How Customizing Your ESP Will Make It More Powerful

Your email service provider works hard for you, enabling your email sends and reporting, and making it possible for you to manage a large amount of data and maybe even do some deep email analysis. Yet it is possible to get even more out of that ESP by customizing it. What can you gain by customizing your ESP? More of what you’re already striving for: more data, more relevance, more results, more ROI. What you gain by customizing your ESP Whether you think your ESP is a good fit or a great fit, you can make it an even better email service provider for your business. Without customization, you’re working with a generic platform that—although it gets the job done—fails to enable the kind of targeted and relevant marketing you’d prefer to be doing. When you customize your ESP according to your business needs and objectives, you can collect—and implement—the kind of data that will enable you to do email analysis to discover your various audience segments, then deliver automated and customized (and therefore relevant) messaging to those various audiences. A customized email service provider platform can enable you to: Integrate your ESP with other systems being used within your organization for better business intelligence. Accurately segment your audiences based on significant data points. Efficiently customize the content delivered to those segments. Keep your data up-to-date. Keep your content up-to-date (and therefore relevant). Use automated and triggered email to send emails at the right time. Access detailed reports for the

Continue reading » Evaluates Bridge Marketing

It’s been over a full year since we at first reviewed Bridge Marketing. Our last review discussed our near perfect results using their verification system. Since then, Bridge has evolved and expanded into database targeting. Bridge has also evolved in market share space as well. Adknowledge announced earlier this year that it had chosen Bridge Marketing as its email hygiene and verification processing partner. Bill Intrater, Adknowledge VP, Strategic Services, went on record quoting, “With Bridge delivering best in class data performance and faster response times, our decision was simple! We chose Bridge Marketing. In addition to quality data performance and speed, Bridge also figured out how to deliver their services efficiently and cost effectively in a manner that further enhanced our own existing infrastructure. We appreciate the time and resource savings that Bridge delivers with its cloud platform through a single unified API.” Given all the recent hoopla, we knew it was time to give their verification process another try. They’ve branded it “VerifyME”, which, according to Bridge, is “the industry leading email hygiene & verification tool for confirming the validity, deliverability, and risk profile of email addresses in real time on a single unified secure cloud platform.” VerifyMe has been tested by independent third parties and confirmed as best in its class for pinpointing non-deliverable email addresses across all topline domains. Bridge returns a clear hygiene & verification response code on all emails processed to identify all records deemed too risky for mailing (i.e. high complaints, chronic

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Email Autoresponders are the New Black

I came across an article on The Magill Report a couple of weeks ago that walked through Epsilon’s Q2 2013 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks report. The report brought up an interesting point about email autoresponders, indicating that adoption of autoresponders was up 30.6% since Q2 2012. But the real stat that floored me was that, even with that upward trend, autoresponders, or triggered messages, accounted for just 3.5% of outbound marketing emails in Q2 2013. How is it that low? Don’t get me wrong, as an email marketing professional whose primary concerns are inbox deliverability, domain reputation, and ESP/ISP relations, email autoresponders always prove to be a thorn in my side. But that doesn’t mean autoresponders aren’t highly effective email marketing tools when used responsibly — less “set-it-and-forget-it” and more “automated-and-observed.” Birthday emails and post-sign-up rewards messages go very far to foster online engagement and brand loyalty while triggered reengagement campaigns give companies the benefit latching back onto wayside-bound subscribers before it’s too late. If you’re playing the digital marketing game correctly, you probably have a wealth of data about your email subscribers at your fingertips, waiting to be manipulated by a scheduled autoresponder series designed to encourage a purchase, elicit a donation, or whatever it is you crazy email marketers do on the Internet these days. Point is, if you’ve got the data, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using an email autoresponder series to mine that data. Here are a few helpful tips to get you

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A Giant (Finally) Adopts Mobile Friendly Emails

For the longest time, ESPN frustrated me as an online marketer. Let me count the ways: They never seemed to sync up with their subscriber preference settings Their mobile apps don’t understand what “no push notifications” means Their website is a hot mess, news delivery for the attention-deficient There seems to be a Twitter account for every employee and they all tweet too much I could go on, but then I wouldn’t have time or word count to something ESPN finally decided to get right. Brace yourselves — ESPN has gone mobile-friendly. It might seem trivial, but anyone who uses ESPN for fantasy sports — some 6.2 million users for football alone — surely has seen ESPN’s weekly newsletters in all their Web 1.0 glory.     Despite its solid text-to-image ratio and generally clustered layout, one can’t help notice that, at a hefty 700+ pixels and seemingly infinite number of links stacked one on top of the other, the email is far from mobile-friendly. And what’s up with the lead-burying? Seems to me your weekly newsletter content should be above all of the “click-me, click-me” links and columns. That’s always bugged me about this template — it’s like five thumb scrolls before you get to the content that’s worth reading. And don’t even get me started on the 300×300 ESPN Insider ad. Don’t get me wrong; there was nothing wrong with that template a few years ago when it was introduced. But it felt dated last summer, a full

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Understanding Email Subscriber Psychology and Click Nuances

