Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

Social Media doesn’t kill email; it becomes an amplifier for the message

May 29th, 2011 by Heather Maloney

Social media amplifies your email messageI read the above statement in an article on Business 2 Business Community on the topic of 2011 PR Trends: Email and Social Engagement. The author was saying that the ability to engage with your audience through email isn’t diminished by the advent of social media and sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but instead the engagement can be augmented by making it easy to share your email message via social media as well.

A couple of years ago, we added Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter icons to images available in eNudge and suggested that you should use these to point people to your organisation’s presence on these social sites (review our June 2009 newsletter). Sharing your email content in this way requires you to hyperlink the icons to a version of your email message that you have placed on your website. However, to make this less work for you, we’re considering adding the ability to insert automated links to “tweet this” and “share this on Facebook” to your eNudge email messages. That will allow your contacts to share an online version of your email message (of course without the personalised content) which will be hosted on the eNudge server; a bit like the functionality to “View this email in a browser”. So that we can gauge interest, please let us know by commenting on our blog if you would like the social sharing functionality added!

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Having a One on One Conversation

August 10th, 2010 by Heather Maloney

Personalising your email or SMS messages in a useful way will help your contacts to feel like you are having a one to one conversation with them, and will help them feel like a valued client, not just one of the masses.

So what do I mean by a “useful way”? It’s pretty easy to add the firstname to your message – people expect that level of personalisation even in what is obviously a bulk email send now. What is useful for your clients / customers is going to be different from another organisation, but here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • expiry date of your customer’s account / subscription
  • number of loyalty points they currently hold
  • address and contact details that you currently store on file for your contact (ask them to update you if the details have changed)
  • last item that the customer purchased online (so that you can ask them what their experience has been like with that product, or you can ask them to rate your customer service during the transaction).
  • We’d love to hear what other ways you can imagine personalising your messages – reply to this post below.

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Timing your Email Campaigns to Co-incide with Major News

June 5th, 2010 by Heather Maloney

On Friday a week ago, Apple launched the iPad in a number of countries outside of the USA, including America. That same day I know of at least two organisations – Borders and Domain – who sent emails out to their contacts on that exact day telling people about tools that they now have available for the iPad.

The message to the end consumer is very clear:

  • we’re up to date
  • we’re providing you with useful tools

I think you will agree that the above a very powerful messages to provide to your customers.

Timing your messages to co-incide with major news events, particularly when you are supplying useful tools to help people around that event, is a great strategy and should be something that you factor into your Communication Plan.

You’re could be thinking: “that’s easy for large company with big budgets”, or “but how do you know what the major news is going to be?”, or “co-inciding my emails with the news will take too much preparation time”. Yes… it does take effort to co-incide your campaigns with major news; and that’s why it gives such a powerful message to the message recipients.

So don’t discount this strategy as too hard! Factor this into your next Communication Plan brain storming session, or tweak your Communication Plan when you become aware of big news coming up. Share your thoughts by adding your comment below.

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Can I email people to ask permission to email them?

February 16th, 2010 by Heather Maloney

I get asked this question quite a lot, or worse, I talk to clients who just presume that it’s okay to send a commercial email without consent on the basis that “If they don’t want to receive my emails, they will un-subscribe”.

The bottom line is that it is illegal accordingly to the Australian Spam Act 2003 to send even one commercial email to one email address where you don’t have the prior consent of the recipient to receive commercial emails from you.

Part of the confusion over this stems from the fact that the anti-spam legislation most commonly discussed on the internet is the American legislation (usually referred to as CAN Spam). The Amercian legislation allows organisations to send unsolicited commercial emails as long as they adhere to 3 basic types of compliance in the areas of: unsubscribe, content and sending behavior.

So, just to be very clear, the Australian Spam Act legislation, which applies to emails of a commercial nature, sent to anyone in Australia or emanating from Australia, does require you to have consent of the recipient prior to the email being sent. There is a concept of ‘inferred’ consent in Australian Spam Act legislation, and there is also a concept of ‘conspicuously published’ email addresses that don’t carry the same requirements for prior consent. If you wish to rely on anything but express consent, it is worth careful investigation to ensure you aren’t breaking the law: further reading on the topic of consent.

A final point is worth making: the onus of proof of having consent is on the sender.

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Reducing the Likelihood of Un-subscribes at this busy time of year

November 24th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

I have noticed an increase in the rate of un-subscribes over the last few weeks. I believe that is at least in part due to the increased work levels across the board as people try to achieve as much as possible before Christmas and the end of year.

So, what can you do to reduce the likelihood that your contacts with un-subscribe at this time?

Value is king – providing value in your emails is always the most persuasive reason people have to stay on your email list. The question for you is what do my contacts perceive as value. It might be any of the things listed below, or something entirely different, the important thing is to know what your contacts value:

  • special offers, especially when they are only available to people who receive the messages
  • free shipping of products – this is especially appreciated by Christmas shoppers short of time, but not wanting to spend more on shipping. We’ve added a new Free Shipping image into eNudge to help you communicate this to your contacts.
  • information that helps your contacts achieve more with less, or save time
  • information that gives your contacts an edge
  • information that enables your contacts to solve a problem they have e.g. don’t know what to buy someone for Christmas!

