Blog post written by Rob Henson | 29 May 2015 | Category: Email marketing
Blog post written by Rob Henson | 13 May 2015 | Category: Email marketing
When running email campaigns it is important to give recipients a way to unsubscribe should they not want to hear from you again. This is normally done with a simple unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email e.g.
“To unsubscribe from this mailing list please click here”
One problem with this is that it’s possible to accidentally lose your most engaged readers because of a phenomenon called “silent unsubscribing”.
The best way of explaining what this means is to give an example:
You run a company which sells motorbikes and decide to send out a marketing email. John McDonald receives your email, enthuses about it, loves what you have to say and forwards it on to all of his colleagues, friends and family including his Auntie Mary. Mary – who is in her eighties isn’t particularly interested in motorbikes and wonders why she’s got the email. She clicks the unsubscribe link, removing John from your mailing list.
Disaster! You’ve just lost one of your most engaged readers, someone who was happy not only to receive and read your email, but to share it too. John won’t receive any of your future emails and worse, he won’t even know he’s unsubscribed.
This is a rare phenomenon as it relies on a particular chain of events, but it is worth militating against. At Novamedia we simply include the recipient’s email address in the unsubscribe link. So the example above might read:
“To remove firstname.lastname@example.org from this mailing list please click here”
This shows who the email originally ‘belongs’ to and will in most instances protect against accidental silent unsubscribes. A simple solution to a thorny little problem!
Blog post written by Rob Henson | 13 April 2015 | Category: Email marketing
After you’ve sent an email campaign, you’ll want to know how successful it has been. Novamedia can help...
After an email is sent to a contact list from our system a number of criteria are monitored from the moment it hits a recipient’s inbox. The system we use collates this information, giving you an understanding of how effective your email campaign is. The statistics we measure include:
Looking at these percentages gives a good indication of how successful your email campaign has been. But we can go deeper than that. Our system also tracks individual recipients, and individual links within your email.
So if you have a few links to your website, or to an event registration page, or to a particular product within your email, you can monitor which ones people are clicking on the most. This can help you make more informed decisions about the layout and content of future email campaigns.
Many of our clients have access to their email campaigns’ statistics online because we set them up as users on our system, giving them a username and password to track all their campaigns. Whilst we can produce individual reports for clients, most prefer the power and convenience of having access to their own real-time data and control over their contact list. Below is a screenshot showing how this looks to logged in users:
This question depends on a lot of factors but a starting point when considering this question - and when setting expectations for your company’s campaigns - is to examine your own habits. When you receive a marketing email, even one from a company you know well and trust, how likely are you to open it, read it all in detail, and click on all or any of the links in it?
If you’re like most people, you’ll delete many emails you receive before even opening them.
As a benchmark an open rate of 20% - just one in five people opening your beautifully crafted email - is considered good. That may sound like we’re lowering expectations, but it’s worth being realistic.
There are a couple of other basic factors that will also affect open rate:
For example, an email campaign sent to a list of your most trusted clients, reminding them about an exclusive event they are already signed up for could easily generate an open rate of 70%+. Conversely, an email campaign sent to a list of email addresses which has not been well maintained and which simply contains some information about one of your products may struggle to get a 10% open rate.
So, when analysing open stats bear in mind the habits of email users in general, drawing on your own habits, the quality of the list you sent to, and the content of your email.
Once an email campaign has been sent and its results digested and analysed (with help from the reporting tools in our system), it is likely the contact list will need tidying up ready for the next campaign.
I’ve touched on this a little already when I mentioned bounces and unsubscribes. Whilst neither is desirable both are inevitable, especially for larger contact lists. Our system will automatically manage your list, meaning addresses which have bounced and recipients who have unsubscribed will no longer be sent emails.
It’s also likely you’ll want to add new recipients for your next campaign. To add new email addresses to your contact list you have two options. You can either provide us with the contact list which we can import into the system or you can log in and import new contacts whenever you need to.
Our system makes list management easy, giving you more time to concentrate on the content of your campaigns.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 30 September 2014 | Category: Email marketing
Email marketing is an excellent way of building business if it’s done properly but, let’s be honest, there are many ways to cock it up and our job is to steer you down the right path so you get the maximum response and benefit.
