As I examined my inbox in the days before Christmas, I couldn’t help but notice a growing trend in the email marketing messages I received from retailers big and small.
Almost every other message in my inbox touts a percentage off or free shipping of my purchase in the next however many days.
We’ve blogged about it before – most email campaigns employ some urgency tactics to encourage email opens, clicks and ultimately more timely sales. This sparked a discussion on building trust and credibility.
And while trust is crucial, time and strategy are also important elements of successfully urgent subject lines.
The Clock is Ticking
With the holiday season in full swing, it is typical of retail campaigns to increase urgency in their subject lines.
To boost sales before a major holiday, retailers use their subject lines to highlight products, offer discounts and stress the importance of ordering early for shipping purposes.
You can use the same techniques to drive traffic and sales on your website.
It doesn’t only apply to Christmas. Building urgency is an effective technique when it is used properly and provides real value.
The 3 Top Ways: The Proof is in the (Figgy) Pudding
According to MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, the top three types of subject lines that compel subscribers to open emails contain one of these:
- Discount Offer
- Free Product Offer
- Familiar Brand Name
That’s pretty big news considering that almost every single ‘urgent’ email in my inbox right now contains a variation of one of these.
Would These Examples Drive You to Buy?
Straight from my inbox, each one of these emails mention a discount, a free offer or the brand name.
Think Twice: Are Your Intentions Naughty, or Nice?
While creating a sense of urgency with your subject line is a great way to light a fire under your subscribers, it’s crucial to step back and evaluate when too much urgency is off-putting.
If you offered 10% last week, and you’re offering 20% off now, who’s to say you won’t increase the discount next week?
If you rely too heavily on urgency techniques, you could end up with disbelieving subscribers. Offering too many discounts could sabotage your chances of inspiring real urgency.
How Do You Build Urgency In Your Subjects?
Do you include these elements in your subjects? Others? What have your results been?
Read "3 Ways to Build Urgency In Email Subject Lines"
You may remember Mr. Manyhats, a busy man who suffers subscriber fatigue. His wife, Mrs. Manyhats, has the same problem. She has so many emails, she doesn’t know what to do.
But she likes that the emails provide her with suggestions and offers that match her interests. One of her interests is craft projects, so she goes to Michael’s Arts & Crafts website to sign up for their emails.
But when she gets there, she changes her mind.
Would You Fill Out This Signup Form?
There are thirty-eight fields on this form. Thirty-eight actions to take or decisions to make. Thirty-eight chances to decide enough is enough and quit.
Mrs. Manyhats is not going to fill out thirty-eight fields. She does not have that kind of time. And is she really going to provide her phone number and street address for a craft store’s emails?
When creating your web form, think about the sign-up experience. You can add up to 25 fields with the new web form generator, but consider each addition carefully.
What stats might you want to segment by? What sets the right expectations for your readers? And what information might subscribers balk at providing?
Michael’s Arts & Crafts is a successful business, but their overwhelming opt-in form may hinder the success of their email campaign.
Read "Don’t Let Your Opt-In Form Get Out Of Control"
These work by extracting subscriber information from notification emails sent to your campaign’s AWeber.com email address.
But we recognize that there are smaller niche services which are integral to many email marketing campaigns. For example, based on feedback we’ve received from users, we’ve added a parser for Shopping Cart Gurus.
Video: How to Integrate AWeber and Shopping Cart Gurus
Shopping Cart Gurus is a lightweight shopping cart system and a nice alternative if you seek simplicity over deep customization. And it takes almost no effort to have customers added to your AWeber list when they purchase from you.
For Shopping Cart Gurus, it’s as simple as turning on the parser (under the “My Lists” tab in your AWeber control panel) and sending new sign up notifications to your list’s email address.
Whenever a customer purchases a product, they will be automatically added to your list. See our knowledge base article for more in-depth information, or check out the Shopping Cart Gurus website if you’d like to learn more about their software.
Any Services You’d Like To See Parsers For?
We integrate with many third-party applications – use the search box at the end of this page to find instructions for integrating your favorite application with AWeber. If you don’t find the one you want, get in touch and let us know!
Read "New Email Parser: Shopping Cart Gurus"
As the holiday season arrives, our team looks forward to spending time with our friends and families.
As a result, we will be taking some time off for Christmas and New Year’s:
- Thursday, December 24 – Closed
- Friday, December 25 – Closed
- Thursday, December 31 – Close at 6pm EST
- Friday, January 1 – Closed
After Christmas, we’ll be back at 9AM EST on Saturday, December 26 to answer your questions by phone, email and livechat. After New Year’s, we’ll be back at 9AM EST on Saturday, January 2.
If you have any questions on those holidays, email us and we’ll get you an answer when we return.
