Gather in close, now. The tales I’m about to tell are not for the faint of heart. Tales of email marketing campaigns that would send a chill down the savviest subscriber’s spine. Gruesome broken images and fiendish frequencies await those brave enough to read on. Take caution: Your campaign could fall victim to any one [...]
Read "Don’t Scare Your Email Subscribers Away!"
We like to think our customers are pretty cool. We talk to you everyday over the phone, through live chat and in emails. You leave comments on the blog, post to our Facebook wall and converse with us through Twitter. Introducing Keith Wallace, CEO and Founder of The Wine School Of Philadelphia So we went [...]
Read "Customer Spotlight – The Wine School Of Philadelphia"
As you know, the key to responses to your email marketing offers is a careful balance of helpful, relevant, interesting, entertaining, all-around saintly emails, written with the right audience in mind and tested for optimal performance. Now, we could do the marketing-blog thing and throw that advice at you, wish you luck and go check [...]
Read "Customer Spotlight: Hawaiian Isles’ Helpful Emails"
When is it a good idea to use images to promote what you’re selling in your email marketing campaign?
Email Marketing Reports described how image-heavy emails can outperform the alternatives in the right circumstances and with the right execution. This may not sound surprising, but the key phrase here is “in the right circumstances and with the right execution”.
We looked at a number of customers who were using images in a really smart way, and thought we’d take a moment to share these examples with you.
The Tangibles: Images of Your Product
If you’re selling something tangible, you want to show your subscribers a picture of it. An email from Bruder Toys is a good example of this:
Bruder Toys includes the name of the toy and price, so those that click through will most likely be interested in buying the product in the picture.
It’s easy to snap a picture of what you’re selling and insert that image in your message, but what about if you aren’t selling a tangible product?
The Less Tangibles: Using Images of Results
If you don’t have a physical product you’re selling, you can still use images in an effective way.
Think about what you’re trying to sell, maybe it’s even just an idea you’re selling, and then think of how you can provide an image of the end result that comes from using your idea.
Let’s look at some different approaches:
1. If you’re offering a service
Interior decorator Faith Sheridan uses email to connect with potential clients. Her end result is how a room will look after she’s finished working on it:
Subscribers will get to see her work and there are even links to see the before and after pictures.
You want subscribers to see samples of your work so you can increase your credibility and allow them to get to know you more. This will make them more likely to hire you!
2. If you’re giving them something to try
Southern Plate provides recipes for their subscribers. This email shows an image of an end result from one of their recipes:
It’s easy to hook subscribers when the end product looks so delicious! Southern Plate sets it up so the recipe isn’t actually in the email, so subscribers need to click through to their site in order to get the recipe.
You want subscribers to be compelled to do what your email is telling them to do, so show them the reward they’ll get for completing the task.
3. If you want them to join a program
Sixpacknow.com wants subscribers to follow their training program to get great abs. Their solution? Include an image of someone who had successful results from using the program:
People see the results they want for themselves, and are compelled to join the program. Using before and after pictures would also work well here.
You should take pictures depicting the before and after results of joining your program so subscribers can clearly see why the program will benefit them.
Keep in mind that your results don’t need to be just pictures. You can also show images of graphs and charts that will provide a visual for the success that you or someone you worked with had.
Use Split Testing to Find What Works for You
You can split test your broadcast messages to find out how images impact your emails. Split testing allows you to send different versions of your message to randomly selected groups. After sending it out, you will then need to determine what worked best.
You can use the QuickStats page to get an “at a glance” idea of how the message performed. Click tracking records the number of clicks within your message, along with the number of times each URL was clicked.
If you have Analytics set up, you can get a more in depth idea of how your message performed. You can even set up sales tracking to see how much money each message brought in. This will allow you to see more clearly what works best with your subscribers.
Remember These Tips When Using Images
When you use HTML emails, you want to make sure you’re doing the following:
- Link to a web version of your message- Broadcasts can be archived so you can use the direct URL to your message and insert it at the top of the email. That way subscribers can view your message in a web page in case they can’t see everything in their email client correctly.
