Mobile Marketing

Want to Rock Your Email Marketing in 2017? Skip the Sexy Stuff and Master These 4 Fundamentals First

Which new and innovative marketing tactics are you planning to introduce in 2017? You have plenty of ideas to choose from, like augmented reality and Instagram photo contests, to name just a few.

But—despite the draw of these sometimes spectacularly popular ideas (like the craziness of Pokémon Go in 2016)—email is still the most preferred brand communication channel for pretty much everyone of every age, including Baby Boomers (73%), Generation X (71%), Millennials (62%) and Generation Z (65%). Yes, even Millennials prefer email. Forget the Millennial myth. Millennials do use email, and it’s their preferred way to hear from businesses like yours.

Email still matters

This is no small point I’m making here: No matter how many fancy schmancy ways retailers try to market to customers, those customers by and large still prefer email over other channels as the means by which they want to hear from those retailers. Sure they might have a blast tracking down a Pikachu or snapping a picture of their dog with a beer, but that’s not about your communications with them.

It’s easy to be distracted by the new and shiny when they go viral and they’re all over social media, but the facts are that email still matters for any marketer trying to increase revenue. So make sure your email program is constantly improving in 2017.

Master the fundamentals first

Be careful not to get sucked in by all the new, shiny, sexy, trendy stuff (cough cough beacons cough cough) while ignoring the fundamentals. Chasing the latest and greatest isn’t a bad thing. But it is an unnecessary thing if you haven’t mastered the basic building blocks of a strong email marketing program first.

So what should you really be focused on in 2017—before you start planning for a viral virtual marketing campaign or trying out some new technology that still has a low adoption rate? In my opinion, mindful of the fact that email still matters as much as it does, there are four fundamentals you should master before moving on to any other kind of digital marketing. Those four fundamentals are:

  1. Mobile
  2. Personalization
  3. Automation
  4. Testing

Fundamental 1: Mobile

Maybe you’re sick of hearing about mobile marketing by now. Maybe you’ve mastered it. Not all marketers have, however, and that’s going to work against those who haven’t. Although the numbers vary regarding the percentage of consumers checking email on a mobile device, those numbers are all high—and increasing.

What does it mean to master mobile? To deliver emails that render well, no matter the device they’re viewed on, and to offer landing pages that mobile friendly as well. If your email shows up on a smartphone and looks like crap, it will probably be deleted or at least ignored. And if your email looks good but a click-through leads to a clunky web experience, you’re probably going to lose that prospect at that point.

Lesson? Master mobile.

Fundamental 2: Personalization

If you don’t want to personalize your email marketing because you don’t think it’s worth the trouble, you’ve been outvoted: Consumers think it’s worth the trouble, and they expect it. According to a Mapp infographic,

  • 77% expect email marketing to be personalized based on information they’ve submitted about their profile;
  • 76% expect email marketing to be personalized based on past purchases;
  • and 62% expect email marketing to be personalized based on browsing behavior.

Privacy is no longer the concern it used to be because consumers are willing to give up some privacy in exchange for email marketing content that’s relevant and interesting to them.

You have multiple opportunities to gather data about customers. Do so, and use it. Segment your audiences. Personalize your content. Offer a preference center that lets your consumers have a say in the kind of emails they get and the frequency with which they get them.

Fundamental 3: Automation

Depending on your email service provider or inhouse solution, you’ll have varied options for automating your email, but you should take advantage of every one in order to reduce your workload and improve your efficiencies. Here are just a few ways you can use automation for better email marketing in 2017:

  • Send a welcome series to a new subscriber or customer.
  • Use triggered emails to send personalized emails based on a user’s behavior, such as a subscription, download or purchase.
  • Automate the personalizing of content.
  • Automate your email reporting.
  • Have a re-activation campaign in place that starts automatically after X months of inactivity.

If you’re not yet using automation and triggered emails, develop a strategy for doing so. Onboard new customers after a purchase or if you’re B2B marketer, develop a piece of content to offer that you can follow up with a drip campaign.

Fundamental 4: Testing

Although Jay Baer is talking about content marketing when he says it should be about “test, test, test not guess, guess, guess,” you can make the same argument for email marketing. Test always and test everything. Think beyond your subject lines to test everything that’s part of the three fundamentals described above. Test your mobile marketing.

Test for the kinds of personalization that perform better than others. Do you customers want personalized content? How about testing for frequency? Do you know your ideal cadence? Does it differ between one segment and the next, with one group wanting more emails and another wanting fewer? In one study, 41% of respondents said they prefer a weekly email and only 8% want a daily one. How will you know which your customers prefer if you don’t test?

You need to test in order to maximize gathering information for your personalization too. Just how much can you ask for on a signup page? Can you ask for gender, age and ZIP code? Or do people start dropping like flies when you add just one more field? Test and optimize those forms so you can optimize your personalization.

Test for the best ways to use automation. How many emails should you use in a triggered welcome series? Two, four, one? Test and find out.

There will always be something to test just as there will always be something to tempt you away from these fundamentals. And tempted you may be! As long as you have your mobile marketing, personalization, automation and testing rock solid, your email marketing will rock in 2017—and then you can go after the shiny new stuff and have a little fun!

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.

Using Mobile Marketing Tactics to Add Email Subscribers

Mobile Email Marketing Tactics

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…”

Incentivize them

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?

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

4 Noteworthy Mobile Email Marketing Trends

Mobile email is becoming very important. One study estimates that 38% of email is now opened on a mobile device. That compares to 33% of email opened on desktop applications.

In my humble opinion, if your company is not paying attention to how your emails look (and behave) on mobile devices you’re already trailing the competition.

