Enabler provide best practice advice in email marketing and customer retention insights within corporate communications. Discover how Enabler can help you.

Half the battle of any email campaign is managing to grab your audience’s attention with engaging content, the other half is making sure you convert that attentive audience into interacting with your content. Even with high open rates, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are really engaging with your audience. It is quite common to see low conversion rates when emails aren’t centred around getting the customer to focus their attention towards a particular call to action.

Every day we receive a number of emails in our inboxes covering a wide range of subjects, from informative updates to newsletters we may have signed up for in the past. But what sparks that first half of engagement makes us want to open the email instead of just swiping left and deleting it?

Placement

We all know a catchy subject line works wonders for increasing call to action activity.  Once we get the audience reading the content of the email, the next half of the battle begins, and the emails that always seem to prompt us to actively engage with them are those which appeal to our interests.  In general, if you want your call to action (CTA) to catch the reader’s eye and drive active engagement, you need to give careful thought to the CTA’s placement within the email and and the precise language you use to grab that attention.  Effective calls to action are based around good design and good use of text which indicates a reward for clicking, at the end of the day there’s a reason they are called ‘calls to action’, so be sure to use text that encourages readers to take action and include strong visuals with a sense of immediacy.

A great example of CTAs being put to good use is when artists release new music online.  In this day and age, success is (sadly) determined by how many listens an artist’s song can accumulate, as opposed to actual record sales.  Emails promoting new music releases are a great example of CTAs that have a clear immediacy which rewards the reader for clicking, providing the reader with an abundance of opportunities to listen to the track straight away from within the email.

Phrases like ‘click here’ provide no real reward for clicking, as they do not provide the reader with any incentive for clicking or an indication of what they will see once they do click ‘here’. The best CTAs utilise text relating to what you are offering as they provide a more attractive incentive to the reader, which in turn is more beneficial to your marketing campaign.  The example below is a simple but effective CTA used by Chipotle from one of their recent campaigns.  The term ‘claim now’ instantly gives the reader the impression they will receive something by clicking (in this instance, a free burrito), which helps achieve the marketing goal by driving click throughs and ultimately ensuring retention.  (Just as a side note, depending on the styling of your email we would recommend not centre aligning your text as it is less accessible and can sometimes be harder to read).

Be aware about the positioning of the call to action within your email template. The main aim of including a call to action is to get people to click on it, so for example by placing it near the bottom of a long email will not do you any favours. Ideally, you want it to be in a prominent place so it is recommended to keep it above the fold of the email, this should ensure nobody ever misses the CTA and it gives the reader the opportunity to know fairly soon what they will get as a result of opening the email.

Styling

Consideration can also be given to focusing text around the first person, for example changing ‘your’ to ‘my’.  Of course this all depends what the subject is, but through simple A/B testing you will be able to see which works best for you.  Our in house email software, Enabler, gives you the option to split send to your database, which is a great way to see how a particular set of customers react differently to others. Discover how A/B testing can help you achieve more from your campaigns here.

One important thing to remember is that a call to action is not just a meaningless small button tucked away at the end of an email.  In order for it to be effective, the call to action needs to be relevant to the content of your email, and on some occasions the subject line.

If more than one call to action is required in the email, then you need to add variety to your CTAs by avoiding using the same one throughout. Different calls to action will trigger different emotions for people, so by adding multiple and varied CTAs which ultimately have the same goal increases the chances of getting that message across to the reader and encourages them to click.

These screen grabs from a recent Dr Martens email include different CTAs showing the reader the variety of products currently on offer, while also relating with the email subject line ‘Most Wanted Docs’ and overall message.

If your email requires more than one call to action to be included, decide which is the most important and make it stand out more than the others. This will not only ensure your promotion stands out, but also give the customer the option to choose another route if they so wish.

It can be beneficial to leave plenty of white space around calls to action – a recent study by UX found user activity increased by 20% in email that incorporated white space into their templates (and around CTAs). Due to the CTAs impact as a result of the white space, other components such as images and font colours stand out better. Sometimes less is more and in this instance having some form of white space goes a long way to getting the customer to view your products and/or services.

Creative

Calls to action do not necessarily need to be limited to just text. Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the usage of imagery and animation not only in email but in most forms of digital communication – anything from a meme to a GIF. With regards to GIFs, including them can definitely help towards a larger conversion rate. They add an extra element to the overall look and feel of your template designs by providing a much more visual (and in some cases literal) portrayal of your content.  GIFs allow you to tell more of a story and have a clearer message that takes away some of the (mis)interpretation text-only emails may cause.  Having a more visual CTA could be the advantage you are looking for to get ahead of your competitors.  Here’s examples of good GIF usage:

 

Overall, a good call to action within an email is one which grabs the users interest and encourages them to click through. They are an integral addition to any template especially when the objective is for example to promote a product or event, placing importance on the design, placement and integration of a CTA will help you get much more from your email campaigns.

Video may have killed the radio star, but it’s certainly alive and kicking in email.

You probably already know this, but adding captivating and entertaining videos to your email content can significantly increase your click-through rates.  Having video content that drives end users to take actions, helps provide you with a better insight into user engagement and interactivity, and as Michael Litt once said…

“The play button is the most compelling call to action on the web”
Michael Litt – Vidyard CEO

Let’s take a look at the different types of video is being utilised today, plus some coding tips on how to implement video within your own email marketing.

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

The Prequel

In today’s online world, video is everywhere – streaming out the sides of the internet and going full screen on every platform. Videos online evolution can be associated with renowned sites such as YouTube or Vimeo, both created in the early 2000s. These types of sites have transformed the way we see and interact with videos online, paving the way for video sharing, streaming, higher visual and sound quality, and the significant development of audience targeted programming.

Nearly all social media channels today have involvement in video; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Twitter – to name a few. So it’s no surprise that videos next evolutionary step was into email… in fact it would have been unusual not too.

The Main Feature

So let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of the benefits of having video within your own emails, by giving you some helpful tips on how best to implement it.

Please place your mobile phones on silent, turn off any recording equipment and sit back and enjoy the show…

There are two main ways of placing video into your emails.

The first would be to have an actual mp4 video file playing directly within your email using HTML5 video, with a fallback image for those email clients that cannot play video.  Unfortunately because the list of email clients that support a full working embedded video file is quite limited, the fact is your fallback image is more likely to be displayed than your video… which makes your video file a bit of a B movie email.

