Email best practices: They’re why you get out of bed in the morning and they’re why you can’t wait to collapse into bed at night. They’re why, when you finally drift off, even your dreams are CAN-SPAM compliant. No three-headed dream monster enters your nightmares without an unsubscribe link on its tail. The best practices keep you safe and sound.
But do best practices distinguish your emails if they’re the same things that everyone else is doing? Let’s face it: many of these “best practices” are“practices,” at best. What separates the best email from the email that’s merely best-practicing?
The emails spotlighted in our “Best Email Ever!” blog post series all follow email marketing best practices, but they also offer up something else: they have something worthwhile to say, and they do a great job saying it. These emails are purposeful, useful, and memorable. Take a look back at a few of our favorite emails, take a few notes, and start creating the kinds of emails that most people can only dream about. The good kinds of dreams, that is.
Get Interactive! The Litmus Email Design Conference
Spotlighted in May’s edition of Best Email Ever! and in many other “best-of email” lists since, the Litmus announcement for their Email Design Conference is the stuff of legends. Litmus had big news to break, but they didn’t neglect the inventiveness regular subscribers expect from their emails. The live-content-laden email revealed their full announcement only after 500 readers shared the announcement on social media. While thelive version of the email now shows the final results, the anticipation leading up to the big reveal felt like email marketing Christmas.
The stunt resulted in a wonderfully memorable email, but it also did what email does best: build relationships with readers. Email is a highly personal, one-on-one mode of messaging, making it ideal for encouraging reader engagement and fostering communication with the audience. When social media threatens to command an increasingly greater share of your audience, this connection is more important than ever. The best emails build these relationships by providing useful information, inviting engagement, and making a way to keep that conversation going.
Get Personal! Fitbit’s Year-In-Review
When it comes to fitness, staying motivated is an exercise in and of itself, but Fitbit’s year-in-review email steps up to the task. The email combines clean design with personalized data to give you a good summary of your year in fitness (minus the crying). While many fitness apps send personalized emails, Fitbit stands apart by presenting this information in an encouraging way, which is especially helpful when you need a boost to continue your routine. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.
When done correctly, email personalization is a hit with readers. Fitbit takes it one step further by using personal data to form a broader narrative. Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool, and Fitbit’s is especially potent because it tells the reader’s personal story. Seeing the story of your year encourages you to keep up your fitness journey, which is good for you and good for Fitbit. Build your best emails by incorporating personalization and storytelling, and readers will readily incorporate your emails into their routine. Tear-free.
Get Comfy! Poncho the Weather Cat
There are a million ways to get weather updates, but none so fun as a tech-savvy cat. The daily Poncho emails snuggled their way into our hearts with useful data, mobile-friendly design, and lively copy from the funniest feline this side of Jim Arbuckle’s lasagna pan. Poncho gives you complete control over email updates: how often to send them, what kind of weather information you want, and even what time you want him to crawl into your inbox. If only your own cat was so considerate.
Like Litmus and Fitbit, Poncho incorporates effective personalization and interaction (every email ends with an invitation to connect elsewhere). What sets Poncho apart is how he gets his message across. Any app can give you numbers, but only Poncho tells you how your hair is going to look. These emails deliver practical weather information coupled with an easygoing tone that makes emails from Poncho feel like emails from an old friend. Those are the best kinds of emails to receive.
Get Moving! The 1st & 10
You’ve got engaging content, you’ve got personalized data, you’ve even got a fun mascot to deliver it for you. But when you’re bringing that much to the table, it’s important to make sure you’re not leaving anybody out. The NFL’s email newsletter, the 1st & 10 does a great job of informing readers on any device. This email serves up timely updates and live content that will keep any football fan in the know, even when it’s painful (sorry, Falcons fans).
Still, while the news may hurt your heart, its design ensures it will never hurt your eyes. The email adapts to smaller spaces, hiding secondary information to provide the best mobile experience. When you’ve taken the time to craft informative emails, it’s important to make sure the message isn’t lost on mobile users. Delivering quality content is important, but it’s only half of the game. Delivering a great experience is equally important. If you can’t commit to both halves, and run to victory, you’ll end up second-best (sorry again, Falcons fans).
