In the summertime, people spend less time indoors, less time in front of their computers, and most likely less time reading your marketing emails. If you want to keep your email revenues up, here are a few ideas to try on for size:
1) Go mobile.
Savvy email marketers know that they must make their emails user-friendly for mobile devices in order to reach their subscribers whenever, wherever they are.Just because your subscribers aren’t planted at their desk at home or in the office, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not online. They’ve probably either got a smartphone in their pocket or a tablet close at hand.
2) Make it interactive.
Hold a contest or sweepstakes to encourage your subscribers to post their summer vacation photos or videos – and have all your subscribers vote on their favorites. A contest like this can easily go viral when you promote it via your social-sharing sites.Another spin on this concept is to have subscribers, while on vacation, pose with your product and share their photos online. This reinforces your brand in a very visual way. If yours is a service-related business, no problem. Encourage your subscribers to pose with a handwritten “I [insert company name]” or holding up their mobile device with your slogan visible. The possibilities are as endless as your (or your customers’) imagination. In fact, reward them for creativity!
3) Sell the sizzle.
Who doesn’t love a sale? Launch a summer sale campaign, but try to be original. Christmas in July sales have gotten about as stale as Aunt Martha’s fruitcake.Promote a sidewalk sale – either online or offline, and offer discounts designed to entice your subscribers. Have a virtual or real tent sale, yard sale, garage sale. Get creative with your promotions – offer (beach) buckets of savings… draw your offer in the sand and photograph it to use in your email campaigns… you get the idea.If it’s feasible, plan – and promote – a live event. In the summer months, folks want to enjoy the outdoors. If your business has retail locations, now’s the time to draw traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores.If your business is strictly e-commerce, have some fun and create a virtual event. Hold a virtual pool party, picnic in the park, backyard barbecue or other themed event. Depending on your product or service, you can tie in your offerings to the theme.
4) Put it in vacation mode.
Think like your subscribers. During the summer, many people go on vacation – and are more likely to fork over their hard-earned dollars for vacation-related items.Think of how you can promote your product or service to those planning summer vacations. Ideas can run the gamut: sunscreen, swimsuits, sunglasses… fishing/hunting/camping gear, boating accessories… picnic items… sandals, sundresses… insurance, automobile repair/service, GPS/accessories, car rental… financial services… summer reading… language instruction, out-of-country mobile plans, cameras, passport photos… air/hotel/travel deals, luggage… grills, pool equipment… travel-size toiletries… you name it.This email from solestruck is a step in the right direction:
5) Change your deployment days/times.
Not surprisingly, fewer people are online – and checking their emails – on weekends in the summer months. So mix up your email schedule. Similarly, you might want to send your emails earlier, as more people may check their emails before work than at the end of the day, when they still have plenty of daylight for outdoor activities. As with any change in your email campaigns, be sure to test for best results.During the summer, online shoppers are most likely to buy high-ticket items on Mondays, according to New York-based data analytics firm SumAll. The average summertime daily spend is $37.95, with a high of $41.13 on Mondays and a low of $34.74 on Fridays.
Don’t throw in the beach towel simply because it’s summer. Use the opportunity to come up with clever email campaigns. Add a little fun into your campaigns, and you’ll keep your customers engaged all summer long.
As email marketers, we’re always looking for ways to grow our lists. One answer is at your fingertips. Literally.
According to the Forrester Research Email Marketing Forecast, 2012 To 2017, 78% of U.S. email users will also access their emails via mobile devices by 2017.
A customer’s mobile phone number is seen by marketers as a prized commodity. But that same number becomes even more valuable when it’s attached to a customer’s email address. That’s when marketing opportunities are multiplied.
Here are a few mobile marketing tactics you can use to grow your email list.
Ask for it
Seek and ye shall find. If your mobile subscribers like what they’re getting via SMS, give them more of what they like. “For more news & great offers, text MORE and your email address to…”
Don’t expect your mobile subscribers to offer up their email addresses on a silver platter. Make it worth their while to do so. Offer a no-clip coupon, coupon code or other incentive.
There’s an app for that
If your business has a mobile app, there are many places you can sneak in an email opt-in. Depending on the app, you could include this on a welcome screen, within the app or even in the app settings
At point of sale
With product in hand (and smartphone in the other), your customer may be more receptive to communications from you. “For product use and care, text CARE and your email address to 12345.”