The second, not so advanced but more widely accessible method, would be to incorporate a link to a video within your email by using an animated image or GIF of a video. Utilising a GIF (see below) instead of a full video file ensures your video is more likely to be supported by email clients.  So your end user gets the impression of a full working video, while you relax knowing you haven’t got the drawback of your video not displaying within your email.  Using a video format that’s more widely supported, like a GIF, allows you to reap the benefits of having a blockbuster email that drives higher engagement levels.

For more information on the benefits of GIFs, check out our blog: Quick Guide to GIFs in Your Emails

The Visual Effects

Now, if you do decide to go down the route of embedding a full video file with a fallback image in your email, we’ve got some technical tips to help you along the way.

Let’s take a look at the code* below and go through how we actually get a video embedded within an email.

As this is a HTML5 build we can start with simple doctype: <!doctype html>

Within the stylesheet the video is wrapped in a display: none, until requested to display: block, dependant on the viewing platform. Vice versa for the Video fallback.

The @supports styling are workarounds for different iOS platforms and a Yahoo fallback. #MessageViewBody is for displaying video with the Samsung email client on the Galaxy range.

The next two sections are the video section, with a pre-play/poster image, and the first fallback image, for those email clients that don’t play video.

The second fallback section is for email clients that load the pre-play image but won’t play the video. This just links an image to an online or streamed version of the video.

The size of the video can be set inline, currently 320×176, just remember to set/change it for the fallback image as well.

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
<title>Jellyfish</title>
<style type="text/css">
.video-wrapper {display:none;}
@media (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 0) and (min-device-width:1024px)
{
.video-wrapper { display:block!important; }
.video-fallback { display:none!important; }
}
@supports (-webkit-overflow-scrolling:touch) and (color:#ffffffff) {
div[class^=video-wrapper] { display:block!important; }
div[class^=video-fallback] { display:none!important; }
}
#MessageViewBody .video-wrapper { display:block!important; }
#MessageViewBody .video-fallback { display:none!important; }
</style>
</head>
<body>

<!-- video section -->
<div class="video-wrapper" style="display:none;">
<video width="320" height="176" controls="controls" poster="blob:https://docs.google.com/91acb26d-2833-4aa8-ae04-b37816b9a9e6" src="http://mirrors.standaloneinstaller.com/video-sample/jellyfish-25-mbps-hd-hevc.mp4" >
<!-- fallback 1 -->
<a href="http://mirrors.standaloneinstaller.com/video-sample/jellyfish-25-mbps-hd-hevc.mp4" ><img height="176" src="blob:https://docs.google.com/91acb26d-2833-4aa8-ae04-b37816b9a9e6" width="320" /></a>
</video>
</div>

<!-- fallback section -->
<div class="video-fallback">
<a href="http://mirrors.standaloneinstaller.com/video-sample/jellyfish-25-mbps-hd-hevc.mp4" ><img height="176" src="blob:https://docs.google.com/91acb26d-2833-4aa8-ae04-b37816b9a9e6" width="320" /></a>
</div>

</body>
</html>

The Sequel

Now if you’re not one for coding, there are some companies, like playable.video, that will take your video file, convert it and provide a 10 second clip with the code to embed into your email.

Our best practice top tips would be to use a small video file size within your emails – just like images you don’t want a long download time. So if you like the mentality of “build it and they will come”, having engaging video content within your emails could give you that edge over your competitors, meaning more subscribers, more clicks and potentially more sales!

Updates and testing are ongoing for video in email.  The above code was edited at the end of 2017. In the meantime, “the first rule of video” is not to forget the fallback imagery… “they may take our video, but they will never take our images!”

The future of video will hopefully provide streamable videos directly in your inbox, meaning “where we’re going, we don’t need fallback images”…but that’s (potentially) in the future.

So “show me the videos” and lets see your emails go “to infinity and beyond”, and “I’ll be back” soon with more blogs.

 

*Code from Justin Khoo of Freshinbox – Codepen https://codepen.io/freshinbox/pen/yMLLoX

Increasing profitability, maximising return on investment, improving market share etc, etc… Like any business, these objectives, as well as others, will be something that we all strive to achieve at one time or another… but how?

Well, if your marketing campaigns are not customer-focused and highly engaging, your business could ultimately be shooting themselves in the digital foot. This all comes down to having a good strategy in place that not only piques customers’ initial interest, but continues to nurture over time, ensuring they purchase again and again.

If a business is to grow, keeping those customers on board who have previously engaged or purchased is extremely important. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a strong brand identity that makes your past customers think of your product first over any competitors. For example, when you want to find something out – what do you do?  Straight to Google – in fact it’s even become a verb in itself…!

What Does An Email Campaign Offer?

In today’s social media driven climate, we can spend hours updating statuses, engaging with tweets and hashtags, or even finding the best filter to showcase our big promotion. But even with all these social tools at our disposal, email marketing is still one of (if not the) most cost effective and efficient way of staying at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

According to a study by Workhorse, email marketing drives more conversions than any other digital marketing channel – including search and social.  With that said, it’s worth bearing in mind that content plays a huge part in how a person actually behaves when their smartphone notifies them of the ‘millionth’ email they’ll receive that day.

One of the big advantages email has over other marketing tools is its ability to provide personalisation.  Simple tools such as merge tags can help transform your marketing emails into something that feels far more personal. The table below shows examples of tags we have readily available in our own email platform, Enabler. These tags reference personal data stored within the system’s contact database:

By including a recipient’s first name in the correspondence and/or subject line, it takes your marketing communications away from an impersonal intrusion and into a more personal, friendly place which can be highly beneficial for improving your retention rates, with recipients feels that little pang of appreciation as they realise they are a valued customer. Think about it, we all appreciate that feeling of being welcomed or recognised when walking into our local shop or restaurant, and the same can be said when receiving an email, and goes way beyond just adding their first name.  That added personal touch should be added to all your content communications – from contacting a customer with special offers to wish them a happy birthday, to targeting communications based on their personal shopping habits can all go a long way to continually converting that customer.

Businesses who achieve high customer retention rates will see a better return on investment, it’s as simple as that.

Interesting Facts:

  • 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous habits are likely to purchase as a result of that targeted email (eMarketer)
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter (McKinsey)

So How Can a Business Ensure Customer Retention Via Email?

As previously mentioned, email content will be the main aspect to focus on in terms of grabbing your customer’s attention. Enticing emails that are informative and encourage the person to interact, gives greater opportunity to drive that person towards either a specific website, landing page or document.

