The Essentials of Email Marketing Automation

email marketing automation graphic205 billion. That’s the number of emails sent every day around the world.

Some days it seems like I receive a billion or so myself. If you’re actively using email for work and to receive information from companies that interest you, your inbox is probably pretty full, too.

Two of the largest complaints consumers have about email are that they receive too many emails (44%) and the emails aren’t relevant to them (37%). Even when an email has relevance for a consumer, it’s easy for it to get lost in a crowded inbox.

To market your business effectively, your emails have to offer timely information that resonates with the recipient. They must be compelling enough to be opened over the dozens of other emails in an inbox. So, how can you make email marketing work for you, connecting with clients on a more personal level?

There’s a lot of talk about marketing automation these days, and for good reason…because it works. At its most basic, email marketing automation allows you to create and schedule emails to be sent out when they are relevant. This saves you time, makes your communication strategy more efficient, and generates more leads or sales for your business.

How Does Automation Work?

Effective automation requires tracking and analyzing data so that your communications reach customers at the right time with the right message. Marketing automation can track prospective customers from their initial visit to your website all the way to post-purchase and beyond. When you track the behavior of leads and customers, it makes it easier to see which of your marketing strategies is most effective, what the typical path from search to sale looks like, and what triggers customers to convert.

You can set up your automation to contact potential customers throughout the sales process. For example, if they’ve spent time searching for a product or service but haven’t yet purchased, automation software could trigger an email that will remind them of their interest and highlight the benefits of what you’re offering. Once they’ve made a purchase, you could send information about how to make the best use of the product. Down the road, your automation could suggest similar products that may interest your customer or upgrades to their current memberships or subscriptions. One name for this kind of triggered marketing campaign is a drip campaign.  Personalized emails generate 6 times more revenue than non-personalized emails, and this can have real benefits for your business.

The core of the effectiveness lies in the trigger. You can craft emails that are specific to what the lead is doing and what you hope them to do in the future. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” book. Each action a lead takes brings them further down their own path, and that path may be slightly different than everyone else’s.

Segment for Success

In addition to sending emails on a trigger system, you can segment your email lists based on demographic factors like location, age, or sales history. This will help to increase sales and generate leads, as your audience will be receiving more relevant content. You can also use automation to ask your contact list what their content preferences are, to further target them with the right content.

A key point to remember is that automation is aimed at engagement. With automation, you are contacting prospects and customers when it is most relevant to them, with the goal of them completing an action so they will further engage with your company.

Types of Automated Emails

If you want to send automated emails but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some examples:

Welcome

A welcome email is one of the most basic forms of email automation. You may even have come to expect such an email once you’ve subscribed to an e-newsletter or opened an account. It’s a great first touch, and you can use it to express gratitude or include a special offer. Craft the email to encourage the recipient to take some further, immediate action. Include a “Shop Now” button, or a link to a compelling piece of content on your site.

Enhance the Purchase

While a simple “thanks for your purchase” on its own doesn’t hold much engagement value, you can make this type of email into something more. A key purpose of content marketing is to offer customers information and value. In a thank you email, you can include links to tutorials, guides, blog posts etc., which will help customers to get the most out of their purchase, drive traffic to your site, and position you as an authority in your field.

Feedback

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Another effective way to step up a thank you email is to ask customers for feedback. Encourage recipients to answer one simple question about purchase experience, satisfaction, or what they hope to get from the purchase. An email like this will get recipients to engage and provide you with valuable info.

Complete a Sale

The internet is a prolific resource for shopping, but there is also a lot to distract us. I can think of many times I’ve shopped around or filled a web cart, but not completed a purchase. You probably have, too. Whatever your business, there will be visitors who come to your website and consider a purchase, but don’t follow through. These are very qualified leads, who may need just a little push to commit to a sale. Automation software can easily track these visitors and abandoned carts, and send emails to the individuals to bring them back to your site and continue on.

Renewals & Expirations

Retaining current customers is much easier than searching for new ones, and automation will make this process easier. Automation software keeps track of when renewal payments are required and subscriptions are due to expire. It will then send your customers an automatic reminder to make a payment.

Birthdays

People love special attention on their birthdays, and you can use this occasion to offer something extra to your customers. The software will track birthdays and send communications accordingly, giving a fun and personal touch to your emails.

Appointment Reminders

If your business schedules recurring appointments on a regular basis, email automation can remind customers when they are due for their next appointment. You won’t have to call each patient or customer individually, and you’ll be encouraging your current customer base to return to your business.

Events

Automation works great for event reminders. Once someone signs up to attend an event you’re hosting, you can periodically send them emails with date reminders, additional info they’ll want to know, and other events they may be interested in based on the one they’ve registered for.

Tips for Email Marketing Automation

Write Enticing Subject Lines

It’s as simple as this: if you don’t have a compelling subject line, your email will not be opened. Take the time to hit just the right note.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Automated emails are specific to the customer, and you need to be specific in what you’re asking them to do. Have one clear goal for each automated email. And make sure it is obvious what response you are looking for from the recipient.

Write Compelling & Concise Copy

Connect with your readers using persuasive and engaging copy, and keep it short. Most readers will scan for relevant info, so make use of bullets and bold text to get your message across.

