The Power of The email Inbox

email inbox
Tips and Tricks for Successful Email Marketing

At its base level,

Email marketing is:

1.  Delivering professional communications. Making sure that we are getting great looking branded emails. Containing no grammatical and spelling errors into the inbox.

 

2.  To an interested audience – This is very important. Someone can easily report our emails as SPAM. Or they can delete them. We need to make sure that the individuals we are adding to our email lists expect to receive a communication from us. Setting this expectation is vital.

 

3.  Containing information the recipient finds valuable – Just because you have permission to communicate to someone doesn’t mean you will be successful with email marketing. You also need to be sending the right information to the right people on our email lists. Knowing what your audience needs or wants can be tough. Ask yourself, is it promotional in nature? Is it informational? Is it a combination? If you are unsure, you may want to ask your customers.  Send them a survey them.  Ask them on social media. Or when you or your staff have interactions with them in person. Many times this will lead you to understand the need to segment your list. Sending different messages to different audiences, more about that later in the presentation.

 

4.  That looks great in any inbox – So much email is being read on mobile devices. Including: Cell phones and tablets. You need to create an email that will look good on a laptop, desktop, and a mobile device.

email marketing
Email is amazingly cost effective, and can help drive revenue directly from your communication if you choose to promote, push someone into the trusting stage with your expertise, or solicit a donation!

create and increase emails

If you do a good job building your list (much more on this later today) you will have quite a few prospects on your list who need to be nurtured until they trust you enough to spend money. Email is an amazing way to continue to touch those prospects over the course of time until they are ready to buy. One of the reasons your list is so valuable is that you can’t predict when someone will be ready to take that step with you, and if you deliver valuable information over the course of time, more prospects will trust you, and email is the most cost effective way to communicate with your potential buyers over time.

boosting repeat business

Email is a great way to bring people back to you that have already purchased your product, service, or donated to your cause. Remember, you have invested money to acquire these customers and they have already had a positive experience with you (Hopefully;)). It is much easier to ask for revenue again with this audience, than bringing brand new prospects along.

You need to harness the power of the inbox.

Are you ready?

Today’s Agenda:

  • Why email marketing?
  • Harnessing the power of the inbox
  • Growing a healthy list
  • Creating great content
  • Designing a beautiful, mobile-friendly template that matches your brand
  • Getting your email opened
  • Tracking your results
  • Putting it all together

What’s the #1 app on smartphones?

Email! More people own a mobile phone than own a toothbrush, which means huge opportunities for success through email.

reading emails on smartphones

Email marketing is hard to beat.

91% of people check their email daily
88% regularly check email on their smartphones (more than social media or videos)

Do you check your email first thing when you wake, or last thing before you go to bed? Many of us can relate to this on a daily basis, and so can your audience. Email works because it brings you to where your customers are.

email marketing is reliable

Email is reliable.

It’s where everyone is these days for everything from updates from you bank or service providers, to messages from mom or the kids and of course promotional messages from businesses you subscribe to and frequent.

It’s clear that email is everywhere. But what does this mean for your business?

Why email?

Because it works everywhere!

conversion rate email marketing
Email marketing has 3x the conversion rate as social media, so the time you spend to create and send an email will reap higher rewards. For every $1 spent on email marketing, there is a $44.25 average ROI, which means the money you spend on your email marketing budget will come back to you multiple times over.

First impressions matter.

When someone opens your email, they’ll give it a 2 second glance, then either read on or delete. What they see is going to determine what they do next. Maybe you want them to visit your website, register for an event, donate to your nonprofit, or try a new product. This is where a professional-looking email designed to drive action is crucial.

Let’s compare a couple emails based on first impressions.

email first impressions

Notice the difference between a regular email from your own Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo account (on the left), and one sent through an email service provider like Constant Contact (on the right). Which one do you think is better?

The email on the right clearly looks more professional, which will ultimately get you closer to achieving and surpassing your goals.

Let’s talk about why the email on the left is NOT doing your marketing any justice, and why the email on the right is worth its return on investment.

Why regular email doesn’t work.

  • Limited sending
  • No formatting control
  • Susceptible to filters
  • No cohesive branding
  • Potential SPAM complaints
  • No tracking or reporting

By using an email service provider, like Constant Contact, your bases will be covered. Many best practices are already built into your emails.

Here’s a list of things you won’t have to worry about because Constant Contact already does it for you.

  • Provide beautiful templates
    Customizable, mobile-responsive, easy-to-use
  • Reinforce brand identity
    Features built to match your logo and colors, plus integrate your social media profiles and drive website traffic
  • Manage subscriptions
    adding new subscribers, removing unsubscribes
  • Ensure email delivery
  • Track results
  • Obey the law
    Physical address
  • Unsubscribe option

Creating A Healthy List

Growing your list is all about how and where you ask.

And yes, you have to.

Permission is a critical part of the email marketing process, and there is legislation in place in the US and Canada that governs how we can email customers and prospects.

  •  Get express consent
    Ask for permission in all touch points of your sales process this could be a checkbox when someone is buying from your website, or you simply asking a question in a face to face interaction.
  • Be straightforward
    When you ask for permission take advantage of the opportunity to set a couple of expectations. You can tell them how often you will be in their inbox, and also the type of content they should expect. If you do this well and follow through, you will have more success.
  •  Offer opt-out
    Make sure you have an option to let your contacts unsubscribe in every email that you send. When you use a service like Constant Contact, not only will we include that option for you, but we’ll also automatically manage those who opt out so you don’t have to!
  • Respect privacy
    Posting your privacy policy is a great way to set your contacts or potential contacts at ease when they are joining your list. It helps the feel that their data is protected, again this is something that email service providers like Constant Contact specialize in.
  • Follow compliance guidelines (CAN-SPAM, CASL etc.)
    Clear & obvious permission on your sign up form
    Clearly identify the person, business or organization – brand recognition is crucial. Constant Contact offers free sign up tools that are fully customizable to add your name, logo and even your colors.
    Inform them that they can unsubscribe any time
    Have a process to record express consent

It’s clear WHY you need to collect email addresses in a responsible way, but HOW do you find them?

One of the best ways to get someone to subscribe is a dedicated area or page on your website explaining why someone would want to subscribe to your list. Tell them why they’d get in their inbox and how it will benefit them.

There are lots of ways to gather contacts.

  • Collect email addresses at events – Events are a great way to gather email addresses. Before the event when people register, make sure you provide a checkbox for them to select if they’d like to receive email communications from you. At the event, exchanging business cards is a great idea. If you have a booth, Constant Contact offers free printable sign up forms to allow visitors to subscribe. You can also give away business cards and swag in exchange for email addresses.
  • Add a QR scannable sign-up code to printed materials – if you are a restaurant or café, a salon, a doctor, a financial advisor, or if you just have a waiting room at your business, this is a great place to gather contacts. People are sitting there looking over the menu or reading coffee table flyers. Constant Contact provides a way to subscribe right from their mobile device. Print the code on your business card, your brochures, shipping boxes and receipts, ads in the paper or in local magazines, on posters. Anyone who scans your code will be automatically added to your list. So easy!
  • Use your sidewalk sign to offer an easy incentive to subscribe inside – If your business has a sidewalk sign, incentivize someone to come in for a special something in exchange for an email address. You’ll be surprised how many people want to get a special something and how many, after seeing your business will want more goodies like that from you in their inbox. If you’re in the US, add your Text to Join keyword and unique phone number to printed materials too.
  • Place to sign up on the bill, office form, or application – When someone receives their receipt, include a section where they can write their name and email address, and check a box to receive your emails. Make sure you staff knows to check for this and to record that information at the end of the day.
  • Use a fishbowl on the counter to collect business cards – tried a true, this technique still works! Offer a monthly drawing for a free meal, haircut, or Gift Card. Put this where people can see it, and make sure it looks as full as possible – this helps to encourage people to ‘go with the crowd’ and add their business card to the bowl. With this, make sure you are organized and uploading those contacts regularly.

But really, with all the free tools Constant Contact provides, there’s no excuse not to ask.

texting email list growth

Now if you’re in the US and using Constant Contact, definitely set up a text to join option and put it wherever people are likely to see posters or print materials from your business. Memorize it also – it’s one of the easiest ways – hands down – to get someone to subscribe to your list and takes the least amount of energy to do so.

Set up a unique email list called Text-to-Join to collect these contacts and assign an automation Welcome series to this list so that when people take the time to subscribe to your mailing list this way, they can become familiar with your business right away or receive their incentive to join that you offered immediately and use it at your business.

QR codes are another free and effective way of growing your list. By signing up for Constant Contact, everyone in this room automatically gets their own unique QR code. When you print or advertise this code, anyone who scans it with their smartphone, will be able to instantly subscribe to your emails.

These new subscribers will receive an automatic email welcoming them to your list. You can customize that message to share valuable content and set expectations about the kinds of emails they will receive, and how often. Best of all, if you make any changes to your sign up form, it will automatically update so you don’t have to reprint any of your materials.

Give them a reason to join

the reason for unsubscribers

  • Ongoing education related to your product
  • VIP preference
  • Insider news or exclusive access
  • E-book, whitepaper, guide
  • Updates on your mission
  • Friends & Family discounts

These are few examples of the types of incentives that you could offer to get someone to subscribe to your mailing list. Make sure that they are feasible for your organization to offer and manage and track and that you have the bandwidth to honor these incentives.

Creating Great Content!

  1. Focus on being relevant—Make sure that you know what your audience values, I have seen business owners assume that they know what their audience wants, and be completely off base. Do the research by asking or surveying your customers and prospects what type of information they would like to receive in their inbox.
  2. Figure out how much is enough—How much content is enough? Keep in mind that a majority of people will be
  3. One of the easiest ways to create content is to listen to your customers’ and prospects’ questions that they frequently ask. Many times they are similar, and it’s important to remember that YOU are the expert in your business or industry, and your customers typically are not. These questions can be amazing sources of content. Try doing a “FAQ mailbag” section to your newsletter when you need content.
  4. Don’t forget that images can be content too…pictures of events/product/staff work very well. Make sure that you optimize for mobile, and that images don’t dominate your content.

Ultimately, when you think about each of these guidelines, consider how your reader would answer. The message YOU want to convey might not be the message your READERS are most willing to respond to.

It’s essential to write content for your audience, not for yourself.

email appeal

  • 38 percent of email recipients will unsubscribe if they think the content in your email is boring or irrelevant – and when a person unsubscribes, you won’t be able to communicate with them again.
  • 32 percent will send irrelevant content to their spam folder, which could impact how email providers, like Gmail or Yahoo, sort your future messages.

Source: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/why-subscribers-flag-email-as-spam

When writing for your audience, make your messages relevant, short and focused. You can make it relevant to your audience by thinking about the conversations you’ve had with your clients, customers and members. After an interaction, jot some ideas down for your next email, and pick 1 or 2 ideas to highlight in each email.

Your email shouldn’t be telling recipients every single thing that you do, and it shouldn’t include extraneous information.

But what’s “too much” information?

Think about it, How often do you look forward to reading a long, detailed email from a business? Not very often, right? You’re looking for something concise and easy to read – what’s the news, what are the details of the deal or sale, is there any action I want or need to take? – and that’s what you should think about when you create your own emails.

When it comes to email content, less is more. Always.

There is no rule that says your newsletter needs to have three articles, three pictures and three links. One thing is plenty. There is actually a Constant Contact customer whose newsletter is called One Thing – he did it to make it easy on himself and it works really well – people can absorb it and he’s not under the gun to come up with a bunch of content to fill it.

We did a study of our customers and found that the best practice is to limit yourself to 20 lines of text and (click) three or fewer images. Just like you, your audience is busy. You don’t need to worry about sending a ton of information every time.

Source: Constant Contact study: http://news.constantcontact.com/research/constant-contact-data-reveals-direct-correlation-between-email-campaign-effectiveness-and-n

Remember, more than ½ of emails are read on a mobile device.

Our research also shows that 1 link gets the best click-through rate. You want your audience to take an action, so use a link to make that clear. Two links are OK, but once you get to three links, the click-through rate starts to decline. Any higher than 5 links means that people are LESS likely to click ANYWHERE in your email. So try to stick with only one or two clicks, and keep them high in your message so people do not have to scroll down to take an action.

And for your mobile readers – make sure that you’re keeping your messages short, and your calls to action above the fold (meaning, readers don’t have to scroll down to get to your most important content).

Source: Constant Contact study: http://news.constantcontact.com/research/constant-contact-data-reveals-direct-correlation-between-email-campaign-effectiveness-and-n

Let’s talk about turning your interactions with your customers, clients, members, supporters and volunteers into content for your email.

Think for a second about the last interaction you had with someone at your organization. What questions did a customer or client have? What information are people requesting about your nonprofit? Can you turn an answer to their questions into an email?

Here are some great examples.

turning questions into email content

One easy way to practice this in real life is to create two columns – in a spreadsheet or document, or just on a piece of paper, with the questions you regularly get on the left. In the right column, write down a way you can turn the answers to those questions into an email full of fresh, relevant content.

As a matter of fact – and this might be a relief for those suffering from writer’s block – great content doesn’t have to be written at all!

Visual content, like photos, videos, graphics and word-images, makes a huge impact in an email inbox. Did you know that 90% of information processed by the brain is visual content and more than half of consumers believe that images are very important factor when buying? Visuals are important to your business because they influence customers’ purchasing decisions. 67% of consumers believe that images are a very important factor when selecting and purchasing a product.

You can use photos to show off your products or shots from a recent event, and you can link to videos to show your organization in action or a product demonstration. Word images – a brief phrase, statistic, or quote over a background image – are a great way to share information in an eye-catching way.

And creating visual content is easier than ever these days – almost anyone with a smartphone has the ability to shoot high-quality photos and videos. You don’t need too much time or a huge marketing budget to create compelling images anymore – you’ve got the technology right there in your pocket.

90% stat: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/visual-social-media-marketing/488380?red=at
67% stat: http://www.mdgadvertising.com/blog/its-all-about-the-images-infographic/

Photos are a frequent and necessary piece for visual content. Sometimes, you may find you need a photo that you do not have or cannot create on your own. There are a variety of online stock photo sites where you can search for just the right photo that fits your needs. They are a great resource and can work well for visual content that’s based around a theme, a tip, a fact or a quote.

When you download a photo, be sure it is the right size or slightly larger! You can always crop it or scale it down, but will lose image quality if you try to enlarge a small image too much.

It might be tempting, but it’s never a good idea to use just any image you may find through a search, including sample stock photos with a watermark on them.

There can be copyright issues associated with those images; they belong to someone else. When using stock photos, you purchase the rights to use the photo, or in some cases accept a free download and agree to certain credit/conditions. Fees can vary, so shop around for what feels right for you and fits your budget. Here are some services that you can use to get free stock photos!

Constant Contact customers have access to over 12 million images through BigStock. But even if you aren’t a customer, BigStock offers a free trial for new users.

Working with photos

  • Choose the right size
  • Avoid copyright issues
  • Use your own photos
  • Find stock images

photos for email content

You’ve heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words. In your email, you can communicate through images as well as text. Turn your images into clickable links, so that when your readers click on your images, they will be directed to the action you want them to take – just make sure you also include a text link to the same location, because about 67% percent of email readers will not see images by default.

Email tools like Constant Contact make it easy to assign a URL to your images, and also to add “alt text” so that a description of the image appears, even if the reader doesn’t see the picture.

Side note – try to avoid giving too many choices in your campaign. These are supposed to be quick decisions to act (clicking to shop in your online store or selecting an item and clicking to buy) Too many choices will reduce the number of decisions / actions a person can take. It’s a time limit thing. Think of your campaign as window shopping. You want to entice someone to come in right then and buy because of whatever got their attention.

Designing a beautiful, mobile-friendly template that matches your brand

Stats say 55% of email is now opened on a mobile device (source 1: Litmus “Email Analytics” March 2016), which means your emails not only have to be interesting and actionable, but they also have to look great on every device. Luckily, services like Constant Contact have hundreds of templates already designed to be optimized no matter where your audience reads your email. That’s one less thing for you to worry about when creating your email.

Remember, being recognizable is critical to success in email marketing. Make sure your emails look like your website/printed material from a logo and color perspective. Things like color can increase brand recognition up to 80%! (source 2: BOP Design blog Oct 2015) Within seconds, you can apply the exact colors of your website or logo to the color of your template.

Source 1: http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics
Source 2: https://www.bopdesign.com/bop-blog/2015/10/15-crazy-branding-stats/

In your email, make sure you’re consistently using your logo and the colors that you use in the rest of your marketing, so that you’re immediately recognizable. And make sure you use consistent language across all of your marketing so that people will not be confused.

For example, the nonprofit Strong Women Strong Girls does a great job of being consistent with their logo and images across their email, website and Facebook page. (see below)

email branding

Don’t be afraid to use the same content and images across your email, website and social media posts.  The more your organization meets your audience where they are, the more likely your audience is to keep you in mind. Constant Contact templates are fully customization, allowing you to create this same consistency for YOUR organization.

When you sign up with Constant Contact, not only will you gain a level of customization as you just saw, you’ll also gain immediate access to beautiful professional-looking templates designed to address your specific goal(s) and save you time. Different templates are designed to achieve your different needs to help you be successful.

email marketing options

  • Newsletters—Typically showcasing your expertise. Remember you are giving away good information for attention. Remember to use the teaser paragraph strategy…If you have a whole article of content, tease the first few sentences and create a “read more…” link to the rest of the content on a website. You can even link to a PDF article! This will help you keep the newsletter short and allows you to track your audience’s interests.
  • Announcements—These are a great way to showcase special updates and opportunities. Could be your business winning an award, or a special event or sale. Or maybe you want to generate interest in your newest product or give your audience a chance to provide feedback. Clickable buttons are a perfect way to draw your readers eye to an important/actionable part of your email.
  • Promotions—Make sure that you don’t give too many choices. Remember you want someone to see the benefit of your email and take a quick action. You’ll find pre-made coupons that you can customize for your promotion. You can even encourage your audience to spread the word for you by including your social media profiles.

The greatest benefit to all of these templates is the ability to see how well you achieved each of your goals.

Is your audience engaging in your newsletter articles? Did your audience want to read more about your newest service? How many people took advantage of your special coupon? Then you can adjust future emails to cater to what your audience likes. We’ll talk more about reporting features shortly.

This is based on Constant Contact’s analysis of over 2M Constant Contact customer emails –

THIS is the recipe for the most effective email campaign.

  • Single column template
  • Fewer than 3 images
  • Fewer than 20 lines of text
  • No more than 3-5 links
  • Action above the scroll line

This is just one example of how Constant Contact supports you in being successful, by providing research and knowledge to help you make the most of your email marketing efforts.

