Enabler provide best practice advice and guidance on email marketing for B2B and B2C email communications. Check out Enabler’s top tips for email marketing.

Plug in, crank the dial and listen up, as we take a look at the power of Google’s new AMP for Email.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) launched in 2015 by Google was developed as an open source framework to speed up mobile web, to cut out or bipass all of the code that slows down page load and performance, and supply faster, smaller alternatives to the code, mainly via JavaScript.

As of February 2018 AMP is available for email, under the catchy (if unimaginative) title “AMP for Email”.  According to Google, this is so “developers can create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” It will allow the user to submit forms or surveys, check flight details, change a booking, get the latest news or search, select and purchase an item without even leaving the email. Basically Google doesn’t want you to leave the inbox if it’s not necessary, reducing the user journey from A to B.

Divided we fall

However, AMP for Email has caused a divide, with the majority wanting to pull the plug entirely.  AMP for Email brings new opportunities for marketers, offering their clients interactivity, increased performance, and improved email accessibility. Which sounds great, but ‘wiring’ your emails for AMP is not that straightforward.

There are initial concerns around security, as Google’s AMP for Email requires the injection of JavaScript to run those carousels and shopping baskets, and the use of third party integration could potentially raise unforeseen vulnerabilities.

Another concern is that Google just wants more control over people’s data, deciding how a process should work regardless of any current, tested, custom version. Imagine a retail store has developed its shopping cart process best to suit it’s clients needs, AMP for Email will not necessarily use this same process. What kind of impact does that have? Will the client lose faith with 2 processes? Will the website suffer from lack of driven hits and missed sale opportunities?

Lastly, when Google mentions interactive and dynamic content within email, are they possibly talking about Google Ads?  It’s very likely that Google will use this opportunity to push their Google Ads through AMP for Email. Hopefully we won’t end up with emails resembling bad 90’s style websites.

We also have to consider if AMP for Email is even necessary? Is this a revolutionary kick start to interactive email or is it over complicating what is meant to be a simple process.

“It’s like someone who sells bottled water telling you your tap runs too slow.”
– Devin Coldewey

The Light Show

Let’s have a look at some of the code, here is a basic layout for an AMP Email:

Doctype required declaring the html to be ⚡4email (“ampforemail” also accepted)
<!doctype html>
<html ⚡4email>
<head>
<meta charset="utf-8">
<style amp4email-boilerplate>body{visibility:hidden}</style>
<script async src="https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js"></script>
<style amp-custom>
.emailbody {
padding: 16px;
}
.helloworld {
font-family: sans-serif;
color: red;
font-size: 24px;
padding-bottom: 8px;
}
.images {
max-width: 100%;
}
</style>
All CSS to be included in <style amp-custom> tag, as above.

</head>
<body>
<div class=”emailbody”>
<div class=”helloworld”>
Hello, world.
</div>
<amp-img src=sample.jpg width=300 height=300></amp-img>
Components like the img tag above, adopt the amp name.
</div>
</body>
</html>

There are also a number of components that have changed:

 If you want to have a go, you can double check your code with an AMP HTML validator.

The Output

This is not the first time Google has pursued email interactive products.  In early 2010 they Beta tested “Enhanced Email”, “Google Wave” and “Google Grid”. All with not much success and were dropped after a few months.   Interactive email could be the new era, and even if AMP for Email is not the right step, at least it is a step toward the future advancements of email.

Are Google pushing the boundaries of the inbox, or just trying to take it over?
But then who better to trial these new concepts than Google, perhaps if Apple or Microsoft adopts AMP for Email we will see further developments and testing.

 

“All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.”
– Adlai Stevenson

AMP for Email is in its early days, the full working version won’t be pushed out until later 2018, and there’s still a lot of unanswered questions regarding security. Some are excited, most seem to think it’s a bad idea. Lets just hope it’s a plus for the world of email.

For more detail on AMP for Email you can see a recording from the AMP conference 2018: A New Frontier for AMP. Or, if this has piqued your interest, hit me up on Twitter –@Dipper2009 #emailgeeks.

When it comes to emails, us marketers are always striving to get the most ‘bang for our buck’ from our email marketing software.  We can be very greedy, wanting the cheapest software, with the most features, that’s easy to use and can help us secure the most clicks.

Sometimes however, a marketer will go all out and purchase an email software with all the bells and whistles, but they end up never fully utilising the features to their full potential, meaning they pay a lot of bucks for very little bang.

