Your Email Address Matters – 3 Important Email Issues

Email Marketing RulesI get a ton of email, on a daily basis.  So much so, that I make a very quick decision about whether I am going to do something “now”, “later” or “never” (hat-tip to Ellen Williams for this trifecta of email action).  I’m willing to bet that you, too, get tons of email.  And, you are making the same quick decisions about what to do with it.

But, what drives those decisions?

It is actually several things that cause someone to decide what action to take on an email they’ve received.  Most people look at the subject line, the email address it is coming from and what company it is from.

The subject line

One of the most important aspects of any email message is the subject line.  Very often, it is only the first 5-6 words of the subject line that we even see, since over 68% of us view our email on our mobile devices.

In addition, we as people, are always looking to see what the email will do for us.  How will it make my life better/easier?  If you want people to open your email, you need to tell us, quickly, how your email will benefit us.

Sender E-Mail Address

All too often, I go through my email Spam folder to see business there, specifically because they were sent from an address that ends in @aol.com, @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, etc.  These are not email addresses meant for business.  In fact, at a recent presentation I was conducting, an attendee told the audience that all email from @aol immediately gets deleted, no matter who it is.

In addition, as a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert and Certified Solutions Provider, we have been told that email from these providers will be recorded as a bounce, based upon changes they have made (See the Constant Contact blog for more information)

Company Name

Finally, as an email recipient, we check to see what company the email is from (@socialribbit.com, for example).  Are you a company we do business with?  Did I give you permission to email me?  If the answer is yes, I am more likely to open and read (and act on) your email then if I’ve never heard of you or have never done business with you.  This is why it is so important to make sure that you are using an email list that people have voluntarily subscribed to, and that you haven’t purchased a list.  In fact, the CAN-SPAM (and CASL for our Canadian friends) prohibits you from sending email to people that haven’t “opted in” to your list.

So, when preparing your email, whether it be weekly or monthly, give these three items your full attention, so that you can increase the likelihood of your email getting opened, read and acted upon.

Any questions?  We’d be happy to answer them!

Marketing is Trust

People do business with people they know, like, and trust.

I’ve been in Florida for about 7 weeks, and as I become accustomed to life here in the South, I’ve noticed a trend.  Companies here are marketing like it is 1980.  I’ve written about this before (Don’t Market Like its 2006), but I’ve never seen (or heard) anything like this before.  While listening to a local radio station, almost every commercial break has an ad for an attorney, where they are sometimes singing (or rapping), and telling people to call them when they are in an accident.

Really?  Does anyone still think that those types of ads are going to afford me the kind of trust you would need for me to do business with you?  There have been some extreme versions of these ads on YouTube, but every ad here in South Florida has a jingle.

Who chooses their attorney based on who has the best jingle?  Or YouTube ad? No one.  People do business with people they know, like, and trust.

In addition, it can take up to 10 “touches” for a person to trust you enough to do business with you.  A jingle certainly doesn’t count as a touch.  It doesn’t help me.  It doesn’t engender trust.  I don’t need my personal injury attorney to sing.  I need him to do his job.  How do the two relate?

They don’t.

If you want people to trust you, you need to help them.  You need to offer them something that will make their work or life better.  Even this blog, for example, will help build trust.  So, how can you build trust with your audience?

Here are 3 things that you can do, right now, to help build trust:

  1.  Start a newsletter.

Sending a monthly newsletter to your audience, offering informative articles, allows you to touch them on a frequent basis.  But, don’t sell.  People don’t want to be sold to.  Help.  This is the age of the helping economy.

  1.  Post interesting and helpful articles to social media.

Posting to Facebook, at least 3 times per week, helpful articles and information to your audience allows them to see your company and associate it with helpful information.  On Twitter, try and post and re-tweet at least 6 times per day.  Pinterest?  Post and re-pin other people’s stuff.

  1.  Blog

Yes, writing a blog is one of the best ways to build trust (and it’s great for search engine optimization).  Content is the way to build trust.  Help your audience.  Kraft attains a higher ROI on their content than their ads (Advertising Age, Kraft Says it Gets Four Times Better ROI from Content Than Ads).


Over time, these things will help you build trust. Why? Because they help customers get to know you.

Change is Scary

Change is GoodChange is a scary thing.  It causes anxiety and sometimes stops us in our tracks.  That fear prevents us from moving forward.

But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change.  It just means it may be hard.

Over this past summer, my family and I made a huge change.  We moved.  Not just cities, but states.  It is one of the biggest changes we’ve ever made.  Venturing out on our own.  No family to jump in to help.  New schools for the kids, new neighbors, new stores.  No familiar faces.  Major change.

And, after 5 weeks of being in this new place, with these new schools and people, I can certainly tell you that change is scary.  It causes us to re-think everything we do.  I no longer have my regular Starbucks, where everyone knew my name.  I have to make my new one mine, and that will take time.  It won’t happen overnight.

The same goes for our marketing.  Time and again, companies tell me that they are doing something “because that is the way it’s always been done,” regardless of whether it is working or not.

Change is a scary thing.  Changing the way we market is just as scary.  What if people expect our coupon to be in the weekly paper and it no longer is.  Will they stop coming?  Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t change.

One year ago, I started working with a clothing company, whose main form of contact with their clients were email “newsletters” announcing their latest sales.  There was no schedule, they happened whenever they thought about it.  The sales didn’t even have a schedule.  My first order of business with them was to stop their email flyers completely.  Cold turkey.  Instead, they were to send out an actual newsletter, with stories from their clients and an insight into the people that worked there.  They weren’t allowed to mention products or prices at all.  It was all about the client.  They invited them to share to Pinterest, to reach out on Facebook and to engage on Twitter.

