The WhatCounts Blog
Everything you need to know about smart, personalized email marketing.
We did it again. We put together a list of our favorite articles from the past week or so. We love reading what other digital marketing experts have to say, and we love to keep you – our readers – up to date, as well. Here’s the five digital marketing articles to read right now!
1. Genuine mistake or evil genius email tactic? (Marketing Sherpa)
After just publishing a blog post about best practices for sending an apology email, this article caught our eye. Did we forget to mention in our post it’s not okay to send a fake apology email in order to build your list? Whether or not this company used that tactic, it’s a shady move no marketer should condone.
Facebook is constantly changing, and whether all of those changes are beneficial for brands remains to be seen. One of the most recent updates to the social media platform is page tagging, a concept that could help marketers leverage more users’ newsfeeds.
3. From the Seattle Seahawks: Three Ways to Create Raving Fans (Business to Community)
Seeing as some of our team members are a part of the 12th Man, we just had to recommend this article. If you want raving brand fans who will shout about your products, services and company, this resource spots three practical ways you can get them.
We love email, and we’re spreading the word everywhere we go. Our team members contribute to industry blogs and resources regularly, and this is just one example. In this guest blog post on the Rivalry blog, our Manager of Sales Development tells how he took our lead generation team from zero to hero.
We’re honored to be a sponsor of the American Marketing Association in Baltimore, a city in which one of our offices is located. The organization recently published this post on its blog about us, and we’re pumped. Check it out!
If you’ve read a good article recently, feel free to share it in the comments section below! We’ll tweet it out to our followers.
Did you know you could be sending an email featuring your blog content? The best part is you set it up once and then don’t lift a finger after that.
Once you set up an RSS-to-Email campaign in Publicaster, it automatically pulls in updated content from your RSS feed. It then sends this email to a list or segmentation of subscribers you’ve already chosen. Set it to send in real time or on a weekly or daily basis – the choice is yours.
If you choose to send in real time, Publicaster will shoot out the email within a couple minutes of your blog being updated. For media and publishing companies, there’s no waiting until tomorrow, to get today’s news. Whatever you decide, each email in the RSS-to-Email campaign will draw in all updated content since the last email was sent.
This tool avoids the need for a third-party application to send these triggered messages. That means you get to schedule the sends when they’re best suited for your needs, and don’t have to wait on someone else to do it for you.
And unlike a third-party vendor, with this Publicaster feature you also have the ability to control the complete look, feel and placement of the feed content in your email. Instead of a generic third-party branding, you can customize your email to fit your brand. By placing the feed content snippet in the creative, you control exactly where in the email the feed content will be rendered. Additionally, you can view campaign reports for these emails, just as you would with regular distributions.
So how do you set up an RSS-to-Email campaign in Publicaster?
First, populate a list or segmentation in the List Manager with the RSS feed subscribers. Create and save the email template in the Creative Manager. The email must contain the [~FeedContent~] code snippet in order to pull in data. The snippet automatically formats the email.
If you don’t like the look, you can change it by using custom XSLT when you go to deploy the campaign.
If you select yes to use a custom template, Publicaster will automatically load the base template that’s used internally, which you can edit to your heart’s content. This allows you to change any aspect of the feed content display in the email including INLINE CSS.
Now you’re ready to set up the campaign to send. In the Campaign Manager, select the RSS to Email dropdown menu option.
The rest is straightforward: Give your campaign a name; tell the platform where your RSS feed is located; and decide if you want to include a table of contents section.
Next, enter the day the campaign should begin sending and the frequency with which Publicaster should send (real time, daily, weekly). Select the list or segmentation that will receive the email. Use a suppression list and seed list if necessary. If you want Publicaster to track the email campaign’s metrics for reporting purposes, make sure link tracking is enabled.
A few final steps, and then you’re set! Choose the email template, campaign series, from/reply to addresses, and physical mailing address. Finally, scroll to the top and click the “Is Active” box. Hit Save and you’re finished. This campaign will now run on its own until you turn it off, allowing you to send emails subscribers asked for without doing a lot of work.
There’s no use setting up an RSS-to-Email campaign if people can’t sign up to receive it. Setting up a dedicated opt-in form for this email is a must. As with any email you send, make sure subscribers know what content will be in it and how often it will come to their inboxes.
Have questions about RSS-to-Email campaigns? Ping us at email@example.com.
We applaud email marketers who go out of their comfort zones to try something new. Those who change it up a bit whether in subject line, content or design – and test to see if it has a positive effect with subscribers – are smart marketers.
