Monthly Archives: September 2017

Automate Email Marketing

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 6 – Automate Your Email Marketing

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

You’ve made it to the last blog in our series, ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing‘!  Now let’s wrap things up with the final steps and tips you need to know to create amazing, spam-proof email marketing campaigns.

It’s time to automate your email marketing process and convert your email marketing campaigns into a money making success stories.

Auto-responders can be considered an email marketer’s most influential tool for converting leads to sales.  They are essential when it comes to engaging your email lists, building strong value, developing relationships with your audience and converting them into buyers.

The coolest thing about auto-responders is that once you create them, they’re on their own and you really don’t have much after that.

Automate Email Marketing with Auto-responders

An auto-responder can be defined as a series of emails that are automatically sent to specific segments of people in your email list, triggered entirely by specific events taken by them, like joining your list, browsing your website, abandoning the cart, downloading a lead magnet or buying a product.

You will be creating the content of these auto-responder emails in advance and setting the emails up to be sent out at the appropriate times with the help of whichever email marketing service you choose (for a full list, see part two of our series).

Auto-responders are important for two major reasons:

  1. They help in nurturing your leads by giving them valuable information and insights while at the same time, teaching them how to have a better buying experience with you.
  2. They directly help in converting prospects into customers by building good communication and trust with your leads without ever looking too desperate or out of touch.

Choose a Goal for the Auto-responder

Let’s start with the first step in creating effective auto-responder series – setting up your goals.  There will always be one or a combination of these goals for your auto-responder series:

  • A welcome sequence for new subscribers – This will be a message that you’ll send to your new subscriber right after they give you the permission.  This will commonly contain a link to a lead magnet for easy downloading followed by a thank you message and a call-to-action to check out your other similar offerings. This is your chance to make a lasting impact on your new subscribers.
  • A lead magnet/link to a freebie – Auto-responders can also be effectively used as a lead magnet to attract the new subscribers.  You can send out a free mini-course or other freebies with a promise of a series of emails containing more such deals.
  • Bringing sales on autopilot – These days, all leading e-commerce businesses are creating sales funnels out of email auto-responder sequences.  This can include a series of linked, educational videos and resources, followed by other follow-up emails to sell your products.  It can also include promos and deals on your products to attract the right subscribers who have just viewed these products on your website.
  • Up-sell and cross-sell your products – Auto-responders can be equally effective for existing customers who have already purchased your products or services.  You can use them to up-sell and even cross-sell relevant products and services that you deem that particular segmentation of customers would find attractive. For example, if your customer just bought a course on PPC marketing, you might be able to sell a course on SEO strategies at a discounted price tag.

Map Out Your Sequences

The next thing you’ll want to be doing is mapping out the entire sequence of your auto-responder.  For this, you will need to figure out the length of the sequence, including the number of days and the number of emails.

Keep in mind that there is no universal rule to how many emails you need to have in an auto-responder sequence. You just need to make sure that your sequences are long enough to accomplish the goals that you have established.

You will also need to structure the gap that you would like to keep between your emails going out.  While it might be okay to send out an email once every two days for a start, keeping this as a habit, in the long run, might simply annoy your good subscribers.  Try and maintain a healthy balance here and you will be fine.

Most importantly, as we mentioned in our previous blog post, the quality of your emails and the level of value they are adding for your subscribers is critical to your success.  As a standard, you can follow an 80/20 rule, in which 80% of your emails will be around giving value and only 20% around making a sale.

Next up, you can create outlines for all of your sequences, from start to finish, underlining the topics each email will be covering and the call-to-action that you will have in place.

Create a Series that Converts

It might be a difficult task to actually write the emails for your auto-responder series. If so, we recommend that you outsource this task to a professional copywriter.  If you’re confident in your own abilities, then keep the following points in mind while crafting your series:

  • Keep your Focus on the Reader – Remember to always write out emails to address the genuine needs of your subscribers instead of your sales goals.  As the marketers say: “People don’t buy products, they buy solutions”.  Try and offer a solution rather than bombard them with your offers.  Understand the major pain points of your subscribers and address them in your emails.
  • Personalization is the Key – The more you personalize the content in your emails, the better. Personalized emails will definitely look more valuable and relevant to the subscribers.  And by this, we don’t mean simply adding the name of your subscriber.  You will have to put forth the time and effort to actually tailor the content of your emails.  Give them true value and be a true friend to their needs.
  • Keep Nailing the Subject Lines – As marketers, it’s all about the headlines.  As email marketers, it’s all about the subject lines (well, most of it!).  So think like a subscriber and don’t accept any subject line that will not really move you enough to click on an email.  Make sure you concentrate on the personalization here as well to make the subscriber curious about the highly relevant content that might be lying there in their inbox.

