5 Alternative Email Calls-to-Action

An email marketing message usually has a call to action linking to some kind of landing page. But it doesn’t have to be that way if there’s a better way. In fact, it could be offering a different way to “respond” to your email marketing message might deliver better results. Below are six possible destinations your CTA can take your customers too, one tried-and-true and five outside-the-box… Send them to a landing page Don’t ditch the landing page! It’s still a viable option for your call to action destination, and I’m not suggesting otherwise. I’m only saying don’t use that as your default time and time again until you’ve tried alternative CTAs to see if another option works better. So I kept it on the list, just to be on the safe side. Ask them to call a phone number As old school as it sounds, people do still make phone calls, perhaps more so when viewing your email on a mobile phone that lends itself more to clicking on a phone number than clicking through to a website. Besides, Google claims phone calls have a higher value, stating calls to businesses are worth 3X more than clicks to websites. That’s something to consider when planning out your CTA! If you’re thinking people don’t make calls any more, the opposite is true. Consumers still like to make calls, especially when searching on their smartphones. One statistic says smartphone users are 9X more likely to place a call from the search

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Ignoring Usability When Selecting an Email Service Provider is a Giant Waste of Money

In my years in the email marketing industry, I have seen and used a lot of different ESP interfaces, and I’ve watched them evolve over time into ever more capable technologies as email marketing has grown more sophisticated, but that hasn’t necessarily meant that they’ve grown easier to use. In fact, the opposite seems to be true, that the more advanced the features, the more challenging the interface should be—or so people seem to think. They tend to think getting more advanced functionality means accepting poor usability, as a kind of trade-off. Usability matters more than you think Marketers want ESPs to be usable. In one study, nearly 80% of respondents rated “an interface that requires very little training” as a “must have” in an ESP. Yet usability is often overlooked when choosing a new email service provider–usually by those who want fancy features and authorize the purchase but don’t actually use the product. However, usability is every bit as important as the price and features when evaluating an ESP. Just what do we mean by usable? There are five characteristics that are required in order for that ESP’s platform to be usable: Effective: Whether you’re running a mom-and-pop operation or an enterprise-size one, you’re making an investment in this email technology and you want it to work, by golly! And it only works when you or your employees can do what they set out to when using the platform. Efficient: That said, you don’t want it to take forever

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Copywriting Tricks Every Email Marketer Should Know

Technology is growing so fast in our little email marketing world that it’s easy to forget what an email is really about. Beyond the segmentation, timing, deliverability and design, an email is simply a collection of words. A message from you or your company to other human beings who have put their hands up and say ‘hey, what you do might just matter to me. Tell me more about it.’ Words are the heart and soul of every email message that you send. It makes sense to spend the time to get them right. Here are some ‘tricks of the trade’ that will help you write emails that hit home and get people to take action. Get To Know Who They Really Are As an email marketing professional you probably know the demographics of your list. You know their age, where they’re from, heck maybe even what breakfast cereal they eat. But I’m not talking about data here. I’m talking about them as a 3 dimensional human. Spend some time in the real world to meet, network and connect with the type of people who are on your list. Sure, you can’t meet with all 100,000, but even just a handful will be enough. Once you have a real, human being in your mind who represents your list to you, you’ll be able to write to them with more authenticity. Marketers that want to appeal to multiple groups of real people to help them the best way they can, might

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How a Relational Database Makes Holiday Shopping Pay Off All Year

It’s Cyber Monday as I type this. As I wade through the deluge of Cyber Monday emails that has been hitting my inbox since last week, on top of all of the brouhaha about Black Friday over the Thanksgiving weekend, I am struck by the missed opportunity of so many retailers when it comes to the holiday season. The annual profitability of many retailers will be determined this past weekend, as Black Friday officially begins the holiday shopping spree and Cyber Monday gives it a digital boost. These days or even this past week will be the make it or break it determining factor for 2015 sales for a lot of businesses. But it could be the kickoff for a great 2016 instead, if marketers could only rethink this busiest time of year. A boatload of buying is going on! There’s a lot of buying going on this time of year. Even if you only consider the two busy days last week—Thanksgiving and Black Friday—you’re talking $4.45 billion in online sales. And today is expected to generate another $3 billion in sales in just one day. And the buying has just begun, with holiday sales expected to reach $885.70 billion over the two months of November and December. That’s a lot of money, a lot of sales, and a lot of data in just a short time. Here’s my thinking: Rather than look at these few weeks as a time to cram in all of the sales possible to close

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Millennials Prefer Email, but Only If You Do It Right