Measure, Measure, Measure

cartoon magnifying glass analyzing email data
Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Like any marketing strategy, automation can and should be tested. You can split test your email message content to see what is more effective. And it’s essential to analyze your data (like open and response rates). Marketing automation is meant to operate on its own. But it still requires adjustments on your end to ensure that your content is performing the way you want it to and is aligned with the marketing goals you have for your business.

Let Subscribers Manage Preferences

The worst thing you can do is offend or annoy your audience. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see from you and how often they want to see it. Having them engage less is better than an unsubscribe. But, make sure every email includes a visible opt-out link.

Start Simple

There are many different ways to implement marketing automation, and many opportunities you can make use of. But if you’re just starting out, don’t try to do it all at once; rather, focus on only one or two automation campaigns in a comprehensive fashion.

Don’t Forget Your Purpose

Always remember you are looking to engage and nurture relationships, and ensure your emails are consistently doing so.

According to The Direct Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, which is huge! While this is a great reason to use marketing automation, we recognize that it can be hard to get things started. Paw Print & Mail is fully equipped to help you develop an automated and multi-channel marketing strategy. Contact us to get started on your marketing campaign.

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5 Ways Marketing Automation Delivers Qualified Leads

Generate Qualified Leads with Marketing Automation

woman holding card reading wanted: more leads

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to marketing your business? According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report, 63% of marketers say their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Even if your company is doing a robust business now, it’s important to think ahead. Always have strategies in mind for how you will generate future leads and sales.

But not all leads or lead generation strategies are created equal. It may seem like the best way to increase business for your company is to send your message through the most channels. That way, it will be seen by the largest number of people possible. However, this method will spread your efforts too thin. It will likely end up costing you money rather than increasing sales.

The secret is to direct your digital and direct mail marketing so that you are specifically targeting fewer, more qualified leads. When you are able to more personally connect with potential customers that you know are or have been interested in your services (based on things like past purchase history, or tracking visitor activity on your website), you enhance the effectiveness of your communications.

Targeting qualified leads in a personal and timely manner is essential. But it can be hard to keep up a consistent strategy when you’re working on a case-by-case basis. Marketing automation allows you to generate qualified leads in an efficient and effective manner.

What is Marketing Automation?

At its most basic, marketing automation is the use of a software platform that replaces repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. It can be used across channels, including direct mail, email, and social media, to help to provide information to and maintain contact with leads and customers for a variety of marketing purposes.

When someone completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list or searching your website, they will trigger the automation system, which will automatically send a message to them. Think of the last email newsletter you signed up for, or the last web purchase you made. You probably got a welcome or thank you email pretty fast, right? That was thanks to marketing automation. You can learn more about the specifics of marketing automation in this post.

Since you aren’t personally sending out these kinds of communications yourself, you create greater efficiency and have more time to focus on high-gain activities. Another major benefit is that you will be generating qualified leads to enhance your sales process.

Why Use Marketing Automation for Lead Generation?

cartoon man looking through scope
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Say you’re in the apparel business, selling inexpensive, fun clothing designed for teenage girls and young women. You likely have a list of current and past customers, and maybe an email list. You want to send out a mailing advertising a sale. You’ll provide an exclusive coupon or sales offer to get customers in the door.

If your goal is to increase brand awareness and find new leads, you need to expand your mailing list. But how will you decide who to mail to? If you have the ability to mail to every household within a 5-mile radius of your store, it’s easier to do that than to manually sort through a gigantic mailing list looking for leads.

But it doesn’t make sense to send a campaign targeted at young women to every person in town. It isn’t relevant to many people and will be disregarded. Marketing automation software will solve this problem for you. It can easily sort through a mailing list, to only send your mailing to female recipients. You may also have enough information to further pare it down by age. And if you’re selling products for multiple demographics, it’s easy to segment mailing lists. You can then send two selective, targeted campaigns rather than one large generic one.

And what’s the purpose of targeting a more specific audience? Qualified leads increase sales.

Benefits of Marketing Automation for Qualified Lead Generation

1) Automate Your Marketing on Schedule

Time is truly of the essence in marketing. When a lead is looking for information or considering making a purchase, you must connect with them in a timely manner to retain their interest. You need to be able to contact your leads with information when it is most relevant to them. This is hard to do if you are personally sending out every communication.

With automation, you can schedule out communications so that when a lead completes a specific action, such as signing up to your email list or creating an account, they will automatically be sent an email. Even with a scheduled system, you can make your communications personal.  Leads won’t feel they are being contacted by a robot.

2) Know Your Prospects

Before you begin any kind of marketing campaign, you need to know your prospects. It’s helpful for you to dig deep and understand the demographics, needs, and wants of your prospective customers. That way, you can make your marketing message most effective at connecting and driving action.

However, this is just a first step. Once you know your message, you need specific individuals to communicate with.  Marketing automation brings it all together by helping you to identify these individuals. The software provides you with comprehensive information about prospects. Targeting becomes much easier when you know your prospect’s location, purchase history, and when they last purchased from you.

3) Segment Communications for Relevance

target leads with marketing automation
Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

Because automation can give you such in-depth information about leads, you can specifically identify where leads are in the sales process. Your leads will be at all different stages, so sending them all the same message doesn’t make sense.

When you send more personalized and relevant information, you increase the chance that your lead will respond. Automation software makes it easy to segment communications so that smaller groups of leads are receiving content tailored to them. You can easily craft a more compelling and specific message or call to action for each of the segmented groups you’re reaching out to.