Now, as a proud email software provider this makes us very sad.  We always ensure that our clients know every inch of our email system, Enabler, because we want our customers to fully utilise the system and all its features to help them create the best possible email marketing campaigns that generate the highest levels of engagement.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Enabler’s key features that can help you create slick email marketing campaigns, fast.

 

Five key things you might not have known you could do with Enabler:

1. Drag and Drop Templates

Enabler has a really simple, easy to use Drag and Drop email editor. This allows you to create beautifully responsive email templates effortlessly, without requiring any HTML or coding skills.

The Drag and Drop editor allows you to build your emails from a blank template or preset designs built by the creative team at Enabler.  You can effortlessly drag different components into your email to help create and enhance your email content, including text, images, buttons, social media widgets, video or even bespoke HTML code snippets.

All our Drag and Drop templates are fully mobile responsive, and can be edited and duplicated in a handful of clicks.

2. Forms, Surveys and Polls

Once you have created your email template using our Drag and Drop system, you might want to create a more comprehensive email campaign that enables you to gather additional information or feedback from your customers. Using Enabler, you can quickly and easily build forms, surveys and polls into your marketing campaigns.  These elements are all fully customisable, allowing you to change the colours and imagery to match your branding. Enabler gives you complete flexibility over how you display these forms, surveys and polls, enabling you to link to these elements from your email campaigns or choosing to embed them within your own webpages.

You have the flexibility to set up submission alerts notifying your campaign managers (or anyone you like) whenever someone submits an entry. Another intelligent feature allows you to set up ‘automated trigger emails’ to be sent off the back of a new form submission. This could be extremely useful if someone signs up for a newsletter or completes a form submission, as Enabler will automatically send them a confirmation / follow up email of your design.

Having such a smooth transition of automated communications between forms, surveys and polls, and your email campaigns, helps to make your marketing communications more efficient (saving you time), plus ensures a stronger likelihood of customer acquisition and/or retention.

Enabler gives you the flexibility to customise your forms, surveys and polls by choosing the format of your questions and adding as many questions as you like.  Another clever Enabler feature is survey branching, this enables you to direct the user down a different line of questioning depending on their answers.

You can find more information about branching and writing great survey questions in a recent Email Survey blog.

3. Extended Fields

Do you hold lots of unique data about your customers, for example birthdays, policy renewal/expiry dates, customer account logins, registration numbers, discount codes and location?  If so, Enabler enables you to not only store but also utilise this unique data by adding it into your email templates as extended fields.

Extended fields are variable fields that can be used within any Enabler template, pulling unique data through based on individual contact details. You can set these fields to contain whatever data you like (providing you have permission).

Here is an example of where one of our clients have used extended fields to pull in unique information about a customer’s policy:

Extended fields make your emails more personal by giving the contact receiving the email information that’s specific to them. This is really helpful when sending more bespoke, personalised emails.

4. Dynamic Content

Using the data you hold on your contacts, Enabler provides the functionality to display ‘conditional content’, where different content is displayed to different contacts based on their data, all within a single email template. Conditional or Dynamic Content can be as simple as displaying different content based on a contact’s gender, or it can have a far more powerful purposes for your marketing campaigns.  For instance, if a contact was looking at a particular product on your site and that information was contained within your data, you could display that product within your email template. Another example could be displaying different information based on a location or postcode, or if they are a new or existing customer.

Providing you have the data, you can set up as many conditions as you like based on any of the data you hold. With every condition you set up, it has to be met by a particular contact(s) in order to display content.

The screenshot below shows an example of a condition where contacts who have an extended field, “Favourite drink” that contains “Espresso”, Enabler will insert an image of an Espresso.

5. Reporting

We all know that sending an email campaign is only one half of the process. After your email campaign has been sent,  you then need to do the all important reporting. Many of you who already use Enabler will know of our ‘Dashboard Report’, which gives a clear overview of all your standard email stats, including open rates; CTR, unsubscribes, bounces etc.

What you might not know is that Enabler has a whole suite of Management Information Reports which provide in-depth analysis into the results of your email campaigns, giving you extensive insights into both your how your campaign performed and a greater insight into your contacts.  Enabler’s reports include Browser Analysis, Click-Thru Times & Frequency, Demographics, GDPR Reports on customers, Campaign Charts and many more.

Enabler’s comprehensive reports have been designed to give our customers a greater understanding of their campaign performance and their customer behaviour, which in turn help to inform future email campaigns.  By providing powerful reporting tools at your fingertips, we ensure our Enabler users have the information they need to really make an impact with their email marketing campaigns.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to use some of Enabler’s features on your upcoming campaigns. If you have any questions about Enabler and its features please contact our email team who will be happy to assist you.