(NOTE: EMAIL me to see if there are any current discount offers with Constant Contact)

Getting your email opened

So how do you win the battle of priorities and get more people to stop and open your email? Think about how you sort your email – or if you’re on facebook, think about the news-feed. Typically when you open up your email – think about it this morning – you start at the top of the list and you go down, sorting by who it’s from.
WHO the email came from turns out to be the most important part of winning the battle of priorities. You do it based on WHO, so it’s important for you to be recognizable.

getting those emails opened

You do need to exercise care and consider how you’re identifying yourself across the channels you’re using. If you send your emails as “Jane Doe,” but your Facebook page shows up in people’s news-feeds as “Famous Cookies,” people might not make the connection. Just be sure that you’re consistent with the name you use – and ensure that it’s the one that you’ll be recognized by, so that ultimately your readers and followers will stop and open your email, read your posts – because they know they’re going to get something of value and relevance from you.
If you are not sure that people will recognize you because they mostly know the company name, then use a combination of your name, then a comma, and then the company or brand name – so you can piggy back off of the recognition of that brand but knowing you’ll get more people to stop and pay attention to an email from a person.
Another way to look at it – when you get an email from a company, don’t you automatically assume that it is a marketing message so if you are busy or going through your own battle of priorities, that one usually goes into the later or never pile.
One other note, for nonprofits in the room, you are – and sorry to say this – often starting at later. And not because people do not care about your message. That’s not it at all. It is more about the timing of your messages (which we will cover in a little bit)

But if you think about it, if people are at work and their focus is supposed to be on their work, and then they get an email about your cause or program, even if they really care about it, they cannot always pull away from their primary responsibilities at the office.

As a small business, you don’t have time to do things that don’t work, so when it comes to your subject lines, you want to get into the habit of optimizing your subject lines to get the best results possible for your marketing efforts every time. We’re going to show you some easy ways to do that today.

Approximately one third of people decide to open an email based solely on the subject line so that subject line needs to be a “stand out” subject line whether they’re reading on a desktop computer or a smartphone or tablet. There is a lot of competition for our attention these days in our inboxes, but I’m about to teach you some tricks of the trade you can start to use in your next email.

35% of all recipients of email choose whether or not to open a message on the subject line alone. – inwise “The Magic Words: The Importance of the Subject and ‘From’ Lines for Email Marketing” (2012)

Readers will use your subject line as a way to determine whether or not your email is relevant to them. One way to entice readers to open is by clearly explaining what they’ll get/learn when they open. Ask yourself:

Does my subject line clearly explain why someone should open my email immediately?

Once you’re able to articulate why your audience should open your email (by identifying your purpose), then you can put your creative spin to attract your reader’s attention. Let’s talk about some basic best practices for subject lines.

55% of email is opened on mobile devices. For that reason, it’s important to tailor your subject line and pre-header text to be optimized for mobile reading, which means keeping it short.

  • 30-40 characters max typically appear on most mobile devices
  • 6-10 words is best; 4-7 has greatest response
  • Control first 11-18 words of “pre-header” text to entice mobile readers

email subject line rule

When thinking of subject lines, think small.

The Inbox will typically only show users the first 9-11 words of the pre-header text or any words above the logo. Take control of that fact and put a few power-packed words into a block above your company logo (which should always be placed at the top with a clickable link to your website.)

Rule of thumb – write your subject lines between 6-10 words and don’t forget about mobile users because (51%) of email is opened on a mobile device and you want not to exclude people who are reading on the go and who may be more apt sometimes to stop by your business or respond to your message. This really matters – keep in mind that iPhones, for instance, cut off a subject line at 32 characters – so you want to keep the important stuff at the beginning!

http://info.movableink.com/Device-Report-Q1-2015 are using mobile phones to read emails as well as CTCT research

Mobile phones will also typically show the first 15 characters of the first text in the message, so take control of that feature we’ve referred to as ‘preheader text’ and write a second headline that will hook your reader into reading the rest of your email right from the get go. Think of it like a compliment to our subject line or the ‘next step or hook.’ This text should appear just above your logo block and we’ll go into that in just a bit but it is important to keep it in mind as you’re crafting your subject line.

Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/your-next-email-subject-line/

When designing your email, be sure to write pre-header text at the top. (Constant Contact has built-in blocks to help remind you). You can highlight relevance, usefulness, value or educational value at the opening of your message to catch their attention. Or, you and switch it up and do something unexpected or non-traditional or unusual.

This is seen on a mobile device right below the subject line, including some desktop viewers. (click) Use pre-header text or ‘the teaser text’ as a hook or a second chance to draw your subscribers into your email after they’ve considered the subject line. Because this space allows for slightly more words, this is where you want to take your subject line a bit further by explaining or elaborating on your subject line.

Customize the message to match the interests of your audience. [PRO TIP] *If you are segmenting (categorizing) your lists (a good marketing practice), use relevant personal interest information that you’ve collected over time and position your subject line to match those interests.

Also, match your message tone to reflect your brand – Is your brand informative? Sassy? Funny? Quirky? A thought leader? Incorporate that element of your brand’s personality into your subject lines in just a few words.

 

email spam words

Make sure you’re not doing things we’ve found spammers to do in their emails. These are things that will likely get your emails sent to readers’ spam folders
Don’t use these typical “spammy” words. When you get the slides, the first bullet here contains a chart you can refer to which contains words that spam-filters are trained to block if they catch them in subject lines.

  • Don’t use:
  • The word free
  • Act now
  • Fast
  • Guaranteed
  • Advertisement
  • Don’t use all caps (What does it feel like to read all caps? Yelling)
  • Don’t use excessive punctuation or symbols like the pound or dollar sign or percentage symbol

 

Avoid the following:

  • Spam-like terms
  • Check your spam folder
  • Use spam-check button
  • ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
  • Excessive punctuation and symbols !!!, ???, $$$

Need a reminder of what practices are in a spam email? Can always compare to what’s in your own junk mail folder. You can also check before you send. By using Constant Contact, you’ll have the ability to send yourself a test of your own email before sending to the masses. You can even send to colleagues, friends, and family to get help proofreading. Yet another way Constant Contact helps you do email marketing in a professional and impactful way.

Encourage your audience to share your promotions by using social media tools.

This is a really effective way you can grow your reach – emails that include those social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by more than 158 percent!

add social media buttons to emails

Add social media buttons that link to your business’ social media profiles. The buttons are a nice visual reminder for them to click and follow you online.

Your audience has a lot of influence via word of mouth, and you can get your promotions in front of more people – their friends and family – if they help spread the word for you

SOURCE: Visualistan, Latest Social Media Statistics Infographic http://www.visualistan.com/2015/04/latest-social-media-statistics-infographic.html

Tracking your results

Can you tell the number of people who read your last email? How about the number of people who have stopped opening your messages entirely? Do you think those questions are important when deciding how to proceed with your email marketing?

Instead of shooting in the dark with a new idea and hoping it works, Constant Contact can shed light on your marketing strategy through important email metrics. In a few minutes, you’ll understand:

  • What metrics matter when analyzing whether or not you’re achieving your goals
  • How to use data to make real marketing decisions
  • The importance of focusing on the click throughs as one of the greatest metrics for success

average email open rate

Open Rate —If you’ve used regular email clients in the past, how many of you know the number of people who actually read the message? The biggest benefit here is the ability to see how many people are interested in your organization and what you have to say. Also by having this information, you can make smarter marketing decisions about timing, content and audience of future messages. Notice how Constant Contact provides the date and time your readers opened your email. This gives you very tangible information about when you’ll get the best results in the future.

The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 8% all the way to 28%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about.

http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

email click through average

Click-throughs are the best measure of success because you can directly tie the goals of your email to someone clicking on the link. The more people who click on your link, the more you have achieved the goal of your message. Plus, it helps you as a marketer to understand what content people are interested in the most so you can send more of it. We’ll talk more about how you can maximize this metric in a few minutes.

The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 5% all the way to 18%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about.

http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

unopened emails

Did not opens – When you have contacts that don’t open your emails, it’s a great idea to spend a little extra time and effort to win them back. Use this information to target these contacts in a creative way. Resending the same exact email to customers who weren’t interested the first time is a good way to get a spam complaint. So make sure that you take this opportunity to change things up. Try improving your subject line or adding some new content. Constant Contact makes this easier than ever by providing features to segment your least engaged contacts and send targeted messages just for them.

The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 72% all the way to 92%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about.

emails opted out

Opt outs – allows readers to unsubscribe and gives them an opportunity to share their reason(s). By reviewing these comments, you can find areas for development in your strategy, like changing the frequency of messages, or setting clearer expectations when someone signs up to your list. Constant Contact makes this metric easy to manage by automatically removing these contacts from future emails so you don’t have to worry about sending unwanted messages.

The industry average for this metric is less than 1% across all industries. If your metrics are below 1%, you’re on track. This metric may fluctuate depending on your mailing strategy, and that’s normal. If you find this metric to be higher than 1% on a regular basis, we recommend reviewing this feedback and adapting your strategy. The most common complaint by opt-outs is too much email, so sending less frequently is a great start.

http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

emails that bounce

Bounces – are equally important for their own reasons. First, it identifies email addresses that are not effective. There are a variety of reasons an email address may bounce so it’s important that you review these email addresses and remove the ones that are not helping you achieve your email goals. Overall, this metric protects your sending reputation and keep your deliverability high!

  • The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 2% all the way to 14%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about.

http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

What are some factors that might keep someone from opening your email? When you go through your inbox, how do you decide which emails to delete/ignore? (let audience interact, if appropriate)…… Maybe you don’t recognize the sender. Maybe the subject line isn’t relevant to you and it doesn’t look time sensitive, so you think “I’ll come back to it later” (and of course, you never do). Maybe you just received a similar email very recently.

Based on those answers, how can we improve our open rate? (let audience interact, if appropriate)…… (click) Brand recognition plays a large part in your open rate. The majority of people will not open an email from someone they don’t know. So make sure your from name is clearly recognizable and consistent with how your audience refers to your organization. You can also write your subject line in a way that creates urgency for your readers and entices them to see what’s inside. But keep it short; if it’s more than 5 to 8 words, it could get cut off by your recipients’ email services or smartphones. And finally, your timing and frequency could be off. We recommend starting with a monthly email and adapting from there. Too many emails, and your audience will ignore you or unsubscribe. Too few emails, and your audience might not remember signing up. Also consider, are you sending at the times and days that people would be most likely to read your email? Try a different day or time and compare your results.

You’re using these reports to get to know your audience better, so keep track of what’s getting the most attention in your emails. Segment your audience into different lists, and target them with relevant content based on what you know is working!

What are some factors that might keep someone from clicking on a link? When you read your email, what are some reasons you don’t click on anything? (let audience interact, if appropriate)…… Maybe your link was not obvious, or it was hidden between articles or at the bottom of your message. Maybe there were so many links, your audience got overwhelmed and didn’t know where to click. Maybe it simply wasn’t interesting to those particular people.

Based on those answers, how can we improve click through rates? What can we do to bring this number up?

  • Review the calls to action in your email. Consider the wording– is it clear? Is it urgent? Is it telling people exactly what action to take and why it matters to them? Look at your email design and consider how much content is in your email. If your email is too long, many people will give up and delete it before taking an action. Our recommendation is to have no more than 3 articles in an email. And keep those articles short! Include a sentence or two and then a link to read more. When you give people too many choices, they’re not sure what they should click on, and might not click on anything.

Let’s start with the high open rate. It’s a great result, and there are things you can do to make it even better:

  • The first is to find out what’s the best time and day to send your emails. When you look at your open rate report, you’ll see what date and time each of your readers opened your email. Start comparing that to the day and time you send your email – you should send your messages at the day and time your readers are opening them. They’ll be more likely to check their email then and see your message.
  • Next, take a look at your subject line – what keywords do you think were interesting to your audience? Think about the keywords you’ve used in your subject lines, in blog posts, on social media, and in your website that draw your audience’s attention. Keep using them in your subject lines.
  • Segment “super fans”. The majority of email opens come from a very small group of readers. Usually, the same group of people will be opening your emails, with slight variations every time. This is an argument for smart segmentation – don’t simple send everything to everyone, but recognize that there is a core set of “superfans” who contribute the lion’s share of your opens. You should consider sending the most valuable emails to them first as an exclusive ‘sneak preview’ – make them feel special.

A high click rate is fantastic. Your audience wants to know more about the resources you’re linking to in your email. Here’s a few things you can do to make your click rate even better.
Format your links so they stand out when your readers open your email. Use buttons or put white space around them. Make sure the links are spaced out for mobile readers – if they’re too close, it’s really easy to click on the wrong link with your finger.
You’re using these reports to get to know your audience better, so keep track of what’s getting the most attention in your emails. Narrow down the links you offer to fit the topics, products and services that they want to read about.
The last thing you can do is take that knowledge of your audience and segment them. Just like you have “super fans” for opens, you have “super clickers”. These are readers who consistently engage with your messages. This is a huge opportunity to put a special offer in front of your “super clickers”, either by sending it to them ahead of the pack, or by selectively sending them something that is just for the most loyal consumers. By capitalizing on the reporting provided by Constant Contact, you have the ability via smart segmentation to do this for your consumers.

Let me know show you how easy it is to segment your super clickers using Constant Contact’s reporting.

email click through rates

Did you notice that with all the campaign reports we talked about earlier that they had one thing in common? That’s click-throughs. No matter what you’re using – email, events, surveys, offers or promotions, donations or social media – you can measure click-throughs.

This goes back to what we talked about earlier– the importance of measuring actions. Click-through rates measure exactly what actions your audience is taking. This metric tells you so much. It gives you an idea of what content people like, what products they’re interested in, what calls to action work, what keywords appeal to your readers, and what multimedia is interesting to them.

clicking through emails

Constant Contact will keep track of each link individually so I can get very specific about what’s working for my audience. For example, if I have links to my facebook, twitter, and linked in profiles in my email, I’ll be able to see which social media profile had the highest traffic based on these numbers.

clicking through emails

You can even drill deeper to view who clicked on a specific link, which tells you their interested in certain topics. Back to my social media example, if Facebook had the highest number of clicks (in this example, we’ll say 12), I can view who those 12 clickers were so I can better engage with them.

who clicked on the email links

Let’s take it a final step further. If we were to use that contact information to our advantage, we could save “clickers” into their own list based on their interest. Now the next time I want to communicate with those people, I can target based on what I know they like.

email targets

So for my example where the majority of clicks went to my Facebook profile, I can now save those 12 clickers into a “Facebook” contact list. And next time I want to send an email, I could send exclusive content from my Facebook page to the people who I know use Facebook based on Constant Contact’s reporting. What impact do you think that will have on my open rates and my click rates in the future?

They’ll go through the roof! This is just one example of the power of Constant Contact for your email marketing success (and not to mention your ability to be more efficient on other platforms like social media. Spend time where your audience is.)

Putting it all together

We’ve made it easy for you. We took the best practices we talked about, as well as some pro tips and created a checklist.

email basics

email marketing design

Small business marketing is

Nurturing relationships
Delivering on your promise
Getting measurable results

One of the best things I can tell you is that, as a small business or a nonprofit, you actually have an advantage over “big business” in this new era of marketing – it is specific to your use of email and social media marketing.

email marketing advantages

Constant Contact provides the tools, features, and support you need to be successful. Together, we can help you be successful!

Everything we talked about in today’s session is intended to help you grow your business. Strategies, tips and ideas that you can leave here and try. Constant Contact is an online marketing system with tools to help you manage mass communication and marketing campaigns easily and without spending a lot of time or money. You can send email newsletters or announcements of any kind, run your own special offers or deals, get feedback or run an online survey and you can promote and manage your own events.

It’s all together in one place and everything also works closely with social media channels like facebook, linked in and twitter and it’s also designed to help you look good on a mobile device. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, Constant Contact has the tools to help you get there.

Start your free trial or if you’re ready to jump in, contact me to see if there are any current offers or discounts. DannaCrawford@gmail.com

Schedule a free phone call and/or a private webinar with me ASAP.

Attend a LOCAL or ONLINE presentation. View the EVENTS page for up-to-date workshops.

Gainesville FL eBay USPS Workshop

Grow Your Business with Email & Social Media

email and social media marketing

Here’s what we’re going to talk about today.

  • We’ll discuss small business marketing in today’s changing world, and why it’s to your advantage.
  • We will go over some simple steps for creating your own marketing goals.
  • I will show you different tools that really help drive action for you in your messages, and how to choose the right place to promote your message.
  • We’ll talk about the important of measuring your goals in order to make future marketing decisions.
  • And then we will touch on how you can get started, no matter where you’re starting from.

Let’s start with small business marketing in today’s world. It might seem like there’s a lot to keep up with and you only have so many resources to get you there. We’re here to tell you, you do have something no one else can offer.

So, as I said before, marketing has changed with the growth of technology.
Some of the change is obvious, but I want to talk briefly about one of the subtle changes that affects you and your ability to grow your business using all of the new online tools: it’s a basic shift in the way you may find and keep customers with today’s business climate.

Look at this model:

marketing then

It’s a typical sales funnel, using traditional marketing methods, things like print ads, radio, television, direct mail.  This model is all about your reach – reaching out to FIND new customers. it’s bigger at the top, which is where you spend a lot your time, your money and your energy in this model. And…it makes sense. You reach out to as many people as you can, convert a certain percentage into paying customers and keep even fewer of those people – mainly because so much of your time, money and energy went into the reach at the beginning. It’s a standard, sales, numbers game and it makes sense. We are all familiar with this model – the problem with this traditional funnel is that it’s expensive – those ads cost a lot of money and it’s hard for a small company or organization to compete in this landscape.

Digital marketing tools have completely flipped the funnel:

digital marketing tools flipped the funnel

When you begin to use new marketing tools, like email marketing, Facebook, linked in, twitter, events, surveys, etc… you reach to people you already know. This new marketing funnel is about reaching out to people that already know you, and letting THEM spread the word to potential new customers… you reach out, on a regular basis, with information and offers that are relevant to your contacts and it turns out that if you do it right, you will actually begin to convert more people than you are reaching out to, because of your audience’s desire and ability to share your message. Through this new funnel, you grow your base, your business through repeat business and referrals – at the end of this marketing day, turns out you keep a lot more of your existing customers so you don’t need as many strangers, and it costs less and takes less time and energy.

 

The flip in the marketing funnel is actually phenomenal news for you as a small business or non-profit and that’s because you have an advantage over “big business” in this new era of marketing, specific to your use of email and social media marketing.

social media marketing
You have an advantage because you can be the face of the company, the person people associate with that business or organization. You can be your authentic self. Big brands cannot do that. Today we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can leverage this advantage.

In this new marketing world, you’ll spend less time finding new customers and more time engaging your existing happy customers. Email and social media have leveled the playing field for smaller organizations like yours and mine to compete with the big boys.

