Enabler provide best practice advice within B2B email marketing, from a multi award-winning email marketing agency, offering top tip advice.

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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.

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 

Email marketing has undergone some fairly dramatic changes in the past 10 years, both from a strategic and technical standpoint.  Gone are the days of sending mass emails to your entire database which include generic product pushes, which are about as inspirational as the ‘one size fits all’ label on a piece of clothing.  One of the driving forces behind this change is that it  is now commonly accepted by marketeers that segmentation and personalisation of email campaigns are the ways to drive higher ROI, brand awareness and loyalty.

So how do we make sure every email we send is tailored to the personal needs of our customers?  We believe there are three things that have to be in place for this to be achieved:

  • Knowledge about your customers – Without understanding your customers, how do you expect to give them relevant content?  How do you determine what is relevant to them?

  • Data – How do you implement the right email strategy without the correct data in place?

  • A fantastic ESP (Email Service Provider) – that enables you to implement and successfully deliver a decent targeting strategy. (See Enabler’s functionality to see how it could do for you)

 

 

Knowledge About Your Customers

Your customer knowledge can come from your existing databases looking at the data that’s been gathered from previous customer activity (i.e. through forms, surveys or events), or it could be gathered from the customer’s email behaviour (opens, clicks, unsubscribes). However, even if you are starting from scratch, there are ways that you can build up a picture of your customers.

When it comes to using your customer knowledge to create effective email campaigns, we would highly recommend a personas led approach,  where you create profiles describing a particular group of your target audience based on their shared interests.  Grouping together these valuable pieces of customer information, such as challenges, goals, needs, pains and responsibilities, will help you create a ‘character profile’ which you can use to tailor your marketing so that you offer a personalised, valuable service. This information goes beyond normal demographic data and provides real insight into the customer’s life. If you want to enhance your understanding of your customers, check out one of Pancentric Digital’s Design Thinking workshops.

 

Data

Having the data that enables you to achieve your customer personalisation goals is imperative. For tips on how to acquire data click here. If you want more information on how best to retain your current customers try this one. However you decide to get your data in place, we’re going to assume you have done a great job of it, and skip ahead to the part everyone is waiting for….’How do I turn my data into relevant, personalised emails for my customers?’.

 

 

Dynamic Content

Dynamic or ‘Conditional’ Content allows you to use your customer data to create one email that displays different, unique content to each individual email recipient depending on their customer data. As the marketeer, you set pre-defined rules based on your customer data, so the customer only sees the email content that matches their data. Without this in place, you would have to create multiple emails with every possible content variation of based on your customer profile data (which is messy and time consuming) or just bulk email everyone with one message (which isn’t personalised and far less effective).

Sounds a bit abstract, right? So let’s look at a live example coming to us from the insurance industry. Full transparency here, the example we’re going to show you is an Enabler client, but they are using dynamic content in exactly the right way, so are the perfect example of how you should use dynamic content.  The company in question are Petplan, and we will take you through some examples of how they have used conditional dynamic  content successfully in their automated quote and buy email campaigns.

Below you will see an example of one of PetPlan’s emails with elements of the conditional code sitting within the template. From first glance, it looks like a fairly messy, basic template, however I’m going to show you just how clever this template really is.

– Email Template with Dynamic Conditional Content in Place –

Everywhere you see the phrase {conditional:xxx}, is a section of the email that will change based on the customer it is being sent to. This means, as soon as this email gets uploaded into Enabler, all those sections will look completely different and, most importantly, 100% personalised for each individual customer. Conditional elements can comprise of text copy, images, or a combination of the two.

Secondly, wherever you see {recipient_x_number}, that part of the email will also change to include a personal detail about the customer. This could be anything from their policy ID number to their name (or in PetPlan’s case, the pet’s name. )

Now let’s take a look at what that email would look like for a customer. (For the purposes of this, we have set created a fake customer within the Petplan system).

– Email Template with Customer Data Controlling the Dynamic Content –

As you can see, this looks like a totally different email. You will notice that images and copy have sprouted in all areas of the email, causing the look and feel of the email to change.

Let’s walk through the different elements which change based on the dynamic conditional content set up within the backend system of Enabler:

  • Images – the co-branding logo, pet image, roundel, and plan details all change based on customer information.

  • Alt text – the copy sitting behind each of those images will change based on the image itself, providing a fallback option if the customer has their images set to not display.