Ask for their opinion
Gone are the days of the opinion survey post card on the restaurant table. “Tell us how your food and service were. Text REVIEW and your email to…” “What did you think of the (concert/movie/play)? Text REVIEW and your email to…”
Got a captive audience?
If you have customers waiting in line at checkout… waiting for a table… waiting in a doctor’s office… waiting for car repairs… chances are they’re on their mobile devices to pass the time. Use in-store signage to promote email signup via mobile.
For example: “While you wait, text INFO and your email address to 12345 for (insert your company-specific promo here).”
Don’t sell short codes short
If you’ve already got a short code, promote the heck out of it. Ask your mobile subscribers to text one word (such as “offers,” for example) to your short code for access to email-only offers. If you don’t have one, no problem. Text-to-join applications accomplish the same goal, and can plug directly into your ESP or CRM program.
That’s the key. While you do want consistency of message across channels (voice, tone, etc.), the actual message should vary among channels. So if you’re offering X in mobile, offer Y in email, and Z in social. Otherwise, why would your mobile subscriber bother signing up for email promotions?
And don’t forget QR codes
While some say QR codes may soon be a thing of the past, me included, they still are a good way to tie in printed marketing collateral with mobile marketing efforts. Make sure you have a strong call to action, such as “Scan here to get insider tips via email.” The consumer then will be taken to a mobile-friendly email sign-up form.
It’s not only important to consolidate your data, it’s important to track and analyze that data. If your data is housed in a single marketing platform, it’s easier to see cross-channel relationships and trends with all your marketing lists.
So when it comes to building your email list with mobile marketing strategies, you could say you’ve got prospective subscribers right in your pocket. That’s because they’ve got their smartphones right in their pockets.
I admit it. I’ve jumped on the mobile marketing bandwagon to grow my lists. WBU?
Look in your email inbox, and on any given day you’re likely to find several emails that feature videos. They can range from informational/educational to simply entertaining. But what is all the fuss about? Does video email marketing really lift response rates? Can anyone use video in their email marketing? What are the best tactics (or best practices for that matter)? Let’s find out!
Video Email Marketing Statistics and Reports
- Simply including the word “video” in an email’s subject line saw an increase of 7%-13% in overall click-through rates (CTRs) in 2011, according to Experian’s 2012 Digital Marketer Benchmark and Trend Report. Embedding a video in an email generated an average conversion rate 21% higher than emails containing a static image alone.
- And Videoretailer.org reported that using the word “video” in the subject line of helped achieve increases in open rates of up to 20% vs. no “video” in the subject line.
- The 2010 Video Email Marketing Survey and Industry Trends Report revealed that video was used with email marketing by 50% of survey participants, and an additional 24% were considering the use of video in their email marketing programs.
- Video in email can increase click-through rates by as much as two times to three times, according to David Daniels, former principal analyst at Forrester Research and current principle at Relevancy Group.
- Holland America conducted an A/B test with an animated .gif video in email vs. a static image. The video segment resulted in 100% higher click-through rate, reported Liveclicker.
- According to Marketing Vox, 63.9% of 5,000 people watched to completion a video sent by email.
- In a Get Response study of 800,000 customer emails, those containing video received, on average, 5.6% higher open rates and 96.38% higher CTRs than non-video emails.
Video Email Marketing Tactics and Examples
Depending on your budget, several options exist for creating videos in emails:
- Embedded video, which is provided by companies like Bomb Bomb. But keep in mind that embedded video will not work in all email clients.
- Animated .gif videos. See this example from Style Campaign, which is executed brilliantly but this format also has its limitations.
- A static callout linking to a web-hosted video, like the examples below, is by far the most common tactic.
The video featured in this Williams-Sonoma email demonstrates how to use a product (and clearly labels it as such):
Cosmetics retailer Obagi creates continuity in its emails with a video series that touches the emotions, sharing one woman’s struggle with acne and how she overcame it – in time for her wedding – by using Obagi products.
Video Email Marketing Best Practices
No matter what format you choose, if you decide to take the plunge, you should follow these best practices for video in emails:
- Video expert Justin Foster, in a webinar for the Email Experience Council titled “Video Email: Why, When and How,” said it’s important to call out the video in the subject line, use a play button in the video player/player image, and highlight in the email what happens when the video is clicked.
