The Relevance of Email Marketing and What to Really Measure

Email marketing is highly regarded as one of the most effective digital marketing channel for companies across numerous verticles. It is known to generate revenue and give marketers a clear idea of their consumers. It comes as no surprise that email marketing has grown more prominent and sophisticated with marketers now creating personalised content and strategies, to ensure their segmentation practices are producing yield.

What are consumers prioritising in their experiences with brands that marketers should look out for?

Peoples’ expectations of brands are constantly changing, becoming more sophisticated and demanding. We expect services and products to be delivered in a way that is digital-first, on-demand and relevant. We expect a flawless and consistent experience that seamlessly blends our online and offline activity.

With customer demands getting more sophisticated and brands’ service mix only becoming broader and more complex, the job of keeping the customer experience relevant is never ending.

This is an exciting time for marketers with the rise of customer experience (CX) data-led businesses such as Grab, RedMart and Zalora changing the way they interact with customers and recreate the CX.

Increasingly, CX will mean the need for constant experimentation from marketers to find the right CX tools to attract and retain customers.

Today’s pace of change requires companies to make transformation the norm if they want to survive. This is especially so in a socially connected market such as Southeast Asia, a mobile-first region slated to become the fastest growing internet market globally by 2020.

Is social media advertising the only way forward for marketers?

Great marketing embraces technology and aligns with outcomes – it’s about driving more sales, bigger sales, faster sales and greater lifetime value, rather than acquiring more likes on your social media platform. While the latest video advertising study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, points at budgets shifting from TV to digital – the biggest winners of this shift will likely be social media channels rather than brands.

Rather than pooling all your resources on social media, marketers should look at how they can make more meaningful and profitable relationships with their customers across all channels with a single, personalised conversation. One smart CX tool to leverage is email marketing.

According to Forrester, “email marketing [is] the old salt of your digital toolkit and still the most cost-effective promotional channel”. Email has long been recognised as the most natural channel to deliver on the promise of personalised digital experiences, and it allows for a direct and intimate one-to-one relationship between a brand and its customers.

What’s important to recognise is email marketing provides the most value when it comes to creating personalised customer experiences across multiple channels, including on mobile.

For instance, Carousell, one of the world’s largest mobile classifieds marketplaces, adopted Oracle Responsys to orchestrate customer experiences and messaging, along with the added capabilities to personalise at scale. The end-to-end email service provider (ESP) platform enabled by Carousell allows the company to exponentially increase the number and complexity of its managed campaigns, resulting in more precise segmentation, and more powerful data utilisation to drive editorial content.

This approach also resulted in Carousell launching its lead scoring model within just 12 months of deployment. Leveraging the new insights uncovered by Responsys, Carousell has effectively increased its attributes for customer targeting from the previous 30 to more than 150.

This has helped Carousell to engage more effectively with previously inactive users, while encouraging new interactions with existing users on the Carousell app.

Where can marketers start with an email marketing campaign?

If you’re delving into email marketing, you should first determine how you’ll send messages, track responses and keep up with unsubscribers. You may also need to choose an email service provider or marketing automation vendor. Your choice will depend on your budget, feature requirements, sales process and the number of contacts in your database (and don’t forget to allow for database growth).

Building your list

Once you’ve chosen a solution for sending messages and managing responses, you’ll want to focus on building your email list. To be clear, email marketing is not spamming – it usually begins when website visitors voluntarily “opt in” to be added to a database of marketable names.

Targeting your audience

Once you have your database and a growing list of opt-in subscribers, you’ll need to monitor your communication volume and ensure the messages you send are targeted and relevant. This is how you’ll increase your conversion rates and decrease opt-outs.

Designing for today’s devices

It’s not just what you send, and it’s not just who you send it to – it’s how you design it. As more and more B2B and B2C prospects adopt mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, best practices for email design are evolving rapidly. That means, in a mobile-first market such as the Philippines, you should design your messages using basic HTML elements that will adapt easily to a diverse set of email clients.

Ensuring email deliverability

This is the art of making sure your emails actually reach their recipients without being flagged by spam filters. It’s an important topic, with many specific design requirements. Taking the time to implement best practices will boost the overall results of your email campaigns. You should also look into the deliverability ratings of your ESP, email marketing software, or marketing automation vendor.

