Email Marketing Strategy

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.

Top Reasons People Subscribe to Email Newsletters

Why People Subscribe

What happens when someone subscribes to your email newsletter? No, I mean what really happens? A bartering transaction between your brand and the consumer that involves items of value, that’s what happens. On your side, the value is in the content you are promising. On the consumer’s side, the value is in the email address.

When it comes right down to it, handing over an email address is akin to handing over cash. Consumers are unlikely to think of their email addresses that way, as something with a tangible value. But subconsciously they know they are making an exchange, and they have to want what you have to offer enough to think it’s a fair trade.

Which begs the question, what do people want? What will entice them to subscribe to an email newsletter in the first place?

The most popular reasons for subscribing to email newsletters
Although there are a variety of reasons why someone will subscribe to a certain newsletter (or not), some are more common than others, including:

  • To be entertained: We spend a lot of time in front of our computers or with our smartphones in our hands. It’s nice when some of that time can be spent being entertained with some good email content! And that content can be text, cartoons, photos or even video.
  • To be educated: Many people simply don’t have time to keep up with reading newspapers or books, or pursuing other ways of building their brains. Educational e-newsletter content can appeal to people who want to know more about a certain topic, even your company’s proprietary product that they want to get to know better.
  • To get deals: OK, let’s be honest here and admit that many people subscribe to newsletters only to get exclusive pricing and coupons. As long as you know that is the caliber of the list you’re building and as long as you’re delivering those deals to your list, it’s fine.
  • To be in the know: Speaking of exclusive, there are consumers who have enough brand loyalty to want to be considered an insider to those favorite brands. They will subscribe to newsletters that promise to give them the inside scoop and give them an edge over their friends or colleagues.

You still have to sell your subscriptions
There is another piece to this though, even after you figure out what your ideal audience wants: promoting the email newsletter. Despite all the years we’ve been doing online marketing, I still see websites with a simple “Sign up for Our Newsletter” box that gives me absolutely no reason whatsoever to do so. And then businesses complain that hardly anyone subscribes. Gee, I wonder why…not!

Don’t be that marketer. Instead, sell your newsletter subscription the same way you sell anything else. Tell people why they should subscribe and what they’ll get out of it when they do. You can even offer a sample newsletter, perhaps by putting your most recent issue on your website each month.

Then deliver on your promises each month, so you don’t see your subscribers turn into unsubscribers when only disappointment shows up in their inbox.

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.

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.

All Hallows’ Email

halloween-email-marketing

As an email marketer, it’s easy to be narcissistic, sending out self-serving emails rather than subscriber-centric ones. But as it’s Halloween this week, I think it’s a good time to ask yourself if your emails are a trick or a treat. Because, like the kids showing up expectantly at your door, everyone would rather get the treat.

Emails that trick

Your emails are a trick if they are—as mentioned above—self-serving, all about what you want to sell and not about what your subscribers or customers might need/want to buy. They’re a trick if they show up too often. They’re also a trick if you’re using shady “opt in” techniques, adding people to your list without getting an actual opt in. Then they’re a trick because your emails are showing up in the inboxes of people who didn’t even ask for them.

Emails that treat

Your emails are a treat if they are subscriber-centric, moving the emphasis off of what you want to sell and on to what they want to get, to offer useful information anticipated by your audience. They are a really nice treat if they’re targeted and relevant, using segmented lists and other advanced email techniques to make sure you’re doing right message/right time marketing.

Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes

Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes for just a few minutes and look at your email program objectively. Look at the From name, subject line, Preview Pane, preheader text, body, call to action, design, the works. And ask yourself, would you want to get emails from your business? Would you want to get them as often—or infrequently—as you do? Would you be intrigued/engaged enough to open emails from your company?

Act like you’re doing this in person

This isn’t just about being nice by handing out treats. There are multiple benefits to this approach beyond making subscribers happy, because any time people want to get your emails, you win in multiple ways, from better engagement to more sales to improved deliverability. But even if there weren’t, remember that I am of the “just act like a decent human being” school of thought, meaning I think you should be putting the subscriber first no matter what. Just because you have the anonymity of email doesn’t mean you should act any differently than you would if you were addressing that person in person.