We recently came across an email where a company tried something out-of-the-box with its branding. Usually sending messages with light-hearted subject lines and straightforward messaging, Spirit Airlines took a leap in the opposite direction. Here’s the first email it sent:
Subject line: We’re Not Smoking Crack…
Spirit Airlines isn’t a WhatCounts client, but we assume the response rate for this email was better than usual. Why? Because the company decided to continue on this creative track; take a look at the next email it sent.
Subject line: Go Down on Us…
The subject line, the messaging, the imagery…it all points to a Spirit Airlines that’s markedly different from any subscribers have seen before. This could prove either good or bad for the brand.
Imagine being a regular recipient of Spirit Airlines emails. To some people, these edgy messages would seem off-putting because they don’t think of the brand in this way. The message would definitely be unexpected, confusing and possibly unwelcome. However, to other subscribers, these messages may invoke a laugh and cause them to open and click more.
What’s the lesson here?
You’re not your readers. It’s important to take chances with your content and design in order to fend off stagnation, but testing is a must. In other words, experiment with your email marketing, but make sure it still complements your brand and, most importantly, subscribers respond well to it.
What do you think about the email campaigns Spirit Airlines created? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
As an email marketer, you may be familiar with the sinking feeling after you’ve realized an email went out with one or more mistakes. Maybe the main link doesn’t work or there’s a misspelling in the main header. No matter if the blunder is great or small, you feel disappointed and – let’s face it – more than likely panicked. A follow-up apology email may be your best bet, and we’re here to tell you how to do it right.
Deciding If You Need to Send an Apology Email
Even if you think you’ve messed up big time, it doesn’t mean your subscribers have caught on. When you realize a mistake has been made in an email campaign, don’t panic. Take a deep breath.
After that first and most important step is successfully completed, gather your team to determine subscribers’ reactions to the mistake now or what they will be. Are they amused or upset? For example, if you sent someone a discount for his or her birthday on the wrong day, the subscriber is probably going to be charmed more than offended. Other reasons you should hold the reins on hitting send:
- Trivial mess-ups such as misspelled words or misplaced grammar don’t need to be addressed in an apology email. It’s better to leave them well enough alone than to draw attention to them in an extra email.
- Broken link? Using our platform, you can change a link even after the email sends. Voila – need for an apology email eliminated! If you don’t have access to a feature such as this, consider moving the content from the correct link over to a new landing page that has the URL of the “broken” link.
- If you sent two of the same emails in a row, don’t worry about sending an apology email. You can address the mistake in a campaign the next day. Customers already received the first email from you, and their inboxes are loaded with emails. Are they really going to want to open another email from you, or are they going to kick you to the delete or spam folders? Weigh the risks before making a decision. Three of the same emails in a row, though, and you probably should send the apology.
Say you’ve determined an apology isn’t necessary from the subscriber’s point of view. You’re not done yet. You must also consider the effect the mistake has on your business and what the company’s reaction will be. Are you blushing just a little or are you potentially going to lose a boatload of money? Here are some tips on knowing the difference, and what to do once you’ve vetoed the decision to say mea culpa:
- If data has been compromised, this is a serious situation and should be addressed accordingly with your apology email.
- If you sent a special deal (and it doesn’t work) to a select numbers of subscribers such as people in your rewards program or people who pay for a subscription to your emails, you definitely need to say sorry and make good on your promise.
- Send an apology when there’s a significant typo for the price point. An extra 9 in $9.99 for a small commodity item won’t fly with subscribers. At the same time, leaving just one zero out of $1,000 would mean giving away your revenue.
- Send an email to the wrong list? Don’t send an apology email to everyone! People from the correct list may be on the list you sent to, in which case they received the email they were supposed to. Suppress anyone from the wrong list who is on the correct list when you send this apology email.
Timing is crucial to make a decision about sending an apology email. In some cases, the more time lost, the more customer frustration grows or money goes down the drain for you. It’s essential to make a decision about sending apology emails as quickly as possible; however, don’t rush. Sometimes it will be apparent you need to send an apology, and other times the decision making process will be murky. Although you need to make a timely decision, take the time to make sure it’s the right decision.
Content to Include in an Apology Email
So you’ve determined you need to send an apology email. Hopefully, you have a branded template already set up to use, but if not, create a simple template. As you write the content for the apology, keep these tips in mind.
- Make it clear in your subject line there’s been a mistake and you’re sorry. Now isn’t the time to be funny or silly. Respect subscribers’ time; get to the point.
- Use strong subject lines. Although saying, “Oops!” tends to be a favorite, it’s a little overused. Be more creative or more sincere. A simple, “We apologize” works well.