If you really want to waste your money then a great way to do so is to try to use a purchased list of contacts.
But surely (I hear you say) it’s a great way of getting my message out to thousands of people without having to do any work in getting the names in the first place.
No! No! No! Could I make it any clearer?
What are the reasons that make purchasing email lists a bad idea?
They didn’t opt in and they don’t know you
The people on the list didn’t opt in to your list. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. How many times do you get email from companies you don’t recognise? And how many times is your response: “Ooh I’m so glad they sent me that email. Let me open it and buy their products immediately!” OK, it was a rhetorical question.
They don’t know who you are. It’s no good trying to build a relationship via email marketing with people who don’t know you from Adam.
Spam complaints and deliverability
Because they don’t know who you are and didn’t opt in, you’ll get loads of spam complaints. This means that it could affect deliverability on our servers and we don’t like that.
You won’t get the results
Most importantly from your point of view, you won’t get any results! A few years back we ran a campaign for a client that we found out afterwards was to a bought list. They got a 3% open rate and no response at all.
We don’t allow purchased lists
Finally the best reason for not using a purchased list is that we don’t allow them for all of the reasons outlined above.
So what’s the answer?
It’s slower but the only way to ensure deliverability and results is to build your own list. Get people to opt in (or preferably double opt-in with a confirmation email) and then you’ve definitely got their permission to keep in touch. I’ve already written a blog post about how you can do this.
And if you want any help with any of this, just get in touch.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 21 August 2014 | Category: Email marketing
I’ve written blog posts before about the importance of the subject line and the from name in an email marketing campaign. They are the things that determine if your email is going to be opened. Get them wrong and it will forever remain unread, forlornly sitting in your recipient’s deleted items folder.
But your work isn’t done just because you’ve got someone to open your email because what you need then is for them to take the right action. So it’s important to make sure that the content is right.
What are the purposes of your email? There are various reasons for sending out an email campaign. Some campaigns may have more than one purpose such as:
Getting the content right is an art and it depends on what you want to achieve. Some emails we send out are newsletters with a lot of useful information in the email itself. Others keep it short and sweet with links through to various pages. Some have just one aim and one link. If you want to get people to sign up for an event or click through to buy a product, a big registration or buy button or link is important.
Also don’t leave you call to action until the bottom of the email (although there’s no harm in repeating it at the bottom).
And always check your email statistics. If your open rate is high but your click-through rate is low then it probably means you’re not getting the content right and need to look again at what you are saying.
We have a lot of experience in designing and managing email campaigns so why not contact us and let us help you with yours.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 06 February 2014 | Category: Email marketing
We have run hundreds of email campaigns for our clients over the years and we have become rather good at it, even if I say so myself.
The most important thing with email marketing, as with any marketing, is results. There are various ways to measure those results: number of sales generated as a result of the campaign, the number of people signing up for an event or the number of people clicking through to a particular page.
However you measure the results, there are two important things that have to happen first: the email has to be opened and a link or links within the email have to be clicked.
So what can you do to maximise the chances of those things happening?
Well, it’s a mixture of things that you need to get right:
The email subject line
The only thing that the subject line has to do is to get people to open the email, simple as that. It shouldn’t be too long, it should be spelt right and it shouldn’t be spammy. I wrote a blog post about this early last year which covers the subject line in more detail. You can read it here.
The From name
The most important thing about the From name is that it should be recognisable. It’s a matter of trust. If people recognise who the email has come from then they are more likely to open it. If not, it’s the junk bin for your email. A mixture of your name and your company name often works best but if you want to find out more about this then take a look at another blog post I wrote on the subject.
The content and call to action
It’s no good getting people to open your email if the content then causes them to close it immediately.
Getting the content of your email right is an art. It all depends on what you want to achieve. Some emails we send out are newsletters with a lot of useful information in the email itself. Others keep the content of the email short and sweet with links through to various pages. Again others have just one aim and one link. If you want to get people to sign up for an event, a bit registration button or link is important. If you want people to buy a product then make it easy for them to get through to the page on your site that sells that product.