You can also use the Knowledge Base to get answers to many common (and not-so-common) questions. In many cases, you’ll even find screenshots and step-by-step walkthroughs. You may find the answer you’re looking for there!
As always, we will be monitoring the system and the support inbox to address any critical issues.
Sharing a Little Holiday Spirit…
For some, the holidays are decidedly about gifts, eating, and relaxing. That’s just fine, and we hope everyone has an opportunity to enjoy a bit of each!
But as we celebrate, grateful for what we have, it’s hard not to acknowledge that there are families out there who will have a difficult time doing much of any of the above.
With this fact in mind, we held our first food drive this fall, donating about 250 pounds of food to Philabundance. As we were wrapping things up, someone quipped, “Can’t we just do this all the time?”. Instead, we rolled right into a holiday toy drive. Just last night, we dropped off “the goods” at the the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
Here are some photos from both drives, plus some random seasonal pictures from around the office.
We’d like to wish “Happy Holidays” to all of our customers and readers. We look forward to joining you, refreshed, for another year of successful email marketing!
Read "Happy Holidays: Support Hours & Some Holiday Photos"
Most of us glance into the mirror before stepping out the door each morning. What if there is food in our hair or our clothes are on backwards? The mirror-test saves us from potentially horrifying embarrassment.
Our emails deserve that same opportunity. Since they can’t check the mirror themselves (due to their unfortunate lack of eyeballs), we must do it for them through testing. Trust me, this is a step you do not want to skip.
You and your email marketing campaign will both be relieved if your test turns up a mistake that would have resulted in mismatched e-shoes.
Why To Test
You’ve probably had this experience: you open an email, you get interested, you click on a link, and:
You’re done. You can’t go any further, so you delete the email and move on to other important things, like checking the mirror for smudged mascara.
And you do not want that to happen with your emails.
So. Two or three minutes of clicking about in exchange for peace of mind? Good, I’m glad you agree!
Let’s look at how to keep your reputation as a flawless and stunning emailer.
Where To Test
Different email clients render HTML in different ways, so you’ll need to check for design flaws.
You want to test in at least the top few webmail providers, since you are most likely to have subscribers using them. (You may need to set up accounts if you don’t already have them, but it’s free to do so.)
If you can, you’ll also want to test in Outlook (there are several versions of Outlook – if you have Outlook 2007, test in that one first) and possibly Mac Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird.
What To Test
- In HTML messages, double check the design. Do your images display in all accounts? Do special effects show up as jargon? Do the fonts look right? Now you can see if your style is universally acceptable.
- Scan for typos. You may see mistakes you missed before while working in your account.
- Check your from line and subject line. Each email provider limits to a different number of characters, so make sure enough information is visible in the inbox.
- Click your links – every one. Our Link Checker will make sure the page is found and exists, but it’s up to you to make sure that each link actually goes to the right page where you want your readers to journey.
How To Test
After creating a message and before you queue it up, you’ll see the option to test it. Click on that “Test” link and fill out the form. If you’re using personalization in your message, this will test those fields as well.
Go through the process for every email service you’re testing in. If you see a problem, do your best to tweak until it’s fixed.
When you are assured your message is presentable, you can send it out to deliver your words far and wide.
Tell Your Story
Have you ever stopped a flawed email just in the nick of time by testing it?
Have you ever skipped testing only to regret it later?
Share your stories below!
Read "Test For an A+ Message: It’s Worth It"
AWeber was recently the victim of an intentional attack to mine email addresses.
We’d like to take this opportunity to share what happened, what was (and was not) affected and what we’re doing as a result of this attack.
We use a variety of pieces of software to run different parts of our service and provide support to customers. Some of these are tools we have developed ourselves; others are third-party ones that we license from other companies.
By exploiting and combining vulnerabilities in two separate third-party software systems, the perpetrators managed to gain access to a part of our system where subscriber email addresses are stored.
We have received reports of some of those email addresses receiving spam messages. While the volume of these reports is low, we are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness and addressing it fully.
Who Did This?
We have reason to believe that the party responsible for this was either directly or indirectly a part of an overseas organized group.
What Data Was Compromised?
As noted above, the information that was exported was strictly subscribers’ email addresses.
What Data Was NOT Compromised?
All other customer information was and still remains secure and unaffected:
- AWeber customers’ personal information was not compromised.
- No credit card data was compromised.
- No customers’ names, “from” or contact email addresses, postal addresses, website URLs or any other profile information were compromised.
- No affiliates’ names, contact email addresses, tax ID numbers, website URLs or postal addresses were compromised.
Additionally, while the perpetrators did acquire some email addresses, the AWeber system was NOT used to send out any spam email on behalf of these perpetrators. Any spam sent to these subscribers was sent via the perpetrators’ own systems. This is important to note because this means it will not affect deliverability rates.