Get out there and start sending great emails!
These emails are among some of the best that have crossed our inboxes, but what makes them even better is that they aren’t one-off successes. Audiences know to expect great emails from these senders, and the senders don’t disappoint. With these great emails in mind, take a hard look at your own email program and get into the habit of sending great email. After all, best practice makes best perfect.
For the recipient, an email enhanced by the use of media queries can be much easier on the eyes. Basically, Google is stepping it up for everybody. This totally makes up for that weird thing where they made us all use Google+ for, like, a week.
As long as it’s implemented effectively. Do it right, and it makes everyone’s day easier; do it wrong, and you'll have a failed email campaign faster than you can say, “Wait, what even was Google+?” So, before you dive headfirst into your next newsletter, here are a few things about responsive email to know, consider, and maybe even discuss at parties.
2. With these updates to Gmail, 75% of all email clients now have the capacity for responsive design. But what does this mean in terms of numbers? In 2016, Gmail reached 1 billion users, and three-quarters of their users access their accounts on mobile devices. That’s 750 million users eagerly awaiting your sparkly new responsive emails. If you stacked those users on top of each other, they would reach to the moon and back, then back to the moon again before crashing to Earth when the guy at the bottom tried to check his email.
3. If you could do that math, you’ve probably also noticed that leaves 25% of email clients without responsive design support. So don’t abandon your hybrid design technique just yet; there’s a chance you may be leaving behind a few readers too. But how do you decide whether to go all out with responsive design? If this question has you stumped, don’t worry; you get a lifeline.
Seriously, ask your audience!
4. Successful responsive email implementation requires you to carefully consider which email clients your audience is using. If your recipients are squarely in the Gmail camp, you’re probably still in the middle of celebrating this wave of good news. I’ll wait.
However, if you have an abnormally high level of Outlook users, then there's no need to break the bad news to you; you’re probably used to being disappointed by Outlook. Still, while Outlook isn’t on board yet, there’s always the chance that they might not be far behind. With the rapidly-changing nature of the email world, along with promising partnerships, a celebratory desk dance could be in your future too.
5. Responsive design is a great way to make emails look good on devices, but don’t leave any devices out!.Media queries are an invaluable tool for creating mobile-friendly emails; however, with the lines between desktop and mobile becoming increasingly blurry, this can get a bit tricky. The rise of phablets, wearable technology, and the Internet of Things means that you’ll have gadgets of all shapes and sizes to keep in mind with your design.
Many people view emails on more than one device, with 25.6% even using one device to filter through emails before reviewing them more closely on another; and while you probably don’t have to worry about your audience routinely reading their emails from a refrigerator just yet, you want to make sure they’re pretty enough for Mom to hang on hers anyway.
6. More than ever, it’s important to test your emails across different clients and devices. Make sure you have a comprehensive plan for testing your email. Ideally, “responsive email” means that the email’s response will be to conform to your inbox, not self-destruct upon impact. Over 40% of people will simply delete emails that don’t display properly, and as the number of ways to access email is growing all the time, it’s very easy to create one that trips up along the way.
7. Just because your email’s coding is mobile-friendly doesn’t mean its appearance is. With less screen space available, incorporating every aspect of the desktop version into a mobile format can be overwhelming for your audience and their poor index fingers.
As much as you love your giant graphic of a kitten wearing a party hat, a truly mobile-friendly design takes the limited real estate into account, presenting only what’s necessary so you don’t lose your audience. This might mean using media queries to collapse or even hide some less important elements. Or maybe just a smaller version of that kitten wearing a party hat.
8. Don’t forget the landing page! The most mobile-friendly email in the world won’t do much for your conversion rate if the landing page is mobile-antagonistic. Like emails, mobile-optimized landing pages take device limitations into consideration, ensuring that information is readable, forms can be completed with ease, and the overall mobile experience isn’t bogged down by extraneous content.
