Make Up or Break Up: Re-engagement email campaign Tips from the Experts

Re-engagement email campaignEvery email list has its fair share of inactive contacts, and every email marketer once in a while asks whether to hold on or let go. There’s unfortunately no easy answer when it comes to deciding what to do with disengaged subscribers. But with the right re-engagement email campaign, marketers can manage inactive subscribers more effectively.

According to Kissmetrics, inactive contacts make up as much as 60% of an average email list. Meanwhile, Return Path estimates that highly-engaged subscribers represent only around 24% of contacts. Having a large number of inactive accounts on your list drags down email deliverability, since low engagement rates tend to signal poor sender reputation.

Apart from causing deliverability issues, inactive subscribers also waste marketing resources. Most ESPs charge customers based on the volume of emails sent (which, in turn, largely depends on the size of your list). Paying for contacts that won’t convert into nurtured opportunities or closed deals clearly hurts your email marketing ROI.

But there’s more to dealing with inactive contacts than simply deleting them from your list altogether. It’s good practice to run a re-engagement email campaign to try and win back stalled subscribers. The campaign’s results will help you determine which contacts to keep and which ones to forget about.

So, how should you reach out to uninterested contacts? Here’s what the experts have to say.

 

Define exactly what “inactive subscriber” means

As MailChimp explains, the term “inactive subscriber” can mean different things to different marketers. But in general, a contact gets labeled as inactive in two ways:

  • Based on a subscriber’s activity (or lack thereof)
  • Based on time elapsed since last engaging with a campaign

It’s up to you how much lack of activity (opens or clicks in the last X emails) or time period to set as your criterion. The key thing to remember is that a lack of interaction doesn’t indicate inactivity right away (which brings us to our next point).

 

Segment inactive contacts into 3 groups

Now that you’ve chosen a yardstick to measure inactivity, it’s time to figure out what to do with contacts that meet the criterion. Campaign Monitor notes that inactive subscribers fall into 3 categories, each requiring a different re-engagement approach.

  • Never-Actives –subscribers who have never engaged, most likely contacts who signed up for a one-time offer such as a free download. Send a re-commitment email that lets them indicate their mailing preferences.
  • Dormant – subscribers who were once active but have now become unengaged. Send a series of nurturing emails that offer value (such as a relevant article or resource).
  • Customer Inactives – Once-active customers who no longer interact with any of your campaigns. Gradually ramp down your email cadence before asking the final question.

 

Craft a compelling re-engagement email

You already know that your past emails didn’t resonate well with inactive subscribers. That’s why your re-engagement emails need to look, feel, and sound a bit different from your usual campaigns.

For subject lines, HubSpot suggests spicing things up with a little personalization (such as the recipient’s name, company, or industry), as well as “asking for signs of life” with a relevant question.

AWeber lays out a number of guidelines in order to write effective re-engagement email content:

  • Find out why inactive subscribers signed up in the first place
  • Check whether you’re continuing to meet these expectations
  • Uncover any previous changes to your email strategy that may have affected engagement
  • Determine what to offer in order to pique their interest

To maximize response rates for your re-engagement email campaign, you need to include a clear, strong, and specific call-to-action (CTA). Whether you’re pointing them to a helpful resource or asking whether they’d still like to remain on your list, you need to make that action easy for recipients to complete.

 

Automate re-engagement, but humanize your response

Manually keeping track of subscriber inactivity works well when handling relatively small email lists. But when your contacts number in the thousands, the only way to do re-engagement email campaigns at scale is through automation.

SendGrid thinks that a huge part of your re-engagement campaign’s workflow should be automated. Tasks such as scheduling send-outs and unsubscribing contacts are best handled by machines, so that you stay focused on more exciting stuff in your email marketing program.

However, not all activities in your re-engagement email campaign should be set on autopilot. Responding to feedback and inquiries from your recipients are, for now, still best done by humans.

 

Conclusion

There’s still value to be had from trying to win back disengaged subscribers—that is, if you reach out the right way. So, build a robust re-engagement email campaign strategy using what we’ve talked about in this post.

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing Emails

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing EmailsMarketers rely on a lot of tools to drive live event attendance and conversions. But time and again, emails remain the top channel for achieving event marketing goals. Here’s how to get the most from your live events with the help of lessons drawn from the best event marketing emails.

On average, B2B marketers use a total of 5 different channels to generate buzz and maximize engagement for their live events. Recent research published by event tech provider Bizabo shows that email ranks as the top channel for promoting live events among 46% of B2B and 24% of B2C marketers.

