email Posts

Content Marketing’s Role in Email Marketing

Written on August 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Marco Marini in Eec, Email, Email marketing, Content marketing, Multi-purpose marketing

While we were updating our ESP selection guide last year, “integration” was the recurring theme. Email is no longer a standalone marketing channel. Integrating email with social media marketing, web analytics and more has become a necessary capability for many email marketers.

And integrating email with content marketing is part of that holistic approach.

Content and email are ideally suited for a symbiotic marketing relationship. Content marketing can both inform and draw from email marketing.

Create Once, Use Repeatedly

As you’re planning your content pieces, whether that content consists of words, video, photos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, or a slideshow, consider also how you can promote that content to your in-house email list. Maybe it’s a B2B webinar, a tradeshow video or a cookbook offer. Whatever the content and your method of lead generation, consider making that same content available to appropriate people on your email list too.

As long as your content marketing program is healthy and strong, you’ll always have relevant reasons to email your audience or at least some segment thereof.

We call that creating once, using repeatedly. And that’s how your content marketing can give your email marketing a boost.

You can also use your email marketing to improve your content offerings by testing to see which type of content gets the best response rate. Maybe you thought your audience would prefer video but email marketing A/B testing shows a preference for whitepapers. Or perhaps your case study offer falls flat but your archived webinar does wonders when they go head to head while testing your offer. No matter the winner, you can use that information to refine your content marketing program, offering more of the types of content your audience seems to want. 

Use Email, Get Content

Content marketing can inform your email marketing program…and it can draw from it too, when you use your email platform for generating more content.

Your email newsletter should be considered part of your content marketing strategy and probably already is. Less obvious, however, is the messaging created specifically for your email marketing campaigns, and even the one-off emails sent by your sales or service teams. Review the messages created as part of your email marketing program to find nuggets or even gems you can repurpose elsewhere as part of your content marketing strategy. Also keep tabs on the information your employees send out in response to email inquiries. These can be very targeted and readable pieces of content you can repurpose in your blog, newsletter, case studies or elsewhere.

Also consider using email to conduct surveys and solicit customer feedback. These can be sought after via email and the content provided by your customers can then be repurposed and used in online marketing, your blog or in your social media. Ask subscribers to submit photos, videos or even drawings, and you’ll open up a whole new avenue for content generation that can’t help but be relevant, since it’s your customers who created it.

Email is the multi-purpose marketing channel that can be integrated with pretty much every other marketing channel, whether that’s a technical integration or a tactical one. Make sure your content and email marketing strategies are working together to maximize your results from both.

Marco Marini, CEO

ClickMail Marketing

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More Proof You Need to Focus On Your Sending Reputation

Written on June 25th, 2012 | Posted by in Eec, Sending reputation, Email marketing, Email, Deliverability

 

Don’t blame the ISPs for your mail landing in the spam folder.  Blame the spammers.  Over 85% of email received into our network of ISPs around the world is considered spam.  This creates a herculean task for ISPs to ensure that the email ecosphere is safe and trusted, and that good messages get delivered to the inbox and bad ones are blocked or sent to the spam folder.

The spam folder can make or break a business and even careers.  Using content filters, one of the oldest methods to stop spam, requires a lot of user training, is slow, and isn’t scalable.  More importantly, content filters are easily duped by sophisticated spammers and are prone to high false positives.  For most businesses, false positives mean lost revenue and the inability to communicate with customers.  But for aMichigan candidate running for a public post, a false positive meant nearly not making it on the ballot, and a false positive for the Maine GOP caucus nearly caused disenfranchisement.  ISPs know that false positives can have negative consequences, so they really do want to get the right email delivered to the right folder.

The key to stopping spam is in predicting it.  By looking at IP addresses and common sending behaviors, ISPs can stop most spam very quickly.  A quick look in your Gmail inbox with the absence of any spam is a testament to how well reputation filters work. 

Looking at data from Sender Score, similar to a credit score for an IP address (having a range from 0 – 100, with 100 the best) you can see how reputation really does determine what’s delivered to the inbox, the spam folder, or blocked.

1.   Gmail and Hotmail – Having a score above 90 means that about 80% or more of your mail is delivered to the inbox.  A score between 80 and 90 on average has only 62% of email delivered.  A score below 80 has less than 39% inbox placement rates.

2.  Yahoo – A score above 90 has 90% inbox placement rate, a score between 80 and 90 has an 80% rate, and anything below that has a mere 56% chance of reaching the inbox.

A quick look in your spam folder, on the other hand, shows that some emails are still mistakenly being flagged as spam. The key is knowing what data to look at, and then making sure you don’t look like a spammer.