Do you want to learn more about your audience and enhance the quality of your data? Surveys are a great tool to gather valuable insights and information, allowing you to collect enriched data in both a formal and informal fashion.. Capturing data from your customers allows you to really personalise your email campaigns, allowing you to  target your customers with more relevant marketing content. Ultimately,  this should improve your overall open rates and engagement level.

But beware, when it comes to email surveys there are some common mistakes that are easy to make…

 

Here are seven helpful pointers that will help you on your way to pulling off a great email survey.

1. Write Concise Questions To Get Accurate Answers

Make your questions easy to understand by being to the point and use simple, everyday language.  The goal is to ensure your readers provide you with clear, accurate answers, so write short, simple questions and keep your tone informal without cramming too many things into one question.

Here’s an example of a badly worded survey question:

“How would you rate the delivery time and packaging of your recent order?”

This is an example of a double-barrelled question.  By asking the customer to answer about both the delivery time and the packaging,  you can end up confusing the customer and forcing them to answer two questions in one.  This could lead to the customer answering inaccurately to one part of the question or not answering the question properly at all.

In this instance, we would split the question into two, for example;

“How would you rate the delivery time of your recent order?”
“How would you rate the packaging of your recent order?”

Options: Excellent | Good | Fair | Poor

Making your questions concise and to the point will give you the best response rate as it makes it easier for the customer to complete the survey accurately.

2. Use Words With Clear Meanings

Try to avoid using words and phrases which could be left to the user’s interpretation (or misinterpretation). You want to include phrases and words which are commonly understood.
For example words like numerous and several are too vague in their meaning and open to interpretation. You want to use words that are more commonly understood and provide more accurate information, such as almost all, a majority of or almost none provide customers with a more accurate, clear interpretation of the questions meaning.

Using common and simple phrases will ensure your customers can easily answer the questions without having to think too hard about the answer they are selecting.

3. Offer An “Out” for Questions That Don’t Apply

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to or want to answer every question. Give the reader an ‘out’ option. This will minimise the chance of people leaving the survey before completing it. It will also remove the chances of getting incorrect data. However, if you’re certain the reader can answer every question you do not need to do this.

4. Expand On Your Answers

Where you can, change your ‘Yes/No’ and multiple choice questions to interval questions. Make a statement, and ask people to answer it on a 1-5 or, ‘Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree’. This will improve the quality of your results massively and give you more accurate information in return.

5. Make Sure Your Survey Works Across Devices

Almost everyone has multiple devices, mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Make sure your survey is compatible across all devices to ensure it’s easy to access for everyone.

6. Personalise Questions Based on Customer Responses

Using a process called “Branching” you can personalise your survey to guide customers into following a more suitable line of questions based on their previous answers. This allows you to capture more relevant/personalised data.

For example, you could ask the customer “How many children do you have?”. Depending on this response you could then direct the customer down a different line of questions. For instance if the customer has children, you could go onto ask parenting questions, if they don’t have children you could ask for the customers opinion on families and parenting.

Using branching allows you to receive more relevant information about your customers and again allowing you to send more personalised and relevant content to them allows for more accurate answers.

7. A Final Tip Before You Begin

Pre-testing will help identify unclear questions or badly-worded responses before you send your survey out to your readers, giving you a chance to improve your survey and its chances of generating accurate, actionable feedback.

Hopefully these tips will help you create a fantastic survey with great results! Using our system, Enabler, you can create integrated marketing campaigns, and use tools such as surveys to enhance your campaigns and strategy.

Email marketing has been and will continue to be one of the most effective marketing tools in a marketeers arsenal. On the face of it, email can look really straightforward, but underneath there are intricacies that make planning a successful email strategy tricky… especially for a first time flier! Given the complicated nature of the email channel, we often get asked if it’s actually worth using the channel at all. As you can imagine, my answer is yes… and here’s five key reasons why.

1 . King of All Marketing Channels

Email marketing works 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter, and compared to social media; offering marketeers 17% higher conversion rates.

That’s right. Email rules the roost. Now, I’m not saying you should read this and immediately go and start bombarding your marketing list with emails, but this definitely demonstrates why you should be making efficient use of the channel. Additionally, email is better than Facebook because according to Forrester, people are twice as likely to sign up for your email list as they are to interact with you on Facebook.

2 . Subject Line Influence

47% of people will open an email based on the subject line alone.

Now I was pretty astounded when I found this figure out. In my head, as a marketeer, people would primarily be opening emails based on brand recognition, so to find out subject lines actually have a pretty huge impact, without the branding side playing a role, changed the way I approached my email marketing. What’s really interesting is that 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line, so it’s a careful balancing act.

