Being Negative Can Have a Positive Effect on Your Email Marketing

negative-email-copy

It has been said that your biggest competitor isn’t your competitor: It’s apathy. That’s because it’s easier to do nothing than to make a change, even if you aren’t happy with your current widget. This willingness to settle for what is rather than try to make things better applies to everything from deodorant to lawn mowers to accounting software. It’s a case of the devil you know vs. the one you don’t: We humans are usually more comfortable with the devil we know.

That’s why it’s okay to sometimes talk about the stuff that hurts in your email copy. Many marketers want to avoid appearing negative in any way in their email content, but that’s actually riskier than being willing to call out pain points.

After all, if you don’t point out that there’s a problem, how can you suggest that there’s a solution? You have to raise a little doubt in the mind of the prospect.

Let’s take deodorant as an example—not because deodorant gets marketed by email (at least not the deodorant I buy), but because the principle applies no matter the product.

So, let’s say we’re going to market this deodorant to males between the ages of 18 and 49. We can go one of two routes in our email marketing:

  • We can extol the virtues of this deodorant, telling them how great it is, how long it lasts, how good it smells, how cheap it is, etc. Anyone who opens this email likely already has a stick of deodorant sitting on his bathroom counter and it works just fine, thank you very much. So why change? Sure, that other brand sounds good, but what a hassle to go buy a new brand when he already has the other one that works “good enough.” We stick with the positive that so many marketers want, but were we effective?
  • Or we can risk being negative. We can use fear, and warn these men of the dangers of inadequate deodorant. For example, we can paint a picture of being on a first date or in an important meeting with a slight stench coming from one’s armpits because his deodorant wasn’t up to the task. We can talk about the poor impression he’ll make on someone if he stinks, and the assumptions people will make about his personal hygiene. Then, we can talk about how our brand of deodorant is X times stronger than the next leading brand and lasts X times longer, suggesting that it’s worth it to buy our brand and not risk the consequences of another.

Yes, it’s negative email copy, but it is designed to plant doubt in the prospect’s mind. When we point out the risks involved with that other deodorant, we switch his thinking from, “My deodorant is good enough,” to, “Is my deodorant good enough?”

Apathy is an issue for just about anyone in marketing, because it’s always going to be easier for someone to stick with what they’re buying than to switch to what you’re selling. Being willing to risk a little negativity in your email content might be just the thing to nudge that prospect a little closer to buying your brand.

I used to drive past a tree-trimming company that advertised their business with a huge banner saying “Are your trees safe?” All of the thousands of us that drove past that business each day were likely all thinking the same thing: Yes, they are.

What the banner should have asked is, “Are your trees dangerous?” Now that’s raising doubt…and it’s a lot more likely to get someone to call and arrange for an assessment of their trees.

Positive vs. negative. Use the one that works.

 

Thanks for reading!

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

Automated Emails: Rockstar Robots of the Marketing World

automated email marketing

Back in the old days, we called them autoresponders. Now, we have several names for it:

  • Automated emails
  • Marketing automation
  • Welcome series
  • Drip campaigns
  • Triggered emails

No matter what you call it now, they all do essentially the same thing; make you a much more productive email marketer.

Why you need to use automated emails

What if you had an employee you never had to pay, who worked 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, who never took sick days for vacation time…think how much more work you could get done in a day, a week, a month, a year with that kind of helping hand smartly and efficiently slaving away for you?

That’s automated email: Your non-stop, always working helper who is warming up your prospects and nurturing your leads and poking your customers, all without ever asking for so much as a paycheck let alone a raise.

Tasks automated emails can do for you

Here are just a few of the many tasks your automated emails can handle for you while you tackle more important tasks:

  • They can build a more meaningful relationship with a new subscriber.
  • They can feed prospects, of your complex sale, a little information at a time rather than overwhelm them.
  • They can reach customers who have recently abandoned their shopping carts or search / browse session, asking them to reengage.
  • They can educate or up-sell customers who have recently made a purchase, teaching those customers how to best use the widget or buy a compatible one.
  • As an added bonus, they can get people used to your emails appearing in the inbox and if you’re doing your job right may improve your deliverability.

These are just a few examples of the jobs automated emails can do for you, but there are countless possibilities.

If you’re struggling with email automation, check out our automated email marketing services. Thanks!

-Scott

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

4 Ways to Convert B2B Email Subscribers to Customers

Convert B2B Newsletter Subscribers to Customers

Do you have a B2B audience that’s loyal to your company’s email newsletter, but not necessarily converting to clients?