Don’t leave you call to action until the bottom of the email although there’s no harm in repeating it at the bottom.
We have a lot of experience in designing email campaigns so why not contact us and let us help you with yours.
Your database is your most useful resource and an up-to-date list is vital to ensure that you get the best open rates.
Bought lists rarely achieve good open rates. We ran one for a customer once from a list they supplied not realising it was a bought list and they achieved an open rate of just 5%.
People are most likely to open your email if they have (a) opted in to receive relevant emails from you and (b) joined up recently.
Another blog post I wrote was about how to build your database and you can read it here.
What is a good open rate? Well, the best we’ve ever achieved is 84% but that was on a brand new and quite small mailing list. The campaigns for this particular client are now getting open rates of about 40% which is still very good.
You’d probably be disappointed with anything below 20% but the range of 20% to 40% is going from acceptable to very good and anything over 40% is exceptionally good.
If you were getting below 20% then we would suggest looking at all of the aspects I have already mentioned above. One or more of them will be letting you down somewhere along the line.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 09 January 2014 | Category: Email marketing
When people open your email it’s important to have a strong call to action. However, it has to be opened in the first place and probably the single most important thing that will ensure your email is opened is the subject line.
It is a mini sales message – and it’s important to get it right.
You might be tempted to use your name, company name or brand name in the subject line but if these are in the From Name (which they should be – see my other blog post re the importance of the From Name) then it’s duplicating the same information and wasting valuable subject line real estate. (Sorry that last bit sounded a tad American, but then some of our best clients are from across the pond so what the heck!).
Anyway, here are a few guidelines that will help you to decide on the best subject line for your email campaign:
Here are a few examples of what we think are good subject lines:
So next time you are running an email campaign, give careful thought to the subject line. What will it be to ensure that your email is opened?
Let me know if you want any more advice on email marketing or if we can help with your next campaign. At the time of writing we have produced and sent over 1,000 email campaigns for our clients.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 07 September 2013 | Category: Email marketing
The first thing we do when working with a new client is to design an email template which will be used for the email marketing campaign and also any subsequent campaigns. We will set up text styles, colours, fonts etc. and incorporate logos and images as required.
It is essential that the email piece to be sent out is designed to look good but, more importantly, is also 'designed for the inbox'. This means that it should work in whatever email software the recipient is using. In practice it is impossible to ensure that it works 100% correctly in every email program because they all render HTML content differently, but we can ensure that the design is as flexible as possible so that as many recipients as possible can see the email the way it was intended to look.
However, we always create a fallback in the shape of an online version. In the version that you contact receives we place a link at the top that says something like: 'If you are unable to read this e-mail, please click here to see our online version.' Therefore if the received version doesn't quite work the way it should, they can still see the email designed and laid out as intended in the online version in their browser. We also use this online version as the one that we show to the client as the email piece is being put together. Once they have approved the online version we then proceed to produce the HTML and text versions (see below).
There's the possibility that a contact's email software won't let them view HTML emails so we also produce a text version of your email so that these people don't miss out on your message. The email is sent out in what is called 'multipart' format – i.e. both HTML and text – and the recipient's email program will decide which part to display.
If you want the email to be personalised then this can also be done. For example, you might want 'Dear FirstName' at the top of the email (where Firstname is a column from the distribution list database). You might also want the email to be signed off by different people such as when sending to a list supplied from various sales reps within your organisation.
It's even possible to insert a completely different block of text / images in an email based on criteria from the distribution list database. Let's take an example to show you what I mean. Suppose you were organising three conferences in different locations and you wanted to show a picture of the recipient's nearest conference centre and its address in the body of the email. Your distribution database would need to have a column containing a location name and we can code the email to look at this location name and then display the appropriate content.
Our system will track click-throughs on all links within the email.
When all is said and done, the content of your email campaign is the final most important factor. It is that which will decide how many people respond to your call to action.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 07 September 2013 | Category: Email marketing
Once we have designed the email piece we can then set up the campaign. This involves various steps and settings within the email campaign application that we use.