If you need some help creating magical subject lines, check out our top tips for an irresistible subject line.

3 . Impact on ROI

44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

If this doesn’t convince you how valuable the email channel is, I might as well give up now! This is why we try and grow marketing lists and target people using personalisation – the benefits it can have are incredible.

I don’t know about you, but in every place I’ve worked, email is the one thing that is constantly questioned. I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve heard ‘Yeah but does it actually do anything’ or ‘Prove it’. This is a clear sign that email is a valuable channel and incredibly effective.

4 . Checking in

89% of Americans check email at least once a day; nearly 21% check their email more than 5 times a day. This is a true testament to how many opportunities there are to not only drive existing and potential customers to buy from brands based on email, but also to increase brand awareness and presence. There is no other marketing function that allows you quite as much exposure to consumers so efficiently.

5 . Useage

According to Radicati’s 2016 Email Statistics report, emails will be used by 3 billion people by 2020. That’s almost half of the world’s population.

Currently, there are over 2.6 billion email users worldwide. This is crazy given how many other forms of communication are available e.g. IM, Social Media. While new communication tools are constantly being developed and released, email is the one outlasting them all. You will also find that email addresses are the main form of identify required for day to day functions such as online shopping and social networks, suggesting that no matter how many new ways of communicating spring up, email will always be necessary and useful.

 

So there you have it – five key stats about email.

Choosing the right email provider can feel a tad daunting. The closest thing I can compare it to is renting a house. You really want to find somewhere that fits all your stuff, has all the rooms you need, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to rent, and you wont end up wanting to move a few months after signing the contract. Sure, you can deal with having no double glazing… but why should you? It’s the same with email providers. You want one that stores all your stuff (data) in the way you want it to, has all the rooms (functionality) you need, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to use, and ideally you don’t want the hassle of having to switch providers down the line because it doesn’t live up to expectations.

Don’t panic though, because I’m going help make choosing a new email provider very straightforward and, unlike house viewings, you won’t have to leave the comfort of your chair!

 

Six Easy Steps to Follow When Choosing an Email Provider:

 

1. Strategise

You’re clearly looking for an email service provide (ESP) for a reason. My guess is you’ve worked out that email is a super effective marketing channel, where the costs can be relatively low and the results can be outstanding. But before you choose your provider, you need to think about how you want email marketing to work within your overall marketing strategy.

It really is important to have clear objectives and goals around what you want to achieve from your email marketing. These decisions will help influence your choice of provider, dependent on if they offer the functionality to help you achieve these goals.

For example, are you going to be sending newsletters, upselling or using email as a lead gen tool? What metrics do you want to track?  Do you want your emails to be created within a simple drag’n’drop system or do you want to add externally created HTML designs? Are you interested in dynamic content or A/B testing? Your answers to all these questions will help dictate the features you want from an ESP. It will also give you a clear idea of what your priorities are when selecting an ESP, and who is most suited to facilitate those priorities.

2. Think About Features

There are four key features that you should be checking when selecting a provider – and they are a must. You’ll need to ensure that the tool you’re looking at not only has those features, but also makes them easy to use. You’ll also need to have a clear idea about which features are a priority to you and your business.

Templates:

A key part of any email campaign is creating the emails you plan on sending. Any decent email provider should be offering you an easy-to-use solution for creating the email templates yourself within their system. For example, in Enabler, we have a drag and drop system which allows you to create emails using simple building blocks, that are mobile responsive by default (another key thing to look out for). When looking for your new system, you should also want to ensure it allows you to upload HTML and images created externally to the tool. Free image hosting is a great bonus too!

Tracking:
Automation:

Sending the most relevant messages to the right people at the right time is super important, and that’s what automation helps you do. Ensure your email service provider offers solid workflows to help you schedule and send automated messages.These should be laid out in a clear way – a step-by-step structure usually works really well. If you feel like you need more information about automation before making a decision about what works for you, take a look at our blog: What is Marketing Automation?

Extras:

Is there something else that you think you might need for make your email strategy to work? Maybe you want to be able to create and send forms and surveys, or create bespoke landing pages from within the tool? Really good ESP’s will provide these things, some even provide them as standard – like Enabler -, but not all will so make a list of what you need and make sure to ask each ESP if they fulfil these requirements.  It’s also worth asking if these features come with the system or if they are optional extras that you will be charged extra for.

