Email Marketing

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Don’t Let Be Scared!

What scares you?

Is it not getting any “likes” on a post? Setting up an event page and seeing zero RSVPs? Pressing send on an email?

OOOooo—that IS scary!

As social media managers and marketers, we’re constantly putting ourselves out there.

The internet is like a haunted house. Behind every link and app, there are unexpected tricks and treats. As a result, we may be delighted or we may be disappointed.

But isn’t that outlook a bit bleak? Sure, there’s always a bit of stage fright associated with performing for a crowd—online and in real life.

When we plan ahead and strategize, taking risks becomes a lot less scary.

If you’re worried about being haunted by a mistake, the best solution is to take action. You can connect with fellow marketers and communicators whose work you admire. Ask their advice. Remember, LinkedIn, email, and Twitter aren’t just for your business. They can also help you build personal connections.

We’ve all been nervous at one point or another. That’s a good thing.

It means we’re stretching ourselves. Having an online presence is a powerful thing. We should take our roles and the opportunity to connect with others seriously.

Keeping up with news and events takes the mystery out of a frequently changing industry. When we follow new marketing developments and learn about different strategies, we arm ourselves with the information that can help us succeed. Consider signing up for an industry newsletter, setting a Google alert, or following a trusted industry news site on Twitter.

Perhaps you like the thrills of working in communications and marketing. A lot of us do! If you encounter an obstacle, don’t run away at the first sign of trouble.

When we plan ahead, work together, and take time to be creative, we can tackle any fear.

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Have Fun with Gamification

Light pink background with many white game dice illustrations overtop

Let’s play a game.

From Foursquare to Uber, gamification has become an accepted part of how people interact with companies. By reorganizing everyday activities into a game, consumers can engage with a brand in a fun and memorable way.

Whether grocery shopping or working out, a bit of competition and the chance for reward encourages people to forge a deeper connection to a task or company. In fact, people might not even think about it. As a result, it becomes a seamless part of your business experience.

The idea behind gamification is to take use various proven elements of games to motivate greater involvement. It can be used to encourage desired behaviors in individuals, whether they be customers, employees, or students. […] It is a motivational tactic that taps into our competitive spirit and drive to succeed by fostering competition and offering convenient milestones.

The Origins and Future of Gamification by Gerald Christians, University of South Carolina

However, you don’t need a large company or app developer. Instead, brainstorm creative ways you can apply gamification to your social media or marketing needs. To get started, think about gamification as it applies to your social media milestones and goals.

Gamification can bring considerable results if:

  • The process of progress tracking is transparent
  • Talented players are recognized
  • People feel valued through real-time feedback

How can gamification help you create a community or gain more followers?

Smaller companies, like a local restaurant or boutique, might want to focus on driving foot traffic. For example, gamification is part of a loyalty rewards system. This can help visitors feel like valued members of your community. Consider adding a reward for folks who help you reach a social media follower goal. Another idea would be sharing a discount codeword with subscribers to your e-newsletter.

Mid-sized companies might want to think about how to get consumers to engage with a product through user-generated content. Think about encouraging followers to enter photo contests, use hashtags, and answer questions for prizes.

(But remember to follow through on promises and have clear rules and regulations. You don’t want to create any legal or ethical issues, especially in relation to privacy or copyright.)

Larger companies could try gamification tools to train employees or cultivate the workplace community. Through a company app or fostered social media engagement, you could turn employees and casual users into brand advocates.

Get out there and start playing!

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Advance Your Digital Marketing Career

Lightbulb on chalkboard with connected ideas written in bubbles as SEO, Email marketing, Social media, ROI, Analytics

As digital marketers, we are always learning.

Whether navigating a new app or staying up-to-date on industry news, it is important to stay curious.

Taking a short course or earning a certificate can help professionals expand their talents.

It can also help give your resume an added boost. When potential employers see you’re investing in new skills, it shows you are someone willing to try different tools and responsive to fresh ideas.

