E-Mail Marketing – The First Social Network

Email -- The First Social NetworkE-mail has been around since before the dawn of the internet.  That’s right, in the early 1970’s, the Federal Government was sending messages through the United States Department of Defense network, which handled over 30 million messages per month.

As we began to move more onto the information super-highway, services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America On-Line began to proliferate, making it incredibly easy for everyone to have an e-mail address.  In fact, at the height of AOL’s dominance, they had over 30 million members worldwide (they only serve about 2.9 million subscribers, as of October 2012).  In contrast, Facebook has over 1 billion members, as of September 2012.

What made e-mail so “social” was the ease at which your messages could be forwarded to your entire address book.  If you wanted to share with friends and family, all you had to do was hit the “forward” button, and they were all able to participate in the discussion.

Fast forward to today, and most businesses are marketing through e-mail, but that doesn’t mean that they are “doing it right.”  Just using this “social network” isn’t enough.  We need to ensure that our e-mail marketing is accomplishing its goals of increased business, increased lead generation, and increased market share.  The big question, then, is what are some best practices in e-mail marketing?

Best Practices

1. Write compelling Subject Lines

  • Keep it short and simple and incorporate the benefit of opening the e-mail.

2. Set your objective and then choose the appropriate frequency

  • Are you trying to promote, inform, or relate to your audience?

3. Call your audience to action

  • You are sending the e-mail for a reason.  Make sure they know it.

4. Make sure they recognize the “From” address

  • They may know your company name, but not yours.  Make sure the email comes from someone they “know.”

5. Keep your main message and call to action “above the fold”

  • This is “news speak” for making sure that the important information is seen without scrolling the message.

6. Be mindful of mobile devices

  • Statistics say that 38% of email is opened on a mobile device and only 33% is opened on a desktop, so make sure the fonts and images will look good on your recipients mobile devices.

7.  Make sure to use alt-text for your logo and pictures

  • This is text that describes the pictures and logos should images be turned-off on your web browser, smart phone or e-mail client.  That way your recipient knows what should be in the image’s place.

In addition to the tips above, always make sure that you are abiding by the “Can-Spam Act”, which requires the following:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information;
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines;
  3. Tell recipients where you are located;
  4. Honor opt-out requests;
  5. There needs to be a relationship between the sender and receiver.

If you follow these best practices and requirements, then your e-mail marketing is on the right track to continuing the social nature of e-mail marketing.

What subject lines to you find work the best? The worst?  Do you feel that you get too much e-mail?  Sound off in the comments below.

 

Resources:

Wikipedia – Email

Wikipedia – AOL

Constant Contact – The Value of E-Mail Marketing Video

9 Email Marketing Best Practices to generate More Leads

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

Constant Contact

AWeber

MailChimp

Mobile email usage statistics

About Craig Yaris

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you. He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line. EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business. Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107 .

Constant Contact: eMail Marketing [INTERNSHIP]

Constant contact is an online marketing company that allows you to stay connected with your customers all around the world. With the world rapidly moving their marketing towards the web, constant contact is a great way to anticipate new customers. They offer their services primarily to small businesses, membership associations, and nonprofit organizations. Constant contact is known for their dependable email marketing. Their main goal is to help their customers find new customers, drive repeat business, and generate referrals.

Email marketing is basically sending email messages with a purpose of attracting new customers, or enhancing the relationships with current customers. Email marketing through constant contact is a great reliable way for your company to grow. With features that allow you to have a professional look, constant contact’s email marketing is more effective than regular email. No technical skills are required to create a professional looking email because constant contact offers over 400 templates to choose from. Creating newsletters are simple and fast so you can send them much more frequently than paper ones.

In order to effectively get your prospectors to respond, differentiate your data base and create smaller customer lists based on their shared interests. After you’ve done that, send them relevant information that pertains to them. This will get more of a chance for them to actually act upon your emails. The emails you send are easy to forward so if you target your audience and their interested, there’s no doubt they’ll click the forward button. This will get you referrals much more easily and allow your company to grow.

A cool feature constant contact’s email marketing offers is tracking and reporting. After you send an email you are able to see who read, clicked, or forwarded your email. This allows you to understand what the people you’re trying to contact are really interested about. You can then go back and tailor your content the best possible way for your targeted audience.

Besides the email templates constant contact offers, they also offer list management and free coaching. List management is a tool that allows you to organize and grow your contact list by combing multiple lists and segmenting them based on an audience with common interests. This is a much easier way to send out a mass email because the lists are already narrowed down to a targeted audience. If you’re having trouble with email marketing through constant contact, they offer free personal coaching and support at anytime. They present webinars, guides, and podcasts to go further in detail about email marketing and how it can boost your businesses customer service.