So today we’re going to look at a few mobile email marketing trends that you may be able to apply to your program.

1. Geo-location

Location-ased Email example

Location-based email marketing has come a long way in a short amount of time. Emails can now determine your current location, with each new open. So you could open an email from your favorite restaurant in one town and if you are in a new city the next day you could open the email again and it would list  the store that is now closest to your location.

Live email information goes beyond location though. There are live countdowns that can be used for promotions and flash sales. Live emails also include social media updates like a live Twitter feed or Facebook photo stream.

The example above is from a Movable Ink blog post, a company that is really doing great things with live email content.

There are lots of possibilities.

2. More Text, Less Images

Mobile-friendly Email Design

One issue with mobile email marketing is the time it can take to load images. But the biggest game changer when it comes to email content is that when images are blocked an image-heavy email is nearly unreadable. Sure, this is also true for emails which are viewed on desktops but given the slower load times it’s all the more important to use text over images, when possible and appropriate.

In the example, Apple uses a green background with a headline image and product image, but the text is actually text. Should the images be slow to load on a mobile device the user would still be able to read the text right away and they would still see the call to action to visit the local Apple retail store.

3. Responsive Email Design

Responsive Email design Example

Responsive design is being used on heavily on websites. The process gives users an optimized experience no matter what device they use to view the site. The site owner only has one site to maintain, which makes it different than a mobile site.

Nowadays, a lot of companies are using responsive email design too. Which, if coded properly, allows the email to render differently and depending on the device on which is open. You can adjust width, image size, font sizes and even hide or reveal content blocks or columns.

This example from Twitter, which was featured in this post from Litmus, not only changes (for the better) when viewing on a mobile device but the call to action changes as well, which we discuss in more detail below.

4. Pushing Apps

Detecting Mobile Device Example

LinkedIn has an increasingly good email resource for professionals. What’s most interesting about this email, though, is the call to action for the LinkedIn Mobile App.

Like responsive email design, it’s a great way to provide a better experience to users based on the device they are currently using.

Final Thoughts on Mobile Email Marketing

Mobile email marketing is becoming something nearly every company will need to pay attention to in 2013. People are viewing email on their phones at an increasing rate. If the experience is not optimized subscribers will lose their patience.

Take inspiration from the trends above for your email programs.

What else are you seeing in the mobile email marketing world? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Email is the Preferred Method of Receiving Communication from Marketers

Eric Kirby, an email marketing veteran, delivered a keynote address Monday at MediaPost‘s Email Insider Summit, where he dismissed suggestions  that email marketing may be losing steam while urging marketers to carpe diem and capitalize on social media networks.

Email has been the marketing workhorse for a decade, and that’s unlikely to subside, he said. This endorsement, which is supported with hard data, comes as the industry has dealt with suggestions in 2009 that its long-held, top-tier role is fading.

However companies are using some inventive programs with mobile and social media to grow enhance their email efforts that marketers could learn from, he indicated. Outback Steakhouse, for example, offered a free Bloomin’ Onion to the first 500,000 people who became its fans on Facebook. And its list grew by 125,000 between Nov. 16 and 24.

This and other relieving statistics  (including Tiger Woods’ preferred media channel usage) are outlined is this well-delivered and insightful presentation.

Does your Marketing Firm Sing for its Supper?

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Ask any CEO if they’d be willing to share profits with a marketing firm or consultant who provided a positive impact to their bottom line. “Absolutely!” is the response that you’re likely to receive. Now ask them how they compensate their marketing agency, service suppliers, or in-house marketing department. Exactly.

Finding a true marketing partner  isn’t easy to locate but they’re out there. In fact, they’re becoming increasing more common.

For many businesses, the realities of the current economy have resulted in a reduction in marketing spending and staff. Marketing firms, agencies and consultants too are experiencing general belt tightening. Yet, each has a need to drive revenue. Combined, these factors have created a unique opportunity for both parties.

Marketing firms and consultants who satisfy more fundamental or complex needs such as branding, demand generation and cross-channel customer acquisition (services that are typically provided on a project or hourly basis) are now singing for their supper but they’re eating well.

While some firms have always worked under a performance-driven model, others are now beginning to partner with their clients and truly put their talents, time, and even their money where their mouths are.

Marketing partnerships can be are structured on a long term or month-to month basis and can take virtually limitless forms. The shape it takes is dependent on the client’s goals, offerings, and budget as well the core capabilities of the marketing service provider. However, these arrangements are generally based on a lift in client revenue, of which a percentage is paid to the service provider, or they receive a stake in the company, along with a minimum retainer.

Partnerships of this type are best suited to small and mid-sized companies who are seeking reduce marketing costs and/or acquire more profitable customers yet lack the resources or wherewithal to manage the marketing effort effectively. It also works well with start-ups or companies seeking launch a new venture or expand an existing offering.

There are challenges in establishing successful marketing partnerships however. Firstly, it’s a two way street. Mutual trust and performance weigh heavily on both parties therefore and, unlike traditional work-for-hire relationships, the agreements are more comprehensive and the qualifying process is extensive and may require that you disclose privileged information that goes far beyond your marketing efforts and experiences.

Before you enter into a marketing partnership or start your next marketing initiative, ask your vendor if they’ve built successful companies themselves; if not it’s unlikely that they will be able to do the same for your organization. Learn what services they provide in-house and which services they outsource; excessive outsourcing is likely to be reflected in their guaranteed compensation. As with any vendor-client relationship you’ll want to learn more about their industry expertise and client-partner successes.

Marketing partnerships are not for every organization but for those clients and marketing services suppliers that are willing to share the risk, a good match can often reap greater rewards for all.

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