Control & Improve

While auto-responders, as the name says, are mostly a hands-off task after being successfully set, we still recommend that you loosely monitor the progress and performance of these emails.  It’s this close monitoring that might be all the difference in the end.  You will want to identify all areas that are not performing and might be improved.  Try A/B testing of little things to see if there are any improvements (always make sure you test little things and don’t perform drastic changes).

Pay attention to the following when analyzing your auto-responder campaigns:

  • Open Rates – If the open rates are less than ideal, then revisit the steps in part five of our series to see if the auto-responder is relevant to your subscriber lists and/or if the subject lines are appealing enough.  You might also want to check the timings of your auto-responder emails.
  • Click Through Rates (CTR) – Once your subscriber opens your emails, are they actually taking any action on them?  Having a low CTR might be signaling a weak body copy.  You might want to check the relevancy of your email copy with the subject line and if the content actually offered value to the subscribers.  You should also check to ensure that the CTR is clear enough and that the links or buttons are easy to find.
  • Unsubscribes – Remember that unsubscribes will always happen.  Having said that, a high or unusual unsubscribe rate should not be taken casually.  If this happens, you should check to ensure you’re delivering the promise that you initially made to get subscribes to join your mailing lists.  You will have to check the relevancy of the content of your auto-responder and also see the ratio of your email content that is sales-oriented and maybe cut down on that and work on adding more value.

Well, that’s the end of our series.  You now have enough knowledge to go out, set-up, experiment, and master the art of spam-proof email marketing.

As always, Mail Monitor is here to support you in your journey and helping you transform your email marketing campaigns into sales machines.  Contact us with any questions you might have about our tools and offerings and check out some of our other blog posts for more tips and tricks on being successful with your business emails.

Email Open Rate

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 5 – Improve Email Open Rates

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

You’ve done the hard work and have managed to establish a good email list and segmented it properly.  However, there is still one more very crucial thing to do – and that is to improve your email open rate.

In part five of our email series ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing’, we will talk about all of the factors that go into creating an email that gets opened.

Improve Email Open Rate by Staying Away from Spam Filters

First and foremost – you need to do everything possible to stay out of the subscriber’s spam folder.  If you obtained permission from your subscribers and are using one of the email marketing services mentioned in part two of our series, you’re off to a great start!

Now, let’s review some best practices that will ensure you stay out of spam folders:

  • Use a good, reliable IP address for all your email campaigns.  This IP address should not have been used by anyone to send out spam emails in the past.
  • Use verified domains to send out emails.
  • Make sure that your emails are using code clean templates.
  • Ask your subscribers to add you to their address books and encourage them to whitelist your business.
  • Refrain from desperate, sales language (some common spam trigger words include: buy, discount, cash or clearance).
  • Have clear, relevant subject lines.
  • Always include your location in your emails.
  • Have an easy process for subscribers to opt-out or unsubscribe.
  • Luckily, most of these points are taken care of by the email marketing services mention in part two of our series.  You can also use MailMonitor’s preview and rating services as another line of defense.

Get Rid of Inactive Subscribers

While you can try your luck with re-engaging with your inactive subscribers, you should consider getting rid of them if there is no response at all.  It is imperative that you keep your email lists fresh.  It is equally important to maintain regular communication with your lists to avoid them getting stale.

An inactive subscriber can vary, depending on your business, but as a general rule, anyone who doesn’t engage with you for over 6 months is a stale contact.

Before giving up on them, try sending the last email in an effort to re-engage with them with a subject line that might catch the subscribers’ eye, such as: “We miss you. Come back soon!”

It’s All about Timing

Your timing can make all the difference between a campaign’s success or failure, so be extra careful about the time and the day of the week you choose to send out your emails.

While you will not be able to identify the perfect time right away, it’s something that you will understand over time.  You can use A/B testing to establish the best time-frames in which to send your emails to get maximum engagement.  You can also find some support from the email marketing services like MailChimp as they can also guide you with selecting the perfect time for your campaigns.

