Author: Scott Cohen

Father's Day_featured

Father’s Day Email Inspirations to Perk Up Your Strategy

Email marketers rely heavily on holiday email campaigns to help them drive greater revenue and build better brand visibility. Father’s Day, done right, can fetch big bucks for marketers—and it’s just around the corner.

Are you ready? If you’re still looking for ideas, here are some inspirations for you as you develop and finalize your Father’s Day email marketing strategy:

NBA Store

NBA Store

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  • An interesting animated GIF that catches subscriber attention.
  • Personalized Picks that drive relevance and further engagement.
  • Includes whitelisting instructions and social sharing buttons
  • The Text:Image ratio is well maintained.

What may not work

  • No preheader text and unsubscribe link.
  • The first CTA can be easily missed.
  • The footer shows 2016 as the copyright year. It may throw off those folks who pay attention to those minute details.

Busted Tees

Busted Tees

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  • The offer highlighted in the hero image can work well in bringing more conversions.
  • The brand has used interesting copy even in the Unsubscribe link.

What may not work

  • It’s heavy on images. The Text to image ratio is highly skewed.
  • The CTAs are not as well-defined as they could be.
  • While scrolling isn’t a sin anymore, this email may be too long and be trying to fit too much content (it’s always worth a test).

Ferns N Petals

Ferns N Petals

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  • The headline with the hashtag in the hero image looks attractive.
  • Enticing images increase the chance of conversions.

What may not work

  • The length of the email could be a turn off for the subscriber.
  • It’s the third Sunday and not the second. That’s a terrible mistake in the footer.
  • It’s missing the brand logo – for a non-plain text email, this is a branding mistake
  • There are no obvious, clickable CTAs

Mack Weldon

Mack Weldon

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  • Clean email design that uses ample whitespace
  • CTAs are nice and clean.

What may not work

  • There may be a bit too much whitespace between the headline and the first paragraph.
  • The CTAs may be too spaced apart. The entire email is clickable, which is not necessarily a best practice.

M & Co.

M & Co.

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  • The offer is highlighted in the headline itself.
  • The GIFs render a pleasant visual experience.
  • The images perfectly match the Father’s Day theme.

What may not work

  • The GIFs in the second and third fold may go unnoticed.
  • It could get boring to keep scrolling through the email.

Final Thoughts

Solid headlines and captivating imagery can stir Father’s Day emotions. We hope you’ve gleaned some ideas for your Father’s Day campaigns.

If you still need help with Father’s Day campaigns—or your next holiday campaigns—InboxArmy can help you achieve your goals. Contact us now.

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Email Marketing Benchmarks and Testing

Email Marketing Benchmarks and Testing – Setting the Foundation for Improving Your Email Marketing

One of the not-really-secret benefits of email marketing is the ability to test just about any component or data point you desire. With so many possibilities at our fingerprints, the majority of email marketers (okay, companies sending email) don’t test. And those who do test tend to have better-performing email marketing programs (we hope).

Testing is an essential component of an effective email marketing program. But you can’t test effectively without first establishing benchmarks.

Benchmarks = Your First Control Group

Email marketing is part art, part science. In scientific experiments, there is always a “control group,” a portion of the testing audience where no change occurs. This is to test the effectiveness of the new process, medicine, product, what have you, against what would happen if nothing changed.

Establishing your initial benchmarks is like creating your control group for testing. As a starting point, for email marketing you would establish benchmarks for:

  • Open rates
  • Clickthrough rates
  • Click-to-open rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Revenue
  • Spam complaint rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Unsubscribe rates

Here’s an example:

You send a newsletter twice a month to your entire mailing list—no segmentation. The template is the same. The type of content you include is the same. You’ve “always been doing it this way.”

Take an audit of your send data from the last 12 months. Your first benchmarks would essentially be seen as averages. For this example, you determine that your:

  • Average Open Rate = 12.6%
  • Average Clickthrough Rate = 4.6%
  • Average Click-to-Open Rate = 38%
  • Average Conversion Rate = 3.5%
  • Average Complaint Rate = 0.2%
  • Average Bounce Rate = 1.9%
  • Average Unsubscribe Rate = 0.3%

These are your benchmarks. Now, when it comes time to think about testing, these are the metrics you’re measuring against.