Sure, Millennials prefer email when asked how they want to get retail messages. But that doesn’t mean you keep doing what you’ve been doing. Millennials are a different breed, and, as such, require a different approach. Here’s how to wrap your head around the Millennial mindset, to make your email marketing targeted towards this up-and-coming crowd more relevant to them and more effective for you. Are you making this group grumpy? According to VentureBeat.com, 42% of Millennials want to get promotional messages via email. Only 5% want to get these messages via social media, and a tiny 2% via text. And this is an audience worth paying attention to. They are the next big generation of spenders. They have $2.45 trillion to spend, and they will be 75% of the workforce by 2025. They are also the most educated generation to date and almost half spend an hour per day online shopping. But don’t try to access their spending power via social networks. For this crowd born between 1981 and 1997, social means social: They’re not on Facebook and Tumblr to hear from marketers. They are there, snapping selfies and posting vines, to interact with their personal online networks. Compare how they feel about marketing via social channels to how they view work communications: They don’t want to hear from their bosses via a tweet or a SnapChat. Why would they want to hear from a retailer that way? They want email; so what? Knowing this generation prefers email for

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Think Twice About Email Automation

Email Marketing’s corner of the Internet — the corner where designers geek out over the latest media queries and marketing  gurus praise the benefits of multivariate testing — would have you believe that if you’re not automating some part of your email marketing operation (if not all of it), you’re doing it wrong. Now full disclosure, I have a track record of being a little contrarian. I think Sriracha is just okay. I never liked Mad Men. And I don’t think email automation is all it’s cracked up to be. Now before you take to my village with torches and pitchforks, hear me out. Email automation is great. There are hundreds of blog posts and case studies that detail the myriad ways that it can increase your email ROI and create a better relationship between you and your subscribers. But it’s just not for everyone, and the danger in all that pro-automation literature — and the Internet, in general — is that if you read something enough times, it becomes gospel, and when it comes to your marketing dollars and your subscriber communications, you shouldn’t let the hive mind dictate your process. “But Harry, think about the time savings that automation creates! Wouldn’t you rather be [insert sexy marketing thing] instead of crafting a boring old email?” The dirty little secret that gets swept under the rug whenever someone talks about the benefits of email automation: It takes a while before you can start “saving time” because you have to

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Why Open-Bait Doesn’t Work in Email

Subject lines for mobile inboxes must be shorter—and better—than those you’ve labored over for your desktop versions. You not only have less space on that tiny screen: You have less attention span too, as people hurriedly triage their emails on their phones. These subject lines have to shine. There’s no way around it. And how do they shine? They’re more compelling, more relevant, more concise…more honest. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to subject lines, but more so on mobile where not only attention spans are shorter, but tolerance levels too. In addition to honesty, you want your mobile email subject lines to be short and sweet, while compelling people to open your emails. You also want your subject line to be tied to the email content/offer, to make a promise that the body of the email delivers on. Open-bait, like Clickbait, is aimed at generating revenue at the expense of relevancy or accuracy and relying on sensationalism to attract opens. “But won’t a tricky subject line get me that open so I can sell?” asks a marketer somewhere. It may get the open, but not the love. Why open-bait is to be avoided There’s a difference between a creative subject line written to compel someone to open your email, and open bait which is trickery—and mean. Sure, you’ll get some opens. But you know what else you’ll get? Pissed off people, annoyed that you just wasted their time. Damage to your brand now that you’ve shown

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Are You Annoying or Accommodating? 4 Ways Marketers Make Enemies at the Inbox

Spam. Will I ever see the end of it? No matter the filters I set up, I still get all kinds of annoying email I have zero interest in. It’s not just the obvious spam that is annoying, however. If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t among the spammers filling my junk folder with offers of pharmaceuticals, land in Costa Rica, or the riches of a Nigerian prince. Chances are you’re a legitimate marketer. But that doesn’t automatically mean you’re not annoying. Marketers fall into the annoying trap when they are focused on what the company is selling and not what the consumer is wanting. They forget to take a customer-centric approach, and nowhere is that more obvious than the inbox. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Marketers can make the transition from annoying to accommodating with ease if they want to. Only consider these examples: Annoying: Sending far too many emails Have you ever signed up to receive emails from a business or brand and then been inundated with emails on a daily basis unexpectedly? I suspect we all have. Accommodating: An easy way to make sure you’re accommodating is by monitoring your opens and adjusting accordingly. If opens are low or trending down, you might be sending too often. Annoying: Ignoring inactivity Major brands can be good at ignoring the fact that I’m ignoring their emails. Although I purchased something two years ago from one brand, I continue to get several emails a week from

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