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Email Marketing Archives - STRYDE

Quick Tips for Smarter Email Marketing

By | Email Marketing | No Comments

Every morning my alarm goes off at 7am. After turning off my blaring alarm, I begin to check email from my phone. The excitement of a new day with new emails is enough to keep my eyes open. Every morning, there are emails I actually read, like the inventive lifestyle blog MaskCara, and those I simply trash, like JCrew because either a) I don’t care about their product or b) They have emailed me so many times that I don’t care what they have to say anymore!

As a marketer, I understand that there are reasons why there are certain emails we open and others we trash, and I’ve learned a lot from my own love/hate relationship with email marketing that I can apply when creating my own email marketing campaigns.

One purpose of email marketing is to generate conversation about a product or service in a personal space. In order to do this effectively, subscribers must trust you. Personalizing an email after an opening salutation can create a sense of intimacy. If you have a certain segment of customers who may be interested in a message due to geographic location, or special event, send a specific email to those customers highlighting the information that is most relevant to them.

People do not want to be taken advantage of or bombarded with useless information. Keep your content fresh, timely, and interesting. Be sure that the subject line is compelling. Including an incentive in your subject line can increase open rates by as much as 50%. Sending special deals to your customers provides motivation to remain on your list and will provide more patience for the days your message does not spark their interest.

In line with my own personal qualms with email marketing, the top reason why people unsubscribe from email lists is because they are sent too often, or the receiver no longer finds the content relevant. Content is key. Make sure that what you have to say is worth reading.

Always create an alternate text version of your email as it is easier for users who might not be able to easily view the images. If a subscriber cannot view content, they will almost certainly delete it. An added bonus—creating a text version will help your SEO if you publish the same content on your site.

BLACKLIST

Mass emails often do not even reach your customer’s inbox. It is critical to remain off the email blacklist. Being on the blacklist will shoot any emails from your IP address directly to the trash or spam folders. The blacklist is calculated using an algorithm, which is largely influenced by the amount of people who report your emails as spam, or unsubscribe from your list. This can be avoided by using a provider like Hubspot or MailChimp to send out mass emails and by keeping your subscription list up to date.

EMAIL LISTS

Keep your list up to date. On average, 25% of those on an email list will change in a year. It is best not to use a third party email list as this works against the idea of inbound marketing. You want a captive audience, not an angry audience wondering how you got their information. A good way to do this is to make sure to have a subscription button on your site, located in a prominent place. Social media is also an effective way to invite your followers to subscribe to your email list.

HOW OFTEN

The most active hours for email are on week days between 2-5pm. The frequency at which you send out email blasts depends largely on the relevance of your content to the customer. At minimum, you should be emailing once a month.

Quick recap: Don’t be annoying, be valuable. Do this by creating relevant content and being mindful of how often customers are being emailed. Stay off the blacklist by keeping your list up to date and paying attention to when your subscribers are online. Depending on your audience, the time of day and frequency at which you email them may differ. If you find yourself emailing someone three times a day (pay attention, Groupon) it is probably too much. Good luck!

Bonus: Check out this infographic with some interesting stats on email marketing:

7 Ways to Use Content Marketing for Lead Nurturing

By | Blog | No Comments

When people think of Content Marketing, they often immediately think of blogs, social media, viral videos, and other content that gains awareness.

But that’s only one part of the equation.

If you want shares, likes, Stumbles, Pins, Reddit views, etc., your content strategy is going to be very different than if you want to keep leads engaged and interested in your brand. Each stage of that sales-funnel journey needs a specific type of content.

 

For this purpose, I’ll break it up into 3 areas:

Awareness:

      Content that drives people to your site, and lets them know you exist.

Evaluation: Leads that have subscribed to your blog or email list. They might be aware your product or service could fulfill their need, they might be determining whether you are a good fit. Or, they just like your content and are not interested in your product, yet.

