign deliverability and help your campaigns to achieve more. If you don’t do anything else, take note and take action.  

1.) Personalization 

Nobody enjoys being addressed by “Hi there” or “Dear Customer”. When I get an email that says “Hi Jenna” I’m more likely to engage with it. By directly addressing the recipients, you’re likely to see a higher open and click-through rate. To do this simply use the ‘insert action’ feature in Engagement Cloud’s Campaign Editor. Select the field (FIRSTNAME). It will appear in your campaign as @FIRSTNAME@.  

A simple trick with effective results.  

2.) Data 

The quickest way to reduce your deliverability and get blacklisted is by buying and selling data. Your emails will quickly get flagged as spam and as your emails pile up in the junk/spam folder or lost in hyper-space, no-one will open your emails. The most effective campaigns are sent to your existing customers and organically grown, opted in lists

Growing mailing lists can be accelerated with the use of engaging, or even gamified popovers.  

3.) Back to basics 

Emails don’t need to be complicated. A simple structure and a main header for your logo works well for most brands. This should be followed by the main content with a single key message, obvious CTAs, followed by a footer with company details and the required legal information.  Remember the simpler the less chance of something going wrong in different web browsers or email clients. 

4) Optimization 

Every email you send needs to be optimized for every device. With customers able to access emails on multiple devices, if your emails aren’t rendering properly, you’re going to missing out on some big opportunities. Using multiple columns in your design is a no-no as these may not display correctly on smaller phone screens. And, if you’re using an image and text block, you need to check images are stacking correctly before you hit send.   

5) Preference centers 

The modern consumer wants to feel in control of their relationship with a brand. As a result, you’ll get much better engagement from your email marketing campaigns. Make sure that every email you send contains a link to your preference center or allows shoppers to access their account to update their preferences.  

6) Images 

The biggest thing to remember (and do!) is to avoid background images. Most email clients like Gmail and Hotmail don’t render them and display a grey block instead.  Also, never rely on visual artwork to be the main way to communicate your message in an email campaign. Some big images will be turned off or appear as a blank email. This can cause your contact to think you’ve sent them a blank email and hit delete or the spam button. 

It’s therefore essential you use alt tags, and keep copy and CTAs separate.  

7) Phishing links 

Phishing links cause distrust in your email campaigns. They’re mainly caused when the whole URL is present in an email. For example http//:www.dotdigital.com.

Place your links behind copy, actions, and images, to encouraging your contacts to click through. 

8) Spacers 

White space is important when building your email. It helps ensure your emails have an uncluttered layout and are easier for the brain to absorb. By adding spacers between blocks and images it is easier for skim readers to differentiate what it is seeing with ease. 

9) Alt Tags 

A large number of email clients still automatically disable images when an email lands in the inbox. By making sure every image has an alt tag description is the best way to ensure your message maintains impact even when images are off. If they have an idea of what you are trying to say, they’re more likely to enable links and images in the future. 

10) Test, test, and test again 

This is probably the most important step to constructing an email. Testing allows you to view your campaign in the email clients but also the web version in a browser. This will allow you to check consistency across ISP and email clients and fix any rendering issues that occur before you send your email. 


Keep reading

Email best practice blog
Make email design great

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7 Boxing Day email marketing essentials – how to get what you want this year

But the times they are a-changing.  

Historically a key sales day, in-store footfall has dropped over recent years. Today’s shoppers prefer to bag a bargain during Black Friday or over 27, 28, and 29 December. Instead, there’s been a massive surge in consumers browsing online before venturing to the store. This presents a vital opportunity for ecommerce brands around the world.  

But, as we all begin switching off and offices shut down for the holidays, how do we make ensure our marketing is ready?   

We have eight tactics you need to put in place to maximize this marketing opportunity. 

1. Set up your automation programs 

Let’s face it – not all offices are open over the holidays. And if they are, you’re more likely to be focusing on next year’s strategy than sending out sales emails.   

As a result, building your automation before the holidays begin is essential.   

Make sure your strategy and creative are good to go and simply add them to your holiday automation. And the key automation you need to build is for your Boxing Day sales.   

To guarantee massive ROI from this campaign, it’s important you think beyond a basic SALE email.  

While these are eye-catching and can receive a decent CTR, the savvy-shopper is no longer so easily swayed.   

When building your template, it’s important to take into consideration tactics that drive conversions and boost sales. Tools such as product recommendation blocks will improve engagements and bolster sales. Using AI-powered recommendations, you can highlight items related to or similar to previous purchases. This adds a layer of personalization to your email that’s hard to ignore. 

2. Jazz-up your existing programs  

Give your existing programs a Christmassy feel by creating some unique templates to cover the holiday period.  

Boxing day sales are a great way to acquire new customers. Make the right first impression with a personalized welcome program that wishes new subscribers a ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’. Perhaps you can offer a limited time discount to anyone signing up during the period. This will encourage repeat purchases when the season is over.  

3. Get them before you even say hello 

As with every other busy sales period, inboxes are even more overcrowded than normal. You need to make an impact as soon as your email lands. And the best way to do that is with your subject line.   

Subject lines are an afterthought for many marketers. For others, it’s the most important part of the campaign. Being different is your secret weapon. Incorporate emojis and personalization to capture the attention of the skim reader.  

And, don’t forget to test, test, test.  

Setting up A/B tests before you fire off your emails is a must. They need to be constantly tweaked and adapted to ensure they’re landing with impact.  

 4. Get it before it’s gone 

A flash sale is essentially a strictly limited period sale, fueled by the threat of limited stock and a tight deadline for purchase.  

Flash sale email

Flash or Short supply sales can generate an average uplift of 35% in transaction rates. At the extreme utilization of this trend, we have the infamous brand Supreme who is the pioneers of hype branding, some of their products resell as high as 1200% more than the retail price

Running a short supply sale is an opportunity to generate real major sales momentum, particularly when supported by social media integrated with your outbound marketing campaigns. Interestingly, campaigns deployed in the morning have a higher engagement rate but those sent in the evening hours perform better on conversion; if your goal is to generate brand and awareness vs immediate sales consider this a tactic. 

5. Everything connects  

If you make just one update to your marketing strategy this month, make sure your systems are connected.  

Integrations with your CRM and ecommerce store aren’t the only systems you need to think about connecting. To ensure your customers have a smooth and memorable journey with you, you need to consider all your communication channels. Whether you’re reaching customers by chat, SMS, push, or direct mail, you need to ensure your messaging is consistent.  

This year, Black Friday proved to be the biggest day ever for mobile shopping. 61% of all online sales came from smartphone transactions, so being able to reach customers on the move is essential. 

6. ‘Didn’t get what you wanted?’ 

Traditional post-Christmas thriftiness has been proven to be a thing of the past.  

It’s one of the reasons why retailers are refocusing their marketing activity to maximize on the rise of the ‘I-want-it-now’ consumer. Shoppers want to spend some money on themselves as a reward for being so generous during the holiday season.  

Build on this sentiment by personalizing your sales messages with dynamic content. Pull in previously browsed or wished for products to encourage shoppers to treat themselves to that special something they didn’t get from their loved ones. 

7. Messages that really hit home 

Boxing Day sales are a well-established practice in the world of UK ecommerce. As a result, to get your readers’ attention, you need to deliver relevant messages.  

The more relevant the content you send, the more likely they are to read it. Tailoring email content around previous search and website visitor behavior can be an invaluable weapon in your battle for inbox cut-through.  

Along with email marketing automation, consider building data segments of customers based on product categories they’ve browsed with targeted price discounts on related products. 

The post 7 Boxing Day email marketing essentials – how to get what you want this year appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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