More comprehensive automation software helps you generate leads through website visitors, traffic from pay-per-click advertising, email responses, and any other inbound marketing that you’re using. This will help increase your number of qualified leads while providing you with specific information, such as what pages they visited, to help personalize your messages to them. You’ll always be finding new leads who were interested specifically in a product or service provided by your company.

4) Deepen Relationships with Leads and Customers

When you have business coming in, you need to focus on fulfilling those commitments and working with those specific customers. But once a sale has been fulfilled for a customer, they don’t disappear from the sales cycle. And they shouldn’t vanish from your radar. Your best customers are going to be those that frequent your business. You need to nurture your customer base just as you would any other group of leads.

Marketing automation takes some of the stress out of this process by identifying when past leads and customers should be contacted again, and offering them content to enhance their experience with you. For instance, once a lead has made a purchase, automation can be used to send them information on how to get the most from the product they purchased. Down the road, automation can suggest similar products they may be interested in. This helps to deepen the customer’s relationship with you, especially as personalization is the preferred way for leads to receive communications from brands.

5) Save Money While Targeting Better Leads

Automation processes make sales more efficient. Rather than spending money across channels on a wide reaching but low target message, you’re spending less and sending out fewer communications. Because these marketing messages are highly targeted and sent to a specific audience, you are reaching out to leads that are better qualified to make a purchase, and are sure to see results.

At Paw Print & Mail, our marketing automation services are capable of effectively using cross-channel touches, like email and direct mail, together in harmony to put your message in front of your customers and prospects in an orchestrated fashion. To learn more about the specifics of marketing automation and how it can generate leads for your company or organization, contact Paw Print today.

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The Power of One Drop

drip campaign graphic water droplet coming out of pipeThink of water dripping out of a faucet. Each droplet seems minuscule, like it would never be enough to make a difference. But if your faucet dripped all day, you’d have quite a bucket full of water. In the natural world, a trickle of water can take a wall of rock and turn it into a canyon that stretches for miles. Never underestimate the power of a single drop of water. When many drops come together, they can make quite a difference.

Drip Drip Drip…

But how do drops of water relate to marketing? Drip campaigns are a marketing strategy you can use to connect with leads. You may have heard other terms like “autoresponder” or “marketing automation.” A drip campaign is essentially another name for this kind of marketing plan. It can be used across marketing channels, including direct mail and telephone marketing, and is very popular when used as an email approach. You can combine content from different channels into your drip campaign, connecting them in ways that are most appropriate for your audience.

In a drip campaign, you can connect with leads on a schedule, and follow them throughout their relationship with you. Each piece of content they receive, each drip, will add to their experience and knowledge of your company, helping to build them into full-fledged customers.

Right as Rain

A big benefit of this kind of campaign is relevance. When someone subscribes to your email list or qualifies for your direct mail campaign, they could be anywhere in the sales process. They may have already invested in your company’s products or services, be in the process of exploring your options, or are still deciding between your business and a few others. Because of this, the content you send them, while informative on its own, may not be relevant to where they are on the sales timeline. You want to stay in touch with leads throughout their relationship with you. But sending them a stream of content that doesn’t fit with their interests may drive some leads away.

Drip campaigns are intended to provide your audience with content tailored to the specific actions they are performing in regards to your company. You can track this activity and send emails to potential or existing customers with appropriate content at an appropriate time. For example, if you can tell someone has been exploring a product or an upgrade page on your website, you could use the drip campaign to send them an email outlining the benefits of the product or upgrade you are offering.

Implementing a drip campaign can have significant benefits for your business. Targeted emails were found to bring in 18 times more revenue and have 119 percent higher click rates than more generally broadcast emails. And when you nurture leads with relevant emails, they make 47 percent larger purchases than non-targeted leads.

When a lead is on the fence about making a purchase, offering them more specific information or offers related to the product or service will give them more knowledge going into the purchase and make them more likely to buy. After a purchase is made, your drip campaign should continue. You want to keep your customers coming back, after all! Based on your knowledge of the customer’s purchase, you can offer insightful content about how to make the best use of the product or service as well as similar offers or promotions they may be interested in. Drip campaigns are also a great way to reengage customers who haven’t purchased from you or used your service in a while, to confirm reservations or renewals, or to transition from a trial to premium membership. You can use them for almost anything!

Liquid Asset

Drip campaigns can help you find stronger leads and bring in more revenue. If you’re worried about the extra work this kind of strategy would require within a marketing plan already stressed for time, never fear! Another advantage of a drip campaign is that it works great when automated. First you develop the kind of content you want leads to receive, like a well-written welcome email. Then you can set it up so that every time someone subscribes to your email newsletter, they automatically get a letter of welcome (which nearly 75 percent of people have come to expect).

And it doesn’t have to end there. You can automate your system so that a few days after the welcome email, the lead receives a series of emails encouraging them to utilize resources on your website or explore new product features.

Over time, as you build profiles on leads and customers, you can make your drips even more targeted, increasing the campaign’s success. Automation will remove the need for you to personally send each drip to a lead or customer. But you’ll still want to make sure you’re segmenting and targeting your audience groups, determining a schedule for contact, and evaluating overall campaign success.

