Building a subscriber list is a priority for many businesses, but one wrong step and you may find yourself in violation of the law. In 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) was introduced to protect consumers from receiving unwanted spam emails.
If your business is found guilty of sending spam, you will face harsh financial penalties and your campaigns won’t be as effective as they could be. Make sure your strategy isn’t violating anti-spam laws by avoiding these six common mistakes:
Making It Hard to Unsubscribe
You must make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails. If they have to jump through hoops to opt-out, you’re violating the law. You must also be sure that they are taken off the subscriber list within ten days of their request.
Misleading Subject Lines
What you say in your email subject lines must correspond to the content of your message. Readers must know what they are opening before they do so. Avoid using language that may trigger spam filters.
The content of your ads should make your promotion clear. Avoid making subscribers navigate the fine print – you’ll get fined if they do.
4. Leaving Out Your Mailing Address
CAN-SPAM states that businesses have to include a physical address in all You should also present contact information clearly, particularly if you send no-reply emails.
Ambiguous Sender Information
Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
Not Keeping an Eye on Partners
When outsourcing your email marketing, know that you will be liable for any infractions that partners make on your behalf. The penalty for a violation is steep—$16,000 per email—so monitor your outside agencies to ensure they are compliant.
Educating yourself on CAN-SPAM is the first step to making sure your emails stay within the guidelines of the law. Learn more about anti-spam initiatives by connecting with the USA TODAY NETWORK in Nashville, Tennessee, where we will make sure your strategies are always compliant. Contact us today.
Data-driven marketing decisions can enhance your email marketing campaigns and boost open and click through rates. A new article by G/O Digital offers insight into the process that companies can take to increase email marketing response rates.
Three Steps to Boost Email Marketing Success
According to G/O Digital, customers today need more of an incentive than ever before to open and respond to emails. Although customers practically sleep with their phones under their pillow, with a Pew study indicating that 44 percent actually do keep their smartphones nearby when they go to bed, it’s still not enough to push your emails to the top of the inbox. To make your emails stand out, two tactics are needed: segmentation and personalization.
Segmentation is a process by which data is used to group email addresses around data points that reflect key customer interests. Segmented lists can then be refined by additional data, such as future campaign response data, to enhance existing segments or create new ones.
Personalization means creating an email that speaks directly to a customer’s wants, needs and interests. It goes beyond personalizing the salutation field and offers content that immediately piques customers’ interests.
G/O Digital offers a three-step process to introduce companies to this concept. It’s a good idea to perform basic list hygiene, such as purging your email list of bad addresses, before starting the segmentation and personalization process.
Segmentation: Start by running your email data. Examine the open rates, click data, and other pertinent data you’ve gathered on your customers to generate a potential segmentation list. The list should include umbrella terms around which customer interests cluster. These form segments for future marketing. It’s also a good idea to create buyer profiles for the different customer types you have and are trying to reach. These will include information such as demographics, where they are in the purchase journey and ways they have interacted with your company in the past.
Include Personalization: Develop personalized content within your segmented email campaigns by tailoring the content to each segment’s needs. For example, if you have a segment that is brand new to your company and might need a little more information on why they should do business with you before they even consider a purchase, you could send them testimonials and “why us” information that they would find helpful. If you have another segment that is ready to buy, sending them a strong offer for the products they’ve been considering is a good play.
Test Campaigns: Continuously A/B test within your segmented campaigns to determine which subject lines, offers, calls to action and so on perform best for each segment. Test only one variable at a time. With each campaign, collect additional data and use it to enhance and better define your existing segments.
Once you’ve gathered data on your new email marketing campaigns, compare it to established benchmarks. G/O Digital states that emails with personalized messages had an open rate of 17.6 percent compared to those without personalization, which had only an 11.4 percent rate. How does this stack up against your own benchmarks? Test new methods, measure, and repeat what works to continually improve your email marketing response rates.
If you’re looking for more help with your email marketing, contact USA TODAY NETWORK in Nashville, Tennessee. Our marketing experts love helping local businesses grow through effective, integrated strategies.
Many small businesses have already discovered the power of email marketing. This tactic is effective because it allows companies to connect with customers at each stage of the buyer’s cycle. This strategy also offers an attractive return on investment, which is great for businesses with smaller budgets. On average, many businesses experience an ROI of about $44.25 for every dollar spent on email marketing.
The best way to get a return on your email marketing investment is by continuously making an effort to expand your email list to include new leads. Here are three tips for small business that want to grow their email marketing lists:
Make sure that your opt-in prompt is clearly visible.
People will not sign up for your email list if they do not know that it is available. Make your sign-up prompt prominent on the page. You may want to utilize pop-ups or sliders to ensure that visitors cannot miss the opportunity to opt-in for your company’s emails. Another great strategy is to make sure that the prompt shows up on every page. That way, no matter which page brings the visitor in, they will have the option to sign up for emails.
Require an email address to access specific content.