Have a Killer Subject Line

As far as your open rates are concerned, the subject lines are the most critical part. So, understandably, your subject lines need to stand out.  You can follow these tips to create those killer subject lines:

  • Trigger curiosity, but don’t overdo it. You just want to create that sense of curiosity in the subscriber’s mind to open your emails, not confuse them.
  • Use numbers.  It’s just something that draws the eye (consider a subject line like ‘5 amazing deals just for you!’).
  • Use a conversational, human tone. Als, make sure your sender email address has a human name.
  • Speak in a tone that your subscribers can relate to – a tone that they use while talking to their friends.

Don’t make it Generic

While drafting subject lines and message content, most email marketers have a tendency to think of thousands of people and get stuck in writing generic lines.

Try creating subject lines that speak to an individual instead of a whole crowd.  It’s this added personalization that can make all the difference in whether or not a consumer opens your email.

This is why it’s important to know your buyer personas inside out and to craft the perfect subject lines for each.  You should be able to understand their wants, needs, values, likes, dislikes, and problems.  You can conduct little surveys with lead magnets of their own to get a better understanding of your subscribers’ personalities.

Be Friendly

Say goodbye to your corporate hats and write as a genuine friend.  This is perhaps the only way to really appeal to your subscribers and make your subject lines stand out.  A friendly subject line could be something like: “You’ve got to see this deal I got just for you.

Our experts feel that this will make the email look more personalized and it significantly reduces the chances of your emails getting deleted.  With all those other, robotic and cold corporate subject lines clouding a subscriber’s inbox, be the friend who is actually there for them.

Write Quality Content, Consistently

It should also be kept in mind that the content of your email is equally as important.  While you might be able to get one email opened from a subscriber based on your subject line, if the quality of your email content isn’t good, then you shouldn’t expect opens in the future…even if your subject line is remarkable.

Consistency with this quality content is mandatory.  Your emails shouldn’t be sent out just for the sake of sending out emails – they need to hold real value and purpose for the subscribers.  Consistently sending out good, valuable emails should get you loyal customers and fantastic open rates.

Add a Little Humor

Humor, if done right, can be a wonderful thing.  It’s personal and light-hearted and stays in people’s minds for a long time.  Having said that, you need to be careful and witty and not overdo it.

For effective humor in your emails, try to understand your audience intimately. Knowing their likes and dislikes, preferences and pain points will make it a whole lot easier for you to crack a joke that they would like.

You can also add funny GIFs and videos, but remember that you are not a comedian, so keep it professional.

Be Mobile Friendly

The world we’re living in is moving towards mobile domination at an alarming rate.  More and more users are checking their emails using mobile phones as their primary device.

Make sure that all of your email campaigns are mobile-friendly, with loadable media and responsive formatting. Also, do account for the smaller screens of the mobile phones so keep your fonts readable and subject lines shorter.

Try to follow these tips to appeal to mobile users:

  • Keep simple formatting, under 600px wide.
  • Images might be turned off automatically, so make sure your emails look good without them.
  • Have smaller images and other media to reduce the load time.
  • Have a clearer and bigger call-to-action buttons that are easier for mobile users to click.
  • Avoid placing two links on top of each other to help users easily click on them.

Don’t be discouraged if the results don’t turn out to be as expected right off the bat.  Try different things and make subtle changes to see what might work.

And don’t forget to check out the final post in our series, ‘Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 6 – Automate Your Email Marketing‘.

Personalized Email Marketing

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 4 – Personalized Email Marketing

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

While email marketing experts agree on the importance of building email lists, it is equally important to get your segmentation right and create personalized email marketing.

In this, part 4 of our email series ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing,’ we will look at ways to segment your lists and create personalized email marketing messages.

Personalized Email Marketing: List Segmentation

Email List Segmentation is the process of breaking down your subscriber list into smaller groups according to their interests, wants and needs.  This segmentation is essential for you to be able to send out personalized and extremely relevant emails to each of the groups.

Instead of sending out each and every email to each and every subscriber, segmentation will allow you to send each email only to the subscribers you’ve deemed to be the most interested in the content, leading to a much higher rate of conversion and a much lower rate of being considered as spam by an end user.

Personalized Email Marketing: Importance of Segmentation

Segmenting your email lists is a proven way to improve your email open rates, decrease the rate of unsubscribes and bump up your click-through rates.  This is the reason why the most successful email marketers use email list segmentation to the fullest to improve the effectiveness of all of their email marketing campaigns.

