Superheroes (or Superheroines)
possess extraordinary or superhuman powers
and are dedicated to protecting the public.
however, are those that know how to leverage the power of
technology and time-tested communication strategies to serve the community
around a company while simultaneously impacting every facet of a growing business.
Nearly every week at least one social media pundit publishes research about the pending death of
email. We have seen it before and will likely see it again. They claim that social media is far more
personal and potent, much less intrusive, and, in short, simply better than email in every way.
But most businesses, from home-based operations to Fortune 500 mega-corporations, continue
to invest in email. That’s because it remains one of the most effective ways to communicate
important information and support critical business objectives — from driving website traffic to
- Some superheroes are faster than a speeding bullet. Email marketers use automation techniques
to outpace the competition.
- Some superheroes are more powerful than a locomotive. Web professionals use powerful list
- Some superheroes seem to be everywhere they are needed.
Internet businesses focus on engagement (the new key to deliverability)
and providing value with every message.
SPENDING MORE on Email
According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey,
nearly two-thirds of marketers are expecting their email marketing budgets
to grow in 2011. In fact, 10 percent of the more than 1,100 marketers
surveyed say their companies’ email marketing spend will rise by at least
30 percent. Perhaps even more impressive: Just 4 percent of those surveyed
anticipate any cuts whatsoever to their email marketing budgets.
To become an email superhero one must first master acquisition;
build a list of recipients that really want to receive
your messages. And the best way to remove that barrier to
success is by building awareness through any number of
For example, aligning email with existing social media marketing
(by promoting availability of exclusive email content on
Facebook and Twitter) and search marketing campaigns (by including
reference to email subscription availability on landing
pages) creates a consistent experience for users and maximizes
the opportunities for acquisition. Conversely, those publishing
a weekly newsletter can use the various sections of that newsletter
as individual items in their social feeds — publishing the
most read item, the most shared item or the item with the most
comments on Facebook or Twitter, along with an invitation to
subscribe to the email list.
Much of the success of any acquisition campaign comes as
a result of making the initial offer appealing. Merchants might
want to provide a discount code after prospective customers
successfully sign up to an email list, while information publishers
might provide a free whitepaper or download in exchange for
an email subscription from a qualified recipient. Just posting
an offer by itself in your Twitter stream is typically not enough.
Proceed with caution; understanding an audience and what
compels them is vital — as it must be at least a zero-sum scenario
for the prospective recipient. Ask yourself: Is the value of this
product discount equal to or greater than the prospective
recipient sharing their private contact information?
Much more comes into play when it comes to acquisition.
Those charged with email list building see firsthand the many
moving parts required to attract even one new subscriber. Taking
an informed and measured approach from the start will
serve these marketing campaigns well in the future — from
using popular form design and development techniques (Review
the December 2010 edition of Website Magazine), to leveraging
existing customer intelligence to identify prospects
currently in your control.
Aspiring email superheroes can also minimize significant
hurdles by directly addressing trust and privacy concerns (perhaps
by considering the use of privacy and security seals from
Verisign, Truste, Trust Guard, ValidatedSite or WebSafeShield)
and developing a greater understanding of consumers’ content
demands (more on that below).
There are many more effective ways to maximize email list
acquisition. John Murphy, President of Chicago-based email
marketing service provider ReachMail, suggests revisiting prior
buyers or prospects currently available in your database. Often,
small businesses have captured email addresses in their accounting
systems but fail to market to them. Murphy also
suggests implementing a refer-a-friend promotion.
“Make a compelling value to your current customers and let
them do the selling for you,” he says. “If you sell a membership,
offer at least one month of dues in return for bringing a friend
in. Make sure that your offer is generous enough to entice
current customers or you won’t have much pickup.”
New email prospects can come from anywhere; so be everywhere
and focus on providing value before the consumer ever
TEXT TO SIGN UP
Email service provider Delivra unveiled a new feature that allows marketers
to offer email subscriptions via text. Users text a keyword then
receive a return text message asking for their email address, along
with a confirmation email — making for a rather innovative double
opt-in process for acquisition. Delivra is working with Connective Mobile
to provide the service.
“Subscribers are able to act on their interest when they are eager
to get information, such as at an event, trade show or convention,”
says Neil Berman, president and CEO, Delivra. “Email marketers
benefit by having the email automatically added to their list without
the additional work of entering email addresses into the system.”
Today’s businesses have a problem — too many employees doing
too many different things, and all at the same time. But when we
understand the underlying essential processes occurring within
our businesses and a few key performance indicators, we can
plan the use of email accordingly and then designate manpower
and resources to the areas that will produce the greatest possible
return. Email superheroes do that through automation.
There are really just two types of automated email — triggered
and sequential. Triggered emails are sent when a user takes
a particular action. Sequential emails are sent to customers on a
predetermined time frame — they sign up and receive an email,
then receive an email every following week, for example.
