email marketing

How to Keep Your Email Content Fresh

Keeping Your Email Content Fresh

1920 703 Colin Smith

Email marketing is an effective way to engage with your customers, drive traffic, and increase sales. In a previous blog we talked about the benefits of making your emails visually appealing, but what about the meat of it? It’s not easy keeping your emails full of fresh and creative content, but your audience sure will appreciate the effort. Here are some new ways to add content to your email.

Video

It probably seems like videos are everywhere you look, and that’s because they get people’s attention. They are visually stimulating, interesting, and they provide a great opportunity for your company to try something new. Whether you make a fun video about the history of your company, find a creative new way to announce a new product’s release, a useful tutorial, or a personal way to meet the team, videos give you a lot of options to branch out. Plus there’s no better format for your company’s personality to shine.

Reminders

A friendly reminder is always acceptable because your intention is clear. Have an upcoming event or a sale? Keeping your customers up-to-date is a genuine and thoughtful way to reach out. The key here is to not flood their inbox. Certain reminders won’t pertain to your entire mailing list, but for the most part your customers want to know what’s going on.

Progress Updates

Non-profits, small start-ups, and large businesses can all benefit by keeping customers in the loop. It can make for a fun way to roll out a product, or just so customers can see how well your company is coming along. People like being a part of success, so share yours with them.

Get Social

An email campaign dedicated to building your social following is clearly self-promotional, but if you are effectively using your social accounts then there’s a good chance your customers will be interested. Share examples of what they’ll see if they decide to follow you, and include some buttons to make it easy for them.

Collaborate

Use your mailing list as a place to get exclusive email content. Collaborate with another company to come up with creative, fresh, and interesting content that aligns with your audience while exposing them to something unique. No two collaborations will be the same, so your content is guaranteed to be original. Plus, the added exposure will be mutually beneficial.

The main takeaway is to keep things interesting. If your email marketing is becoming redundant, then it will become forgettable. You’ll lose the interest of your most loyal customers, and risk diminishing a valuable avenue for engagement. Before you click send, ask yourself “Would I want to open this?”

How To Create Well-Designed Emails

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A few months ago, we did a post for our favorite Attention Grabbing Email Marketing Campaigns. As was mentioned by a few team members (myself included) a well-designed, eye-catching email is something that we found to be the most attractive aspect of different campaigns. Being able to grab someone’s attention is the first step in getting the engagement you hope for in email marketing. But what makes for a well-designed email?

 

The goal is to motivate, not intimidate.
When we talk about good email design in a marketing sense, we are mostly referring to design that marries form and function. The reason this is so important is because it will motivate action, leading to a higher conversion rate. If an email is designed well, a viewer will clearly and calmly be able to locate and utilize a call to action, understand the incentive or promotion, and know who it’s coming from. As a marketer you want to make it as stress-free and appealing as possible. The consumer assumes all of the risk: lost time, doubt in a company, or doubt in security. Using design appropriately can reduce these concerns, and bridge the gap between you and your customers. Here are 5 ways to create an effective and attractive email:

Example Email from IFTTT

Example Email from IFTTT

  1. Use a Header– Put your logo or company name at the top of your email, making it clear who is sending the message.
  2. Create a Hierarchy- Just like any other form of content, having a hierarchy allows a reader to skim and quickly decide whether they are interested or not. It also helps to break up your content (someone is more likely to skim or ignore a large block of text.)
  3. Easy to Navigate– If a reader wants to learn more on your site, make it easy for them to get there. The easier you make this, the more likely you are to see conversions. One of the best ways is to have a Call To Action that is pronounced and clear.
  4. Use Imagery-The power of a picture has been praised repetitively. Using photo and video assets will always help. But it is important not to overcrowd and clutter with visual aids, using only what you need will also keep the file size down.
  5. Less is More- While this is usually true in most of design; it especially applies to email design. Having a clear message, promotion, or incentive tells your viewer exactly why you were contacting them. Keep your email simple, legible, and organized. This is the best way to get the attention you deserve for your content.

 

On average, viewers spend around 15 seconds looking at marketing emails. With such a small window of time to make the right impression, use your space wisely. The less clutter, excessive content, and clickable areas there are, the easier it will be to navigate and understand.