9. Moving to responsive email sounds like a lot of work, but it pays. Promise. On average, a mobile email click generates more than double the revenue of a desktop click (40 cents vs. 19 cents), and sending responsive email leads to 24% more mobile clicks than non-responsive ones. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do any more math right now; just know that responsive email = $$$.
10. If you’re still not convinced that sending responsive emails is worth all the trouble, a template can get you started fast and easy. If you’ve been keeping up, you know that a free responsive design template means free money in your pocket and free time in your schedule to keep searching for pictures of tiny animals wearing people clothes. It just makes sense.
You know when your circle of friends is 20 minutes into a heated discussion about, say, which R.E.M. album was the best*, and then somebody interrupts just to say how long it took to find his shoes this morning? You’ve made it abundantly clear what’s relevant to you at that moment, and yet he insists on verbally retracing every step around his house with all the clarity of a Michael Stipe murmur.
If your email program’s not automated, you’re basically that friend. To everybody on your email list. All the time.
(Also, something came up, and I can’t hang out with you this weekend.)
When email inboxes are getting 4% more crowded each year, and over 60% of people say that most of those emails are irrelevant, dropping a well-timed email into the inbox is a great way to stand out. Automated emails are triggered by an individual user’s actions (or lack thereof). This ensures that you can cater to specific circumstances without having to lift a finger, all while enjoying an 83% increase in your conversion rate. Not bad for a not-hard-at-all day’s work.
Sending a good automated email can make the reader feel like you have a personal connection, but a poor one can come across as gimmicky and too promotional, like your Facebook friend who’s always pushing her health drink business. So check out these 5 kinds of automated emails that you should be sending, like the good pal you are.
1. The welcome email.
Being a good friend, surely you’re already sending the introductory emails that 3/4ths of people expect to get, so you can just nod your head in agreement through this part.
No pressure, but with an open rate up to 4 times higher than that of other mail, the welcome email is one of the most important automated emails you’ll send. Having just handed over their information, it only follows that the reader is pretty interested in what you have to offer right now, so an immediate welcome email can go a long way towards capitalizing on this interest and maintaining it.
That being said, they were nice enough to invite you into their personal inbox (or at least the inbox they designate for brand correspondence); you owe it to them to make it worthwhile. If they can’t discern your emails from the 8 million other brand emails they get, they’ll soon move on. Introduce yourself by making it clear what kind of emails they can expect. Are they signing up for discounts? Store news? Knock-knock jokes?**
A good welcome email also incentivizes them to action, whether it’s to complete their site profile, browse articles, or maybe start shopping. You don’t want to go for the hard sell, but presenting them with a sampling of your best content or an offer they can’t refuse might get them to keep clicking.
2. The Re-Engagement Email.
No matter how sweet that welcome email is, it won’t keep a few people from growing distant. Maybe they’ve neglected their accounts, left your emails unopened, or abandoned their cart. People forget; things come up. It happens. Still, since inactive subscribers can hurt your deliverability rates, it doesn't hurt to jog their memory with a friendly hello. A friendly one, mind you, not a sales pitch. A little more, “Hey pal, thinking of you!” and less “my kid’s scout troop is selling popcorn, can I put you down for bacon ranch or kettle corn?”
For instance, if they never completed their site profile, you can drop them a friendly note the next day with a link to the incomplete parts. Better yet, show them a snazzy checklist with the finished sections marked off, and the unfinished parts hanging in the balance. People have a natural inclination to complete things, and the idea of filling in those missing links might be the kick in the psychological pants they need to hang out with you some more.
Effective re-engagement email doesn’t just tell someone to come back, it gives them a clear path to a specific action they can take. In other words, don't be that friend who says “hey, let’s hang out” but doesn’t offer up any suggestions, because I'm already that friend, and we’re just going to walk around the block in circles if neither of us takes any initiative.
3. The Confirmation Email.
Speaking of that friend, there’s nothing worse than not knowing where things stand. Was my order accepted? Did my request for more information go through? Did we decide for sure that we were going to that costume party, or did I walk 12 blocks in full Thing 2 attire for nothing?
