Enabler provide best practice advice around utilising the right email tools within your email software for your B2B and B2C marketing communications.

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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.

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

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.

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

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

  2. “How do I check that?”

  3. “What do I do if it’s not?”

 

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

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

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

  2. How to I check it’s really them?

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

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

 

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

Step 1:

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

 

Step 2:

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

 

Step 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Drag and Drop does exactly what it says on the tin.  It enables users to move a particular element from one location to another by simply selecting the item, dragging, then dropping it into it’s new location. Most Internet users have probably used it in some capacity by now, possibly without even realising it!

For example when:

  • Uploading images or albums on social media platforms

  • Placing files in relevant folders on your PC

  • Placing products in a basket when online shopping

  • Rearranging tasks in project management programmes

 

If any of those sound familiar, then you have already partaken in a spot of drag and drop fun.

Over the years, this handy feature has successfully dragged its way into email marketing, and with it dropped the ability to create sophisticated email campaigns with ease. Rather than having to rely on programming languages, marketeers (and your regular Joe) can now build email templates in just a few minutes by dragging structure and content blocks into place to form your email layout. Depending on your campaign, there are a multitude of clever content components that can be dragged into your structure, including text, imagery, video, social media buttons, CTA buttons and dividers, helping you build slick-looking, interactive emails without needing to know a single line of code.

 

Due to its simplicity, this method of building is used on a daily basis by businesses around the globe. No longer does one need to be an expert in HTML or CSS, instead drag and drop templates gives users the freedom and convenience of going off and preparing an email campaign without necessarily needing anyone else’s help.

One of the main advantages of using drag and drop templates is that the user can instantly see what’s been created, and amend the content and design layout straightaway if required. That means building a template using drag and drop functionality is much quicker and (almost) hassle free.

Another advantage is that the drag and drop template can be prepared in a relatively short period of time in comparison to any HTML template. In order to prepare such a template, all the user has to do is think about how they would like their template to look, and start dragging and dropping relevant building blocks into place.  Not sure about the way you’ve laid it out?  No worries!  Simply drag the content around until you get a result you’re happy with. Once all the blocks are in place, the user simply has to save the design and voila, you’re ready to send!

If you prefer coding elements of your emails, never fear as some drag and drop systems, including Enabler’s email marketing software, give you the option of adding in HTML content blocks, allowing you to build more complex components of your template with a developer. Once the code is dropped into the HTML container within your template, it will seamlessly work in conjunction with the rest of the drag and drop template.

There are, however some limitations to Drag and Drop templates. One of them is the fact that there are a limited number of modules to choose from and so the template layout is limited by the software provider you choose. For that reason, drag and drop templates may be more useful for a small businesses without a with limited coding resources rather than corporations that deploy complex email campaigns.

Another limitation of the feature is that even though, in theory, drag and drop templates are mobile responsive, the software will either stack the content modules or just shrink the template down when displaying on mobile devices. When stacking content modules, the software usually places the modules on top of one another, taking the email content in a sequence from left to right and stacking it to enable the recipient to easily view all the content on their mobile device.  However, this results in giving you little or no control over how the email stacks the content on your mobile device, meaning some content that might not be suitable for viewing on mobile still gets stacked, and you’re unable to swap content around within the stack itself. For more information on the different ways you can make your templates mobile responsive, take a look here.

Working with a designer has the potential to both help your work with drag and drop templates, however they can be a hinder if your designer is not fully briefed on the expectations and limitations of the drag and drop software in use. For example, in the Enabler team, we make sure our designers are fully versed in the functionality of our drag and drop system, but this won’t be the case everywhere, so the best thing to do is to check with the designer before starting work to find out how familiar they are with the drag and drop system you’re using.

Let’s face it, drag and drop templates won’t work for everyone; and that’s fine. These templates are best applied when used as an alternative way to build your emails, for instance when you don’t have the luxury of an in-house designer or experience in HTML or CSS. If you need to prepare and deploy emails with good functionality, ease of use and quick turnaround, then drag and drop is a great solution for you, especially if you are a small businesses with limited resources and have only just started to explore the world of email.

Most of the time, drag and drop is the easiest way to build templates, so do get in touch with our Enabler team for a quick chat on 020 7099 6370 to find out how our email experts and designers can help your build more complex, mobile responsive templates and campaign management for your next email campaign.

Happy dragging and dropping!

We are delighted to announce that our Enabler team at Pancentric Digital won the RAR Digital Award for Email Marketing 2017.

The RAR (Recommended Agency Register) is The Drum’s industry renowned service that helps businesses and brands choose the best agencies within leading digital services, based on the highest-rated client recommendations.

The RAR Awards are unique within the industry in that winning can only be achieved through the outstanding high regard of clients and their testimonials.

We are absolutely thrilled that our Enabler clients rated our email services, software and support so highly, enabling us to win this prestigious award.  We continually work closely with our clients to ensure we are always delivering the best possible service.  Whether its email software support, template design or delivering targeted end-to-end email campaign management, our Enabler team at Pancentric do more than just meet the basic needs of the client’s brief – we always aim to go above and beyond to ensure you get the best results from your email marketing.

To our existing clients, we say thank you.

To any prospective clients, we look forward to working with you soon.

Don’t just take our word for it…

Below are some of our client testimonials that helped us win this fantastic award.

 

“Having worked with Pancentric for over 4 years, we have gradually increased our usage of their agency, and couldn’t be happier with both their products and their service.

From the technical knowledge of the specialist teams, to the dedicated account manager who looks after all our needs, to the excellent hospitality we receive with every visit from entering to leaving the building.

Pancentric challenge us as a business, but go above and beyond to ensure our goals are met – even when we don’t fully know what they are or should be. Highly recommend this agency.”

 

 

“Pancentric have been our email marketing partner for several years and I would highly recommend them to anyone who expects great service, a responsive and professional team with great depth of knowledge and expertise.”

 

 

“Pancentric have been our email marketing platform provider for several years and am pleased to say I’m delighted with their service. The service, platform and tech have grown with us. They represent great value for money.”

 

“Working with Pancentric is a joy.  Not only does their constant professionalism translate in our day to day impeccable execution of campaigns but their passion also enriches our emails from a creative standpoint.  I would recommend them to any person who is looking for professional, creative, passionate colleagues.”