- Make your message comprehensible without images- Make sure your messages are still easy to follow even when the images can’t be seen, as some email clients will have images turned off by default. You should use alternative text for your images so subscribers will still know what’s going on.
- Include a plain text version- Always include a plain text copy of your message. If a subscriber cannot receive HTML messages, it will automatically revert to the plain text copy.
Think About How Images Can Help Your Emails
Keep in mind that images can improve your emails “in the right circumstances and with the right execution.” Can you sell your idea with images? What other ways can you think of for incorporating images effectively in messages?
Read "Are You Using Images Effectively?"
You may be familiar with Samantha Jones, the outrageous yet brilliantly successful publicist of the popular series Sex and The City. Or, maybe you saw Jessica Biel and Queen Latifah take on publicist roles in last year’s hit flick Valentine’s Day. Either way, there is no denying that Public Relations is getting plenty of publicity [...]
Read "Become the Publicist to Your Email Campaign"
This is a guest post by Benny Lewis of Fluent In 3 Months. We were talking about how he builds his list and keeps subscribers’ attention from email to email, and he offered to share some of his email marketing methods with you.
Take it away, Benny! -Justin Premick
My name is Benny Lewis, and I don’t have much experience in Internet marketing. I actually blog about rapid language learning.
But a year ago I started an email newsletter for my blog and have been getting an excellent return out of it.
How do I do it? I inject some personality into it, and I use people’s curiosity to get them on my list and keep them reading!
Satisfying People’s Curiosity as a List-Building Technique
For example, every couple of months I get a surge of sign-ups (usually about five times my normal rate) when I offer something much more valuable than a free e-book (which I do anyway); satisfying their curiosity!
You see, every few months I move to a new country and learn a new language. But the thing is, I keep the next language and destination a secret and only reveal it in advance to those in the email list. When I state on Twitter, Facebook and on the blog that I’m about to announce my new mission in the email list, so many new people jump on board!
The best thing is that the announcement is part of the email itself (not an attachment, or link) so this gets them used to the idea of appreciating opening and reading the email itself. This means that I have an incredibly low unsubscribe rate; especially as I make sure each weekly email is worthwhile content.
Ensuring Long Term Higher Open Rates
The problem with this of course is that it was only giving me the >higher open rates in bursts every few months, and then they would start going down again. While people constantly give me feedback that they love the content of the emails (which are unique and not simple links to blog posts), I still wanted to engage their curiosity over several emails, making sure those already in the list would be motivated to read some more.
So I found a fun way to do that! Instead of giving them the answer at once, I dropped clues in each email. This helped not only with open rates, but with engagement. I got more replies from readers than I knew what to do with!
For example, here’s the dramatic change of almost 11% in open-rates when I revealed just the destination of a recent language learning “mission”:
Here are the contents of that email above with the big clue:
But of course, this didn’t actually reveal the answer of which language it was! (In a previous clue, I said that I needed to go to this destination in particular, so it wasn’t about distant-learning). People were emailing me with guesses all over the place, especially building on previous confusing but interesting clues.
Monetizing That Curiosity Without Unsubscribes or Spam Complaints
I put a lot of work into my emails; almost as much as into the blog itself! And there aren’t any sales pitches at all in my typical weekly broadcasts. But I do of course need to make this worth my while financially, so I take advantage of the peak open rate, and since the sales pitch is so rare, I actually get no complaints about it.
When I finally revealed the answer, I knew that a lot of people would be reading that email so it was a perfect time to announce an update to my Language Hacking Guide and a temporary price reduction:
… I continued to describe some other additions to the guide and details about how to take advantage of the temporary discount. And then of course, I followed it up with what they had all been waiting for!
and I went on to describe my objectives with this language.
Even though the email started with a sales pitch, the replies were immensely positive as I had given them the final answer that had been worth waiting for. It was quite a surprise of course, after my usual preference for spoken languages!
And of course I got a huge surge of sales that week as I ran the special offer, the vast majority of which were coming from my email list.