What to Test?

The short answer? Whatever you want. The longer short answer: Start small and go with a test you think will move the needle.

A/B testing is a great way to go. The “A” portion of the test will your normal send and the “B” portion will receive the test version—with a piece that’s changed. Start testing with a single element at a time. Variables you can test include:

  • Subject lines
  • From Name
  • Headlines
  • Calls to action—copy, color, and size
  • Offer copy
  • Use of images
  • Font styles
  • Design layouts

Two general rules I have are:

  1. To increase open rates, test subject lines and From Names.
  2. To clickthrough rates, test CTAs, headlines, and offer copy

The Importance of Statistical Significance

It’s almost as hard to type as it is for me to say, but test enough of your audience to ensure statistical significance. If you have a mailing list of 500,000 subscribers, and you’re only testing with 500 subscribers, that test group isn’t nearly big enough for your insights to be backed by data.

Also, test your ideas more than once, particularly if you mail frequently. There are so many variables that go into why subscribers engage with emails that, to bring in sports metaphors, hitting a home run once is possible, but potentially not sustainable. If you hit a double, and your new technique constantly “hits doubles,” then you’re onto something. Avoid falling for the shiny objects—the flukes.

More Quick Tips:

  • Consider testing entirely different emails. If you’re running out of ideas, test two different types of content.
  • Decide on one metric you want to test against for each test. For example, if you’re testing subject lines, you’ll want to test for open rates. If you’re testing offer copy, you may measure against clickthroughs or even as far as conversions.

One final note: Don’t be afraid to fail. Some tests will fail. People don’t like change. The changes you choose could hurt performance—and this fact is one of the reasons why many email marketers don’t test.

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If you’re looking for testing ideas or need some expert help in executing your testing strategies, let’s talk! Contact us for your free consultation now.

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Maintaining-List-Hygiene-to-Enhance-Email-Marketing-Strategy

Maintaining List Hygiene to Enhance Email Marketing Strategy

If Harry Potter had reached platform 9 or 10 instead of platform 9 ¾, would he have been able to catch the Hogwarts Express? In other terms, if your email campaign does not reach the right email addresses, you miss “catching the right train” to effective engagement and conversions.

List hygiene is a simplistic way of saying that you should be constantly watching for and keeping the right email addresses on your list at all times.  If you are planning a targeted, personalized email campaign, list hygiene is a crucial first step. Without it, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is, how ingenious your creative is—if it doesn’t go to the right “platform,” it won’t make a lick of difference.

How important is list hygiene?

  • List hygiene ensures better delivery.
  • Better delivery means better overall deliverability (meaning inbox placement)
  • Better deliverability means more people seeing your messages.
  • More people seeing your message means better chances (we hope) for opens, clicks, conversions, and ultimately, revenue.

It all starts with your list. So, let’s look at how you can maintain good list hygiene:

Get Rid of Hard Bounces

Bad email addresses are just that: bad. People change jobs, change email addresses, mistype their own email addresses, or frankly, give you fake addresses to collect on something of use. Continuing to mail to bad email addresses does you no good.

(Note: Many email service providers will remove bad email addresses for you. But, in the event they don’t, you should stay on top of it.)

There are two main types of bounces you need to be aware of:

Now, there are two types of bounces that you ought to know:

  • Hard bounce: A non-existent email or domain name could lead to a send bounce. This is segmented as a hard bounce.
  • Soft bounce: A temporary delivery issue such as offline server or a full inbox could lead to a bounce. This is registered as a soft bounce.

Hard bounces need to be dealt with as soon as possible. Soft bounces should be handled if an address continues to soft bounce after several sends. Your frequency will determine how quickly you deal with soft bounces—namely if you mail monthly, you may wait longer than if you mail daily.