Triggered emails are very effective for Internet retailers. If a
consumer buys a gadget from your online store, your email
marketing system should be sophisticated enough to recognize
that and send an email (triggered by the purchase) containing
suggestions for gadget cases, gadget resources, related products
or purchases made by others who bought the same gadget. The
challenge is to ensure that the integration between the shopping
cart and the email marketing system is accurate and up to date.
Sequential emails are ideal (if not essential) for information
publishers and service providers. If a service was purchased, the
provider might consider setting up a sequential email campaign
outlining how to get the most from the features of the service. Or,
information publishers could set up a finite, email-only weekly
content series centered on promoting a book.
The benefits of automation are not just for the senders, however,
but also those on your staff receiving messages from customers.
Parker Software’s Email2DB is an email parser and
message processing automation solution that extracts data from
messages and integrates the information with your business
database. The solution is useful for those processing e-commerce
orders, answering support tickets or Web response forms, or
replying to any sort of form-based message.
BEST TIME OF DAY TO SEND
Email marketers are constantly talking about the best day of the week to send emails but no one seems to agree. And despite all the discussion, one important point is often overlooked: What time of day is best for visibility? Recent data from email service provider ReachMail shows that open rates can vary dramatically throughout the day, and the data are different on weekdays and weekends. This information is invaluable to email marketers, who can schedule their email campaigns to appear in subscribers’ inboxes at the time they are most likely to read them. ReachMail compiled data which indicates points during the day that e-mail recipients open new messages. As you can see, peak time on Wednesday (top) is around midday whereas Saturday (bottom) has a longer timeframe for opens.
Deliverability and Engagement
The highest quality list and the most efficient email system in the
world means little if the messages never arrive in the inbox of the
Improving deliverability is no longer solely the charge of IT,
as most email service providers have built in the ability for the
clients to add Sender ID, SPF and DKIM automatically (within
a few clicks), improving deliverability in the process. These are
still valid means to determine the quality of a sender’s reputation
and history. But times have changed. ISPs are now using more
data to determine if an email is worthy of delivery.
In the past, ISPs considered the number of invalid addresses,
volume of complaints and text and link cues that might indicate
that the email was unsolicited. While the system worked
for the most part, it can be improved. Today ISPs also consider
the number of recipients that open an email, the percentage of
those that open an email and click a link, and even how many
of the emails are forwarded to others. All of these factors contribute
to the success (or lack thereof) of email deliverability
Google is taking this one step further by placing the best performers
in the most prominent position as part of its Priority Inbox offering, by which Google’s algorithm makes predictions
on what emails are important to the receiver based on email
history. Emails that are regularly opened and/or responded to
will be sent to the Priority Inbox and, according to Google, the
determination is made based on “who you’ve emailed and chatted
with most and which keywords appear frequently in the
messages you opened recently.”
While using engagement data is now an indicator of reputation
and a factor in deliverability, there is a long list of other
necessary tactics and techniques to improve existing rates. Perhaps
the most important is sending from your own IP address.
An IP address is the way ISPs can tell who is sending email and
who is doing it right or wrong. Should your ESP use shared IP
addresses, you risk sharing your reputation with a sender that
may not have the same high standards as your own.
Using built-in authentication (i.e Domain Keys, SPF and
SenderID) provides clear proof to ISPs that you are sending email
from a domain with a positive reputation. A qualified ESP should
also provide marketers with a means to check spam scores and
provide reports on deliverability metrics as well as feedback directly
from the ISP.
Ready to Hero-Up?
It’s time to take your rightful place in the great hall of highconversion
marketers through email. Information publishers,
e-commerce merchants and retailers, and service providers
focusing their attention on the Web are those using email every
day to great effect. While social media has provided new ways
to engage with our consumers, email remains one of the most
powerful — and measurable — ways to increase awareness,
build branding, sell product and, of course, communicate with
our top prospects and loyal customers.
But remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
Let these superhero strategies — improving business processes
through automation, practical promotion for list building, and
ensuring more email gets delivered, opened and clicked — guide
you toward success.
Website Magazine interviewed a few of the Web's top email superhero's and superheroines in our quest to provide readers with practical strategies for their own email marketing. Review the interviews below and save the day with email marketing!
Diane Buzzeo, Ability Commerce: Much like the Web-based businesses that rely on them, email service providers are often quite different in their client
focus. One vendor might be appropriate for small-scale newsletter publishing while another might cater to large merchants
with immense product catalogs. Read Website Magazine’s interview with Diane Buzzeo of Ability Commerce on Choosing
an Appropriate Email Marketing Service for Your Web Business.
John Murphy, ReachMail: The importance of acquisition can not be overstated — all that email has to reach someone
of value. Keeping customers on that list, however, can be equally complicated. Read Website
Magazine’s interview with ReachMail’s John Murphy on Increasing Email Retention for
John Janetos, iPost: Automation is fundamental to the success of your email marketing campaign. Selecting a
vendor that understands the multitude of challenges and opportunities particular to your individual
business is fundamental. Read Website Magazine’s interview with iPost’s John Janetos
on Creating a Roadmap to Success with Email Automation.