The confirmation email can be a giant sigh of relief to the customer, and a breath of fresh air to your online marketing strategy. Not only do confirmation emails have an open rate of 70%, but they’re also going to people who are proven customers. Because selling to an existing customer is 3 times more likely than converting a new one, this is an extremely valuable audience.
So first, let your reader know things are golden, then surprise them with something else while you still have their attention. Point them in the direction of some content they can enjoy! Show them how they can make the most of their new subscription! Be the kind of brand they’d be proud to be a Thing 1 with!
4. The Thank You Email.
One of the most important lessons your parents might teach you -- apart from “Santa Claus doesn’t visit you if your room isn’t clean”*** -- is to say please and thank you. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but simple gestures like that can increase brand loyalty.
Still, being nice doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to do! Whether you’re expressing gratitude for signing up, requesting information, or thanks for sticking around all this time, you want them to keep engaging with you. Setting up a quick thank-you email to be triggered immediately after their first conversion can very well initiate a secondary conversion.
Because they’ve taken action with your brand, they’re clearly aware of what you have to offer, but you’ve got more tricks up your sleeve. Point them towards a similar product, an article they haven’t read, or a feature they’ve yet to explore. I'm no Miss Manners, but I’m sure she’d tell you it’s common courtesy to end your emails with a nice CTA. Also, sit up. Stop slouching. Elbows off the desk!
5. The Unsubscribe Email.
People grow apart. It’s a fact of life. You find a new group of friends, or maybe you just find out how they voted. (Who knew the Prohibition Party was even still a thing?) If you've been paying attention, you’ve probably seen this coming: decreased site activity, the lack of conversions, and open rates screeching to a halt.
But fear not! Even if someone does hit “unsubscribe,” it's not necessarily the end of your friendship. Say you’re sorry to see them go, but keep it short, because there's still hope for keeping them on your list. One of the most common reasons people unsubscribe from a list is because of the volume of emails received. In fact, 53% of people believe brands send them too many emails. Providing an option to receive fewer emails, such as cutting that daily newsletter down to a weekly digest, may change their mind. It’s worth a shot.
If you can’t get them to stick around, it’s important that your unsubscribe email leaves a positive impression. Everyone who’s signed up for Hulu’s free trial, forgotten about it, and then quickly unsubscribed after getting a credit card bill remembers Hulu’s last-ditch effort to keep you around. Sure, seeing a quick, humor-filled video might not keep many people from canceling, but the experience may lodge itself back of their brains for the next time they decide to splurge on a streaming service. At the very least, it may remove the bad taste left by watching season 8 of The Office.
So...why aren't you automating?
Given the ever-increasing amount of data available to marketers, there’s no reason not to go ahead with automation. Automated email programs build relationships, bring in revenue, and can can be set to accommodate a near-infinite number of scenarios. The sky’s the limit, but just barely: geotargeted emails triggered by weather events boast open rates 2.5 times that of traditional promotional emails.
Other emails could include a follow-up to ensure people are happy with a service they’ve purchased, compilations of articles related to their browsing history, or even a birthday greeting. In fact, birthday emails are especially effective, bringing in more than double the revenue of mass mailings. Just make sure your data-driven approach doesn’t involve reminding them how old they are. Come on, be a pal.
*Personally, I don’t think Reckoning gets enough reckonition.
**Knock-knock. Who’s there? Otto. Otto who? Otto Mation is a great way to boost conversion rates! (feel free to use this)
***Please tell me that’s a thing and I’m not just wasting my time.
Every year since 2005, the Online Trust Alliance has released their report on enhancing user trust, data security, and responsible privacy and marketing practices. Email best practices for marketing is one of their main focuses, with their 2016 benchmark report offering a look at the email best practices of 200 online retailers.
The report is especially interesting in that the way consumers view email can make or break the relationships that companies have with them, so sticking with best practices in an attempt to not rock the boat is paramount to keeping the consumer positively engaged with your brand.