- Don’t send an apology message with a shady “no reply” sender address. Make sure subscribers can send an email to someone who actually works for you. Have that person monitor his or her email address for comments or complaints.
- Be brief. Keep your apology message short. One email, one headline, and a few lines of text is all that’s necessary to pull off an effective apology.
- The email should match your brand, not only in creative and design, but in tone and copy. Be careful with humor – people may become more annoyed with you. Being sincere is your best bet.
- Don’t play the blame game and push the mistake off on someone else, even if it is his or her fault. Owning up to the mistake will ultimately make you look better in the eyes of subscribers.
- If you can, compensate subscribers for the inconvenience of the wrong message, e.g. a coupon or discount.
- Proofread. Have several sets of eyes look at this email. You don’t want to send an apology email rife with its own mistakes.
- Consider having it signed by a company executive. The apology will carry a lot more weight for bigger boo-boos.
Here’a an example of an apology email WhatCounts client True Citrus sent:
After you hit send on your apology email, it’s important to continue monitoring your social media sites, as well as your support, customer service, or general information email addresses. Tell the people who respond to these email addresses about the problem, and forward them a copy of the apology email you sent. Make sure everyone is ready to respond quickly with an additional apology and the corrected information.
Avoid Sending an Apology Email in the Future
Just because you sent an apology email doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s lots to do in order to diminish the chance of messing up again and having to send another apology email in the future.
- Measure the impact of the apology email you did send to see how effective it was with subscribers. Keep an eye on opt-outs and spam complaints.
- Conduct a post mortem to see what happened and how to prevent the same problems in the future.
- Create an action plan for determining when an apology email is needed, and to whom responsibilities will fall. Discuss the plan with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Establish processes about proofreading and approving emails if they’re not already in place. It may be beneficial to have two or three team members look over important emails before they go out.
- Create one or two apology email templates so you can quickly respond to errors in the future.
- Test every email before you send it. Click all the links and read the content out loud. Testing can help you catch typos, broken links and other errors.
No one is proud when they have to send an apology email. However, everyone is capable of making mistakes, and email marketing is no exception. Save the day by sending a clear, professional apology email.
If there’s one item you’re familiar with as an email marketer, it’s your email list. You most likely deal with it on a daily basis, examining how many subscribers are on it, engagement levels, and open and click rates. We’ve gathered our best resources about the topic so your email lists can be top notch.
Can you name the most valuable marketing asset or tool for your digital marketing program? There’s lots to choose from: social media, videos, the web, apps, podcasts…the list goes on and on. But your email list differentiates itself as your most valuable marketing resource for one important reason. Find out what that reason is in this blog post.
Increasing the size of your email list can seem like a game.The number of subscribers on an email list can become an obsession for email marketers. But at the end of the day, the size of your email list doesn’t matter compared to the quality of the subscribers on it. Read more in this blog post!
It’s definitely a temptation for email marketers: Grow your list instantaneously by purchasing this list of subscribers. Don’t fall for this mindset. Buying lists is going to hurt you more than it’s going to help you. This blog post covers a few reasons why you should stay away.
You usually use Google Analytics to track what happens after you use email to send customers to your website. You can also use Google Analytics’ tracking codes a little earlier in the process to segment your list. Follow the step-by-step process in this blog post and start sending smarter, more personalized messages today.
5. eBook: 57 Tips for Growing Your Email List
Digital marketing is constantly evolving due to innovation and technology. Some tried-and-true methods may disappear and some may stay around for much longer. People dream up new ideas – some will fail while others will succeed. This eBook is part tried-and-true, part new ideas. It’s a mix we hope will inspire you and aide you in growing your list and reaching your customers.
The 57 Tips for Growing Your Email List eBook is hot off the presses. We’re giving you a sneak peek with this blog post covering general list-building strategies. These tactics will help build a solid framework for growing subscriber numbers!
1. Highlight “What’s in it for me?”
The easiest way to build a subscriber list is to tell people what’s in it for them. Give them clear, unmistakable value up front and people will sign up. Provide content, discounts or deals subscribers can’t find anywhere else. Continue to provide this valuable content, and subscribers will stay with you long after the incentive ends.
On our preference center, we describe the benefits to subscribers of opting in for each of our email campaigns.
2. Promote subscriptions via contests
Consider building your list through a contest. People sign up for your emails in exchange for being entered to win a prize. Once the contest ends, subscribers may not be as engaged or interested in your brand, so act quickly to show the value of your products and services in your email campaigns. This will encourage subscribers to stick around. In this example, one of our clients Golf Etail lets people know they’ll be entered to win free stuff when they sign up for the company’s exclusive email offers.