This social visibility allows your customers or members to spread the word about your business. You’ll be able to engage your current customers and even reach new ones.

are you making good choices

With all these ways to communicate, and not enough time, how do you decide where to spend your time? It’s time to ask yourself: are you really spending your marketing budget in the best way possible?

This is not an uncommon challenge for small businesses. You have tons of platforms that you’re being told you need to manage all at once. And sometimes, that pressure is actually to your disadvantage

So how do you really decide what platform to leverage first? What do you think is the #1 app on smart phones?

The answer is EMAIL. More than 53% of emails are opened on a mobile device. Email is one of the top ways for you to be seen by your customers.Source: (Litmus, January 2015) https://litmus.com/blog/53-of-emails-opened-on-mobile-outlook-opens-decrease-33

Email is hard to beat for real marketing value. It still has the highest delivery and response.

ROI email marketing

In fact, the Direct Marketing Association reports that email remains unbeaten, with return on investment still at almost $41 per dollar spent. Email really is the best way to reach your clients, or customers which is going to allow you to manage your relationship with them in a huge way.[Source: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/email-marketing-roi/]

But what about social media? In today’s world, we tell everyone about everything through social media channels, even strangers.

 46% of shoppers rely on social media when making a purchase. What’s more, 88% find online reviews just as trustworthy as personal recommendations. This means your current and potential customers are spreading the word about you as far as social media can reach (which is pretty far). [Sources: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/social-media-infographic/, http://www.business2community.com/infographics/impact-online-reviews-customers-buying-decisions-infographic-01280945#bJ3SZQhl6XLSJyl8.97]

Based on the new marketing funnel today and the knowledge of how email marketing and social media play into that success, I’d like to give you an example of how Half Moon yoga was able to leverage this new marketing funnel.

half moon yoga studio

Half moon yoga is a small studio in MA who’s biggest goal was to generate revenue. For them, that means butts in seats (or on yoga mats). When I consulted with them, they were putting effort into sending lengthy monthly emails, posting to every social media site they could think of, and hosting open house events. They were spread so thin, and they weren’t getting in front of the right people. When we really sat down to think about their goal, I encouraged them to send short bi-weekly blasts about their class schedule, and to focus their social strategy primarily to Facebook, where we decided most of their clients are. Within months, they had doubled class attendance.

By helping Half Moon Yoga define what they were truly after, I was able to help them focus their budget and their time in the places that would yield the biggest bang for their buck.

The moral of the story is that you have endless options about how to market your business, but you don’t have endless resources. By learning to define your goals, we can narrow down which methods will be most effective to help you achieve success.

Setting Your Goals!

Every business or organization has 1 or 2 major objectives they’re trying to achieve. With so many options in the online marketing world, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re ultimately striving for, which means losing time and money without seeing huge benefits. It’s important to be very clear about your specific objectives in order to determine your marketing strategy.

[Ask] At the highest level, what is your organization hoping to achieve? [Allow for responses]

Many of us have similar goals. You might want to:

  • Increase sales
  • Drive referrals, and repeat business
  • Engage volunteers, members, advocates
  • Reach new customers or donors
  • Nurture leads and relationships

Are you thinking “I want to do all of those things”? At different times during the year or during the life cycle of your business, these goals may change. This is when you need to be careful about spreading yourself too thin. Trying to achieve too much all at once may take you away from your ultimate goal. If you had to prioritize, how would you rank them based on importance to your organization right now?

Download the free worksheets below.

“If you noticed the workbook that follows today’s session, on page 1 you’ll see a list of common goals for small businesses and non-profits. I’m going to challenge you to spend maybe 30 seconds ranking which of those match your current objective. Go with your first gut instinct.

Once you’ve determined your overall objectives, you can narrow down and write your own marketing goals.

setting your goals

When writing your goals, it’s important to understand who you’re target audience truly is, in order to choose the right method of communication. Write down real numbers that are challenging, yet achievable and don’t forget to put a time frame on it. That way you’ll be able to push yourself to reach your goal within the specific time frame.

Online marketing services like Constant Contact have contact management tools that will help you to identify your target audience and tracking features that are going to play a role in determining success towards your goal.

Now you’re ready to write your own goals. Keep in mind, it probably works best to think short term, monthly or quarterly in this quick exercise. You can go big when you have more time and can take a step back and really look at this.

Choosing the Right Message – Pick your platform.

We’ve decided what we’re truly after, and we’ve made a tangible goal to measure our success. Now you’re ready to start designing the message that gets you there.

Start by focusing on the audience you’re trying to reach. Figure out where they are spending their time. For most people, that includes the inbox which is why email is such a compelling channel for small businesses. But the same will also be true on social media where you need to figure out where you need to be to reach your target audience.

Remember back to the beginning of today’s session when we talked about all the ways your audience engages with you online through email and social media. How are you supposed to decipher which platform is right for your goal when there are so many to choose from? Let me help you weigh the pros and cons.

What do you think is the percentage of email that gets delivered to the inbox? The answer is 90%!

How about social media…what is the largest social media site to-date? Facebook.

What do you think is the percentage of Facebook fans that see you in their news feed? This might surprise you, but only about 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed.

mixing facebook and email marketing

This stat is surely not to downplay the use of social media, as it plays a big role in online marketing strategies. Where email lacks, social media makes up for. And where social media lacks, email makes up for. That’s exactly why we don’t recommend one or the other, we actually recommend BOTH. [SOURCE: http://blogs.forrester.com/nate_elliott/14-11-17-facebook_has_finally_killed_organic_reach_what_should_marketers_do_next]

We really need to leverage both platforms to get the maximum exposure we are seeking. Combining email and social media is great for gathering followers and building a reputation online. In fact, small businesses who combine email and social tend to see about:

  • 73% more customer engagement
  • 57% more new customers
  • and 39% more business referrals

[Source: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/small-business-marketing-secrets/]

What benefits can you see to sharing an email on social media?

  • Increase visibility
  • By sharing your email on social media, you are able to get in front of more people rather than if you just sent it to your list.
  • Grow your list
  • Anyone who sees your email on social media who isn’t already on your list, they can opt to subscribe so they’ll receive messages straight to their inbox in the future.
  • Save time

How much time do you spend trying to think of content for all of your different social media channels and your email?

You don’t have to create unique content for each of the different channels. Now all you have to do is to create your email and then posting to social media is just a click away.

One of the ways that Constant Contact helps you combine email and social is by allowing you to easily share your well-crafted email to your social media networks, making your marketing even faster and more effective.

Not only can you combine forces outside of your message, Constant Contact has tools to promote social media INSIDE your message.

When you place clickable links to your social media pages inside your emails, you’ll not only drive traffic to your pages, you’ll also get valuable tracking data that will tell you which social sites your subscribers are using most.

customers on social media

By comparing the amount of traffic you get to each of your social pages, you’ll be able to determine where to efficiently spend your time on social media. Whichever platform is the most popular to your audience is clearly where you should be sending most of your time. You don’t have to be on every social media site to be successful. Constant Contact provides you with the tools to help you use your time more wisely.

When to send is another very common question. Both for how often to send and also when in terms of the time of day and the day of the week.

For social media, we recommend a baseline frequency of at least 3-5 times a weekly.  It’s what they used to tell us for exercise. J
There are tools and guidelines for what times have the highest traffic and most response but it
really depends on your industry, your audience and what you are trying to get them to do.

For email marketing frequency, monthly is the most common but it’s also a good idea to add unexpected messages every once in a while.

Once you’ve chosen your platforms, your ready to start thinking about and writing your messages. But I’ll warn you, you will not see the greatest success by simply picking your platform and blasting your goal(s). In this new digital marketing arena, audience’s respond to brands they recognize and trust. How do you do that? Let me tell you.

In order to reach your goal in the long term, it’s not enough to choose the platform and immediately start promoting your agenda. People do not enjoy being sold to. What they do enjoy is receiving content that not only speaks to their interests, but enables them to overcome a challenge, achieve a goal, or learn something they may not have already known. 61% of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that offer valuable custom content. Clearly there is an impactful connection between offering something your audience cares about, and their likelihood to buy from you. Your job is to find the right balance of offering enough valuable content and also promoting your end goal. [Source: http://www.brafton.com/business-model/content-marketing/]

Most small businesses do not realize the importance of content in today’s marketing world. This is a striking concept. The fact is true that trust and value can directly impact purchases.

We typically encourage marketers to follow the 80/20 rule. This is a suggestive guideline about how to balance the amount of relevant content you share compared to the amount of promotion you offer. In order to encourage your audience to engage with your goals, you must first prove your trustworthiness, credibility, and value. 80% of your message(s) should be valuable content, whereas 20% is reserved for your true promotion (directly tied to your goal).

For example, I work with a small accounting firm and of course they’re always looking to get more clients during tax season. Ultimately, their promotion is “let us do your taxes!” (with the ultimate goal of getting more clients and increasing revenue). However, they can position themselves as experts and unveil some of their audience’s pain points by sharing content like the “most common mistakes on your tax returns” where they reveal some of the nitty gritty aspects of taxes.

How likely do you think the audience will be to make an appointment once they’ve shared this valuable content versus going straight to the promotion? Source: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/content-marketing-help/

[On page 1 of the workbook, there is a “Fill in the Blank” section.  I’m about to give you the answers to the ‘fill in the blank’ right now”.]

Let me give you an example of how this guideline impacts your long-term goals. I recently worked with a real estate agent who couldn’t figure out how to maintain relationships with recent home buyers. After the close date, he obviously didn’t work as closely with those clients, but he knew they would be essential for word of mouth for new clients. Think about it from his clients’ perspective. They’ve just bought the home of their dreams and a month later, they receive a newsletter about the newest homes on the market that doesn’t make the client feel very valued, right? So clearly he needed to maintain the relationship in a different way. He kept a list of his recent home buyers and began sending them a variety of emails about “how to maintain your gutters”, “ideas for home décor”, “the best plumber in the area”, etc. And his call to action was always “share my message with your friends and family”. Because he balanced his content, he was able to reach his goal more effectively.

One effective way to do this is by turning your interactions with your customers, clients, members, supporters and volunteers into content for your email.

  • Think for a second about the last interaction you had with someone at your organization. What questions did a customer or client have? What information are people requesting about your nonprofit? Can you turn an answer to their questions into an email?  Here are some great examples.

turning questions into content

One easy way to practice this in real life is to create two columns – in a spreadsheet or document, or just on a piece of paper, with the questions you regularly get on the left. In the right column, write down a way you can turn the answers to those questions into an email full of fresh, relevant content.

Guess what? These questions that you write on your paper can turn into your subject lines and headlines for social media. It’s that simple!

Subject lines are the first thing your audience sees before deciding whether to open your email. You only have a couple seconds to capture their attention and prove why your content is worth reading. There are really a lot of tips you can use to write a subject line, and here are a few:

  •  Keep it short and sweet (about 5-8 words) to entice them to open the message. This is especially important for the majority of your audience trying to read through their inbox on a mobile device.
  •  You could also include numbers in your subject line as it makes what you’re saying quantifiable and lets readers know exactly what they can expect. One example is “Top 3 benefits to volunteer this summer.”
  •  Encourage action, by including a call-to-action to get them to open the message immediately. One example for this is “Schedule your consultation today!” You can even include a deadline to create a sense of urgency. One example using this is “Summer sale ends Friday!”

Once you’ve written your subject line, this will double up as the headline when your email posts to social media. The great thing is that Constant Contact recognizes your subject line and automatically makes it your social media posts’ headline.

[This slide corresponds with the “Write your subject line” activity on page 2 of the workbook. “Now you’re going to write your own subject line based on your goals and your message.”]

Remember, you don’t have to stick to your own content. One of the biggest misconceptions about creating content for an email campaign is that you’re responsible for writing every single post or email. There are many resources you can use to find content that your audience will find valuable. For example, you can use:

  • Interviews or testimonials (like from a staff member or satisfied customer)
  • Social Media
  • Google alerts
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Industry News
  • Annual reports
  • Competitor news
  • Press releases
  • Blogs (your own or someone else’s. Just remember to give credit!)
  • Special guests
  • Experts in the community
  • Sponsors/donors/volunteers
  • Partners who compliment your products/services
  •  Survey results

[Think about the type of content you can used to reach your marketing objective.

“You’ll find space on page 1 in the section titled “Choose your message” of your handout. Circle any message ideas that you think will help you to meet your goal.”

Think about the message you’ll send.”] Source: http://blogs.constantcontact.com/20-places-to-find-email-content

Whatever content you share, wherever you decide to share it, brand recognition is always important. It’s a great way to reinforce and build relationships with new or potential customers to increase your chances of achieving your long-term goals.

  • Be consistent
  • Take the “vibe” of your other marketing materials like your website and apply it to your email and social media marketing so it resonates with your audience
  • People need to see your brand/promotion up to 20 times before they will engage with your organization/purchase
  • Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-often-does-someone-need-see-message-before-buy-filhaber
  • Match colors
  • Color can increase brand recognition up to 80%
  • Source: https://www.zionandzion.com/the-influence-of-color-in-branding/
  • Make sure it’s exact! Use free tools like color cop or digital color meter
  • Choose your tone
  • “Speak” the same in your email as you would in person, in a radio/tv ad, or on social media. Use the same language and tone to address your audience. It does impact the picture of your brand.

Constant Contact makes it easy to choose and fully customize a template to fit your branding and styling needs.

Don’t forget to think about the visual aspects of your message.

  • Spotlight your products, services, employees and customers
  • Include 3 or fewer images to get the best click-throughs.

Forrester study: video content increases click-through rates by 300%

  • product demos
  • customer testimonials
  • promotional
  • user-generated

With Constant Contact, you have the ability to easily add your images and make them clickable. This is especially great for adding in links to your videos.

The pajama program was doing a end-of-year push for warm winter donations. They made a video to recap their mission.

Want people to watch your video? Promote it on all of your marketing channels. That’s exactly what Pajama program did. They got the word out by promoting it using many of their marketing channels – promoted it in their email newsletter – and on their Facebook page using the social share tool when scheduling their email.

Keep mobile in mind to make your message easy to read.

Tip #1: avoid using multiple columns

Prior to the rise of mobile and mobile communication, emails had started to take on an almost website-like feel – with multiple columns and navigation elements similar to what you find on websites.  But with mobile communications driving content to be more focused, and also just to fit a more physically condensed space, multiple columns cause problems. The great thing with Constant Contact is that their templates are all designed to be mobile friendly and easy to read, no matter where your audience reads your email.

Tip #2: avoid using tiny fonts

This one would seem to be pretty self-explanatory…but is no less important.  While you might be able to fit more text with smaller font, like 9 and 12 point font, who can read it?  People will need to pinch-to-zoom the text, and then have to scroll around.  They’re more likely to delete the message, as well as unsubscribe from future small-font emails. We recommend at least 11 points for body text and 22 points for headlines, and starts to bring greater contrast between the text and the background.  But even that it still hard to read.

Tip #3: use images carefully

Images are a great way to convey a message, tell a story…create a connection.  But if you don’t carefully consider how you’re going to use images, you may end up with some unintended consequences that lead, at best, to someone not reading your email.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • some mobile email clients may not display images by default…so be sure that you’re using what is called “Alt Text,” or text that appears if the image doesn’t, to at least let people know what’s there.
  • Great images still shouldn’t push the call-to-action all the way to the bottom of the message, making it less likely that the reader will actually click through.
  • The position and size of the images matter too – You may need to resize images as you build your email (a lot of email marketing tools have simple, built in image-editing capabilities).

Before you send any message out to your customers or supporters, TEST THE EMAIL BY SENDING IT TO YOURSELF also a really beneficial feature when you’re creating your email in Constant Contact!!  Be sure to view it with your readers in mind…and make changes accordingly.  A few extra minutes of testing can save a lot of headache later.

Write A Call To Action!

We’ve done much of the hard part, believe it or not. We know what we’re after, we know what we’re going to ask of our audience. Now it’s time to promote the message.

Now that we’ve primed our audience with valuable content, they’re going to be more open to responding to our promotion. The fact that we have 20% of our marketing to encourage our audience to take action, we need to make sure that it’s really impactful in terms of helping us reach our goals. So how do we do that?

Maybe your #1 objective is to drive more revenue or donations…how do we actually get from this pretty goal in our workbook to putting money in the bank?

  • Calls-to-action are the link between asking for what you want, and getting it. They are the lifeline of success, especially in email marketing.

Has everyone ever heard the phrase “call-to action”? Does anyone know what that means?

A call-to-action is a specific action your customers or members will take to help you reach your goal. Many times you’re asking readers to click to visit an important page that relates to your goal.

Unfortunately, we can’t force anyone to take action. But there are certain things we can do to make that action more likely. For example, a company called CreateDebate was able to increase clicks in their email by making it look like a button, instead of standard text by 45%! That’s exponential compared to the average click-through rate anywhere from 5-10%, depending on most industries.

When you choose a template, you’ll be able to add and move buttons to go exactly where you need them.[Sources: http://www.copyblogger.com/call-to-action-buttons/, http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1]

Here’s one example of the major impact a button can have on your goal. Notice the difference between a regular email from your own Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo account (on the left, below), and one sent through an email service provider like Constant Contact (on the right, below).

comparing emails

What do you notice in the difference between these two emails above? The email on the right clearly looks more professional, which will ultimately get you closer to achieving and surpassing your goals. With regular email (left) you have:

  • Limited # of emails sent at once
  • No formatting control
  • No cohesive branding
  • No tracking and reporting of email results

By sending an email through Constant Contact (right), you’ll have:

  • beautiful templates
  • Customizable, mobile-responsive, easy-to-use
  • brand identity/recognition
  • Features built to match your logo and colors, plus integrate your social media profiles and drive website traffic
  • Actionable features like clickable images
  • Built in buttons
  • Best of all….trackable results

There are even more best practices you might not know about when designing an awesome call-to-action.

For example:

  • Narrow down 1-2 per email
  • One study showed that emails with a SINGLE call-to-action increased clicks by 371%? That’s a major difference.
  • Use actionable language (like visit our website, order online, register by April 1st, request a copy, or download our guide)
  • Above the scroll
  • If you’re asking readers to take action, you need to catch them while they’re still paying attention.
  • Use buttons Source: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2015/06/10/digital-marketing-stats

It’s time to determine our actual call-to-action. If we remember the goal of Half Moon Yoga, they really wanted to increase attendance and promote their schedule. What kinds of calls-to-action would be relevant for them? [there is no right or wrong answer, as long as the call-to-action relates back to the original goal. See examples on page 2 of the workbook.]

Calls to action:

If you want to drive traffic, you might ask people to “visit your website”. If your looking to increase your sales/donations, or maybe even drive new or repeat business we’ll ask people to “purchase today”, “schedule an appointment”, or even “donate”.