There are a number of software programs that offer marketing automation services for your drip campaign, or you can do some legwork on your own if you have the time to do so. Check out this helpful infographic for more details about running a drip campaign:

Drip_Campaign_2_Paw_Print

Turn On the Faucet

Interested in learning more about or getting assistance for a drip campaign for your business or organization? Paw Print & Mail can help you with that. Contact us for a free one-hour marketing discussion and consultation.

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What’s All the Buzz About Data?

illustration of data maps and charts
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We live in a world where technology is advancing faster than ever. Making use of technology has allowed information to spread and be gathered on a previously unseen level. Though info has long been collected for many reasons and across many industries, “data” is now a buzzword that has taken on new meaning. We worry about protecting data and recovering from leaks, analyzing data and paying to access it. Data has become a cornerstone of economics. 40 percent of companies around the world are using big data analytics in their marketing strategy. We create data with every web search, every phone call and every purchase.

But what does data mean for business owners? And how can all this information be used to make a business more successful?

Where Does Data Come From?

According to Falon Fatemi, CEO of data intelligence company Node, “without data intelligence to prescribe the right prospects, creatives and number crunchers are stuck in separate worlds.” However, bringing data into the equation can create “a powerful revenue machine.”

Data has strong potential to strengthen your current marketing strategy. Having this information to work from can be an integral part of finding your target audience and increasing ROI.

One way to help target your marketing campaigns is to directly reach out to your audience. Allowing those you’ve already built a relationship with to determine their preferences for the type and amount of content they receive from you can be a way to strengthen the relationship and ensure their continued interest in your company. This data can be used to target specific content to more specific audiences.

It is also possible to develop a database based on information you already have about your clientele. Keeping track of what services or products your consumers are utilizing can be valuable data. It allows you to more deeply consider who may be interested in what, as well as how your services could be altered and improved to generate more interest.

Making use of data for direct mail and email campaigns can lead to a higher response rate. By using it, you are focusing on an important term: relevance. Data can tell you which recipients will likely be more interested in your particular campaign, based on how relevant it is to their situation. By streamlining your campaigns, sending to fewer, more receptive members of your audience, you can save money by not sending to uninterested clients. And, you can increase response rate and potential results, as you market to those who most need or want your services.

Business is also about generating leads. There are external sources from which you can gain access to data. You can pay certain companies for access to lists containing information about consumers and businesses that can be used to find new prospects and areas into which to expand. All of these techniques allow you to segment your marketing content into variables like interest level, gender, and geographic location. You can even separate businesses by size, annual revenue, and trade.

Data has power when it comes to marketing, and it has power under the law, too. Issues related to privacy go hand in hand with data. It’s important to respect both the laws surrounding how you can use data and the promises you make to your customers about how their information will be used. Do keep in mind that, according to a BlueVenn study, 81 percent of marketers only collect strictly necessary data. But 61 percent of consumers would be willing to give up some of their privacy in exchange for better products and services.

How Else Can You Use Data?

There is an obvious benefit to using data to increase campaign response rates and better connect with your audience. But it can also have benefits when it comes to the internal workings of your company. It is possible to collect data about almost anything to do with your business, and this is a valuable tool.

However, it is just as important to know how that information can be used as it is to collect it. Depending on your industry, different information will be gathered about different things. But according to a study by BARC, the Business Application Research Center,  there are four main benefits of data analysis. These include being able to make better strategic decisions, improving control over operation processes, understanding customers better, and reducing costs.

Once you know what the data is telling you, it is important to consider it in light of how the information will improve your business, and what you are going to do with it. You may want to use software that can better help you to visualize the data you are collecting and determine how internal data can be used with external, client-centered data to strengthen your company as a whole.

The BlueVenn report found that 64 percent of marketers in the US and the UK believed they should collect customer data, but shouldn’t analyze it on a daily basis. 51 percent of marketers felt data analysis took too much time away from the more creative aspects of marketing. Just as it is important to find a balance between how much personal information you divulge and make use of, it is important to find the right balance between analyzing your data and implementing the knowledge you have gained from your analysis. If you’re looking to make data analysis a larger part of your business, consider hiring an expert or training your staff to make the most of the information available to you.

Data collection and analysis can be implemented across any industry and any size company for a variety of purposes. It will continue to add value to your company as tools and processes become more streamlined.

Practicing List Hygiene to Better Reach Your Audience

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If you’re interested in the best possible return on investment in your direct marketing efforts, start by cleaning up your contact lists.

Keeping Contacts Connected

In the marketing realm, there have never been more ways to connect with your audience, and tested methods like direct mail and email campaigns are still holding their own. An integral part of these campaigns are your recipients. Sending direct mail and marketing emails can bring a lot of attention to your organization or business, but this will only work if you are reaching and connecting with your intended audience. If you aren’t taking the time to maintain your contact lists, the success of your campaigns could be in jeopardy.

To make your message as effective as it can be, you’ll want to practice list hygiene. It’s impossible to ensure that every email or piece of mail you send out will reach the person you intend. However, practicing list hygiene is an effective way to improve delivery rates so that you are reaching as much of your audience as possible.

If you’re using a multi-channel marketing approach, you’ll have both a direct mail list and an email list to keep updated. Both can benefit positively from list hygiene.

Direct Mail List Maintenance

Direct mail campaigns are an effective marketing tool, even in our increasingly digital age. In addition to giving recipients a feeling of personal connection with your business, direct mail pieces are opened by 70 to 80 percent of recipients, even when they consider it to be junk mail. That represents a big opportunity for your business to connect with potential customers.