3. Define Your Budget

Email in general doesn’t need a huge budget to be effective, but in marketing, effective isn’t always enough. If you want truly epic campaigns and associated analytics, you need to ensure you’re putting the budget in place to achieve this.

Email systems vary in terms of price range. There are very basic free tools out there and then there are tools that cost tens of thousands of pounds and have a ton of advanced functionality.

Now, enterprise level providers may seem attractive on the surface, but if you don’t actually use all those fancy add on features which cost those extra pennies (which by the way can take a lot of time to learn how to use in the first place and you may end up spending many precious hours trying to navigate) you’ll end up just throwing good money away.

Basically, you have your choice of low, medium and enterprise level providers. Choosing the right one for your needs can keep costs low and deliver functionality while simultaneously keeping return on your efforts high.

4. Look at Delivery Rates

There’s no point putting together beautiful campaigns if they don’t get through to anyone. To have a chance of engaging customers and prospects, your messages have got to land in their inboxes. Now, that might sound obvious, but not all ESPs are equal when it comes to delivery rates. Make sure you are asking potential ESPs about its delivery rate and how they work with their customers to keep that rate high. Ideally you want to be searching for a provider that can offer rates of over 95%.

To bare in mind that delivery rates are a combination of both how the email service provider ensures delivery to inboxes on the backend and how you use the service. For example, if you buy a data list and start sending to it, you may find that you have a high bounce rate which can impact your sending reputation. Ensure you are asking for any resources they offer on best practices for content and list management, and also find out if you can have your own sending IP to ensure you’re not influenced by what other clients of the ESP are doing with their data.

5. Check Out Customer Service

ESPs will all offer different levels of customer support for their product. There are a few key things to look for in this area when selecting a provider:

Support response:

Give their support desk a call and see how long it takes for you to be speaking to a real human. Is there a key place on the product that tells you how to get in touch with the support desk? Have a look at what their response rates are – they should be able to share these stats with you (example of one of these stats guides from Enabler’s customer service desk to the right). Think about what kind of support you will need, do you need Monday to Friday, or weekend support, or particular international timezones? Have they ever won any email awards for their product or support?

Help systems / guides:

Does the ESP have an online help system where you can search through frequently asked questions, or find out how a certain piece of functionality works? If so, this a great sign. Properly good support systems will also have step-by-step how to guides available for key areas of the system.

What other clients say:

With any product, you want to know that you’ll get the best support out there. Testimonials from existing clients of the ESP are a good indicator of how good both the product and the support network is. You can also have a look at the sorts of clients using the product – do you think their objectives are similar to yours? If so, they may have done some of your homework for you!

6. Make an Informed Decision

Once you’ve considered all the factors we’ve discussed, you’ll be in a position to select a provider. Now, before you go any further, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you to consider throwing Enabler into the mix (check out the product here). Right, sales pitch over. Time for me to wish you good luck in choosing your ESP… that’s if you haven’t chosen Enabler already! Okay now I’m really done, promise.

If you’re interested in finding out more about anything in this blog, drop me an email – I’m always up for a chat about email! #EmailGeek

An API (Application Programming Interface), believe it or not, is an interface between two software programs. It essentially allows the two programs to make use of each other’s services and resources, and interact with each other. You can think of them like tunnels between programs that allow them to work together… and all without exposing their inner programming!

You might not realise it, but you will probably use APIs nearly every day of your life. For example, an API would let you open a chat window inside an app, or let you run a map program on your website. Being totally honest with you, it’s really hard to get really excited about APIs themselves, (my development team are shaking their heads in dismay as I write this), but what is worth getting excited about are the benefits APIs have for marketing purposes.

Most email systems today will have some sort of built in API functionality where, with a little effort, you can link your company data systems to your email service provider. This is something we do with Enabler’s email marketing software, allowing is to provide the option of adding bespoke APIs completely tailored to your data needs.

From an email marketing perspective, APIs allow you to do some really cool things that allow you to deliver much more targeted messages to your consumers, helping with both acquisition and retention.

APIs and Automation

API integrations allow your data that’s being stored elsewhere (i.e. CRM system) to be drawn down into your email system.  Giving your email marketing software direct access to your customer data has big benefits for enhancing and deploy your emails, especially when it come to marketing automation.

Let’s take a look at an API example in action.

eBay:

eBay utilised an API integration to send out a daily product email to their customers. Each deals displayed within the email is being automatically drawn from the eBay product pages. The deals changed daily on the website, and because an API was set up between the website and the email campaign, it meant the email deals changed also to reflect the website. This meant that the marketing team could send the same daily emails without so much as a single edit to the actual email content, and know that everything in the emails would be automatically updated to reflect the current deals.