Designing an email tailored for your target audience requires relevant content, immaculate calls to action, appropriate use of design elements and catchy subject line. This post will delve into understanding email marketing from consumer viewpoints along with an attempt to identify the top point of sales for an email or newsletter. Email marketing is one of the most sought channels of communication for marketers today. And why not? Given the wide reach and frequency, cost effectiveness and ability to communicate directly with the clients and prospects, Email Marketing is trending high in 2013 marketing calendars. Marketers are battling out deliverability challenges, design and content encumbrances, list building and hygiene management difficulties and a lot more for the successful execution of an email campaign. What most marketers however do not consider is, designing an email after studying the viewer’s psychology. So, what exactly is Email Subscriber Psychology and how does that affect their decision making? Every email that is sent to a subscriber is not actually sent to a subscriber but to a virtual consumer who consumes email content, promotions and a lot more, every minute even when he is on the move. Some consumers crave information-based content, some for promotional content while some others for new products and company information. Designing an email after studying this psychology is vital. Sending promotional emails to an audience who loves information will be a criminal offense, penalizing ROI and conversions. Let’s take a deep dive into these 3 types of email psychology identified

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Welcome Emails I Like: Wrike

I’ll admit it. Sometimes I sign up for email programs just to see if companies have welcome emails. And, if they do, how their welcome emails shape up. Are they useful? Or are they superfluous? Sometimes, a welcome email proves to be such a useful resource that recipients can repeatedly reference it as they engage with your product or service. In the case of Wrike, a project management tool I’ve been testing out, that’s exactly how I view their simple yet effective (for me) welcome message. Here’s how they brought me in after I signed up: Let’s dissect this a bit: The subject line: Though you can’t see it, it says “Welcome to Wrike: important links”. Not earth-shatteringly awesome, but straight to the point. Like any project management tool should be. Easy access to account information: As someone who has a million memberships and just as many passwords, it’s nice to have at least one part of the puzzle displayed (although I did block it out). It’s also nice to be given links directly to the most useful portions of their platform for the work I intend to do. Nicely done. Additional resources: Nice way to learn more about how to use the tool, with direct links from the email. I personally found the video tutorials to be quite useful, and would most likely reference this email again when needed. Understanding the audience: The “Short on Time? Watch a recorded webinar,” section is a really nice touch. Understanding that someone

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Responsive Design: Why You Need to Adopt it Now

While chatting with some – ahem – “experienced” colleagues at a recent digital marketing conference, we found ourselves reminiscing of the simpler times before social media, mobile marketing, real time bidding and, for that matter, anything digital. Sure it was simpler, I agreed, but so were consumers. Digital made consumers a whole lot smarter and much more demanding. It also shortened their attention spans to roughly goldfish levels – an average of 5-8 seconds. No pressure, marketers! “It’s all about relevant and timely content.” We hear this all the time at conferences, in articles, ads and blog posts. And, yes, good content should be a priority for any organization. But what about the way that content is packaged, delivered and viewed? No matter how wonderful your content is, consumers aren’t going to read it if it’s not optimized for their screen. They don’t have to, because someone else is already delivering relevant and timely content in an elegant package that fits their needs. That someone else should be you. With available technologies, marketers have no excuse for providing poor mobile experiences for their audience no matter the screen. The practice of adapting to any screen, known as “responsive design,” is slowly gaining momentum. While innovators and early adopters have already applied this design technique, it’s time for the majority to join in. If you think you still have plenty of time, take a look at the numbers. According to Google, “The fastest path to mobile customers is through a mobile-friendly

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Preaching Email Best Practices? Keep it Real.

My wife and I recently launched a small business, a dance studio. Thanks to an ideal location, we’ve had to do very little in the way of “traditional advertising,” so much of our marketing has been focused on social media, word of mouth, and well-timed events. And, of course, email marketing. More than anything, the past month of email marketing has been one giant lesson in practicing what I preached as a self-appointed and kinda-sorta-qualified “email expert.” Let me tell you — it’s not that easy. Take for instance our Grand Opening. We had more than 150 attendees throughout the day, and at a couple of points, there were lines of people waiting to sign in, providing us with their all their information. Should we have asked their explicit permission to capture their email address? Even put a little checkbox beside the line on paper? Of course. But when you’re trying to progress a line and get people in the door, permission takes a backseat to efficiency. Should we have sent all these “visitors” a confirmation email before we sent them a follow-up asking them to register for classes? That definitely would have been the wise move, from a email best practices and deliverability perspective. But at 36% open rate and 13% CTR (with only 1 bounce!) tells me that maybe we were okay shirking the straight-and-narrow just this once. And how about list management? It’s so easy for us to advise clients about connecting their customer database to their

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What Sears Does Right (and Wrong).

So I bought an extra battery for my Craftsman drill from Sears… here’s what they did right: They got my email address. It wasn’t hard, the guy said I’d get some sort of coupon sent to me, and he asked nice enough, so why not? This is super important, whoever is doing the checkout training, keep it up! Getting this information might be hard to train employees to do but it’s definitely worth it. We recommend offering incentives for every validated email address that’s entered, it’s a great way to get the data you need and a nice pat on the pack for employees. If collection rates are lower than desired, you can offer to email receipts to customers (Apple does this), people love to lose receipts and being able to return something despite that is a great plus for them, as well as a great incentive to get that email address. They promptly emailed me relevant stuff. I bought a very specific battery that only works with certain power tools, they somehow knew this and sent me some very interesting and actually related products. Stuff I didn’t even know existed and worked with my new purchase. Kudos to you Sears for such great targeting. Where they lost me Sadly, what they did right stopped there. What came after the above (great) email was both funny and sad. I mentioned I bought a battery, right? Well, apparently the segmentation robots at Sears thought it’d be a great idea to only ever tell me about

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