Guest Post: 6 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Marketing

My most recent guest blog post, as featured on Wednesday, January 4th post on Hubspot blog:

Do you remember creating your first email marketing campaign? Those emails were going to catapult your business to new levels, blow your content’s ROI through the roof, and make you an instant digital mogul in your industry.Spice Up Your Email Marketing

How long did that excitement last? Are you still in the honeymoon phase, or do you find yourself staring at your email templates bored, uninspired, and unsure of where to go next?

Whichever way you feel about your email marketing, whether you’re on your first campaign or the hundredth, emails can fall flat and lose the appeal they once had for both you and your subscribers. So how do you bring the spark back into a boring email program and inject some va-va-voom into your campaigns? It’s all about approaching your email with a little creativity. Here are 6 ways to spice up your email marketing the next time your creativity (and email marketing ROI) needs a jolt.

1. Try On-the-Fly A/B Testing

For a marketer, there are few things more appealing than knowing whether your campaigns are successful while they are still in motion. In this sense, A/B testing is the sexiest email marketing feature there is! Nowadays, many email service providers (ESPs) have a feature built into their platforms that allows marketers to send and compare the performance of variables like subject line and “From” sender names to sample audiences, with the winning email getting deployed to the remainder of the audience.

2. Crowdsource Your Next Email Campaign

As hard as you try, it’s sometimes impossible to know exactly what your subscribers want, which is why your next email should flat-out ask them. Survey your customers to see what they want more of, less of, or what would make them visit your site more. Not only do prospects and customers appreciate your consideration of their opinion, but you may also be handed a brand new email campaign that your marketing department never would have thought of.

Although many ESPs have basic survey tools included, you can also collect information on your website through a customized landing page or a survey collection tool. Suggestions for what to ask might include their topic preferences for articles you produce, what sorts of deals would entice them to purchase more often, what additional products and services they’d like your company to offer, and what sorts of service updates would be helpful to hear from your company.

[Continue Reading on the HubSpot Blog…]

Getting Targeted As The Dog Days Dwindle

Originally written for and posted on ListEngage’s Blog: 

It’s the end of August, one of the traditionally slowest months for productivity and growth for many industries — and maybe you found a little dip in your email marketing ROI this summer? All of those “Out of Offices” and clicking latencies are precisely the reason it’s time to restructure your email goals — and plan to hit your targets dead-on once “school’s back in session”.

So this summer, as the dog days dwindle – why not swing back into action with

3 Fool-proof Ways to Deliver Targeted Email Marketing:

Send Emails Based on Attributes: Your “Master List” is a living database of all of your many, and uniquely different subscribers. If you’re a sporting goods store who knows their customers favorite sports you can pre-determine that while Joey the runner from Chicago, IL may want nothing to do with your “Fall Footbal Blowout Sale”, Coach Bill in Plano, TX might be looking for all new padding for his defensive line. By sorting on the “Sports” profile attribute and sending the email to Coach while avoiding Joey, you’ve made one football fanatic ecstatic and saved another customer the grief of deleting another email from his inbox!

Drip Campaigns: Someone shows up on your circuit board website and asks for a quote, but certainly isn’t ready to buy. They leave their name and email, and you send them a series of emails based on what you know about your buying cycle. Day 3 after quote, a handy “What to Consider When Buying Circuit Boards Email”; Day 8 after quote, a reminder email; Day 11 after quote a discount coupon worth 10%; and if they happen to buy somewhere in between the mailings stop.

Dynamic Content: Don’t want to make 50 emails with varying content for the 50 states you send to from your Daily Deal website? With dynamic content, a feature that ListEngage is fully versed in, you can create one email and define what content you want to go into a template based off of what data you have on the subscriber. With dynamic content you can send one email and simultaneously feature the daily “Lobster Roll Deal” in Boston and the daily “Wine Tasting Deal” in San Francisco! It’s easy enough to pull together and a tremendous time-saver that delivers targeted results.

What other email marketing efforts has your team taken on and had success? Leave a thought below.

A/B Testing Takes the Guesswork out of Email

Originally written for and posted on the ListEngage blog.