A good example of this technique being used successfully is by the product review emails sent by Amazon after purchase:

Not only does it immediately get the customer interacting as it gives them the opportunity to voice their opinion, but it increases traffic to Amazon’s website opening up the likelihood of a repeat purchase or interaction with other products on their site. Additionally, redirecting traffic to specific pages helps with analysing data and segmenting customers into groups, which helps to avoid spamming them in future correspondence…no one wants to receive those dreaded unsubscribe notifications!

There are numerous ways an email can be built, but in order to maximise engagement a combination of the following formula is useful:

  • Unique selling proposition
  • Call to action
  • Product benefits
  • How it works
  • Personalisation
  • Loyalty reward
  • Thank you

Emails that contain some elements of this formula make it easier for your customers to engage, especially if the content stands out. Customers who regularly engage with your brand are more likely to show loyalty if you set them up for success with personalised content, helping to keep customer churn rates low.

In order to maximise interaction with your emails, consider devising campaigns separated five to eight emails; think of it as taking the consumer on a journey, covering aspects of brand explanation, benefits of purchasing and special offers. Without over exaggerating the direct sell, this method shows the customer an in-depth explanation of specific aspects of the campaign which helps to increase brand trust and ultimately persuades them to buy.

Examples of Sticking in Customers’ Minds

Prices Falling with Booking.com

January, or even winter on the whole is a time when many people look for their next holiday destination. While there are many sites out there, Booking.com have a very clever strategy of re-targeting users who have searched for places to stay in a particular area but have (for whatever reason) not made a purchase. The image below is from an email I recently received – from the personalised subject line to the informative content regarding discounted rates, the call to action immediately grabbed my attention reminding me I needed to book accommodation before it was too late. I ultimately did, furthermore receiving a 50% discount for my next booking which will be at the forefront of my mind for future trips, while keeping that lot from the Booking.com retention team happy as well!

Monetary Discount with Treatwell

Treatwell incentivise their customers by offering discounts for future bookings by leaving a review. Their reviewing system is user friendly and encourages a click through in order to receive the £5.00 discount, as well as including a deadline date which also encourages the consumer to act quickly to avoid missing out on the offer.

Free Delivery with UberEATS

Not only does Uber provide us with rides home at a push of a button, they now also bring us our favourite food through their UberEATS app (what would we do without them eh…..?!). Their offer of free delivery to app users is straightforward with a clear call to action (see image below), the smartphone gives the user an image of how to receive the offer, and the inclusion of a promo code gives UberEATS the ability to track and analyse user flow to determine whether the campaign has been successful.

So we can safely say that a business will benefit from implementing a high-quality email campaign strategy, focusing on providing content that invites their customers to interact with their emails. By creating content which either informs your customers about your products or offering incentivised click throughs will definitely help to keep retention rates high.

As long as your business understands its audience and gathers useful, relevant data, it will be able to connect with and apply targeted content to maximise customer interactions.

If you’re interested in putting your business at the forefront of your customers minds, why not join one of our Design Thinking sessions this year.

So, you’ve got your awesome email and you know what you want people to do when they receive it, but you could do with something to give them a final push to take action – that’s where landing pages come in!

What is a Landing Page?

In a nutshell, it’s a purpose-built page on your website with dedicated content which can be accessed directly via a link. Because the content for your landing page is usually unique to your marketing campaign, whether it’s a point of entry for a competition, a data capture form or a link to a unique discount code, your landing will normally sit separate from your main website. One big advantage of having a separate landing page for your marketing campaign is this ability to hide it from your main navigation, as it gives you full control over who has access to this exclusive content.

Now, because your landing page is hidden from public view, you need to being actively driving traffic directly to the page to encourage engagement. Whether it’s a link within an email campaign, PPC campaign or social media campaign, you want to ensure whatever channel(s) you choose to drive traffic will maximise exposure and engagement for your well-designed landing page.  The more relevant the landing page content is to your audience, the more likely they are to follow your call-to-actions, thus increasing your conversions. Having a specially-designed page is more likely to be effective than sending them to your main website, where they may struggle to find the promised content.

Additionally, many of our Enabler clients find that having a bespoke landing page is the most efficient way of getting a marketing campaign launched quickly.  It can often take months for changes to be made in-house to company websites due to IT backlogs, so having the ability to create dedicated landing pages yourself within Enabler is far more efficient.

 

So, what does a “well-designed landing page” look like? Let’s talk guidelines for setup and creation:

 

What is the Aim of Your Landing Page?

You’ve designed your bespoke landing page, so now the first thing you need to decide is – What is its purpose?

Generally speaking, this falls into one of two categories:

  • Generating leads for future marketing
  • or to encourage click throughs

Data Capture and Lead Generation

This type of landing page is designed with the intention of capturing your audiences’ data.  You could use this type of page to gather new consumer data or to build more detailed profiles of your existing audience base.  Alternatively you can use data capture forms to help you personalise your future marketing campaigns based on the consumer feedback.

A typical data capture landing page includes a form to complete (obviously), and more often than not include an incentive which will encourage people to complete the form and give you their information. This incentive could include exclusive content or offer, such as white papers or discount codes.

“Why would you want to capture more detail about your existing customers”, we hear you ask – well, the more you know about your customers, the better your campaigns can be, and the better your conversions.  So something as simple as “Let us know your birthday so we can spoil you on the day!” is a great way to offer an incentive while gathering valuable data.

Data Capture Landing Page Example:

This is a great example from our friends over at Salesforce – (as we’re a Salesforce partner this might be a little biased, but this really is a great example of an effective, well-designed landing page).

Why do we like this landing page?:

  • Minimal copy, well styled and bullet-pointed list ensures the overall page isn’t cluttered and is easy to skim read.
  • Check out those security badges below the form. It’s never a bad idea to assure potential customers that the data they are about to share with you is safe.  This can often be a massive issue with some standalone landing pages, as it’s very difficult to prove the landing page belongs to the company it’s advertising.
  • Eye catching content. Having that blue background on the data-capture form really makes it stand out, which will help drive engagement.
  • Catchy headline. Having a buzzword like ‘lightening’ makes it sound like it won’t take very long, which again helps to drive engagement.

Landing Pages to Drive Click-Throughs

This sort of landing page designed to encourage clicks often forms part of the e-commerce sales funnel. The page content is likely to be product information to warm the visitor up to the idea of buying the item(s), with a call-to-action click-through that takes the visitor to the purchase point.