Let’s look at what the best event marketing emails can teach us about crafting effective event invitation, promotion, confirmation, notification, and follow-ups.

 

1. Create a sequence of email touch points

Live events typically consist of three stages: pre-event, in-event, and post-event. You need to map out a sequence of emails to be sent out at each stage in order to maximize engagement.

Pre-event emails are crucial since they set the pace and determine the initial results of your live marketing project, while post-event emails are also very important since they directly impact your campaign’s conversion rates and ROI. That’s why we’ll talk about these points in greater detail later in this post.

 

2. Build anticipation and excitement

Apart from generating awareness, pre-event emails help boost attendance rates by building anticipation and interest well before opening day. At a bare minimum, your event marketing campaign needs to send out invitation, confirmation, and reminder emails.

Email automation vendor Delivra recommends the following best practices when doing pre-event send-outs:

  • Invitation emails – Sent weeks or months in advance (the bigger the event, the earlier the send-out) since potential attendees need time to secure buy-in from their boss.
  • Confirmation email – sent right after the recipient responds with an RSVP (best handled through email automation).
  • Reminder email – sent once daily 3 days before the event (including a final reminder sent 1 hour prior to event opening).

 

3. Revisit your subject line strategy

There’s sadly no hard-and-fast rule that spits out irresistible email subject lines. But with careful tracking and testing, it’s possible to tweak your subject line strategy to get better inbox placement and open rates for your event marketing emails.

Event Technologies analyzed 1.25 pre-event and post-event emails and found that:

  • 44 out of the top-performing 50 pre-event emails (according to open rates) mentioned the event name in the subject line.
  • 40 out of the top-performing post-event emails also mentioned the event in the subject line.
  • Pre-event emails whose subject line included the event name had an open rate of 24% vs 18% for pre-show messages whose subject line made no mention of the event.

Aside from naming the event in the subject line, it’s also good practice to indicate a specific call-to-action (CTA), e.g., “Visit us at DMA 2017 &THEN – Booth #1234”.

 

4. Look for sources of conversion friction

One thing that sets the best event marketing emails from the rest is that they provide a seamless experience for your recipients, from email open all the way to landing page conversion.

According to Kissmetrics, anything that gets in the way of this conversion journey is friction. There’s clearly a lot of points in your recipient’s clickpath where friction can slow down or hamper conversion. Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to closely keep an eye on:

  • Email copy – Is the copy short and easy to read?
  • CTA – Does the CTA stand out? Does it clearly specify the action?
  • Design – Is the design responsive?
  • Social sharing – Does your email make it easy for people to find and connect with you on social media?
  • Landing page – Does it seamlessly transition from the email? Are the landing page copy and CTA consistent with the email?

 

5. Plan your follow up ahead of time

Should you try to reconnect with your event attendees after the show? Of course, by all means. But following up requires more than just sending out a quick email. Like pre-event emails, post-show follow ups need some careful planning:

  • Prepare a prompt and personalized follow-up plan
  • Carry out the follow-up over a series of nurturing emails
  • Start following up 1-2 days after the event; don’t wait until 2 weeks
  • Offer different possible nurture paths
  • Make sure to reference a specific activity at the live event
  • Be careful about adding event leads directly into your marketing database

 

What other live event marketing email best practices do you follow?

Email Deliverability Best Practices: How to Authenticate Your Emails

How to Authenticate Your EmailsIf you’re seeing low or declining deliverability rates, chances are your sender reputation isn’t exactly up to snuff. There’s a ton of factors that ISPs check when determining sender reputation, and one important aspect is the sender’s email authentication setup. This needs to be a critical area of focus in your email deliverability best practices.

Email authentication helps ISPs prevent forged emails from reaching their users’ accounts. In other words, it’s a way to prove that an email you sent really comes from you (not some sender pretending to be you). From this, it’s easy to see why your email deliverability best practices should also include sender authentication.

 

How Email Authentication Works

Email authentication allows ISPs to properly identify the authenticity of emails their users receive. When a receiving server gets an incoming mail, it verifies whether the message really did come from the sender. To do this, it checks for specific pieces of information in your email and DNS records.

According to SparkPost, the email authentication process varies from approach to approach but typically consists of the following steps:

  1. A business or organization that sends emails establishes a set of authentication policies.
  2. The email sender configures its mail servers to publish and implement these policies.
  3. The receiving server authenticates an incoming email by referring to the sender’s policies.
  4. The receiving server accepts, flags, or blocks the incoming email based on the results of step 3.