Think back to the goal you just wrote and look at the examples on page 2 of the workbook. You’ll see some pre-written options and you can also write your own if you don’t find one that fits. At different points in the life cycle of your business, your goals may change and some of these calls-to-action may be more relevant. Here’s where it’s very important to focus on the top objective you’ve chosen for your organization.

calls to action

[ Utilize the examples on page 2 to come up with a call-to-action that will generate the best results based on the goal.]

Have you considered where your call-to-action would take your readers when they click? Where do you intend to drive your readers?

The more direct path you can provide to your readers, the more likely you are to accomplish your goal. So when you’re designing your call-to-action, how can you create a call-to-action that is direct as possible? Well, Constant Contact has tools that allow you to drive your audience exactly where you need them to be. Let me share a couple examples…

For example, if someone says “I link everyone to my website”, ask them how direct their website is to their specific goal. Do readers have to click more than 2 or 3 times to get to the end result? (ie, they want volunteers, but it takes readers to their info page where they have to download the application, print, fill out, and mail to the location. Is that the most direct route to getting more volunteers? Probably not.)

Have you considered other options besides your website Not everything has to be hosted there, especially if they don’t have the resources to make it happen.

We’ve proven earlier in the session that email + social is the best way to promote a message, so email will be the common denominator in this conversation. But I want to help you realize that there are tools at your disposal to drive readers to a more direct page to accomplish your goals, which leads us to Constant Contact Plus campaigns.]

Last year, I met Hearts & Tails Animal Rescue who desperately needed volunteers. They had been sending emails to their subscribers where people would click on the call-to-action and be taken to their website where they had find the link to download the pdf form. The volunteers then filled it out and mailed it or emailed it back as an attachment. Hearts & Tails then needed to manually input all of the volunteer information into their database, which took up a huge amount of man power. Plus, they had no idea how many volunteers they were missing out on because they started the process and never finished.

animal rescue call to action

When I finally met them, a couple things were very clear: they had a good foundation for their message and an excellent call-to-action, but they hadn’t considered all their options in executing their goal. By the end of our consultation, I set them up with an online form that would allow readers to click to “volunteer” and immediately enter their contact details and volunteer preferences.

email marketing call to action

This simple change allowed Hearts & Tails to retain more volunteers by simplifying the application process, not to mention the time they saved by not having to manually enter the volunteer data. They gained 11 new volunteers last year, which was 1 more than their goal!

I’ve also spent some time working with Westin Downtown who runs an annual gala event. They were sending email invitations instructing people to RSVP via email. Their registration limit was 500 people, so as you might imagine, they couldn’t keep up and things got messy. Registrants didn’t quite know what information to reply with and how to pay for the event. Employees spent hours and hours speaking with customers, reading reply emails to register, tracking all of the registrations in their excel spreadsheet and then tracking and completing payments using a separate processing tool.

email marketing actions

For those of you who run events, which of these challenges can you relate to?

Ultimately, they needed a tool that would automate their event management and provide their attendees with an easy way to register and pay. Instead of driving their call-to-action to an email inbox, attendees went straight to a short form to provide their information, and complete the payment right then and there.

calls to action

Last year, they sold out all of the tables, 2 weeks before the event.

Offer Coupons!

coupons as a call to auction

Here’s another business that I met a few years ago, Boutique on Main. For years, they had been offering coupons in magazines and newspapers in order to drive more sales. The usage was low, they were targeting thousands of people in their local area, and couldn’t keep track of how many coupons were still floating around.

Part of specifying their goal was really about WHO they were offering their coupon to. By offering it to everyone all the time, they were cheapening their promotion. A better strategy was to utilize their existing email subscribers who had recently engaged with their messages. I suggested an online coupon to reward regular customers and incentivize them to promote the coupon using social media, which increased their reach to qualified new customers.

offering coupons in an email

[Please complete the “Where does your call-to-action go?” activity on page 2. “On page 2 in your workbook, take a couple minutes to consider the most direct call-to-action based on your goal.”  “Are there any examples here that you had never thought of before?”, “Are there any options that you plan to use that aren’t on the workbook?”]

Measuring Success!

At this point, we’ve executed our message. But what good does it do if we don’t follow up to see if we achieved our original goal?

[Are you closing the loop on your marketing goals and strategy. It’s not enough to set a goal, execute, and forget about it. It’s important to measure the results of one goal before moving forward with the next one.]

Have heard the phrase, “If you’re not measuring, you are not marketing”? It couldn’t be truer. Reports are going to help you to determine if you met your goal that we talked about at the beginning of this session.

Depending on your goal, you might use reports like: who is opening your emails, if they’re clicking on your call-to-action, how many people respond to your form or survey questions, how many sign up for your events, pay for your events or even claim or share a coupon.

Using an online marketing service like Constant Contact is going to help you save time and money because we track the actions that your subscribers take.

Let’s take a look at some of the results that our businesses used to measure their success.

tracking goal success

  • Hearts and tails used a form to increase their number of volunteers. By driving readers directly to the online form, Constant Contact automatically recorded all submissions and all the details for interested volunteers. They could compare that end result directly to their goal to determine whether or not they were successful.
  • The Westin Downtown automated their event RSVP process in an effort to save time and increase event registrants. Constant Contact’s tool allowed them to manage RSVPs, collect event payments, keep track of cancellations, and more.
  • The Boutique on Main hoped to increase sales by offering a trackable coupon, which allowed them to measure how many coupons were redeemed and shared, without having to manually keep track.

No matter what your organization is trying to achieve at any given time, Constant Contact has the metrics to help you gauge whether or not you achieved your initial goal. If you didn’t get to where you wanted to be, Constant Contact goes even further to provide you with metrics you need to make better/different marketing decisions for your next message.

Regardless of your end goal, we’ve established email is one of the most effective ways to promote your call-to-action. Not only because of the 90% of people you can reach in the inbox, but also because of the feedback you’ll receive as a sender. By using email, you’ll be able to measure how many people are viewing your message, and how many people are engaging with your call-to-action.

Here you’ll see a variety of metrics you’ll receive, but let’s talk about some of the most important metrics toward reaching your goal and how they can impact your future email marketing decisions.

  • Opens – this metric is invaluable in helping you achieve your goals because if you’re not getting your audience to open your message, they’ll never have a chance to reach your call-to-action.
  • First, you’ll want to take a look at the list of people who opened your email, you’ll see the day and time that they opened your email. This is where you’ll look for trends in the day of the week and time of day. This will help you to choose a better time when more contacts are more likely to open your email.
  • Your subject line is one of the most important factors that affects your open rate, so make it attention grabbing using 5-8 words.
  • Make sure your subject line is easily recognizable. Your audience should know who the email is coming from. In most cases, this will be your company name.

The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 8% all the way to 28%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about. source: http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

  • Click-throughs – You’ll also know whether your email was engaging and if they find value in the information you are sending. You’ll know who clicked on your link and took the action you requested. To improve your click rate, you want to:
  • Be sure that your call-to-action is simple, descriptive, and easy for your contacts to understand what you’d like them to do.
  • Make sure your link really stands out. Ideally, we suggest using a button with a contrasting color to really make it pop.

You may have received a few emails that you didn’t feel like they applied to you, so what did you do with those emails?

  • You’ll be able to build better relationships and improve results with your customers or members by personalizing content and segmenting your contact list. While you can segment your list based on just about anything you know about the members of your audience, your reports will provide plenty of data to begin segmenting contacts. When you know that a group of your contact list opened your email or even clicked on a specific link in your email, you know that they are interested in that topic, so you’ll be able to save those contacts to their own list and send specific information in the future.

The industry average for this metric can range anywhere from 5% all the way to 18%. Remember, these are only averages, and they are different for every industry. If your metrics are within this range, you’re on track. But there’s also a great likelihood that your metrics will be higher if you follow the practices we’ve talked about. source: http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/SupportFAQ/2499?q=industry+averages&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

How To Get Started.

Everything we talked about in today’s session is intended to help you grow your business. Strategies, tips and ideas that you can leave here and try. The good news is, success is well within your reach.

For those of you just getting started, here are your first steps.

  • Start by writing out the specific goals you want to reach, then you’ll design your call to action and send the message to your target audience to get them to take action. Last, but not least, measure your results so you can keep sending, learning, and making the necessary adjustments with each email.
  • Depending on your goal, remember to consider a direct route to your call-to-action. It may be your website, but it could also be an interactive page like an online form, or registration page

If you can benefit from a more direct call-to-action and an easier way to manage your marketing, it’s time to consider Constant Contact for more than just email. Constant Contact is committed to helping small businesses and nonprofits succeed in growing businesses. The tools are designed to help you get real results, just like you’ve seen in the examples today.

You might be sending email updates, running your own special offers or deals, or getting online feedback or run an online survey. No matter what you’re trying to achieve, Constant Contact has the tools, knowledge, and experts to help you get there.

I’d love to work with you! You can schedule a free phone call to talk about your goals and I’ll do my best to help get your plan set in motion. I even offer my services to assist and manage your constant contact campaigns. Either way, feel free to contact me anytime via my contact page.

Again, I’m Danna Crawford,

Thanks for joining me and I wish you only the best with your marketing success!




The 7 Don’ts of Email Design

7 email design don'ts



If you received a link to view this page from a “Thank You” email, after registering for one of my live webinars, you are in the right place! If you roamed in from a google search or was sent this page from a friend, it’s okay, everyone is welcome to enjoy the content on this page, aka transcript from the live presentation.  NOTE: Subscribe to receive invites to future webinars. 

Welcome – Thank you for joining me – My name is Danna Crawford and I’m also known as Power Selling Mom – quick info about me … I’m an authorized local expert with Constant Contact. I’ve been using their service since 2006 and shortly after that I became a Certified business consultant, trained by eBay after being an active seller on the site since 1997 – With my experience of teaching eBay classes and workshops in partnership with the United States Postal Service, Constant Contact contacted me to go through their certification program and now I do webinars and local workshops on the topic of social media and email marketing – Next I became the Development Director for our local Foodbank after a meeting with the board while I was teaching them about fundraising using Constant Contact and eBay, next thing you know they offered me a part time job that I couldn’t resist since I’m passionate about the Cause of feeding America – So those are the three hats I wear, Constant Contact, eBay and First Step Food Bank, Inc. ! You can learn more about me by visiting my website at PowerSellingMom.com or just google my name. NOW, enough about me, lets talk about YOU … and how you can gain more opens, clicks and views on your future email messages.



GROW WITH CONSTANT CONTACT

Let me take just a minute to explain what Constant Contact is for those that may not be familiar.
Constant Contact is a do-it-yourself online marketing system. You can use it to create and manage campaigns. The company is best known for its email marketing tools. It’s easy to create and send mass email, like newsletters or announcements and updates. You can run special promotions or offers; you can build online surveys and polls to gather feedback; and you can promote and manage your events using Constant Contact with registration tools, payment acceptance, invitations– all in one place.

All of this is all built on top of a really good contact database, so that you can load all of your contacts, your customers, stakeholders, volunteers, staff, your board – whatever lists you are keeping in various spreadsheets or in your Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo folders can be loaded and organized easily in Constant Contact so that your people and your marketing campaigns are all together in one spot. Oh, and it costs most people between $20 – $75 a month to manage all of it.

first impressions matter

First impressions matter. And when someone opens your email, what they see is going to determine what they do next. Chances are you’ll want them to read your newsletters or announcements, and take a next step. Maybe you want them to visit your website, register for an event, donate to your nonprofit, or try a new product. This is where a beautiful, professional-looking email designed to drive action is crucial. People make snap judgments about whether or not to read your emails based on a quick glance. We choose an email message, give it a two-second glance, then decide if it’s worth our time. If it is, we keep it and read it. If not, we hit the delete key and send the email to the trash folder.



That’s why we created a webinar dedicated to helping you make the right impression. We’ll take you through the reasons email subscribers delete emails and how you can design emails that actually work.

I want to show you the difference between a regular email from your own Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo account, and one sent through an email service provider like Constant Contact.

email marketing

An email from a service provider looks better and gets you noticed – you can use templates to feature your brand’s logo and colors, and include graphics that will capture your readers’ attention. You will get through to your audience. You can use an email service provider to track everything – from who opened your email to how many people clicked on every link. And it allows your recipients to opt out of receiving future messages.

And let’s not forget about the importance of mobile on email. 64% of adults own smartphones and… more than 51% of emails are opened on a mobile device.  (source) In some countries, mobile internet usage is even out-pacing desktop internet usage.  64% of American adults own a smartphone . (source) And 52% of mobile owners send or receive email with their device. (source)

So what does this mean for you?  Many people are reading their messages – which include your emails – on a tiny screen. And your emails need to look as good in their hands as they do on their desktops.



When you’re creating emails, think about your mobile users. If something doesn’t look good on mobile – readers will delete it.

80% of people will delete an email that doesn’t look good on mobile,  and even worse, 30% will unsubscribe if the email doesn’t look good.

Before you send out any email campaign, make sure you send a preview to yourself, so you can make sure it looks good both on a desktop AND a mobile device!

Today, we are going to discuss seven don’ts of email design, and provide you with guidance on how to avoid them.

The 7 Don’ts of Email Design:

  • 1.Don’t forget your branding
  • 2.Don’t use hard-t0-read fonts
  • 3.Don’t use the wrong colors
  • 4.Don’t be disorganized
  • 5.Don’t forget images
  • 6.Don’t forget to make it shareable
  • 7.Don’t ignore mobile
  1. Don’t Forget Your Branding

Your emails should feature an instantly-recognizable, consistent header image such as a logo or a cover photo?. Over time, this image will be associated with the high-quality information you share. Ideally, this email header should relate to the business or product your reader signed up to learn more about.

yoga studio branding

So, if you own a yoga studio,  your newsletter should be visually related to your overall brand, including your logo. That way, your recipients will know that even specialized information is coming from you, a source they know and trust.

The yoga studio’s email on the left uses a logo, but it’s small and doesn’t stand out right away. They also don’t have branding colors that compliment their logo.



This email on the right is a makeover of the one on the left. The logo is large and in the center of the email template. You can easily see the yoga studio’s branding right away when opening this email with their logo, colors and images.

Just like you, the people who read your emails are very busy. So how do you win the battle of priorities and get more people to stop and open your email – or read your Facebook posts and tweets, or share your pin on Pinterest? Think about how you prioritize your own email – or, if you’re on Facebook, think about your newsfeed – you pay close attention to who the message is from.

WHO an email or social media post came from turns out to be the most important part of winning the battle of priorities. So it’s important for you to be recognizable.  

You do need to exercise care and consider how you’re identifying yourself across the channels you’re using. Just be sure that you’re consistent with the name you use, your logo, your colors, and images while sending email and posting to social media – and ensure that you’ll be recognized visually, so that ultimately your readers and followers will stop and open your email, read your posts – because they know they’re going to get something of value and relevance from you.

brand yourself

In your email, make sure you’re consistently using your logo and the colors that you use in the rest of your marketing, so that you’re immediately recognizable.

Use great images of your business, products and people, so that your audience can easily connect what your organization does with who you are. We’ll talk more about images in a little bit.



And make sure you use consistent language across all of your marketing so that people will not be confused.

For example, Baked by Melissa does a great job of being consistent with their logo and images across their email, website and Facebook page.

Don’t be afraid to use the same content and images across your email, website and social media posts – the more your organization meets your audience where they are, the more likely your audience is to keep you in mind.

2.Don’t use hard-to-read fonts

Next, we’re going to talk about selecting the right font for your email.

When you’re designing images, think carefully about the fonts that you use. The type you choose can influence thought and behavior. It can support or distract from your message. Your message should be the star, and if it’s cluttered up, or worse, non-legible, because of your choice in font, your message will be lost on your audience.

Another consideration when choosing a font is Serif vs. Sans Serif. Serif fonts are considered to be more traditional and are identified by the small “hooks”

sans serif font

or “curls” at the end of each letter. These are called “Serifs.” Fonts that do not have these are called Sans Serif. Serif fonts are best used in printed material, such as newspapers and books.



When you’re creating content that will be seen online, use Sans Serif fonts because they are easier to read than serif fonts. Try using common fonts such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. These fonts are highly legible and compatible with many other less standard fonts.

Choose something that is easy to read and harmonious with the font you use for your brand.

tacky emails

Let’s take a look at some examples. On the left (above), we see a newsletter that has inconsistent fonts, hard-to-read color combinations, poor contrast between fonts and their background colors, text over an image rendering it illegible, too much body copy, poorly sized and positioned images – while the one on the right is quite the opposite. Which one would you rather see in your inbox?

If you use an email service provider like Constant Contact, there are templates you can customize to fit your brand and create clean, easy-to-read emails.

Now let’s talk about the colors you will use in your email.

3) Don’t Use The Wrong Colors!

For your email to look professional and inviting, you have to master color. The biggest color mistakes are choosing ones that are overly bright or florescent. Don’t use too many colors, either. Use a palette with two dominant colors and tone down the rest. Finally, don’t use light text on a dark background. The most readable combination is dark text on a light background.

tacky emails

Let’s compare the emails on the screen (above). The email on the left has too many colors and they’re not branded or complimentary. The email on the right does a much better job with color. It uses a color palette based on the logo, and has some white space so you can clearly read the text in the email.



Color is a key consideration for your visual content. Color catches your audience’s attention and boosts their engagement. Studies have shown that different colors create different emotional responses AND influence customer reactions.

  • 85% of shoppers say color is the primary reason they buy a product.
  •  Color also increases brand recognition by up to a whopping 80%.
  • It’s not an accident that major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn use blue as their primary color. Blue happens to be the favorite color of 40% of people worldwide.

Favorite colors can vary by gender, age, region and culture. They can affect moods or feelings and although there may be cultural variations, some colors share universal perceptions, such as red as a “warm” color and blue as “cold” color.  Impulse shoppers tend to respond to red, black and royal blue, while navy blue appeals to shoppers on a budget. (Source: June Campbell, http://www.nightcats.com/samples/colour.html)

Source: Loyalty Square, http://loyaltysquare.com/impact_of_color.php

It’s not an accident that major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype use blue as their primary color. Blue happens to be the favorite color of 40% of people worldwide.

Why Colors are Important for Your Branding?

Colors spark emotion: Read more at: https://www.customlogocases.com/blog/choosing-brand-colors/

 

Other Color Resources

color chart

This color guide (above) can help you decide if one of these colors might be best for your content. You can use this to think about what colors to use in your photos or image designs.

Think about your target audience and use the colors that appeal to that audience. Think about the action you want your audience to take, consider which social networks you are targeting, and choose colors that are the right fit.