1.   Subscriber complaints – the number of subscribers marking an email as spam is the most common reputation measurement tool.  Most marketing emails struggle with this, as more and more people use the spam button to delete and unsubscribe from mail they signed up for.  Based on the data we see for mailers with the highest deliverability rates, complaint rates should be less than .1%.

2.  Spam traps – The second most accurate predictor of whether or not an email is spam.  Some marketers acquire these through a third party, but most though lax mailing practices where once-real email addresses are converted into spam traps.  Senders with a Sender Score above 90 typically never hit any spam traps. Yes, you read that right: never.

3.  Unknown Users are also a good predictor if an IP address is sending spam or not.  Most marketers typically don’t need to worry about this unless their bounce handling system is broken, they start to mail to addresses they haven’t mailed to in a while, or if they acquire email lists.  The best senders have unknown user rates less than .2%, and major deliverability problems start to occur if you go over 5%.

4.  Sending history – Ever since spammers started hijacking PCs to send spam, ISPs rarely trust a new IP address.  As anyone who has moved to a new ESP or switched to a new IP knows, building up a reputation from scratch can take a long time.  Our data shows that it can take, on average, 30 days to establish a good sending reputation.

So anyone whose business relies on email should do two things:  stop devoting so much effort to bypassing content filters, and focus more on improving one’s sending reputation.   Having a good reputation has the benefit of being able to bypass content filters.  Just ask Pfizer.

The good news is everyone can achieve a great email sending reputation.  Monitor your reputation, look at the right data, and the inbox is yours.

This post originally appeared on MediaPost.

 

By Tom Sather

Director, Professional Services

Return Path

 


 

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After the Click: Improving Campaign Performance With Web Analytics

Written on April 19th, 2010 | Posted by Marco Marini in Email, Email marketing, Analytics, Metrics




What happens after you send out that carefully crafted email campaign? What do you look for beyond open rates and click throughs? What do people actually do when they get to your landing page or website? And are you able to not only track that information, but put it to use in your next campaign?

To really understand the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns, you need to keep tracking your customers’ behavior beyond your email, even beyond your landing page. How else can you know your real success if you don’t know your real results? Plus you can learn from knowing what people do at your website. Where else do they click? Which other pages do they visit? Do they sign up for your emails? How long do they hang around? At what point do they bail? To gather this data, your email must be integrated with your web analytics. It’s the only way to carry your tracking through comprehensively.

And on the other side of that information gathering is what you do with that data to improve your email marketing. Ideally it’s a closed loop process, with the ESP and web analytics both feeding information to each other.

By integrating your email with your web analytics, you can track behavior and better understand your conversion rates, improve your campaigns, respond to individual behavior in near real-time, and ultimately increase your email marketing ROI. You can learn, tweak and improve, and even segment your email marketing messages in the future.

Integrating email with web analytics gives you real-life data, but it’s not as easy as it seems. However, the payoff is worth it. If you’re ready to take on—and profit from—this kind of integration, here are some things to consider, both when choosing an analytics provider and when setting up the integration:

  • How often data is flowing from the analytics provider to your ESP and how quickly do you need to make decisions based on that data? If you can wait 24 hours to get data back, then a batch process is fine. However, if you’re looking at shopping cart abandonment, and you need to react right away to a behavior, you need something more real-time so you’ll want an inline process that allows immediate reaction, without the delay of a batch process.
  • What segments are important, and what information do you need in order to allocate or define the segments?
  • What is your internal availability for building an API now plus supporting it later? Do you want your IT team to take this on, working with your marketing team? Do they know the ESP well enough, and can they support the integration when something goes wrong? Or should you outsource this?
  • How easy is it to migrate if you switch ESPs? You have to make sure your new ESP can tag links to where your analytics package can easily identify the same information for a person, and for a campaign. That new ESP is also going to need to be able to consume data from the analytics company, send and consume data back and forth from the analytics package.
  • As a preventive measure, your marketing department needs to acid test the solution. You have two separate systems operating relatively independent of each other, but you need to regularly make sure the information going back into both systems is accurate.

When your email and web analytics are integrated as a closed-loop process, it should be seamless. Your ESP sends an email and links within the email include identifiers of who that recipient is and the campaign they’re being sent. When they click on a link, the ESP feeds that information over to the analytics provider on a batch basis. You’ll learn about the campaign performance, but also specific metrics about who did what individually once on the site. But that’s not the end of it. The web analytics can also feed information back to your ESP, enabling automated responses or other email messages appropriate to a customer’s particular actions. Then you take all you’ve learned and tweak your next campaign accordingly.