In order to get the highest possible response from your direct mail campaign, you want to ensure that the names and addresses you have on file are current. Annually, 1.3 billion articles of mail fail to reach the intended recipient, and every piece that is returned to you costs an average of $3 to reprocess and resend. That can really add up if your list isn’t up to date.

Incorporating list hygiene practices can be a way for your business to save money. Improving deliverability of your mail reduces the number of returned mail pieces, which you must either pay to resend once you have the correct address information, or put down as lost revenue if the information cannot be found. If you’re environmentally minded, sending mail that you know will be delivered means saving resources by printing fewer mail pieces and having fewer return to you unopened.

Here at Paw Print & Mail, two practices we use to ensure the success of our direct mail services are the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) and NCOA (National Change of Address).

CASS Certification is a software which standardizes addresses in your database so that everything is spelled and formatted correctly. It will also remove any addresses that lack information or are likely to have an issue being delivered. According to PitneyBowes, there are errors that could impact deliverability on 23.5 percent of mail, so you’ll want to thoroughly check the addresses on your list.

NCOA connects your mailing list with a USPS database, so that your list will have the most current address information. Since 40 million Americans will change their address every year, keeping up to date with a program like NCOA is essential to ensure what you send will be delivered to your intended recipient.

 Email List Maintenance

Though there are no added postage and processing fees as with returned direct mail, there is always a risk that your marketing emails will bounce back. Like postal addresses, email addresses change as new accounts are created and old addresses abandoned.

A bounce can happen for a number of reasons. Hard bounces are due to the recipient blocking your emails, deleting their email address, or sending to a domain or address that no longer exists. Or it could be a soft bounce, caused by issues like a full inbox or trouble with the size of your message. If you’re getting a bounce, you should delete those emails from your list. And if you’re finding a group of subscribers that never open or interact with your emails, consider taking them off the list too. Not only is including them ineffective, but it can have a negative impact on your email metrics, such as open and delivery rates.

You can also make sure you are mailing to an actual person. Generic company or organization emails are not as likely to interact with your content as email addresses that belong to a specific individual.

But, wait! Before you take out a large chunk of your email list, there are a few things you can do to try to keep these contacts in your audience.

  • Send out emails specifically to re-engage inactive members of your audience. Such an email could contain options to keep receiving emails from you, to change the type of emails they prefer to receive, or to unsubscribe entirely. Even if many choose to unsubscribe, it’s worth taking the time to respectfully reach out in this way, as there is always a chance recipients want to stay aligned with your brand.
  • Give your mailing list a second chance to opt-in to your emails. You could include a special offer in the email to pique interest. Having recipients confirm that their email is correct and they are interested will strengthen your contact list.
  • Try segmenting your lists into sections that will receive different content based on their interests and affiliations. One way to do this is by sending a survey to subscribers, asking what content they are interested in receiving from you. Sending people information relevant to what they want to see will increase the likelihood of your emails being read and interacted with.

The unsubscribe button is an important part of any email campaign. While you hope everyone will want to receive what you’re sending them, this is rarely the case. If you include the option to unsubscribe, it’s important to follow through. Emails can help build positive associations with your brand, but sending emails to a user that has unsubscribed can be detrimental if people have negative things to say about your practices.

You can use a third-party service like those for direct mail to help make email list maintenance easier. Such systems can automatically filter out addresses that are incorrect or always bounce, monitor your metrics, and schedule different kinds of campaigns.

The success of list maintenance lies in being proactive with your strategies, finding ways to make your list more efficient and effective, rather than being reactive, struggling to revamp your campaigns with a stale and outdated contact list. Consistently following good list hygiene practices will increase the effectiveness of your campaigns and make connecting with your audience more fruitful.

The #1 Factor in Email Marketing Success

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It’s Monday morning, and you’ve just opened your email inbox. A slew of new messages awaits you, from organizations you follow, stores you have shopped at and accounts you have signed up for.

Chances are, you’ve got a lot to read and little time to do so. With 83 percent of B2B marketers using email in their content marketing strategy, that amounts to a lot of content reaching each consumer. Because of this, 70 percent of email users feel they receive too many emails.

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Despite this, email is an important part of marketing strategy, and is particularly effective when used as part of a multi-channel approach, incorporating your message through direct mail, social media and other outlets.  A PEW research study found that 92 percent of adults who are online use email, most on a daily basis.

But when faced with a full inbox, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. How do you decide what merits reading?

On the flip side, if you are using email as part of your organization’s marketing campaign, how can you best ensure your content will be read?

The answer to both of these questions is the same: write a compelling subject line.

A strong subject line is critical, because it can make the difference between your email being opened and read or ignored. When you’ve put effort into something, you want to share it with your audience. And, you want your message to come across as intended. Even if you work hard to craft the marketing emails you send, neglecting to add a captivating subject line can mean your efforts were for naught.

What Makes a Strong Subject Line?

Length

You’re limited to one line to make your pitch. It’s essential you make it well. Generally, lines with 30 to 50 characters are ideal. The prevalence of email access through mobile devices means that your message will first be seen on a mobile device 40 percent of the time. Smaller screens mean less room for your subject line to be read in its entirety. Also, 50 characters or less results in a 12 percent higher open rate and a 75 percent higher click-through rate.