When applying color to your design, you should consider color choices that work well together, compliment your brand and project the kind of feeling you are trying to convey. It’s important your message isn’t lost and you reach your readers looking your best. What colors you choose and how you use them can make the difference between looking professional or being marked as SPAM. Some things to watch out for are:

  • Extremely bright color combinations. It doesn’t matter how many, it doesn’t matter which ones. Using combinations or large areas of intense, pure color is never a good idea. While you may think it will “catch attention”, bright colors are hard to look at, your message will not be read and your email will inevitably end up in the trash. Save the bright colors for small areas, such as buttons or call-to-action elements.
  •  Bright, textured backgrounds. These will distract your readers from your content. They will compete with all the other, far more important aspects of your email and your message will be lost. If you use background textures, they should be subtle, set back and second place to any of your other content.
  • Too much of anything isn’t good, including colors. Too many colors makes your design “busy” and hard to look at. Try to keep your main palette to no more than 3 colors.
  • Contrast, especially between your text and the background, is important. Light text or objects on a light background will be lost, as will dark text on a dark background. Keep your message clear and defined by making sure it shows up.
  • Avoid using color combinations such as red and blue, red and gray, green and red and any other color combinations that are hard to read. Focusing on such color combinations is difficult for the human eye and the content will appear to “wiggle”, causing eye strain. Avoid using black, blue, red, ANY neon colors for background color choices for the same reasons.
  • Choose colors that are harmonious, reflect your brand and easy on the eyes. Use contrast when placing text against a color, to ensure your message can be easily read.

Color can impact whether or not your email is read or rejected, but did you know that color can also impact whether it even makes it into your customer’s inbox? Just as there are key words that will send an email directly to your SPAM folder, over-use of certain colors can also send your emails to the SPAM folder. For example, extensive use of red in text is considered one of the main “tip offs”*. Red is considered to be a loud color and when it is used excessively in text, it appears it is trying to get the reader’s attention. Since SPAM filters work on a scoring system, and this contributes to the overall score, it furthers the chance that your emails will end up as SPAM. Unfortunately, there are no ways to really know exactly which culprits trigger SPAM filters, but following these basic color theory practices should help keep you in the clear.(sourse: https://www.mailjet.com/blog/psychology-of-colors-in-email-marketing/

Colors are an effective way to make an email instantly identifiable as being from your organization. In our email editor you can easily use your own colors or create your own color scheme.



There are a handful of free tools that can help you match colors by determining their RGB value or their hex value – two kinds of codes that will help you identify and use a specific color.

Color Cop, for PC users, and Digital Color Meter for those on Macs have a color value identifier tool that will allow you to pull an exact color from your website to use in your marketing material. When you go to select the colors for your email, a provider like Constant Contact will allow you to enter the exact values so your colors are perfect matches.

Tools like Color Schemer Online and Adobe Color CC can take you even further, by creating a palette of complementary colors around that primary color.

Color Cop (PC) http://download.cnet.com/Color-Cop/3000-2383_4-10047009.html

Digital Color Meter (Mac): Applications>Utilities>Digital Color Meter

Color Schemer Online: http://www.colorschemer.com/online.html

Now, we’re going to talk about how to use templates to organize your content.

4.Don’t be disorganized.

When a reader glances at your email, they should know right away which information is the most important, what they should look at next, and what’s the least important.



Make this easy for your readers by using large, bold headlines for newsletter’s main topics, but also by using the right template to organize your message. Be sure to pick a template that’s mobile friendly so smartphone readers can easily navigate through your information.

 

email marketing

The email you see (above) on the left is not the best fit for the information in their monthly newsletter. It’s also not very mobile friendly because of the column on the right hand side. A single-column template works better for mobile users.

The email on the right uses a well-organized template designed for a monthly newsletter and it’s a one-column mobile friendly template.

This is a list of the types of email campaigns you can send using an email service provider.

  • Newsletter
  • Announcement
  • Product promotion
  • Fundraiser
  • Sale
  • Event
  • Seasonal
  • Letter

You should select a template that is appropriate for the message you are sending. After you’ve picked out a template, you can then customize with colors it to match your brand, as we talked about earlier.

Templates make the process of creating and sending emails much easier, while still allowing you to preserve the look and feel of your brand. Here are some examples of how different businesses and a nonprofit use the right email templates for their messages.

A quick note before we take a look at these emails: Now that we’ve talked about a few design best practices, you might notice that not all of these examples follow every best practice we’re going to cover today. What I want you to focus on when you look at these emails is how they’ve used templates that reflect the type of communication they’re sending to their audiences.

email template designs

First we have Spoilt Rotten Beads (above). They’re a bead and craft store that sells their products online. They use product promotion email templates that allow them to display different items for sale, and images of each of the items are linked to their website. When you click on the products in the email, you can go online and purchase them right away.



2nd email above is email is from a nonprofit, Gorilla Doctors. They send regular emails that include news and information about the organization and fundraising efforts. Gorilla Doctors consistently uses a newsletter template to organize the information they want to share with subscribers.

Third email above is from a business to business, Fogged In Bookkeeping. They used a business letter template when sending out information about tax deadlines to their email lists.

You can start with the right template for your message and be sure to make  it your own with your own logos and photos and links. It doesn’t have to be hard to look professional and sharp!

We will talk about images in a minute, but for now, just take note of the balance of images and text in these examples.

Now, we’re going to talk about images – the photos, graphics and video you may use in your email campaign.

5. Don’t Forget The Images.

When I talk about images here, I don’t just mean photography! Images can be graphics, video, photos and word images (like a funny or inspirational quote over a photo background).

You want your images to reflect your brand and look professional.  The good news is that most smart phones and digital cameras now shoot very high-quality photos and video, so you don’t need a ton of technical know-how or extra money to create great images by yourself.

Don’t use low-quality images or stock photos that look overly staged.

adding images to emails

Look at the images in the email on the left (above). They are professional quality, but the top image has a watermark from a stock photography site. The middle image of the yoga class is too small and it’s stretched out. And the images on the right side are very small and hard to see.



The email on the right has a professional image that’s large enough to see and it does a great job of visualizing the email’s message about yoga classes.

Why are images so important?

  • Images receive a lot of engagement from your audience. 82% of people pay more attention to emails that have images.

If you need people to do ONE THING, you should consider using a still photo rather than a video, to keep people focused on the physical, measurable result you’re trying to achieve.

  • You also shouldn’t over-rely on images to get your message across – many email providers, as a default setting, do not automatically show image. You should label your images with text that explains what the image is, in case it doesn’t display. And take advantage of preheader text – the first few lines of an email or the text description of the first image at the top – that will appear if images don’t on a desktop. This text also shows up below the subject line in the inboxes of mobile readers.
  • A few words of caution, though. I mentioned earlier that you should limit your images – emails with 3 or fewer images get the best click-throughs.
  • So – what kind of images should you use? Think about what you’re trying to communicate. If you sell products, you should show people what you want them to purchase by using great photos. If you’re a non-profit, you could share photos of your last event or fundraiser. If you’re a B2B, you may want to highlight your employees in action with some good candid photos from your business.
  • Because not all email providers allow images by default, you shouldn’t use images of your content.  What I mean by this is that you should not use a .PDF instead of your email marketing templates – not only will your content not display for many readers, you will not be able to track any clicks to help you strategize for future email campaigns.

Source:  82% of people pay more attention to emails with pictures http://www.contentlead.com/content-marketing-tips/infographic-anatomy-email-marketing-message

Source: 3 or fewer images for highest click through Source: Constant Contact Data Reveals Direct Correlation Between Email Campaign Effectiveness and Number of Images and Text Lines Featured, 2015)

Photos are a frequent and necessary piece for visual content. Sometimes, you may find you need a photo that you do not have or cannot create on your own. There are a variety of online stock photo sites where you can search for just the right photo that fits your needs. They are a great resource and can work well for visual content that’s based around a theme, a tip, a fact or a quote.



When you download a photo, be sure it is the right size or slightly larger! You can always crop it or scale it down, but will lose image quality if you try to enlarge it too much. Remember, you want your image size to be at LEAST, whatever your final image will be. Photos in a one column email template will display at most 600 pixels wide and 200 pixels high for the header image. All other photos in an email will display at most 600 pixels wide, with the height to scale.

It might be tempting, but it’s never a good idea to use just any image you may find through a search, including sample stock photos with the watermark on them.

There can be copyright issues associated with those images; they belong to someone else. When using stock photos, you purchase the rights to use the photo, or in some cases accept a free download and agree to certain credit/conditions. Fees can vary, so shop around for what feels right for you and fits your budget.  Here are some services that you can use to get free stock photos!

Copyright infographic – Can I Use That Picture? http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Infographic_CanIUseThatPicture.jpg

CTCT FAQ on image size http://knowledgebase.constantcontact.com/articles/KnowledgeBase/5558?q=photo+size&l=en_US&fs=Search&pnx=1

If you’re a Constant Contact customer, one more tool to find stock photos is available in your Constant Contact account. You have access to free and paid images in your account’s image library through our partner, Bigstock. Purchase images or select free images and add them directly to your account for use in your marketing.

Now, we’re going to talk about making your email shareable across your social media platforms.

6.Don’t forget to make it shareable.

I’m betting that you’ve received an email that includes buttons with the logos for one or more social media platforms, which invite you to click and share the email content through your social media accounts.



This is a really effective way you can grow your reach – emails that include those social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by more than 150 percent!

They also make it easy for your readers to follow you on the various social networks in a single click.

emails are meant to be shared

 

Our email on the left is not shareable (see above). There aren’t any buttons that allow readers to share this email on social media. And, although they did try with a text link on the top for their Facebook page, there are no buttons for readers to click on to follow the yoga studio.

The other email is absolutely shareable, and includes buttons that the audience can use to share it on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, as well as buttons at the bottom of the message that they can click on to follow the yoga studio on its social networks.

SOURCE: Visualistan, Latest Social Media Statistics Infographic http://www.visualistan.com/2015/04/latest-social-media-statistics-infographic.html

Encourage your audience to share your promotions by using social media tools. This is a really effective way you can grow your reach – emails that include those social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by more than 150 percent!

  •  If you are using Constant Contact, add the Share Bar to the top of your emails – allows your readers to post a link to your email on their social media profiles
  • Remind your audience to share your promotions – ask them to Like it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter or pin on Pinterest
  • And add social media buttons that link to your business’ social media profiles. The buttons are a nice visual reminder for them to click and follow you online.

Your audience has a lot of influence via word of mouth, and you can get your promotions in front of more people – their friends and family – if they help spread the word for you

SOURCE: Visualistan, Latest Social Media Statistics Infographic http://www.visualistan.com/2015/04/latest-social-media-statistics-infographic.html

Extend the reach of your emails by using the Social Share tool. Social Share offers a quick and easy way to share an email on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with suggested post messages, images, and the best times to schedule posts based on when your social audience is most active. It also makes it easy to plan social posts for an email with a monthly calendar.

  • Schedule your Facebook posts in advance, and then Social Share will post to Facebook for you.

Now, we’re going to talk about mobile considerations for your email design.

7. Don’t Ignore Mobile.

Let’s go through some tips to help you make your email look great on a mobile device – something you need to do, because 80% of users will delete an email that doesn’t look good on mobile.



Think about it – do you want to read long and complex messages on your phone?  When you’re on the go?  No.  Which means neither do your customers or supporters. Do you want to read a message like the one on the left? Probably not.

What you want is to see something more like the email on the right: the result of some basic considerations as you build your message.

Start to re-think your content. Long-form content (think newsletters that have more than a couple of short, to-the-point paragraphs) doesn’t work for mobile readers. So look at the content you’re building and start to re-think it. Could it be condensed? Can a picture tell the story better? Can you turn one newsletter into a series by cutting it into pieces?

If you have longer, or more complex content or assets you want to share (like a product guide, or new regulations for your clients or a research report that supporters of your non-profit would be interested in), send an email with a clear call-to-action with a link that directs people to where that asset lives on your website, blog or other resources.



Most of the time you’re going to build emails on your desktop. There are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind in order to make those emails mobile friendly. Let’s see some of those tips I just mentioned in action.

emails with tiny font on mobile

Look at the bottom of this first email (see above) – it’s cut off.

  • Avoid using too much text. People don’t take the time to scroll through a long email. The shorter the better. That goes for your articles and subject lines – both can get cut off by a mobile device if they’re too long.
  • Avoid tiny fonts. They’re hard to read and people may not take the time to zoom in and view your entire message.
  • Avoid multiple columns because they can get cut off or they might shrink to fit, as in this next example. Either way makes your message unreadable.

emails for mobile

This email is a great makeover of the don’ts (shown above). You can see that there’s not a lot of text, just enough to get the most important information across. The fonts are large and easy to read. No zooming is needed to view this message. It has a single column – nothing’s getting cut off and everything fits within the phone screen.

We talked about images earlier, and there are some things you should consider with images when you’re thinking about mobile. Images are a great way to tell your story and engage your audience, but they can be distracting and cause your audience to ignore or delete your message if they don’t look good on a mobile phone. Avoid using large images that will get cut off on a mobile screen. Test your emails, and if the images are too big, resize them.

Avoid these mistakes:

  • Large, off-screen images
  • Hard-to-find or hard-to-read calls-to-action

Think about your calls to action. Make them easy to read and put them in the top section of your email so people will notice and take that next step. Don’t make people hunt, zoom or scroll.

easy to read emails on mobile

Your images should be sized to fit a mobile screen – this photo above isn’t cut off and doesn’t take up the entire screen. Also use clear and easy calls to action. In this email, the message is short and sweet. It’s about an event – all the info is right there and a register button is at the bottom. People can decide instantly if this is something they want to do, and take the action right away.



How can you create an email that looks great on mobile? Try building it on your phone! If it works for your phone, it will look great on your customers’ phones.

There are lots of apps that make it easy to build an email with your smartphone. Constant Contact does have an email creation app for your iPhone or Android phone. You can find it by going to the app store and searching for Constant Contact. Apps are more convenient and faster than creating campaigns from your desktop.

You can create your email through touch-based editing right from your mobile device. Then preview your email, send tests and schedule messages for delivery to your list. You also have the ability to keep up with the latest activity with open and click reporting right from your phone. Keep track of who engaged with your campaign and stay on top of your marketing results.

We just covered a lot of information today about email design. What should you do next with it?

We’ve made it easy for you. We took the best practices we talked about, as well as some pro tips and created a checklist. Print this out later on when you get the slides, and use this checklist when you’re designing and sending your next email.

  •  First of all, think about the preview pane. It’s common for email recipients to use the preview pane in their inbox on a desktop, and they’re getting their first look at your email there. If they’re opening your email on mobile, the top section is the first section they see. Maximize the top 2 to 4 inches, keeping all the best practices in mind that we covered today.
  •  The email template you use must be a good fit for the information you’re sharing in your message. What are you trying to communicate? Is it information in a newsletter? A product promotion? A business letter? The right template will organize what you’re trying to convey and make you look professional. The template should also be mobile friendly. Stick to a one-column template that won’t shrink to fit or get cut off by a smartphone screen.
  •  Make sure your branding is visible right away. Include your branding colors. Your logo should be visible at the top of the email, either on the left or in the center. Never on the right side because it can get cut off on a smartphone screen. When you insert your logo, make sure that you include your business name in the text description. Sometimes images aren’t visible by default, based on the recipient’s email service. If that happens, the text will appear instead, and you want your business name to be what they see if your logo isn’t shown.
  •  Speaking of logos and images, make them clickable. People assume that images are linked to a website, so take advantage of that behavior and link your images to allow readers to take the next step. Choose your photos wisely, and don’t overdo it with images. We’ve found that emails with 3 or fewer images will get higher click-throughs from subscribers. Communicate your message through the images you choose. Take your own photos or use stock photography. Size your photos to fit your template. Optimize them by including information about your message in the text description, so it will appear in case the images aren’t automatically downloaded.
  • Be selective with the content you include in your email. Don’t include any content that isn’t relevant to the message you’re sending in an individual email. Most people do not have the time to read through a lot of extra information. In fact, a recent study we did of our customers showed that emails with 20 lines of text received high click-through rates.
  •  If you have calls to action – like asking people to purchase something, register for an event, take advantage of a sale or coupon, or read an article on your blog – make sure they are above the preview pane scroll line and appear near the top of the screen on a mobile device. Don’t make people search for that key action. Be mindful of the links you use for those calls to action. Don’t just put “click here” when it comes to links in an email. Choose the words you use carefully. Clearly state the value your readers will get when they click on the link. Format your link to stand out, remember that you want it to have enough white space around it and make sure links aren’t on top of one another. More and more people are viewing emails on their mobile device, and if they are unable to click the link they want because it’s too close to another, how likely do you think they are to go back and click the correct link?
  •  Don’t ignore social media in your emails. Make them shareable for your readers and for you. Including a share bar at the top of the email allows your readers to post a link to their email to their social media profiles. Adding social media buttons that are linked to your business’ social media networks can increase your followers because it makes it easy for readers to click and like you. Using the Social Share tools to schedule posts about your email on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn enables you to share your message to even more people.

Now you have everything you need to design an email that looks great in the inbox. You’ll get noticed, and your readers will love receiving your messages. Your emails will help to grow your relationships with your current customers, gain new customers and drive more business.



Emails with three or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text result in the highest click-through rates from email subscribers. SOURCE: Constant Contact Data Reveals Direct Correlation between Email Campaign Effectiveness and Number of Images and Text Lines Featured http://news.constantcontact.com/research/constant-contact-data-reveals-direct-correlation-between-email-campaign-effectiveness-and-n

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Email Marketing and Social Media: What Happens when You Fuse them Together?

email social media marketing

eMail Marketing – Social Media

Would it be safe to say that email marketing is on the verge of death after the social media and SEO get through? Well, some people may believe this, but in reality, it is not the truth. Wondering why? Because it is unquestionably one of the most advantageous means of marketing that still works.

Whether it is for professional or personal emails, starting an email dialogue is an confidential experience. Email marketing is not like those social media platforms that have nothing to do with the confidentiality, be it B2C or B2B communique.

Comparatively, email marketing offers more opportunities for the business while driving in a better ROI. It even allows you to create a deeper relationship with a wide range of spectators, which is what we need for a better business today. And, how can we forget the abridged costs in this traditional form of marketing?

But, we can’t say that social media is not an effectual tool for marketing. In fact, both of these mediums of reaching the audience are superb. So, how do we use these mediums to get the best results for our business?
Well, we have to find a midway to use both of these because leaving out either of them would be harmful for the business.

What if both of these ways are fused together?.

Will it create something unique for us that can also be ultra-profitable for our business?

Why not? When both email and social media are efficient marketing tools, why can’t we use both of them together to reach the top of the marketing ladder? In fact, this fusion will end up in a powerful tool that no one can beat. Many marketing professionals are already using this mix, which has made them the king of the market today.
So, how do you actually do it?