The smartest thing about this API integrated email is yet to come however…  If a recipient opened this email the day after it was sent, they would see the content for the day they opened, not the day it was deployed, meaning they always saw the latest deals.

The reason API integrations are so powerful is because the data being pulled through the API already exists, and as a marketer all you are doing is bringing that information into your campaigns.

Other uses for API content within email:

  • Customers of airlines and ticketing venues can select or upgrade the latest seats from within an email.
  • Restaurant guests can receive special deals and reserve seats in real-time within a few taps.
  • Doctors appointments could be made from within an email simply by displaying an up-to-date list of appointment times.
  • Hotels could send loyalty emails to their customer base and guests could reserve a room directly from the email.
  • Sending a welcome email to a customer when they sign up on your website.

APIs and CRM management

API’s also serve another function in the world of email. Let’s say you have a fantastic CRM system, but sadly it doesn’t send email…now in the old days this would have meant exporting data from that system, uploading it into your email tool, sending an email, exporting the unsubscribes from that email, and re-uploading into your CRM. I don’t know about you but I get exhausted just thinking about that process. Luckily, those days are over! You can now use APIs to help manage your data across multiple systems.

When transferring data between systems, an ‘API call’ is made. An API call is an individual interaction between the two applications through the API, for example when a request for data is made from one system to the other using the API. This allows the two systems to keep your data up-to-date across both systems simultaneously without any manual intervention.

APIs and Security

Each time a data transfer happens, lots of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is being handled, so security is vital (especially with the GDPR updates coming in May!). Best practice for security when it comes to APIs is to assume that everyone is always out to get your data. Now, it’s also good to remember that not all APIs are equal, and not all vulnerabilities will be preventable. An API gathering weather data does not need to take the same precautions as an API that is sending patient’s private medical data.

The best way to ensure this data is kept private during transfer is by using encryption. With sophisticated key management strategies, or encryption key management strategies, the data can become accessible on a need-to-know basis.

The process works something like this:

1. Authenticating with the web server before any information is transferred

Authentication is used to reliably determine the identity of an end user, while Authorisation is used to determine what resources the identified user has access to.  Authentication and Authorisation are commonly used together.

On the web, Authentication is most often implemented via a dialog box that asks for a username and password. For added security, software certificates, hardware keys and external devices may be used.

2. System decides which resources or data to allow access to

Once the user is authenticated, the system then decides which resources or data to allow access to. For APIs, access tokens are commonly used, either obtained through an external process (for example when signing up for the API) or through a separate mechanism. The token is passed with each request to an API and is validated by the API before processing the request.

The best solution is to only show your authentication key to the user once. It’s their responsibility to hold that key near and dear. Think about it this way – would you trust someone who kept losing the spare keys you gave them…?

This all sounds great, why doesn’t everyone do it?

API setup can be complex, especially if you are navigating your way around big data and different systems and teams. More and more however, companies are realising that API integrations are the way forward for making your marketing campaigns truly personalised, more interactive and the most enjoyable experience for your customers, and are investing time and resource into getting APIs set up. Additionally, from an internal perspective, they will save your team and company time in the long run.

If you want to chat to us about how Enabler’s APIs could take your email marketing to the next level, please get in touch.

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.

If you’ve read our previous blogs or visited our site before, you’ll probably have gathered that Enabler is a piece of email software. However, what you might have missed is that Enabler is more than just your bog-standard piece of email software, sporting sophisticated features which go beyond bulk sending emails. *Cue gasps and other associated shocked noises*

One of these features is Enabler’s Form Builder – you can use this clever piece of kit as a standalone form, embed it into a landing page or website, or use the form as a back-end tool for data capture. To demonstrate how effective these sophisticated Enabler Forms can be, I’m going to showcase a recent example from one of our clients, Real Estate Management UK Limited (REM) – asset manager for The Shard – where we utilised Enabler Forms in their Shard Lights 2017 marketing competition.

The Brief

Driving Engagement for an Iconic London Brand

Since 2014, The Shard has hosted a light show from it’s spire every December, aptly named #ShardLights, to celebrate the festive season. In 2017, Shard Lights introduced five colours into its show, rotating one per day with an array of visual effects including gradients, patterns and sparkles. These visual light effects occurred every 15 minutes, with an extended display on the hour which transformed The Shard into a spectacular visual timepiece for London.

Now, Enabler’s offices are based literally around the corner from this stunning London landmark, but not everyone is lucky enough to have such natural daily exposure to this amazing light show.