Maybe this week, in addition to handing out candy to kids in costumes on Friday night, you could hand out a little candy to the folks on your email list too, offering them email that’s a treat, not a trick.

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

What’s Tripping Up Our Efforts to Make Email More Personal?

email personalization

Remember when email personalization meant all you had to do was include the subscriber’s name in the subject line? It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Now that tactic fails to impress the savvy (or cynical) even through it’s still effective.

Today, personalization can mean sending emails based on opens or clicks, website behavior like browsing or buying, emails triggered by abandoned shopping carts, and far, far more sophisticated tactics.

Being able to compile all of that data into one single view of each customer and deliver laser-targeted relevant messages as a result, now that is modern personalization.

But…most of us are still not there yet (unless we’re a big huge brand like Amazon, of course). Despite all of the talk about and desire for that level of personalization, many are still tripping along the path—not running smoothly along. Why? Oh, a couple of reasons.

Silos…still

I can remember reading about the evils of silos of data decades years ago, and not much has changed. Our data still exists in silos, and we still struggle to get those isolated pieces of information gathered together in an integrated and usable way. Marketers have access to plenty of data that could enable personalization, but it’s stored in too many different and disparate places. According to eMarketer,

Senior executives polled in North America said their companies were using an average of 36 different data-gathering systems and vendors—and some used more than 100.

The same report says executives are trying to get data sources integrated and streamlined, but they lack that single customer view and the personalized messaging it could offer if they did have it, in part because they lack the resources to make that kind of integrated, digestible data happen. They’re working on it. But they aren’t there.

Rushing it…and getting it wrong

Obviously, personalization is not something you wake up one day and decide to master, and this is another thing that trips us up: Rush it, get it wrong, and end up looking stupid. If you’re going to do personalization, you need to do it right rather than right away because otherwise it’s not personal. As David Baker has so eloquently points out, personalization shouldn’t be rushed for fear of it going awry. It can be complicated and complex. Take that into account. (Of course, it can’t ever be as bad as the world’s worst email.)

Is it worth it? Of course!

Many are still tripping over technologies trying to get personalized messages into our subscribers’ inboxes, but it is worth it. Although results depend on your industry, study after study shows personalized messages outperform those that aren’t by a wide margin. For example, according to MarketingProfs recounting the performance of emails in 2013, “Personalized promotional emails sent during 2013 had 26% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings.”

Yeah, we’re still tripping. But as long as we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, learn and improve, we’re going in the right direction.

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

The Dark Side of Willy Nilly List Building

The Dark Side of Email List Building

A purchase does not imply consent for ongoing email marketing communications. Nor does an event registration. So why do so many organizations insist on adding names to their in-house email lists based on a consent that any transaction automatically implies, rather than ask for explicit, permission?

I’m from the “just act like a decent human being” school of thought. That means I think companies should act like real people and only email those folks they know that actually want to hear from them. They ought to let thoughtfulness drive the bus, not shrewdness or email legislation loopholes.

However, that’s often not the case, and businesses grow lists without real consent because list building continues to be a numbers game in the email marketing industry. Despite all the cries for permission-based email, all the best practices around opt-in, all the hand wringing over cluttered inboxes and email-weary consumers, there’s still a tendency to go for quantity over quality.

This approach might grow list size, but it won’t necessarily grow sales and in fact, has three serious consequences:

  • Negative brand impact
    No way am I the only one annoyed when I make a purchase or register for an event with a company new to me, and suddenly I’m on the receiving end of daily email messages. Just because I bought that drill or signed up for that webinar does not mean I want a long-term relationship with a brand. It only means I wanted the drill for a project, or the education promised by the webinar. When I get emails from a brand like that, I immediately have a negative feeling about that brand. It might not be a conscious feeling but trust me, it’s there. And each new email reminds me of my negative feelings about that brand.
  • Lower deliverability
    A lack of engagement at the inbox can lower an email deliverability rate as ISPs use lack of engagement to judge whether that email is wanted or spam. If brand X sends me emails on a regular basis and I open a lot of these messages, the ISPs know I want to hear from brand X. On the other hand, if that brand continues to email me and I don’t open the emails, that is an indication that I consider brand X spam or at least or low value. That lack of engagement can cause an ISP to no longer deliver emails from brand X to some inboxes.
  • Spam complaints
    Some people will report email as spam rather than go through the unsubscribe process. They don’t realize (or care) the repercussions of doing so. They only know they don’t want to get emails from a certain organization any longer—or never wanted them in the first place—and reporting them as spam is seen as a quick fix. And nothing good comes from spam complaints.