When we’re in the classroom, we’re also connecting with others in the industry.

Marketing and communications is all about building a dialogue with others. By enrolling in a specialty course, we have the chance to not only learn from the instructor but also our peers. Social media especially is often learned through doing. What better way to learn than by exchanging experiences and real world examples?

A specialty course can help us go deeper into subjects.

Investing your time in a webinar or workshop means students can maximize their time and choose topics relevant to their individual interests within the digital marketing.

Perhaps you are curious to learn more about search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising? If you have questions about a certain subject, find a way to learn about just that and dig in!

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Add Video to Your Events

Graphic image of mobile phone with white text on screen reading: "RSVP. Will attend... Will attend digitally...X"

Bring your event to guests with video.

Thanks to social and online options, no one is ever excluded from the guest list. Using video across your social media platforms, you can extend your marketing powers while playing with new tools.

Whether engaging with a polished professional video or spur-of-the-moment livestreams, you can use video at each stage of your event.

Step One: Generate Interest

Generate interest in your event with a video promo, and make it to fit your budget.

Upload a polished promo to your YouTube page and drop links to it in your email newsletters. Or check out Ripl for marketing videos you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and which can be created using stock images and text.

Step Two: Invite People In

If you have a Facebook event page, populate it with behind-the-scenes livestreams during the event. Are you expecting to make a big announcement? Generate buzz with backstage videos. This can give attendees an inside look and make people who couldn’t attend still feel like they are part of it.

Your guests will be sharing their own social pics and stories, so think about going live in this fun, casual way on Snapchat and Instagram too.

Step Three: Celebrate Success Together

Your event is over, but the good feelings remain. No one wants a fun night to end, so think of ways to keep celebrating with your audience.

Collect your footage from the night and assemble a recap video to post on your YouTube channel. You can share it with attendees as a followup and keep it on hand to help market annual events as they come back around.

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Craft Your Out-of-Office Email

Yellow sticky note with to-do list reading "To do: Relax, take it easy, have fun"

Rejuvenation is especially important in marketing.

Fast-paced environments, exciting challenges, and frequent deadlines can be both thrilling and stressful. Even if marketers are happy in their industry, they can still feel overloaded and in need of a break.

Yes, you can and should take a vacation. Time off can help you reduce stress and feel refreshed. Vacations are vital for our mental health and wellbeing.

But what does a break look like for today’s digital marketers? With communications seamlessly integrated into our personal and professional lives, unplugging can take on different meanings.

Do you still check email on vacation? Do you log off Twitter but stay on Instagram? Do you try a digital detox and vow to take a break from it all?

Whatever level you choose, there are apps to help you unwind—and ways to put your apps to work while you take time to play.

Mark Your Calendar

Of course, before you go anywhere, you have to prepare for your trip.

Be clear with coworkers about when you will be gone and how much digital access you will have. Mark your shared calendar so you have a visual reminder of when you will be gone. Adjust timelines to accommodate your schedule. Set an automatic reply message for your work email so any incoming messages don’t go unrecognized.

A simple out-of-office message should cover the basics. Share the dates you will be unavailable and if there’s someone else a person should contact in your absence.

Direct Folks to Your Work

If you feel fancy, your out-of-office message is also an opportunity to generate interest in your skills or company.

While folks wait for your return, you can direct them to a colleague for help or even direct them to check out examples of your recent work. Also, remember to include necessary contact information. You can even direct folks trying to get in touch to your social channels.

Just because you’re away from your email doesn’t mean you stop communicating. An away message is an unexpected opportunity to surprise and delight. Invite potential clients to catch up with your work and get a feel of who you are and how you might help them upon return.

Avoid Digital Overload

When it comes to breaking from our devices, we may stand in our own way. But if you decide to check out of the office without checking out of all your apps, there are ways to monitor your usage.

Before you leave for vacation, set rules for yourself that will help you stay away from the office virtually. Uninstall your work email account from your phone. Turn off push notifications.

