Start Your Holiday Planning Now

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most eagerly anticipated retail events of the year and both dates are a wonderful opportunity for marketing teams to prove their worth. While both events seem far away right now, you need to begin your holiday marketing planning as soon as possible because your rivals are certainly busy creating strategies.

To put into context what’s at stake, Cyber Monday 2013 resulted in sales of almost $2.3 billion and this figure is likely to rise since the 2013 figure was a 16% increase on the 2012 sales figure. Here’s what you need to do now to prepare for the holidays.

Create Strong Subject Lines

Though shoppers are motivated by deals, you shouldn’t necessarily rely on details of discounts to make up your subject lines. With so many competitors to worry about, your subject line has to distinguish your offers from the rest of the market which means creating headlines that appeal to the emotion shoppers have for certain brands. I would recommend avoiding the word ‘free’ in subject lines as this comes across as spam content. If you start now, you should have time to split-test before the big days arrive.

Market Research

You need a strong understanding of existing and potential customers so you better start researching this instant! While many marketers rate Cyber Monday ahead of Black Friday, it seems that over 80% of Black Friday customers want to receive email updates and almost 60% of them want mobile updates. Strategic use of the information you receive will help you profit from these shopping bonanzas.

High Volume – Short Space Of Time

Your holiday planning campaigns will involve an enormous volume of emails being sent out in a short space of time. For instance, you may need to send emails to 500,000 customers regarding a sale with a 3 hour window. Is your email infrastructure capable of sustaining this level of sending? If not, your recipients will end up getting the emails when the sales are finished.

Real Time Analytics

Too many email marketers make the mistake of thinking their emails will be safely in inboxes within minutes of being sent. However, most marketers will not get the requisite data to tell them if their messages are being sent out on time. Without access to real time analytics, your emails could be backed up in queues for hours without you realizing it. You must have this data to develop an effective campaign; this is especially the case when you are running time sensitive offers.

When performed correctly, email campaigns centered around holiday retail events can be spectacularly effective. As a result, you have to plan far ahead if you want to be among the most successful companies in your industry.

Inbox Placement – Why The Relationships Matter

Posted on Oct 21, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Email marketers in the know realize the importance of subscriber engagement which has been described as ‘the top email marketing priority in 2014’. Keep reading to understand more about the topic along with tips on how to establish relationships with your customers.

Why Do My Emails End Up In The Spam Folder?

It is disheartening to find your marketing emails in the junk folder instead of the recipient’s inbox or Gmail’s promotion tab. It turns out there are hundreds of signals which determine whether an email goes into a spam or inbox folder. Each individual signal is based on various algorithms which means one factor alone won’t be responsible for destroying your whole campaign.

A better way to look at things is to analyze why a user may have marked your email as spam rather than looking at the reasons why the spam filter didn’t place you in the inbox. Basically, you should think of ways to get recipients to love your emails; if users like your emails, the spam filters may not be enough to stop your emails reaching a person’s inbox.

Improving Subscriber Engagement

Gmail is taking subscriber engagement very seriously and its anti-spam team is looking for evidence that recipients like your emails and want them to reach their inboxes. The most obvious solution is to focus on providing high quality content and establishing relationships with your target audience.

  • Improve Targeting & Segmentation: This is typically based on the data available to you and once you have this information, you can use it to improve your targeting and deliver more relevant content. This in turn is likely to improve subscriber engagement.
  • Triggered Message Program: Emails automatically sent based on the behavior of subscribers is more relevant and enhances the possibility of increased engagement. Triggered message examples include welcome, anniversary, birthday, feedback and abandoned cart emails. These emails take more effort but the improved open rate makes them well worth it.
  • Weed Out Inactive Subscribers: You need to identify inactive subscribers and try to get them to reengage. If this fails, you have to cut them loose as Mailbox Providers now use subscriber engagement to decide where to filter your email.
  • Mobile Planning: More than half of all email opens occur on a mobile device and this figure increases during holiday season. Your emails need to perform well across all devices or else your subscriber engagement level will decrease. Find out where your audience reads your emails and adapt to meet the ever-changing landscape.

To get the best results from your email marketing campaign, you have to improve subscriber engagement so follow the above tips for success.

Getting Your Message Across On Gmail’s Promotion Tab

Posted on Oct 8, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

Gmail’s interface changes caused widespread panic when they were first rolled out but contrary to what some people might think, email marketing has not been dealt a major blow! Gmail is testing out a new grid inbox visual for its Promotions tab, one of the several new tabs included in its sorting system. In the event you haven’t yet noticed this change, there is no need to stress yourself out as I have included a few useful tips to help your messages to distinguish themselves from the crowd on the Gmail Promotions tab.