- Make the call to action a text link for subscribers who have blocked images.
- Keep full video length with audio to less than 3 minutes, animated .gif videos to 30-45 seconds.
- Make sure the first frame of the video is acceptable for email clients that show static images only.
- Ensure that the amount of bandwidth required by the subscriber is not more than 150-200kB/second.
The key takeaway to using videos is email
You have to decide whether video in email is right for your brand, your subscribers, and your budget. Video can add a personal element (such as a message from the president), it makes your emails more interactive/engaging, and it can be repurposed for other channels, such as YouTube and social sharing sites.
If fear of the unknown is holding you back, many resources are available to guide you through the process. A few factors to consider before selecting an email video provider include video quality, video storage capacity, mobile video recording and mobile playback.
You could say that Don Corleone, played by actor Marlon Brando in “The Godfather,” was the ultimate email marketer. After all, his famous line is: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Don’t we hope all our emails will achieve the same result?
So what kinds of offers will prompt your subscribers to open an email, click through, and actually make a purchase?
1) Use the real magic word
It’s no surprise that the most powerful word in advertising is “free.” What is surprising is the fact that many email marketers resist using it in subject lines, afraid their email will be marked as spam.
Fear not, my fellow marketers. As long as your email lists are clean (scrubbed of undeliverables, invalids, inactives and the like), you’re good to go. If it’s free, say so – loud and clear.
The email below, from Land of Nod, not only includes “free” but a few other concepts key to a good offer (more on those later):
2) Create a sense of urgency
In the example above, a sense of urgency is created by inserting “for a limited time only” into the copy. Below, Kohl’s gets right to the point in the subject line: 5 Hours Only … And the subhead drills it home with “Hurry!”
Ready for a little R&R? Repetition and reinforcement, that is. Hayneedle starts off with “LAST CHANCE:” in the subject line, followed by “ENDS TONIGHT!” at the top left corner, and “Order by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 11.”
3) A (good) picture is worth a thousand words
Much to the chagrin of all the copywriters out there, all the great copy in the world can’t make up for a lousy product image. Case in point, this email from Serious Skincare. I must admit I find it rather ironic that the email touts a “BIG SALE” and is targeted to an over-40 audience, yet features tiny, hard-to-read copy and a minuscule product image:
On the other hand, this email from Chico’s may not offer a discount, but it offers a preview of spring fashion – and a compelling image that ties it all together.
4) Offer (real) value
If your budget doesn’t allow for free anything, the next best thing is a discount. Offer a percentage off, dollars off, a special subscriber rate, etc. How you word it is just as important as the offer itself. “Buy one, get one free” has proven to be more effective than “50% off.” (Tip: Be sure your back-end systems can handle whatever you’re promoting.) Test what works best with your customers, then run with it.
5) Claim exclusivity
As in the Land of Nod email above, “exclusive” is another draw. You can have an exclusive product, an exclusive offer (to email subscribers or online only), or an offer exclusive to a segment of your list (top customers). This is what email was made for!
6) Throw in a guarantee
To this day, there still are some people leery to shop online because they’re afraid they won’t be able to return their purchases or they simply don’t want the hassle of returning an item. Remove that purchase barrier by guaranteeing your products. At the very least, make it easy for customers to return items. Include a prepaid packing label and instructions on how to return the item.
7) Lighten up on the legalese
I’ve actually seen a disclaimer that was longer than the email itself. It reminds me of those TV and radio ads where the announcer talks a mile a minute in order to get all the legal mumbo-jumbo into the spot.
Bottom line, the more legal language you have, the less likely your prospect will act on the offer. I call it the “fear factor.” Ask your legal team to move that monster to the website at least the bulk of it.
The Register actually bestowed awards such as the longest email disclaimer and most incomprehensible disclaimer. After reading them, I would have thought they’d have been in the “best spoof disclaimer” category.
The key takeaway to crafting a good email offer?
Not all people shop exactly the same way. An email offer that might be appealing to one person might turn off someone else. That’s why it’s important to feature a few of the elements I’ve suggested in your offer, in the hope that it will attract the greatest number of responses.
Blasting emails is a blast from the past, so to speak. Email marketers who regularly deploy the same content to their entire list will likely find their list (and revenue) dwindling in the long run.