Personality

Many emails, including spam, come from a generic company email. For consumers, this is impersonal and results in a lower open rate. An email from [company name] suggests a robot. Connecting your audience with a real person by sending your emails from an actual person’s account is important, as 68 percent of Americans decide to open an email based on who it is from.

Including each recipient’s name or location in the subject line adds another layer of personalization that can increase the open rate. Using the words “you” and “your” can also draw readers in and make the subject line more compelling.

Keywords

It should be easy to understand what your email is about. You can use words that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity. If it is the “last chance” the recipient will have to donate or purchase, they are more likely to act immediately than if they do not feel they have limited time. There is a 22 percent higher open rate for subject lines that incorporate urgency and exclusivity. The use of action verbs at the beginning of the line brings that sense of urgency, asking recipients to envision themselves answering your call to act.

Incentive

Your subject line is the incentive to open the email. You want recipients to find value in what you are offering. Convince them that your email will in some way be an improvement in their lives or their business.

Trust

Never use language in the subject line that will mislead your audience. Email can be a way to build consumer confidence in your brand. Any kind of false promises will only lead recipients to unsubscribe and retain a negative vibe from your organization. And always check for typos!

Email Marketing Style Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to use humor, as long as it is inoffensive and will be understood by your audience.
  • Never use all caps, or excessive exclamation points—nothing points to spam quite like those.
  • Using numbers shows the specific benefits your email is offering. Try “increase donor retention by 50 percent” versus “how to increase donor retention.”
  • Phrasing your line in the form of a question leads recipients to want to answer that question, and open the email to see how they compare.

A last tip is to test your subject lines. Depending on what your company or organization has to offer, some strategies will be more effective than others. Tracking the response rates of your different subject lines will reveal which methods work best for reaching your audience.

Email can be incorporated into any marketing strategy, and has proven its effectiveness. 47 percent of recipients will open an email based solely on the subject. A strong subject line is an essential part of ensuring your email marketing is communicating your message.

The Effectiveness of Multi-Channel Marketing

Mail_vs_Email_Paw_Print_And_MailSince the emergence of email in the mid-1990’s, much has been expressed comparing traditional direct mail to email marketing. Dubbed snail mail, the ensuing years have seen a decline in direct mail and a corresponding explosion of the use of email.

This is no wonder given the ease of deploying email. With a couple of extra clicks, you can increase your reach from only one recipient to hundreds or even thousands. It may seem like email campaigns are the most efficient method of reaching your audience—wide ranging and instantaneous.

The use of email marketing is compelling and both popular and effective in its own right. But it suffers a bit from its own success. And while direct mail is not as prevalent as it was for decades, its inherent differences and qualities compared to email find it making a comeback.

Direct Mail vs. Email: The Numbers

Would it surprise you to learn the average lifespan of an email is only two seconds? According to Proactive, a UK marketing firm, while digital communications have a lifetime of mere seconds, the average lifespan of a direct mail piece is 17 days.

And, Proactive found that 75 percent of people could recall a brand directly after receiving a piece of direct mail, while only 44 percent of people could after viewing a digital ad. Consider, too, that prospects are 10 to 20 percent more likely to convert to a brand or business due to a direct mail offer than an offer by email.

Additional research from the Direct Marketing Association shows the value of including direct mail in your campaigns. They found…

  • Direct mail is acted upon immediately by 79 percent of consumers
  • Direct mail generates a 4.4 percent response rate
  • And it has a 34 percent rate of attracting new customers

Versus:

  • Email is acted upon immediately by 45 percent of consumers
  • Email generates a .12 percent response rate
  • And, email has a 24 percent rate of attracting new customers

Yet, email marketing continues to grow in use and numbers. There are many factors in its favor: ease of use, low cost, and expansive reach potential. All very compelling for sure. But all this meteoric success comes with a price: 70 percent of those surveyed by Proactive felt they received too many emails. And, 57 percent of abandoned email addresses are due to users receiving email overload on those accounts. You don’t want a potential customer to remember you as the company that sent them too many emails.

As for email’s reputation of being a low cost medium, surprisingly, email was found to be more expensive per lead than direct mail ($55.24 vs $51.40).  However, the return on investment, or ROI, for email is higher for email marketing. For every $1 spent in an email campaign, Proactive found a return of $38 to the company, with a $7 ROI per $1 spent for direct mail.

This highlights the different ways that email and direct mail can work. Direct mail has a lower ROI, but it is less expensive to acquire a new customer. Proactive’s survey takers used the words “important,” “formal,” and “personal” to describe their feelings about direct mail.

Keeping it Personal with Multi-Channel Marketing

“Personal” is a word you should take note of. Making a personal connection with a potential customer can set your strategy apart from the crowd. And if it’s your first interaction with them, that connection can make a big difference between the customer deciding whether to build a relationship with you or pass you by.

How do you think the survey-takers described email? The above statistics show that direct mail has many positive aspects. If you’ve come to view email from an either/or perspective, you might think “impersonal” or “unimportant.”

But, some of the most common words associated with email were: “informative,” “interesting,” and “smart.”

What should you take away from this? It’s “smart” to keep email as a part of your marketing strategy. Use direct mail to connect with new customers and email to reinforce that connection and keep the interest in your company alive.

Direct mail and email both have an important role to play.

Customers in the survey agreed there is a need for both forms of communication. Items such as brochures/catalogs, welcome packs and loyalty rewards are preferred in mail form. General news and updates, confirmation messages and reminder messages are best received by email.