While the entire report is a great read on the current email practices of online businesses, below are three points that we found especially interesting and wanted to focus on:
1. SignUp Practices
Getting visitors and consumers to sign up for your mailing list is one of a marketer’s main goals. Get the consumer on a list, drip feed them emails and content, turn them into little revenue generating machines. Rinse, repeat. To do that though, you need to get them to sign up first.
The OTA report looked at the signup options of their companies and found that 34% use opt-in lightbox popups upon first visit to their site to capture visitors email addresses, an approach that can convert 5.5% of traffic to a site. Building off of these, 31% immediately offered a promotion after signup, and 89% thanked them for the signup! In case you are unaware, 89% is a lot. However, the OTA doesn’t just look at signup numbers; they care about the well-being of visitors and consumers as well.
When it came to signup best practices, a major focus was on security and authentification of the signup process. With cybersecurity becoming more of a global problem, protecting the email accounts of consumers is incredibly important.
The report discusses how “List Bombing” - the practice of bots signing up targeted email accounts to thousands of lists, effectively overloading and decimating their inboxes - is a problem we face in the digital age. The very idea that your email account could effectively become bricked and useless is a scary thought, one that needs to be combatted. But how? Using options like CAPTCHA, clicking a specific link, or double email authentication are some ways.
According to the report though, only 3% of the retailer’s sites used CAPTCHA and 6% required clicking a specific link for subscription, both of which are very low for security measures. Additionally, only 16% require you to confirm your email address. The sites that are using these methods are in the minority, but they are going that extra mile for the email security of their users.
2. Mailing Cadence
The delicate line that many email marketers must dance is that of email timing. We’ve all been there: do we send our targets two emails a week? Three a week? Will they respond well to this or will they be turned off and unsubscribe? Knowing the proper frequency of email sending is vital to the success of an email program. While the OTA doesn’t focus on what this magic formula of timing is (spoiler: there’s no set in stone approach), they did measure a few other best practices.
The OTA found that 90% of the companies they looked at used a consistent mailing approach, meaning they sent out emails on a set schedule over time. This allowed the companies to stay in touch with their audience, and to allow that audience to remain engaged with their brand.
Slow Your Roll
9% of the companies also featured a system that tapered off emails over periods of non-engagement, such as going from three week to once a week to once a month. While you get less engagement with the audience this way, you also lower the risk of having them unsubscribe further down the line.
End of The Road
28% of companies just flat out stopped sending after a period of time. While these consumers weren’t interacting with the brand, the company just called it quits on their emails after a certain period of time. While this could be seen as giving up, it could also be viewed as taking a break for the future, with the possibility of sending sparse emails to them eventually to try and re-engage them.
Since the initial introduction of CAN-SPAM, the requirement of allowing a user to unsubscribe from your mailing list, and then a company having to remove them within 10 days, has been mandatory. Still, in the past companies haven’t always followed the best practices of the unsubscribe mantra, although they are catching on and becoming general email best practices.
OTA’s report offers 10 best practices for email unsubscribes, as well as another 8 related email best practices. Without going over the entire list point-for-point, here’s a few that caught my eye:
Clearly Visible and Easy To Read
The opt-out should be visible from the last sentence of the body of the email, minimizing vertical space between the end of the body copy and the link and a different color than surrounding text to help identify it as a link. Additionally, the font size should not be unreadably small; a good rule is 2 font sizes smaller than the body copy, and no smaller than 8pt font.
Opt-Out Of All
When offering multiple email options, give the viewer the ease of unsubscribing from all of them at once if they want. As required by CAN-SPAM, if an advertiser or marketer has multiple email programs, they must have an option to opt-out of all email as well as the individual email campaigns and programs. While not required, it should be simple as well!
Confirm The Confirmation
Just like a user getting a confirmation email for subscribing, the user should be shown an unsubscribe web page when they opt-out. To give them peace-of-mind to know that they did in fact unsubscribe, the confirmation web page is a nice touch for the consumer that can also be used to thank them for their time and offer them another service or piece of content they might have interest in.