You have created e-books and whitepapers that you are ready to share with prospective customers. Why not ask for their email address in return for this content? This is a great way to not only grow your email list but also show new visitors what your company has to offer.
Encourage your current subscribers to share your emails.
The first step to getting your subscribers to share your emails is creating effective and compelling email content that makes readers want to forward the email to others. Once you have the content, make it easy for readers to share by adding social share buttons or forwarding options in your email content.
Does your business have a targeted email marketing strategy? If not, USA TODAY NETWORK in Nashville, Tennessee would love to hear from you. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business get results from your email strategy efforts.
“You must be from Tennessee. Because you’re the only TEN I SEE.”
Did you swoon at the sheer poetry of this romantic overture? Did it spark your interest in a potential relationship? No? Well, apply this scenario to your inbox. You wouldn’t open an email that uses a lame or overused subject line, and neither would your customers.
Nearly all self service email marketing services like MailChimp and Emma automatically alert you when you’ve got some real no-no’s in your subject line such as weird symbols, a fake FWD: or an ALL CAPS SUBJECT LINE, so I won’t delve into the things that will land your emails in people’s SPAM folders. Instead, I’m going to give you 10 tips to get your emails read.
1. First things first. In case you haven’t been faithfully reading my other riveting posts on effective email marketing, be sure to have your proverbial ducks in a row with your email strategy before you ever get down to the important business of writing awe-inspiring subject lines. Is your email’s content relevant to your customers’ needs and does it provide information they will find valuable? Yes? Good. You may proceed.
2. Identify yourself. It sounds like common sense, but be clear and concise about who you are in your “From” field and keep it consistent. Here’s a thought—just use your brand’s name. In some cases, you might want to send a note from a particular person, in which case it’s a good practice to use something like “Jeremy at USA TODAY NETWORK TENNESSEE” that keeps your brand’s name in the “From” field. NEVER use an email address or website in the From field unless your company’s name is a URL. It’s sometimes also a good idea to include your company’s name in the subject line if it will add to the interest, value, clarity or credibility of the message, like “USA TODAY NETWORK TENNESSEE Digital Conference starts TOMORROW.”
3. TELL what’s inside, don’t SELL what’s inside, as our mates over at MailChimp put it. If you’ve done #1 right, you shouldn’t have to shout, bribe, beg or trick someone into opening your email—they’ll want to if you just tell them what to expect when they click. This doesn’t mean you can be plain jane with your description; it just means entice with substance, not hype. Everyone avoids people and brands that try too hard.
4. Make them care. Make sure they know why your email is important—is it timely or time-sensitive information? Is it specific to their interests or their account? Is it a trending topic at the moment? Be sure your subject line communicates the information they care about and piques their interest while staying short and sweet—preferably under 50 characters. Does your sale end tomorrow? Are they the first to know about an event or product? Are you solving a real problem they face? Is it a story that’s too good to miss? Again, substance not hype, but make it irresistible.
5. Don’t cry wolf. I know I’ve just finished encouraging you to make every email irresistible, but that doesn’t mean you should constantly use the same sense of urgency, tone or message. If you do, people will begin to tune you out. Keep it fresh and mix it up. For example, you can’t always be having a HUGE sale or it will quickly just become white noise.
6. Everyone likes a good teaser. As long as it’s relevant to your content, feel free to grab people’s attention in creative ways. Give them just enough information to get them hooked, like “Promise not to drool on our Fall collection.” Asking your customer a question that gets them thinking in the right vein is also a good tactic. If you’re a travel agency you might ask, “Have you ever curled your toes in sand this white?” and then show them gorgeous, pristine beach getaways when they open your email.
7. NEVER bait and switch. Everyone hates being played, so if you trick them—even unintentionally—they’ll treat you to the unsubscribe button. Common ways to commit this error in your subject line without meaning to include ambiguous messaging, offers that have unrealistic conditions (like a low interest rate for which you have to have perfect credit to qualify) or misrepresenting your offer (like saying something is free, but really it’s a BOGO).
8. Make it clear what you want them to do. You’re engaging them in a conversation, so be sure they know how to respond, such as “Last day to RSVP for USA TODAY NETWORK TENNESSEE cocktail party.” Once they actually open your email, be sure to provide a very clear call to action and directional cues (buttons, links, etc.) so they can’t miss it.
9. Optimize your preview text. Most email clients like Google, Outlook and mobile device email clients show a snippet of your email’s content in the preview pane after the subject line. Some email marketing services like MailChimp will allow you to specify your preview text, while others will automatically pull from your first line of text. In either case, be sure that text is just as compelling and relevant as your subject line without being redundant.
10. Test and retest. A great way to learn what messages are going to resonate with your audience and result in higher open and click through rates is to continually A/B test your subject lines. Keep tabs on your findings—what length is most effective, what kinds of information or offers, what tone, etc. You can do this several ways, but one way is to take a sample from your email list and A/B test it before you send to the entire list.