Worry not! We have an answer to all your questions that are right now popping up in your mind.

Without much ado, let’s take a look at these answers here!

Make Your Subscribers Feel Special

happy email marketing

When you use the mix of both these marketing strategies together, you simply get a boosted business. How? Well, when you have numerous subscribers in an email, simply make a special social media group for them. Being a part of a special group will surely make them feel great about being a part of your organization. By doing this, you are simply building a strong relationship with your subscribers. Plus, you can interact with your existing and prospective subscribers too.

But, hey, don’t think that just making this group will help you. Active participation and different ways to involve your subscribers is what will make your bond stronger with them. You can even plan free giveaways, quizzes, and frequent activities to ensure that all the members stay engaged in all the activities, no matter how busy they are. So, this is how you build a strong customer relationship when you are using both these marketing strategies to market yourself.

Drive Better Social Shares with Email

sharing emails with social media

Do you want all those influential people and blogs to share your valuable content as many times as possible? If you are nodding your head, getting your email content social proof is what you need to do. So, before you are actually sharing any request with any influencer, be sure that you have already shared it many times, and even gained a few likes on it. When you have at least a few likes on the content, your credibility level goes up. So, don’t share such content that has no likes or shares on it yet as it will simply plummet the credibility of your content.

If you are looking forward to your content getting social proof, you can simply include a CTA in the mail, appealing for recipients to make the content viral, as much as they can.

Get into Using Your Social Media Platforms

practice using social sites

You can simply use your social media to make boost the number of your subscribers. Simply use Facebook and Twitter ads for driving visitors to emails via sign-ups. And, what all do you have to do in order to do that? Create an ad with enticing content, images, and calls to action, before launching it on these platforms for your fans and followers. You may want to consider hiring a writer who can create something creative to attract the readers. The content must be compelling enough to drive in the viewers.

Another way to rivet the visitors is through offering them an e-book. And, don’t forget to use high-quality images to attract a large number of people.

Re-Target All Your Subscribers on Social Media

targeted emails

Re-targeting ads works like magic! You can simply run a re-targeted ad on your social media including your Twitter, Facebook, or any other platform you are actively using. Running ads that are targeted is a sure shot way to hit a large number of audiences.
Start by creating a target email campaign, and allow then re-target the ones who click that ad. You will receive a huge number of subscribers when you follow this trick. Low cost and more brand visibility, what else do you want?


List up All the Subscribers on Social Media

social face sharing

Putting up a face to your email subscribers is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself. That is how you bring them closer to your subscribers. This is the best thing of having a social media presence; it simply puts a face to the subscribers. And, when they are always seeing your posts that involves them would simply make them happy.
So, one thing you can do to keep them loyal is upload a subscriber list to these platforms and engage them in different contests and quizzes. That’s all!

Hence, we can conclude that the marketing becomes better when you fuse both, social media and email marketing in your strategy. Simply connect the email subscribers to those of social media and vice versa.
Wait no more; blend both these things together, and see some amazing results waiting to boost your business now.

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The number one tool for email marketing is Constant Contact! READ MORE

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What to Say and How to Say It – Email Marketing

What to Say, and How to Say It –  Using words and images to craft your email messages.

 

Let me take just a minute to explain what Constant Contact is for those that may not be familiar.
Constant Contact is a do-it-yourself online marketing system. You can use it to create and manage campaigns. The company is best known for its email marketing tools. It’s easy to create and send mass email, like newsletters or announcements and updates. You can run special promotions or offers; you can build online surveys and polls to gather feedback; and you can promote and manage your events using Constant Contact with registration tools, payment acceptance, invitations– all in one place.

All of this is all built on top of a really good contact database, so that you can load all of your contacts, your customers, stakeholders, volunteers, staff, your board – whatever lists you are keeping in various spreadsheets or in your Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo folders can be loaded and organized easily in Constant Contact so that your people and your marketing campaigns are all together in one spot. Oh, and it costs most people between $20 – $75 a month to manage all of it. (Ready for a free 60 day trial? No credit card needed to take it out for a spin CLICK to sign up)

I want to give you a simple definition, or a framework, for what marketing really is.

You already know, generally, what it is – but when I say the word marketing, I mean something very specific and it’s important that we are on the same page.   My definition of marketing has three simple parts –

  • 1. you define an audience: a group of people that you want to target.
  • 2. You reach out to them with a message that is specific to that audience.  And
  • 3. you elicit a physical and measurable response – which are the results that you want (and need) your business to get.

What kinds of results are we talking about?

These are examples of physical and measurable responses:

content marketing results

These actions represent a decision by a person to do something in response to what you put out there. It’s not a mechanical response, it is human. And it must be measurable.

But keep in mind that your overall goals come back to why you’re in business or what’s going to keep you in business……generating revenue or donations.  If the responses you’re getting don’t lead in some way directly to the bottom line, then you should evaluate why you’re driving those types of responses.

Today, we are going to talk about the content you can share – whether it’s written or images – can drive the responses you need to help your business or organization.

Content is currency on the internet (and it works offline, too!)

When it comes to content, you have an advantage over big businesses and organizations, because you can use the tools and tips we’ll talk about today to have a real conversation with your customers, clients, members and volunteers. You can also use their feedback and questions to come up with new content.

  • Content is what people search for, consume and share. It’s what they pay attention to.
  • Through the content you email to your audience, you can become a source that your customers, clients, members and volunteers know, like and trust.
  •  As we progress through this presentation, think about the conversations you have with your customers or clients. What kind of questions do they ask you? How can you use those questions and conversations to create a great email?

Now, let’s tackle the big question: What kind of content should you use in your email?

Email content basically boils down to a picture, a paragraph and a call to action.

email call to action

Email content is made up of the words, images and videos you use in your email campaigns that is designed to attract, convert and retain an audience. When you’re sending out an email to the people on your contact list, you want to make sure it is relevant and interesting and includes a clear call to action – meaning the response you’re seeking to solicit from your readers, whether that’s buying a product, taking your advice, signing up for services, referring you to friends, donating to your nonprofit, answering your survey, or whatever action you’re hoping they take. You can make that action easily accessible by including links to whatever you want your audience to do.

Here’s an example of an email from a company called Great Vacation Retreats. (see above) At the top of the message, they have a great picture that prominently features their brand; a text block that announces their deal, a paragraph that describes it, and a link, which is a call to action for readers to view their available vacation rentals. Even if they didn’t list the individual rentals in the email, they’d have more than enough information that communicates the action they want their audience to take – to book a rental in Kauai.

And as a bonus, the approach that Great Vacation Retreats took with this email is inherently mobile-friendly – it’s a single column template, there’s not too much text, and it’s not too long. This email will look great, no matter where the reader opens it – on mobile or on their desktop.

Remember, when you’re thinking of content that you’ll create from scratch, you’re not writing for yourself – you’re writing for your audience! So make your messages relevant, short and focused.  Your email shouldn’t be telling recipients every single thing that you do, and it shouldn’t include extraneous information. You can make it relevant to your audience by thinking about the conversations you’ve had with your clients, customers and members – after an interaction, you may want to jot some ideas down that can help you expand on a topic.

 I’ve mentioned relevance a few times now, and here’s why it’s important that you include content that’s for your audience, not for yourself.

  • 38 percent of email recipients will unsubscribe if they think the content in your email is boring or irrelevant – and when a person unsubscribes, you won’t be able to communicate with them again.
  • 32 percent will send irrelevant content to their spam folder, which could impact how email providers, like Gmail or Yahoo, sort your future messages.
  • Source: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/why-subscribers-flag-email-as-spam

Here’s what we’re going to talk about today.

  1. First, we’ll talk about creating content – how will you come up with ideas for the words, images and calls to action you will use in your email marketing.
  2.  We will talk about curating content – how to find and share content from outside sources that you can use in your marketing.
  3. We’ll talk about extending your reach beyond your email by using social media.
  4. And then we will talk about how you can get started developing content ideas for your own organization.

First, let’s talk about content you create.

What do you write about in your emails? This is one of the biggest questions, and the biggest hurdles, people encounter when they set out to create an email. The good news is that you know your organization better than anyone, and there’s a world of ideas out there for you!

  • First, and above all else, you write about what you know that they don’t know. This is an opportunity to share your knowledge and raise your profile as an interesting organization and an expert in your field.
  • Here are some ideas of types of content you can share with your audience! Take a minute to look at what’s on the screen right now, and be thinking of ways you can explore these ideas with content about your business.

email marketing ideas

  • Let’s talk about a few of them:
  • OFFERINGS: If you have a new product, you can write a paragraph describing what it does, and use photos or video to share a quick product demonstration or tutorial. If you have an event coming up, send out all the details in a short email, including a link to register the event.
  • UPDATES: Do you have a new location? Have you hired a new employee, or do you have a well-known employee retiring? Send out a biography and a photo to your customers and clients. Updates can go out in the form of newsletters, or even press releases. Perhaps you’re a nonprofit, and you’ve received a big grant. That’s a perfect reason to send out an email update! Did you have a recent event? Send out a survey asking recipients how it was, or send an email to share photos of the event.
  • EDUCATION: You are an expert in your field. Write about what you know that your audience doesn’t. This is your opportunity to weigh in with your perspective on a study or a news story. If you sell a product, you can make a video that demonstrates how to use it. You can also share your know-how. Let’s say you own a landscaping company. You can send out an email early in the spring and lay out a good planting schedule for your clients.
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Don’t be afraid to show your fun side! Have you seen a funny YouTube video that relates to your field? Or have you heard an interesting, funny or inspiring quote you want to share? Maybe you and your employees have made a cool behind-the-scenes video – that is something that could really show off your environment and personality.

Seasonal and Holiday updates work well.  Is there a way you can incorporate a holiday or seasonal message? Let’s say you own a bed and breakfast at the beach – in the dead of winter, send a photo of your property under warm sunshine and ask your customers to think about planning their summer getaway. Or maybe you work in tax preparation – Thanksgiving could be a great time to let your clients know how to account for any charitable giving so they’re ready for tax season in the new year.

Let’s talk about how much content you should include in your email. Think about it… How often do you look forward to reading a long, detailed email from a business? Not very often, right? You’re looking for something concise and easy to read – what’s the news, what are the details of the deal or sale, is there any action I want or need to take? – and that’s what you should think about when you create your own emails.

  • When it comes to email content, less is more. Always.

There is no rule that says your newsletter needs to have three articles, three pictures and three links. One thing is plenty. There is actually a Constant Contact customer whose newsletter is called One Thing – he did it to make it easy on himself and it works really well – people can absorb it and he’s not under the gun to come up with a bunch of content to fill it.

We did a study of our customers and found that the best practice is to limit yourself to 20 lines of text and  three or fewer images. Just like you, your audience is busy. You don’t need to worry about sending a ton of information every time.

Source: Constant Contact study: http://news.constantcontact.com/research/constant-contact-data-reveals-direct-correlation-between-email-campaign-effectiveness-and-n

Our research also shows that 1 link gets the best click-through rate. You want your audience to take an action, so use a link to make that clear. Two links are OK, but once you get to three links, the click-through rate starts to decline. Any higher than 5 links means that people are LESS likely to click ANYWHERE in your email. So try to stick with only one or two clicks, and keep them high in your message so people do not have to scroll down to take an action. And don’t forget that more than half of your audience is reading email on a mobile device…who is going to scroll through 14 articles on their phone?

And for your mobile readers – make sure that you’re keeping your messages short, and your calls to action above the fold (meaning, readers don’t have to scroll down to get to your most important content).

Source: Constant Contact study: http://news.constantcontact.com/research/constant-contact-data-reveals-direct-correlation-between-email-campaign-effectiveness-and-n

Even if the idea of creating content still feels daunting, remember – keeping your messages short and focused is actually much better than putting tons of information into one email.

  • You can use outlines to help you further focus your ideas and organize the sections of your email: Any text you’ll write yourself, any photos or videos you want to use, and any content from outside sources that you want to share – we’ll talk about content curation in a few minutes.
  •  Jot down a list of topics that come up in conversations with your customers, members, clients, volunteers or donors, and use those to spark ideas for email campaigns. If you get five questions from your clients, that’s five separate email topics you can build on!
  •  Show your expertise in your field – become a knowledgeable resource for your audience, and they will look forward to emails from you.

 And make your messages reflect your brand – this is easy to do with email tools like Constant Contact. We won’t get into email design today, but you can visit our website for great design tips and tricks to make your emails look visually fantastic.

Let’s talk about turning your interactions with your customers, clients, members, supporters and volunteers into content for your email.

Think for a second about the last interaction you had with someone at your organization. What questions did a customer or client have? What information are people requesting about your nonprofit? Can you turn an answer to their questions into an email? Here are some great examples.

turning questions into email content

One easy way to practice this in real life is to create two columns – in a spreadsheet or document, or just on a piece of paper, with the questions you regularly get on the left. In the right column, write down a way you can turn the answers to those questions into an email full of fresh, relevant content.

I want to show you the difference between a regular email from your own Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo account, and one sent through an email service provider like Constant Contact.

comparing emails

An email from a service provider looks better and gets you noticed– you can use it to feature your brand’s logo and colors, and include graphics that will capture your readers’ attention – all of this, including the graphics, comprises email content. With a combination of text and great images, you will get through to your audience.  And, from a purely legal and practical perspective, an email service provider will help protect your messages from being considered spam.

Check out the email on the right (shown above) – the colors and graphics make the message eye-catching and more professional-looking than the one on the left.

As a matter of fact – and this might be a relief for those suffering from writer’s block – great content doesn’t have to be written at all!

Visual content, like photos, videos, graphics and word-images, makes a huge impact in an email inbox. Did you know that 90% of information processed by the brain is visual content and more than half of consumers believe that images are very important factor when buying? Visuals are important to your business because they influence customers’ purchasing decisions. 67% of consumers believe that images are a very important factor when selecting and purchasing a product.

You can use photos to show off your products or shots from a recent event, and you can link to videos to show your organization in action or a product demonstration. Word images – a brief phrase, statistic, or quote over a background image – are a great way to share information in an eye-catching way.

And creating visual content is easier than ever these days – almost anyone with a smartphone has the ability to shoot high-quality photos and videos. You don’t need too much time or a huge marketing budget to create compelling images anymore – you’ve got the technology right there in your pocket.

90% stat source:  http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/visual-social-media-marketing/488380?red=at

67% stat source: http://www.mdgadvertising.com/blog/its-all-about-the-images-infographic/

You’ve heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words. In your email, you can communicate through images as well as text. Turn your images into clickable links, so that when your readers click on your images, they will be directed to the action you want them to take – just make sure you also include a text link to the same location, because about 67% percent of email readers will not see images by default.

Email tools like Constant Contact make it easy to assign a URL to your images, and also to add “alt text” so that a description of the image appears, even if the reader doesn’t see the picture.

Side note – try to avoid giving too many choices in your campaign. These are supposed to be quick decisions to act (clicking to shop in your online store or selecting an item and clicking to buy) Too many choices will reduce the number of decisions / actions a person can take. It’s a time limit thing. Think of your campaign as window shopping. You want to entice someone to come in right then and buy because of whatever got their attention.

When you’re using images in your marketing, you’re faced with the task of creating that content, deciding what images are best, and determining their context and the story around them. That’s a lot to think about, and you’re probably wondering where to begin. Here’s some direction.

  • Images can be created around:
  • Your business
  • Your environment and what’s around you
  • Your expertise
  • Themes that you decide your audience will love

You don’t have to have a product to sell to include visual content in your emails! If you have a new employee, feature their photo with a caption explaining who they are and what they’ll bring to your business. If you’re a nonprofit, share photos of a recent event, or a graphic showing the progress of a fundraising campaign.

Photos are a frequent and necessary piece for visual content. Sometimes, you may find you need a photo that you do not have or cannot create on your own. There are a variety of online stock photo sites where you can search for just the right photo that fits your needs. They are a great resource and can work well for visual content that’s based around a theme, a tip, a fact or a quote.

When you download a photo, be sure it is the right size or slightly larger! You can always crop it or scale it down, but will lose image quality if you try to enlarge a small image too much.

It might be tempting, but it’s never a good idea to use just any image you may find through a search, including sample stock photos with a watermark on them.

There can be copyright issues associated with those images; they belong to someone else. When using stock photos, you purchase the rights to use the photo, or in some cases accept a free download and agree to certain credit/conditions. Fees can vary, so shop around for what feels right for you and fits your budget.  Here are some services that you can use to get free stock photos!

Constant Contact customers have access to over 12 million images through BigStock. But even if you aren’t a customer, BigStock offers a free trial for new users.

Video is a powerful way to engage with your audience. People prefer watching a video to reading long web pages full of text.

  • When using video, make sure you mention in your subject line that your email includes a video, so your readers know about it right away.
  •  Consumers prefer watching a video to reading long text articles. In fact, 50% of people are more likely to read emails that include a video.
  • But make sure the length of your video is within 90 seconds– that’s the point at which 58% of viewers will stop watching.
  • You can make video work for your business – use it to show product demos, customer testimonials, promotional material or share user-generated content.

We’re talking about email today, but video is becoming very prominent on social media – 84% of consumers have liked videos from companies in their social media news feeds. If you email a video link, you can also repurpose it on your social media platforms for that audience to watch and share.

The example here is a great way to use video – The Pajama Program sent this email out with a link to a video thanking their donors.

Just remember to keep videos short – we’ve said it a few times already, but your audience is very busy. Videos should be about 90 seconds or less.

Make sure you’re using video in a careful, deliberate way. If you have some specific action that you want your readers to take – for example, to register for an event – you should choose text and pictures, rather than video. Using a video in that case will lessen the likelihood that your readers will take the action, because they will click on the video and be taken over to YouTube.

Now, let’s talk about curating content – finding and distributing content that is relevant, educational, entertaining and newsworthy.

At this point, you might be feeling overwhelmed, thinking you have to think up infinite ideas to create content from scratch. That’s not the case at all! We know you don’t have any time to spare in the operation of  your small organization. The great news is that you can curate content – meaning that you can find content created by others and share it with your email contacts.

Think about a curator at an art museum. That person uses their expertise to collect and present artwork from many different sources and arrange them in a way that’s educational and organized – they’re not responsible for painting every canvas!

Your curated content could be a link to a news article related to your organization, with a brief paragraph including your perspective.  The example on your screen is of a cycling company sharing their favorite headlines in cycling news for a weekly newsletter. All they had to do was write a brief introduction and then link to the articles.

Your audience will come to rely on you as an expert in your field. Let’s say you run an animal shelter, and you come across an article about coyotes in your area. You can introduce that link by giving some helpful tips for pet owners to keep their dogs and cats safe.