Maybe for now your newsletter is enough because you haven’t given them compelling reasons to move beyond the content and get interested in what you’re actually selling. It was always the plan though, right?

Email newsletters are typically one part of a lead generation program. It’s just that sometimes the leap isn’t made from subscriber to customer because a plan’s not in place to nurture the prospect along that path. They get the newsletter. They like the newsletter. They have no reason to take another action.

If that’s the case at your business, below are four quick and easy, down and dirty ways to start moving that newsletter reader from a content consumer to an actual customer. Because that is why you started the newsletter in the first place, remember: not to become a publisher, but to make sales.

Offer something

You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money to create an offer. Look at what you already have as an asset, and figure out how to quickly repackage that into a giveaway. Possibilities include:

  • Free trials
  • Whitepapers
  • Case studies
  • Swag

Announce something

Although constantly talking about yourself or your brand is a little rude in the inbox, tooting your own horn when something cool happens is perfectly acceptable. It also gives you a way to promote your solution to your subscriber audience. Simply send out an email that makes the announcement in an “Oh, gosh, we are so happy about this and just have to share” kind of way (as opposed to a “this is the coolest gadget ever, buy now” kind of way). Possibilities include:

  • New products / services / features
  • Awards
  • Funding
  • Media recognition

Promote something

Have an upcoming trade show or event you’re attending? Use that as an excuse to email your subscribers. You’ll come across as helpful (“Hey, just want to make sure you know about this important event”), but you’ll also be reminding them that you do in fact sell stuff. Possibilities include:

  • Industry-specific tradeshows
  • Marketing events
  • Webinars
  • Association meetings

Ask for something

You know what people like more than anything else in the whole world? Themselves. So make an email about them by asking them for something. This gives you a chance to remind them you’re a vendor, and it opens the door to further communication if you compile your results or share them on social media and ask contributors to share. Possibilities include:

  • Do a survey about pain points your product or services addresses (in a subtle way, of course)
  • Ask for pictures that are somehow related to your product. For example, let’s say your product saves time. Ask for pictures of people doing something fun with their extra time. Even if they’re not currently a client using your product, you’ll be planting seeds, my friend, planting seeds…
  • Ask them for stories about situations they’ve faced and/or overcome that are—like the pictures idea above—related to the solutions you sell.

And of course, every single one of these communications has a call to action of some kind that the subscriber can click on for a next step…a next step closer to customerdom, that is.

Now… let’s get you subscribed! :-)

 

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

How to Automate an Email Re-engagement Series in Under an Hour

automating email re-engagement

Here’s a super-simple plan for automating email re-engagement that anyone can set up in one hour or less.

  • No opens/clicks in 12 months?
  • Dump into ‘inactive’ segment
  • Send 4 emails in four weeks
  • Mix up the Subject line and From line formula (be bold, standout)
  • Simplify email copy, use a responsive template
  • Offer an incentive if possible, use urgency if you can, otherwise use your best controversial or evergreen content
  • Exit series on first open/click
  • If no response, carry on as usual
  • Automate everything

That’s it. You’re done.

scottScott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

New Logo for Email Industries

It’s been nearly a year since we started using a new brand. The reason we decided to use Email Industries was purely practical, I had too many email addresses. Between syncing five accounts and two calendars inefficiency was becoming a problem.

There was a quasi-strategic reason too. Due to our growing number of brands it seemed like a good time to create a unified identity that represented our passion and personality as well as our products.

We’ve kept the Email Industries under wraps until now largely because our first attempt at creating an identity was embarrassing. We turned to Wier / Stewart not only because they’re local (something else we’re passionate about) but they’re crazy talented and have a reputation for challenging clients. Plus I personally wanted to go through a professional branding exercise to answer a few lingering questions, like…

What does a purely creative agency’s discovery process look like?

It was incredibly enlightening. Questions ranged from “What is your brand’s spirit animal?” to “What band best represents your brand?”

They discovered that being in a field where many companies develop their own brand ethos there aren’t a lot of tropes to avoid (e.g. columns in the financial industry) in the email marketing space. But there is a lot of opportunity. Opportunity for personality, ambition and a little irreverence.

We discovered that we want to be known as fun and clever however we’re not whimsical or very Tom Hanks-ish. We’re more aligned with Radiohead than Bon Iver. And we’re certainly darker than most brands, in a good way.