If you’re tracking email and web analytics separately, you’re missing the big picture. If you have them integrated, you’re ahead of the game…and the competition. 

- Marco Marini
CEO
ClickMail Marketing

 

 

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A Click is a Click by Any Other Name, But Click-Through Rates Are Not the Same

Written on March 10th, 2010 | Posted by Luke Glasner in Email, Email marketing, Email measurement, Accuracy

 
Research done by the eec's Measurement Accuracy Roundtable shows that ESPs use several different methods of measurement for the Click-Through Rate (CTR) metric.  During our discussions we identified several methodologies for calculating the CTR.  Two methods, delivered-based and open-based, emerged as the most common based on an online poll conducted by the Roundtable.  Here are the poll results:

How do you calculate the CTR?

The majority of respondents calculated the CTR using clicks divided by delivered, similar to how direct mail calculates its response rates.  Clicks divided by open was the second most common method and is similar to other online advertising methods that are impression-based such as banner ads and search sponsor links.  Companies often use more than one tool and therefore choose the methodology that makes the most sense for their media mix.  Having to normalize their data may create additional work for IT or marketing departments when they want to report and analyze results of their email program overall or roll up information into higher level reporting and analytics dashboards.

What can email marketers in the field take away from this survey?

  • First, it reminds us to check with our ESP to determine how they calculate metrics in their reporting to help maintain comparability and consistency while comparing results across or within email campaigns.
  • Second, we should also check how metrics are being calculated in other systems that email impacts, such as web analytics, to determine any necessary adjustments to normalize our reporting for cross-media analysis.  
  • Third, it demonstrates the need for email marketers and ESPs to come together to standardize metrics.

For the past two years, the Measurement Accuracy Roundtable has been working to standardize email metrics to improve the quality of reporting for the email industry and provide more uniformity in reporting for email marketers and email service providers alike.  You can learn more on this blog or show your support for the program on the Roundtable’s online petition.

Special thanks to Peter Roebuck of AllWebEmail for contributing to this post and to all the Roundtable members for their participation.

Luke Glasner
Co-Chair
eec Measurement Accuracy Roundtable

 

 

 

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4 Things My Husband Doesn’t Like About Me (er, uh, email marketers) and 1 Thing He Does

Written on March 8th, 2010 | Posted by Kara Trivunovic in Email, Email marketing, Deliverability, Rendering, Email design

 

When you work in the email space, you take a different perspective on your inbox. I receive email for very different reasons than others in my life. I subscribe to just about any email I can, because I like to see what people are doing. More specifically,  how marketers are targeting their customers, leveraging data, addressing rendering challenges and motivating recipients to open, among many other things.

But “normal” people just don’t do that. They subscribe to a specific email because they want it – at least they thought they did. So I thought I would ask the real email subscriber in my life, my husband, what he likes and doesn’t like about email – this is what he said (ok, I’ve paraphrased some, but this is almost what he said):

The Bait and Switch

So, apparently people actually subscribe to email because they expect or want something – go figure, huh? But once they get “it” do marketers continue to deliver value? So my hubby tells me that often times he subscribes for something specific, but if the subsequent emails don’t grab him right away then he unsubscribes. Yes, you heard me right, he actually does click the unsubscribe link.

The Fine Print
But he can’t click the unsubscribe link if he can’t find it – and he actually does look for it. This leads us to the second thing that annoys him about email – ok, it’s a life in general thing, but it’s prolific in email – the fine print. Now that we have kids, the closest he’s getting to Vegas are the emails he gets in his inbox – and nothing drives him more crazy than a great subject line and headline about getting free nights at a great hotel – only to open the message to find that there isn’t a snowball’s chance he can go. It would just take too long to filter through the legalese.

No Real Point
My better-half tells me that we email marketers have seconds to get to the point otherwise he closes the email. Which in and of itself isn’t news – but what surprised me was that he’s actually pretty fickle. If we don’t make our point quickly in this email – he isn’t opening the next one either – or the one after that, or the one after that. He’s stubborn…

No Images (Not our fault, but he doesn’t know that)
So this was the very first thing he said – and as long as we’ve been together and all the time I’ve been working in the space – I was sure he knew this, but he did not. AOL, take note, my husband does not like that you suppress his images by default. The funnier thing for me was that he couldn’t figure out why images rendered for Zappos,  but not for Mandalay Bay. He has no recollection of adding Zappos to a safe-sender list, but clearly he did. So in his mind, the issue was with Mandalay Bay, not AOL.