Click-Through Landing Page Example:

Now as a general rule I’d always have the models looking at the copy they’re promoting, but this little guys face really sells the whole thing either way. ‘What else is good?’ I hear you ask:

  • Another cracker of a headline here. “Most Trusted” – having a snappy statement like this gives kudos to your brand and builds trust with the consumer.
  • The tick bullet-points makes the benefits clear and easier to understand than having them in a block paragraph.
  • The call-to-action button is clear and stands out (bright yellow will always do that!)
  • Mobile-friendly – The phone number in the top right is a click-to-call, making it super easy for viewers to contact Nationwide.

All in all, great job!

Designing Your Landing Page

Although we’ve mentioned that a landing page usually sits separately from your main site, you ideally want to ensure that it still reflects your branding and styling of your main website/ This way your online presence is consistent, offering visitors a seamless journey that doesn’t feel separate or disjointed from your brand.

It’s also important that visitors experience “message match” – meaning that the content on your landing page should reflect the message content they clicked.

Here’s a great email example that our Enabler designers created for our client Ralph Lauren recently:

Ralph Lauren’s Email:

As you can see, there’s a nice clear call-to-action for recipients ‘explore their gifting lookbook’, and the email content portrays the stylised content of the Ralph Lauren brand. So, what did this email link take you to…?

The Landing Page We Designed:

Anyone clicking the email link is taken to a dedicated landing page, hosted separate from the Ralph Lauren website, where you are greeted with a brief explanation of how the landing page’s ‘lookbook’ works.  The ‘message-match’ of the landing page mirrors the styling of the email perfectly, matching fonts and colours.

After closing the greeting box, visitors get to explore the promised lookbook – an interactive landing page experience:

Fully Interactive Landing Page:

The Ralph Lauren website wasn’t available for this campaign, so our designers had to fashion (see what we did there?) a bespoke landing page hosted separately on our Enabler servers.  This interactive landing page had lots of fun animated elements to make it appealing and engaging, and was a fantastic way to help showcase Ralph Lauren’s products separate from the Ralph Lauren website. This interactive element makes it a really great example of making the most out of your landing page.

Don’t Forget To Track Your Landing Pages

It’s all very well getting people clicking through to your landing page, but all that work is for nothing if they drop off without actually engaging with the landing page content. How will you know if people clicked through but then dropped off? How I hear you ask? Tracking! You can optimise your page using the same tracking you would use on your website (e.g. Google Analytics) to get all of this information.

What Next?

If I’m being completely honest, the best thing for you to do before putting a landing page together is come and speak to our team. We build landing page campaigns for global brands every day, it’s our bread and butter.

If you would prefer to build your own landing page, here’s a quick checklist of things to remember:

  • Keep your messaging consistent
  • Bright, clear CTA’s
  • Don’t overcrowd the messaging
  • Prove it’s a safe and secure site for gathering data
  • Make the benefits of signing up clear
  • Tracking, tracking, tracking

Happy landing paging!

Almost everywhere we look these days, we are exposed to all kinds of marketing campaigns. As we have moved into the digital age, brands have discovered more innovative technological methods to promote their message. Now, these tools can give businesses really effective insights into the analytics of their campaigns – insights they might not have been able to collate 10 or so years ago.  However, although tools such as paid search and analytical campaigns are beneficial, organisations should not ignore the fact that straightforward ‘word of mouth’ recommendations are one of the most important and reliable tools email marketers have in their weaponry.

Let’s delve a little further…

How many times have you searched online for a hotel getaway or searched for a restaurant for that cheeky midweek night out? Quite a few times we would assume! With these searches, would you say that your decisions to make a purchase was based around other customer reviews? If you answered ‘Yes’, you would not be alone – according to a recent study by Podium, 93% of consumers said online reviews impacted their purchasing decisions.

So how does this relate to my email campaigns, we hear you ask!

Well, as we can see from Podium’s study, testimonials are a powerful motivator of consumer action.  This can also be linked to a term called ‘Social Proof’, which refers to people conforming to the actions of other users with the assumption that those actions reflect their own desired behaviour. Combine this ‘social proof’ recommendation with email – one of the most vital tools in building and maintaining customer relationships and generating revenue – and you can discover how a positive testimonial can reinforce the value of your product. This could make the difference between a customer just browsing with an element of uncertainty, to grabbing their attention and converting them to purchase.

Don’t just take our word for it, Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had this to say on the importance of testimonials:

“People influence people. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising”.

 

Benefits of Using Testimonials

One of the stand out factors of incorporating testimonials into your email correspondence is that it allows you to identify your market, giving your business the ability to show potential consumers that people just like them are finding solutions to problems or questions that they share. Testimonials tell the brand’s story, which offers businesses the opportunity to up their credibility by publishing success stories that others will aspire to, which in turn should increase reliability from the customer.

As briefly mentioned earlier, many organisations use a number of different marketing techniques to get their message out there and into the customer’s mind, however none of these have what a testimonial has; a human voice from a customer with first-hand experience of your brand. Adding a real life element to the frame gives the prospective customer something to resonate with, and by including photos and stories from satisfied customers helps to add that emotional, real life appeal and value to your recommendations.

 

Things to Consider When Gathering Testimonials

The main objective of a testimonial is for it to gather a compelling response from the customer – testimonials with more detail and emotion tend to stand out more and provide more credibility. The other aspect to take note of when contacting your customers for quotes is to ask the right questions.  These questions should be worded so that it actively encourages a positive and honest responses from your customers, highlighting how good the product is and that the customer’s problem or query was resolved as a result.

Focus on honesty when gathering and implementing your testimonials. It would be all too easy to just create a few fake comments singing your products praises, but in the grand scheme of things you are aiming to build relationships with your customers, and the best way to build these relationships is on trust.

While we are on the topic of trust, if a customer has been kind enough to leave you a glowing review it can be even more beneficial to include an image of that person alongside their comment. Depending on your product, including a positive, friendly photo shows you are approachable and come across as a trustworthy business – this is where linking to social profiles can be useful.

Some Facts and Figures

  • According to a study by Nielsen, “92% of the study trusted recommendations from their peers and 70% would trust a recommendation from a stranger”.

  • “91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making their decision” – USM

  • “74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision” – USM 

What makes a good testimonial?


BorrowMyDoggy

This comment from Lyndsey instantly engages with the reader.  Due to the concept of BorrowMyDoggy some potential customers may have doubts about allowing a stranger to walk their dog without really knowing them, or alternatively the potential dog walkers may have some doubts about the dog owners. By using Lyndsey’s positive experience as an example, the company is not only emphasising how enjoyable the experience was but are also including an element of reassurance for any unconvinced consumers.