While I can only engage in the curiosity of what my next language will be every few months, what I do now is give weekly mission updates that I never mention on the blog, to share my progress and struggles so that readers can relate to it in their own language learning challenge. I always follow it up with a weekly tip or a link to a very helpful website for language learners to make sure they get some real quality out of the email.
In this way I feel my personality is getting through and I am constantly satisfying readers’ curiosity about what is happening in my language learning mission. Because of this, readers know that they can always get something worthwhile when they open my emails.
How Can I Do This on My Email List?
I am subscribed to quite a lot of email lists, and I have to say that as a reader I don’t feel so much personal engagement in a lot of them. Competitions seem to be run on things you can win rather than simply testing people’s intelligence in a less superficial way. Sometimes “winning” doesn’t mean getting a free e-book, but satisfying their curiosity.
- If you run a competition, try to make it one that plays with their curiosity and make sure to say that the answer is within the email! Sending an email that simply links to an ebook or blog post makes the email itself less valuable. People should be opening an email for the content within the email if ever possible.
- If your company has any public announcements that readers would be curious about then tell them that subscribers to the email list will find out first! It makes them feel like part of a special club. I go as far as to call my newsletter a “league” (more precisely “The Language Hacking League”) that people sign up to, since I’m sharing things with them they wouldn’t be able to find out anywhere else.
This very week I have reached the climax of another announcement and price reduction promotion, which you’ll see a part of on my blog. Of course, if you are curious about what my next language will be in advance of it starting, you can still find out by joining the e-mail list and reading the welcome e-mail this week, and hearing about it in advance in upcoming missions.
Benny Lewis teaches people to learn languages quickly at Fluent in 3 Months.
Read "The Many Benefits of Engaging People’s Curiosity in Your Emails"
You hear it’s part of “best practices” in email marketing. ISPs refer to it as an “industry standard”. It can also help you avoid blocklists and increase deliverability. It’s called “confirmed opt-in”.
Using confirmed opt-in helps ensure you have real subscribers who are interested in what you’re offering. The stumbling block for most people is creating a confirmation message that gets the subscriber to confirm.
The confirmation is a crucial step in the subscriber sign up process. To help you out, we have a couple of examples that demonstrate how you can approach this.
Where the Confirmation Message Fits In
1. Open the message. If the subscriber doesn’t open the email, they won’t get the link to confirm. Make sure you have a customized subject line that will let your subscriber know they need to take action.
2. Click to confirm. If the subscriber doesn’t click on the confirmation link, they won’t be able to receive any more messages.
Customized Confirmation Messages You Can Learn From
Confirmation Message: Moving subscribers into a new list
If you have a list of subscribers you have already been in contact with, you will need to import them in your new list. The subscribers will need to confirm to remain on your list, so your confirmation message could look something like Science North’s:
What should I do if I’m adding a list of my current subscribers?
- Be open with your subscribers. Explain why they are getting a confirmation message, especially if they were unaware a move was going to happen. Marketing transparently will build subscribers’ trust in you.
- Emphasize that if they still want to be on your list, they will need to confirm. If they’re still a subscriber, they’re most likely still enjoying your emails. Make sure they realize they need to take action.
Confirmation Message: Subscribers coming in from web form
If subscribers are going to your site and filling out a form, your confirmation message could look something like The Bee Folks’:
What should I do for subscribers coming in through my form?
- Ensure they realize they requested this information. Make sure your from name matches what is on the site so the subscriber can easily recognize your message.
- Get their interest so they want to confirm. You can encourage them to confirm by reminding them of the incentive or content you promised them.
Another Way to Optimize the Confirmation Process
You’ve customized the confirmation message, but the sign-up process is still not as smooth as you’d like. Back up a bit, and look at what the subscriber will see before the confirmation message: your thank you page.
After the subscriber fills out the web form, they’re immediately directed to a thank you page. You can make this page a custom page with detailed instructions.
Use the thank you page to:
- add you to their address book.