Using analytics and reporting

Using the analytics built into most email marketing systems, you can test new email campaigns and analyse the results before sending them to a larger list. The most common metrics marketers look at are open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribed rates and bounce rates. It’s also interesting to look at the open-to-click ratio (or “effectiveness”) of your email, which will help you understand how compelling your content was for the people who opened it.

What is an overlooked measure to email marketing success?

Something that is often overlooked is the idea of planning ahead. Good email marketers will have started considering their email marketing strategy for the holiday season now, in the middle of the year.

Why talk about Christmas in the middle of the year? Because sending volume matters. To ensure the success of larger campaigns during the holiday season, marketers should start planning and prepping their lists. The last thing marketers want to face is a blacklist or block going into the holiday season.

Reputation damage, once it occurs, requires weeks of consistent sending to correct. Often by the time the damage is inflicted, senders don’t have time to recover before the holiday mailing season. Slowly increasing mailing volume, meticulously reviewing metrics to weed out and remove risky segments and contacts, and adhering to confirmed opt-in guidelines will help line up a successful holiday season.

What is the next frontier marketers must tackle if they want to be successful in the market?

Today, the market is fragmented with a variety of CX point solutions answering different needs. This is not the way forward in the omni-channel world your customers and prospects operate in. Here are five tips on how to go about being smarter about CX:

  • Start simple: Don’t try to take too much on, adopting new technologies as and when they come up. Start small, and then build on your success. Start with simple proof-of-concept use cases that you can measure easily. A good candidate here is message testing – but going beyond simple A/B type testing.
  • Match the right task with the right tool: There are some tasks that technology just does better than people. When you’re selecting machine learning applications to include in your marketing tech strategy, develop a list of areas where machines could make a difference.
  • Look for “10x” opportunities: Many of these areas above are also huge time sinks for most teams, where humans must sift through often large data sets and determine the best course of action. Ask yourself: where could we make the biggest impact in terms of customer response or savings? Often, machines can at least help human marketers improve decision-making; in some cases, you can just outsource the entire workflow to intelligent helpers.
  • Measure and improve: It’s vital to think about what your definition of success is for a given use of machine learning and how you’ll measure progress towards your goals.

Remember it’s about your audience, not just the tech. Your number one concern should be how to share a singular, personalised communication message with your end audiences. Technology can be super useful here, but not all technology and not all the time. Make a connection between the tools you’re using and how they ultimately lead to a positive customer impact.

The writer is Wendy Hogan is customer experience and marketing strategy director at Oracle APAC.

 

 

Source: marketing-interactive.com

Re-Engagement Tips from Experts – Do You Hold On, or Let Go? (2018)

Every email list has its fair share of inactive contacts, and once in a while, every email marketer will ask whether to hold on to or to let go of those inactive subscribers.

 

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this, given there are a number of possible reasons those subscribers disengaged.

 

However, with the right re-engagement email campaign that also keeps privacy regulations like the GDPR in mind, marketers can manage inactive subscribers more effectively.

 

Kissmetrics has shown that on average, more than half of contacts – as much as 60% – in an email list will be inactive.

 

On the other hand, it’s estimated that highly engaged subscribers make up only around 24% of contacts on any given list, according to Return Path.

This big difference in numbers can cause deliverability issues, not to mention signal poor sender reputation. You don’t want either of those.

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).

When you’re paying for contacts that won’t convert into closed deals or even nurtured opportunities, you hurt your ROI.

There’s more to dealing with inactive contacts than simply deleting them from your list altogether, though.

It’s good practice to run a re-engagement email campaign to try and win back these disengaged 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 those contacts?

 

Here’s what the experts have to say.

Define what “inactive subscriber” means

MailChimp explains the term “inactive subscriber” can mean different things to different marketers.

In general, there are two areas marketers often use to define whether a contact is active or inactive:

  • Activity, or lack thereof
  • Time elapsed since last engaged with a campaign

Now, it’s up to you to determine at what point lack of activity or elapsed time – or both – points to that subscriber being inactive.