Who hasn’t heard the phrase “Test, test and test again” when it comes to email marketing? Smart marketers have always understood the power of A/B testing their campaigns but the process has been cumbersome, and time consuming. Checking to see which emails perform best when, or with different subject lines and offers has always been a challenge that emarketers have had to take on manually.

Send one email at 10:03 am and one at 2:07pm with separate subject lines and then spend the next 3 days poring through the data, analyzing the results trying to incorporate the findings into your next campaign.

A/B testing has been inefficient to say the least—and most importantly, marketers have really only been able to view their insights in the rearview mirror in the past… but not anymore. Now, leading ESPs like ExactTarget have made A/B testing easy for marketers providing real-time emails, real-time testing and real-time results. Now email marketers can send 2 versions of a campaign simultaneously, measure open rates in real-time, pause sends and decide which campaign to launch to their “master list”.

What does real-time A/B Testing mean for email marketers then? Less guesswork and more results.

A/B split testing allows you to put your best campaign forward in Real-Time by monitoring various versions of the same email, and determining which is performing best. Users are then capable of evaluating test results and sending the “winning message” to subscribers.

The way that is works is simple:

  1. A user can go into the system and choose a campaign to set up in A/B Testing.
  2. The user can then set up their test variables, like:
    • From Name
    • Subject Line
    • Send Date/Time
  3. Users then decide their “test audience” say, 20% of their master list
  4. Once the test has been sent, users can then evaluate the test results and…
  5. Voila! Send the most successful campaign to the remainder of their subscribers on that particular list/campaign.

A creative subject line, a lunch time pick-me-up email, or sending from a well known person in your company may be the difference between email success and a big “flop” of an email, so make sure you’re always continuing to test, edit, and try new things in an effort to achieve overall email accolades. You, your boss, and your subscribers will all be psyched at the more targeted messages and awesome results!

How to Make Subscribers Share Your Emails Socially

So now that you know Why No One Wants to Share Your Emails Socially from our post earlier this week, we’ve got some foolproof ideas to get your subscribers to actually start sharing your email marketing campaigns! Here are our Top 5 Suggestions for Making Your Emails more “Share Friendly”:

1) Share in Pieces: make sure there’s delineation between your pieces of content and let each separate piece be shareable. Odds are people will share a few paragraphs or an interesting article over an entire email on their social networks.

2) Show ‘Em WHAT and HOW They’re Sharing: most social subscribers understand the Facebook “Like” button, Facebook “Share” button and Twitter “Tweet” button. Even though there’s no Javascript allowed in emails – you can trick your emails into being able to host these functions. Get Code Here.

3) Make Your Email LOOK Social: Gone are the days of billboard marketing to your subscribers. Show them they’re a valuable part of the conversations by featuring their quotes in noticeable quote bubbles, highlighting “top users” (with their avatars of course!), and showing off the networks and conversations your brand has in the social-sphere. Think of the UI of popular social sites and try to take the best features, look/feel into your emails.

4) Prompt a Response:
 ask questions that will generate a response, make it look social and link it to a discussion on your blog, Twitter, or link to a YouTube video and ask for comments below the video – then include responses in your next mailing.

5) Embrace the Forwarding: Ok, so maybe there’s no way to check how many people just click forward in their email client, but take solace knowing that email was the first social medium and sometimes people do actually use it to share, connect, and comment in their own small networks. You might not be able to measure it, but it’s still happening!

Now go forth and get sharing!!!

Why No One Wants to Share Your Emails Socially (and How to Make Them)

Sharing Email

This post was part of a 2 part series originally posted on the ListEngage blog.

Marketers have been talking about “Making Emails Social” for awhile now— but how many people are actually having success with this mantra? Even though today there are many ways to integrate sharing functions into email like – ShareThis, AddThis and Forward to a Friend, social–sharing still hasn’t hit its stride.

So, what’s the holdup that’s keeping people from clicking, sharing, forwarding and (ultimately) getting your brand in front of more people?

Here are the Top 5 Things that Keep a Subscriber from Sharing Emails Socially:

1) What the heck am I sharing? (Uncertainty) – If you’ve placed a “ShareThis” button in your email campaigns and aren’t seeing a lot of clicks and sharing, you might ask yourself – “do these people know what they are sharing?” – do you make it obvious with visual cues and an explanation?

