Email Marketing Best Practices Introductions Kevin Bate, Director of Business Development, East/International Alex Heimann, Director of Interactive Marketing Chris George, Business Development Associate Today’s Presentation Overview – Key Points State of the Email Marketing Union Our Campaigns and Other Examples Tools Available Best Practices Summary Audience Q&A Overview – Key Points Subscriber-centric approach (personalization, relevance, timeliness) Email design for the 5 stages of viewing Data powers the email marketing engine Test, Test, Test Utilize suped-up tools, services, automation and integration State of the Email Marketing Union Weaknesses: Email Marketing Innovation has been ignored. Discipline lacking due to affordability. Competition encouraged increased volume (noise) ―Batch and Blast‖ approach is outdated. Testing is lacking. One size fits all approach has damaged customer relationships, ROI, and perceptions. State of the Email Marketing Union Opportunities: Stronger Data = segmentation and targeting Improved tools and techniques Increased Automation Improved Integration Better tracking, metrics Improve Loyalty, Engagement, Conversion Your competition is weak…outshine them! Them…. You… Our Campaigns and Other Best Practices Examples Jacksonville Tucson Indianapolis Costco Trip Advisor Downtown Dining Week email sent to an un-segmented list (Ebrains) generated a 26.8% open rate / 3.8% click thru rate ($0.26 per click) Identical email sent to a segmented, organic list generated a 36.8% open rate / 9.3% click thru rate ($0.11 per click) Deals, discounts and packages are at the top of the list of desired content in 2009. BUT, it’s not all about special offers. Make sure you’re connecting with your consumers with educational and nurturing emails. Relationships are the best competitive advantage you have. The Metropolitan Tucson CVB provides subscribers with relevant, timely, interest-specific content. Through integration, automation & segmentation/targeting, the MTCVB is able to easily generate customized messages based on the preferences of the subscriber. In this example, the subscriber has previously indicated an interest in golf, resorts/spas, and outdoors/nature. Using available tools and integrations, their system automatically generates a personalized email with interest- specific content. On the ICVA website, a prominent call-to-action to subscribe to electronic communications is placed in the left navigation bar. When visitors opt-in on the website, they receive a monthly email communication. By taking their opt-in one step further and completing an interest profile page, new subscribers then receive weekly ―Win in Indy‖ emails based on their individual preferences ICVA chooses email as its main marketing channel when communicating with meeting planners. Every 1-2 months, meeting planners receive an email communication driven with ExactTarget Dynamic Content. Including a picture of a sales representative helps build the one-to-one relationship that essentially helps bring convention business to Indianapolis. Additionally, every meeting planner email contains a link to a related video. ―If they can see how great our city is in action, they’re much more apt to consider us for their event.‖ Jeff Robinson Electronic Communications Manager ICVA Industry Partner Email Template Marketers are often concerned with the best time of day and day of week to send email and test the optimal timing for their subscribers. Though consumers indicate that they don’t open email marketing messages based on the time or day a message is sent, they do say that their interests or needs sway their email behavior. What’s the best way for marketers to capitalize on subscribers’ most immediate interests and needs? Deliver email to these subscribers when they’re in the decision process. Source: Forrester Research Julie M. Katz “Your Email Marketing Roadmap for 2009” Tools Available CRM Enewsletter Application Exact Target Auto Responder Testing Tools (Litmus, eDesign Optimizer) CRM Email Capability The simpleview CRM system includes inherent mass-email capability (as do the new Partner Listings Application and Consumer Requests Module for non-CRM users). The good? There are no per-email fees. The bad? No tracking available (opens, clicks, etc.) Use for emails not requiring tracking. Enewsletter Application The simpleview Enewsletter application is a structured tool, allowing email administrators to manage the content and links within a formatted template. The good? Clean, consistent formatting; automatically creates an archived copy on the website; no fee per email. The bad? No tracking.