Or maybe you own a restaurant, and a new food trend has been talked about in the national media – you can link to a video from a TV station and tell your contacts how you’ve added some trendy items to your menu.

There are lots of different places online where you can find content to share through your emails.

  • Read your local and regional news – maybe you’ve been mentioned, or maybe you have something to say about goings-on in your community. A lot of news sites offer their recent content for free. Just make sure that if you link to content on a news site, it’s not something you need a subscription to read.
  • You can read blogs related to your field – one way to easily gather lots of blog posts is through Feedly – a service that aggregates blogs from all over. You can customize a Feedly account by selecting the areas you’re interested in reading about. It’s a great way to find content you’ll share with your contacts.
  • You should follow others on social media! This is a world of almost infinite possibilities. Let’s go back to that animal shelter example – they would want to follow other shelters, the ASPCA, pet retailers and other animal advocacy groups, and share content from those sources.
  •  Set up Google Alerts – Google will aggregate pages that mention a phrase you’ve created an alert for. You should definitely set one using your organization’s name to keep an eye on what people are saying about you online.
  • Subscribe to other email lists! This is a great way to get ideas for content and see what other people are sharing.
  •  And finally, you should always provide links to the original source, and let people know why you’re sharing the content.

Some people have asked whether it’s plagiarism to share content by other people – and the answer is definitely not! As long as you cite your source, you can share what’s publicly available. You’re actually helping the source broaden their audience by sharing their content with your audience. The difference between sharing and plagiarism is citing the source. If you were to copy and paste someone’s blog post, and pass it off as your own without mentioning the source, you’d be plagiarizing. Always give credit where credit is due!

One way to get creative and great content to easily share via email, and on social media, is to have others create it for you!

You can do that through sharing behind-the-scenes videos or photos, like this one from The Avenue Gallery, showing one of its employees loading a painting to be transported.

You can also use client or customer testimonials. There are a few ways you can approach these – you can ask a client to share their story on a video, or write a paragraph about their experience. Or, if you have a place on your website for reviews, you can pull content right from those reviews!

You can also compile user-generated content. This Facebook post from the Wekiva Falls RV park shares photos from a customer who documented her recent visit. One way to inspire user-generated content is to create a hashtag – a hashtag is a word or phrase beginning with a pound sign, or hash sign, that creates a link connecting all of the posts using that hashtag on a particular social network. You can create your own hashtag by coming up with a unique word or phrase, or even your brand name: Make sure you keep it short, and don’t use any spaces or punctuation – just letters and numbers. For example, here at Constant Contact, our employees use #CTCTlife to share pictures and videos of our company culture. Once you’ve created a hashtag, ask your customers, clients, members, employees and volunteers to create social media posts with that hashtag – then you can select your favorites to share!

Now we’re going to talk about how you can extend your reach beyond your email audience.

Once you’ve decided what content you’re going to use in your communications, it’s time to share it! This way, you extend your reach as much as possible. Using email is one way to share content, but you can also share it through social media. Email marketing tools like Constant Contact make it easy for you to share your content on different social platforms, and also for your audience to share your content across THEIR social platforms.

When you’re thinking of content to use on social media, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! You can use the content you’ve already sent in your email, and break it into smaller pieces of social media content.

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to translate into a lot of extra work for you.  You’re already building out content for the future as you focus on your emails.

For example, let’s say you’re a marketing consultant for businesses that run a lot of events, and you’ve sent an email to your those clients with four tips about selling more tickets for their events.  We’ll call that your original email. Next let’s quickly think of a few ways to extend the content by expanding on each tip as its very own social media post!

  •  The tip on sending your invitations in advance could be expanded to a Facebook post about when to send your event invitations.
  • Hanging flyers in your store could be turned into a great info-graphic on effective flyer design that you share across all your social networks.
  • Advice to post events on Facebook could expand to a blog post on promoting events on Facebook, which you can share across all your social networks.
  • And a tip about special pricing for VIPS could be repurposed into five Tweets (spread across a week) about the things VIPs want.

Here is an example of a company, the Grafton Inn in Vermont, repurposing content.  1) They used this image of a porch swing in their email, which announced summer activities at the inn. 2) They repurposed the photo on Facebook to show their weekly schedule. 3)  And on Instagram, they shared it with their followers with a cute caption.  (see below)

vermont marketing

You can do the same thing. Take a tip, a quote, an image or anything that your audience will find interesting and share it on whatever social networks you use.

Now, do keep a few things in mind. First: Change the content a little bit for each network. And I’m not just talking about its size. Change the caption or text in the post to reflect the style, etiquette and voice for each network. Don’t post exactly the same thing in each place.

Next: Don’t worry about being repetitive. People are following you because they like you. They might miss your post on Facebook, but catch it later on Pinterest. Or they might follow you on Pinterest and not Facebook, so you need to make sure you’re covering all the places people might be seeing your content.

Finally: While we’re talking about using multiple social networks, keep in mind that you don’t have to use all of them for your business. Just choose the ones that are right for you and your audience. It’s better to focus on a couple of social networks and do a good job with them than to have a bunch that you don’t have time for and manage poorly.

When it comes to extending your reach, you want to make sure that you’re meeting your audience where they are. Email is a great place to start, but you can reach more people by sharing your email content on all of your social media platforms. Think about it this way – there is probably some overlap between your email contact list and your followers on social media, but those groups are not likely to be identical. Also, what your followers do on social media, THEIR followers see. If someone likes or comments on your post on Facebook, all of their friends will see that, and see your name.

Marketing on social media tends to be less expensive than traditional advertising. If cost is an issue, you’ll get more return on your time, money and energy by going first through email and subsequently through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.  Each has its own typical audience and decision process. You want to start on the social networks you already use, and then begin to move to where your customers and contacts are so that you can leverage the existing network you have on those sites and begin to generate some social visibility along the way.

To be clear, email IS part of social media.

And if you’re doing it right, keeping your messages short, making the action or response obvious and simple and providing access, information and real value, then you will grow your business.

The best part of this is, if you’re a Constant Contact customer, we make sharing your emails on social media really easy!

  •  If you are using Constant Contact, add the Share Bar to the top of your emails – this allows your readers to post a link to your email on their social media profiles
  • And add social media buttons that link to your business’ social media profiles. The buttons are a nice visual reminder for them to click and follow you online.
  • Remind your audience to share your promotions – ask them to Like them on Facebook, retweet on Twitter or pin on Pinterest

Your audience has a lot of influence via word of mouth, and you can get your promotions in front of more people – their friends and family – if they help spread the word for you

SOURCE: Visualistan, Latest Social Media Statistics Infographic http://www.visualistan.com/2015/04/latest-social-media-statistics-infographic.html  

SOURCE: VPNMentor https://www.vpnmentor.com/blog/vital-internet-trends/

Constant Contact allows you to extend the reach of your emails by using the Social Share tool.

  • Social Share offers a quick and easy way to share an email on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with suggested post messages, images, and the best times to schedule posts based on when your social audience is most active. It also makes it easy to plan social posts for an email with a monthly calendar.

Now, let’s talk about the next steps you can take.

Remember, when you’re thinking of content that you’ll create from scratch, you’re not writing for yourself – you’re writing for your audience! So, use links to direct your audience where you want them to go, and make your messages relevant, short and focused, with the call to action very clear.

It can be very helpful to keep a calendar to schedule emails and social media posts ahead of time. Keep that running list of topics that come up in your organization, and plan out your publishing schedule in whatever way that works best for you. There are no hard and fast rules about how you should schedule – just make sure whatever you do is realistic for you to follow, whether you use an Outlook calendar, a Google Doc, a notes app on your mobile device, or a hand-written schedule, or anything else that keeps you organized!

If you’re using an email marketing service like Constant Contact, you can track which types of content get the most clicks and opens, and use that information as a guide for future emails.

You can also, from time to time, send out a survey asking your audience what types of content they’d prefer to receive from you.

In the beginning of this presentation, I said that email content boils down to a picture, a paragraph and a call to action. You can use this as a really basic outline to create content for any subject you think of.

  • Take the last question you answered for a customer, client, member, donor or volunteer, and develop an email around it using a picture, a paragraph and a call to action.

Let’s go back to our first example, about the vacations in Hawaii, and say our customer question is: “What offers are available for renting in Kauai?”

  •  First, the picture:  Remember – 90% of information absorbed by the brain is visual, so how can you illustrate the subject to catch your reader’s attention? Don’t forget, you can use stock photography, and you don’t need to be selling a product to use visuals. This photo of a beautiful seaside cliff in Hawaii grabs the reader and makes her want to learn more about seeing it in person.
  •  Next: What is it that you need to write? Respond to that last question you were asked. Your paragraph can be just a few words introducing a link, a longer explanation about the subject, or tips to answer the question in a few steps. In the example, the paragraph explains that rentals are available, and that every third night is free.
  •  Finally, you need a call to action: What do you want your audience to DO in reaction to your email? Come to your business for a consultation, buy a product, register for an event, or donate… make your call to action prominent and clear. Here, the call to action is a link, where readers can go to the vacation company’s website and see – then hopefully reserve – the available rentals in Kauai.

3 email marketing steps

Let’s go over a few more examples:

B2C: Let’s say I own a wine shop, and I’m getting a lot of questions about what foods to prepare with rose wine. I can take a photo of a beautiful glass of rose with a meal, or of a display in my store. After that, I can write 5 tips for pairing different foods with rose wines (I can even include links to recipes if I’m feeling really crafty), and finally, as my call to action, I can include a coupon for 20% off selected types of rose.

B2B: I own a marketing company. One of my clients has asked me about how often she should be posting to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.  I can use a word image [a picture with words laid over it] to easily list the different platforms and the best practices for frequency, or I could use a cool infographic with that information. That’s my image. Then, I could write a few sentences explaining that I’ve written a blog on the subject, and include a link to the blog post – that is my paragraph AND my call to action!

Nonprofit: I’m the president of a local conservation group and a resident has written to ask about the progress of a river cleanup project my group is working on. I can include before and after photos of an area that was cleaned up, a paragraph describing what is going to happen next, and links for my audience to donate or volunteer – my calls to action.

From there, you can repurpose the email content by breaking the subjects down even further into posts onto the social media platforms!

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. Source: The above contact is provided by Constant Contact. I’m using as an authorized local expert trained by Constant Contact.  Feel free to contact me should you have any questions. If you are already a user of Constant Contact and are not part of the PowerSellingMom.com network, send me an email saying : Yes, Danna Crawford, I want to be a part of the PowerSellingMom Constant Contact network. Include your Constant Contact user ID and email. Send to: DannaCrawford@gmail.com

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Promotions Planning & Design

Creating and Delivering Offers that Work!

Welcome – Thank you for joining me – My name is Danna Crawford and I’m also known as Power Selling Mom – quick info about me … I’m an authorized local expert with Constant Contact. I’ve been using their service since 2006 and shortly before that I became a Certified business consultant, trained by eBay after being an active seller on the site since 1997 – With my experience of teaching eBay classes and workshops in partnership with the United States Postal Service, Constant Contact contacted me to go through their certification program and now I do webinars and local workshops on the topic of social media and email marketing.

Next I became the Development Director for our local Foodbank after a meeting with the board while I was teaching them about fundraising using Constant Contact and eBay, next thing you know they offered me a part time job that I couldn’t resist since I’m passionate about the Cause of feeding America – So those are the three hats I wear, Constant Contact, eBay and the Food bank! You can learn more about me by visiting my website at PowerSellingMom.com or just google my name “Danna Crawford”. NOW, enough about me, lets talk about YOU and how you can become a marketer!

Let me take just a minute to explain what Constant Contact is for those who may not be familiar.
Constant Contact is a do-it-yourself online marketing system. You can use it to be a marketer for your own small business or organization. The company is best known for its email marketing tools. It’s easy to create and send mass email, like newsletters or announcements and updates.

You can run special promotions or offers; you can build online surveys and polls to gather feedback; and you can promote and manage your events using Constant Contact with registration tools, payment acceptance and invitations – all in one place.

NOTE: All of this information is provided to me by Constant Contact as an Authorized local expert I’m happy to share these transcripts with you.

You can use all the tools and tips we’ll discuss today in your own small business or nonprofit marketing. You can be a marketer. All it takes is Constant Contact.

Before we jump into the content of today’s webinar, I want to give you a simple definition, or a framework, for what marketing really is.
You already know, generally, what it is – but when I say the word marketing, I mean something very specific and it’s important that we are on the same page.   My definition of marketing has three parts:

  1. First, you define an audience: a group of people that you want to target.
  2. Second, you reach out to them with a message that is specific to that audience.
  3. And third, you elicit a physical and measurable response – which are the results that you want (and need) your business to get.

What kind of results are we talking about?

These are examples of physical and measurable responses. These actions represent a decision by a person to do something in response to what you put out there. It’s not a mechanical response, it is human. And it must be measurable.

But keep in mind that your overall goals come back to why you’re in business or what’s going to keep you in business……generating revenue or donations.  If the responses you’re getting don’t lead in some way directly to the bottom line, then you should evaluate why you’re seeking those types of responses.

Offering promotions – and soliciting for donations – are all ways to keep your organization in business, because, when they’re planned well, they will increase revenue. They are great ways to reward and engage current customers, clients and members – to bring in repeat business – and to attract new clientele.

A great place to start with generating revenue and donations is with email marketing. When it comes to offers and promotions, email marketing is hard to beat. A huge majority of U.S. adults prefer to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. And about 7 out of 10 U.S. adults have made purchases influenced by a company’s email. When it comes to communicating your offer, it is a very influential medium.

email marketing works

 91% U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from companies with which they do business. That means that your loyal, frequent customers want to hear about your promotions. Source: Marketing Sherpa- survey of consumer attitudes Source: Convince and Convert

Today, we will be walking through the steps for an effective promotion, or offer, for your small business or nonprofit.

  • We’re going to start by talking about identifying your marketing goals and creating a strategy for your offer or promotion.
  • Next, we’ll talk about how you can determine the best type of offer to help you reach your marketing goal.
  • Then, we’ll go over the practical steps for setting up and delivering a campaign, including email marketing and social media.
  • And we’ll end by talking about the next steps you can take after your promotion.

Now, let’s start off by identifying the plan for your promotion – first, by identifying your marketing goal, and then understanding how you’ll design your offer to achieve your goal.

Email goal setting

When identifying your marketing goal, you want to keep it to one objective – the one thing you want to accomplish –  otherwise, you can cause confusion for yourself and your audience. It might be:

  • Reaching new customers or clients
  • Driving repeat business from current customers/increasing customer loyalty
  • Motivating donors and advocates to take that next step by giving or spreading word of mouth about your cause
  • Or increasing your membership or subscriber numbers.

Once you know your marketing goal, you can focus your marketing efforts on achieving it.

And when you’re thinking about what to offer during your promotion, you shouldn’t just be thinking only about what’s good for you and your business. You need to think about what your customers and supporters want!

As a small business or nonprofit, you have an advantage over larger organizations, in that you can have a more direct and ongoing conversation with your customers. These conversations can help guide you in planning your offer, because you’ll know the types of promotions that your audience will respond to.

Your offers and promotions should let your customers know that you value their business. That means giving them a deal on items or services that they already want. Don’t make your promotion about clearing out unwanted merchandise or promoting underused services. Instead, offer things that are already in-demand.

If you’re a nonprofit, you want to use events like special offers or promotions to nurture your relationships with donors and supporters, and show that you appreciate their contributions. You can do this by offering discounted membership, or incentives for giving, such as being listed as a sponsor for a program or event.

And regardless of whether you’re a for- or nonprofit organization, the promotions you offer should be desirable and help you attract new customers or supporters. Create a buzz to help you grow your organization!

Because email is such a powerful way to communicate, it’s a great place to start with your promotion. And when you’re sending out an email promotion, you have a lot of different options. You should consider sending separate emails specifically about your promotions, but also make sure you’re mentioning them in any regular email newsletters you send, as well as all of your social networks, on your website, and in your physical location if you have one – anywhere you interact with your customers and clients.

What kinds of promotions are best to include in your emails?

  • You can send a coupon or offer a discount
  • Free shipping – This is an example from Bisque Imports, a business that sells ceramics and wholesale art supplies offering free shipping on orders of $100 or more. Their email goes the extra mile with some helpful tutorials on using some new products.
  • Suggest products or services, as Bisque Imports does.
  • Encourage customers to buy directly from your website – Door County Coffee celebrated the launch of its new website by offering email subscribers a code to get 25% off if they bought online.
  • If you’re a nonprofit and are running a donation drive, make your email readers aware
  • You can also offer other promotions that increase awareness of your nonprofit organization, by hosting events and asking people to register or become sponsors.
  • And you can use email to increase membership for a nonprofit or if you’re a retail organization and have a loyalty program, you can build it through email.

When you’re sending an email, you need to grab people’s attention! Just like you, your audience is busy, and when they open any email, they are subconsciously asking themselves: Why should I care about this? So when you create an email campaign about your promotions, make sure you’re answering that question.  You need to tell them what’s in it for them and get their attention.

  • Think about your subject line. Use a strong subject line that tells them the most important information in this email. More than 1/3 of people open an email based on the subject line alone. Keep the deal prominent.

You should also make it clear to your readers what your offer is. When they know there’s something in this email that benefits them, that answers the question, “Why should I care?”, then they’ll be more likely to act on your offer. Make sure the top content of your email also answers this question.

One really important thing to take into account is your timing – we’ll talk more about this later, but you want to give people enough advance time to know about your offer (but not too much that they might forget about it!) and even a reminder just before or during the offer to keep it top of mind. Make sure you appeal to your audience’s fear of missing out J

Now, a lot of the words we use in promotions, like “free” and “now” can actually trigger email spam filters. Other things that set off the spam alarm are the use of all capital letters and excessive punctuation or special characters. If you need a guide on what NOT to do, take a peak into the junk or spam folder of your own email account!  There is a balance to this – you may in fact be offering a free item, or a buy-one-get-one-free offer, so make sure your subject line doesn’t have words in all capital letters or excessive punctuation. Be specific about your offer with a strong subject line. You can check before you send – if you’re using Constant Contact, it has a built in spam checker. It will tell you if there’s a chance you might be seen as spam and suggests ways to fix any potential issues it identifies.  Source: 35% of all recipients of email choose whether or not to open a message on the subject line alone. – inwise “The Magic Words: The Importance of the Subject and ‘From’ Lines for Email Marketing” (2012) 51% of emails are now opened on mobile (Litmus, January 2014

And always make sure you’re sharing your promotions everywhere your audience is, including on social media

  • Share your email on your social media profiles
  • Post updates about your offers everywhere you can
  • Share product photos, and include details about the deal in the caption, as Taza Chocolate does in this example from Facebook.
  • Ask for donations if you’re a nonprofit. The Rescued Pets Movement, a nonprofit that uses both email and social media to get the word out about its cause, uses the “donate” tab on Facebook, so their supporters can contribute without leaving the social network where they spend a ton of time.
  • You can also use social media to take the pulse of your audience – ask questions to spark conversation. Which of your products or programs do they like best? What do they want to see more of? These kinds of conversations can help you plan future promotions and keep your offers relevant.