Because customers react differently to different forms of communication, it’s important to use direct mail and email in conjunction with each other. Of those surveyed by Proactive, 51 percent preferred the combination of mail and email, and 65 percent want to be able to explore a physical and an electronic source before making a commitment or purchase.

And when a business uses direct mail and email to market their products or services, customers will spend 25 percent more than a marketing strategy that uses just one method or the other.

Proactive found that 56 percent of respondents felt “valued” by direct mail, while only 40 percent felt valued from an email. “Valued” is a world like “personal” that you should keep in mind when developing your multi-channel marketing strategy. A personal connection can make the customer feel valued, and in turn, your company will be valued by the customer.

Despite statistics that show direct mail is effectively outperforming email in many areas, email can be successful in gaining awareness of your brand and making your other marketing strategies more effective. Both direct mail and email can and should be considered parts of an effective multi-channel marketing mix.

If you want to make direct mail a more compelling part of your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail so we can help you to maximize your potential.

Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

Direct-Mail-is-PersonalI met with one of my nonprofit clients today for our annual first quarter review of the fundraising production services we performed for this organization in 2016, and also to get an idea of the results of their fundraising efforts.

The Executive Director announced with much pride and a big smile that 2016 was a very successful year for their fundraising efforts; generously exceeding the goal they set at the beginning of the year! Music to my ears!

What’s the secret sauce?

When asked what they attributed to their success, her response was being in front of their constituency on a regular basis. For the past four years, in addition to the various digital marketing channels they employ, this organization committed to printing and mailing 3-4 newsletter-style publications per year to tell their stories and engage with their clients and donors.

Slow and steady wins the race

Similarly, two of my longest running for-profit clients in Paw Prints’ 26 years so far, continue to print and mail their monthly newsletters without fail; for the past 20+ years and running.

Why do these and other organizations and businesses elect to print and mail a newsletter instead of relying solely on email? Because direct mail works for their business model and client base.

While good for some, is a direct mail newsletter right for your business or organization? Like many marketing strategies, the answer is it depends. It depends on who your ideal client/donor is.

Describe your target audience?

  • What are the demographics of your target audience? Criteria such as: age, income, education, occupation, lifestyle, client buying/donor giving history
  • What is your product or service? Small or low-priced consumer item? Large ticket item? Discretionary income item?
  • What is the lifetime value of a client?
  • Do you sell a value-added product or service, or a commodity?
  • Is the product space you’re in subject to constant and/or rapid change? Or subject to nuanced consistency?
  • What percentage of your revenue is derived from what percentage of your client base?

Looking at these criteria:

  • If you derive 80% of your revenue from 20% of your clients/donors
  • If you sell a high-value product or service
  • If the lifetime value of acquiring and retaining a client is relatively high
  • If your offering or organizational mission is somehow unique, technical, progressive, personalized, and subject to changes in the marketplace
  • If 80% of your target audience fits within a content-engaged demographic profile
  • If your target audience is engaged with the story you have to tell

… Then adding a direct mail newsletter to your marketing or fundraising mix is something to consider. Yes, you can handle all this with an email newsletter, and you should, but including a printed and mailed newsletter as part of a multi-channel approach is arguably a most effective strategy.

Quick reads for busy people

I’m a sucker for good content on the internet; for all the things I’m interested in and wish to accomplish in my personal and professional life. And, there is no lack of amazing content on every conceivable subject from smart people all over the globe.

So I subscribe, and subscribe again, and subscribe some more thinking that “it’s only a short read” and that I’ll get to every one of them. But reality and practicality is a different story! Even my most relevant and desirable eNewsletters get readily deleted when I’m crunched with work and projects – which is pretty much most of the time. When I’m staring at a constantly replenished list of emails in my inbox every day, I find my delete button gets quite a workout. Herein lies the bane of email marketing’s existence – along with overzealous spam filters.

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

If a potential customer spends a few minutes on your website, that’s considered a good amount of time. What if we told you that they spend 10x more time with their mail?

According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. When it comes to magazines, they spend 45 minutes turning the pages.

Email newsletters are inexpensive to publish but increasingly challenging to be read. With a direct mail newsletter, the recipient has to physically lay their hands and eyes on the piece before deciding to read it or not, typically initiated with a quick “skim” of the content. With a captive and relevant design and headlines in place, the benefit of a physical piece is that it can be saved to be read at the recipient’s discretion and time-frame, away from the competition, clutter and chatter of all our digital media.

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

Millward Brown, a research agency, found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did. If people can touch and see a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.

A printed newsletter is tactile, triggering more of the 5 senses: touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (ink on paper is classic) that email simply can’t evoke. eNewsletters do the have the advantage of including links, videos, social network connections, etc., which is what makes email so powerful, but on its own, is easily lost or discarded.

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

There’s something about receiving an email that can feel impersonal. It can take a long time for images to load, or they won’t load at all. With so many messages coming into your inbox, it’s hard to feel like any of them are special.

Direct mail, on the other hand, feels personal. According to USPS, 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet. You’re receiving something tangible–like a ‘thank you’ card vs. a ‘thank you’ email.

Today’s digital print technology is impressive in its ability to personalize a document using variable data printing (VDP) applications. Here at Paw Print & Mail, we’ve employed sophisticated levels of VDP for many years, from simple mail-merge to personal URLs (PURLs) that integrate print and digital automation into a campaign that arguably rivals any multi-channel campaign.