Constant contact is the new marketing success formula that helps create and grow customer relationships in today’s socially connected world. It’s an easy reliable way for your business to keep a strong communication line. If you use constant contact’s email marketing the right way, your customers will share your emails with their networks therefore making your business grow.

Sources:

http://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp

http://landing.constantcontact.com/goog-grow-with-email-marketing-ad?utm_id=GOO-100846&cc=GOO-100846&gclid=CPXIgL3ZybMCFQOf4AodzQMA7A

http://www.constantcontact.com/email-marketing/what-is-email-marketing/index.jsp

http://www.constantcontact.com/about-constant-contact/index.jsp

The content in this article is part of Digital Ethos’s Digital Media Education in the Higher Education Internship Program, the content was created by @KaylaMarzo, a Student at Suffolk County Community college, intern at Digital Ethos.

About Digital Media Education Internship

Digital Media Education Internship Program is an outreach initiative for Digital Ethos.

How to Keep Your Email Campaigns Running Smoothly

Too many times, business owners don’t have an email marketing strategy in place and keep sending out emails over and over again to any list that they can get their hands on.  Most use Constant Contact to deliver their email communications and manage their contact lists. Guess what?  Constant Contact is cracking down on companies that are sending out continuous emails with no plan in place.  If you are one of those people, be prepared for Constant Contact to shut down your account.  Yes…they are shutting down accounts for a few valid reasons.  It’s important to understand the rules of email marketing and follow it!  Don’t let it happen to your company.

Here are some reasons that your email account can get shut down:

  1. Too many bounces It’s important to collect your bounced email addresses after every campaign and clean up your internal list.  If your bounce rate is continually high, you will be shut down.
  2. Spam Reports – Spam is unsolicited email also known as UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email). By sending email to only to those who have requested to receive it, you are following accepted permission-based email guidelines.  If you receive a high rate of people complaining about being spammed by your company, then you are in jeopardy of being shut down for good.  Constant Contact has a no tolerance spam policy.
  3. Not removing Opt-Outs – Every email generated from Constant Contact contains an unsubscribe link which allows your contacts to opt-out of future emails and automatically updates your contact lists to avoid the chance of sending unwanted emails to visitors who have unsubscribed.  It’s important to use one service for all your email campaigns to ensure that your opt-outs don’t receive any further communication via email from you. If you switch to another service, make sure you bring your opt-out (unsubscribe list) with you.
  4. Invalid Company Contact Information – All of your emails are pre-filled with your contact information including your physical address.  If you try to tamper with this or put in a phony address, be prepared to be shut down. Your contact information has to be clearly stated in any email communication.

 

What happens if your email account has been shut down?

The first step to rectify the situation is to contact a representative at Constant Contact and find out the reason why? Once they give you a reason, you can discuss ways to rectify the situation with your sales agent. Since you are paying anywhere from $28-$75 per month depending on your account preferences, Constant Contact wants to help you get up and running again. Just be very careful to follow their rules so you avoid being shut down for good.

I have spoken to clients that think they will just get another email vendor, but most vendors are following the Spam laws and regulations and will shut you down at some point.  Also, another big misconception is that you can just use Microsoft Outlook to send out mass emails.  Again, you need to make sure you have an unsubscribe link in your email and your contact information is clearly displayed.  I would not recommend using Outlook for mass email communications since it’s not made for this purpose. You are better off using an email service that specializes in email marketing.  At the end of the day, you do not want to annoy your customers/prospects with too many emails.  You need to develop an email marketing strategy that works for you company and ensure that your email communication is going out to people that want to hear from  you! 

How to protect yourself from Spam: Take the Spam Test (compliments of Constant Contact)

  1. Are you importing a purchased list of ANY kind?
  2. Are you sending to non-specific addresses such as:
    • sales@domain.com, business@domain.com, webmaster@domain.com, info@domain.com, or other general addresses.
  3. Are you sending to distribution lists or mailing lists which send indirectly to a variety of email addresses?
  4. Are you mailing to anyone who has not explicitly agreed to join your mailing list?
  5. Have you falsified your originating address or transmission path information?
  6. Have you used a third party email address or domain name without their permission?
  7. Does your email’s subject line contain false or misleading information?
  8. Does your email fail to provide a working link to unsubscribe?
  9. Are you failing to process any unsubscribe requests that come to you via a reply to your email within 10 days or the request? If you have answered YES to ANY of the above questions you will likely be labeled a SPAMMER.