Utilizing images allows you to decide the emails you want to ignore or open. The Promotions tab grid view has four elements you need to be aware of:

  • Featured Image: Make sure the image chosen is 233px wide and 161px high, utilize JPEG, PNG or GIF images and use the featured image markup code in HTML of the message to designate the featured image. Make sure the featured image has alt text behind it. If your image is too small or can’t be found by Gmail, the alt text is displayed instead; this featured image is a useful call-to-action.
  • Sender Image: As long as you have a Google+ page that has been verified and associated with the domain, you will find a Google+ image displayed on the lower right side of the featured image. If you don’t have a verified Google+ page, the first letter of the sender’s name will be displayed.
  • Sender Name: Please remember there is a 20 character limit so consider shortening this field if this limitation is cutting off the sender name or means branding can no longer be easily recognized.
  • Subject Line: This has a 75 character limit and frankly, you need to convey the point of the message within the first 30 characters while the remaining characters are your call-to-action.

Additional Tips

When it comes to dealing with Gmail’s changes as a whole, keep in mind the following:

  • You need to focus on strategy rather than classification. Concentrate on the marketing instead of trying to change how Gmail classifies its messages.
  • Always pay attention to subject lines or risk being ignored.
  • Track open rates closely to improve open and inbox placement rates.

By placing all promotional messages in one tab, Gmail has given you a target audience with a propensity to purchase. Users that click on the Promotions tab are clearly looking for marketing messages which is a welcome change from the old days where you had to hit the inbox of prospects and hope to stand out.

 

 

Fall Re-Engagement Activities

Posted on Oct 1, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

Your open and click-through rates could be suffering because of inactive email addresses. Once you analyze your data and find a lack of activity from email leads on your list, it’s time to find out if these individuals should be removed from your list or if they can be revived. Now that Fall is here, you need to lighten your email load and strive for improved metrics during Fall and Winter.

Find Out If They Are Inactive

Perhaps those on your inactive email list have just been enjoying the summer sun and haven’t had time to look at their emails. It’s also a fact that many recipients have turned off images by default so their opens may not be registered. Select people who have not opened an email in 6 months and send them an email asking them to click on a link to show they still want to receive emails from you. The link should take them through to a special offer or discount to revive their interest.

Decide What Is Acceptable

You need to decide on the percentage of inactivity that is acceptable when it comes to meeting your marketing goals. It really depends on your business model; for example, having people who only respond quarterly may be good news while it is bad for business in other industries. Determine your average activity range and identify those who can be called ‘low responders’ and those who should be labeled ‘non-responders’. Your email service provider should be able to show you how to discover these people on your list.

Reactivation Plan

You need to begin testing different approaches and decide if you wish to treat low responders differently to those who don’t respond at all. You also have to determine whether you want to quickly gain people’s attention or embark on a multi-email campaign. Look at upcoming holidays and focus an email campaign around it.

If you can afford it, launch a competition offering a vacation as the grand prize; many people can’t afford a summer vacation and will jump at the chance to get in some sun as the cold weather closes in. If these subscribers don’t respond, the obvious solution is to trim your summer fat and ensure your email list is trim and sexy.

Measure Results

Much like people measure their waistlines at the end of summer to see if they are beating the battle of the bulge, you have to measure your re-engagement campaign to determine whether or not it was a success. Finding out what worked and what failed is essential when it comes to developing and conducting marketing campaigns in the future. After all, next summer you’ll have to go through the same process again!

 

5 Great Content Marketing Ideas For 2014

Posted on Sep 9, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, SEO/SEM, Social Media

Getting your content to stand out used to be a LOT easier but now that every person and his laptop can write a blog post, it’s easy to get drowned out by sheer volume regardless of how good your content is. Content marketing strategies have changed and now that we’re into the second half of 2014, it’s time to re-examine what you’re doing.

1 – Find a Sub Market

Too many content marketers continue to be vague with their definition of ‘target audience’. The result is generic content that doesn’t really satisfy the needs of anyone. Look at your niche and find a sub-section that has not been well explored and pour your energies into that. Would you rather market to 1 million people and sell to about 20 customers or target 2,000 customers and make over 1,000 sales?

2 – Check Your Calendar

Content marketing is all about flexibility so embrace it by pouncing on opportunities presented by major events. Throughout the year there are marketing gifts that present themselves such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, Independence Day and so on. Tailor content specifically to these events at the right time and you WILL get an audience.

3 – Write About The Future

Nothing says ‘authority’ more than informative content marketing on the future of your specific industry. Everyone loves to know more about how their industry will expand or change as it simultaneously inspires and interests. When you write predictions, you are seen as authoritative and credible and if you’re right, be sure to mention that in future content!

4 – Trust Your Data

We have more metrics at our fingertips than ever before so use them! Being creative is great but combining it with analytics is even better. Analyze the data that presents itself to find out what your audience likes and adjust your content marketing strategy accordingly. With so many choices on the marketplace, it’s vital for you to get it right!

