Email Marketing

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.

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.

The Rise and Rise of Niche Email Marketing Products

Niche Email Marketing Products

As email grows in complexity and effectiveness, so do the technologies and services that power it. But the email service providers (ESPs) and even the in-house solutions can’t be expected to provide for every need an email marketer might have. Yet the need exists, and in a game that’s sometimes measured in half a percentage point, every little detail counts.

Enter niche email marketing solutions. Nimble and savvy businesses are popping up to fill the voids others can’t, by providing hyper-focused solutions that help companies improve on even the finest points of their email marketing campaigns or operations.

BlackBox

It’s not just the email marketers who need some specialized products. Even the email service providers need a little help now and then, and niche email products can offer it. Consider BlackBox, a product we first launch nearly four years ago. BlackBox helps ESPs find potentially problematic customers, before the damage is done, by allowing ESPs to preemptively score the level of permission in their senders’ lists and manage those senders more effectively. It reduces risk, expedites new customer vetting and improves email deliverability.

FormSwell

On the other side of the fence are the email marketers, who are doing more with less as email gets more complex but budgets stay the same. Several products stand out as big solutions to little problems. Only think of all the little pieces necessary to a full-blown email marketing campaign. One niche product stands out, even though it’s still in beta: FormSwell is an easy way for email marketers to create powerful email signup forms without coding or cumbersome integrations.

EDMdesigner

Another favorite niche product of mine is EDMdesigner, for creating custom, responsive email templates without coding. Even though most people view their emails on a mobile device, not many emails work well on the small screens. It takes responsive design to make emails look good no matter the device, but that requires some special skills—and a lot of time. EDMdesigner takes away the need for the skills and makes it easy, to save you time. Best of all, like FormSwell, it’s available for integration into any SaaS system.

Subject Line Gold

This last one is defines the spirit of niche email products because subject lines are so often overlooked. Seriously, one of the most important pieces in getting your email open is usually written in a last minute, haphazard way. But Touchstone’s Subject Line Gold is may take away any excuses around bad (i.e. ineffective) subject lines by making it so easier to analyze subject lines.

ESP Integrations

In addition, ESPs are providing even easier ways to create and access niche email products, for example MailChimp’s Integration Fund. The future is bright and niches are popping!

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

The ROI of Email is Immeasurable

Email Marketing ROI

I just had a prospective client reply to a newsletter we sent them in 2010. That’s four years ago, folks. And I bet you have some old emails in your inbox waiting for your attention too, emails you haven’t deleted because you plan to get to them—someday. The oldest email in my inbox right now is three years old. I purge emails on a regular basis, yet I haven’t moved that one to the trash yet. Obviously, I still have every intention of opening it and dealing with it, just not any time soon.

Ditto for promotional emails and newsletters: Just because I don’t open and read them right away doesn’t mean I won’t. I have folders and filters for things I want to read during downtime, and I set those emails aside until I get around to them.

I’m not unusual in my ways. Rather, I’m a typical email user. For the marketer, sending an email might be instantaneous but that doesn’t mean our reaction to it is, which raises the question: How do you really measure the ROI of email? Most metrics are based on looking at email reporting soon after a send, but does that give you the real picture of an email’s performance? Just because a recipient doesn’t open and respond to an email within a set number of days or hours does not mean that message had no value.

There are several ways an email can indirectly influence ROI:

  • As already mentioned, an email can sit in an inbox or archive for a very long time until the recipient is ready to interact with it. (Note: That this is another reason for giving lots of attention to your subject line. Making the subject line descriptive and compelling can increase the longevity of an email inbox because the subscriber can remember the reason for keeping such an old email at a glance.)
  • Email marketing can influence brand and even customer loyalty without being directly tied to other. A subscriber might not respond to an email but that doesn’t mean the favorable feelings toward your brand weren’t more firmly entrenched in that person’s mind.
  • An email can drive an unintended action, such as a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store that’s not traceable back to a message.

You might say old emails never die. They just don’t make it into your email reporting.

When you’re considering the ROI of your email marketing, keep in mind this infographic showing the ROI of your mom. Like moms, email can give us many benefits we might not even recognize let alone measure. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do it. It just means we need to allow for a little wiggle room when we want to quantify that ROI.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries. Connect him everywhere, here.

Mobile Email Marketing in a Nutshell

Mobile Email Marketing Stats and Tactics

The entire mobile marketing landscape, well, almost.

In order to navigate the world of mobile email marketing, you need chart your course by paying attention to these compass points:

  • Mobile ads, mobile search
  • Mobile websites and landing pages
  • Mobile commerce, mobile payments
  • So-Lo-Mo (social + local + mobile)
  • QR codes (they’re not going away just yet, but almost)
  • SMS/MMS
  • Mobile apps, app ads
  • Mobile emails

This post focuses on mobile email marketing, with the caveat that all your marketing programs must be integrated for consistency.

Why is mobile email marketing such a big deal?

Mobile is a must for today’s email marketers and, like any new territory; it has both a tempting and terrifying allure of the unknown. The best way to demystify mobile email marketing is to understand its components.

You’ll find that mobile devices run the gamut from feature phones, with limited functionality, to portable gaming and MP3 players. Email marketers, however, should focus on smartphones and tablets, with accessibility to the web. While these two categories of devices seem quite manageable, keep in mind that you’ve got to account for various devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows.

If you still doubt the importance of mobile email marketing, here’s a statistic for you: According to Forrester research, 78% of U.S. email users will also access their emails via mobile by 2017. And don’t assume that smartphone use is limited to the younger generation. Emarketer predicts that this year mobile web and smartphone penetration for baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will pass 50%.

Here are a few mobile email marketing tips.

Smartphones offer 24/7 accessibility and instant gratification, known as “snacking,” for users. So it’s helpful to think “bite size” in terms of mobile email marketing.

Adaptive and responsive are two types of design for mobile-friendly emails. Adaptive design triggers content changes and reformatting to optimize for typical screen sizes for smartphones, tablets and desktops. In responsive design, the design format and content dynamically changes based on the screen size. Here are a few best practices:

  • Use a vertical, single-column layout (350 pixels max)
  • Keep subject lines to under 75 characters (shoot for under 35)
  • Make your text larger, preferably 16-pixel, since most mobile email applications automatically resize smaller text
  • Embedded links are more difficult to click than large buttons (44 x 44 pixels)

Consumers have high expectations regarding mobile. Strangeloop Networks reports that 85% of mobile users expect sites to load as fast or faster than on their desktops. In reality, however, median load time for 3G smartphones is 40% slower than on desktop. It’s not enough to build mobile-friendly emails. You’ve got to build mobile-friendly landing pages and sites, too.

The mobile email takeaway?

Mobile isn’t going away. On the contrary, it’s here to stay – and it’s a force to be reckoned with. Email marketers who embrace this technology will be ahead of the curve – and ahead of their competitors.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Indiemark. Connect with him everywhere, here.