Email Marketing

18 Excuses for Sending More Email

Ideas for sending more email

 

Most marketers would like to send a few extra emails out to their subscribers, to stay top of mind and possibly generate a few more sales. But there’s always the possibility of over-mailing if your not providing value.

If all of your emails are “buy now” ones, then, yes, you’ll most definitely be annoying if you send more of those. However, if you get even just a little bit creative, you can come up with all kinds of excuses to send more email—that subscribers will like to get.

To get your creative juices, we offer up 18 such ideas below…

There are—of course—the obvious reasons to send more email that you’re probably already doing:

  1. “Thank you for your order” emails
  1. Shipping confirmations

But why not keep them in the loop and send an email somewhere between the order being placed and the order being shipped? Why not a…

  1. “We’re working on your order” email?

Also, those “thank you” emails that you send when someone buys, registers or subscribes can be turned into something more, when you do a welcome series that can be just one email or several.

  1. Use a welcome email to acknowledge that someone has joined your list, and then follow up with a series of emails that educate them about your brand.

And on that note, you can…

  1. Do about anything as a series, and that gives you several excuses to email. You can do a “how to” series, for example, just as how to clean/use/maintain/get the most out of something they just bought or downloaded.

Then there’s introducing them to something new, while staying relevant to what they’ve already bought or expressed an interest in:

  1. “You might also like” emails aren’t just for retail. B2B marketers can use them too, to promote additional webinars or whitepapers, for example.

Another way to send more email is by asking your subscribers and customers for input. These kinds of emails not only give you an excuse to show up in the inbox, but can gather you invaluable information as well:

  1. Ask for feedback on a recent purchase, download or webinar.
  1. Ask for feedback on the emails you regularly send. You could ask for the input on the offers, content, frequency and/or design.
  1. Ask for feedback on a website redesign you’re considering or already launched.
  1. Ask them for ideas: What kinds of products or services would they like you to offer?

You can also send more email and be quite helpful when you send:

  1. Reminders about renewal dates, deadlines, sales, and when product is about to run out and should be reordered.

Then there are the more creative reasons to send emails, including:

  1. In celebration of an unusual holiday. Imagine the fun if your customers caught you celebrating Ferret Day, Tiara Day or Get Caught Reading Month, all of which take place during May. If you need ideas for unusual holidays to turn into reasons to send emails, try the Days of the Year
  1. Send a happy anniversary from the day they first subscribed or purchased. This is a chance to show appreciation for their patronage, and maybe re-engage them if they haven’t been engaged in a while. Plus it shows you’re paying attention!
  1. Speaking of re-engaging, “We miss you” emails can be very creative and can also be done as a series.
  1. You can also give them seasonal ideas that might or might not be related to what you’re selling. These can be summer yard care tips or ideas of Mother’s Day gifts…it should be something that’s at least a little bit connected to your business, but it should primarily be useful, helpful and seasonal.
  1. Tell them about upcoming events of interest, whether yours or someone else’s. Perhaps the nonprofit your business gives to is doing a fundraising event, or there’s a movie coming out that has some kind of connection to your business. Turn it into an inbox excuse!
  1. Tell them about something that happened, like opening a new store or branch office, or winning an award. These can be very engaging—not boring—emails if done right! People like to know whom they’re doing business with after all.
  1. And then there’s the “Just because…” email. What if—for no reason whatsoever—you sent an email just because, and you offered them a free download or a discount or you sent them a funny cartoon or video link? No sales pitch, not strings, just because you thought they’d enjoy the “just because…”

These are only ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are probably as many reasons to send emails as there are subscribers, so go ahead and start brainstorming some today…and find a few more reasons to show up in that inbox in a way people will appreciate.

 

Gerald MarshallGerald Marshall is Head of Operations at Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.

The Seven Ducks of Deliverability—and Why You Must Have Them in a Row

When you think marketing, what do you think? Cool logos? Snazzy designs? Compelling copy? Killer offers?

Yes, all of those things are parts of marketing, the kinds of tangible eye candy you can see and react to. But when you’re in the world of email, there’s a hidden side of marketing, the “back end,” if you will. And it’s just as important to put in a stellar effort on the back end that no one sees as the front one that everyone does.

What is this mysterious back end, you ask? I’m talking about deliverability. As marketers, it’s easy to get focused on everything that happens up to the point of hitting Send. But to be effective email marketers, we have to make sure hitting Send gets our emails into as many inboxes as we can. And that requires having your ducks in a row as much as it requires that killer offer.

The Seven Ducks of Deliverability

  1. A DMARC policy
    Are you who you say you are? A DMARC policy says so, and it’s a sound way to authenticate your email so that the major ISPs know your email is trustworthy and actually from you.
  2. A quality list
    When building your email list, I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing quality over quantity. Remember: Your deliverability is will dramatically improved by emailing 1,000 people who want to hear from you vs. 10,000 people who don’t!
  3. A segmented list
    And after you’ve built that quality list, you’re still going to have different customer types. Segment your lists so you’re emailing relevant content to targeted lists rather than generic content to everybody, because it’s the relevant content that engages that helps your deliverability. Your segmentation can be as basic as gender, or as sophisticated as you want with a relational database.
  4. A real From name
    The From name that appears on your emails might seem a trivial matter, but here’s how it matters to deliverability: You need engagement to get deliverability. Engagement can’t happen unless an email is opened. Factors that get people to open emails include the From name and the subject line. So use a real name for your From name or one that is at least intriguing.
  5. A compelling subject line
    Speaking of subject lines, to follow up on the From advice above, your subject line also plays a role in deliverability for the same reasons (need the open to get the engagement to get the deliverability). Spend some serious time on the subject lines, and run some A/B split tests to refine them.
  6. A responsive design
    Depending on which study you turn to, mobile open rates are around 50%, with some studies citing them slightly higher and some lower. Still, about 50% is a significant number, and one that must be taken into account. Here’s why responsive design matters to deliverability: If your emails aren’t opened and engaged with, the major ISPs start to assume that the recipient doesn’t want to here from you and your emails become a.k.a. spam. Using responsive design means improving the chances of someone engaging with your email when it’s opened on a mobile device.
  7. A reason to engage
    Finally, after you have all of the first six deliverability ducks in a row, you must give people a reason to engage. Sure, you can have your DMARC policy, your segmented lists and a responsive design template, but if your subject line is promising something your email doesn’t deliver, you’re not going to get the engagement. The major ISPs have differing definitions of engagement, and you should familiarize yourself with them. But it’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s really pretty basic stuff: Deliver awesome content to people who want to get it in a way they can easily access and engagement just comes naturally.

And make sure you have a cool logo too.

-Scott

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

Being Negative Can Have a Positive Effect on Your Email Marketing

Being Negative Can Have a Positive Effect on Email Marketing

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

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.