5 – Combine Quantity With Quality

While quality content must be your first priority, you simply must be prolific too. Search engine spiders crawl websites that regularly update their content and this is good news for your ranking. Additionally, with so many content marketers out there, you have to be the name that keeps popping up or else it will get lost amongst the thousands of others. Authority figures write well but they also write often!

While the above advice should also be timeless, I firmly believe it is especially relevant to our current era of content marketing. Follow it and you have a shot of staying on top and being the figure looked up to rather than down at.

Best Time To Send Marketing Emails According To Device

Posted on Sep 3, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

 

At one time, email marketers believed there was a ‘best time’ to send their email campaign. It was usually deemed to be 8-10am on Tuesday-Thursday but data later suggested more people than ever opened emails at night. It turns out that any contradictory advice on email marketing timing is borne out of the fact that emails are viewed on a multitude of devices. As it happens, the best time to send email depends on the device used by the recipient as we discuss below.

Desktop Users

Desktop users are no longer your #1 target. Yet it is an interesting market because the best time to reach people in terms of open rate appears to be 9am-4pm yet revenue per email seems to be higher when sent between 8pm-11.59pm. Friday emails have a higher click through rate but Monday emails have a better ROI. As these findings are about as clear as mud, it behooves you to experiment and see what works best for your company.

Smartphone

According to a study of 5 billion marketing emails, approximately 49% of all emails were opened on a mobile device. This leaves desktop opens in the shade and enhances the need to understand the habits of mobile users. It appears as if the weekend is the best time to send emails to mobile users as 32% of them read their emails at the weekend.

It seems as if Saturday is the best day to send emails as 32.5% of users read emails on their Smartphone on that day yet less than 6% of emails are sent on a Saturday! Wednesday is the worst day for sending emails as only 15% of people read them on their Smartphone yet over 20% of all marketing emails are sent on a Wednesday!

Tablet

This is the smallest section of the market but is still worth looking into. Statistics suggest the best time to send marketing emails to tablet users is 3pm-9pm. This typically means readers are accessing their emails at home after work. As this is likely to be ‘downtime’, it would suggest these individuals are more open and receptive to your company’s informative news coverage.

As you can see from the deluge of statistics above, you shouldn’t rely on one device, day or time when it comes to sending marketing emails. You will need to run tests and use the data to determine what’s best for your company.

6 Great Places To Place Email Sign-Up Forms On Your Website

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

There is simply no better way to build a customer base than by creating a large email subscription list. It goes without saying that you need to use more email sign-up forms on your website but where should you place them? Read on to learn the highest converting locations for an email subscribers list.

1 – Top Of Sidebar

Avoiding this location is a great way to lose prospective subscribers. The top of your sidebar is one of the most visible places on your website and will immediately catch the eye of visitors. Don’t mess it up by placing it ‘just beneath’ the sidebar.

After Single Post

This is just pure common sense. If someone reads one of your blog posts to the end it’s fair to say he is interested either in your company or your industry. Now is the time to strike by including an email sign-up form.

The Feature Box

If you don’t already have a feature box on your website, start creating one. Simply come up with a few benefits of your service (or blog) and list them in bullet point form with a cool image. Add your email sign-up form beneath it. Hopefully, your feature box content will be good enough to ‘warm up’ your audience and compel them to discover what you’re all about.

The Footer of Your Website

This works on the same principle as the ‘after single post’ form; once people make it to your footer, it’s clear they are engaged with your content. This is the point where you need to ask to take action and a sign-up form is as good as it gets.

About Page

The ‘about me’ page on your website should be one of the most commonly visited pages. Most marketing experts believe you should have up to 3 email sign-up forms dotted throughout your page. If you don’t, you’re losing out on a huge amount of potential subscribers like almost every other blogger.

Lightbox Pop-Up

This features last because it can be a risky strategy depending on your industry. In some niches, it works brilliantly but in others it will ruin your conversion rate simply because it annoys people.

The frequency of email sign-up forms you should use depends on your industry and customer base. A tech savvy audience already knows where to find email sign-up forms but if you’re in an industry such as health & fitness or Forex, you’ll need to be more aggressive because readers may not be as savvy as you.

Online Business Listings You Should Consider

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, SEO/SEM, Social Media

In order to give your small business the best chance of success, it is necessary to get listed in online directories. Not only will you make it easier for people to find you, it also improves the domain authority of your website since it increases the number of backlinks to your site. It is a practice that doesn’t even take much time and the result can be significant growth. This time should only be spent on relevant and high quality directories that will improve your company’s online visibility.

Best Online Directories

Whenever you come across a good directory, make a note of it in a spreadsheet or bookmark them to keep track. Once you come across 50-100 directories you can begin to determine which ones are the best for your business.