Sources:

http://www.constantcontact.com/uidocs/CCSpamPolicy.jsp

Email Marketing Rules

Email Marketing Laws

About Monique Merhige

Infusion Direct Marketing's founder Monique Merhige has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola. Monique is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Dowling College in Oakdale and Brookhaven. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Marketing and an MBA in General Management.

What Can Business Owners Expect from Email Marketing?

If used effectively, Email marketing is never spam. It can be invaluable for small business owners by helping them attract new customers and generate sales quicker. It is also more affordable than other forms of direct marketing campaigns.

The success of a business’s email marketing campaign lies in a handful of factors. Among them, what you are offering, the quality of your email lists, your audience, your message, and more. Response to any efforts can also vary by industry. Get familiar with your own industries data and success rates but also understand that individual results may vary as well. As with other forms of marketing, it has its benefits in immediate as well as longer term effects.

Email Marketing Statistics

MarketingSherpa‘s recent email marketing benchmark guide reported some interesting statistics.

  • Business-to-Consumer emails achieve an average open rate of 20% and a click-through rate of 8%.
  • Business-to-Business had a slightly better response with average open rate of 20% and a click-through of 12%.

It is helpful to track your opens and click-throughs on each campaign individually and from month to month. Once you have gained a better understanding of the trends in your email responses, you can begin to establish more measurable results and goals, as well as exercising the ability to begin testing different subjects and content.

The common goal of course, is to persuade email recipients to open the email and check out your products and services. Some great ways to encourage your recipients to click into those emails are:

Get Your Brand Name in Your From Line

Make sure your brand name will be in the From line. This will help to ensure that recipients will recognize the source of the email. 64% of email respondents describe the From line as the most important factor motivating them to open the permission-based emails.

Impressive Subject Line

Just as important as the From line, the Subject line must convince the viewer to become a respondent. Be honest and avoid anything misleading in your subject line. Keep it short and simple.

Send Emails at the Correct Time

How will you know what time is best for you to send out your email campaigns? Test it. Do not assume you have some data that tells you the optimal time. Check for yourself by sending them out at different time periods and monitoring the results.

How Do I Improve Click-Through Rates?

Use a simple message. You only have a few short seconds to get a viewers attention. The best way to do this is with a short, powerful message that explains exactly what you have to offer and a short list of great benefits.

A great deal can also be very compelling. Are you offering a good coupon deal? A 2-for-1 rate? Add something to your email offer that will trigger a purchase now. Feel free to use free trial offers as long as you are aware of the expenditure and how it could affect your budget.

Author:

@BasilPuglisi is the Executive Director and Publisher for Digital Brand Marketing Education (dbmei.com). Basil C. Puglisi is also the President of Puglisi Consulting Group, Inc. A Digital Brand Marketing Consultancy that manages professional and personal branding for Fortune 500 CEOs, Hedge Fund Managers and Small Business Owners.

Sources:

About Basil Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.

Direct Marketing ~ Email VS Direct Mail

Direct Marketing is a crucial component of any lead generation program and should be part of your strategic marketing plan.  In 2012, B-to-B companies are continuing to include direct marketing in their marketing mix, but are focusing their efforts on email campaigns.  Why are they choosing email vs direct mail…there is one simple reason!  MONEY….Yes….it’s cheaper to run an email campaign verse a direct mail campaign…but which is one is giving back a greater ROI?

Marketing PlanAs a marketing consultant, I recommend to my clients not to put their eggs all in one basket and only rely on email campaigns only. To be successful, it’s important to utilize each slice of the direct marketing pie effectively.  My belief is that email marketing should be about retention and focus on your customers only, while direct mail should be used strictly for prospecting.

Here are the problems I have seen with email campaigns over the years:

  1. Noise & Clutter – Just too many emails in our inboxes – On a daily basis, I receive around 40-50 promotional emails from businesses.   I receive more promotional emails than actual work emails from my colleagues.  There is “Noise” and “Clutter” in our inbox that has caused us to stop paying attention to our emails and simply ignoring it.
  2. Lower Response Rates– Due to the clutter discussed above, response rates have dropped under 1% for email campaigns where a few years ago we saw response rates above 2%.
  3. Open Rates Have Dropped Due To Junk Emails– We just hit delete or watch emails fly into our junk folder and rarely hit open.  This is happening more and more….Our open rates have dropped from an average of 14%-20% to 5%-10% over the past few years.

The good news is that whether you are utilizing email or direct mail…..there are a few concepts that holds true for both:

1.   What is your offer

2.  How relevant is that offer to the audience you want to target

3.  Timing of your campaign

4.  What action are you asking your audience to perform?

The items above can help you increase the success of your email campaigns…but the true success will be when companies start focusing email campaigns on their customers only. This will increase the response rates because a person is more likely to open the email if they are a customer.