Now, some advice about your limitations – the “fine print” of your offer.

You are the expert on your business. When you’re considering the type of promotion or offer you are going to do, make sure you are prepared to deliver. If you only have one staff member, and your offer requires people to call in, you may need to get volunteers or even hire temps to help answer phones, which could chip into your bottom line – and you also need to make sure you have the technology to handle an influx of calls!

Make sure you have the inventory available to fulfill orders, and that your promotion is ultimately a benefit to you – you don’t want to offer such a deep discount that it negatively affects your bottom line. Not every discount has to be 50% off in order to drive sales. But make sure you’re offering things that your customers want, and you’re not just trying to clear out products that haven’t sold in the past.

You should also structure the deal so that you can continue with your normal business and increase revenue. If your regular clients can’t make appointments with you because all of your resources are tied up in the promotion, it could have a negative effect.

For nonprofits, make sure you have the staffing/volunteers to handle donation drives and plan special events with the goal of making money (for example, don’t host a black-tie dinner at a fancy hotel if you don’t think you’ll raise enough to cover costs and benefit the organization). With events, consider asking for in-kind donations, such as donated event space, catering or equipment, to help offset the costs.

You should also carefully plan out your restrictions, by explicitly stating conditions like the expiration date of your offer, or a limit of purchases per customer. If you leave loopholes, such as “25% off through Sunday,” without specifying WHICH Sunday, you could end up locked into a promotion you could only afford to run for a finite time.

You should ALWAYS check your communications for clarity and typos before you send anything out, but it’s especially important to your organization when you’re thinking about offers and promotions. Before you send out any email offer or promotion on social media, send it to yourself or a person you trust to go over the fine print and make sure it’s clear, not open to any different interpretations! And make sure all of your links work. You don’t want to send someone to an error page on your website when they’re trying to give you money!

I know this sounds like a daunting thing to consider, but there is a positive side to making sure you’re working within your own limitations. This is also a way you can give a sense of exclusivity to your offer, by giving your audience a sense of urgency – for example, say there are “Only 200 sale items in stock,” or “Just 50 tickets left,” or “5 more days to donate and receive a free gift,” and your audience will know they need to act right away.

Now that you have a marketing goal, and an idea of your promotion, it’s time to decide what form your offer will take.

Once you decide the goal of your offer, you have to determine the kind of offer you will make. These are some ideas that you can use, depending on the goal you set. We’ll go through each type of offer in detail.

discounts downloads support

  • B2B Services – If your business is a B2B – business to business – and you sell to other businesses, consider offering your expertise. If you’re a marketer, that might be an offer of a free service, like a review of your client’s email newsletters, when they purchase a consultation at full price. You could offer a regular discount on services. Or bundle an offer – provide something extra for a lower rate.
  • Events -With events, consider offering an early-bird registration discount, buy-one-get-one tickets, or limited time offers for upgrades, like special seating, parking or admission.
  • Downloads -Downloadable content gives your audience some inside tips or information – you can use your expertise to provide a benefit for your customers. These can include tips, a study or guide related to your business or cause, an e-book, advice on what to do or not do while using a product or service, or any exclusive content you may have.
  • Discounts -With discounts you can provide a percentage or dollar off through a limited time period, a buy-one-get-one-free promotion, or a gift with purchase. You can also offer coupons – Constant Contact allows users to create a trackable coupon that will tell you who redeemed your offer – making it easier to market to that specific audience in the future.
  • Hints and Tips – Educational information is a great offer for customers – people love how-to information and insider tips. Consider giving them tips or steps to solve a problem. Give them insights on the latest trends in your industry. Or provide your expertise or best practices for how to use or maintain your products or services.
  • Support A Cause – Nonprofits rely on support from donors and volunteers throughout the year – and if you’re a nonprofit, you can use email marketing to help plan events and donation drives! You could give away exclusive access to an event in exchange for volunteer hours or donations. Or you can offer a sponsorship listing for donors who give a certain amount of money. You can also think about using limited time offers – for example, if your revenue relies on membership, you can offer a “Join today and receive a discount” deal!

email lists

You should choose your offer based on what is most likely to get a response from your particular audience. When you ask your audience what they want (through surveys, social media or just chatting with them in person) and take a look at their behavior, you can find out what promotions they will respond to and you can target your offer to the audience that will act on it. When done correctly, promotions can be very effective. In fact, 76% of email subscribers have made purchases from an email marketing campaign.

If you haven’t heard of segmentation, it’s a marketing term, and it means dividing people into groups based on information like interests and demographics. You might already be segmenting by categorizing or grouping your contacts. It’s important because some promotions are not one-size-fits-all!

Knowing what your audience wants will help you to create relevant promotions– so you’re not wasting your time sending messages they’re not interested in. And if they’re not interested in what you’re sending, they might unsubscribe. Every group of people includes a variety of interests and demographics, so your audience is likely to be divided as well – you might have regular customers or donors, while others are more seasonal; and your new  customers or donors are not the same audience as your  VIPs, such as vendors, partners, board members and investors. 76% stat source: SmallBusiness.chron.com.

According to a Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey study, 56% of people who unsubscribed from a business or nonprofit list did so because the content was not relevant. Source: Social Quick Starter.

Now that we’ve looked at marketing goals and types of promotions, let’s talk about campaigns – how you will deliver your promotion or offer.

A campaign doesn’t have to be expensive, or elaborate. Simple is great. To run a campaign, you push content out, like an offer, a free download, a promotion, or fundraising drive, and then you pull a response. A physical, measurable response. You get your audience to react.  And a campaign can be sent by email and shared on social media.
Let’s talk about how to make a promotional campaign work.

Timing is important during promotions. When you are planning a promotion, make sure you are reminding your audience with enough advance notice about your promotion.

  •  Keep key dates in mind, especially if you’re planning a promotion or event around a holiday or other special date, such as this promotion from Spoilt Rotten Beads.
  • Also make sure you’re clear on shipping deadlines, if you’re offering something that needs to be ordered. Let people know when they need to purchase in order to get their product on a certain date, and also whether there are any express shipping rates.

Plan for exclusive offers and sales – give your customers enough time to take advantage of discounts and your great deals!

Your promotion should make it easy for customers to answer your call to action. The content you include should help them understand the offer and take action.

This email from Taza Chocolate definitely does that, with a prominent headline that announces a 15% off deal and a discount code. It also helps customers find featured products, with enticing photos of items they have for sale.

You should use images, and communicate through them. An email service provider like Constant Contact makes it easy to turn a picture into a clickable link, so if someone clicks on one of the chocolate products in the email, they’ll be taken right to Taza’s website, where they can buy the product.

And use your design wisely – the template used by No Rest for Bridget is perfect for a retail promotion. It’s well-organized, clean, and has room for a description and buttons that are linked to the products’ pages on the store’s website.

Side note – try to avoid giving too many choices in your campaign. No Rest for Bridget sells other things besides wrap dresses, but they chose to highlight this one item in order to direct attention to a certain product. These are supposed to be quick decisions to act upon. Too many choices will actually reduce the number of actions a person will take. It’s a time limit thing. Think of your campaign as window shopping. You want to entice someone to come in right then and buy because of whatever got their attention in the first place.

Video is a powerful way to engage with your audience. People prefer watching a video to reading long web pages full of text. You can make video work for your business and your promotions.

  • The response to video is undeniable. Video content increases click-through rates by 300%. Make sure you mention the video in your subject line for readers to know about it right away.
  • What should you feature in your video? For promotions, think about the call to action. If your promotion is about a product, you could consider a customer testimonial or a product demonstration. If you have a new service, show that service in action, as PrimeVet Animal Hospital did with this video. If you are hosting an event, consider featuring a video from a previous event.
  • And don’t forget to promote your video. Whatever visual content you use in your email, you can repurpose on your social media. Share your videos on social media to reach even more people, and encourage audience engagement. PrimeVet Animal Hospital shared its doggy daycare video, with a caption describing its promotion, on Facebook. It was liked by 6 people and shared twice.

Source: Forrester study: video content increases click-through rates by 300%.

Ratings and reviews are another way for you to engage your audience, and they can tie nicely into promotions and offers.

  • 88% of online shoppers use online reviews to help them to decide on purchases
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback! Encourage your audience to write reviews for you – ask them to do it, and include links to relevant places on your website to create those reviews
  • Then, include reviews in your content – quote those reviews, link to them in your emails, post them on social media – and keep on top of what your most popular items and services are. These can help you plan future promotions, because your audience is telling you what works, and what doesn’t. If you do get a negative review, make sure you respond professionally, and, if possible, ask the reviewer to contact you offline so you can try to resolve the situation.

Example: Bottlewise: accessories for wine lovers.

(Source: BrightLocal “Local Consumer Review Survey 2014”) Source: Channel Adviser.

Encourage your audience to share your promotions by using social media tools.

  • If you are using Constant Contact, add the Share Bar to the top of your emails – allows your readers to post a link to your email on their social media profiles
  • Use Simple Share – you can create posts for multiple social media profiles in the Simple Share editor and publish to all of them at once.
  • Use social media buttons to give your email audience an easy way to follow you on social media. Remind your audience to share your promotions – ask them to Like them on Facebook, retweet on Twitter or pin on Pinterest. Your audience has a lot of influence via word of mouth, and you can get your promotions in front of more people – their friends and family – if they help spread the word for you.

And don’t forget to make it mobile. More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, and so you need to consider mobile design when you send out your email. What this means for you is that your messages should be short and easy to read, and your call to action very clear. This is especially important for promotions and offers – if people have to scroll down, or can’t find the action you want them to take, they’ll ignore or delete your message, or worse – they’ll unsubscribe.

Here are some tips about designing for mobile.

First, avoid using too much text.  Think about it – do you want to read long and complex messages on your phone?  When you’re on the go?  No.  Which means neither do your customers or supporters.  Do you want to read a message like the one here? Probably not…

What you want is to see something more like this…the result of some basic considerations as you build your message:

  • Start to re-think your content. Could it be condensed? Can a picture tell the story better?  Can you turn one newsletter into a series by cutting it into pieces?
  • If you have longer, or more complex content you want to share, send an email with a clear call-to-action that directs people to where that information lives (on your website or blog).

Tip #2: avoid using multiple columns

Prior to the rise of mobile and mobile communication, emails had started to take on an almost website-like feel – with multiple columns and navigation elements similar to what you find on websites.  But with mobile communications driving content to be more focused, and also just to fit a more physically condensed space, multiple columns cause problems.

In this example, you can see how the mobile email client has tried to figure out what to do with the multiple columns…and it has squished them together in a less than optimal way. Using multiple columns can also result in some mobile email clients forcing the columns together into one single column, but that could render the email almost unreadable.

Tip #3: clear and easy calls to action

You want to make it easy for your readers to take an action, to do something that keeps them connected to you – buy a product, register for your event, sign up for services or donate to your nonprofit.  You can increase the odds of them taking that action by carefully thinking through the design of your emails.

Notice how the call to action is a button that is clearly separated from the rest of the content, both visually and spatially?  This will make it easier for the reader to click on it.  You should also consider making your images clickable links …they’re ready-made buttons waiting to be clicked!

A note here on buttons versus text links.  What you really want to do is make it easy for your readers to take the action you suggest.  Whether you give them large text links (with clear separation from surrounding text) or easy to tap buttons, make sure that there is no confusion about what action you want your reader to take: learn more? Register for an event?  Make a donation? Make it incredibly easy…

You should also be thinking about where that button or link takes them – will they be dumped into a screen that is hard to see on a mobile device?  That could derail the entire experience for them… So make sure you’re sending them to a website that is also mobile-friendly.

Tip #4: avoid using tiny fonts and hard to read colors

This one would seem to be pretty self-explanatory…but is no less important.

  • here’s an example with 9-point font. Yes, a lot of text fits on the screen, but who can read it? People will need to pinch-to-zoom the text, and then have to scroll around.  They’re more likely to delete the message, as well as unsubscribe from future small-fonted emails. Some other problems with this example are the color choices – dark backgrounds make it difficult or impossible to read the text, and too many different fonts make the message look sloppy and cluttered.
  • this one is a bit better, as the font starts to reach a minimum size that we’d recommend (11 points for body text and 22 points for headlines), and starts to bring greater contrast between the text and the background. But it’s still hard to read, because those sizes are the minimum. The colors are definitely better – a light background with a dark text is the best way to go!

Tip #5: use images carefully

Images are a great way to convey a message, tell a story…create a connection.  But if you don’t carefully consider how you’re going to use images, you may end up with some unintended consequences that lead, at best, to someone not reading your email.  At worst they’ll unsubscribe from your list and you won’t be able to communicate with them at all.  Here are some common challenges to consider:

  • notice the red “X” on the screen? That’s there because some mobile email clients may not display images by default…so be sure that you’re using what is called “Alt Text,” or text that appears if the image doesn’t, to at least let people know what’s there.
  • in this example, there’s a great picture – a photo of a yoga class – and when viewed on a desktop email client it may look great…but the problem is that on a mobile device, in order to see it, or the rest of the message, the reader will have to pinch and zoom out of the message. This large image has pushed the call to action all the way to the bottom of the message, making it less likely that the reader will actually click through.
  • Be aware of where or how an image may appear. You may need to resize images as you build your email (a lot of email marketing tools have simple, built in image-editing capabilities).

Before you send any message out to your customers or supporters, TEST THE EMAIL BY SENDING IT TO YOURSELF!!  And then view it with your readers in mind…and make changes accordingly.  A few extra minutes of testing can save you from a lot of headaches later!

Now, let’s talk about the next steps you can take to schedule and follow through on your promotion.

Any time you set out to create a special offer or promotion, there are three things you should know. Let’s review them now:

  1. Know your goal – choose one objective for your promotion – too many will cause confusion for your customers and yourself
  2. What’s the offer? You have a lot you could choose from – coupons, discounts, gift with purchase, etc. – make it a clear and compelling offer for your customers.
  3.  And know when to send – In order for your promotion or offer to get the best response and success, you need to understand the time and day that your audience is the most likely to take action on your messages. Let’s talk about that now.

Here is a guide to help you determine when your email audience best responds to your email. It can help you in all areas of your email marketing, but when it comes to offers, it can really help you focus in on the time and day of the week when your audience is most likely to open and react to your message.

email notifications

First, find the best day for you to send your email. For this exercise, let’s say you have 300 total contacts. Split your audience into three equal groups – in this case, each group would have 100 people. You will use the same exact email message for the first part of the test.

  • Then, select three days in the week. For example, you could test it on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
  • Then, send your email to the first group of 100 on Monday, the second on Wednesday, and the third on Friday. After that, you can use your email marketing to analyze your results. Study your open rates for each day, and also which dates people answered your call to action (clicked on your link, registered for your event, donated, etc.) – that information will tell you what the best day is for you to send.
  • The next time you send an email, find the best time of day to send, using the same three audience lists.
  • Using the best day from the first part of the test, select three times of the day that you want to test sending your email.
  •  Send your email to the first 100 people in the morning, the next 100 at lunch time, and the final 100 in the late afternoon or early evening. Again, analyze your results and remember to measure the actions people take in your email. Using this method will give you the best day of the week and the best time of the day to send your email!

email marketing calendar

Once you’ve identified the best time and day for your particular audience, you can begin to schedule your promotion. If you’re new to promotions, don’t feel like you have to do EVERYTHING on the screen. This is a pretty advanced plan, and it’s just an example, to give an idea of the types of things you can schedule during a promotion.

Keeping a calendar is a helpful way to stay organized during a promotion, or really any kind of marketing plan. You can use whatever works best for you, whether that’s a calendar on your smartphone or tablet, a Google doc, Outlook, a planner, or just a bunch of Post-It notes. Knowing when you’ll communicate with your audience and planning ahead is a big time-saver. To make it even easier on you, you can automate things…

We know you’re busy, and you might not want to be – or can’t be – on your computer all day. Save yourself some time by using some automation tools that do the work for you.

    • Start simple by setting up welcome or update messages for your email marketing. They can be triggered to send to your list when someone signs up.
    • Create your emails in advance and schedule them to send at the times and dates that you choose.
    • You can also try autoresponders – these are emails that are sent out based on certain triggers, like holidays, birthdays or anniversaries.
    • You can also schedule your social media posts – you don’t have to be sitting in front of your computer to post to your networks. Facebook has its own scheduling tool, but the other networks don’t.


Hootsuite - Social Relationship Platform

  • You can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Hootsuite also has an Instagram feature that reminds you when to post content, and makes it easy to share your images.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep on track with social media. Try at least 20 uninterrupted minutes at a time, 3 to 5 times a week to make social media planning, posting and monitoring part of your regular schedule.

Once your promotion or offer is over, you’re not done. In fact, analyzing how you did is one of the most important parts.

If you’re not measuring, you are not marketing. Period.

You should know who is opening your marketing emails, when and how many times – what they clicked on – individually and generally. Know how many people respond to your surveys, sign up for your events, pay for your events or pay for a special deal, or make a donation if you’re a nonprofit.
Here is one of the reports in Constant Contact. Most reputable email services will give you similar reports
Constant Contact Report

You have to know what is working and what isn’t – because you should do more of what is working and stop doing what isn’t. You have to measure in order to know what will help you grow.

In addition to measuring and analyzing your results to help you understand what worked, there are a few ways you can follow through on your promotion to complete a great experience for your customers.

  • First, say “THANK YOU!” to show that you appreciate their support. It’s a personal touch that goes a long way – you can ask them to review their experience with you, send them a token of appreciation, such as a small discount or gift for donating, or simply say thanks.
  • Send them your newsletter (after asking for their permission, of course!) You can incentivize and reward your loyal customers who sign up for your newsletter with email-exclusive deals in the future.
  •  Add the people who acted on your offer to a special list which you can use to send targeted offers. You can do this in an email marketing system by using the reporting tools to find out who clicked on your offer or redeemed a trackable coupon.
  •  Lastly – encourage the people who responded to your offer to join you on your social networks like Facebook and Twitter. No matter the email service provider you use, it’s important to stay in touch with customers after the promotion as a way to cultivate those new relationships, an easy way to do that is to have them share their experience on social networks.

Continuing to engage with your customers through email and social media will keep you informed about what they want from you, and will keep them loyal, repeat customers.

If you want to learn more about this or other marketing subjects, you can visit my “Email Marketing” section or “Social Media Marketing” to learn more. Sign up for a free trial of Constant Contact, and access tons of helpful marketing resources within the platform.

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