  • Industry Specific: Look for the top-rated directories in your industry; if you sell paint for example, a quick Google search will reveal the top directories in that niche. These directories will receive a lot of traffic so you need to add your business to them.
  • Local Directories: Small businesses need more local business than giant companies so check out well-known directories such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, SuperPages, Merchant Circle, Manta and others. It is also worth going to Get Listed in order to find more local directories by industry. A fast Google search by location should also reveal lots of relevant local directories.
  • What Your Competitors Use: Analyzing the backlink profile of your rivals should help you determine the directories they are listed in. There are some great tools such as CognitiveSEO which help you to find the backlinks of rivals and filter out these backlinks from directories. The aforementioned tool can also sort out the backlinks of your rivals by authority which helps you see the top rated directories first.
  • General Directories: Once you have exhausted all of the above options, general directories can come next. These ones allow businesses to list themselves in general categories. Type inurl:category directory (type in the name of your industry instead of ‘category’) to find general directories that have a category for your business. The best general directories include DMOZ, Best of the Web and Yahoo.

If you follow all of the above directories you should have hundreds of choices. The next step is of course to get your business listed on as many of them as you think is necessary. Once you have completed this task, you business will have a far greater level of visibility than ever before.

6 Of The Best Email Marketing Sending Practices

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

There are an estimated 122 billion emails sent every single hour; you can only imagine how many of these are marketing emails! Therefore, it is essential for you to follow the best email sending practices as a marketer if you want to see great results in your campaign and we outline 6 of the best below.

1 – What About Timing?

There are a variety of confusing studies which all have a different opinion on when to send emails. One study says between 12am and 3am (which makes no sense) while another suggests it is between 8am and 10am (more reasonable). The truth is you need to know your target audience and be aware of when they are most likely to be receptive. Testing is the obvious solution but common sense helps too; for example, if you are selling an energy drink, 8am is a pretty good time since most people are still half asleep!

2 – The Importance Of Personalization

Did you know that recipients are 22% more likely to open an email when it is specifically addressed to them? Personalization may seem like ‘old hat’ but it still works!

3 – Capitalize!

This refers to your subject line; studies show that having every word of your subject line in caps increases user engagement; 7 Reasons Why You’re Still Fat for example. It appears to give the email a greater level of importance; it’s almost as if the email is commanding the recipient to open it.

4 – More Is Not Always Better

Many email marketers believe that sending lots of emails is a guarantee of success. This is a ‘throw enough dirt to the wall and hope it sticks’ strategy which won’t be successful. According to Mail Chimp studies, recipients engage less often when the frequency of emails increases. Basically, people just get sick of receiving emails from you!

5 – Don’t Use Salesy Wording

Your subject line should consist of a benefit; giving the appearance that you want to sell them something right off the bat will see your email binned. The subject line should explain what is inside and the content should fulfill that promise.

6 – Make The User Experience Simple

Customers purchase on emotion and justify with logic so don’t force them to think! Review the emails you send on a consistent basis (such as email newsletters) and make sure your calls to action are simple, direct and to the point.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Purchase Email Lists

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

You should be aware that purchasing email lists is never a good idea no matter what anyone tells you. It involves working with a list provider to find and buy a list of names and email addresses that are based on demographic information. On the surface, it seems like a great idea because for a relatively low price, you receive up to 5,000 email addresses. However, you’ll soon pay the penalty for this purchase and we outline why this is the case below.

Reputable Vendors Don’t Use Purchased Lists
Before you waste your hard-earned cash on a purchased email list, let me tell you that reputable vendors will insist upon the use of opt-in lists. If you think the way around this is to use a less than reputable vendor, think again. If you elect to use an email service provider that doesn’t ask customers for opt-in email lists, you’ll find that it suffers from a low level of deliverability if a shared IP address is being used.
Basically, sharing an email service provider with companies that use purchased lists will damage your deliverability. What is the point of having 5,000 email addresses if your emails never make it as far as a person’s inbox?

Questionable Quality
Unless you’re about to acquire a new organization, you will not find an email list of premium quality. The fact that such a list is even available for sale means that the addresses on it have already been use by a host of different companies. In other words, you will be emailing people that have already received dozens of marketing emails and are fed up! Don’t expect much of a click-through rate!

Damaged Reputation
Hopefully, you are aware of the fact that there are organizations dedicated to fighting back against email spam. Have you ever heard of a ‘honey pot’? Anti-spam campaigners have a tendency to plant a few fake email addresses and when these are harvested and emailed, the sender is marked down as a spammer. This will in turn ruin future email marketing campaigns and once you have been given a negative label, it is tough to shake off.
The bottom line with purchased lists is that you have no way of finding out how often those email addresses have already been used. Additionally, your email deliverability could suffer if you choose a shady email service provider and finally, you could be stained with the reputation of a spammer. Quite frankly, purchasing email lists simply isn’t worth the possible consequences.

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