You can still upload your favorite vacation pics to Facebook, just steer clear of LinkedIn. Use apps like Swarm to discover new places, but turn WhatsApp on silent.

Avoid the digital overload and you’ll have a more refreshing time away from the office.

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Your Inbox Knows Your Birthday

How can you make your digital well wishes feel authentic?

People love to feel special. Keeping track of birthdays and milestones can be a special way to stay in touch with customers and clients.

Coupons, discounts, and freebies are great birthday perks. But as it becomes easier to send automated greetings—and more sites and shops opt to fill inboxes with digital hellos—it can start to feel impersonal.

Under the headline “Happy Birthday! Just Don’t Open Your Inbox” the New York Times reported on the growing “feeling of malaise surrounding one’s birthday in the digital age.” Experts and email receivers alike commented that too many messages can lead to a disconnect between business and audience.

“When we’re receiving birthday messages, that’s a personal thing. We feel like we’re seen and we mean something to that person,” Dr. Nicole Beurkens, a clinical psychologist at Horizons Developmental Resource Center in Caledonia, Mich., says in the article. “The tone of that really changes if we start to feel like the other person is just using that for themselves. That doesn’t feel good.”

So, what can we do as marketers to celebrate with our people without overstepping?

Keep it on the small scale

Small businesses have a chance to shine when it comes to personalized greetings. After all, you know your clients and customers. You see them in person and interact regularly.

By being small, you likely already have a closer relationship with your audience. When you send that happy birthday email, you can visualize the person on the receiving end. Your regulars will enjoy a little recognition from their favorite local stop.

Focus on being authentic and unforgettable

While there’s still room to wish clients and customers a happy birthday, it’s understandable marketers may be worried about overstuffing inboxes. Don’t forget your email best practices. Know your audience. Create a strong subject line.

But, if you are concerned your email will get lost in the shuffle, think of an alternative. Include an automatic birthday perk in a members program clients can claim by speaking up at the register. Invite customers to opt into a birthday rewards program. Switch from digital greetings to a more personalized print greeting.

Save the birthday greetings for one day a year

Instead of sending out messages for everyone, invite everyone to celebrate at once. Turn “happy birthday to you” into “happy birthday to us.” Invite clients to join you in marking your business anniversary.

During the month, week, or day of your anniversary, introduce specials, discounts, and more. Include members and regulars on an anniversary party, so they feel like part of the family. Let your customers and clients know that inviting them in on your special day is what growing another year older is all about.

Whatever you decide, do it with your own personal style. When you stay true to your brand, you stand out from the crowd.

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Your Messy Inbox

It’s been said that a messy desk is a sign of genius. OK, so what does a cluttered inbox mean?

As personal notes, promotional messages, invitations and subscriptions flow in every hour on the hour, our inboxes quickly fill up. According to technology market research firm Radicati, the average office worker receives about 90 emails a day. How can we keep track of everything?

Journalist and economist Tim Harford thinks a little digital disorganization isn’t a bad thing. The author of Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives suggests there’s a benefit to embracing chaos.

When faced with the choice to clean or not to clean, we create our own systems, he says.

“It turns out that usually leaving it on your desk is a better strategy,” Harford said in an interview. “It looks disorganized. It looks messy. But your desk is actually organizing itself. The good stuff you’re touching rises to the top of the piles of paper and the stuff you’re not touching goes to the bottom.”

Perhaps in being messy, Harford thinks, we also embrace creativity and autonomy. We are not constricted by rules and wasting time categorizing our thoughts and conversations, but keeping what is important front and center.

Indeed, his claims are also backed up by the way we traditionally work in email. A University of California Santa Cruz study found that while people may in fact use their own complex folder systems to store and retrieve important emails, a lot of the time it’s faster and more natural to simply use an email search feature.

So where do we go from here? Perhaps it’s best to have a limited system, but not go overboard when it comes to tags and folders. Create too many rules, and you may find it difficult to follow them all.

Remember, Harford writes: “Life cannot be controlled. Life itself is messy.”