Points of Interest
The unsubscribe portion of the OTA report offers a great look at what companies are doing with their email marketing program. While the report itself offers great detail and absolutely should be read, here’s a snapshot of their findings:
Based on the majority of their findings (but not all; seriously, read the report) most companies are following some of the major best practices for unsubscribing. Between opt-out emails, confirmation pages, branded web pages, etc, businesses are beginning to get more involved in making their email program, including the negatives of the unsubscribe process, a pleasant experience for consumers, which is a boon to their brand.
The Last Word
I wanted to take one last time to tell you that you should absolutely read OTA’s report on email best practices. In fact, here is the link again: Online Trust Alliance 2016 Benchmark Email Report. Give it a thorough read and discover where your program can improve based off of online standards and best practices.
UnsubCentral is a proud member of the OTA’s Honor Roll.
Just like the people who run them, marketing programs need periodic health checks to ensure certain levels (e.g. deliverability, engagement, list attrition) are within the normal range. Answer these 6 questions to get a pulse on your program. Not sure where to find the answers? Let us help!
1.) Are you keeping an eye on your subscriber list? On average, email program databases lose 22.5% of their subscribers every year. If you don’t work to bring in new subscribers, then your list decreases and your revenue dwindles along with it. But if you focus on your email program’s list size, your revenue will grow exponentially:
2.) Is your bounce rate out of whack? How many email addresses are incorrect in your database? If you don’t clean those up, then you will be the outcast loser in the game of of ISP dodgeball. Please, do yourself a favor and remove the hard bounced email addresses from your campaign lists. Raise your credibility and reach more of those inboxes!
What about soft bounces? It is difficult to determine what to do with those pesky things; the best thing that you can do is to keep your total bounce rate under 2%. This will keep your delivery rates high and the effect of your soft bounces on your email program minimal.
3.) Is personalization actually helping you? Getting somebody’s name wrong makes your user feel like the last one picked for the team. “They don’t even know who you are! So why are they emailing me at all?” Incorrect personalization makes you feel like the opposite of an MVP. Those emails feel robotic and lose the interest of your audience immediately.
Unnecessary personalization will hurt your email program and can damage the image of your brand. This can lead not only to unsubscribes, but you could get marked as spam when you otherwise wouldn’t have.
5.) Do you know your unengaged rate? Do you focus too much on your unsubscribe rates? It is equally, if not more important, to dig a little deeper and track your unengaged rate. These unresponsive users are the ones that are just too lazy to hit “unsubscribe.” Your unengaged rate can affect your deliverability, mess up your click-through rates, and most importantly, cost you lots of moola.
Unengaged subscribers are tricky to deal with. There are so many strategies and steps regarding what to do with them. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for removing unengaged subscribers, but here are a few steps to help determine who is unengaged and what to do about them:
Decide on a scale for judging if a subscriber is unengaged or not. How long have they been subscribed? Have they ever opened an email from you? If so, how long has it been since they last opened one?
Check your sample size. Do you have enough consistent data to identify your unengaged users? How large is your list? How are you segmenting? How many emails do you send per month?
Consider a re-engagement campaign. These users are a good potential source of revenue and are easier to get a hold of than trying to generate new leads.
If there is still no reaction, send a reaction! Tell them that you are going to unsubscribe them in one last ditch effort to see if anyone is home. As hard as it may be, if they still don’t respond, it is time to let go. Move on, you deserve better.
6.) Are you calculating the overall ROI on your email program? Here at PostUp, we love analyzing how successful our campaigns have been and how much our success has grown. We love to see how much money we made because we love to see our hard work pay off (pun intended). Here’s an example of how we like to do it:
Is this whole check-up too much for you? Don’t have time to do it yourself but realize that it needs to be done? Let’s be friends; let us do it for you!
Email marketing is like flying. It’s convenient, doesn’t have to be astronomically priced and will consistently get you where you need to be when you need to be there. But what if you could fly that plane twice as far for half the price? This is actually possible with co-marketing.In this guide, we’re going to explain how co-marketing can cause your conversions to double (or more!). We’ll also explain how co-marketing can nurture your relationship with your clients and help you to create meaningful partnerships with other brands.