Tanners Wines

Tanners Wines are a family owned wine merchant based in the North of England. Gaining a detailed quote helps to not only increase awareness of their own branded Champagne but the nature of the comment itself gives the sense that Matthew Jukes is well travelled when it comes to testing and reviewing Champagne, emphasising the source as reputable and helps to place the Tanners brand above its competitors.

Seeing as we want to engage with our customer, your testimonial should be fairly prominent and not tucked away in a corner of an email or in the middle of a sentence. It should stand out, mainly as it shows that your product is being used and consumers are reacting positively to it. Embedding the quote into an image can also be a useful way to grab your audiences’ attention.

If you are concerned testimonials are not really going to add anything extra to your emails, the best advice would be to test, test and test again! Splitting your email sends into A/B testing – one with a testimonial and one without – will give you a good indication into how well your emails are performing and which ones have the highest click through rate.

So, returning to the original question… Are testimonials important? – Yes they are!

Overall, a good testimonial is specific to the customer and highlights what is good about the brand and the benefits it will give the customer once purchased. The ultimate objective for any operating business is to make a sale, including engaging testimonials in your email correspondence go a long way to help achieve this.

Sources:

Podium http://learn.podium.com/rs/841-BRM-380/images/2017-SOOR-Infographic.jpg 
Nielsen http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/trust-in-advertising–paid-owned-and-earned.html 
USM https://www.getambassador.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing-statistics 

Whatever email provider you use, whether it be Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, part if its job is to protect you from emails that are potentially harmful or at the very least not authentic. Typically, this means checking the authenticity of the sender, so when an email hits your email server, the client will ask itself three key questions:

  1. “Is this email from who it says it’s from?”

  2. “How do I check that?”

  3. “What do I do if it’s not?”

 

For a minute, I’d like you to imagine that you receive an email from a friend of yours which says: “Hey you, I know we haven’t seen each other in a while but why don’t we meet for a coffee and catch up soon. How about in the middle of the woods at midnight?”

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I got a message like that I’d want to check that my eccentric friend really did want to meet for coffee in the woods, and that their phone hadn’t been stolen.  The first three thoughts I’d have would be:

  1. Is this the sort of behaviour I’d expect  from this friend?

  2. How to I check it’s really them?

  3. How do I deal with this if it’s not them?

As email marketers, we are particularly interested in how the email client goes about checking if the email is authentic, as it can really impact whether we’re able to get into customer inboxes. As per our first three questions, you’ll see that they take a fairly similar route to us humans in deducing if the message is authentic.

 

So How Does An Email Provider Work Out An Email Is Legit?

Step 1:

First, the receiving mail server looks for specific items of information in your email and in the DNS records, (domain name system – basically the phone book of the web), of your domain to try to determine whether the email is legitimate, safe for its users to receive and whether the email is being sent from an authorised source.

 

Step 2:

It will then look for something called an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record, which basically means the mail server is making sure that the email has come from a place (IP) that it’s allowed to come from. So for example, if you’re sending an email from coffeefriend@inthewoods.com from an IP such as 84.126.18.127 you would need to make sure that an SPF record was set up that allowed emails coming from that IP to send from that email address. This prevents those tricksters from using spoofed email addresses and fooling us all! If the email is sent from a sending host or IP that is not in the SPF record, the receiving mail server can determine that the email is not coming from an authorised IP, and that the email could be illegitimate in nature.

 

Step 3:

The next thing the server looks for is DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) – a method of authentication that is based on adding an encrypted signature to your emails. Now this isn’t just the normal email signature that goes at the end your email, it’s a special signature found in the email header. Once you have DKIM in place in the DNS records of your domain, your emails will be much better positioned to reach the inbox and you will also be helping protect yourself and your users against spam and phishing attempts.

Here’s a quick summary of how that all works:

  1. DKIM records are put in place and verified – all emails will have a DKIM encrypted signature added to the email header upon sending

  2. This encrypted signature is generated based on the DKIM key that you have added to the DNS records of your domain, and includes a hash string based on elements of the specific email being sent. This means that each individual email you send will carry a unique DKIM signature

  3. The receiving mail server can then decrypt the DKIM signature using the public key that is hosted in your DNS records

  4. It will also simultaneously generate a new hash string based on the same elements of the email that were used when the email was sent

  5. If the decrypted signature matches the newly generated hash string then the email successfully passes DKIM authentication

 

Basically, what that all means is the server can do these two key things:

  1. Safely determine that the owner of the domain where the DKIM key is located was responsible for sending the email

  2. See that the contents of the email were not modified in transit between the sender and the recipient

So, essentially what your mail server has done is checked you are who you say you are (SPF), no-one has stolen your identity (DKIM) … determining that your friend really does want to meet you for midnight woodland coffee.

With all the steps being taken to ensure email is coming from where and who it says it is, it’s more important than ever as marketers to prioritise authentication actions. By putting email authentication in place you are mitigating the potential for email fraud targeting your brand whilst simultaneously helping your emails reach your customers.

Of course, there are other factors which will determine whether your emails are actually reaching your subscribers inboxes such as spammy subject lines, but from a technical perspective, making sure your emails are passing authentication is key.

If your email campaigns are not already authenticated, the time has come to make it happen!

As a marketer, one of your top priorities is likely to be drumming up leads to pass on to the sales team, and you may feel under a lot of pressure to bring do this in large quantities. So we completely understand that buying an email data list might seem like a quick win – access to thousands of new contacts at the click of a “pay now” button sounds like a no-brainer, especially when the lists are advertised as targeted, verified, accurate, and opted-in.

Unfortunately though, the reality is less assured. A purchased data list is very unlikely to provide you with high quality data that enables you to promote your business effectively, and can cause you a whole host of problems which will impact your ability to email legitimate leads in the future.

Here’s Six Reasons to Remember Why Buying Data Is Bad:

1. Quality Is Not Guaranteed

First and foremost, it’s pretty likely that a list you buy will be littered with old or incorrect email addresses, incomplete names, and other problems affecting the deliverability of your email.

2. Bad Delivery Rates = Bounces

The deliverability issues caused by these incorrect / old email addresses could cause your emails to have a very high bounce rate, which will in turn damage your sender reputation by potentially marking your IP address as that of a spammer, further impacting the deliverability of your emails. Read our blog post on spam filters to help avoid getting caught in this vicious circle.