You will have to tag your subscribers into different segments to ensure that you send out powerful, customized auto-responders and not just some automated, generic robotic communication.  These will be a series of emails sent out automatically to the relevant subscribers, based on certain conditions, enabling you to better nurture your leads and achieve higher conversions and sales.

Segmentation also allows you to better structure your subject lines and messages for specific groups of people instead of sending out generic stuff that won’t hit the bull’s eye for your entire email list.

So how do you divide your email lists into segments?  Here are a few ways to help get you started:

  • New Subscribers – For sure, you will be sending out welcome emails and a series of other introductory emails to them.
  • Interests – What do your subscribers like? Are they fans of rap music or are lovers of Jazz?
  • Preferences – Segment subscribers based on what offerings of yours are they the most interested in.
  • Location – This will help you target local subscribers when there is an event held be you near them.
  • Inactivity – Touch base with inactive subscribers, telling them what they’re missing.
  • Open Rate – Rewarding more engaging subscribers is always a good idea!
  • Shopping Cart Abandoners – Remind these users that they haven’t checked out – maybe add some incentives there.
  • Lead Magnet – Send customized emails based on the kind of lead magnet they opted for.

How to Improve Your Email Open Rates

Now that you have your email marketing service, your opt-in form, lead magnet and your email segmentation, you’re ready to create great emails.  The first step is to ensure you stay away from spam filters and prevent unsubscribers.

Check out part five of our series, ‘Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 5 – Improve Your Email Open Rates.’

How to Grow Your Email Lists

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 3 – Grow Your Email Lists

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

Even in this day and age, there are marketers who just create opt-in forms, stick them on their website and then hope people will sign up.  The reality is that this method will take you years to grow your email list…if it even grows at all.

In this blog, Part 3 of our series ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing,’ we will review strategies to organically grow your email lists by creating and promoting a compelling offer (also known as a ‘lead magnet’.)

Grow Your Email Lists Through Lead Magnets

Lead Magnets are deals and offers that you give away for free in exchange for an email address.  Most successful lead magnets are digital materials like audio files, videos or PDFs (versus products or services that will cost you money). The catch is that your lead magnet needs to provide value for your potential lead in order to appeal to them.

Some of the most widely used lead magnets include:

  • eBooks
  • Link to free webinars
  • Discount coupons
  • Tips and resources
  • Free trials/samples
  • Quizzes and/or assessments
  • Case studies

And if you’re wondering on exactly what makes a good lead magnet, you need to consider the following 5 criteria when making your decision:

  1. Easy Consumption – Your lead magnet is useless unless your audience uses it.  Try and share snackable, digestible lead magnets to gain traction (nothing too huge or cumbersome that consumers won’t use).
  2. Action Driven – A good lead magnet will always provide useful information and/or tools and skillsets that your audience can apply.
  3. Relevant – Make sure you study your prospects to guarantee that your lead magnet solves their problem.
  4. Instant Gratification – Don’t make your audience wait after they submit the information that you required them to.  Give the lead magnet right then and there.
  5. Creates Noticeable Improvement – Your lead magnet needs to be as good as (if not better) than your main offerings to be able to make an impact.  People continue to buy from businesses who give out lead magnets that are unique and will provide them with something useful or valuable.

 

Creating Opt-In Forms That Work

Keep in mind that your opt-in form is there to convey the BIG benefit that your lead magnet promises,  essentially prompting your audience to subscribe to your email lists in exchange for getting your offer.

Every good opt-in form that converts will have the following components:

  1. Exciting Headlines – The headline always needs to describe the benefits of the lead magnet that you are giving out.
  2. Great Visuals – It’s always a good idea to include an image of the lead magnet, if possible.  If not, then make sure the visuals and the template of the opt-in form are both, professional and appealing.
  3. Supporting Descriptions – Try and keep your descriptions brief, crisp and to the point.  Use bullets wherever possible so that the reader can give it a quick scan.
  4. Keep it Simple – The form doesn’t have to be too complicated.  Don’t ask more than the first name and email address.  Having too many questions can be the deal breaker.
  5. CTA in Subscribe Button – Having a contrasting color for your all-important subscribe button can make a huge difference.  Also, instead of a generic copy, try and use a call to action like “Send me the 50% discount!