  • Lists – the ticks and bullet points in the two lower sections all change based on customer information.

  • Copy – there are too many instances of these to point each one out, but everything from the pets name, down to whether a sentence says ‘need’ or ‘needs’ changes based on customer information.

  • Terms and conditions – depending on the co-branding on the email, an extra paragraph will feature in the terms and conditions of the email. This will not be visible if co-branding is not in place.

  • Cover section – this whole section changes depending on which plan the customer has chosen. For this example, I have not chosen a plan, so I’m seeing all the options. However, let’s assume I had chosen the Covered For Life® 12k option, it would look more like this:

The best part about conditional content within Enabler is that you have a fallback option. This means if for some reason not all the data is held about the customer, (for example they are not sure which plan the customer has selected as in the example above) they will see a default view. This can be carefully chosen depending on what next step we want customer to take.

 

Benefits of Using Dynamic Content

Aside from the massive time saving benefits from an email deploying perspective, this style of email set-up will also save time in the future. Imagine having set up one template per customer variation. Not only would you be wasting time creating and testing all those emails, but when it came to updating them, you would also waste a lot of time. Even if you had one line of copy to change in each email, you may have to do it upwards of thirty times. In these conditional templates, you make the change once, and can then generate mass tests from the one template. Similarly, if you need to add something new to the emails, you are doing it once, rather than across a large number of templates.

Petplan are really at the forefront of creating dynamic templates, both from a strategic and build standpoint that put their customers first. From an agency standpoint, this is something we love to see, and the templates are also great fun (for an email nerd anyway) to put together.

However you choose to do your conditional content, make sure your data is in place, you have a great ESP solution in place, and you fully understand your customers before starting to build.

If you are interested in following in Petplan’s footsteps and bringing your email campaigns into the future but your current ESP doesn’t provide the necessary functionality, why not switch to Enabler.

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.

“If you were a web font, what web font would you be?”

I was once asked a very similar question in a job interview, but that time it involved biscuits.

“If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?”  It’s personal preference, and there is a wide choice of biscuits out there…and it’s the same with fonts, with designers and developers enjoying an immensely varied selection of standard ‘Web Safe Fonts’ or the more daring ‘Web Fonts’.

(And for those still wondering about my choice – it’s the Bourbon biscuit, always the Bourbon.)

 

Safety in letters

So what are the differences between Web Safe Fonts and Web Fonts?

Web Safe Fonts

These are the standard available system fonts found on everyone’s operating system. So it is ‘safe’ to assume it will render correctly across email clients and platforms.

The most common Web Safe Fonts include:

  • Arial/Arial Black

  • Helvetica

  • Times/Times New Roman

  • Courier/Courier New

  • Palatino

  • Georgia

  • Garamond

  • Bookman

  • Comic Sans

  • Trebuchet

  • Impact

  • Verdana

Out of these Helvetica and Arial are the standard fonts of choice, whereas others are frowned upon… like Comic Sans.

Comic Sans was released with Windows 95, it had a bright start in life, and this was possibly it’s downfall. “Hmm that Times New Roman header is just too serious, what can I use that’s more fun and quirky… Comic Sans, it even sounds fun.” The font was overused and wasn’t a good font to start with. The character weight too heavy and poor kerning (the space between characters) made it a designers arch enemy.

 

Web Fonts

These are licensed fonts, hosted and accessible either by purchase and download, or linked/imported via a host site like Google Fonts. Although these web fonts provide you with a much wider choice of fonts, they don’t yet all render 100% across all devices, so you should use them wisely.

At present, a small range of email clients accept web fonts, including:

  • Android (default mail, not Gmail app)

  • AOL Mail

  • Apple Mail

  • iOS Mail

  • Outlook 2000

  • Outlook.com app

  • Thunderbird

However this small number does cover the majority of the top 10 email clients being used today.

Google Fonts started up 7 years ago and provides fonts for free, but if none of the 800+ Font Families float your boat, you can always purchase fonts from numerous web font services, including:

Obviously hosting your own fonts is safer than relying upon a third party server. On the off chance that Google gets bored of providing free fonts and decides to stop the whole project, at least your “Gotham” won’t become “Georgia”.