Purchase: Leads that have become customers, and have the potential to become customers again

Most content created, and most that is talked about on social media blogs, is focused on the awareness portion, those at the top of the sales funnel. To make your content work, you need to put just as much focus into developing content for those deeper in the funnel. First step:

Find holes by mapping customer journey

There could be many different ways your leads become customers. As you map it out, however, you’ll find similar patterns and the ideal ways a visitor moves along that path. Here’s a hypothetical situation from a visitor who first comes to your site through your blog:

    Visitor lands on a company blog post and downloads a free eBook >>> Clicks through to site from eBook campaign offer and navigates to Product/Service pages >>> Clicks on a case study, loves it >>> Clicks on a call to action for a free trial of your service >>> After the free trial, receives another nurture email with a coupon, and then becomes a customer.

As you map out these conversion pathways, you’ll notice holes where you should have particular pieces of content, touch points or calls-to-action. Once you know where those holes are, you can start planning content for mid-funnel leads. Here are a few ideas:

7 Content marketing ideas for mid-funnel Leads

The first thing to remember is to continue to give these leads value — content that’s as closely related to what caused them to give you their email in the first place. At the same time, offer something that conveys your expertise, instills trust in you, that helps them in their specific problem.

Leads that are still in the nurturing stage typically need more information before they’re ready to convert. The best lead nurturing will come from two things: your thought leadership, which will build trust in you and what you’re selling, and free resources.

1. Free-Tips Email Content

The first type of content you should have? An email or newsletter that is aimed at truly solving customers problems with free education, tips and resources. This could include a newsletter that includes your blog posts, other relevant third-party content, and perhaps a case study, or a feature of your product.

A good nurturing email will have significantly better open rates than typical email blasts:

 

  • 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy
  • Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of standalone email blasts
  • 25-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

 

 

Sources: Gleanster Research, SilverPop/DemandGen Report & InsideSales.com

2. Some Promotional Email Content

If someone gives you their email, they expect to be sold to.

Resist the temptation to do it often.

First, delight them by giving them even more valuable and resourceful free content. If you’re going to go promotional, try to keep it as educational or as helpful as possible. A couple weeks ago, I received the best marketing email I’ve ever had. I started following his Facebook page and ended up signing up for his newsletter to get more fitness tips. The email was just one simple sentence:

Hi Dan, are you interested in building 10-20 lb’s of muscle?

Alex

I responded, “Yes.” In a couple minutes I received an email with a pitch to an exercise program.

One email solved a couple problems: He was able to answer whether I was a qualified lead, and I knew whether or not he was there to solve my problem. At the same time, I felt like he connected with me. This went from a social follower to having him talk to me personally on email. It’s the kind of connection you want with your customers.

3. Automated emails

Although it can be argued “Automated Email” isn’t a piece of content. I think it is. Acting quickly ensures the lead gets a response quickly and says something about your organization. Content is more than just words written on a page. Plus, 25-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Automated emails help to pre-qualify people in early stage and keeps you top of mind. Nurtured leads also have a 23% shorter sales cycle.

4. Product-based Webinars/Blogs/Videos/Articles/Podcasts/Social Media Updates

Yep, it’s basically the same thing as content for awareness, with just a slight twist.

Let’s pretend for a minute you sell garden tools. To create awareness, you might have written a blog post like “How to Dig the Perfect Hole for Your Garden Plants.” Now that you have an email list, you might send an email with, “7 Ways to Use Our Awesome Square-Headed Shovel to Dig Perfect Holes For Plants.”

The difference is in helping people solve their problems by using your product or service. This not only helps convert mid-funnel leads, but can also help former customers return. As the saying goes, it’s much less expensive to retain customers than to get new ones.

5. How-to case studies and testimonials

Trust and confidence in your abilities is perhaps the biggest trait that will move mid-level leads to become customers. This is not new. Case studies with testimonials have long been powerful tools. But to make them better, tweak them a bit so they can also be a resource with solid tips. Back to the gardening example, it could be something like, “How Zach Used The Awesome Square-Headed Shovel to Dig Terrific Holes.” Then tell Zach’s story.

6. Data Sheets

Few things convince people these days more than hard numbers and facts. Customers are getting smarter an don’t respond as well to generic ad copy. They want numbers to back up your claims. Mine data within your industry and your business, then share that info with your customers where it’s relevant. Avoid data dump for data sake by finding how those numbers tell a story or solve problems. Look for patterns in that data, and think of how those numbers can be a resource. This can also give you a lot of ammo for infographics and pitching media.