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Don’t Forget These Personalization Tips

Data, data, data. People crave a personal connection online and in the real world. Thanks to the wealth of social media and marketing insights we’re now able to collect, we can easily innovate to customize the user experience in ways previously unimaginable.

Among the social media and marketing trends that stand out this year, personalization is a big one. It’s connected to email marketing, online advertising and influencer partnerships, and, when used effectively, it can increase customer loyalty.

But this is no robotic trend. We can’t just press a button and see personalization in play. Well, we can, but that doesn’t mean we should. In fact, blindly personalizing messages without thought of how, when or why can hurt a relationship.

A customized user experience happens when we employ technology with a human touch. Working with both our intuition and our insights, we can focus on bringing the best to our clients and audiences.

Although some of the toys for customization may be new, the thought process behind it relies on old standbys. Asking the right questions about your clients can make a world of difference. We know this from our beloved audience personas, who—by the way—can really help sort out which customization options are key. Who is in your audience? Where are they on social media? How do they like to connect?

Research shows that consumers crave relevant customized experiences. Why wouldn’t they, if it makes their daily lives easier and their choices more meaningful? When we talk about customization, we’re talking about putting the focus on the client and creating a connection through thoughtful choices and options.

It may be tempting to act fast and surge forward to maximize the returns customization can bring. But don’t be afraid to slow down. In fact, you may have to. Remember that data, data, data? It takes time to go through it.

You have to consider what your customers want, including:

  • How they want to connect
  • What a meaningful interaction looks like to them
  • How they would like to be addressed (are you on a first-name basis?)
  • Where they like to consume their news (are they likely to follow a link or would they prefer to stay within a platform or email?)

Truly thinking about these answers can improve the experience for both you and your followers. Think about customization from all sides. Sometimes it can be as simple as choosing the right time to send your email.

That’s right. Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to customization is choosing the right time to hit send. Scheduling an email for a Friday afternoon won’t reach office workers who have already checked out, but planning an Instagram post that will catch their eye during their evening scroll might be a better fit.

Don’t get distracted by bells and whistles. Dial it back to your core questions and think about what would make for a meaningful interaction. That’s the best form of personalization.

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How to Create Compelling Subject Lines

In today’s highly digital environment, one’s email inbox is constantly full of emails all competing for the recipient’s time and attention. So how do you make your email stand out and be one that will be opened, maybe even read, rather than immediately deleted or skipped over?

The majority of people spend a mere second to determine if the email is something they want to read or discard. If the subject line isn’t captivating or compelling enough it will get skipped over, even though the email may have valuable information for them. Research shows that 47% of recipients open email based on the subject line alone. That one-line description is your first and only shot at connecting with your audience.

There are many guidelines that you can follow when crafting your subject lines. The tactics for developing impactful subject lines vary, but we’ve gathered the guidelines that can help improve your email marketing results.

 

Keep it short.

There are several reasons to keep the subject line short, for one, you need to be able to quickly grab your audience’s attention.

Another reason is due to a large number of emails that are opened on mobile devices. Subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long. Look at your subject lines and remove any fluff words or words that matter less and don’t contribute to the message. Remove words like ‘newsletter’ as these may actually decrease your open rate.

 

Add personalization.

Personalize your subject lines. Use the name of the recipient or location. When you use personalization it adds a sense of rapport, especially when a name is used. Research has shown that emails that included a recipient’s first name in the subject line had higher open and click-through rates than emails that did not. (Read more about adding personalization to your marketing strategy.)

 

Make it interesting.

Your subject line should be interesting and unique. Tell the recipient what’s inside your email in an interesting way that will capture their attention. Pose a compelling question, provide a call to action, or incentivize them to learn more by opening the email.

 

Provide value and invoke trust.

As with most marketing, email marketing should include a value proposition. The subject line should communicate the value of the email and how it will benefit your audience. Be sure to be convincing and provide information on how it will benefit their lives or their business.