When we started they were looking at year over year sales that were declining at an alarming rate.  That first email, the one where no products were mentioned and no discounts offered, brought them thousands of dollars in sales.  In one week.

They connected.  They changed.

One month later, they repeated the process.  Great newsletter.  Great content.  No sale.  The process continued,  and, sales skyrocketed.  To the point that they finished the year substantially ahead of the year before.

Change is scary.  But, many times, it can lead to a new and better way of doing things.  A new and better way of living.

What do you need to change to move your company to the next level?  

Do QR Codes Really Kill Kittens?

Do QR codes really kill kittens?  The other day I received my new copy of QR Codes Kill Kittens, by Scott Stratten, and within 1 hour, I had my answer.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to share it, just yet.

What I will tell you is this is a perfect book for what not to do, in marketing, in social and in life.  This book isn’t all about the QR code, and how to use it.  Stratten is just using it as a jumping off point to explain his theory that, any marketing when used incorrectly, will hurt more than help your brand.  The improper use of QR codes is just one such problem.

Stratten organizes his book into four sections:Do QR Codes Kill Kittens?

1. They Don’t Work

2. Nobody Likes Them

3. They’re Selfish

4. Your Time is Better Spent Elsewhere

and makes his point through more examples than any brand would care to admit.  In fact, there are about 180 different examples of how brands have used these new digital tools to do more harm than good.

For one, he has numerous examples of companies spending money on marketing, whether by QR code or in design, that sends people to websites that are only viewable on a desktop, or that have no mobile version available.  If people are scanning QR codes from a mobile device, it should lead to a mobile website.

Stratten takes issue with Facebook events that invite everyone and their mother (literally), yet are only accessible to a select few, due to location.  And, he specifically calls out Google, since they base their user numbers on how many people use their Google account in the year.  If you use YouTube, Gmail or Google search, and you are logged in to Google, it counts as a use of GooglePlus.

Finally, he takes issue with businesses that are only present and engaging with their customers after they have left.  He has a great example of an Allstate agent’s reply to a lost customer, after trying to get the agent on the phone, to no avail.

In the end, do QR codes really kill kittens?  No, thankfully, they do not.  But, as was pointed out to me recently by Chris Westfall, the National Elevator Pitch Champion, every time a business does something right, an angel gets its wings.

Should you read it?  I’d say, yes.  It’s worth it for no other reason than to see how you are doing better than some of the big brands.

Have you seen big brands (or small ones) that are incorrectly using these new digital tools?  I’d love to hear about them (as would Scott Stratten).

E-Mail Marketing – The First Social Network

email marketingE-mail has been around since before the dawn of the internet.  That’s right, in the early 1970’s, the Federal Government was sending messages through the United States Department of Defense network, which handled over 30 million messages per month.

As we began to move more onto the information super-highway, services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America On-Line began to proliferate, making it incredibly easy for everyone to have an e-mail address.  In fact, at the height of AOL’s dominance, they had over 30 million members worldwide (they only serve about 2.9 million subscribers, as of October 2012).  In contrast, Facebook has over 1 billion members, as of September 2012.

What made e-mail so “social” was the ease at which your messages could be forwarded to your entire address book.  If you wanted to share with friends and family, all you had to do was hit the “forward” button, and they were all able to participate in the discussion.

Fast forward to today, and most businesses are marketing through e-mail, but that doesn’t mean that they are “doing it right.”  Just using this “social network” isn’t enough.  We need to ensure that our e-mail marketing is accomplishing its goals of increased business, increased lead generation, and increased market share.  The big question, then, is what are some best practices in e-mail marketing?

Best Practices

1.  Write compelling Subject Lines

Keep it short and simple and incorporate the benefit of opening the e-mail.

2. Set your objective and then choose the appropriate frequency

Are you trying to promote, inform, or relate to your audience?

3. Call your audience to action

You are sending the e-mail for a reason.  Make sure they know it.

4. Make sure they recognize the “From” address

They may know your company name, but not yours.  Make sure the email comes from someone they “know.”

5. Keep your main message and call to action “above the fold”

This is “news speak” for making sure that the important information is seen without scrolling the message.

6. Be mindful of mobile devices

Statistics say that 38% of email is opened on a mobile device and only 33% is opened on a desktop, so make sure the fonts and images will look good on your recipients mobile devices.

7.  Make sure to use alt-text for your logo and pictures

This is text that describes the pictures and logos should images be turned-off on your web browser, smart phone or e-mail client.  That way your recipient knows what should be in the image’s place.

Can-Spam

In addition to the tips above, always make sure that you are abiding by the “Can-Spam Act”, which requires the following:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information;
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines;
  • Tell recipients where you are located;
  • Honor opt-out requests;
  • There needs to be a relationship between the sender and receiver.

If you follow these best practices and requirements, then your e-mail marketing is on the right track to continuing the social nature of e-mail marketing.

What subject lines to you find work the best? The worst?  Do you feel that you get too much e-mail?  Sound off in the comments below.

Resources:

Wikipedia – Email

Wikipedia – AOL

Constant Contact – The Value of E-Mail Marketing Video

9 Email Marketing Best Practices to generate More Leads

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

Constant Contact

AWeber

MailChimp

Mobile email usage statistics