Would a professionally-crafted brand identity have a real impact?

I can’t speak for our clients and partners (we’re having a coming-out party at #SherpaEmail next week) but as for the Email Industries team … we’re super pumped!

Without Further Ado

Here’s the icon, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this little beauty. As you’ll soon see there are a number of elements in the icon, some of which are hidden or obscured while others are quite obvious.

email industries ogo

Anatomy

The pyramid with the all-seeing eye is representative of the email community as well as our future plans. The shield references BlackBox. The pigeon, and the email it grasps, represents email marketing. The steam train style cattle guard represents Industry. The lightning bolts are nods to Indiemark’s logo. Note, there’s one element that’s not mentioned here. Can you spot it? What does it mean?

email_industries_anatomy

Website

At this stage emailindustries.com is a one-page directory of our brands but stay tuned big things are coming.

emailindustries.com

Cards

I’m a fan of die-cut business cards, although I must confess none of us have carried cards in many moons.

email industries business cards

Schwag

Our new identity plays out well online and in print but for me it’s all about having kickass t-shirts and stickers.

 

email_industries_tshirt

email_industries_stickers

 

Speaking of t-shirts and stickers. Who wants one? Hit me up if you’re going to #SherpaEmail.

 

 

The Un-Newsletter

the un-newsletter

So I am feeling bored by standard email newsletters. I’m not alone but I am most certainly not anti-newsletter either. The newsletter has been and continues to be an effective tool but maybe we should reconsider how we approach it?

Does your newsletter have to be newsy?

I suspect when we think email newsletter, we focus on the “news” part and envision something text-heavy and long. That’s still what many newsletters look like in my inbox anyway, and I suspect that’s the format you usually see too. But what if we undid the newsletter, to take the focus off the news part and put it where it should be: on the customer?

If we focus on the customer and why we are emailing them in the first place, we remember that a) they are busy, mobile and attention-challenged, and b) we aren’t sending them newsletters to educate them in general but to engage them. Keeping these two points in mind, we can totally rethink the email newsletter and create something totally new but still get the results we all want.

Some un-newsletter ideas to get you thinking.

I don’t have dozens of wonderful un-newsletters to share with you. That’s because most of what ends up in my inbox is just what I am suggesting you avoid: the text heavy and lengthy format. Nevertheless here are some ways you could consider un-newsing your newsletter to create something totally new that still serves the customer and engages them:

  1. Digest it.
    Rather than send a couple truncated, or worse full, articles to your subscribers, consider doing a digest instead. We do a digest of blog posts from time to time, which enables us to send a very digestible mobile-friendly newsletter. Running short of content or ideas? You can also do a digest of others’ content, or take the dedicated approach of Hacker Newsletter or theSkimm and pull together a digest with your own editorial slant.
  1. Down-and-dirty surveys.
    What if your email newsletter was intended to easily solicit and share feedback? And then you shared the answers in the next issue? For example, a brand could ask, “What is your biggest challenge to ____?” make the survey quick, tell them them it will be quick, deliver on that promise and in the next issue, share the answers. People like to know what others are going through and how they address those challenges.
  1. Drop the verbiage.
    OK, I don’t mean leave all of the words, but what if your newsletter was a comic or illustration or photos or a short video? Instead of asking people to read 500 words, you got your point across in a 60-second video? Or you hired an illustrator to do a weekly comic? Or you created a chart or infographic to visualize the information you’d otherwise use words for?
  1. Rethink the look.
    Even if you decide the text-heavy-handful-of-articles approach is still the right one for your brand and your customers, you can make it more appealing with design that doesn’t actually look like a newsletter. A great email designer/thinker can do a lot to make content easier to consume especially in the mobile age.
  1. Ask for the money.
    Often times a marketer’s email newsletters are actually too educational. Ask subscribers to take the next step logical step. After all, ‘marketing’ is the email marketing newsletter’s middle name.

In my business, I get—and send—a lot of email newsletters, so we’re pushing clients and ourselves to rethink the email newsletter and take a different approach, one that takes the emphasis off the news and puts it where it should be: on the subscriber and the sender’s ROI.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, Formswell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.

6 Resolutions to Improve Next Year’s Email ROI

email-resolutions

While the rest of the email marketing world goes a little crazy with predictions for 2015, predictions you as a marketer can’t control, let’s go a little crazy with the things you can control: your own email marketing program. Let’s talk about resolutions for 2015, rather than predictions.