3. Promote Subscriptions via Scarcity
Few things motivate people like scarcity, especially if what’s becoming scarce is of high perceived value. Want people to sign up for your emails? Try adding this component to your messaging: time is running out, giveaways are limited, don’t miss this opportunity!
4. Ask People to Share
There’s nothing wrong with being direct and explicit in asking people to share your emails and email sign up form. Many people are hesitant to share content not belonging to them, so give them obvious permission to forward, print, post or otherwise share your emails. Below, one of our clients, Gooseberry Patch, encourages readers to share its emails with their friends.
5. Offer Relevant, Timely, Targeted, Valuable Content
Offer content your email subscribers can’t get anywhere else. Be sure it’s personalized (topics they care about), timely (send when they are most likely to interact with it), and valuable (something they want or need). The more valuable your messages are the more people will share their experiences with others and in that way, drive people to sign up for your emails.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle’s My News email is an excellent example of highly relevant, timely, targeted, valuable content. Each daily email contains updates about companies and industries subscribers choose themselves.
If we whet your appetite to learn more, don’t wait another second to download the rest of the free 57 Tips for Growing Your Email List eBook!
Have you heard the news? Google is releasing another update (surprise, surprise) this week, making it easier than ever for subscribers to opt out of marketing emails. For every email sent with an unsubscribe link in its text – which is required for all marketing emails according to CAN-SPAM – Gmail is adding an additional unsubscribe option.
What’s different is this opt-out link appears at the top of emails, right next to the sender’s name.
This isn’t really a new feature in Gmail. The ISP has shown it to users who mark a message as spam for some time now. Gmail is simply making the feature more prominent and not requiring someone to complain before triggering it.
How does Gmail create the opt-out link? It requires senders use a mailto: list-unsubscribe header right now so it can create the unsubscribe link. When you insert the list-unsubscribe header in an email, you’re telling Gmail an unsubscribe request should be sent by email to a certain address (our abuse address). When someone clicks the unsubscribe link, Gmail will generate an email to the abuse address for your system to handle. You must then take action to unsubscribe the user just as you would any other unsubscribe request.
We’ve long touted the tenet unsubscribing should be as simple as possible. In fact, we’ve suggested moving your opt-out links to the top of the page in one of our most popular eBooks. As people who love email, we see this move by Gmail as a positive for a few reasons.
ISPs no longer determine deliverability rates based on certain words or phrases found in subject lines or emails. Although sending to specific types of users still matters a little bit, today the key to the inbox is subscriber engagement. In other words, anyone who doesn’t open and click through your emails is hurting your delivery reputation. Giving these people an easy way out of your emails – without hitting delete or sending you to the spam folder – is optimal. The new Gmail unsubscribe link does this.
2. List cleaning/building
As people use the new Gmail unsubscribe button to opt out, they’ll also be removed from lists. No one likes a high churn rate, but at the same time, no one needs an email list of emails from people who are unengaged. Those people are dead weight, and you need to clean them off your list anyway. This Gmail unsubscribe button only makes this process easier for you.
3. More personalized, intentional email marketing
How can you prevent people from clicking the Gmail unsubscribe button at the top of their emails? By sending messages that are timely and relevant to subscribers. If you aren’t already, you’ll be forced to craft content that matters to subscribers, as well as segment based subscriber behavior. People respond to personalized marketing emails.
Overall, the new Gmail unsubscribe link placement affects email marketing for the better. You’ll have to put a lot more thought, time and effort into your email strategies in an effort to keep people from leaving your list. If you’re one of the marketers who says you love email, but continues to send batch-and-blast or not-optimized-for-mobile emails, you’ll be left in the dust. You’ll actually have to start giving email the attention and care it deserves for being your top-ROI producing channel. And you’ll be rewarded for all that effort: Subscribers will fall in love with the personalized emails you send them, and unsubscribing won’t even cross their minds.
Most retailers understand that email remarketing is a powerful way to reengage visitors and bolster sales. What some still haven’t realized, however, is that email remarketing can delve far deeper than just into an abandoned shopping cart. Sure, abandoned cart campaigns can be extremely valuable, easy to implement and cost effective, but the opportunity for even more success through behaviorally targeted campaigns is often left on the table (along with a lot of money)!
This webinar will cover how to re-market smarter by creating a powerful behavioral remarketing plan that addresses the needs of shoppers that abandon at any time during their shopping experience, not just after they reach the cart.