2) Where does that link even go? (Skepticism/Confusion) – Your users might be leery if they’re unsure of what happens after they click a “Share” function. Will they have time to review it before it posts? What will it look like?

3) Who would I want to share this with? (Common Interests) – You are uniquely you and sometimes your interests are very specific. Odds are, many of your contacts might not be interested in the personalized and specific emails you get in your inbox every day… which brings us to our next question.

4) Why would I want to share this? (Motivation/Value) – Great, you’ve just digested an email with some goodies in it from one of your favorite brands… but unless it has really compelling content, value or an offer you’re not going to bring it to anyone’s attention on your social networks.

And most obviously there’s the question of:

5) Why don’t I just Forward this to them directly? (Ease of Use) – Most users want to expend the least amount of energy possible sharing their info… and sometimes a quick forward from your own address is best.

Stay tuned and find out how to get them to share your emails in our next blog post (coming later this week).

ExactTarget Guest Blog Post: Takeaways from Connections 2010

After attending ExactTarget’s annual emarketing conference, I was featured as a guest blogger on their blog. Read full post on ExactTarget Blog

Connections 2010

Kim’s Biggest Takeaways from Connections 2010

Digital Marketing. Email Marketing. Social Media. Conversations. Content. Blogging. Tweets. Research, research, research. Sir Richard Branson (whaaat?!?), Scott Dorsey, Joel Book, Jesse Engle, Ann Handley, Jeff Rohrs, Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget, CoTweet, BestBuy, Groupon, Coca-Cola, Citi, Hotels.com, McDonald’s, Threadless, Forrester Research, and the list most certainly goes on. Train! Wooo!

Where else could you possibly find this many people, tweets, and conversations all surrounding the future of online marketing? Flying into Indianapolis from Boston on Sunday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew there was a jam-packed schedule, plenty of learning, and “just a few” opportunities to have a good time as well. Whelp, I was –to be perfectly honest– blown away. It all started with ExactTarget Academy on Monday morning where I learned a bit about pitching my brand as a Partner Reseller before I scooted over to my CoTweet learning session. Oh boy, although the pressure was on, I passed my test (by the skin of my teeth!) and became one of the FIRST EVER certified graduates of ExactTarget Academy (I’m sure my mom will be proud!). Tuesday and Wednesday just seemed to blend into one giant connected orb of great networking and too much learning to fit in this little brain of mine. I couldn’t BELIEVE just how much #ET10 had to offer to its participants (and I’m not just talking about delicious mini-sliders and mashed potatoes in a martini glass!) and seriously, all of the thought-leadership, collaboration, and insightful research has made me a lifetime CONNECTIONS Brand-Fan. There’s no chance that I wouldn’t suggest Connections to a fellow marketer; it’s just too valuable and the ROI, though perhaps immeasurable, is certainly palpable. So, as I sit in the Marriott listening to the final thoughts of some of the smartest marketers in the U.S. (and perhaps the world?) and the biggest thought leaders in the industry without a doubt – I can’t help but clear my calendar for #ET11, (and #ET12, and #ET13…).

Email + Social Media: Your 1-2 e-Marketing Punch

Originally posted June 29, 2010

There’s been a lot of debate recently about the future of email: is it pushing forward stronger than ever or on the verge of extinction, about to be overrun by all-inclusive social networks?

As an e-marketing specialist, I find it hard to imagine the internet without email. No matter what you use email for, I believe that we, as online content consumers, will always need our inboxes to aggregate, create, organize, and search the hundreds of online data points we create daily as we navigate the web. Email is the only private online location where users can store and create content with very few limitations or restrictions. Where else can you manage your social networks, businesses, bills, family, friends, banks, job searches, and more in one location?

At ListEngage, we help our clients with email and social media marketing daily, so we see the benefits and drawbacks of each: email is a great relationship building tool but not a great prospect acquisition channel, while social media, if used intelligently, is ideal for prospect acquisition and qualification but lacks the “direct contact” that opt-in email does.

I’ve been really impressed with a company called Groupon lately, that seems to be using email and social media as a dynamic 1-2 punch for spreading their daily deals and messages. Click here to read more about the union of email and social media, and how Groupon is delivering a winning e-marketing TKO.