7. FAQs

I’m not talking about the typical FAQ pages you see on people’s websites. I’m talking about real questions your customers are asking everyday about your business and your industry. Turn each one of those into blog posts. People are typing those same questions into search engines every day to find the answer. Even tackle the tough questions you don’t want to face — like the problems with your products or services. This is all about being transparent, and you may think it’s counter-productive, but it’s a big, big deal. Go here to see how one guy did this with his swimming pool company and made more than $500,000 just from the leads it produced.

Your turn

What other content have you used that has helped you nurture leads?

5 Ways to Integrate Inbound and Outbound Marketing

By | Inbound Marketing | No Comments

Integrate Outbound and Inbound Marketing

I’m often asked to compare inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing, and people are surprised when I talk about how to integrate inbound and outbound instead.

At Stryde, we focus on inbound marketing because we believe that it’s the best way to engage people who have an increasing amount of control over the content that they consume. We rightly point to stats like these to highlight the rise of inbound and descent of outbound, or traditional, marketing:

Go Inbound!

  • Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines (Content+)
  • Inbound marketing is estimated to deliver 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound methods. (HubSpot)
  • 50% of consumers spend 75% or more of their total shopping time conducting online research (PowerReviews)

Boo Outbound!

  • 86% of People Don’t Watch Television Ads (The Guardian)
  • 44% of Direct Mail is Never Opened (EPA)
  • 2/3 of US Citizens are on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List (FTC)
Pledging to Inbound Marketing

I pledge allegiance to inbound marketing and to the principles for which it stands

With trends like these, it is no wonder that 48% of marketers will increase inbound spending in 2013 (HubSpot). Smart marketers know that the future will be won by businesses and brands that earn their attention through remarkable content.

Outbound works best when it’s integrated with inbound

All of this doesn’t mean that outbound marketing is dead. One new customer told me last week that radio ads are driving their impressive monthly growth. Another customer recently broke their all-time record for leads collected at a tradeshow. When people need our help to make inbound and outbound marketing work together, they often find themselves in one of the following situations:

  • already committed to a significant contract for an outbound campaign
  • already using an outbound tactic that is generating a positive ROI
  • hoping to reach a target audience that is hard to reach online
  • feeling that if they are not at a certain event, or in a certain publication, that they won’t be viewed as players in their space
  • needing to see huge results immediately

Avoiding leakage – the power of inbound when combined with outbound

In any of these situations, our customers see a significantly higher ROI on their outbound when they integrate an inbound approach. Here are five ways you can make it happen:

1. Events (conferences, seminars, tradeshows)

Before the conference, prepare some killer content (guide, ebook, checklist, white paper, video, webinar, etc.) focused on something that the attendees deeply care about.

Diagram

Get an email list of everyone that will be attending and send it the list. Any click through from the email should take people to a well-designed landing page that is built to convert. Make it easy for people to get the content they want and give you their email address in exchange. Once the attendees have joined your list, be prepared with some follow up emails that provide more relevant content. Let them know where they will be able to find you at the event and give them a reason to get to know you.

If there will be great content shared at the event, blog and/or tweet about the event live. Make sure that if you are blogging, you are focusing on using keywords that matter to your target buyers. When tweeting use the conference hashtag and have fun interacting with everyone else that is in one the cyber conversation.

After the conference, follow up with another piece of powerful content. Give them a compelling reason to connect with you via email, and the appropriate social network (generally YouTube, Facebook or Twitter for B2C companies, and LinkedIn and Twitter for B2b companies).

If you follow these steps, your event marketing dollars will do more for you than they ever have before.

2. Direct Mail

If you have a targeted list that will go to your ideal customer, test an ad campaign that invites people to download a free white paper on a hot topic their industry. Send these people to a landing page that is built to convert. Your campaign will be more measurable, and you will see a higher total conversion rate than if you were going only for the direct sale. Once they are in your funnel, you can follow up to close the sale.

3. Email

If you are sending an email to the list of another company or organization, first make sure you know what matters to those people and understand how they like to be spoken to. As you prepare the email, be careful to not come across as too salesy. Remember that people don’t like to be sold to (although they love to buy). Instead, deliver compelling content. Direct the audience to a specific landing page made just for this campaign, and deliver a special offer that is only meant for them. When you do this right, you are leveraging the inbound infrastructure that you already have set up – and building one of your most powerful assets, your contact list. Oh, and you can also make a lot of money while you’re at it.

4. Advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook

These work best if you know that a certain company on LinkedIn, or a certain group of people on facebook, are already interested in what you have to offer. Make your ads specific, focusing on what you know that they care about. You might, for example, know that people from a certain company have been visiting your website – you can find the key decision-makers of that company on LinkedIn and target them. Or, you may know that a certain facebook group has been sharing your content. Put an ad in front of them that references the materials that you know they liked and give them a clear way to get more of that.

5. TV

When you are running TV campaigns, include a URL with each spot. Make sure that the landing page at that URL is mobile-optimized, as 49% of mobile-internet users will browse their phones while watching TV (IAB). Keep your message on the landing page consistent with the messaging from the ad, and offer clear calls-to-action that make it obvious to people what you want them to do. Remember to include sharing links – because if your ad is interesting enough to bring people to the site, it is compelling enough for some people to share. Once they have visited your site, reward them for paying attention and earn their permission (and contact information) to keep the conversation going through email and social media.

The leaky bucket

The bottom line is that we see inbound marketing as being the best option for most businesses. And almost any outbound marketing will have a bigger impact for you if it is integrated with inbound. Dumping money into an outbound campaign without having your inbound ducks in a row, is kind of like trying to carry water in a leaky bucket.

[REPLY TO ME!] 5 Tips for Increasing Your Email Response Rates- Part 1

By | Email Marketing | No Comments

Email marketing and marketing automation is a top-performing marketing channel for driving sales and repeat purchases.

If done correctly, you can achieve higher than industry average open, click thru and reply rates! This is the typical performance of email campaigns for ourselves and each of our clients:

This specific campaign was aimed at getting our subscribers to the reply to the email, of which we received a 35% response rate. Not bad for a list of 7k subscribers!

In this 2 part series, I’m going to show you how to create high performing emails, like ours,  that will result in more revenue for your business!

Here we go!

Write & Test Subject Lines

The subject line of your email is one of the most important elements. It tells the recipient what to expect if they open your email. Because of this the subject line can make or break your email response rate.

If the subject is compelling, your recipient will open the email and engage with your brand further. If the subject is not compelling you’ll probably end up in the trash – or worse – in the spam folder (gasp!).

Instead of guessing at which words you should use to make a subject line very interesting, begin with a little research and then do some a/b testing.

Dan Zarella of Hubspot has conducted extensive on the most effective subject line words. The top 10 words include:

  • Posts
  • Jobs
  • Survey
  • Week’s
  • E-Newsletter
  • Issue
  • Digest
  • Bulletin
  • Edition
  • Giveaway

Other runners up include: tips, video and news.

If any of these words relate to your email content you should be sure to include them in your subject line tests.

So, let’s dig a little bit into what testing your email subject line entails. The majority of email software programs include basic a/b testing for email campaigns.

mailchimp a/b split testing options

A popular feature to a/b test is the subject line since nailing it can mean opening big opportunities for your business. In this type of a/b test you write two separate subject lines and select a segment of your list to test them on.

For example, if I was preparing a weekly email newsletter I might a/b test these two subject lines:

A: Read This Week’s Top Marketing Posts

B: Don’t Miss the Top Marketing Posts From This Week!

When conducting an a/b test you don’t want to send to your entire list. You want to select a percentage of your list (around 25%) to run the test on.

Once you have a clear, statistically relevant winner from the a/b test, you would use the winning subject line to send the email to the remainder of your list.

Test Your Sender Name

email name replyAlong with subject line, the sender name is the other component of your emails that recipients see before they open your email.

While typically not as important as the subject line itself, the sender name a recipient sees can impact an email’s open rate.

In most cases an a/b test of the sender name is very basis:

A: Name of a person (Greg Shuey)

B: Company name (Stryde)

Another option would be to test First Name of a Person + Company Name. For example: Greg @ Stryde.

In theory a recipient might feel more compelled to open an email from option A (name of a person) because it has less of a mass-marketing feel.

Additionally, if the name of the person used is very high profile the name alone could generate enough interest to compel a recipient to open the email.