Highlighting success stories from leading retailers, including SkyMall, Finish Line, eBags and more, featured speakers Steve Sneath, Director of Partnerships for Smarter Remarketer and Senior Account Manager Kara Holthaus, moderated by Tim Brechlin, WhatCounts’ Inbound Marketing Manager, will discuss the following:
- Best practices for cart and checkout abandonment campaigns
- How to determine abandonment causality
- How to customize messaging based on customer behavior
- Best practices for frequency capping and prioritization
- Client campaign success stories
Join us for this webinar tomorrow from 2 – 3 p.m. EST in order to learn how to capture even more sales for your brand through a more sophisticated remarketing approach.
There’s nothing truer than the fact digital marketing changes on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s more often. Trends come and go, some stick, and some make huge ripples. Several resources popped up recently addressing major events in social media and digital marketing. These are the trends that are going to be the future of email marketing.
The New York Times: Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014
There’s a reason this article is first on the list. In a striking visionary article from 1964, Isaac Asimov imagines what the future will be like. Guess what year he dreams about? You got it – 2014. Eerily, the author is almost spot on in his predictions: 3D movies, advanced gadgetry, and the advanced use of computers in almost everything we do. “The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.” Makes you wonder what will happen in the next 50 years.
It seems every other day Facebook is trying to buy another company. This time, the proposition worked out, and the popular mobile messaging app WhatsApp is now under Facebook rule. Who really cares, right? You should: “Outside of the U.S., WhatsApp maintains a much larger audience, especially in Europe and the developing markets of Africa and Asia.” Yes, please. Although there aren’t brand pages on WhatsApp yet, there are still plenty of ways brands can benefit right now from this social event (hint, read the article).
Over 15 times higher, according to this article. Not surprisingly, more and more brands are sallying forth to join the photo and video sharing social network. In fact, “Instagram promotions on Facebook, including ones that encourage users to submit their own sepia-toned content, could trend higher in the future…” This has significant implications for brands. For businesses using Instagram already, be more strategic about your Instagram posts. Businesses who aren’t already on the site should consider joining, but only after carefully considering if it makes sense for what they sell.
Succeeding in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry requires one thing: To understand and relate to the customer experience in order to provide the best service possible. A new concept has sprung on the scene to help marketers do this. It’s called service design. “A service design project is a strategic project which utilizes design techniques to simplify complex problems.” In other words, service design gives you a framework for building and maintaining empathy with customers. This article conceptualizes service design, as well as offers first steps for those wishing to implement it in the industry.
The traditionally windy month of the year is almost upon us. If you haven’t started planning email content for next month, there’s no better time than now. Here’s a list of holidays and events in March:
March 2nd – The Oscars
The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awards the Oscars annually. The awards identify the best-of-the-best films from the past year.
March 4th – Mardi Gras
Also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is a day for feasting and revelry. Traditionally, people eat as much of their favorite foods as they want because the next day – Ash Wednesday- begins a long period of fasting until Easter.
March 9th – Daylight Savings Begins
Set your clocks forward an hour at 2 a.m. and get ready for more sunshine during the day!
March 15th – The Ides of March
Although a soothsayer warned Julius Caesar to “beware the Ides of March,” there’s really nothing to worry about. The Ides of March is the first day of the Roman New Year and marks the first day of spring in the Roman calendar.
March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day
Get ready to wear green! Saint Patrick’s Day is held in honor of Saint Patrick, the missionary who brought Christianity to the Irish and is a celebration of everything to do with the island nation. Even if you don’t boast the heritage, it’s said everyone is a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.
March 20th – Spring Vernal Equinox/Earth Day
The Spring Vernal Equinox brings days and nights in equal proportions. Real spring may arrive sooner or later depending where you live, but Earth Day will definitely arrive on this day. The observance was established to remind people of their responsibility to care for the planet.
If your company or industry directly correlates with one of these events, definitely consider sending a dedicated email about it. For example, if you’re a party supply company, promoting your Mardi Gras products to the segment of your list from New Orleans may be a good idea.
Or you could send an email featuring services and products for all the holidays and observances in March like Etsy did last year with the email campaign to the right.
You don’t have to send a dedicated email, though, in order to use these March holidays to your advantage. Check to see if you have any regularly scheduled emails going out on these days. If you do, simply incorporate the holiday theme into the emails. Even if you don’t send emails based on these emails, at the very least your social media posts can complement them on the appropriate days.
Be creative! Go here for more special days and observances in March. If you have more ideas for incorporating these holidays into a digital marketing strategy, we’d love for you to share them in the comments.