But rest assured, he doesn’t dislike everything about us. There is one thing he loves about email and that is Zappos. He's an uber-fan of everything Zappos, but here’s a lesson to integrating your customer service calls with your email programs. After an issue he had with shoes he ordered for our son, he called and spoke with someone who was very friendly and helpful and took care of correcting the order issue. He was happy with the customer service he received, and he moved on to other things. A short hour later, he received a coupon for a discount off his next purchase – as a way to say “we’re sorry for the recent issue with your order.”

So learn from his man-crush on Zappos – sometimes doing something nice goes a long way.

 
- Kara Trivunovic
Senior Director of Strategic Services
StrongMail

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Integrating Email Marketing & Social Strategies - What Do You Think?

Written on February 18th, 2010 | Posted by Nate Romance in Email, Email marketing, Social media

 

During last month's meeting of the eec List Growth and Engagement Roundtable, the group members shared their thoughts and experiences on the concept of integrating email marketing and social strategies.

Luke Glasner of Glasner Consulting opened the discussion by highlighting a successful program that he implemented where his company created Facebook and LinkedIn groups that focused on the same topics as a specific email newsletter that his company sends out. After creating these social groups, newsletter subscribers were encouraged to join the recently-built social communities to interact with others who had similar interests. “The connection worked both ways” said Glasner. “In addition to growing our social communities with our email subscribers, we also encouraged our social fans to join our email newsletter list.”

Stephanie Miller of Return Path asked the group about the value of having the same subscribers consuming your content from both email and social networks. Miller said “if the goal is to have multiple touchpoints with the same subscribers, then it’s fine to cross-pollinate. If you see your social followers and email subscribers as unique audiences, then sending them the same content probably isn’t the best strategy.” Miller sees this as a real challenge that all marketers face. “Before jumping into a social community, it’s important to think about the broader contact strategy and how these new channels will impact this. If your social followers are a fundamentally different group of customers than your email subscribers, then you should communicate with them differently, and not try a one size fits all message.”

Luke mentioned that for publishers, the cross-pollination of email and social customers makes sense. “The goal of many publishers is to generate exposure for advertisers. While social can do an excellent job of building community, the monetization of advertising is not as straight forward as it is in traditional email marketing.” Because of this, Glasner says “it’s important to drive your social fans to become email subscribers, as this creates the exposure that publishers and their advertisers want.”

Nate Romance of ExactTarget suggested that the various channels can have different value propositions for subscribers or fans, which makes subscriber overlap okay. “Consider a retailer who uses email to provide discounts and sales, uses Facebook as a way to get brand advocates to talk to one another and provide feedback on products, and uses Twitter to provide fast customer service responses.”  Romance says that because these three channels all provide a different value to subscribers, the subscriber overlap simply means that the subscriber can use the channel that makes the most sense for their need.

“Instead of just pushing offers through these three mediums, they are communicating with the same core group of subscribers, but providing different services to the customer through each of these. Companies get into trouble if they just view Twitter and Facebook as cheap email and try to just push the same ‘free shipping’ offer. It can be redundant, and if the offer is better (or worse) on one of the channels, subscribers will notice and can voice their frustrations about this.”

Adds Yael Penn of imagine 360, “People respond differently to different media. By reinforcing cross-channel, and making them play well together, having cross channel subscribers can increase the response rate of an integrated campaign.  Some people need the reinforcement of multiple channels before making a buying decision, and adding social media to an existing email marketing campaign can help accomplish this.”

Romance adds that individual subscribers or fans might have different perceptions of how they want to interact with various channels. “Some people might want to get information on Facebook, but feel like purchasing through an email is ‘safer’ or more professional. Need to reach the right subscriber with the right message and in their preferred channel at the right time.”

We want your feedback. Do you think it makes sense to have the same subscribers following you on social networks and on your email list? What are the pros and cons of this? We’d love to hear your feedback as comments on this post.

 

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How Social Networking Can Magnify the Power of Your Email Campaigns

Written on February 10th, 2010 | Posted by Marco Marini in Email, Email marketing, Social media


Are you struggling to increase your in-house email list in order to extend your marketing reach? There is a growing percentage of the online population that does not sign up for emails or newsletters. Instead they get their information predominately through social networking sites and portals. To reach them, one has to get to them either through their contacts, the groups they belong to, or those they follow. But email can be the vehicle to do just that.

Email can enable and even encourage content to be shared with social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. This then allows for an extended reach to those people who haven’t opted in to receive emails from you. Plus the marketer retains some control over what specifically can be shared. For example, it might be a video, particular imagery, or a special offer. You as the marketer get to decide.