Once the opt-in form is created, you will have to install it on your website.  Some of the highest-converting places to put your opt-in form include:

  • A splash page
  • Floating bar
  • Welcome gate
  • Your website’s header
  • Within your blog posts
  • In the sidebar
  • In the footer
  • In your “About” page
  • In timed lightbox pop up

Personalize Your Email Marketing

Your lead magnet and opt-in form are ready to go.  It’s time to start building your email lists!  Check out Part 4 of our series: Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing – Part 4 Personalized Email Marketing.

Email Marketing Process

Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing: Part 2 – Start Your Email Marketing Process

By | Marketing Email Deliverability, Tips and Resources | No Comments

Welcome to Part 2 in our series, ‘Your Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing.’  In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know to start your email marketing process.

Setup Your Email Marketing Process

The first thing you’ll want to do is build your email lists.  Keep in mind though that you need to have permission to email your customers and other prospects prior to adding them to your list.

And while you might be inclined towards buying email lists, it’s not something we ever recommended. There are just too many issues with purchasing an email list that end up outweighing any benefits you might gain. We also don’t recommend you simply adding emails from your prospect’s business cards that were collected at a conference or a networking event. Just don’t put anyone on your list until you have express permission from them to receive your newsletters or emails. Failing to do this means your emails are more likely to be marked as spam, which will only damage your business reputation online.

Remember that people who don’t opt-in to specifically get your emails are just not the people who will be buying from you. So sending them your offers and/or other deals will be a complete waste of time and money.

To get started with your email marketing campaigns the spam proof way, you should:

  1. Create an Email Opt-In Form
  2. Set-up an Account with an Email Marketing Service

Let’s talk about some of the leading email marketing service providers out there:

MailChimp

For all first time email marketers out there, we recommend that you try out MailChimp as your email marketing service.  It’s a great service with an easy to set-up and highly intuitive user interface.  Adding new subscribers to specific segments is as easy as it can get.

The best thing about MailChimp is that it offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers – that’s more than enough for any new businesses.  However, if you are looking for auto-responders or any other powerful tools, then you will have to make a switch to a paid plan.  But not to worry, their paid plans are some of the lowest out there, starting from as little as just $10/month.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the biggest email marketing services.  We find them to be extremely easy to manage subscribers and create highly professional emails using customizable templates via their simple drag-and-drop editing tools.  They also allow you to send out automated emails to all of your new subscribers and track the performance.

Constant Contact offers a free, 60-days trial, after which you can start a plan from as low as $20/month or get further discounts for prepayments of 6 or 12 months.

AWeber

AWeber is another famous email marketing service with a wide range of tools, including auto-responders, email builder, segments and much more.  With a fantastic customer support team and features like highly targeted emails using opt-in forms, AWeber might just be the right service for you.

Their service prices start from as low as $19/month and offer a 30-day free trial for new subscribers.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit can be the perfect choice for you if you are a beginner who needs some advanced features to be used in the near future, including complex auto-responders.  You can think of it as a CRM minus the heavy price tag. ConvertKit is massively used by authors, professional bloggers as well as speakers.

Pricing starts at $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers.

ActiveCampaign

Oriented more towards marketing automation, ActiveCampaign is a unique email marketing software. With ActiveCampaign, you can reveal more about the subscribers’ behavior, using tags on their profile.

Pricing starts at a meager $17/month.

InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft is an end-to-end CRM as well as marketing solution created with small and medium-size businesses in mind.  With extremely advanced features of list segmentation, marketing automation, and lead scoring, InfusionSoft is a powerhouse that is on top of its game.  You’ll either need to know a little HTML to be able to truly customize your emails or you can pay their team to do it for you.

Monthly package starts from a minimum of $99/month.

GetResponse

GetResponse is great for email marketers who wish to create responsive emails and have built-in auto-responders with A/B testing capabilities. The pricing starts at $15/month for 1,000 subscribers and can go all the way to $999/month for enterprise solutions.

Hubspot

HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing software that offers more than basic email marketing services.  Designed specifically to meet the needs of medium to large businesses, HubSpot will help you with strong SEO and a fantastic customer service.  They also offer free training to equip you with the inbound methodology in attracting, nurturing, converting and delighting your leads.

The basic plan starts at $200/month which features content creation tools, content optimization, email marketing, social media suite and a sublime marketing analytics dashboard.

How to Grow Your Email Marketing List

Once you have your Opt-In Forms and Email Marketing Services ready and in place, the next step is to start working on creating your email lists and make sales.

Let’s move on to Part 3 of our series: Guide to Spam Proof Email Marketing – Part 3 Grow Your Email Lists.