Tag Archives: email

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.

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

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.

Know your content marketing priorities

If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you probably create a variety of content to promote your product through direct mail, email, Twitter and blogs, just to name a few. Sometimes, the trigger behind making a change in content can be motivated by the wrong reason.

MarketingSherpa recently surveyed a group of content marketers to find out what was the typical trigger that sparks a change in content. They compiled the results and created their latest Chart of the Week, titled “You’re a Publisher, Like it or Not.”

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

If one of your goals is to become a thought leader in your industry, you have to start thinking like a publisher, according to the gurus at MarketingSherpa.

“Above, we see that it’s often the wrong trigger. To be a thought leader is to think like a publisher – to think about the people at the other end of your white paper, Web event, blog or podcast. They’re not necessarily interested in your new product or feature (unless you happen to work for Apple); they’re interested in what’s happening in the industry or economy that’s inspired that product or service.”

The best reasons to update content fall in the middle of their survey results, including news, trends, events and research. Each of these reasons are focused on the reader.

Of course, the Sherpas also advise to take a look at the performance of each form of content to determine if you should make a change.

“Newspapers may be dying, but the need for compelling niche content is growing every day. To fulfill that need and sell your products, remember that you’re asking for the time and interest of your customers, and make it worth their while.”

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.

B2B email best practices in 2009

Even with the rise of Web 2.0 communications and social networking, email marketing refuses to take a back seat and remains the most popular online activity for adults. As we enter the new year, top marketers predict that we’re going to see that trend continue.

HR Marketer has learned a lot this year in their marketing efforts in the HR marketplace. Luckily, they decided to share their latest best practices with all of us out here in the B2B marketing world.

But first, HR Marketer reminds us that:

  • Email marketing will become more important in 2009 than ever before, but companies need to focus on relevance.
  • Buyers of HR products and services prefer initial supplier email contact more than phone calls and face-to-face selling.
  • According to HR Marketer’s latest report, most HR suppliers feel that email marketing is the most important marketing and PR tactic out of a list of over 20 activities.

They analyzed what they’ve been doing lately and shared some of these email best practices:

  • Less is more, less is more, less is more. Keep your call to action, HTML visuals and text concise.
  • “Free” is a four-letter word. Never use the word “free” ever in your email copy or subject lines. Instead, use words like “complimentary.”
  • Content is king. Business to business content offers have better lead-generation scores than any other offers. “Give them something that will help them improve their businesses today, whether they buy anything thing from you or not.”
  • Click-thrus vs. open rates. “Just because someone inadvertently opens your campaign doesn’t mean anything.” Move your focus to click-thru rates to gauge the success of your email campaigns.

And, that’s just half of it. Make the trip over to HR Marketer for their full list of email best practices to follow in 2009.

Happy Holidays, see you next week!

When is the best time to send B2B email?

Timing is everything in marketing, especially when it comes to business-to-business world. Sending your B2B emails at the right time of the day can be critical to the overall success of the campaign.

The MarketingSherpa gurus recently tackled the question in an “eye-opening” conversation with Hunter Boyle, Managing Editor at Marketing Experiments.

Boyle recently tested various email send times and discovered some interesting results, including:

  • Emails sent before 9 a.m. dramatically lift clickthrough rates.
  • Early-bird East Coast execs respond to email before their workday officially begins.
  • International marketers should test time-zone segments for international lists.

Visit Marketing Sherpa to listen to the short podcast (less than 10 minutes) with accompanying slides for insight into what Boyle and his researchers learned.