So, to ensure maximum engagement with The Shard during this time, the REM marketing team wanted to run a photography competition to encourage the public to take pictures of The Shard’s light show and share online using the hashtag #ShardLights.

As an existing Enabler client, the marketing team at REM gave our campaign management team the task of creating an engaging campaign with the following key requirements:

  • Hosting the photography competition
  • A way of collecting entries and associated entrants information
  • A trigger email going out post competition submission to recipients

 

 

Our Solution

We decided that the best way to achieve the goals laid out in the brief, would be to build a standalone landing page within Enabler which hosted the photography competition. We would then create a built-in Enabler form within this landing page, which would trigger an email to the recipient when completed to confirm that their entry had been received.

The Design and Build

For such an iconic London landmark, the design for the landing page was incredibly important. Our team of designers had to ensure stunning imagery of The Shard, provided by the REM team, was being used whilst also making sure all the relevant information was clearly visible on the page for entrants.

Here is the template webpage design before our specialists started the more sophisticated build:

When translating this design into the build, our developers took the simple static images within the email and transformed them into parallax scrolling images – this allowed us to display the full images without taking up too much real estate on the webpage.

The most important factor our development team focused on was ensuring the form on the frontend of the webpage was linked properly to the form on the backend of Enabler.  The REM marketing team were utilising Enabler’s database to house and access the data from submitted entries – so making sure the forms were linked was vital.

 

Using Enabler Forms for Data Capture

Enabler forms are extremely effective for data capture, allowing you to embed forms onto your website that connect directly into your marketing database. There are two main ways you can embed Enabler forms within an external system.

The first and simplest way is iframing, which involves taking a snippet of code that looks like this:

<iframe src="https://ue.enablermail.com/realestatemanagement/frm/index.cfm?id=A480A319-7983-4C4B-993D-E97064B7C7A5" width="750" height="500"></iframe>

You then embed this code within your desired webpages, which then displays your form exactly as it appears within Enabler – including Enabler’s styling and layout. This, however, wasn’t an option for the Shard Lights web build, due to the beautifully bespoke styling that was required from the form’s design.

Instead of iframing, we used the alternative method of embedding and Enabler form, which is the ‘Form post’ option.  Now, this is a much more technical way of approaching form submissions, but it does mean you can style your Enabler form exactly as you want on the frontend of your website.

 

Now For The Technical Bit…

To make ‘Form posts’ work, you have to tell your form to post submissions to Enabler’s servers. Each individual form field will have an ID associated with it, but all these fields will be stored in the same place in Enabler ensuring you can review and pull all the required data out at once. I’m not going to go into the super technical stuff because a) I leave that to my developers and b) you don’t want to hear it!

Once someone submits a form post, the message (seen below) displays on the website.

However, we also wanted to ensure that each entrant would receive an email confirming their submission as well (for added peace of mind that we had received their entry). To this end, we also triggered an email to go out each time a form submission was received, (as shown below), letting entrants know when the competition closed, and by what date they would be notified if they had won the competition. It also encouraged a social push for the competition for maximum social media traction, using the hashtag #ShardLights.

 

So, it’s all very well collecting this data and all these (hopefully) stunning images, but where would they all be stored? Now, usually with form submissions you go into the form, run a report and it shows you a list of text entries and what those entries said – however for a photography competition, we had to develop something a little different to display images…

If you’re sitting there thinking…”hang on that looks just like Enabler?”, then you’d be absolutely right. Our development team have created a bespoke image gallery where the REM marketing team were able to view all the images submitted at once (making it easier to select a winner), while also allowing them to click into each individual picture to see all of the details of the person who submitted the photograph.

Outcome

The competition ran from Monday 4th December 2017 until Sunday 7th January 2018, and received a total number of 871 entries. Some of the photos were absolutely stunning, and to be completely honest, some of the entries were basically close up selfies of peoples faces, but all in all we have some fantastic photographers out there parading the streets of London, and I don’t envy the REM Marketing Team having to pick a winner!

We had a fantastic time doing this project, it’s always great for our email team when we can really push Enabler’s functionality in ways that people wouldn’t expect from email software, helping our clients deliver beautiful emails alongside websites that really help them achieve their marketing goals.

Engagement levels like this also go to show the impact well thought out, well designed data capture forms can have on your marketing campaigns, and goes to show the importance of combining your data capture with your email marketing campaigns.

 

If you like what you’ve seen here or want to learn more about form functionality, please drop our Enabler team an email and we can talk about your next exciting project.

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!