It’s simple; if you plan to send me email, just make your intentions clear and give me options. I suspect we’d hear fewer consumer complaints about email if more companies acted like decent human beings, because a lot of unwanted email would cease to exist.

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

Using Email Design to Increase Conversions

Email design best practices are recommended for a reason: They help engage your readers, convey your message, and (hopefully) convert your subscribers beyond clicks.

Let’s see how design can help increase your email conversions.

Create brand awareness

When I think of effective branding, I think of Tiffany & Co. It’s iconic little blue box says it all. In its email designs, Tiffany uses that blue color to build upon its brand equity.

Tiffany and Co Email Example

But it’s about balance, too. Tiffany doesn’t have to shout its brand name. “Tiffany & Co.” is tastefully placed at the top of the email. It doesn’t overpower the product, which certainly takes center stage.

Branding builds recognition and trust with your audience. That leads to sales. You’ve got to earn that trust, however. It doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, consistent messaging – coupled with exemplary products and/or services – will create a level of comfort and trust.

Pay attention to the preview pane

Because many email service providers have preview panes, it’s crucial that your most important message appears in the top left of your email. You’ve basically got 250×250 pixels to work with. It’s challenging. Deal with it.

A picture’s worth a thousand words…

OK, it’s a cliche, but let’s face it. In email marketing, you’ve got to get your point across quickly. Readers spend only seconds on your precious email, so you’ve got to make every aspect count. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, “Email Newsletter Design to Increase Conversion and Loyalty”, 69% of email newsletters are skimmed.

So (sorry, copywriters) you need strong images to catch your readers’ attention. This email from MAC is an example of an eye-catching (pun intended) graphic. It proves that you don’t always need color to be compelling.

MAC Email Design

… but …

You’ve got to design your emails expecting images to be blocked. That means, for one thing, that you must include alt tags. If you don’t, your email could look like this:

anthropologie email creatives

It will be hard to convert a subscriber who has no clue what your email’s about. Alt tags give your subscribers a reason to download the images in your email…click on the email…and make a purchase (or other action).

A word about color

Depending on your audience, color can impact how they respond to your email offer. Kissmetrics has studied how colors can affect conversions. Are you targeting women? Go with blues, purples and greens; avoid orange, brown and gray. Targeting men? Go with blue, green or black; stay away from brown, orange and purple.

Take this Sony email, for example. It’s designed to grab your attention:

Sony Email Marketing Example

Colors are associated with various qualities, so you might want to think about this when incorporating color into your emails. Here are a few to start with, courtesy of Color Wheel Pro, but keep in mind that if you have a global audience, colors take on different significance in other countries.

  • RedEnergy, danger, strength, power, passion, desire, love
  • Orange – success, encouragement, happiness, creativity, joy
  • Yellow – joy, happiness, energy, intellect (avoid dull yellows)
  • Green – growth, freshness, fertility, harmony, safety, money (dark green)
  • Blue – trust, loyalty, confidence, faith, truth, tranquility (light), power (dark)
  • Purple – royalty, nobility, luxury, wealth, creativity, mystery, magic
  • White – Safety, purity, perfection, goodness, innocence
  • Black – power, formality, elegance, death, evil, mystery

The CTA

You’ve got to close the sale. In emails, that means you need a prominent call to action. It can’t hurt to be clever, too, as illustrated by this Christmas email. Even the colors are a softer version of the typical red and green. That’s one way to stand out from all the clutter in the inbox – especially at holiday time.

Xmas Email CTA

The key takeaway

You won’t have the Email Design Police coming after you if you fail to follow all the rules all the time. In fact, I’d encourage you to break test the rules occasionally. But if you fail to follow the solid practices most of the time, you won’t get the best results from your email campaigns.