In the next section, we’ll go into steps 1 and 2 in greater detail, plus outline the specific ways to set up email authentication.

 

How to Set Up Email Authentication

We’ve seen that email authentication affects sender reputation which, in turn, impacts email deliverability. To set up authentication for your email marketing program, follow these quick steps:

 

Step 1: Use SPF and DKIM authentication

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are authentication protocols stored in the sender’s DNS records. These contain the “pieces of information” we briefly mentioned earlier that ISPs use to check an email’s authenticity.

Simply put, SPF and DKIM prevent the bad guys from impersonating you as the sender. The details can get a little hairy, but the important thing to keep in mind is that without SPF and DKIM, there’s no way for ISPs to be sure it’s really you who’s sending the email.

 

Step 2: Record all your sending IPs

The sending IP address is the numeric label that uniquely identifies every sending source you use. It serves as the passageway through which emails are sent to your recipients. You need to let ISPs know all the sending IP you use (including those of your email service provider).

This is achieved through what’s called a reverse DNS record. Reverse DNS records do the opposite of what normal DNS records do; they return the name associated with a given IP address. Without a valid reverse DNS record, many ISPs will block your emails.

 

Step 3: Put it all together

Reverse DNS records, SPF, and DKIM are the three basic DNS entries to help ISPs authenticate your emails. Once you’ve already set all of these up, here’s how to put them into action:

  • Create your authentication record on SPF and DKIM, then publish them
  • Configure your mail server to sign outgoing mail with DKIM
  • Test your DKIM, SPF, and reverse DNS records

 

Step 4: Use a genuine, personal From name

The final step doesn’t involve anything fancy, but is arguably the most important one. Make sure that your emails’ From line contains an authentic name of a person. Avoid departmental or role-based addresses like marketing@xxyzcompany.com. You want to build a personal relationship, so it pays to start connecting on a personal level.

 

Conclusion

Now start building your sender reputation with these email deliverability best practices in mind. The main takeaway is that being authentic doesn’t end with email verification protocols. It’s all about building a long-term relationship with recipients.

4 Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact Database

Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact DatabaseSo you’ve got yourself a new contact list. Now what? Bought lists help you reach your growth targets faster—that is, if you’re able to set it up the right way. Today’s post goes over four steps you should follow right after you buy a contact database. These activities ensure that your list works as expected or, even better, exceed your targets.

In a previous post, we talked about the five situations where it’s okay to buy a contact database:

  • Your solution solves a real pain point or problem.
  • You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.
  • You’re targeting a high turnover industry.
  • You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.
  • You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

If it makes sense for you to buy a contact database and you’ve invested in one already, then there’s a few things you need to straighten out first before using your list right out of the box.

 

1. Clean the bought list thoroughly first

Even though your list may come from a reputable database provider, you can’t take any chances when it comes to data quality. That’s why you need to thoroughly scrub and validate your bought list before putting it to use.

  • Scrub invalid addresses, spam traps, and distribution email addresses
  • Remove (hard) bounced addresses
  • Verify and update records

List cleaning tends to take up time and resources, so it might be a better option to let a third-party data cleaning services company do it for you.

 

2. Build your sender identity and reputation

To improve email deliverability, you need to convince both your recipients and ISPs that you’re someone they can trust. The idea is to let them know there’s a real person behind the email and that you’re really who you say you are.

  • Personalize your sender name
  • Use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC tools
  • Try out sender score and certification services
  • Warm up a new IP or use a dedicated sending IP

Using a bought list means you’re likely reaching out to most of the contacts for the first time. This underscores the importance of building your identity and reputation.

 

3. Ask contacts if they want to stick around

Most list vendors tout their products as opt-in, permission-based, or anti-spam-compliant. But, unless you’re deeply familiar with their data collection and QA practices, it’s better to err on the side of caution and carry out a double opt-in campaign, where you ask contacts for permission.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to run a double opt-in campaign after you buy a contact database:

  • Do a thorough data scrub (see step 1)
  • Prepare your free (value) offer
  • Craft an opt-in confirmation email
  • Build the landing page
  • Re-confirm with a thank you email

It’s okay if you encounter a lot of unsubscribes after your double opt-in campaign. Aside from staying compliant, this is one way of cleaning your list for better deliverability and engagement.