Attention Grabbing Email Marketing Incentives

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Email marketing has a powerful influence on consumer buying decisions, and if you aren’t making it a marketing priority, you could be missing a huge opportunity for converting and retaining your customers.

Consider these stats for a moment:

  • 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message (Direct Marketing Association)
  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers (Convince and Convert)
  • Over 70% of mobile purchasing decisions are influenced by promotional emails (Express Pigeon)

Just getting noticed by your subscribers is the first challenge, but what will be the incentive or carrot you dangle to get the next desired outcome? Here’s a look at some attention-grabbing email incentives we’ve seen.

Gretchen Ardizzone

I’m pretty use to discounts or free shipping offers, in fact, I almost expect them, but one of the most effective email marketing incentives I’ve received is Bauble Bar’s “The Buried Bauble.” It’s ironic because I don’t even wear that much jewelry, but somehow I’m always sucked in to “The Buried Bauble.” For 24 hours every Monday and Friday, Bauble Bar secretly marks down the price of one of the jewelry items to the guilt-free price point of $10 or $20. The email provides a clue for customers to locate the buried bauble online. For example, last week’s clue was “It’s on like NEON.” Customers then search the site looking for the product related to the clue; in this particular case being led to a neon cord bracelet. Aside from staking a claim on my bargain hunt, I typically the find myself perusing the site to see what else is new. The brand does a great job with enticing customers who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and exposing them to other great products at the same time.

Shannon Blair

I believe email incentives that work are ones that stand out. Whether from a subject line that is quick and witty, to a body that is colorful and fun. Standing out and being creative is what catches my eye. Another huge bonus, when it comes to email marketing, is keeping the voice of your brand. I have the utmost respect for companies that capture my attention with a small number of characters, then while reading through their email their voice remains prominent, yet attentive. May sound generic but Apple is an email marketing genius. They do all the things listed above that I love, as well as add their own flavor with a sleek design.

Colin Smith

Something that always catches my eye while digging through my inbox is a well-designed email. If it has attention-grabbing visuals, I will usually take the time to read about the deal, product, or news. Recently I received a promotional email from Homage, and while I wasn’t looking to buy a t-shirt at the time, their quirky image of a mad scientist/warehouse manager offering “Dr. Dinker’s Mystery Pack”  was enough to make me reconsider whether or not I should add a few more shirts to the collection. Upon actually reading the email it turns out that the 4 Tees for $30 was well worth it. A good incentive is one that a customer can’t pass up. Hook, line, and sinker.

Nathaniel Seevers

I’m with Colin, a well-designed email is one of the few things that grab my inbox attention. After that, it needs to be focused (short and concise) and also relevant. I don’t have time to scroll down an email forever. And don’t try to sell me on too many things in one message. TOMS, for me, nails this most often. Their seasonal focused emails put all the information in one view with a great photo or graphic and minimal copy – usually supplemented by a solid offer.

Sonya Palmer

As Desktop applications have migrated to web apps and online tools. I’ve really learned the benefit of investing in premium services. So anytime an email asks me to share how much I love their product for a extra offers, or maybe a free trial? I’m in!

Any email incentives you’ve found to be successful? Drop us a line in the comments below or hey, shoot us an email and share!

Photo Credit: takomabibelot

mail slot in door

Email Marketing Etiquette

880 461 Gretchen Ardizzone

I sign up for emails from a lot of  businesses and service providers. Why? Not necessarily because I’m looking to purchase something, but because its a good way to study communications from a variety of brands. Recently though, I’ve noticed some of the basic mechanics of email communication seem to be missing. And if that doesn’t seem like a big deal then consider the fact that 122,500,453,020 emails are sent every hour (source: Madison Logic). So a subpar email is bound to get ignored. Here are my tips for email marketing etiquette:

Introduce Yourself

I’ve received emails from a variety of people that I know I never subscribed to their email. I imagine they acquired my address from a third party resource or just simply found my contact info published somewhere online. And while I guess I appreciate the resourcefulness, your first communication shouldn’t be the same that you send to every other contact or subscriber in your database. Introduce yourself and explain why you feel what you have to offer is relevant to me. Getting a blind email is extremely confusing and often leaves me wondering why I received the email in the first place, even if your offer could be something of interest. Set the framework with whom you’re communicating, and you’re more likely to gain traction.