* *Note, the simpleview enewsletter application can be used in conjunction with Exact Target to include basic tracking. Exact Target “Content Detective” SPAM checking Dynamic Content & Personalization List management & segmentation (Integrate with simpleview CRM to automate list creation and unsubscribe synchronization) Detailed Tracking •Delivered •Hard/Soft Bounces •Opened •Click-throughs •Link tracking Create templates, or paste from HTML With CRM integration, lists can be created and sent to Exact Target, and subscriber history is pulled into CRM. With CRM integration, detailed tracking is pulled from Exact Target into CRM. Auto Responder The simpleview Auto Responder Application provides visitors with instant gratification, relevant (interest-specific) dynamic content, personalization... ….and can serve as a method to promote members and partners via interest/category sponsorships (rev-gen opportunity). Testing Tools Testing Tools such as Exact Target’s ―Inbox Preview‖, or other services such as Litmus, allow you to test email compatibility/ rendering in various common email clients. General Best Practices Top level approaches and strategies Data and list segmentation Email design for the 5 stages of viewing Dynamic Content/personalization Testing, Testing, Testing Tracking and Measurement Top Level Strategies Relevancy & Timeliness Personalization & Dynamic Content Integration & Automation Deals & Discounts Loyalty Clubs Incorporate Educational, Marketing & Nurturing messages Top Level Strategies (Cont’d) Extend use of metrics & benchmarks Improve segmentation, targeting & relevancy Involve customers in email Integrate online & offline efforts Time emails to match decision-making process Utilize transactional emails for up-sell/cross- sell opportunities Data & List Segmentation / Dynamic Content & Personalization Segmentation & Dynamic Content (Cont’d) ―Batch and blast‖ / ―spray and pray‖ is dead; be targeted and relevant. Utilize indicated interests (obtained during opt-in) to send relevant messages. Use geographic data to send timely messages (e.g. Southwest destinations sending emails promoting golf to subscribers in the northern states during the winter months). Use demographic data, such as the intelligence provided by RUF, to send targeted messages (e.g. a package geared towards families with children interested in snow sports). Segmentation & Dynamic Content (Cont’d) Constantly prune poorly-performing subscribers so to ensure your lists stay clean. Lists with outdated addresses, unengaged subscribers, or non- permission-based recipients will hurt a company’s ISP reputation, increase bounce and unsubscribe rates, and erode list value over time. Focus on meeting frequency expectations outlined during opt-in and delivering only relevant messages to ensure list health. Dynamic Content & Personalization Dynamic content and personalization is about relevancy. Dynamic content and personalization is how we put into good use the data we’ve been collecting. As noted earlier, 56% of email users consider messages, even from known senders, as SPAM if they are not ―interesting‖. In a study by ChoiceStream, 80% of consumers said they want highly-personalized emails that are relevant to them, and 64 percent said they are willing to share preference data in order to help marketers identify their needs. According to Forrester Research, messages that leverage behavioral data garner greater response, higher conversions, and more revenue. With better data, you can make smarter offers and won’t have to offer such deep promotions. Better use of data — with precise targeting that improves over time — will also reinforce stronger, more lasting customer relationships Dynamic Content & Personalization can include: - Dynamic Subject Lines - Personalized Greetings - Dynamic Content (content insertion based on interests, geography, demographics) Dynamic Content & Personalization Dynamic Content & Personalization doesn’t have to be difficult. It does, however, require solid data and the right tools. It starts with the data: - As much as possible, capture preferences, interests, geographic info, etc. - If possible, supercharge your data with enhanced intelligence (e.g. RUF). The right tools: - simpleview CRM / Consumer Requests Module - Exact Target - simpleview AutoResponder Based on my indicated interests / preferences when I opted-in during a visitor guide request, the MTCVB AutoResponder sends me personalized emails with interest- specific content on golf, resorts & spas, etc. Example of Exact Target Dynamic Subject line tool. Email Design - Overview Continuous Improvement: Consider your design an ever-evolving, iterative process. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, ―best practices‖ will change. Effectiveness is key: A common misconception about design is that it’s simply aesthetic—only concerned with look and feel. The truth is that an aesthetically pleasing email design isn’t always an effective, performance- driven design due to image blocking and other constraints. However, an effective design can—and should—also be a beautiful design. Send in Multi Part MIME: Though most of your subscribers will view the HTML version of your email, some subscribers prefer to receive the plain text version of your message. Use simplified copy points, different capitalization techniques, and characters such as asterisks and dashes to create headlines and visually separate areas of interest. Beware of image blocking: Plan how to best use graphics in your design. Images should act as a supplement rather than the main focus of your design. Even with images blocked or disabled, your design should be readable and the call to action clear. 600 pixels wide: Although monitor resolutions vary, we recommend keeping your design at approximately 600 pixels wide to avoid horizontal scrolling and to ensure that your primary message appears in the preview pane. Beware of rich media: Embedding Flash or video in an email will cause major deliverability issues. If delivered, these design elements will be stripped or disabled. If you want to use rich media, use a screenshot of the media linking to the “live” version on your website. Animated .gifs are also alternatives that work across many—but not all—email clients. Email Design for the 5 Stages of Viewing Stage #1 – “From” Name: Your email fights for attention in a crowded inbox. Do your subscribers immediately recognize the communication is from you? According to the Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC), 73% of subscribers click “Report Spam” or “Report Junk” based on the content of the “from” field. Make sure your subscribers recognize your ―from‖ name by using the destination name, newsletter name or sender name your subscribers are most familiar with. Keep in mind, too, that some email clients still use your from email address in the inbox (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org instead of your ―from name.‖) Make sure it’s also branded and recognizable. Stage #2 – Subject Line: After weighing the appropriateness of your from address, subscribers then move their attention to your subject line. The ESPC notes that 69% of subscribers base the decision to send your message to the spam folder on the subject line (December 2006). Quite simply, the subject line can make or break your campaign. A simple A/B test can identify whether your subscribers prefer a consistently-branded subject line, consistent syntax, or varied wording. Also beware of SPAM triggering subject line content such as ―free‖, ―50% Off!‖; and using quotation marks, dollar signs and exclamation points in subject lines will frequently trigger mail filters, as well as using all capital letters. (Tip: Keep you subject line under 49 characters, and remember mobile users may see even fewer characters.) Source: Exact Target Whitepaper – ―Email Marketing Design & Rendering: The New Essentials‖ Design for the 5 Stages – Cont’d Stage #3 – Preview Pane: Your email doesn’t necessarily have to be open for your subscribers to see the content. When present, many subscribers use preview panes to get a quick look at your message before they open it. As such, it’s important to make sure your call-to-action is visible in the preview pane. Preview pane sizes vary widely across email clients and ISPs, but a general rule of thumb is to place branding and the main call-to-action in the top left 4-5 inch square (between 288-360 pixels) of the email. This square roughly represents the most-viewed area of an email, based on vertical and horizontal preview panes. This also takes into consideration usability research that’s been conducted to determine typical subscriber reading patterns for email. Make sure your call to action is in HTML text; many email clients block images by default. Use web fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Times or Georgia. (Additional Tip: Avoid terms like ―click here‖ as a link in the body.) Stage #4 – Opened Email (Pre-Scroll): So, your subscriber clicks on your email and it opens in a new window. But how many of those subscribers view the entire email including the content ―below the fold?‖ The answer is surprisingly few. The Nielsen Norman Group published a July 2006 study that noted only 11% of subscribers read the full email message. What does that mean? Include plenty of high-powered content including your call to action, “above the fold”. Consider using a table of contents, bullets, borders, or background colors to engage subscribers to scroll down. The content above the fold should create enough interest to encourage a subscriber to scroll down and ultimately convert. Source: Exact Target Whitepaper – ―Email Marketing Design & Rendering: The New Essentials‖ Offers / Calls to action are visible in the preview pane even when images are blocked. Design for the 5 Stages – Cont’d Stage #5 – View Full Email: You’ve enticed your subscriber to view your entire email. Well done. But what will they see when reading your entire message? Nielsen Norman Group’s usability study (Email Newsletter Usability— Third