 

4. Reach out, engage, and respond

Bought lists translate to cold outreach. But that doesn’t mean your first interaction with the contacts should be icy, too. In order to maximize response and/or conversions, be sure to:

  • Personalize your cold emails beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’
  • Segment your list according to buyer personas
  • Offer educational content (whitepapers, webinars, articles, etc.) related to the contact’s job title or industry
  • Start a nurturing campaign with follow-ups and multi-touch cadence

These best practices should help you avoid getting the cold shoulder from your cold prospects.

 

Conclusion

When you buy a contact database, you need to put a few things in place before using it in your campaign. Keep these four steps in mind as you start growing your pipeline.

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’

How to Personalize Cold Emails BeyondMost people (and ISPs) mistakenly lump cold emails as junk mail. One proven way to ensure your cold emails don’t end up in the spam folder is to personalize your message. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide on how to personalize cold emails beyond the usual “Hi [FirstName]” tactic—and to do this at scale.

Cold emails remain the workhorses of B2B marketing. They’re a good way to start building a relationship with prospects, influencers, and business partners. Sadly, cold emails continue to get a bad rap from people and ISPs alike. That’s because a lot of marketers misuse cold outreach to send out bulk, unwanted, and irrelevant (read: spam) messages to unsuspecting recipients. Although cold emails are, by nature, unsolicited messages, it’s how they’re being used that turns them into spam.

There are several strategies for improving the chances of your cold emails reaching the right recipient’s inbox, but personalization is demonstrably one of the most effective. Applying personalization tactics that really increase your emails’ relevance improves deliverability by:

  • Avoiding bulk, generic email blasts, hence preventing setting off spam filters
  • Improving engagement rates (opens, clicks, replies, etc.), which also boosts sender reputation
  • Minimizing spam complaints, which also improves sender reputation

Of course, personalization does have its downsides, one of which is that it requires time and a lot of research. But personalizing your cold emails pays off. That’s why we’re sharing this short practical guide on how to personalize cold emails at scale.

 

Step 1: Create personas for your target audience

Personas help you precisely define who your target recipients are. With personas, it’s much easier to accurately target and segment your audience. If you haven’t yet identified personas for your target recipients, Marketingprofs suggests building ideal buyer profiles with the following info:

  • Role in the buying process
  • Fears and challenges
  • Drivers and motivators
  • Organizational goal and priorities
  • Problems and issues

 

Step 2: Build your cold email list

Now that you’ve identified your target audience personas, you’re going to use the generated profiles for finding contacts to include in your cold email list. If you already have an existing email contact database, the process involves simply filtering the list using the profiles’ attributes.

If you don’t yet have a current list to fetch records from, you can either gather the contacts through your own research or work with a third-party list vendor.

 

Step 3: Find relevant and relatable info for each recipient

IT’s now time to get your hands dirty. This step involves doing some (mostly) manual, tedious research. The goal here is to mine pieces of information specific to each recipient that you can then mention in your cold email copy.

Sales engagement platform provider PersistIQ recommends the “3 takeaways in 3 minutes” approach when determining what personal details to include in your research. The idea is to start with 3 personal facts about each prospect you can gather in 3 minutes. Each of these pieces of information should help you connect with that particular prospect. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Current location
  • Work history
  • School or university
  • Mutual connections

Other personalization snippets include:

  • Website
  • Blog post and articles
  • Company news and announcements
  • Social media posts

Append some or all of these pieces of prospect data onto the cold email list you generated (or acquired) in step 2.

 

Step 4: Craft the personalized email template

In the previous step, you gathered relatable prospect information for each recipient. Now, it’s time to write the email template (or templates) where the relevant personal facts will be inserted.

While we all have our own cold email writing styles, here’s a quick rundown of email personalization best practices to keep in mind:

  • Try to mention one of the personal facts on the subject line
  • Start the body by pointing out another relatable fact
  • Segue into the main portion of your message
  • End with a clear call to action

 

Conclusion

Personalized emails tend to produce better engagement rates (26% higher open rates, 14% higher CTRs, and 10% conversion rates). Not only that, personalization tends to boost deliverability and inbox placement, especially for cold emails. So, before doing your next cold email outreach, try a little personalization first.

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email List Segmentation Best Practices

Email List

Find out why most email list segmentation best practices no longer meet the demands of today’s email marketing landscape.

There’s no shortage of email list segmentation best practices to go around. In fact, a quick Google search for ways to slice and dice an email list gives 19,700,00 results. But a great deal of these readily-available tips falls somewhere between marginally useful to totally obsolete. That means your segmentation strategy is probably due for a little overhaul. Here’s why.