Make Skimming Easy – including a table of contents at the top of your email helps your contacts to consume your message, finding the items more important to them, more easily. Using topic headings also helps to make it easy to find information. If you make it easy to read, people are less likely to un-subscribe.

Keep it short – if you have a lot to say, put that information into a web page, and include just a teaser to it in your email. This also contributes to making it easier for people to skim through your email.

Make it Personal – if your contacts feel like you are having a 1 on 1 conversation with them, they are also less likely to un-subscribe. You can do that through personalisation e.g. including their name and company in your email. If you have a bit more time, you can also include a personalised paragraph in your message. It’s not hard to do with eNudge.

Target your Emails more Carefully – that is, if you have different types of people in your contact database, go to the trouble of creating different emails to send to these different groups. A very obvious example is a Christmas message to your customers will be very different to a Christmas message to your suppliers. This consideration is also related to the first point above – adding value. What is valuable to one segment of your target audience, may not be valuable to other segments.

Add Humour – if you give your contacts something to laugh at, even if they don’t feel that a particular email is of value to them, they will be less likely to un-subscribe.

Ensuring People Know they Have Joined Your List – this applies to any time of the year, but especially at this time. Make sure that you not only get consent before sending messages to your contacts, but make sure each person knows they have given you consent – don’t hide it in fine print, and don’t assume.

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Mixing It Up – keeping it fresh

May 29th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

In our edition of eNudge News describing 4 Keys for Business Growth in 2009, the 4th key was:

Mix up the communication & follow up responses: make sure you act in a timely manner when people respond to your communications, don’t forget to occasionally ring your key prospects, or send a hand written note in the mail. In addition, using personalisation (more than just your contact’s first name) in your messages and more targeted special messages outside your regular ‘news’ messages also helps to connect better with your contacts.

Tips for helping you to mix up the messages:

  1. When you’re reading news and industry articles – keep your customers top of mind. If you’re thinking about them (as well as your own interests) as you are reading the news, you will undoubtedly find information that will be very helpful to a customer. Scan the article, and email / fax it out.
  2. If there is a key date in one of your client’s businesses, diarise a week before that date and send a hand-written note, give them a quick call, or send them an email about that date; your communication might be a reminder / a good luck / a ‘yell out if I can help you’ / a congratulations type of message.
  3. In your Christmas message, you can use the unlimited personalisation feature of eNudge to add a personal sentence to each message. Refer to our ‘Extending your Message Personalisation’ tutorial for more details on how to do this.
  4. Consider SMS as the vehicle for sending a special short message to your key clients announcing an important event that is date sensitive / a success you have achieved / a success of one of your clients to which you contributed.
  5. After a meeting with your client, on occasion send a hand-written note thanking them for their time. You can get some great personalised or company branded note cards created for this purpose from Note CĂ´uture.

Tips for helping you follow up inbound responses:

  1. Have a process for how you are going to handle responses, including a script (for a telephone response) or a set of possible written responses, ready before you send out the message that you expect to ellicit a response.
  2. Assign a staff member to handle the responses, and set a time frame in which the responses must be made / sent.
  3. Manage the process to ensure that it is being followed.

It’s very easy to put all your effort into creating the message, and then not having any time left to plan for the response. This is a recipe for handling responses in a tardy or unprofessional manner.

How have you handled large volumes of response from your marketing efforts?

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Execute Your Plan

March 17th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

In our edition of eNudge News that included 4 Keys for Business Growth in 2009, the 2nd key was:

Execute [Your Marketing] Plan without fail.

Of course, you can’t keep to your marketing plan if you don’t have one. If you don’t have one, stop reading this now, and instead read our article that takes you through a step by step process for creating a email communication plan – you can expand that to include all your marketing communications; e.g. letter drops, newspaper ads, Google Adword campaigns etc. Then come back here and keep reading!

To help ensure that you execute your plan:

  1. Keep in mind the following points:
    • if you are not communicating with your customers and prospects on a regular basis, your competitors might be talking to them instead.
    • if you provide a wide range of products and services, it is easy for your existing customers to be unaware of some of the products and services you offer. Increase the understanding of your clients through value added ways of talking about the breadth of your products and services.
    • even if your audience doesn’t read every element of every one of your communications, they still get the message that you are thriving, and are interested in them.
  2. Use the eNudge Communication Plan function to store details of your future electronic messages. This allows you to add to the information when useful input comes to hand. It’s a great help having lots of useful input and ideas when you start writing your message.
  3. Diairise the job of writing your communications, giving the writer plenty of time to get it ready.

What are your tips to help others execute their marketing plan?

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Getting the Connection Right

February 24th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

In our last edition of eNudge News, I listed the following as the first of the 4 Keys for Business Growth in 2009:

Create a plan for your marketing communications with the intention of connecting with your audience, educating and providing value. I believe this should be the sole purpose of your messages – the repeat sales, new customers and profits will flow automatically if you connect, educate and provide value.