The Graphics Interchange Format or GIF (although some people say ‘JIF’), turned the big 3-0 this year (2017), so we thought we’d say Happy Birthday – but now we feel old!

When someone says ‘GIF’ to me, it still conjures up images of 1980’s Space Invader icons waving their little pixelated arms, but now that we’re 30 years on, the GIF has taken on a new form and is slowly taking over the world of email campaigns.

A Brief History of GIF

As simplistic as the animated GIF once when the Space Invaders were all the rage, the GIF has now developed into something that doesn’t have to look so simplistic.  GIFs today are, as Daft Punk once said, are harder, better, faster, stronger. They have stood the test of time, and are now more detailed, bettered designed and better developed.  The GIF, simply put, is the underdog image-equivalent of Rocky Balboa, that always comes out fighting and on top.

GIF hasn’t always had the ring to itself when it comes to animated imagery.  Some early GIF contenders included MNG (Multiple Image Network Graphics) and APNG (Animated Portable Network Graphics).  Both used animated image graphics based around PNG, but were knocked out in the first round by development issues that hindered their progression.
Next on the scene was Adobe Flash, who went the full 12 rounds, threatening GIF’s title as the go-to animated image. Luckily for GIF however, Adobe Flash retired early due to security flaws and restricted mobile performance.

Today, GIF is being pitted against the new kid on the block – HTML5.  This newbie is the most current markup language that utilises new animated elements like the <video> tag for the display of short, silent, looping, moving picture files – examples of which can be found on Gfycat and Imgur.

However, even with this new contender, the GIF is still fighting strong after 30 years as one of, if not the most successful animated image, thanks not only to its versatility but also its accessibility.  You can find a GIF of almost anything, and with so many sites offering up high quality, easily downloadable and shareable GIFs (our personal favourite is giphy.com by the way), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using GIFs.

So Why Use GIF In Your Emails?

Over the years, the animated GIF naturally progressed out video games and into our emails. These little video gems act as the perfect format to capture someone’s attention within the inbox, as Dell discovered when they launched their XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook™, using an animated GIF to show off it’s flip function.

In fact, an animated GIF incorporated into your emails can help increase click-through rates by up to 42%.

How Will You Use Yours?

Depending on your email content, GIFs can be utilised in a variety of ways: for fun, style or informative. Here’s some examples below:

Fun Promotions

One of the most ‘must-watch’ TV shows right now is the NETFLIX Original Series “Stranger Things”.  To promote the launch of the new season, Netflix used a creepy GIF in their email marketing timed perfectly with the show’s backdrop and released just before Halloween.

Another creepy example comes from Email Monks, who showcased a creative yet spooky CSS3 which featured an interactive GIF for their “Annabelle Creation” email, with clever animation, click response and some extra eerie added sound.

Style

Big brands like Nike are known for producing some very clean, stylish emails featuring  big images and subtle GIF animations.

Uber produced a simple but very effective looping GIF for their email marketing campaigns, featuring a great branding style combined with some simple animation.  Just goes to show that your GIFS don’t have to be hugely elaborate – sometimes clean and simple (if done right) can look stylish.

Informative

Show off their new VW Beetle, Lego used an animated GIF carousel within their email campaign, showcasing image comparisons, different viewpoints and workings of their beach bug. So remember, sometimes a simple carousel of images can be the most effective GIF, rather than something elaborately complicated.

Everyone loves a ‘How-To’ video, which is why the GIF in Harry’s Instagram email campaign is so effective, with its short run-through of their Instagram account featuring an interactive behind-the-scenes experience. Simple but informative.

So Now To The Eternal Debate…

Is GIF Pronounced With A Hard ‘G’ or Soft ‘G’? – that is the question.

Apparently the GIF developer, Steve Wilhite intended a soft G, saying it deliberately echoed the American Peanut Butter JIF. Personally I would say hard G, as the G does stand for ‘Graphics’ after all. Even the former President of the US, Barack Obama had his say on the matter:

“A GIF, I’m all on top of it. That is my official position”
Barack Obama

What Does The Future Hold For GIFs?

Brought up on the Netscape streets, the GIF fought it’s way through many a animated battle to become a legend graphic amongst its peers.  From kids to professional marketers, everyone loves using a GIF.  These little snippets of animation can capture your attention and your emotions in a way that a still JPEG just can’t – and it’s for that exact reason that email marketers love the GIF so dearly.  The GIF has adapted to its competitors to become the champion of the animated image, and just like the JIF/GIF debate, the GIF will be around for a long time to come.

So, with the festive holidays approaching, I will leave you with the full GIF movie of ELF.

Enjoy!