3. Nobody Knows You

It’s likely that the contacts on your list have never heard of your company before, which immediately lowers the chances of them opening your email. You should be sending to people who are already interested in what you’re sending them, such as existing customers who have engaged with your brand and those who have specifically opted in to receive messages from you.

4. Less Engaged Recipients

recent analysis of a company’s email marketing activity found that business areas emailing to opt-in lists achieved open rates 82% higher than the areas emailing to purchased lists. That’s a significant difference! It’s basically not worth your time emailing people who are unlikely to engage; channel your energy into people who want to hear from you.

5. Shared List = Fed-Up Contacts

It may well be the case that other companies have bought the same list as you, meaning that the recipients are already annoyed by all the emails they’re receiving before yours has hit their inbox. You don’t want to join a crowd of ignored competitors.

6. You May Fall Foul Of The Law

Your communications need to be in line with the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (UK) or CAN-SPAM Act (USA), or you could face hefty fines. Unfortunately your email itself may follow the legislation to the letter, but if the email addresses were harvested illegally in the first place, you’ll still be breaking the law. Additionally, from 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force, meaning that the way companies are allowed to store and process personal data will change. Here’s our GDPR guide to help you get to grips with the new regulations.

 

Okay, – so what should you do?

Now we’ve talked you out of buying a list, let’s discuss the six best ways to source your data instead…

1. Attract An Audience With Engaging Content

Produce content that you know people are going to want to read, and make sure that when it goes live it’s been optimised for SEO so that your audience can easily find it (get in touch if you’d like help with this) . The content itself may be blog articles, white papers, a series of top tips, opinion/advice pieces, reviews, templates, or anything else you think would be engaging.

2. Include a Gated Asset

If it’s not enough for people to be reading your content and hopefully contacting you as a result, you can set up a data capture / sign up form that people have to complete before they can view your content. This gives your content a feeling of exclusivity, and also allows you to grow your leads

3. Create a Lead Magnet

Following on from the above, you could also create a lead magnet – this means an irresistible incentive for the customer to give you their contact information, and often comes in the form of a discount code.

4. Use a Reputable Email Service Provider

Doing so will help to protect your sender reputation, and ensure that you’re adhering to spam legislation by providing the tools needed to offer an unsubscribe and process it within 10 days. An email service provider like Enabler is also able to offer comprehensive reporting and testing facilities, allowing you to optimise your emails, and keeps your database up-to-date by logging unsubscribes and bounces and removing them automatically from your mailing lists.

5. Encourage Sign-Ups

Include a sign-up box on every page of your website to offer people maximum opportunity to subscribe to your emails. Keep it simple and quick to complete – all you really need is an email address, but if you must you can also include fields for first and last name.

6. Cross-Channel Promotion

Make the most of your other marketing channels, such as social media and your website, to promote the content of your emails and why people should sign up for them. For example, if you were soon to send an email featuring “Five top tips for x!” you could tweet something along the lines of “Sign up to our emails to discover five top tips for x!” ahead of time.

 

Most of these techniques are targeted towards acquiring new leads, but remember that it’s also super important to retain your existing customers. Firstly (and obviously) your existing customers are likely to repurchase if you look after them, and may also create new customers for you through word-of-mouth and recommendation. You could tap into this by rolling out a refer-a-friend campaign, with a form to capture friends’ details and offer incentives to both your customer and their buddies. There are loads of other ways to build your email lists explored in our Email List Building blog post.

Hopefully you can see that it simply isn’t a worthwhile investment to buy a data list for your emails. There are too many pitfalls and too few chances of success. Instead you should focus on growing your database organically, and maintaining a positive sender reputation. If you’d like help in your email endeavours, give our Enabler team a call on 0207 099 6370, or drop an email to enablermail@pancentric.com.

One of the things we really strive to do in the Enabler team is keep our clients up to date with the latest goings on in the world of email. Sometimes this is a really fun job, and we get to send around well designed emails or provide updates on the latest coding techniques. Sometimes however, we need to make sure everything we and our clients are doing is in line with the current laws and regulations
– *cue sirens*.

In March 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, and I’m here to tell you what it is, why it affects you, and if there’s anything you need to be doing before GDPR comes into effect.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a regulation intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data, and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulations within the EU.

When the GDPR takes effect, it will replace the data protection directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC) of 1995, and, unlike a directive, it does not require national governments to pass any enabling legislation, and is thus directly binding and applicable.

When is it happening?

The regulation was adopted on 27 April 2016 and becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018 after a two-year transition period.

Who decided it should be a thing?

The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission.

Why does it affect you?

GDPR will affect every company that uses personal data from any citizen within the EU. If you are collecting email addresses and sending emails to subscribers in the EU, you’ll have to comply with GDPR—no matter where you’re based.

The UK, Germany, France, and other European countries represent valuable markets for many brands. But it’s not just the strategic importance of the market that makes GDPR important for all marketers, it’s also the large number of citizens that the new privacy law will protect.

Information on the specifics of GDPR

I’m going to be upfront with you here, a lot of what the GDPR states is pretty much identical to the current Data Protection Act (DPA).  Just like the DPA, GDPR refers to two types of data: ‘Personal Data’ and ‘Sensitive Personal Data’.  The main difference being that the GDPR’s definition is more detailed and makes it clear that information such as an online identifier, for example an IP address, can be personal data.  By expanding on this definition, it means that GDPR can identify a much wider range of personal identifiers that constitute as personal data.

The main reasoning for this change was that it reflects changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.
For most organisations who keep HR records, customer lists or contact details etc, the change to the definition should make little practical difference. You can assume that if you hold information that falls within the scope of the DPA, it will also fall within the scope of the GDPR.

Unlike the DPA’s definition, the GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data is accessible according to specific criteria.  This could include chronologically ordered sets of manual records containing personal data.

Personal data that has been pseudonymised, for example coded, can fall within the scope of the GDPR depending on how difficult it is to attribute the pseudonym to a particular individual.

The main overall difference is that the GDPR requires that personal data should be:

“(a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;

(b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;

(c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;

(d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals;

(f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.”

It also requires that:

“the controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.”

What do I actually need to do from an Email Marketing perspective?

GDPR touches on several crucial aspects of email marketing, especially regarding how marketers seek, collect and record consent. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know:

Collecting consent will work differently

  • You will only be allowed to send emails to people who’ve opted-in to receive messages. While this has already been the case in most European countries under the EU Privacy Directive, GDPR takes this one step further and specifies the nature of consent that’s required for commercial communication. Starting in May 2018, brands have to collect affirmative consent that is “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous” to be compliant with GDPR.