Ideally web fonts should be an email designer/developer’s preference, the varied choice and potential impact of a unique font could help boost opens and drive click through rates, and without sounding like a supermarket advert, every little helps.

 

Web Safe or Not Web Safe?  That Is The Font Question…

The ability for your fonts to render properly in someone’s inbox can actually have a big impact on your click through rates, and not always in a positive way, so your choice between web safe fonts and web fonts is sometimes more than just a style choice.

For instance, you might think that ‘Lato’ font looks great in your new email newsletter, and when you see the ridiculously high click through rates of  70-80% you think you’re campaign has been a roaring successful. But when you look more closely, you discover that the majority of those clicks were people clicking a ‘download font’ link prompted by their device or browser because it doesn’t have or support the ‘Lato’ font.  This ‘download font’ link has now completely skewed all your click through rates and reporting stats.

So, think carefully before you choose a web font instead of a web safe one.

Now that you’ve made your font choice, let’s get them coded into your email.

 

Adding Web Safe Fonts To Your Emails

Looking at web safe fonts first, these would sit in the html as inline styles, like so:
(for this instance, we’ve chosen ‘Georgia’ as our web safe font)

<td align=”left” style=”font-family: Georgia, Arial, Times, serif; font-size:20px; line-height:30px; color:#000000;”>Extra, extra, read all about it</td>

Notice that the font-family has others listed after your initial or main font ‘Georgia’, this means that if for some reason Georgia doesn’t render in your email, ‘Arial’ will be next, then ‘Times’ and so on and so on – these are what is known as fallback fonts.

Outlook 2007/10/13 have Times New Roman as their default fallback font. Even if you set your own fallback fonts within your code, Outlook will ignore them.  However, if you want to avoid Times New Roman, this can be fixed with some code in the header:

<!–[if mso]>
<style type=”text/css”>
body, table, td {font-family: Georgia, Arial, sans-serif, Helvetica !important;}
</style>
<![endif]–>

 

Adding Web Fonts

We can add web fonts in a number of ways, but all are added to the head stylesheet of the email. As an example let’s use the popular Google ‘Roboto’ font.(https://fonts.google.com/specimen/Roboto)

After you have selected the “Roboto” font you will be given a Link or @import option.

<link href=”https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto” rel=”stylesheet”>

Or

@import url(‘https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto’);

Then to call the font you use font-family as normal:

<td align=”left” style=”font-family: ‘Roboto’, sans-serif; font-size:20px; line-height:30px; color:#000000;”>Extra, extra, read all about it</td>

The difference between Link or @import is the loading. @import waits until the html code is loaded, causing a delay to display, and a possible jump between the fallback font and the web font. Link is the opposite, it will load inline first as the code is read from top to bottom. Depending on the font used it could cause a delay for the whole email to display.

Link also offers the option of preferred or alternative style sheets.

The last font option is @font-face, this is possibly the most precise web font method.
It allows you to pick the file format from .woff, .woff2, .ttf, .eot & .svg. The former .woff format being a email developer’s choice, due to more email support.

@font-face can be dropped into the head style sheet just like @import and Link, and looks like this:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Roboto’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Roboto’), local(‘Roboto-Regular’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/roboto/v16/DDBbt_SKtg0EqyMEnMOuTX-_kf6ByYO6CLYdB4HQE-Y.woff) format(‘woff’); unicode-range: U+0460-052F, U+20B4, U+2DE0-2DFF, U+A640-A69F;}

If you are obtaining the font from a provider like Google Fonts you will need to copy the url in the provided link and paste it into Internet Explorer or Safari to view the @font-face.

<link href=”https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto” rel=”stylesheet”>

 

There’s always an Alternative

Don’t forget your images Alt text, the web fonts have limited platform rendering, but there is no harm in adding some style. We are not talking anything fancy like a Velour jumpsuit and house slippers here, after all this is just the text that loads when your email image doesn’t.

That Alt text can be styled with font-family, font-size, font-colour, text-decoration etc. try and match the image style, and get your email looking good even before the images are loaded.

<img src=“images/grandpa-style.jpg” width=”200″ height=”40″ alt=“Grandpa Style” style=“font-size:16px; font-weight: bold; font-family: ‘Roboto’, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; color:#000000;”/>

 

Put the kettle on

So break open the packet of Bourbon biscuits, put the kettle on for a brew and go crazy with the multitude of font families at your fingertips.

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.