Humor is Okay, But Don’t Be Cheesy

I recently received an email from someone who was obviously trying to get my attention the subject line titled, “Eaten By Alligators.” Of course my interest was peeked and the email went something like this…

Hi Gretchen,

I’ve attempted to reach you, but have had no success. Either you’ve been eaten by alligators or you’re just plain swamped. If you have been eaten by alligators, my deepest sympathy goes out to your family members. If you’re still alive, one of the following is more likely to have happened. I hate to keep pestering you, but I do want to express my desire to chat with you more about whether or not our work management system may be a fit. Please pick one response and let me know what our next step should be.

_____ Yes, I’ve been eaten by alligators. Please send flowers.

_____ No, I haven’t been eaten by alligators, but you may wish I had been, because I have decided I have no interest in your service. Sorry, you’re sunk. (Thanks for your frank honesty. I can handle it.)

_____ Yes, we have some interest in learning more about (Company Name), but here are my challenges…

_____ Yes, we have some interest in leveraging (Company Name) to manage our work better. Call me to set a time for us to meet.

_____ I’m not the right person, please contact ____________.

Kind Regards,

(Contact’s Name)

Okay, so they achieved their goal of getting my attention, but to be honest I don’t recall receiving any other messages from this person prior to this. Also, the email left me so fixated on the element of being eaten by alligators I had no real grasp of what the company does or what they have to offer other than the brief mention of a “work management system.” Make sure you don’t get caught up in the act of being funny and forget the purpose of your email. This could be your one chance to get your recipients attention, don’t lose sight of that.

Watch Your Tone (of voice)

We’ve written several posts about how important it is to identify your company’s voice, and that same tone of voice should be utilized in your email communication. Whether it’s one email or a larger email to a segmented group, the tone used should convey an expression accurate to your brand. For a recipient receiving an email for the first time its an introduction to who you are and for someone who’s received emails from you in the past the language should be consistent with what they would expect. For example, if you’ve ever received an email from anyone at Shout Out you can expect there might be reference for a casual conversation over coffee. Why? Because we believe everything starts with a conversation, not a sales pitch. Throwing numbers at you is not our style, we genuinely want to discover what your challenges are and how we can help you achieve them, so that often starts with coffee.

Don’t Just Repeat The Past

If you’re seeing that your email open rates are not improving, you’re getting more opt-outs, or not successfully driving traffic to your website, don’t just keeping doing the same thing. We all know the famous quote from Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It could be time to evaluate your message. Try A/B testing campaigns to see what resonates with people and use the data to make changes. Explore your call-to-action. Do you have one? Personalize the email. Open rates increase significantly just by addressing the recipient by name. Create a captivating subject line that conveys the point of your message. The subject line is the first barrier to overcome in getting someone to open your email.

Extend The Conversation Beyond Email

Your email is just one vehicle to communicate with your audience, but why should the conversation stop there? Make sure you provide contact information where your audience can learn more about your company. It’s amazing how many emails I’ve received that don’t provide a simple link to their website. Make it easy, don’t make them hunt for you. And don’t forget to utilize social media links to encourage them to follow you on the various platforms where your brand is active. It could be an easy way to get your customers into the next stage of an engagement process.

 

Have any email marketing tips of your own? Leave us a line in the comments, we’d love to hear what works for you.

Photo Credit: loop_oh

broom

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Business

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In business a new year often means new goals and a plan to achieve them. Next thing you know, several months go by and sometimes that means things get a little cluttered or you might even find yourself slightly off track. Spring is always a refreshing turn of the season, because it not only signifies that you have survived the less than desirable winter, but it’s an opportunity to organize your enterprise. From the collective crew at Shout Out, here are a few Spring cleaning tips for your business:

Nathaniel Seevers

When a company has a product or service they’re passionate about they want to tell the world; tell them everything, every feature benefit and scream it from their homepage mountain. It’s understandable but what can often result is a bloated, busy, confusing first impression when someone hits your site.

For a spring clean homepage purge consider:

  • Reducing the number of slides in your slider. Online attention spans are short. Few visitors stick around to see more than 2, 3 slides at the most. Getting more concise with your benefit statement helps you in other areas as well. Even challenge yourself to reduce to one static main image. Get really good at being captivating.
  • Attracting your visitors to specific click-throughs for diving deeper into content versus telling the whole story in one spot
  • Implementing a heat mapping tool like Crazy Egg to see what people are clicking on, hovering around and ignoring. This can help you better understand what’s working and what you can cut.