  • The signup process must inform subscribers about the brand that’s collecting the consent and provide information about the purposes of collecting personal data.

  • Some of the processes previously used to collect data will not be compliant anymore, for example if someone entered their email address to download a whitepaper or provided their contact information to enter a contest? If you didn’t tell them you’d use their personal data to send marketing messages, and if they didn’t actively agree that it is okay to use their data for that very reason, it won’t be legal to add those email addresses to your mailing list.

Recording consent will work differently

  • Under GDPR, you will need to prove and show reasonable evidence that you have complied with the GDPR if challenged. This means GDPR places the burden of proof around consent being given with the company itself.

  • This means you will need to be storing consent forms.

Existing Data

  • If your database includes subscribers whose permissions haven’t been collected according to the GDPR’s standards, or even if they have but you can’t provide sufficient proof of consent for any contacts, you might not be allowed to send email to those subscribers anymore.

  • If you can’t provide this, I would highly recommend running re-permissioning campaigns before March 2018.

Changing existing email programs

Sadly, unless you want to stop engaging with the European market (which we in no way recommend) then you will need to review some of your current email programs. Here are a few ways you can tackle the issue:

  • Set up separate signup processes for subscribers coming from different parts of the world. Customers coming from the EU would have to go through a GDPR-compliant sign-up process, while for United States citizens, everything could remain the same. This is a highly complex and costly solution but would definitely do the trick.

  • Bring your entire database up to GDPR standards and adapt all of your opt-in processes to match the EU requirements. (This is in bold because it’s what we recommend.)

Whether we like it or not, changes to opt-in processes and re-permission campaigns will likely slow down list growth in the short term, however they will help you to make sure that you are only sending emails to subscribers who really want to hear from them, which really will improve your overall list quality.

Umm…what about Brexit?

Yeah I thought you might want to know about that. Just incase you’ve been living under a rock recently, on 23 June 2016 the UK held a referendum to decide whether or not to remain in the EU and the majority voted to leave it.

After the negotiations around how exactly the UK will leave the EU have finished, we will (hopefully) be left with a clearer idea about the extent to which the UK continues to comply with and/or keep up with EU laws and requirements and remains within or outside the European Economic Area.

Either way, it’s most likely that the UK will still be in the EU by March 2018, however, there are some ways you can prepare from a Brexit standpoint:

  • Start to consider which parts of your business operations are established in the UK and may be affected by GDPR.

  • Identify any of the personal data flows from the European Economic Area to the UK. (If the UK also leaves the European Economic Area at the time of leaving the EU, the flow of personal data from the European Economic Area countries to the UK will become prohibited without new adequate safeguard measures being adopted).

  • Monitor the UK data protection authority’s statements on Brexit, GDPR and how to remain compliant – current ICO guidance is to continue to prepare for GDPR.

What if I just do…nothing?

In short, don’t do nothing… which I know is a double negative, but hopefully you get the idea. With the introduction of GDPR, also comes some hefty fines for not being compliant. Fines come in the form of up to €20 Million or 4% of a brand’s total global annual turnover (whichever is higher).

I mean sure, the authorities probably have more on their hands than going after every company who breaks the law, but they will rely on customers to report any breaches as well. Basically it’s best to comply and not put yourself and your company at risk.

Resources on GDPR:

Any legislation change can be daunting, but fear not, we’re here to help! If you need any help with sorting out email practices before March 2018, get in touch and we’ll get one of our email consultants to help you out.

So you’ve created the perfect email.  The HTML, CSS and design have all united together in a beautiful choreography, like a ballet dancer waiting to wow their audience.  Now – the last thing you want is for your email’s inbox performance to display View Online or Unsubscribe links as the first act people see.

You need to make an impact in the inbox, enticing the receiver to open your email above all others, and not delete it in one foul swipe.  “How do I do that?”  I hear you cry.  Fear not friend, Preview Text is your saviour.

What is Preview Text?

Preview Text is the first sentence or words from an email that are displayed in your inbox, under the Sender and Subject Line.

The format in your inbox runs like so:

Sender Name

Subject Line

Preview text

Most email providers, like Enabler, will let you control and customise the preview text that’s displayed in the inbox by allowing you to write your own sentence.  This way you can ensure you grab the attention of your audience before they even open the email, by avoiding the appearance of default text in your Preview Text – because lets face it, View Email Online isn’t really going to drive engagement.

 

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

There are two ways to use the Preview Text:

  1. Displayed in the email at the top

  2. Hidden in the code

More commonly, the Preview Text is hidden away to work it’s magic in the background.  If it’s displayed at the top or head of your email, it is referred to as a Preheader Text.  Don’t worry, you can still use hidden Preview Text alongside your Preheader.  If you set the Preview Text container above the Preheader in the HTML, it will appear first.  This could help push down text you don’t want displayed (like that pesky View Email Online)

Email Header example:

Get the best offers available today

To view email online click here

Email HTML example:

<body>
<div class=“preview-text” style=”display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>Welcome to the new online store. </div>    
    
<table width=”100%”>
    <tr>
        <td align=”center” valign=“top”>
            Get the best offers available today <br>
            To view email online <a href=“##”>click here</a>
        </td>
    </tr>
</table>
</body>

 

Might look complicated, but what this clever piece of HTML does is bump the view email online text out of the inbox preview, like so:

Inbox results example:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Welcome to the new online store.  Get the best offers available today.

The Preview Text Hack

So everyone has their own inbox display preferences, and sometimes we don’t get the choice.  You could be displaying 1, 2, even 3 lines of preview text, or annoyingly all of it – it all depends on the email provider.  This could result in the above inbox example displaying text you don’t want your audience to see, i.e:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Welcome to the new online store.  Get the best offers available today. To view email online click here.

But don’t worry, we have it covered.  There’s a little hack that can help with this:

&zwnj;&nbsp;

No… I didn’t just fall on my keyboard and hit the keys at random.  This bizarre-looking strong of code stands for:

  • Zero width non joiners, or &zwnj;

  • Non breaking spaces, or &nbsp;

The idea is &zwnj;&nbsp; repeated will create white space after your preview text, effectively giving you an invisible buffer to bump down the unwanted copy from the Preview Text.