- Show what the confirmation message will look like and point out what they’ll need to click. This can be done by taking a screen shot and using an image editing program like Skitch or GIMP to mark up the image.
You also have the option to use the Smart Video Thank You Page. This is an AWeber-hosted page that’s customized with your logo and plays a video with an example of how your confirmation message may look to your subscriber in their inbox.
How Do You Get People to Confirm?
What have you done to your confirmation message and sign up process to ensure subscribers know what to do and are compelled to take action?
Read "What To Do With Your Confirmation Message"
How do you think your subscribers would describe your emails? Do your emails focus on getting sales? Or do you make more of an effort to encourage loyalty to your company?
The key is balancing the two. You can personalize your email newsletters in order to build relationships, and this leads to developing a loyal subscriber base who are happy to hear what you have to offer.
Easier said than done, right? I found emails in my inbox that range from going for a hard sell to ones I love reading and interacting with. These examples contain valuable lessons that you can use for your own campaign to create messages subscribers love.
Mountz Jewelers: The Useless Announcement
This is a promotional email from Mountz Jewelers announcing a grand opening for one of their stores:
The problem with this email is that I have no use for it. This mistake could easily be avoided by segmenting based on the subscribers’ location. Announcing a grand opening in your email works only if the subscribers can easily get to that store.
Alfred Angelo Bridal: The Targeted Sales Pitch
This is a promotional email from Alfred Angelo about a bridal accessories sale:
Although still clearly a sales email, this one does a much better job:
- They are using the information I provided at sign up to send me information on accessories for brides, as opposed to something other wedding party members would need.
- They include a “Find a store” tool which is very helpful.
Neither Mountz Jewelers or Alfred Angelo do that much to get me to be a loyal customer. I don’t look forward to their emails nearly as much as the next two businesses that do make it more personal.
Active.com: Sharing Their Knowledge
This is a newsletter from Active.com:
Active.com makes it more personal by:
- Noting I’m interested in running and making sure that I get all running related information.
- Providing links to a wide variety of topics that could help me.
The only downside to their emails is their “Featured Events” section, which doesn’t have events near me. I use Active.com to register for all my races, so having upcoming ones near me would make a big difference.
TheKnot: Personal, Sharing, Selling…AWesome
This is a newsletter from TheKnot:
TheKnot newsletters I’m always excited to see. Why?
- They make it personal to me and what I’m doing.
- They use my name and wedding date, my location, and where I am in the planning process to deliver content that’s relevant to me.
- They make sure to include links to products and sponsored vendors in every newsletter, but the focus is on the personal content, which is a smart move.
How Can You Make Your Emails the Ones Subscribers Love?
1. Use subscribers’ information- You should only ask for information you plan on using. If you’re only asking for name and email, you can still target subscribers in a specific area using their IP address.
Continue to learn about your subscribers so you can provide them with more personalized emails. You can set up new custom fields, or start off with looking at their click through history.
2. Provide useful information for the subscriber- Don’t be like Mountz Jewelers and send your emails to those that can’t use it. Build loyalty by making sure subscribers receiving your message have something to gain by reading it.
3. Don’t just go for the hard sell- Both Mountz Jewelers and Alfred Angelo could add more to their emails. For example, Mountz Jewelers could link up some good examples of coordinating Pandora charms and popular combinations. Try and include something fun and interesting that is relevant to what you’re selling.
4. Ask for more information for further personalization- While it’s nice that Active.com has a bunch of resources to share, I’m most interested in information that deals with marathon training. Active.com could ask subscribers why they are interested in a particular sport to narrow those resources down.
How Are You Personalizing Your Emails?
What have you done to make your messages more personal?
Read "How Personalized Emails Create Happy Subscribers"
What’s the secret to building a list of active, engaged subscribers? Wouldn’t it be helpful to get some tips from someone who has been doing internet marketing successfully for a long time?
Ron Davies runs many email marketing campaigns with AWeber and says these campaigns have been instrumental in his business growth and success. I worked with him personally on optimizing his campaigns and noticed that he has been very successful with building his lists.
