Tag Archives: email marketing tips

Email spending up, but watch for signs of overload

U.S. marketers are predicted to spend $2 billion on email marketing by 2014, amounting to an almost 11% compound annual growth rate, according to the latest forecast by Forrester Research.

Falling CPMs and high ROI are giving marketers more reason to rely on email as their primary direct marketing outreach, according to the “U.S. E-mail Marketing Forecast 2009 to 2014” report.

A major challenge for marketers to be on the lookout for is the use of email in social networks. Marketers will have to find a way to leverage social sharing tools in the same way they once used social and traditional inboxes.

But just because everyone’s doing it and spending a lot of money on it, doesn’t mean that this is the time for everyone to go into email overload.

You may be looking at email as an effective way to boost sales while your budget is feeling the pinch, but turning up the volume of emails you send customers could backfire in a big way.

“E-mail is such a low-cost channel to send that people have the impression they can keep pulling that lever,” said Aaron Smith, principal and co-founder of Smith-Harmon, a Seattle-based e-mail marketing, strategy and creative services provider.

“There’s a saturation level in the inbox that is unprecedented right now, and you are far more likely to oversaturate your customer base, upset them and turn them off.” (BtoB Magazine)

When you’re feeling the pressure to push out more emails, Smith offers some strong arguments on why it could be a bad idea in a recent BtoB Magazine article.

Why email overload can be a bad idea:

  • Lower lifetime value. The average value of an email address is $118. When subscribers start ignoring your messages or unsubscribe from your emails, that value quickly diminishes.
  • Higher spam complaints. Even if you’re sending to subscribers, they will start marking your emails as spam if you’re loading their inbox with more, but worthless messages.
  • Brand damage. It’s possible that a person can get so fed up with the amount of messages they receive from you, that they block you out entirely. Once they’re gone, it’s tough getting them back.

We’ve all had the joy of dealing with email overload in our personal inboxes. Turn those negative experiences into a chance to improve your marketing at work.

Improve your email marketing by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What standards do you have for emails subscriptions?
  • What motivates you to open an email? To click through in an email?
  • Why do you unsubscribe from mailing lists?

Understanding why you choose to subscribe, actively participate or unsubscribe from emails can give you an added insight into why your customers do the same.

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Effective list-growth tactics for B2B marketers

On-site registration and capturing information through call centers are the most effective email list-growth tactics for marketers, according to research by ExactTarget, Ball State University and the Email Marketers Club.

List rentals and outbound call-center attempts to solicit information are the least effective tactics, according to the email marketing research.

“Overall, the study found that the best way to grow email subscriber lists is to collect customers’ email addresses during times of high engagement and on occasions when the consumers’ perceive the marketer as adding value – at the point of sale, during online shopping and in-store via text messaging. These on-site list growth tactics rated as much as 60% higher than offline methods such as list rental and mass advertising.” (MarketingCharts)

Email subscription via text messaging is forecasted to grow by at least 500% in the next year, more than any other growth tactic, according to ExactTarget. They also predict that the practice of enabling subscribers to share email content with others in their social networks will increase almost 350% in 2009.

What are marketers’ top priorities for 2009?

  • 51% wanted to improve conversations
  • 41% will focus on improving email relevance
  • 38% are concerned with growing email lists
  • 5% list lowering costs as a top priority

The study also found a major rift in B2B vs. B2B email marketing. It turns out that B2B marketers are more successful in driving new subscriptions with ‘incentivized’ registration, while B2C marketers find more success with ‘non-incentivized’ subscriptions.

“The best performing list growth tactics are built on gathering subscriber data rather than hunting for it,’ said Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy. “Whether you are a B2B or a B2C marketer, the best way to grow your subscriber list is to collect information during customer-initiated interactions.” (Marketing Charts)

Email list-growth tactics for marketers

Email list-growth tactics for marketers

Direct mail’s death by email

The latest reports on direct mail show that it’s doomed, eternally doomed.

What’s to blame for direct mail’s sad demise? Email and online coupons.

“The kudzu-like creep of the Internet is about to claim its third analog victim,” according to the latest research report from research firm Borrell Associates.

“Direct mail has begun spiraling into what we believe is a precipitous decline from which it will never fully recover,” Borrell predicts. More specifically, it is projecting a 39% decline for direct mail over the next five years, from $49.7 billion in annual ad spending in 2008 to $29.8 billion by the end of 2013. (MediaPost)

If Borrell’s predictions pan out, direct mail will no longer be the top placeholder for ad revenue and will fall to the fourth spot. The leaders will then be the Web, broadcast TV and newspapers.

“Email advertising is indeed skyrocketing while its traditional counterpart plummets,” Borrell notes. “In fact, last year, email advertising quietly moved to the No. 1 online ad category spot, surpassing all other forms of interactive advertising.” Last year, advertisers spent $12.1 billion on email marketing, more than they spent on display/banner advertising or search advertising.

The firm is also forecasting that most of the growth in email marketing will be local. Borrell expects local email advertising to grow from $848 million in 2008, to an estimated $2 billion in 2013.

However, the report also warns against jumping into email marketing without being prepared for potential risks.