While your brand should emit an element of trust, trustworthiness should be a priority when sending emails. Your email content should match your subject line. Don’t make false promises.

 

Lastly, test out your subject lines. Your audience may respond better to “Sally, your exclusive offer awaits!”  than “Get your exclusive offer today!”. Test your subject lines by doing an A/B split and see which gets a better result. With A/B testing you can try out different versions of subject lines.

 

We hope these guidelines will help you formulate your next subject line. If you need assistance with your subject lines and your email marketing, contact us at connect@epicmc2.com. We’d be happy to help.

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Email Marketing Best Practices

email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools your business can use. With well-earned opted-in subscribers, email marketing has perhaps the largest opportunity to be a return on your investment in turning subscribers into engaged customers.

 

But where do you begin?

Terms like click-through rate, conversion rate, or A/B split testing may sound daunting at first. We’ve done the legwork for you and identified email marketing best practices to kick your email marketing into high-gear!

 

First things, first: define your audience.

Think about who is on your email list. You may want to segment them into different categories such as ages 18-34, repeat customers, or customers you haven’t heard from in a while. You can use a tool like Constant Contact or Mailchimp to create email segments. You should promote your email sign-up on places like your website, blog, and landing pages.

 

Subject Lines, the most important part of your email.

You’ll want to create emails that people read, click through and encourage further engagement with your brand. First, you’ll want to persuade subscribers to open your email with a compelling subject line. The subject line is perhaps the most important component as it determines whether or not your email will be clicked on and opened. You may find success with a longer subject line, or subject lines with keywords. Use A/B Splits to test subject lines out and adjust accordingly. Try using action verbs and give readers a taste of what’s inside (while providing value). Don’t overdo the caps or emojis, readers will find this spammy. We all receive dozens of emails a day, what’s going to make you open an email?

 

Call-to-Actions

Create compelling call-to-actions (referred to as CTAs). In the body of the email you’ll want to include CTAs – this could be in the form of links to your latest offering, a flash sale, your blog, or an option to download your latest ebook, and more. Make sure to provide context to your CTA – to earn clicks try answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” Call to actions allow for consumers to continue down the consumer journey and hopefully to a conversion.

 

 

Email Design

Whether you use a template, hire a designer, or have a developer on hand to code your email, your email design should align with your branding, especially that found on your website. It should be obvious who the email is coming from, the transition from email to landing page or website should be seamless.

Create an email checklist before you send any email: do you have the right image to text ratio?  “Image only” emails go into spam, images may be turned off by users, and images may take more time to load. Try 80% images and 20% text as a good rule of thumb.

Do you have a text version available to support your HTML email? Having both versions ensures that however people choose to view emails in their browser that they are able to do so. Did you proofread the copy? Did you test to see how your email appears on different browsers or mobile devices?

 

Email Performance and Insights

The best way to evaluate the success of your email marketing campaign is to review your engagement after each email send. You should look for key engagement indicators including how many people opened your email, how many people clicked on a link in your email (and what links they clicked on), and who unsubscribed. These are valuable insights to determine if your subscribers are finding your emails useful. Watch these metrics over time to determine how often you should be sending an email – if engagement drops off when you send an email every week, try stepping down to once every other week or once a month, even. You don’t want to fatigue your audience.

 

A/B Testing

Another tried and true tip when it comes to email marketing is to A/B test your email. Put simply: this means changing your subject line, design, subject matter, or CTAs one element at a time, then sending your email to a significant sample size. Why this is important: you can make more informed future email marketing decisions about what gets your recipients to open and click on your content.

 

Make sure the unsubscribe option is obvious in your emails. Yes, you want everyone to love every email you send but sometimes this just isn’t the case – and it’s better than ending up in the spam folder.

Finanlly, send email that is valuable to your users and that will ultimately strengthen your relationship with them…that will keep your customers coming back for more!

Need help getting started? Drop us a line at connect@epicmc2.com and we’ll invigorate your email marketing!

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