Gretchen Ardizzone

To many businesses a customer email address is like a golden ticket. But how much is that ticket worth if it’s extremely out of date? My tip is take time to clean up your email lists. Why waste time and energy communicating to a vast group of people who hardly even read your stuff, can’t remember when or why they subscribed, or frankly they may question how they ended up on your list to begin with. Spend your time communicating with those who want to read what you have to say or see what you have to offer.

If you have an old list, don’t start re-engaging by sending them a promotional email, instead consider a quick reminder email to make sure they remember who you are and want to continue to receive your communications. And if it’s been a little while it doesn’t hurt to include an opportunity to opt-in again. Give them a couple of chances to opt-in before finally removing them.

If your email list raises some questions to begin with, you might want to check out this MailChimp article titled “Is my list ok to use in MailChimp.” While this may be intended for importing lists into MailChimp, I think many of the questions they ask are still applicable in evaluating the quality of your list. If you’re anything like us, you’ll enjoy the humor and appreciate the advice.

Shannon Blair

Ah, Spring… you begin cleaning out cars and closets – but what about social media? Yep, there are quick and simple ways to clean that up too.

Twitter: Go through your Twitter lists and followings and clean those up by unfollowing the ones that are inactive or who aren’t posting content that’s relevant to you or your company.

LinkedIn: Have you updated your resume, done some networking, or moved positions in your company? Dust off those cobwebs and update all that information and connect with new contacts!

Pinterest: You can comb through your Pinterest boards and tidy up by creating new boards or deleting old, irrelevant ones.

Google+: Clean up those circles, people!

Facebook: Get on Facebook and check on your information and update content that needs it – also give your Facebook a facelift by adding a new photo or header.

Luke Pierce

This winter was a tough one in central Ohio. It is easy to let the clutter accumulate in that kind of weather, not only around the house, but digitally as well. For whatever reason, I let my desktop on my computer get overcrowded, hardly emptied my browsers cache, and let hundreds of things pile up in my downloads folder. This week I decided my spring cleaning was going to take place on my lap top. I cleared my desktop, getting everything in organized folders to where it needed to be. Emptied my browsers cache. And cleared out my downloads folder. Not to my surprise, my laptop started functioning loads better. It always amazes me how easy it is to make things better and it makes me wonder why I don’t keep up with it all the time. Next up: properly back up my laptop on a regular basis.

Do you have a Spring cleaning list of your own? Share your tips in the comments below.

Photo Credit: kaiton

Digital Marketing Horror Story

1920 700 Gretchen Ardizzone

Cue the blood-curdling scream…

It’s that time of year when the weather changes and we all prepare for the usual Halloween activities like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, horror flicks, hayrides and haunted houses. Given the seasonal timeliness, the subject matter of our marketing meeting yesterday ended with each of us telling our own Digital Marketing Horror Story. Please avoid these terrifying tactics at all cost.

Luke Pierce

You know that iconic vision of a haunted house? Those once beautiful Victorian homes that have sat lonely on a hilltop rotting and decaying for years? Well, the Internet is riddled with their website equivalents. It’s horrifying.

Some believe that a website is a one-and-done type of thing. They believe that once it’s built, it will sit in pristine condition until the end of time. The truth is, it is just like our haunted house. It decays over time without attention. It gets forgotten about. People stop visiting. It starts to inhibit ghosts of your copyright past. Frankly, there is nothing that scares the shit out of me more than when I log onto a website and see 2002 ©.

Marsh Williams

So… we’ve all been there. We’re looking for something and we click a Google ad and poof… we’re magically transported to the mystical land of landing pages. Once I’m there I resist the siren call to give them all of my information before I learn more about the product. I attempt to go to the corporate website and read some more, but noooooo, I’m trapped! I’ve fallen for the oldest of gambits, next to “Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line,” and there is no way to leave the landing page. No link to the company home page, no hidden link in the company logo, no link anywhere to other information the company would probably want me to know about. Yes, worse than a corn-maze with no exit, a landing page with no way out.

By the way, I’m still stuck on the page and can’t seem to find my way home. Send pizza…

Many thanks to read more

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