For instance, you may set it as at least six months since they last engaged in a campaign, and they opened or clicked on 10% or less of the emails sent in that time period.

One thing to note, however, is that a lack of interaction doesn’t always indicate inactivity, and that brings us to the 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 typically fall into 3 categories, each requiring a different re-engagement approach.

  • Never-Actives – Subscribers who have never engaged.

These are most likely contacts who signed up for a one-time offer such as a free download.

Send a re-commitment email that will help you find out why they signed up in the first place, and will let them indicate their email preferences.

 

  • Dormant – Subscribers who were once active but have now become unengaged.

Some open emails but nothing comes of these opened emails.

Send a series of nurturing emails that offer value (such as a relevant article or resource).

  • Inactives – Once-active customers who no longer interact with any of your campaigns.

Gradually ramp down the number of emails you send them before asking if they no longer want you to retain their info, let alone send them content.

 

In all three cases, make sure you remind subscribers of what info they’ve given and what you use it for, and inform them of how you’re keeping such information secure.

Make sure to include the option for these subscribers to opt-out, too, in keeping with data regulations currently in place; if a subscriber doesn’t want you to keep storing their info, they have the right to ask you to delete it.

 

Re-Engagement: Crafting a Compelling Email

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

HubSpot suggests that subject lines, for example, be spiced up with a bit of personalization to include the recipient’s name, company, or industry.

You can also try subject lines that ask for “signs of life” with a relevant question.

As for the content, AWeber has several guidelines aimed toward help marketers write an effective re-engagement email:

  • 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 to pique their interest again

 

Remember that you need to include a strong, clear, and specific call-to-action or CTA, for you to maximize the response rates of the re-engagement email campaign.

Whether you’re suggesting a helpful resource or asking if they want to remain on your list, you need to make it easy for the recipient to complete that action.

Automated re-engagement, humanized response

When dealing with relatively small email lists, keeping track of subscriber inactivity manually can work well.

When the contacts number into the thousands, though, the only way to run a re-engagement email campaign to scale is through automation.

SendGrid suggests a huge part of the campaign’s workflow be automated.

Scheduling send-outs and unsubscribing contacts are among those tasks best handled by machines.

That way, you can stay focused on the areas that require, say, creative thinking.

Not all activities in your re-engagement email campaign should be done on autopilot.

Responding to inquiries, for example, or replying to feedback is still best done by humans.

Conclusion

Having several disengaged subscribers doesn’t always mean you need to delete them from your contact list; there’s still value in trying to win them back – if you reach out the right way, that is.

So plan a robust re-engagement email campaign using the guidelines in this post, and you may yet be able to salvage some of those contacts.

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 Emails

image credits goes to the original owner

If 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.

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

image credits goes to the original owner

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 Holidays

image credits goes to the original owner

The 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!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

image credits goes to the original owner

Here’s a number to think about: 3,800%. That’s the average email marketing ROI according to the DMA. But just because you’re doing email marketing, too, doesn’t guarantee you’ll also be getting the same spectacular returns. To generate decent ROI, you first need to develop a working email marketing campaign plan.

Putting together a coherent and doable email marketing campaign plan remains a daunting challenge for a great number of marketers. A lot of moving parts make up a typical email campaign, and it’s easy to get lost in the dizzying details. But with a clear planning process, the task becomes more manageable. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide to campaign planning, plus a ton of email marketing tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Step 1: Set specific campaign goals and objectives

As email marketers, we’ve been raised to believe that everything starts with the list. But this mindset needs to change. Goals and objectives actually precede the email list. Everything only follows once you’ve identified the things your campaign needs to achieve.

Some email marketing campaign goals include:

  • Reaching out to cold prospects
  • Nurturing email prospects
  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Verifying/Updating subscription
  • Promoting/Announcing new offers
  • Achieving conversion goals
  • Responding to triggers or actions

 

Step 2: Identify the types of emails to be used

Once you’ve specified your campaign targets, it’s time to figure out which types of emails work best for the tasks at hand. Marketers use dozens of email types, but these can be grouped into:

  • Prospecting Emails – These are emails sent to identify new opportunities for customer acquisition
  • Nurturing Emails – These are emails that cultivate relationships with leads, subscribers, or existing customers.
  • Promotional Emails – This type of emails announces offers or company-related news.
  • Transactional Emails – These emails are sent in response to a specific action or trigger.