“Managing large e-mail marketing campaigns require database marketing expertise, a savvy sales force, adequate e-mail management software, familiarity with the rules and regulations and a lot of patience.”

Great B2B subject lines tell the truth

I know, I know … April Fool’s Day was a week ago, but this was too good to pass up sharing.

Next year when April 1st rolls around, make sure you don’t find yourself in someone’s blog post covering the worst examples of a bad April Fool’s joke and pay attention to the lesson outlined in a recent post from Andrew Lennon at the Daily Anchor.

Lesson one: Don’t use your Facebook status to try to get a rise out of your significant other on April Fool’s day.

You can take a look at the screen shot of an example of this bad April Fool’s joke here. When you joke that you’re worried about “how to break the news” to a boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook, chances are they’re not going to appreciate it. Even worse, all of your Facebook friends will be embarrassed for you and your bad decision.

Lesson two: If you’re going to joke around with your customers on April Fool’s Day, tell at least a half-truth.

On April 1, Brenthaven sent its customers an email with this subject line: “Today Only! Buy a Brenthaven – Get a FREE CAR!!!”

When customers opened the email, they found out that it wasn’t a joke — they would really receive a free car with their purchase. Unfortunately, they would never be able to get behind the wheel of that car because it was a HotWheels.

If this email was sent out on any day other than April Fool’s, I’m sure there would be an incredible amount of upset customers calling the company and complaining. Since it was the funniest holiday of the year, they got away with it.

The moral of this story: Unless it’s April Fool’s Day, make sure your B2B email subject lines only speak the truth.

B2B Humor: Common B2B email mistakes

If your business-to-business marketing emails could talk, I hope they don’t sound anything like the guy in the video below.

The folks at Email Marketing Reports created the video to shed some light on the most common B2B email mistakes found mainly in newsletters: failure to deliver value, use of no-reply addresses, poor targeting, failed personalization, etc.

Watch and learn:

Quasi opt-ins or true subscribers? Who’s counting?

Armed with just one little chart, MarketingSherpa managed to send a chill down the spine of a marketer or two at their Email Summit last week. Titled, “The Current Myth of Opt-in,” their new chart explains why not every opt-in is necessarily a willing subscriber.

The Sherpas admit the chart may be somewhat confusing, but basically they found that over 50% of respondents reported that all of the email they received from legitimate companies, they had asked only for 25% of it or less. Almost 20% said they never asked for any of it.

Email opt-ins

Email opt-ins

They define the conundrum with a highly-technical term: the quasi opt-in event. Quasi opt-in events generally happen when site visitors submit information where there was a pre-checked box or in situations where people who just wanted a white paper ended also got a subscription to a newsletter with their download.

While all of it is legal for the most part, it may not be living up to the true definition of opt-in. Signing up a prospect for emails they never asked for can seriously damage the relationship you were trying to build.

The most important piece of advice the Sherpas share in the article is to segment your quasi opt-ins accordingly. These people should not be treated the same as a true subscriber.

“Think of them in the same way you would think of a co-registration name — both need to be wooed. Separate them from other new subscribers and make sure that messaging explains why they’re receiving the email, what they’re going to get from it and why they should stick around.”

If you continually surprise people with emails they never knew they signed up for, you’ll start to see many of your emails landing in spam folders. Show people why the information you’re sending would be valuable to them, then ask if they would be interested. Simple as that.

7 tips to turn your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read

The purpose of sending out a newsletter is to create or strengthen the relationship between you and your customers by sharing valuable content. As a part of your overall marketing mix, the B2B newsletter is a dependable method for driving customers to your site and giving a boost to your sales numbers.

In the B2B world, coming up with interesting topics that will keep your audience interested can be difficult to do with each and every mailing. Here are seven great ideas for turning your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read:

  1. Ask for help. Do you work with a vendor who enjoys writing? Ask them to write an article  to be featured in your next newsletter. It will make your newsletter more interesting while strengthening the relationship with your vendor.
  2. Summarize articles. Use short summary paragraphs to entice your readers to click through and read the article on your website. Keeping it short helps people quickly get the information they need.
  3. Have fun. Find topics that may not be directly related to the kind of business you do, but that will entertain your audience. Turning a story about an alligator caught in a sewer into a valuable business lesson may take some creativity on your part, but your audience will enjoy reading it.
  4. Answer customer questions. Are your customer service representatives being asked the same questions over and over? Turn those questions into articles that provide customers with information before they have to ask for it.
  5. Follow the competition. Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter and follow the topics they write about. Their topics could spark ideas to include in future newsletters.
  6. Reuse and recycle. Repurpose some of the old articles that have been collecting dust in your content library. As long as the content is still relevant, recycling articles is a great way to create new content.
  7. Ask your readers. Send some of your customers a small survey asking what kind of topics they would like to hear about in the newsletter. When you know exactly what they want to hear, you can’t go wrong.

Coming up with interesting content every time you put your B2B newsletter together can be extremely difficult if you’re not prepared. With a plan and a little creativity, your next newsletter can be a hit.

Do you have any more tips for turning a boring B2B newsletter into a must-read? How do you consistently come up with interesting topics?