Some trips are spontaneous. You wait until 1 AM to pack for your 6 AM flight, you don’t need to sleep, and if you forget anything, you can always pick it up at a gift shop. You don’t need an itinerary and you let things happen as you go. For your co-marketing trip, it’s better to pack more than you need, well ahead of time. You shouldn’t just have an itinerary, you should have a legitimate reconnaissance file. Become the traveler you've always aspired to be; be prepared.
Our own Cris Angelini recently did an interview on affiliate marketing’s longest running podcast Affiliate Buzz, hosted by James and Arlene Martell. They discussed how UnsubCentral can help you stay CAN-SPAM compliant while reducing your email list opt-outs.
Here’s the full interview:
JM: What is UnsubCentral?
CA: UnsubCentral is a SaaS platform that allows advertisers to collect and distribute data, automat it, and also anonymize the data as well. So a big problem that advertisers had when the CAN-SPAM Act came out was affiliates who are mailing on behalf of the advertisers needed the opt-out list that advertisers owned, but they didn't want to give out the opt-out lists to the affiliates, obviously. And then of course, the affiliates had worked very hard to get their email list and didn't want to hand it over to the advertisers for them to scrub against. So UnsubCentral was born as a result of that, and we’ve been going strong since 2003.
JM: So if you could talk a little bit about that relationship where you’ve got an advertiser and you’ve got an affiliate and we have this law in the middle now called CAN-SPAM, that could be devastating for a company if they get taken on for it. If I recall correctly, even one infraction can cost you 10,12,15 thousand dollars. Maybe you can speak to that, first?
CA: Yeah, infractions can cost up to $16,000 each. It’s a bit of an odd number, but that’s what they came up with. Obviously, the CAN-SPAM Act was created to stop unwanted marketing, specifically generated towards customers and B2C-type advertising. And it’s funny really, the only people that adhere to the law are going to be your name brand and your reputable advertisers. Everybody still gets some SPAM every now and then from, you know, scams and things of that nature. But it really has helped clean up the messaging, and obviously it really works out to be a good thing for the advertisers as well. Because if you communicate with your customers when and how they want to be communicated with, they’re going to be better customers and buy more from you. So yeah, it’s been a good thing for the industry and the consumer.
JM: So when it comes to managing opt-outs, explain the scenario here. You’ve got an affiliate who’s got the list. I’d imagine you’ve got the advertiser who has a list. You’ve got an email subscriber in the middle that says, “I don’t want to be on your list,” and doesn’t realize how the scenario works. Walk us through how that works in regards to UnsubCentral.
CA: So from the consumer perspective or the end user perspective it’s very simple. They click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email they received they are taken to a URL, that we host, they type in their email address and click to unsubscribe. Now on the backend, it’s a bit more complicated. We set up automated transfers between the advertisers and the email service provider (or CRM system) and ourselves so that when we collect those opt-outs that come in from the affiliate mailings, we can pass those back along to the advertisers so that they stay CAN-SPAM compliant on their side with their own internal mailings. And then also for any opt-outs from internal mailings they have, we collect those back in the system as well. That way, the next time an affiliate comes to scrub their list or do a mailing and compare, all the new addresses have been added and everything stays up to date.
JM: So you mentioned CAN-SPAM compliant - for those who are maybe not quite sure exactly what that entails, could you address that?
CA: Sure, there are a couple of things with regards to CAN-SPAM compliance and several are fairly simple. You can’t use misleading subject lines, for instance. You have to have a physical address in the email itself. And the most important piece of CAN-SPAM and staying compliant is honoring opt-outs.If someone wants to stop receiving mail from you, you have to make it easy for them to unsubscribe, and you have to honor that opt-out within 10 business days. So say I don’t want to get emails from Ford anymore, or any other company, I can opt out and they have to take me off their mailing list going forward.
JM: Who would you say the UnsubCentral services are ideally suited for?