 

Step 3: Know the target audience and segments

This looks like a fairly straightforward activity. But almost half of marketers still fail to segment their lists into relevant groups. There’s more to audience identification than simply knowing your target market. You have to define specific buyer personas that serve as your ideal audience profiles.

We’ve written about effective ways to segment a list in a previous post, and the key points are worth repeating here:

  1. Start with basic firmographics
  2. Map emails to sales funnel stages
  3. Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
  4. Find out what content they’re engaging with
  5. Keep track of responses and activities
  6. Apply a lead scoring scheme

 

Step 4: Flesh out a robust sending schedule

Now you’re ready to set the schedule and frequency of email send-outs. Different sources cite varying optimal times of day and days of week for sending out emails, but it’s good practice to test this out for your own campaign. The same holds true for sending frequency.

While not all campaigns need a detailed sending schedule, the following email marketing tips and tricks for scheduling will help you find the right send-out times:

  • Start with the widely-accepted “best” times for sending out emails (Tuesdays through Thursdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
  • Let subscribers indicate how often to receive emails
  • Keep initial follow-ups to within 3 days of last touch point
  • Sync nurturing emails with your content calendar
  • Tweak schedule and frequency based on campaign results

 

Step 5: Brainstorm content and design ideas

You now have the why, what, who, and when of your email marketing campaign plan. The next things to think about are your emails’ content and design. Compelling copy and great design go hand-in-hand at producing successful email campaigns.

In terms of content, your emails need to speak to your audience and achieve a purpose. Consider the following tips when crafting email copies:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA

For the design, it’s the message that dictates the email’s look and feel:

  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

 

Step 6: Choose suitable metrics and KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why selecting a suitable set of metrics is part of campaign planning.

Email marketing continues to be one of the most data-rich marketing channels around today. So, if you think “vanity metrics” (delivery rates, open rates, CTRs, bounces, spam reports, and unsubscribes) can tell you everything you need to know about your campaign, then you’re leaving a huge insight gap in your program.

To ensure your dashboard displays only the right numbers, follow the below steps:

  1. Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
  2. Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
  3. Look at all your campaign data sources
  4. Know which pieces of data improve timing, content, and impact

 

Step 7: Outline a clear process for testing

The final step in the planning process is to come up with a program for testing and tracking your email campaign. Testing allows you to continuously improve your email marketing campaign plan. So, you need to hammer out a workable testing procedure before hitting “send”.

But, with so many individual components to test, creating a testing plan (as well as carrying it out) can feel overwhelming. Put the following tips into practice to make this part of the planning process run more smoothly:

  • Test basic elements first
  • Focus on one component at a time
  • Make your sample sizes sufficiently large (i.e., at least 1,000 observations)
  • Use consistent schedules when testing
  • Trust the test results over gut-feelings, no matter how counterintuitive

 

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a working email marketing campaign plan. But before you hit send, it’s crucial to go over your outline once or twice to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

If you think some aspects of your campaign look tedious or too time-consuming, then a good email marketing automation tool can make things easier. In addition, reputable email marketing service providers help you carry out part or all of your campaign activities more effectively.

What other steps do you follow when putting together an email marketing campaign plan?

5 Tradeshow Tips to Grow Human Resource Email Lists the Right Way

Tips to Grow Human Resource Email Lists

image credits goes to the original owner

Surveys reveal that between 75% to 77% of B2B marketers rank in-person events like tradeshows and conferences as their top-performing marketing tactic. Tradeshows are great venues for finding qualified leads in an industry or market, since these events are where you’ll typically meet decision-makers, influencers, and thought leaders face-to-face. That’s why, if you’re looking for ways to grow your human resource email lists, joining relevant HR conferences can be the right strategy.

That is, if you know how to leverage your tradeshow attendance for email list building. For today’s post, we’ve hand-picked five proven tips you can quickly apply on your next HR event to make each contact count.