Some of the most important are settings that our client has to supply such as:
I won't blabber on about the importance of the From Name mainly because I have already written a blog post on this very subject. The From Address will typically be the email address of the person in the From Name but it doesn't have to be. The Reply-To address can be different to the From Address if you wish. Then when the recipient clicks Reply in their email application their reply will go back to this person instead.
The message subject is important and I have written a separate blog post about this which you can read here. Suffice to say at this stage that the subject line should trigger some sort of recognition within your recipient so that they don't look at it and immediately dismiss it as spam.
We also set up all of the click-throughs so that these can be recorded in our system and reported back to you.
One of the things we can do is to add an attachment but we hardly ever do this unless we are sending the email to a very small number of people and the attachment is a very small file size. Adding a large attachment to an email can massively increase the amount of time it takes to send and also runs a higher risk of being rejected as spam. What we recommend instead is that the attachment is uploaded to a web server and then we add a link to it within the body of the email. This gets round the two issues mentioned and has the added benefit that we can track clicks on this slink to see who has downloaded the attachment.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 07 September 2013 | Category: Email marketing
We run email marketing campaigns for many clients and these go to lists of varying sizes. You can supply us with a list of recipients or, as we do with a lot of clients, we can use the opt-in list from your website. For some clients we have actually constructed and manage their website as well so we can access the online database which we will have built in order to download the latest additions to the mailing list.
It is important that all lists only contain the names and email addresses of people who have actually opted in to receive communication from you or people who are legitimate contacts of your organisation.
It is also important that you offer all recipients a way of opting out of receiving communication and that you actually carry out their request when they have asked to be removed from the mailing list especially if you are managing your own lists. For those clients for whom we hold their definitive mailing list we make sure that any unsubscribe requests are actioned so that the contact doesn't receive any more emails.
If you supply us with the list, we process the list to get it into a format we can work with. More often than not distribution lists are supplied to us in Excel format but they can be supplied in any database format that we are able to read. Check with us before sending.
If you want to use merge fields in order to personalise the email, then these will need to be included in your list as separate columns. There's more about this in our other blog post in this series: Part 1 - Producing the email piece.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 07 September 2013 | Category: Email marketing
When we set up the distribution list database to send an email campaign, we also add to it some test addresses. These will of course contain one or more of our addresses but will also contain at least one of the client's email addresses as well.
The first thing we do is to send the email to ourselves and run a series of checks to ensure that everything is working:
We also check the email to ensure that it isn't spammy and also that it looks good in a number of different email systems such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo.
When we are happy that everything is OK, we send a test email to the client so that they can check it and make any final changes.
Once the client is happy that it all looks and works as it should, we send the email out to the distribution list. We use specialist email marketing and sending software which will take each email and send it out separately to each recipient on the distribution list.
Then the interesting bit starts. Our system records all sorts of things to help you to analyse the success of your email marketing campaign. It records who has opened the email, which links they have clicked on, which email addresses have bounced, which email addresses are badly formatted and who has unsubscribed from your mailing list.
Email open tracking is done via the insertion of a tiny invisible image in the email piece. If a user's email software has images turned off then the open event will not be recorded. However, the result is still a good indicator of how successful your email marketing campaign has been. We have had open rates in the range of 10% up to 85% though a typical open rate range would be between 20% and 40% and anything in the higher end of that range can be regarded as a good figure.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 07 June 2013 | Category: Email marketing
One of our services is email marketing. It's really effective for many of our clients and brings some good and measurable results to them as part of their overall marketing mix.
There are various things that make up a good email campaign. In this article I am concentrating on just one of those aspects – the 'from name'.
It's not rocket science this one is it? If you want people to open up the email you are sending them then make sure that they recognise who it has come from. If they all know who you are personally then you could use just use your name but if there are some who may not know you or recognise your name immediately in an email then don't risk it. Use you company name and possibly your own name as well to make it more personal.
For example, if you received an email from 'John Smith' (OK I know, it's not very imaginative) you may consign it to the deleted folder right away. However, if it was from 'Apple Store – John Smith' then you may well remember John from the Apple Store and open his email. Even if you don't know John, you might still open it seeing as it come from the Apple Store and then you might well click through to their website and buy a couple of pounds of Cox's Orange Pippins (or whatever apples take your fancy).