It’s all about segmentation. Even the least sophisticated email platforms have the capability to segment lists. So take advantage of it.
List segmentation doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are a few ideas, all easy to implement, to get you started.
Segment by geography
If warranted your database should include your recipients’ zip codes; this data can be use to segment geographically. The TravelZoo email below is target to residents of the Greater Philadelphia area. The targeting starts with the subject line, with a reference to “Valley Forge.” Philly-area residents will immediately know that this is a local offer. In the body of the email, the heading clearly states “Getaway for Philadelphia.” This is reinforced in the copy, which begins, “Less than 30 minutes from Philadelphia, ….”
Email marketers with brick-and-mortar stores can use zip codes to prepopulate the email with the address of the nearest retail locations. It’s a classic example of cross-channel marketing as well as dynamic email marketing.
Geographical segmentation can also be used to time when emails are received. Recipients on the West Coast can receive emails in their time zone, not that of the East Coast.
You also can use geographical data on a broader level. Let’s say you’re sending a “Snowed-in Special” to recipients in the Northeast. You can tweak the creative for your southern recipients, so that the offer still makes sense to them. Something as simple as changing the headline to “Not snowed in? Still enjoy the savings!” lets your customers know that the offer applies to them – and that you’re not lumping them in with their neighbors in the frozen north.
Segment by gender
When it comes to lists, it’s simple to segment by gender, via your own collection processes, purchase behavior or using gender recognition software. Valentine’s Day promotions, for example, lend themselves to this type of segmentation. The first email below from Ice.com is targeted toward women. Although it doesn’t explicitly say “for women,” the subject line and copy read “just for you” and the pink and purple hearts give the email a very feminine feel. The copy does a good job of encouraging gift giving as well as self-purchase by adding “(and your love).”
The next email from Ice.com is more generic – even masculine – and obviously geared toward gift giving as opposed to self-purchase. Here, the jewelry is silhouetted against a white background with no-nonsense black links below the images.
Segment by purchase behavior
Keep track of your customers’ purchase habits, then use that information to segment your lists. For customers with higher average order values, don’t be afraid to upsell or cross-sell in your emails. Keep track of customers’ product preferences. If customer Willy Wonka consistently orders dark chocolate, don’t send him emails featuring milk chocolate. Chances are, he’ll be more receptive to your offers. Sweet.
Segment by activity
Many email marketers group their lists by prospects, actives and inactives. They further segment the active group into top customers. Inactives are often defined as those who have not clicked on or opened an email in the past 6-9, 9-12 or 12-24 months. Promotions usually are focused on the active lists. It’s important not to ignore the inactives – they either should be re-engaged or removed from your lists entirely. ISPs routinely penalize email marketers whose lists have a high percentage of inactives.
This type of segmentation (or any segmentation, for that matter) can backfire, however, if not used properly. For trigger and transactional emails in particular, you must set up business rules for the segmentation. Like me, I’m sure you’ve received “Welcome back!” emails from companies whose lists you never opted out of, or “Thank you” emails from sites where you’ve never made a single purchase. That’s just bad business. Period.
Key takeaway on email list segmentation
No matter how you slice it, segmentation is key to effective email marketing. It allows you to tailor your message and your offer to those most likely to respond. Segmentation may require a little more work up front, but the ROI is worth the effort.
The inbox is a tough place.
People get a lot of emails each day. It’s a cutthroat competition amongst businesses to get attention.
One way businesses are getting attention is to be fun or a little quirky.
But for some businesses being fun doesn’t come easy.
Maybe the brand isn’t fun and exciting or maybe you are just conservative by nature.
In order to compete and win over customers you need to stand out.
Let’s look at a few ways companies are having fun with email even if they aren’t fun themselves.
Fun Tip #1 – Use Humor
People like to laugh.
When we laugh we feel good. It’s a physiological reaction to be in a good mood when something makes us smile.
Since buying is an emotional experience it’s good for you if your subscribers feel good as a result of humor.
A funny play on words can make people stop and give extra thought to your email. They’ll smile and those positive vibes will translate to brand recognition and more sales.
Fun Tip #2 – Try Unique Layouts
You probably have a template for your email program.
When was the last time you tried something different?