Segment Your Actives and Inactives

Removing bad email addresses is step 1. Segmentation by engagement is step 2. If you notice you’re having some delivery issues or drops in opens and clicks, start by segmenting your active subscribers and your inactive subscribers. A great starting definition would be:

  • Active subscribers – Any subscriber who has opened or clicked at least one email from you in the previous 90 days.
  • Inactive subscribers – Any subscriber who has not met the above threshold.

From there, you mail your groups separately for a while and watch the opens of both groups. If you need to, only mail the active group for a while and “rest” your inactive groups.

Re-Engage Your Inactive Groups

With your active/inactive segmentation done, send special campaigns to your inactive group. These campaigns should have different content from your regular mailers—content that will hopefully pique their interest and bring them back into the fold.

It could be special incentives or even a blunt “are you still interested” message. You can automate these emails as well, so as soon as someone qualifies as “inactive,” they would start receiving the special messages.

jack wills email

If these messages don’t move the needle and create fresh engagement, you may consider either putting the non-engaged group into a suppression list or unsubscribing them from your program altogether. Which method you choose is up to you and your business model.

beta list email

Clean Up the Mess Periodically

Clean your list at least once every three to six months. This could mean using third-party vendors to clean your list, taking advantage of your email service providers’ cleaning options, or other options. But a periodic look is necessary.

Note: Check your list for role accounts—any email addresses that start with support@, info@, office@, sales@, etc. These accounts can be harbingers of spam complaints and other delivery issues.

Move to Confirmed Opt-In

If you find you’re seeing more and more bad email addresses end up on your list, it may be time to move from a single opt-in process to a confirmed opt-in process. Sending an email confirmation is a great way to ensure that only good addresses make it onto your list. And anyone who doesn’t click on the confirmation link is removed from your list as well.

That said, don’t make this decision lightly. You could miss out on potentially a large percentage of your new subscribers. Only go this route if you are having delivery problems, other privacy concerns, or a business model case for it.

Send Better Content

If you send the right content, personalized to the subscriber’s needs, you are more likely to get engagement. Clear and compelling CTAs add to the content’s effectiveness and drive better click-through rates.

Wrapping up

Your email list is not static. Just like everything else in life, there is an ebb and a flow to how a list is built and maintained. Regular list cleaning and hygiene efforts will pay dividends now and on down the line.

What are your list hygiene recommendations?

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revisiting the basics of email marketing

Revisiting the Basics of Email Marketing

Technology has changed the way we market to consumers. Devices and browsers have forced email marketers to design and code templates in certain, ever-changing ways. And increased competition for inbox space and brain space has pushed marketers to the brink of insanity.

All that said, the basic foundations of email marketing have remained the same:

Basic #1: Ask for Permission

To be a responsible email marketer, ask your subscribers for their permission to send them emails. When you ask for permission, you allow the subscriber to think through whether or not they want emails from you. This increases your value as a marketer, and generally improves overall engagement in the long run.

Basic #2: Respect the Inbox and Build Relationships

The inbox is sacred space. Don’t take advantage of the permission you obtain to essentially invade this space with irrelevant, inane, or downright useless emails.

When someone opts in, they want to learn more about your business and what you offer—and they want something you promised like a coupon. If they’re new to your business, you’ll want to educate them on your products and services. If they’re customers already, they’ll want to know what’s new.

When you nurture your subscribers the right way—meaning you communicate with your subscribers in ways that are meaningful to their stage of the relationship with your brand—you can increase engagement and improve retention. Building and improving the relationship with your brand should be the focus of your email marketing program.

Basic #3: Set Expectations

Set expectations with your subscribers right away. Your first email should specify what to expect from you, specifically:

  • What types of content to expect from you
  • How often you’ll be emailing them
  • Any value propositions you hope to convey through your email program

This email by BBC is a welcome email which tells the subscriber how often they would be emailing and the type of content they will send. The subscriber can decide if they want to continue receiving the emails or not.

BBC - email

Basic #4: Personalize Your Emails

Great marketing is about listening to your customers and improving their lives with your products or services. Email marketing is no different.

As we touched on in the previous section, your email marketing program should focus on delivering content and offers that are relevant to your recipients. You can gather this information through engagement data (like opens and clicks), online surveys, purchase behavior, and more. The more data you gather, the more focused your email content can be.