What Are We Doing About This?
We have identified and fixed the vulnerabilities that were used in the attack.
Additionally, we are evaluating other options for these and other third-party softwares that we use to determine if there any other solutions that offer further protections.
As you know, AWeber is staunchly opposed to spam. We take great pains to make sure that our customers engage solely in permission-based email marketing and utilize best practices. We participate in and learn from communities such as the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group to help fight the global messaging abuse problem.
We appreciate the trust and support our customers have expressed throughout the process of investigating this event and reinforcing the security of our systems.
We have taken extra steps beyond fixing the problem to ensure that such a breach cannot occur again.
Questions? Please Contact Us.
Those wishing to reach us with specific questions regarding this attack are encouraged to call our Customer Solutions Team, who will immediately address your concerns.
US Phone: 877-AWEBER-1
International Phone: +1 215-825-2196
Read "How We’ve Addressed The Recent Data Compromise"
Your AWeber reports provide a many-faceted view of your success.
But have you taken the time to explore them and learn how they can help you improve your email marketing campaigns?
If not, that’s OK; we’ll help. Let’s look at a few reports and how each one empowers you to communicate with subscribers more effectively.
Show Me the Money
Want to see just which emails drive the most sales?
Use the Revenue Over Time report. Here, you can see the number of sales (and dollars!) your messages have brought in.
Use this information to keep track of your ROI, to see what content brought in the big bucks and to set goals for the future.
Follow Unique and Non-Unique Clicks to Find the Crowd
When checking out your email open rates and click rates, you may have noticed a yellow line:
Many subsequent clicks – a well-liked link!
This line shows you unique opens and clicks – ones that happened for the first time (as opposed to the second or third times).
Look for the biggest gaps between the unique line and the top of the bars. A big gap means your subscribers clicked a link again and again – or that they forwarded it on to other people, who then clicked it!
This is your secret window to what content is most compelling to your readers and can teach you what will keep them engaged in the future.
And the Award for Best Sign Up Form Goes To…
With the Ad Tracking – Subscribed report, you can see exactly where your subscribers signed up.
Have most of your readers come from that shiny lightbox web form on your blog? Does the form on your home page get overlooked because it’s at elbow level instead of eye level?
Find out what works – set up Ad Tracking for your web forms.
Cater to Your Customers’ Regional Differences
Are 20,000 people clicking on your subject line while tapping their toes to Mexican mariachi music? Then you may want to offer a Spanish version, or clear out regional dialect.
You can even segment your list (click the desired region and name the segment on the page you are brought to) and tweak your broadcasts for each segment. Speak to your audience in their language, and your relationship is bound to improve.
Read Smarter, Not Harder With a Custom Dashboard
Want easy access to your favorite reports? The dashboard is perfect for you!
Load it up with your favorite graphs and charts – go to the reports you like best, click “detail” on the top right corner of the report, and press the plus sign.
View your new dashboard by clicking directly on the “Reports” tab. Now you have a series of email reports customized just for you.
While you’re analyzing and optimizing away, be sure to keep in mind that list reports show data for only one list at a time. Want to see data for a different list? You can add reports for different lists to your dashboard and view them all at once
What Works For You?
Do you have a favorite report to check? Have you used reports to connect with your readers better or even find more subscribers?
We’d love to read your success stories, and so would the rest of your fellow readers – please share them below!
Read "Do You Create More Effective Email Campaigns With These Reports?"
We offer the lightbox as an option in our Web Form Generator. Once a page loads, the form installed on it appears above it. For some, this is great – a way to really catch the visitor off-guard with an offer to sign up for your email marketing campaign.
Well, one man’s treasure is another man’s “annoying pop-up”. Some just don’t like them and there’s no convincing. They don’t want something that appears unexpectedly.
Does this describe you? Then I wonder how you might feel about lightbox that appears only when a visitor does expect it – and asks for it.
An Alternative to the Automatic Pop-Up
Read "Trigger a Lightbox Web Form With a Link or Button"
A carefully planned autoresponder series builds the foundation for a solid email marketing campaign.
To some business owners, creating this series can be a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be! With a bit of planning, everyone can create an autoresponder series that communicates important information and offers to subscribers, no matter what industry you are in.
For example, let’s look at some easy autoresponder ideas for a specific type of business – a beauty salon. These examples are specific, but you can apply them to all kinds of campaigns.
A Welcome Email
Subject: Greetings and Thanks for Signing Up with A Cut Above!
The welcome message should thank subscribers for visiting our salon (or the salon website) and reiterate what subscribers will receive (in this case, promotions and exclusive offers). It can also give subscribers a reason to return to the site – for example, to view our full range of services.