In addition to getting your content exposed to a much broader audience, sharing email content gives those doing the sharing the opportunity to add value to their respective networks. This is a huge motivator for many social networkers because it puts them in the role of trusted advisor. (Consider how often a tweet from someone in your network is simply a retweet.) This also allows a marketer to enable their audiences to evangelize on your behalf. 

This opportunity to reach the previously unreachable, and to simultaneously empower your audience to demonstrate value to their network, can lead to very high conversion rates, especially if your goal is to not only reach new prospects but also to add new subscribers to your in-house list.

The latest statistics indicate that the number of people seeing content increases approximately 24% with social networking/email integration compared to relying on email alone. That’s a massive increase for virtually no cost. FTF (forward to a friend) has been considered an email best practice for years, and it’s one marketers should keep doing. But social forwarding features blow it away when you look at the extended reach enabled by social networking vs. FTF email.

The typical social networker has approximately 160 connections. When they share something in their network, the message they are sharing is exposed to their whole network. Compare that quantity to the person who forwards an email using FTF: Typically 1 in 1,000 email recipients actually forwards via FTF, and of those that do, the vast majority forward to 3 people or less. And hardly any of them subscribe as the result of getting the forward. It’s easy to see that when you provide interesting, valuable and relevant content into a socially networked environment (i.e. content people will want to share), some of the new people you’ve just reached will sign up with your company directly for future news or shareworthy information.

When you add social networking integration via a tool like Share-to-Social or Social Forward, be sure to provide instructions to your audience about how to share specific offers or content, and help them understand why they should. Language such as “Click the Facebook icon to the right to share these recipes with your network” tells the user the action to take (click to share) and implies the benefit (you’ll delight your friends).

All of this, however, is predicated on having information worth sharing. Your content has to have value. It must be relevant, interesting and appealing. Period.

The organic list growth opportunity is staggering too, as the latest research from MarketingSherpa and authors David Daniels and Jeanniey Mullen* show that the typical lifetime value of a new email address is between $120 and $180 each! Growing your list by just 100 recipients would play out to something like a $15,000 lift to the bottom line. Cha-ching.

Email marketing still offers the highest ROI. Imagine what you can achieve when you multiply its reach by integrating social networking features into your email campaigns!

*In their book, Email Marketing: An Hour a Day

- Marco Marini
CEO
ClickMail Marketing

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Facebook Integrating With The First & Largest Social Network

Written on January 25th, 2010 | Posted by Nicholas Einstein in Social media, Email

This week Facebook will begin giving marketers the ability to collect email address from users of our Facebook applications.  This is welcome news and opens up a world of possibilities for creating integrated programs that leverage the strengths of each channel to drive business objectives and richer customer experiences.  Currently, applications communicate with users through Facebook notifications - a constrained inbox with few opportunities for meaningful direct communications and limited opportunities for monetization.  After Wednesday, marketers will have the ability to make email permission optional, or a mandatory requirement of an application, and may no longer post notifications from applications.  This development opens up an exciting new way for Facebook marketers to interact with and ultimately monetize social audiences.  

An example of the optional prompt:


 

And mandatory:


Facbook will be supporting this change by encouraging users to share their email addresses with applications, and will be posting dialog boxes like the one below on every canvas page a user visits for their first three sessions.


 

On the Developer wiki, Facebook clearly articulates the policies senders must adhere to:

Draft Policies

a. You must not give or sell users’ email addresses to any third party or affiliate.
b. You must comply with the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act and all other applicable spam laws (e.g., provide a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism and honor opt-out requests within 10 days).
c. You must explain clearly to users, in a privacy policy or elsewhere in a conspicuous place, how you will use their email addresses.
d. Emails you send must clearly indicate that they are from you and must not appear to be from Facebook or anyone else. For example, you must not include Facebook logos or brand assets in your emails, and you must not mention Facebook in the subject line, “from” line, or body header.
e. All emails to users must originate from the same domain, and you must provide us with the name of that domain in the Facebook Developer application used to manage your application.


As we kick off 2010, it’s hard to argue that the most exciting force in the email marketing space is the rapid adoption of social networks and the opportunities that exist for those who are able to develop truly integrated programs.  Much has been written in this blog about social media, and though virtually everyone is excited by the possibilities, most of us are still in the relatively early phases of determining the best strategies and tactics for our programs.  Few in the space can point to quantifiable success stories.  This development gives social marketers a powerful, proven tool for engaging and monetizing audiences, and I look forward to seeing how we capitalize on the opportunity.

Read more on the Facebook Developer Wiki and please comment below or reach out to me directly to continue the conversation - 2010 is going to be a big one for email [the original and largest social network].

 

- Nicholas Einstein
Director of Strategic & Analytic Services
Datran Media

 

 

 

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