In many cases, it may just be pertinent to use the company name and this is probably the most common form of from name that we use. Allied to a good subject line this is probably the most effective way of getting people to open your email. Recipients will recognise the company name and, if it a name they trust they are far more likely to open the email.
It could also be argued that people receive so much crap in their inboxes these days that a simple company name, uncomplicated by extra stuff such as the sender's name, will stand out and be easily recognised amongst the rest of the garbage in a person's inbox.
Also bear in mind that the way people have their email software set up, the whole of the from name might not be visible – the end may be cut off. So a short, pithy from name is also preferable from this point of view.
Blog post written by Dave Henson | 20 November 2012 | Category: Email marketing
Having decided that your database is your organisation’s most useful resource, we next need to work out how we can grow that database. The more people you have in your database, the better the response you will get when you contact them – it’s a simple numbers game. Although a quick caveat is in order before we proceed too much further. You’ll need to make sure that the people you are adding to your database have agreed to be in there and also that these same people are likely to be your customers. Don’t just add people for the sake of building up your numbers. You will also need to allow people to be removed from your database.
So how do you grow a database? Well there are various methods.
One of the most important purposes a website can have is to get contacts into a database. In fact you should be doing this whatever else your website might be set up to achieve. You can get names in a number of ways. If you sell online then try to sign people up from the checkout. If you give people the option to join your mailing list then they invariably will. One of the sites we run has a 70% sign-up rate at the checkout and it’s a site with a good repeat business potential as well so we can keep in contact with these people via regular email marketing campaigns.
If you’re not grabbing people when they get to your site then they will pass by like ships in the night.
As an example of where a site is getting contact details, see the Weald Aquatics website at www.wealdaquatics.co.uk. Weald Aquatics is a bricks-and-mortar aquarium and pond shop based in Knockholt in Kent. We came up with the idea of setting up a Weald Aquatics Club and people are encouraged to sign up for this via the website as well as in the shop. They are driven to the website by leaflets given out with each purchase in the shop extolling the benefits of joining the Club. A monthly email newsletter is sent to the club members with special offers, news and advice and this generates tangible results within the shop. It keeps Weald at the front of people’s minds when it comes to thinking about purchasing aquatics products.
Another way of getting contact details from visitors to your website is to offer something that is valuable. It may be an informational resource, a special offer or anything else as long as there is a perceived value to your offer. If you want to do this via your website you need what is known as a squeeze page, so called because you are squeezing information out of people (in the nicest possible way) before they can get to the goodies.
It needs to be a fair exchange. If the site user is going to give away his or her details then they are going to want to make sure that what you’re offering is worthwhile so that they will gladly enter into the bargain.
Have you got something of value that you can offer to your site visitors that will persuade them to give you their valuable contact details?
Of course all of your existing customers should be in your database. They should be added on the day that they become a customer. Potential customers too should be in your database but you should obtain their permission before adding them in.
When you meet people and talk about your business, ask them if they are happy to receive information from you This is particularly relevant at networking meetings especially if you are a regular at these meetings and have got to know some of the faces well.
Events, seminars, conferences or exhibitions are all great opportunities to get people to sign up as well. You might want to use the same tit-for-tat method as described above so that you are offering something in return for their details such as a give-away or a competition entry.
If people are coming into your premises, and this especially applies to shops, restaurants, salons etc. then you should do everything you can to get their contact details. So few shops do this and they are missing out on a potential goldmine of new and repeat business. Again find a way of incentivising. In the case of Weald Aquatics we offer 10% off all pond and aquarium fish FOREVER. (A 10% off offer is not very imaginative but when you tell someone that it’s forever, that puts a different slant on it).
What can you offer in your business to get people to sign-up to your database?
You might think that a quick way of building your database is to buy a list. Think again. I’ve written a separate section on this in the Email marketing e-book and I'll add a link here as soon as it is live.
There are a number of ways that you can legitimately build up your own database. If you haven’t already got a database then why not get started today. It’ll pay dividends.