I’m not talking about changing a few elements or adding in some splashes of color. I’m talking about really changing up the layout with something that will surprise your subscribers.
Sometimes it’s good to mix things up and get a little crazy.
Horizontal emails are becoming more popular. When I received this Fossil email it stood out. I immediately started scrolling to the right to see what was being featured. It was like there was something hidden.
Horizontal scrolling is also much easier on a smartphone or on a tablet. People are used to it so you can use something like this design to change things up and stay fun and hip.
Get crazy with your layouts. Go with something horizontal or even thin and long. Surprise your subscribers and have a little fun.
Fun Tip #3 – Use Fun Words
Images aren’t the only way you can have fun with your email.
The language you use can be fun. Not only can it be fun, you can make it more enjoyable by being snappy and concise.
People respond to short, quick sentences and phrases.
We’re busy and we don’t have time to read novels. Be snappy and fun and you’ll get attention.
Fun Tip #4 – Make Emails Look Awesome with Images “Off”
Have you ever gotten an email where the images were turned off?
You probably have…many times.
When you’re creating designs for your subscribers you probably don’t think that people spend much time looking at the email without the images.
Think of the images off mode in the email as an opportunity to have some fun.
The example above from Pizza Express is a great one. They’re having fun with the images off. People will do a double take when they see it.
Final Thoughts on Making Emails More Fun
Surprisingly it’s not always easy to have fun.
Not all brands are naturally fun, but there are unique things you can do with design and content to have fun and stand out in the inbox.
Try these fun tips and see if you get more response. You should stand out in the inbox and get a little edge on the competition.
And remember to have some fun!
As marketers and humans we always look at others for inspiration.
To innovate we take what others have done and build on those ideas to improve and make more interesting.
That’s the goal anyway.
When it comes to email marketing, though, there is one tricky part of the equation.
There are B2C emails and there are B2B emails.
In this post we’ll look at the differences between B2C email marketing and B2B email marketing. You’ll want to pay attention because while some of the methodologies are the same the differences are important because a strategy for one might not work for the other.
Overview of B2C Email Marketing
B2C emails are pretty common for most Internet users. You probably received about 5 to 10 B2C emails just today if you’re an average email user.
B2C companies tend to be more aggressive with the frequency in which they send messages so the footprint is higher than in the B2B world.
Another aspect of B2C email marketing is the fact that nearly all emails are sales-focused. This means that each email is about getting to a sale quickly. Purchase price tends to be on the small side for B2C products so the sales process is more impulsive and quick.
You might see an email that introduces a new product. The expectation is that you immediately become interested in the item and make the purchase.
Another common scenario is to see an email that puts the pressure on your to purchase. Urgency is a common tool in B2C email marketing. You’ll see a sale that is ending soon and you have to act now otherwise you’ll miss the promotion.
Urgency is actually one of the areas where B2C and B2B are similar. B2B salespeople do try to get urgency attached to a quote or an offer trying to get a person to commit to a deal.
Finally, B2C emails tend to not follow a welcome series. There are instances when it does happen, but the welcome series is usually not longer than one or two emails. This is in contrast to some advanced B2B email marketing campaigns.
Overview of B2B Email Marketing
B2B sales tend to be large purchases. There are exceptions on both sides of the equation. There are small purchases in B2B and large purchases in B2C, but in general the large purchases lean toward the B2B world.
Because the purchases are larger there is more marketing in B2B email marketing than sales.
What does this mean?
B2B companies know that email marketing mirrors the sales process. The first introduction happens when a new prospect signs up for the marketing newsletter or marketing program. From there the emails work like a salesperson.
Messages are directed at educating the subscriber. The first email might include some recent news happening in the industry along with a point of view from the company perspective.
Subsequent emails often provide additional insight into the industry and eventually the products and services offered by the company.
The entire process is about presenting the state of the industry and the problems that exist and take the subscriber down the path of solving that issue with the solution provided by the company.
By now you probably recognize that B2B email marketing lends itself well to welcome series. It’s true that many B2B companies setup email series to move new subscribers through the sales process until they become a customer.
These differences in B2C and B2B email marketing are important. If you understand the differences you can really focus in on what will work best for your company.
On some occasions you can use inspiration from one for the other. It might be a way to get a little edge on the competition.
Now it’s your turn.
What do you think the differences are in B2C and B2B email marketing?