In case you haven’t noticed, both B2B buyers and their buying cycles have changed. B2B prospects are now almost 60% into the decision-making process before reaching out to a vendor, and they’re doing a ton of research and learning about a product or services largely on their own. Old static segmentation models can no longer account for the dynamic, self-determined behavior that today’s prospects tend to display.

That’s just one area where traditional email list segmentation best practices fall short. You need to reconsider conventional ways of segregating email contacts because:

 

  1. Everybody’s doing it.

You really can’t gain any decent competitive edge from following traditional email list segmentation best practices. Practically, most B2B organizations segment email lists according to some basic combination of demographic, firmographic, and firmographic attributes.

While these are fairly effective as starting points for slicing and dicing lists, these strategies have attained such mainstream acceptance that it’s hard to differentiate your campaign and generate above-average results solely on these criteria.

 

  1. Buyers evolve faster than profiles.

As marketers, we’re painfully aware that data decays at a rate of at least 2% per month. But there’s more to marketing data going stale than contacts’ job titles or addresses changing.

The modern B2B purchase journey’s nonlinearity means that prospect behavior doesn’t remain constant or predictable throughout the process. This is why segmentation models need to take these changes into account in order to be useful.

 

  1. Traditional models don’t do a very good job at personalization.

Most email list segmentation best practices were developed when mass targeting was still the norm. That was why these models relied mostly on broad categories and aggregate groupings of prospects.

With today’s decision-makers expecting a relevant, targeted experience, sending out emails that only make use of superficial personalization (first name, industry, company names, etc.) simply isn’t going to cut it.

 

These are a few of the main reasons why email list segmentation best practices need to evolve. The bottom-line is that the marketing landscape has changed. Traditional ways of doing things aren’t that helpful or effective anymore. So, keep up and stay ahead.

Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the HolidaysThe holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:

 

  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.

 

  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.

 

  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.

 

  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.

 

  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?

What Will Appointment Setting Services Look Like in 2018?B2B marketing continues to evolve. That, of course, barely registers as news. What’s really interesting is that, this time, the trends reshaping marketing are starting to impact traditional outbound strategies, including finding and booking sales meetings. If you’re looking to partner with a third-party appointment setting services provider in 2018, here’s what you should expect next year.

Generating leads and appointments still rank as the top challenge that B2B marketers face. That’s why B2B marketers allocate the bulk of their budget increase to prospecting activities. With more than two-thirds of marketers claiming they’re unable to consistently connect with high-quality prospects, a significant number of organizations plan to outsource at least part of their prospecting program.

This makes appointment setting a prime area for marketers to consider. But marketing itself has now changed so much that even appointment setting doesn’t look like what it did just a couple of years ago. Prospecting continues its steady march toward adopting pull tactics as more B2B buyers chart their own course in the purchase journey.

This means that an outsourced appointment setting services partner should deliver prospecting solutions that help you keep up with the times. At a bare minimum, here are four things you should expect from a reputable provider:

 

Account-Based

Account-based marketing (ABM) is gaining traction among marketers. In a nutshell, ABM strategies focus on targeting only a few organizations with the highest likelihood of turning into customers, rather than directing marketing efforts at huge numbers of target companies. It’s like fishing with a spear instead of casting a net.

A reputable appointment setting services company gives you ABM capabilities on top of personalized and targeted prospecting. They tailor campaigns based on an account’s characteristics, which is a step closer to the much sought-after “segment of one”. ABM-enabled appointment setting services target entire org charts of key decision-makers from target accounts, connecting with every person involved in the buying process within a single company.

 

Automated Prospecting

As much as 7 in 10 companies currently use some kind of marketing automation platform (MAP). That’s because MAPs boost lead generation for 80% of marketers and improve conversions for 77% of users. Companies rely on MAPs so much that, as a percentage of revenues, spending on marketing automation now outweighs other IT expenditures.

Appointment setting services that leverage automated prospecting use proven tools to rank leads and follow up on opportunities with minimal human intervention. This frees up their marketing and sales specialists to work on more value-added activities in your campaign such as live conversations with decision-makers. Automated prospecting accelerates one of the most time-consuming components of marketing and makes it more efficient and productive.

 

Data-First

Around 42% of marketers blame poor data quality as the main reason why prospecting campaigns tend to underperform, while about half point the finger at bad data for their MAP’s failure to deliver decent returns. In addition, marketers think they don’t have access to detailed data on prospect behavior and intent, which can help refine their targeting accuracy and enrich segmentation.