This email by Briefcase is meant for a segment that started creating an account but did not end up completing the process for some reason. It has been personalized to make sure they finish the sign-up process.

Briefcase - email

Basic #5: Monitor and Measure

Email marketing is wonderful for the simple fact that just about every aspect of it is measurable in some way—Opens, clicks, forwards, bounces, complaints, unsubscribes, etc.

And when you send an email marketing campaign, you’ll want to A) Monitor, and B) Measure. You’ll want to monitor:

  • Bounces
  • Unsubscribes
  • Complaint Rates

You’ll want to further measure:

  • Open Rate
  • Click-Through Rate
  • Conversion Rate (however you define conversions)

These basic data points will speak volumes to campaign performance and be major determining factors in your ongoing email marketing strategy.

Note: Our friends at Inbox Group have a great post on what metrics “matter” for email marketing.

Basics for Crafting the Perfect Email

  • Your Subject Line: It should encourage opens from the subscriber. Keep it simple, in line with the content and exactly as long as it needs to be to get your point across.
  • Your Content: It should be simple, easy to understand, and drive to your desired action/conversion as soon as possible.
    Note: The average read time for an email is about 11 seconds (if you’re lucky). You have less time than that to get your point across and your action completed.
  • Your Call to Action: This is the most important aspect of your campaign. It needs to have proper placement, be easy to find, easy to understand, and link to a place where the desired action can be completed easily. Think easy.

Final Thoughts

The basics of email marketing haven’t changed, even while we continue to incorporate the latest design and coding trends. What are some basics we haven’t listed here?

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Easter email ideas

6 Last-Minute Easter Email Design Ideas

Easter is this Sunday, and most brands already have their email marketing campaigns lined up and ready to go. What sets Easter apart from other holiday emails is the color scheme many brands bring into play—pastel colors in shades of green, blue, and pink that provide a feeling of warmth and Spring. (And of course—the Easter Bunny.)

If you’re still in need of last-minute ideas, we’ve got inspirations for you:

Paper Source

Subject Line: Hop On Over To Our NEW $5 Mini Workshop!

Paper Source

What we liked:

  • Makes wonderful use of Easter-themed colors
  • Promotional information in the first fold
  • Responsive email design that re-arranges the elements into single column
  • The zig-zag layout in the second half aids in scannability

Evite

Subject Line: No bunny but you 🐰

Evite

What we liked:

  • This evite features a video—or rather a hero image with a play button to prevent a broken user experience (since video does not play in all email clients).
  • The video is instructional and is followed up in the email with a promotional banner.
  • The navigation menu has been shifted to the bottom to provide a distraction-free experience “above the fold.”

Mothercare

Subject Line: bloomin’ lovely Easter outfits + OFFERS

MotherCare

What we liked:

  • Email is designed for scannability – you get relevant information without hassle.
  • Ample use of whitespace
  • Textual CTAs within each section

Cheryl’s

Subject Line: Hours left to save $35!

Cheryl's Easter Email

What we liked:

  • Nice use of the picnic spread visuals to present the promotions and products
  • Main offer is front and center “above the fold.”
  • Navigation menu is relevant to other holiday-based products such as spring and St. Patrick’s Day.

M&M’s

Subject Line: Easter’s Early, Are You Ready?

M & M

What we liked:

  • A neat, clean, responsive email design
  • Navigation Menu has logos of their products i.e. M&M’s.
  • Easy-to-find promo code
  • Zig zag layout
  • Ample use of whitespace

Smiggle

Subject Line: What’s better than chocolate? THIS! 🐰🥕

Smiggle

Swiggle’s Easter email has an animated GIF in the header that captures the attention immediately.

What we liked:

  • Attention-grabbing animated GIF in the header
  • Spring color schemes
  • Two-column layout
  • Individual CTA buttons in each section

Want These Type of Designs for Your Next Holiday Campaigns?

Let InboxArmy design and code attention-grabbing, revenue-generating, responsive email campaigns and templates for you. Let’s talk about your email marketing program today. Get in touch now!

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