Edition, June 2006) determined that users, once engaged, spend an average of 51 seconds on each newsletter in their inbox. With such a short time frame, how do you want your subscribers spending their time? Ensure your email is designed to guide a subscriber’s attention through the email to the conversion opportunity. Don’t overwhelm them with irrelevant information. If the conversion is to a website, it’s critical to create a consistently-branded experience for your subscribers through the email and landing page. Key Email Design Takeaways: - Be mindful of the stages (From Name, Subject Line and Preview Pane are often ignored) - Make sure your email is designed to be effective when images are blocked. - DO NOT send emails that are a single image. This is one of the kisses of death. - Use HTML text and web fonts, and be sure your call to action is presented in HTML text. - Create a text version – some users prefer to receive text only messages…Blackberry anyone? -Make sure your call to action is ―above the fold‖ Source: Exact Target Whitepaper – ―Email Marketing Design & Rendering: The New Essentials‖ Testing is KEY!!! It’s EXTREMELY important to test your design across multiple email clients and ISPs to ensure your subscribers see what you expect them to see in both the HTML and text versions. Testing design for rendering purposes is important, but it’s also critical to ensure that your design is effective—leading subscribers to convert and support the email’s business purpose. Testing Tips: - Set up email accounts in as many email clients as possible (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, etc.), and send test emails to yourself. Also test on PC, Mac and mobile if possible. - Implement A/B subject line testing and A/B Content testing. Have a list of 40,000 subscribers and aren’t quite ready for advanced dynamic content strategies? Try sending tests with different subject/content combinations to a small sample from your list. Whichever combination generates the best results, use that version for the remainder of the list. -An easy way to test the rendering of your email across several email clients at one time is through a service like Litmus or ExactTarget partner Pivotal Veracity’s eDesign Optimizer. By sending one email to a seed address, Pivotal Veracity’s report provides up to 25 views of your email in the top email clients. ―Views‖ can include screenshots of your email with images on and off, in preview panes, and on mobile devices. Tracking & Measurement Measure effectiveness, not volume. Forget the days of reporting about the millions of impressions that you received and patting yourself on the back. You need to let your organization know that impressions are not the ultimate goal. What you do care about is conversion and effectiveness, which sometimes means the numbers will be far smaller. To explain it, use this line: “I want us to reach the right 500 people instead of the wrong 5 million.” Don’t force a comparison between 2009 and 2008. If you feel like the only way to explain something to your stakeholders is in terms of comparing it to last year, you won’t try something new at exactly the time when you should. Give them the right reasons and incentives to embrace experimentation. After sending your emails, use key performance metrics to identify the level of success for each campaign. You will probably use a variety of data points to determine the success of your email design, including open rates, click-through rates, or unsubscribe rates. Conversion rates can also be combined with web analytics to measure an email campaign’s success, in addition to other statistics including subscriber retention, sales cycle, or downloads. Sources: Exact Target Whitepaper – ―Email Marketing Design & Rendering: The New Essentials‖ ; Forrester Research: Your Email Marketing Roadmap for 2009 by Julie Katz A Final Note on CAN-SPAM What You Must Include in Every Email Marketing Message You Send 1.) The law requires that your subscribers have a way to unsubscribe from your emails. 2.) The law requires that you use a valid From email address. 3.) The law requires that you include a postal box or physical mailing address in each commercial (marketing) email you send. Although it's easy enough to do, many people seem to forget these rules. But it is just good marketing, as greater transparency leads to greater trust by your subscribers. Summary Relevancy is Key Test, Test, Test Utilize available tools, integrations and automation Design Smart Measure Effectiveness, Not Volume Session Q&A If you would like to learn more today, please see me or contact a member of our Business Development team. They will be happy to field your questions or help you put what you have seen here today into a plan of action. Please remember to complete your session survey in the back of the program.
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