Example:

<div class=“preview-text” style=“display:none;font-size:1px;color:#333333;line-height:1px;max-height:0px;max-width:0px;opacity:0;overflow:hidden;”>Wow that’s short…&zwnj;&nbsp;&zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; &zwnj;&nbsp; Text you don’t want displayed</div>

The result, a beautifully tidy inbox display:

Sender Name

Subject Line 

Wow that’s short…

Emojis in Email

😀 😃 😄 😁 😆 😅 😂

These little characters have been around since the late 90s on our mobile phones.  In 2017, emojis have taken over our messages and have now stepped out of our mobile phones and onto the big screen with ‘Emoji Movie’.  There’s even a World Emoji Day on July 17th.

Now, coming to a subject line near you, the emoji is finding it’s place within your email inbox.

Like in the example above, some companies are opting for the subject line emoji as it can help capture the audiences’ attention, plus it allows you to have a bit of fun with the wide selection of icons available.

However, like a lot of new ideas in email (for example video or GIFs), emojis are not accepted across the board, as they will render differently across different devices and email platforms. Emojis are built around Unicode which is a standard set of figures that will display different emojis, for example:

U+1F602 = 😂

U+1F60D = 😍

U+1F601 = 😁

(A full list of emoji icons and their codes can be found here)

If you are planning on using emojis in your subject lines, test before you send otherwise your hip looking emails might turn out  looking a little square, as this ☐ icon will display if your emoji code can’t be recognised.

 

Roundup

A few more things to take into consideration when composing your Preview Text are:

  • Avoid letting the View Email Online into your Preview Text

  • Think of the Preview Text as a continuation of your Subject Line

  • Try some A/B testing with different Preview Text

  • Try not to repeat what is stated in the Subject Line

  • Test your Emojis

  • Try to use personalisation in your Subject Lines or Preview Text

  • Use the Subject Line or Preview Text to promote scrolling by referencing key points or articles lower down your email.

  • Be mindful of your character count – Preview Text can vary in different email clients and platforms, so don’t leave the best bits until the end.

Preview Text shouldn’t be an afterthought.  These small techniques can help to improve your open and click-through rates, and show your email as being professional and well thought out.

 

So go ahead, try some different combinations of subject lines and preview text.  Test, test, test those combinations, then sit back and watch the positive responses.

Well done!  Your performance is complete and your audience is demanding encores!

With so much going on in a Marketing team, you will often find you don’t have enough time to get everything done.  You will have had days where you’re in back-to-back meetings, and still have a whole hoard of tasks to do by the end of the day.  This is where an automated system would be super useful!

Luckily, there’s a little thing called Marketing Automation that can step in.  The basic idea of marketing automation is to set up a system to perform actions based on triggers (i.e. if a customer clicks an email link it triggers a second personalised email being sent several days later).  Once the email automation is set up, it then runs in the background without any additional work required, making your life and workload a lot easier.

There are many people that would benefit from having a Marketing Automation solution, but from a sales perspective, here are the top three reasons to start implementing automated emails campaigns right now:

  1. You can have pre-defined marketing programmes cultivating leads for you, while you’re off doing tasks that require more face-to-face contact.

  2. It allows you to optimise your time efficiently and achieve your goals without missing a beat.

  3. It allows you to be at the forefront of email marketing trends, bringing your business into the 21st Century.

 

So how would you put a Marketing Automation plan together?

Here is a useful Marketing Automation Workflow for you to refer to when setting up your campaign programme:

 (Click image to download)

 

What you need to think about:

Planning is exceptionally important in the world of marketing automation, for many reasons. Firstly, the term ‘marketing automation’ has, unfortunately, become somewhat of a buzzword, where marketeers seek out automation software under the misguided impression that it provides them with the digital marketing wizardry to automatically generate new leads. This misconception leaves many marketeers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their campaign funnel, but no solution that actually generates new leads at the beginning of the funnel.

In your planning phase, you should get to know the system you’re using and plug any holes in your lead generation funnel, allowing you to get your automated ducks in a row.

Secondly, planning helps to prevent you from making mistakes when you set your programme live.  It will ensure you have fully thought through every possible step / action your customer may take, thoroughly planning out what components you will need in order to make your campaign run successfully as an automated system.  Sounds complicated, but its far from it (and if you get stuck you can always check with us).

For example, email templates, forms, surveys and website content – make sure the right links are in place, and test that the right automation is being trigger when an action occurs (i.e. a link is clicked).  There’s nothing worse than getting a beautiful automation programme set up, only to find your customers aren’t ending up where you want them to go because you’ve missed a step in your automation set-up.

You might think that I’m going overboard and stating the obvious when I say you need to plan out every step of your marketing automation, but if you really want it to run successfully with seamless automation, then planning really is the key.

To help you along, I’ve set up an example workflow of a functional marketing automation programme.  The example below demonstrates a ‘Welcome Programme’ for a new customer being added to a contact database, taking you through every automated step for every action or inaction the customer may take within the programme, including time delays.

 

 

Now you have had a look at how a Marketing Automation programme could work, I’m going to take you through some does and don’ts of the automation world:

Does:

  • Integrate your inbound marketing strategy with your marketing automation. Inbound strategy is all about providing valuable, aligned content, and this should not change at all if you start using marketing automation.  If anything, it should be enhancing your communications, as you will be able to provide the content your customer’s need, at the exact time they need it, without any manual input during the process.

  • Send relevant content to your customers, and make sure you are providing them with what they are looking for.  People make the mistake of trying to drive business objectives without actually considering the customer who is going through the journey.  This is arising trend within the industry, with many companies providing workshops detailing how to achieve a customer driven strategy.

  • Set up engagement and retention campaigns to keep your current customers coming back for more.  After all, it’s much easier to sell to someone who has previously bought from you.  Content marketing is an essential part of making sales, and automation can help you do this.  Make sure you’re keeping on top of your content and constantly improving it, making sure it’s more relevant to your customer’s as they progress on their automated journey.

Don’ts:

  • Set up Automation without planning first or thinking about what you want to achieve. There is no point setting up a complex automated programme without getting the strategy right first.  Don’t be that person.

  • Mass email customers.  This is literally the worst.  I have unsubscribed from so may brands over the years because they are emailing too much, and none of the content was relevant.  If nothing else, you will end up having your emails marked as spam, so just avoid bulk emailing.

  • Start before planning.  So I know I harped on about this, but it’s seriously important.  Don’t spend days or weeks of your life setting up an automation programme before you have taken the time to properly research and plan every step and action.  Plan – you won’t regret it!

I think you’ve got enough there to start you on your Marketing Automation journey.  If you want to discuss how Marketing Automation could work for your business, our Enabler team would be happy to chat you through our Automation software and how it could help deliver you deliver on your goals.