Any third-party appointment setting agency should (at the very least) transparently describe their data validation and enrichment processes. You want appointment setting services that let you target, track, and test all aspects of a prospecting campaign. It’s no longer enough to be data-driven, it’s now about being data-first.

 

Experience-Led

Adobe finds that tech marketers prioritize “customer experience and being experience-led” for 2017. This pretty much sums up the trends influencing today’s prospecting strategies in the B2B space. Appointment setting now requires not only a multichannel approach, but also an omnichannel mindset. The difference is that multichannel strategies tend to revolve around marketers’ perspective, while omnichannel takes the entire customer (current or potential) experience into account.

Omnichannel appointment setting services goes beyond integrating different marketing channels to engage prospects. They weave the entire buyer journey into a coherent process for you and your target leads.

So, be on the lookout for these four qualities. These form the baseline for “good” appointment setting services. Make sure that a potential marketing partner meets all four characteristics.

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018

6 Handy B2B Marketing Services to Outsource in 2018We’re well within the last quarter of 2017, and most of you are probably already making the final touches to next year’s marketing plan. If your strategy involves working with a B2B marketing services provider but you’re not sure which marketing initiatives to outsource and which ones to keep in-house, we’ve got you covered. This post goes over six potential areas in your marketing program that an agency can help you out with.

Outsourcing part of your marketing efforts to a reputable third-party agency brings tremendous advantages. When you place specific marketing tactics at the hands of experts, you get better results at practically lower cost. In fact, outsourced B2B marketing services outperform in-house activities by as much as 43% in terms of productivity.

So which activities should you let an agency do for you? Here’s a list of six possible B2B marketing services to outsource next year:

 

  1. PPC

Pay-per-click tactics remain one of those things in marketing that sound simple in theory but are really hard to nail down in practice. It’s very easy for inexperienced marketers to mess PPC campaigns up with the wrong approach. The challenges begin to pile up even higher once you take ad-blockers and declining conversion rates into account.

Navigating all these things can quickly become a full-time job. Unless you have the resources to bring new full-time PPC specialists, you’re better off outsourcing your paid search initiatives.

 

  1. Branding

There’s a very interesting Inc. article that argues why business should avoid DIY branding. In a nutshell, the article says that branding is best left to the experts because, too often, non-specialists don’t even understand its basic concepts and that branding does need some outsider viewpoints.

That’s why if you’re lining up some branding initiatives for next year, you’ll probably get better results if you let a talented branding company do it for you.

 

  1. Demand Generation

Demand generation strategies typically consist of top-of-funnel activities that drive interest and awareness. That’s why it’s a prime outsourcing candidate for organizations that want their marketing and sales teams to focus more on high-value activities such as conversion and closing.

An ideal demand generation solution provider offers B2B marketing services with functional expertise and industry knowledge. While the cost savings alone can already be a good reason to choose the outsourced path, the important benefit that demand generation agencies deliver is value.

 

  1. Lead Generation

Ascend2 estimates that 8 in 10 B2B marketers outsource part or all of their lead generation campaigns. That’s because as lead generation becomes increasingly tied to revenue generation, the pressure to deliver results is mounting.

This trend indicates that organizations find it difficult to meet the needs of a changing marketing landscape with the resources available in-house. The main criterion for choosing a third-party lead generation agency is their ability to identify and convert prospects with purchase intent.

 

  1. Lead Nurturing

Shouldn’t you nurture leads with the people and processes you have in-house? Yes, but there are a number of ways a B2B marketing services company can help you with lead nurturing, too. This is particularly true for organizations which have yet to lay down the right infrastructure, such as marketing automation platforms.

Even for companies with a mature tech stack, an experienced marketing partner can still make all the difference in the world.

 

  1. Appointment Setting

Most B2B marketers start out with the lofty goal of “keeping the sales calendar full”, but only a few have a clear idea of exactly how to get there.

That’s why it’s an excellent idea to partner with a B2B marketing services agency that does finding, qualifying, and booking sales appointments for you. Appointment setting offers a clear path toward keeping your sales team busy and productive, and an experienced third-party partner gets you there faster.

Knowing what marketing programs to outsource is a key part of the planning process. This often boils down to your objectives and your budget. Working with the right partner lets you tap into a rich pool of experience, technology, and connections which would otherwise be out of reach on your own.