Why Direct Mail?

An example of direct mail used by political ca...

Image via Wikipedia

Yes…Direct mail marketing tends to be a costly and time consuming campaign to implement, costs can range from a $1 a piece to $5 a piece.  Designing, printing and mailing the campaign can take a number of weeks and usually involves a third party mailhouse.  However, direct mail is great for sending promotional items and delivering them right into the hands of your prospect. Unlike email marketing which is constrained by available space and layout, direct mail marketing can be colorful, attention grabbing and use as much space as you need to get your message across.  The campaign has longevity and can make an impact for a long time.

At the end of the day, each business needs to figure out what direct marketing mix works best for them.  Remember…..cheaper is not always better or the right way to reach your customer base.

Author:

Monique Merhige is the President of Infusion Direct Marketing & Advertising, Inc.  She has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola.  Infusion is a marketing consulting firm that specializes in the security industry and delivers marketing solutions that include Public Relations, Direct Marketing, Branding, Collateral Development, and Social Media Marketing.  Visit:  www.infusiondirect.com or call 631-846-1558

Sources:

About Monique Merhige

Infusion Direct Marketing's founder Monique Merhige has over 15 years of marketing communications experience with technology companies ranging from small service firms and equipment manufacturers to a 1.5 Billion dollar division of Motorola. Monique is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Dowling College in Oakdale and Brookhaven. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Marketing and an MBA in General Management.

Ways to Build Up Your Email List Using Facebook

Internet marketing is not what it used to be, experts like Guy Kawasaki say. If you were dealing with internet marketing before Facebook, you know it was all about emails. Obtaining prospects, finding the leads and hoping for conversions.

Email marketing, when done right, is personal and not stuffed with ads and commercial. It does help build followers and stay in touch with them. The White House, Barack Obama and Michele Obama, separately are using this method. It works not only in commerce.

But Internet Marketing is changing fast, as do our habits and ways we connect with friends, family and business associates. Today we are building groups – extended families, tribes if you will. And we are doing it on social media.

And it goes without saying that the most popular place to do so is Facebook. As of the end of 2011, Facebook has over 800 million active users with more than 50% of them logging on to Facebook every given day. The question is how to use this resource to build a great marketing campaign?

It can take a lot of time and money to build a big following (100,000+). It is not as easy as it sounds and even when you do manage to build a huge base, it will not necessarily increase your profits.

A savvy social media marketer knows how to transform his following into a very responsive email list.

Here are a few tricks of the trade:

Facebook Connect – Using it on a Squeeze Page is worth a test against traditional Squeeze Page. It’ll show you if Facebook is a faster and cheaper way to build your community. Most of the traffic you’ll get will be from social media sources or paid ad on Facebook. It might be easier to get personal information through Facebook and have more people you can email and your articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos or webinars.

Like Button – Put a “Like” button on your Facebook ads, and the ‘call for action’ would be to press that button. This way, when they click on the picture in your new ad, you already have the Like.

One Time Offer – Drive people to your website page by posting a link to it instead of posting the video directly on Facebook. Give them a one-time offer that is really worth their while. Why? Because this way you have the “Like” and you have their name and email address. The deal you gave will pay for itself with the new customers you just got. Apply it to any special report or newsletter. After they opt in, explain they will be receiving an email very shortly and subsequent email with links to new videos or special reports.

Ads for followers – Making an ad to your Facebook ‘friends’ is very cheap. You should do it often. You’ll get more info very inexpensively compared with other systems.

The Blurred Method – Create something entertaining for your fans, a special – just for them for joining your Facebook page. Create a fan page for this purpose only. Blur out parts of the video, unless they input their information. Put a Like button with the content and a direct responder. When they press the Like button it will reveal a way to get access to the content, with an opt-in. That is how you get their contact info. After that, show them your content. Use Facebook to post information about what you have created. You can also create a Facebook ad for this purpose.

Autoresponder – You have to have a built-in auto responder for at least 30 days. Find out what you are most interested in; videos, blog posts, other Facebook groups or other created content. Be consistent. Write emails every day for 30 days and drop that into the autoresponder sequence. Add p.s. to your emails with your site’s address for services or products.

Direct Response Blog – Create a loop between social media, email, and Facebook. Your social activity will grow your email, the emails will drive revenue. But if you have a blog to tie it all in, you give them a whole new aspect of the business – it’s all about you. If you prove to be a source they like, a leader in your field, they will bring others into the group. More email addresses, more leads to turn into buyers.

Sources:

About Basil Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.

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