Although email best practices abound, they’re not always adhered to. I get that. It’s easier to keep doing things the same way as before than it is to change your habits. But email is a numbers game, with little, tiny numbers adding up to big dividends.

Consider the measly 1%, a number so insignificant, it’s only a penny if you’re talking about a dollar. A 1% improvement in deliverability might mean 1,000 more emails delivered for one business, while a 1% improvement in conversions might mean $100,000 in additional revenue for another.

As an email marketer, you should constantly be on the lookout for incremental improvements you can make. You probably do a lot of things right already, and you won’t find a magic bullet that doubles your open rates or conversions. But there are a lot of things that can give you a little lift, and a few little lifts will add up.

Below are six proven yet oft-overlooked ways to improve email marketing results. Not one of these is hard to do, so how about trying them all over the next 12 months? Just repeat after me, “I resolve to….”

  1. “I resolve to…budget appropriately between email and social media marketing.” Social continues to get most of the media attention, and let’s face it, it’s a lot sexier than email! But when email delivers an ROI of $4,300 (according to the DMA), why would your focus be on the less tangible social side of things?
  2. “I resolve to…focus on new subscribers.” The past year brought us bunch of articles and posts on re-engaging inactive subscribers. How about we resolve to spend 2015 striving to get new ones? From where I sit, I think a lot of companies would benefit from putting more resources into growing their email lists.
  3. I resolve to…keep our in-house list clean.” How often does your list get a good scrubbing? Keeping bad and inactive email addresses on your list only hurts your deliverability and reputation. It might pain you to watch your list quantity decrease, but watching your metrics improve will more than make up for it. And as for those inactive subscribers, either institute a plan for re-engaging or drop them from your list. Period.
  4. “I resolve to…be CASL compliant.” Canada’s anti-spam law is so strict that it should keep you compliant in every country if you only adhere to it. I can’t promise that Norway or some other country won’t top Canada’s law in the future. But I can tell you that for now, CASL is the toughest anti-spam law out there, and complying with it is the smart thing to do.
  5. “I resolve to…do more testing.” Marketers have so many opportunities to improve incrementally just by making A/B or multivariate testing a standard practice. Why not test something every single time? There are literally countless factors you could test, including obvious ones like subject lines, preheader text, body copy, and calls to action…heck, even the color you choose for a CTA button can easily be tested. So let’s resolve to do more testing (and improving) in 2015!
  6. I resolve to…start using responsive design.” After the Thanksgiving and Black Friday numbers showed a dramatic increase in mobile shopping, I suggest all retailers start focusing more on mobile, in particular by switching to responsive design, which enables emails, landing pages and websites to be optimized for small smartphone screens, slightly bigger tablets, and even bigger laptop and desktop screens.

Not one of these six resolutions is that hard, right? And all are worth doing. Resolve to do these six things in 2015, and track your numbers. Then report back to me December of next year with your results!

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, Formswell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.

Using Print Ads to Drive Email Subscriptions?

email agency advertising

Those of us who work exclusively in the digital world sometimes overlook the potential of print for driving traffic online, especially for organic search hobbyists like me. That was my mindset until I recently experimented with buying print ads to get people to the Indiemark website. I ran an ad in a local, affordable business publication and saw a dramatic increase in both website traffic and email subscriptions.  I’ll admit it: I was surprised.

It’s not usual for offline marketing to direct people online. Radio ads come complete with URLs these days, and what kind of self-respecting business would do a direct mail campaign without including an email address and website? You can also be quite strategic about it, as demonstrated by this Coffee News case study published by MarketingSherpa.com.

But of all the ways to do it, print ads seem to be a good choice, especially for us, and as the numbers below illustrate. Although these numbers are from an article published in 2012, they are still telling:

Research from Jupiter Research that looks at the influence of offline channels on online search found that 67% of online search population is driven to search by offline channels. Of that percentage, 30% come from print ads. Even more impressive is the fact that print advertising topped the list of offline media sources that led to a purchase, with 30% of search users who opened their wallet and bought online coming from a print medium.

We can drive traffic from offline to online in several different ways, but it seems paid print ads are a definite channel to consider. For me, spending the money to buy ads in a print publication in order to get people to my website—well, it seemed counter-intuitive and I wasn’t sure it would work. I got my answer though, and we’re enjoying a healthy bump in subscribers and leads as a result.

Has your business successfully used print advertising to drive leads or email subscriptions? If so, I want to hear about it!

– Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, Formswell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.