While a welcome message should be simple and to the point, we shouldn’t forget that this is a great place to begin branding our series. Including a simple logo, or working with an HTML email template, can really give our campaign a professional edge and help subscribers recognize us.
Offer a Discount on a Variety of Products!
Subject: 15% Off All Products at A Cut Above
In this message we can include links to the product pages on our site that we are offering at a discounted price, making it easy for our subscribers to click through and eliminating the search for the products they are most interested in. Let’s say our products fall under the following categories:
- Styling Tools (brushes, hair dryers, curling irons, etc.)
- Shampoos and Conditioners
- Styling Products (gel, hairspray, pomade, etc.)
- Accessories (headbands, hair clips, etc.)
With click tracking enabled, we can see exactly which link/s each subscriber clicks. Then we can segment our list later on and send tightly focused messages only to those subscribers who clicked on “Styling Tools” or “Accessories.”
Drive Traffice With a Freebie
Subject: Complimentary Manicure for All Visits Next Week – A $30 Value!
Weekends are normally hectic for beauty salons, so our third email in the series provides incentive for clients to make appointments during the business week.
By offering a free manicure, we are more likely to book appointments with clients who are watching their wallets and would otherwise not come into the salon at all.
Send a Time Sensitive Autoresponder
Subject: Buy a Gift Certificate at A Cut Above and Get a Second at 25% Off – Tuesday Only!
To have this message go out on Tuesdays at a specific time, we can use autoresponder send windows, which enable us to automatically send this message only on a certain day of the week.
Sending our subscribers a “one day only” promotion lets them know that they have to take immediate action. Plus, the savings offered here is significant, so this will really drive Tuesday gift certificate sales.
Things All Businesses Should Consider When Creating a Campaign
- Provide real incentive for subscribers to keep coming back. Whether you send a free gift or advertise incredible sale prices, continue to send specials through email and refer to these offers when speaking with your customers.
- Pick a style and stick with it. Your subscribers will grow to learn your branding and recognize the emails that you send. Once you find your voice and choose a template, your emails will be an extension of your business – you want them to look professional.
Ideas for Other Businesses?
What types of businesses would you like to see examples for?
Read "4 Easy Autoresponder Ideas for Beauty Salons"
When he checks his email, he clears out all but the most pressing messages. Many of them don’t look particularly interesting or helpful anyway, and he can’t afford to waste his time.
Like a lot of people, he is suffering from a case of subscriber fatigue.
In the current economy, many companies are marketing especially aggressively. Some 247 billion emails are sent every day. In the melee, subscribers often choose one or two emails to open, and delete the rest.
Your goal? Get Mr. Manyhats to choose your email. But how?
Make ‘em Love You
Establish brand loyalty.
Your sender name is one of the first things subscribers see. If they already like you, you have a much better shot at that email being opened.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich author Ramit Sethi touts building relationships through personal response. Invite feedback and respond to it, promptly and specifically.
Command Their Attention
The subject line is where many subscribers make the decision to investigate further or toss out the case.
Go for something catchy but not cutesy; something surprising but not sensational. Try asking a question you know your demographic wants the answer to.
Hooking your audience is much easier with an appropriate subject.
Keep It Real
Reading plain English is more enjoyable than slogging through a formal missive or techno-garble.
Write friendly. Write real. Write effectively. Then send it to yourself. Do you want to open it?
Make sure your emails are as relevant as possible to your subscribers’ interests.
According to The Social and Portable Inbox by Jupiter Research (2008), 50% of email users and 60% of frequent buyers (4+ purchases per year) said that if they did not find emails relevant, they would unsubscribe.
Try segmenting your subscriber list into categories. Alter your subjects and content to be most relevant to each category. If the subscriber is getting information they value, they’ll stick with you.
Balance the Scales
Promotions directly lead subscribers to buy or participate. Too many, though, may alienate subscribers.
Make sure you balance your content to provide enough helpful information that the subscriber experiences a true give-and-take. Try an 80:20 ratio of information versus promotions, and follow these tips for even better balance.
Dam the Floodwaters
The more emails you send, the more effective your marketing is, correct?
Actually, that’s dead wrong. Subscribers may feel like they are drowning in too many emails and choose to turn off the faucet altogether.
Pay attention to your frequency and how changing it affects your unsubscribes. Keep your subscribers swimming in your pond without sweeping them away.
Skip the Mourning Period
You are going to lose some readers in any case. People lose interest, they get busy and they move on.
Keep your subscriptions high by offering them everywhere you can. Keep enrolling new subscribers, and then do your best to create a positive experience for the demographic that is right for you.
Remember, though, that adding subscribers does no good if you don’t keep them. After all, a subscriber saved is a subscriber earned.
Read "Subscriber Fatigue: 7 Steps To Kick It"