 

  1. Choose your tradeshows wisely

From the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition to the HR Tech Expo, there’s no shortage of in-person HR events happening each year. But, even if you can afford to attend every single one of them, it’s best to join only those tradeshows relevant to your target customer or solution. This keeps potential email contacts to only within your target prospects as much as possible.

So, make sure to do thorough research on a tradeshow you’re interested in. See to it that the event’s target attendees match your target decision-maker profile. Be sure that your offer is consistent with the theme or focus, and not just tangentially related.

 

  1. Use the right lead capture tools

A study done by event automation provider Certain, Inc. finds that 73% of marketers still use manual data capture tools at live events. That’s despite the availability of digital lead retrieval tools that make collecting attendee contact details many times simpler and faster than with traditional fishbowl and spiral notebooks.

Capturing lead information is now as easy as downloading apps for scanning badges, administering surveys, taking notes, prequalifying leads, and doing other event lead generation activities.

 

  1. Segment your tradeshow contacts

Most event marketing experts agree that contacts obtained at tradeshows and conferences need to be segmented as soon as acquired. Tradeshow contacts should be grouped according to the action or interest they’re showing. You can classify these prospects into labels like “visited booth”, “requested more information”, “set appointment”, and “general attendee”.

This helps you put together a more robust follow-up plan and send relevant messages later on. As we’ll see in the following point, segmentation lets you avoid spammy behavior as well as steer clear of opt-in issues with your human resource email lists.

 

  1. Follow up on time and on point

According to the same Certain, Inc. study mentioned above, 57% of marketers say it takes four days for them to follow up with tradeshow leads. There’s, of course, no universal rule on the best time to check back with event prospects but, in general, the sooner you follow up, the better.

If you’ve classified contacts into appropriate segments, then you’ll be better able to craft a more relevant and compelling email message for each group. Don’t send the same follow-up email to all your tradeshow contacts.  Always start off by reminding your leads you met at the event and tell them how you were able to obtain their contact information.

 

  1. Validate and verify email addresses right away

Before you add the tradeshow contacts into your main human resource email lists, there are some things you need to do first:

  • Verify if the contact details are correct
  • Look for duplicates and redundant entries
  • Check whether an email address already exists in your main database
  • Remove hard bounces
  • Ask if a contact wants to opt out

Also, if the event organizer provides you with a list of attendees, you should never directly add them as contacts in your main database. The best thing to do is send one-on-one email to these contacts asking them to opt in.

With these expert tradeshow tips, it’s going to be much easier for you to cultivate your human resource email lists. The key thing to remember is to always be timely and relevant.

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted Database

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted Database

image credits goes to the original owner

In a previous post, we took a look at five key metrics to gauge your list’s performance and effectiveness. But we left out one crucial KPI that you should always be keeping track of: the ROI that your list generates. As we’ll see below, measuring exactly how much return a Custom Targeted Database brings to the table can become a little challenging. That’s why we’re setting aside this entire entry to help you get started with this critical marketing yardstick.

It’s typically hard to correctly determine the ROI of most custom target lists since they’re mostly used for top-of-funnel activities. This means that, by the time a lead becomes a customer, the touch points associated with the contact list that contributed to the sale are often difficult to trace since they took place at earlier stages in the process.

To get around this, the following tips can help you reliably measure how much revenue your custom targeted database helped generate:

 

  1. Know exactly where contacts come from.

In order to accurately gauge ROI, you need to find out where every contact that becomes part of your list originated from. Did a lead come from organic sources? Which paid source did a particular database record pass through before entering your funnel?

For your custom targeted database, this means having separate fields that report where and how you got the contact information.

 

  1. Refine your sales funnel stages.

There’s a surprising statistic from MarketingSherpa being thrown around that claims 68% of marketers haven’t yet identified their sales funnel. If you happen to be part of this group, you need to define and refine the stages in your sales funnel right now.

What are the steps a prospect goes through before being deemed sales-ready? What actions constitute a conversion in each of these steps?

 

  1. Track and score leads throughout your funnel.

Once you’ve established the precise steps that a prospect has to go through in order to turn into an opportunity, you now need to assign points that indicate how sales-qualified that particular lead is.