I was impressed by the different strategies Ron was using, so we’ll look at Ron’s secrets for building a successful campaign and discuss how you can implement them to build your own engaged list.
Why Do I Need to “Build an Engaged List”?
You have the first hurdle of getting them to want to sign up, then the challenge becomes keeping them happy to stay on your list. Subscribers tend to be more active during the first month they’ve signed up on your list. For example, a study from MarketingSherpa has found that the welcome email is one that most subscribers will read, and yet many marketers neglect using it to engage subscriber
Subscriber engagement is not something that should be put off as a future concern. You want your subscribers to stay engaged with your company from the moment they sign up.
So What are Ron’s Secrets?
What Are Your Successful List Building Strategies?
Ron covers a bunch of good ones, but what have you done to get subscribers to sign up (and stay there!)?
Read "4 Secrets for Successful List Building"
>If you aren’t asking the question “How can I get more people to read my messages?” about your email marketing campaign, it’s time to start thinking about it! Even if you’re happy with your response rates, there is always room for improvement.
First off, it’s important to think about what influences a subscriber’s decision to read your message or not. Whether your end goal is a click or a sell, the subscriber won’t be taking any action until they actually open your email.
We’ll be looking at three different email newsletters that did a good job getting people to read the message, bringing in a unique open rate of over 50%, and then you can apply their strategies to your messages.
How the Messages Appear in an Inbox
These are what our examples look like in a GMail inbox:
These three businesses have some different and some similar methods for getting subscribers to read their messages. We’re going to take a look at how they approach the subject line and how they make the from line something the subscriber will recognize:
- Lawrence Chan’s Tofurious mentions a new product that the subscriber gets for opening the message.
- This type of approach is great if you have a free report to share, a sample page from a new report or ebook, if you have a coupons, or if you are promoting a new product.
- Lawrence takes a personal approach on his site by signing his blogs and including detailed personal information. People like to hear from people, and signing his emails with his name will carry over that personal touch.
- Gary Rosenzweig’s Macmost has a different approach for their subject, and it’s very straight-forward: it’s the new MacMost newsletter and it even gives the issue number.
- This is good for businesses that send out newsletters that are meant to be more informative than promotional.
- Gary from MacMost doesn’t have his name come up a lot on his site, so if he used his name in the from line then subscribers may not recognize who it’s from. This is why it’s good he used his company name.
- Frederick van Johnson’s This Week in Photo uses the subject to pose a question. This can make the subscriber interested in knowing what the answer will be. Is it the end of medium format cameras? If so, why? They’ll have to open the message to find out!
- Asking a question will make your subscriber curious, so try and find what question your message answers.
- Frederick has others contributing material on his site, so his name is not the only name there. Recognizing he name would depend on what pages the subscriber has seen on the site. His from line should be his company name since it’s on all pages.
Branding In the Subject Line
You want to use your brand as much as possible so that when a subscriber looks at your message in their inbox they immediately know who you are and what to expect from you. All three businesses included their company name in the subject line. Might seem redundant, but it’s working!
Other Tests for Increasing Opens
The best thing you can do is split test your broadcasts to find out what gets the best results. Besides what we talked about here, you many also want to consider:
- Time and day the message is being sent: There is no universally agreed upon day or time to send your message, so your best bet is test. For a look at your own stats, you can go to the Reports page and look at the “Opens over time” graphs.
- Snippets: certain email clients show a snippet of text from the beginning of your newsletter. You can use this to your advantage by putting catchy text at the top so they’ll open it or mark it to read later.
- Preview panes: certain email clients will also show preview panes that displays part of the entire message. You can test this out by putting catchy text in the upper part of your email, or moving images around if it was initially top heavy with images, and see if this changes your open rates.
How Do You Get Subscribers to Read Your Messages?
Of course there are still even more factors that will determine whether or not your message gets reads. For example, setting expectations plays a big part in your ongoing subscriber response right.
So what do you do to ensure your subscribers keep coming back for more? Share your thoughts!
Read "Learn How These 3 Businesses Get Their Emails Read"