USA TODAY NETWORK TENNESSEE offers targeted email campaigns to help reach your customers. From auto intenders to mothers living in homes valued at $200k plus, we have many options to help you reach your audience with our email marketing services. Just look how one dealership sold 39 vehicles from just two email blasts. Call us today to see how we can help you reach your business goals.
Email marketing done right is a lot like starting a relationship and keeping it interesting. It takes some skill and finesse to strike up that first conversation and even more to keep it going. In my last post, I talked about the value of email marketing to a targeted “rented” list and promised I would speak more into the concept of growing and nurturing your own list. So, here we go.
Building that email marketing list…
We’re all obsessed with it and we should be. If you don’t have an effective email marketing strategy in place to build your opt-in email list with the people you really want on it, I’m about to give you some advice, free of charge.
Whenever appropriate and with plenty of courtesy and tact, you should be asking people for their emails—at the register, on the phone, on your website and landing pages, in ads, at events…you get the idea. You can’t afford to miss an opportunity. But you can’t just say something like “Join our newsletter!” That’s akin to holding up a sign that says, “Please let us SPAM you.” You have to provide a good reason and enough perceived value in order for them to give you their data, so tell them upfront what they’re signing up for. Is it savings that only email subscribers receive? Being the first to know about new products that will change their lives? Or is it joining a conversation on a topic they feel passionately about? Or a combination of all of the above?
Some brands build their lists by offering incentives such as a giveaway or some other big flash in the pan, which are fine as long as they are relevant and designed to attract the right kind of customer: one who is genuinely interested in what they have to offer and has the intention and means to be a customer after the initial offer. For example, if you’re a dermatologist, you’re better off offering a free or discounted screening to people who schedule their first appointment online (giving you their email) than offering them, say, a chance to win an iPad mini. This may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses get it wrong and get a lot of low-quality leads as a result.
“Now that we’ve found [email] love, what are we gonna do with it?”
Well, the first thing you need to do is avoid the common pitfall of treating your email relationship like a transaction—send email, make money. The people on your list are just that—people. And they have the audacity to want to be treated like people, not a means to your company’s end. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use email to sell, it just means it’s wise to stay mindful of the kinds of information people actually want, where they are in their relationship with you and how they want to be spoken to. Which segues to my next point: staying relevant. Doing so will ultimately benefit your bottom line.
Segmentation is targeting specific messages to different types of subscribers on your list, based on criteria such as their interests, purchase history, how they joined your list, demographic data (birthday, gender, etc.), and actions they’ve taken, to name a few. It is a lesser-practiced art in email marketing, but it’s probably the most important. In fact, “email marketers estimate 30 percent of email revenue derives from targeting to specific segments.” — DMA’s National Client Email Report (2013).
Keeping your emails relevant keeps people engaged and on your list. For example, I recently opted out of an auto dealership’s email list because I was frequently bombarded with new vehicle offers…when I had just purchased one. They might have kept me on their list if they had looked at my purchase history and, based on where I was in my buying cycle, realized I would be more interested in time/mileage-appropriate service offers and friendly check-ins on how my new vehicle was working out for me. That’s segmentation 101.
“But, that sounds really labor-intensive,” you might say. Believe it or not, all of this can be automated as part of a dynamic “drip” email campaign—pre-scheduled emails triggered by a set timeline or customer behavior. A drip campaign will be unique to your particular business, but common emails might include welcome emails, suggested products based on purchase history, “We’ve missed you” emails to inactive customers, customer polls, etc. The bottom line: you need to get inside your customers’ heads and determine the most appropriate email strategy that will meet their needs.
A few closing tips that really merit their own posts (sorry):
Subject lines: these are what will get your email opened, so choose them wisely. Think conversation-starter, not bad pick-up line. Avoid anything that will trigger someone’s mental spam filter (i.e., cheesy symbols, overly salesy language, etc.) and make sure you’re describing what is actually inside the email in the most intriguing, personable way possible. Many times, posing a question that piques someone’s interest is a good way forward.
Design: the main thing is to make sure your emails are smartphone and tablet-friendly, since nearly half of all emails are opened on a mobile device (source: Knotice). Many email companies like G/O Digital (our digital fulfillment company) and MailChimp offer responsive email templates that will automatically scale and reconfigure based on the device. Sometimes, you need fully designed gorgeous HTML emails, while at other times you just need a simple plain text email (especially if sending a personal note from a staff member). Consider what lends the most credibility to your message. Whatever you do, don’t send an email that’s just an image. Most email service providers automatically disable images and your message will likely never see the light of day, even with alt text (which you should always use for your images).
Response: make it easy for someone to take the appropriate action with a clear call-to-action, visual cues and the best possible click-thru destination (i.e., a specific page on your site or landing page). I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve seen that just announced something like a sale and didn’t give the user anything to do about it!
If you’d like more detail on any of the points I’ve covered or something else related to email marketing, please comment below or get in touch with one of our strategists. We’d love to help you succeed in your email marketing endeavors.
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