This is called lead scoring and is a crucial component of accurately measuring marketing ROI. Points are assigned based on the lead’s attributes (demographic and firmographic details) and their actions (interest and intent).

 

  1. Match closed deals with past touch points.

Now that you’ve got contact source information and lead scores recorded in your custom targeted database, it’s time to take a look at the data for deal closes. These closes should be tied back to the series of touch points that preceded the deal.

Marketingprofs says there are four categories of closes based on source and nurture history. It’s important that you identify the right classification for a particular deal, so that credit and attribution can be correctly given.

You can now start reliably measuring the ROI of custom target lists with these four tips in mind. The main idea is that your custom targeted database does contribute to the revenues your marketing and sales processes generate, provided that you’re using it correctly in your campaigns.

5 Metrics to Measure the Health of Your B2B Contact List

B2B Contact List

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You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s according to an old business adage that’s still relevant in marketing today, especially now that marketers are drowning in an ocean of metrics and KPIs that let them know what works and what doesn’t. So what numbers should you be keeping track of to get a feel for how your B2B contact list is performing?

As you may know all too well already, everything in B2B marketing starts with your list. That’s why you need to keep this critical campaign component firing on all four cylinders. To find out whether your B2B contact leads database is really up to the task, here are the five key metrics you should always be monitoring:

 

  1. Inbox Placement Rates and Delivery Rates

Inbox placement rates (IPRs) and delivery rates are two distinct metrics that measure email deliverability, although they’re often incorrectly used interchangeably. Delivery rates count the number of emails sent that didn’t bounce, while IPRs only consider emails that actually made it into the recipients’ inbox.

These two numbers can indicate the overall health of your B2B contact list. Low IPRs and delivery rates are often taken as signs that a list probably needs some scrubbing and updating. Recent research from Return Path reports that average global inbox placement rates hover around 80%.

 

  1. Hard Bounces

Bounce rates refer to the percentage of total emails that were not delivered. Soft bounces happen when emails get rejected from the recipient’s server because of a full inbox. Hard bounces, on the other hand, take place when emails are not delivered because of invalid email addresses.

You want to keep an eye on hard bounce rates, since ISPs and mail providers view high levels of hard bounces as a sign of spammy behavior. To help minimize hard bounces, regularly scrub your B2B contact list for invalid or non-existent email addresses.

 

  1. Unengaged Subscribers

Unengaged subscribers are inactive contacts in your list that have yet to promptly opt out. These are subscribers who remain on your B2B contact leads database but haven’t opened or responded to your emails in a while.

Sending emails to unengaged subscribers can harm email deliverability, since doing this tends to trigger spam alerts in most ISPs. So, manage inactive subscribers with a reengagement campaign or by removing them from your B2B contact list altogether.

 

  1. List Churn Rate

List churn rate or attrition rate is the proportion of subscribers that either opt out or drop out of your list in a given period. Factors like the number of opt-outs, hard bounces, spam complaints, and subscriber inactivity are the main drivers behind list churn rates.

List churn tells you how fast your B2B contact leads database is shrinking. That’s why you need to acquire new contacts at a rate that exceeds the churn rate in order to grow your list. GetResponse estimates average annual list churn rates to be around 25%-30%.

 

  1. Spam Complaints/Reports

Every time a recipient marks your email as spam, you’re racking up spam complaints under your sender record. Once the number of spam complaints exceeds a given threshold, mailbox providers automatically classify your emails as junk. According to data from MailChimp, average spam complaint rates can vary from 0.01% to 0.04%, depending on the industry.

While spam complaints tend to reflect the quality of your email messages, they can also give you an idea about the quality of your B2B contact list. Email lists sometimes contain spam traps, which are email addresses created by mailbox providers to catch spammers red-handed. Clearly, it’s important that you find and remove this type of address from your B2B contacts leads database to help reduce the risk of incurring spam complaints.

Now, you know the crucial set of numbers that help you accurately gauge your contact list’s performance. To gain sharper insights on your B2B contact list, don’t just passively measure these metrics against industry benchmarks. Also actively run tests designed to optimize your database on a regular basis.