However, using the company’s name can have value for this same reason – if your business is a brand favorite of the recipient, he or she may open the email just to see what you have to say.

For these reasons alone, it is important to a/b test the sender name on your email to see which one actually results in more opens. Guessing will only lead you down a murky path of “what if?” and potentially poor results.

Create & Test Your Call to Action

email call to actionOkay, once you’ve got a handle on creating really compelling subject lines and you’ve figured out what Sender Name your recipients like, it’s time to dig into the meat of the email.

Just like on your website and landing pages, the call-to-action in your email can highly affect what percentage of your viewers click.

Not too surprisingly, according to HubSpot, nearly 16.5% of people convert when the word “free” is used in the call to action, while just over 15% convert when the “free” is not used. That’s a 1.5% conversion rate difference, which can have a big impact depending on the size of your list.

Of course you shouldn’t use the word “free” if what you’re offering isn’t free, but if it is – shout it out loud (or at least test using the world … and maybe get a little crazy by bolding it!)

If you’re including a button call-to-action (which you probably should) there are certain words that convert better than others when it comes to email marketing.

HubSpot’s studies show buttons with these words generate the most clicks:

  • Click Here
  • Go
  • Submit
  • Download
  • Register

Try a/b testing a couple of these against each other to see which work best for you.

Test Your Content & Format

email html or text

HubSpot research shows that people prefer to receive HTML emails to Plain Text which is great news since it means you have the opportunity to get creative with your emails.

Additionally, 65% of people prefer emails that are mostly images to emails that are mostly text.

With this research in mind, you should carefully craft the content of your emails. Pay special attention to the placement and size of your call to action (keep it above the fold so that it is viewable without the recipient needing to scroll), the headline and any images you use.

If you’re unsure of what to a/b test you might consider these items:

  • Headline
  • Subhead
  • Image(s)
  • Button color/size
  • Call to Action
  • Offer
  • Layout of email

Ideally, your headline will coordinate with the subject line and your offer. You can change the wording for the purpose of the test, but don’t veer too far off course.

You’ll also want to take into consideration that many people consume email from their mobile device, so making sure that you optimize your emails for mobile devices is critical!

Test Your Sending Date and Time

Different kinds of emails perform better at different times of the day. Additionally, what works one time won’t necessarily work every time after (for example seasonality impacts response rates). This is why it is very important to a/b test your sending dates and times.

Research by Kissmetrics shows that in almost all instances 10pm – 6am is The Dead Zone for email. However, there are varying times during the day that work best for B2B or B2C emails.

Scheduling emails timing

6 to 10am: The Consumer AM: During this time period consumers allow themselves to be distracted by offers on clothes, live events, restaurants and other consumer goods.

10 to Noon: Do Not Disturb- Consumers are focused on work during this time period.

Noon to 2pm: The Lunchtime News- Consumers choose to spend time reading news and magazine alerts during this time period.

2 to 3pm: In the Zone- Post-lunch consumers focus on work although they may respond to email offers relating to financial services.

3 to 5pm: A Life-Changing Afternoon- Job-related apathy sets in and consumers start thinking about their personal situation. During this time period emails related to property and financial services more than any other type of promotion.

5 to 7pm: “Working Late”- This is the time period when most consumers open B2B promotions as well as holiday promotional emails.

7 to 10pm: Last Orders- Consumers are more likely to respond to promotions during this time period now that they are off work. Clothing, sports and gym promotions work really well here.

In addition to selecting the right time of day to send an email, you will also want to choose the best day.

Research shows that open rates are highest in the early morning (around 6am) and highest on the weekend. Click through rates are subsequently also high on the weekends during the early morning hours.

If you are using emails to market to B2B recipients it makes a lot of sense to test sending on a weekend vs a week day. It could be that recipients are responding to B2C emails on the weekends but want to receive work related emails during the week.

What Are You Waiting For?

Because email marketing is still the most effective marketing channel, there is no reason to hesitate when it comes to testing your email campaigns.

By testing different variables you will be able to increase the open, click through and conversion rates of your emails and improve your business metrics.
So quit ignoring your campaigns potential and get started today!

More tips coming in Part 2 next week! 

Your Thoughts

How have your email campaigns done in the past?
Do you have any questions or additional tips you think we should include in Part 2?
Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.