Roughly 66% of people have bought something because of direct mail

According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA), nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

So what’s the justification and value proposition for considering direct mail for your newsletter marketing? I’ll bring it back to my nonprofit client’s comment at the beginning of this article… being in front of your constituency on a regular basis. The more ways and the more often you can share your brand and value proposition in a creative and relevant manner to your target audience, the more leads you will generate, deals you’ll convert, and money you will raise. Period. Slow and steady wins the race.

Care to talk more about your particular needs and challenges? Contact us at Paw Print & Mail for a chat.

How to Create an Email Marketing Campaign

Paw-Print&Mail-lead-generation-email-marketingEmail marketing may seem like something only the big-wigs can afford to do (Apple, Google, eBay, you get the idea), but it can also be very successful for locally-owned businesses. Email marketing is a simple, affordable and effective way of reaching out to customers.

In fact, according to the Direct Marketing Association, the average business in 2011 made a $40 return on every $1 investment in email marketing. If your small business is interested in promoting itself through and gaining new customers, check out these tips and steps to creating an email marketing campaign.

1. Choose an email provider
The first step in building an email marketing campaign for your small business is choosing an email marketing service provider to utilize. For best results, it’s better not to use an email platform such as Gmail, Hotmail or Outlook, but rather a company specifically designed to support email marketing campaigns.

Companies which provide email marketing campaign platforms will allow your business to draft and send bulk emails, create and manage your database, offer customizable email templates and even campaign management software. These type of services allow your business to continue to check back on the campaign and follow its return on investment.

2. Build an email list
Next up: build your business’s email list of potential and current customers. Set up a database on your email platform with all of the email addresses available from clients. One easy way to add emails to the list is offering an “Email Signup” link on your company’s website, which will feed straight into your email database.

Another method is by using direct mail marketing to approach clients and prospects with a call-to-action on a postcard or in letter that encourages them to take advantage of your special offer, receive your white-paper or e-book with valuable information they can use, or again, sign up for your online newsletter.

And yet another way to build your email list is by applying all the same tactics via your social media channels and ads to encourage and incentivize your audience to engage.

When promoting your email signup, be sure to include all expectations and benefits customers can have from following campaigns. Items such as “Exclusive offers and promotions” and “A free sample!” are great incentives for clients to see before signing up for your email list.

3. Decide on campaign objectives
Once you have a significant email list of existing and possible clients, decide on any objectives you have for the campaign. Why are you sending the emails? What do you want them to accomplish? How do you want to demonstrate your business to subscribers?

Once you have these questions answered and outlined, and your specific goals established, you can start building your physical campaign, focusing on the specific goals. Outlining your campaign objectives beforehand gives your promotions a clean, crisp and specific purpose that’s easy for customers to see and follow.

4. Draft an email
Now comes the fun part: drafting your email! Many email marketing campaign providers will have templates available for you to choose from for your email, but it’s important to still keep these content tips in mind:

  • Use a strong subject line. The stronger the line, the more likely people are to open the email.
  • Grab their attention. Get your readers interested with an attention-grabbing headline.
  • Remember text/image ratio. Have a good mixture of text and images to keep people’s interest.
  • Emphasize call to action. What do you want your readers to do? Tell them!
  • Personalize it. Try personalizing your emails with the recipient’s name.

5. Send it out
Finally, now comes the time to officially send out your email marketing campaign. Consider the best day of the week to send your emails, best time of the day, most responsive subject lines, how best to personalize your emails, etc. The more practice you have, the more efficient your business will become and the more income you will generate!

When it comes to marketing for your small business, consider an email marketing campaign to engage customers and drive sales. Not only will you save money, but your business will prosper and grow in effect.

How to spot a suspicious email

There are in excess of 100 billion spam email messages sent every day. Even with the best email filters, some of it is bound to end up in your inbox. Take a look at the example message below to see how you can identify a spam/phishing message in your inbox.

One notorious type of phishing email is The “Your Mailbox is Almost Full” email.  This email comes from “IT Support” and states your email account is over limit. In the following image, I’ve pointed out three places to look for to see if this email is legitimate or not.

suspicious-email-tips

First, I look to the “to field”. My name and email address are not in the to field. In fact, no email address is listed in the to field. This leads me to believe that I was BCC (blind carbon copied) on the email along with many others.

Second, I look to the from name and email address. The email address is not one that I recognize. The URL is not known to me and neither is the person’s name. I also happen to know that we don’t contract with a company called ICT, so there is really no reason they would be sending me a support email.

And third, when I hover over the link in the email (Clean-up system) I see the URL is questionable and built on a free site that was likely put up just for this scam. Now, I didn’t click on the link, so I don’t know what is on that site, however, I can guess at what I would find. It would likely ask for my username and password at which time they would have all the info they need to hack into my email account.

So what should you do when you get an email like this? Delete it. If you aren’t sure whether it is legitimate or not, forward it (or a screen shot of it) to your actual IT person to have them verify the contents of the email.

Scammers typically use fear based tactics (“oh no! I can’t send or receive email!” in this case) to get the consumer to respond without analyzing the actual email first. Arming yourself and your staff with the ability to spot spam will help keep your business running strong.

Though these three simple steps are not full-proof insurance that you’ll never be hacked via email, they are a good place to start.