I really can’t emphasize enough the importance of connecting with and providing value to your audience.

Your contacts really want to feel like you are speaking to them, about something that is actually relevant and useful to them. Otherwise they will stop reading your messages.

You will never achieve a feeling of connection through your emails or sms messages unless you:

  1. Put yourself in the shoes of your contacts, and think about (or ask them directly) what they want to hear about before putting together your messages or your special offers.
  2. Send your message to subsets of your list so that you can ensure that the message is relevant to the contacts that receive the message. This might require you to write more than one version of your newsletter for instance.
  3. Write your message in a communication style that makes people feel like you are sitting down having a coffee with them – try and visualise that as you are writing your message.
  4. Personalise your message, perhaps also the subject line. I mention this last, because personalisation is possibly the least important of these 4 points. Of course, the more you personalise a message the better. eNudge allows you to personalise your message in an unlimited manner because you can add your own special fields to any campaign. Have you considered adding a personalised paragraph for specific contacts that is very personal to them e.g. ‘it was great meeting with you last week…’?

A recent Borders email gave a great example of personalisation. If you have a look at the image to the right, you will see that Borders have included the contacts name in the front cover of a new book, as the co-author of a new book. Seeing my name on the front cover of a book certainly got my attention!

With regard to providing value, I would also like to share a recent experience I had while shopping in a specialist clothing store. I’m not much of a shopper, so having found this particular store which had some great products, but not enough of the items that I wanted, I was keen to be added to their mailing list to hear when new stock arrived. I was very disappointed to be told that they don’t do any emailing at present, and that I should just drop by the store every so often when I’m nearby to see if they have new stock. Hmmmm…. where’s the value in that? This experience reminded me that businesses that are doing email marketing in Australia are fairly unique.

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Email Experience Council (EEC) working on new definitions for email measurements

February 24th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

The EEC has been working on a new set of definitions to help email marketers see consistency in measurements used to gauge the successfulness of an email campaign.

In a nutshell (so that you don’t have to go through the rather dry documentation) they are recommending that:

  • the term open rate be changed to render rate, which more accurately describes what we are measuring: the fact that we know that an email has been opened because an image we included in it has been rendered in the email client.
  • an action rate be used to measure the number of renders + click throughs. At the moment, eNudge determines that if a person clicks on a URL that they have actually also opened the email, for obvious reasons. The EEC is recommending that these are kept separate as renders and clicks, but collated into one action rate measure which will add the two together.

The EEC are seeking input from email marketers and email service providers (like eNudge) into the new terms.

In terms of the way eNudge measures email activity, I would really like your feedback on these two questions:

1. Do you want to know if one person has opened your emails multiple times?

2. Would you like to know that someone has clicked on a link, but not rendered the images of your email?

3. Would you like to know if an email has actually reached the inbox (whether it was deleted, read or not)?

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4 Keys for Business Growth in 2009

January 27th, 2009 by Heather Maloney

I see it time and time again; business owners / marketing managers start an electronic marketing program but only get around to sending their first message out to their customers. Alternatively, they send out another message 6 months later which contains nothing more than a promotion of one product in their business.

Yes, it takes more effort, but significantly more benefit can be derived from doing the following:

  1. Create a plan for your marketing communications with the intention of connecting with your audience, educating and providing value. Have a think about those 3 bolded words. I believe they should be the sole purpose of your messages – the repeat sales, new customers and profits will flow automatically if you do those. Your plan will include message dates, key topics and who is reponsible. For help with your planning session read our article.
  2. Execute the plan without fail. Though, be mindful that details in the plan may change in response to environmental events or unexpected changes in your business. To ensure that you do execute your plan, and execute more than your first communication / advert, diarise the preparation of each communication, and the execution date giving yourself enough time to carry it out.
  3. Whilst you may not see any results from your first communication, your message is out there, people are seeing that your business is still alive and well, and they are potentially moving closer to being ready to respond.
  4. Continue to grow your List by promoting your communications in all your customer touch points. This is very important as it does two things: 1/ ensures that you keep focused on your communications with your customers. If your emailing / sms list is continuing to grow there will be less chance that you will tire of sending your messages, and 2/ adds new prospects to the start of the sales process. Most people need to feel that they trust you and understand what you can do for them before they will be ready to buy.
  5. Mix up the communication & follow up responses: make sure you act in a timely manner when people respond to your communications, don’t forget to occasionally ring your key prospects, or send a hand written note in the mail. Electronic messaging is great for getting the majority of your communications done at low cost, but it can’t completely replace phone calls and face to face meetings. In addition, using personalisation (more than just your contact’s first name) in your messages and more targeted special messages outside your regular ‘news’ messages also helps to connect better with your contacts..

With businesses and consumers being more selective about what they spend money on, businesses that really are about providing value and serving their customers will be the ones that succeed in 2009. You need to make sure that your communications reflect those attitudes.

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