CA: UnsubCentral is ideally suited for B2C advertisers. We have some very small companies that are just starting out; luckily, we’ve had the good fortune over the last 13 years of working with some of the biggest advertisers in the world. Current clients like AT&T, Allstate, Progressive Insurance, and Groupon are some of our clients, and so we’ve had the ability to work with large and small customers, and any of those advertisers who are doing one of three things and doing affiliate email marketing are a great fit for us. For example, if they have multiple email systems to manage. An Allstate may have 3 or 4 different marketing groups and use different email service providers. We can be used again to collect the data from those different systems and push it back out. And then lastly, any advertiser who is doing any sort of co-marketing campaigns. So for instance, if United Airlines and Marriott want to do joint marketing, but they want to suppress their own customers for instance, we can take both lists, scrub them together, and then pass them back out and give them a list of their customers minus their co-marketing partner’s customers so that there’s no overlap. That’s really been a huge surge in business for us over the last couple of years because as more and more people understand how important data is, and even more importantly than that how important it is to keep it secure with PII, many of these businesses don’t want to handle that burden and so they outsource it to a company like UnsubCentral.
JM: With the scrubbing, you mentioned that advertisers have different email providers. Even I myself have different email providers at the smaller level. But we have these databases that have our clients and I would assume that, just trying to visualize this, you would pull that data from from the various email platforms/email providers into UnsubCentral and scrub the email list. Removing anybody who is in one of the lists that said, “Hey, I want to opt out,” you would then opt them out of the other list as well?
CA: That’s correct.
JM: Okay, so then, so that would be scrubbing. So I’m just trying to get a definition of scrubbing. So then talk to that a little bit, and also to this term “email suppression.”
CA: Sure. So again, email scrubbing is exactly what you mentioned; you basically take a mailing file (or a mailing list), and you compare it against an opt-out list or any sort of suppression list. It could be a customer list, it could be email opt-outs. Whatever you’d like to compare it to, and then returning the clean file or the suppressed file back to the mailer with all the names of people who are supposed to be opted out or removed from that file. UnsubCentral can handle it two ways. One, the affiliate can either import their file, or we can set up an API call to compare the file, pull it and compare, and give them back a clean file. Or, if they prefer, they can download an MD5 or hashed encrypted copy of the file that turns all the email addresses basically into unrecognizable character strings. Then they can use a desktop tool that we provide to do the same scrubbing and comparison on their own machine to get a clean file back to mail. So there are a couple of ways to handle email scrubbing. But at the end of the day, it’s just comparing two lists and removing people you shouldn’t be mailing to.
JM: Okay, I would assume this is all done in a pretty automated way?
CA: Definitely. That’s one of the things about UnsubCentral being a compliance tool, we’re not a sexy marketing tool, and we don’t make customers a whole lot of money, so our idea is to make it very simple to use. Basically it’s sort of a “set it and forget it” type thing right? You can set up campaigns, you set up your opt-out pages, you set up your lists and groups and rules, and then if anything goes wrong - let’s say a transfer fails or if a list hasn’t been downloaded or something - we will either email the affiliate or email the advertiser depending on who needs to respond. That way you don’t have to continually log into our system. You only have to do it when you’re alerted to.
JM: Okay, cool. So now the advertiser, I would imagine they put a point person in place - how does an advertiser typically work with UnsubCentral?
CA: Sure, so when an advertiser comes on board, they are assigned a dedicated account manager and that account manager does a couple of things. One, they help onboard them and set up their account. And then two, they’re their main support contact going forward. So we typically schedule an hour onboarding session, where we actually go through with the advertiser and help them create the list name, import their data, set up any sort of automation transfers that they need as well as enter any affiliates that they’re working with, set up their opt-out page, and so on and so forth. So we take care of their complete account setup at the beginning, so that they’re ready to start sending or start working with email affiliates right away. And then if there are any questions they have about the account or anything going forward, they can reach back out to that dedicated account manager, and they’ll support them for the life of the account.
JM: So what are some of the thing that advertisers need to know or need to be aware of? Maybe before giving you guys a call or visiting the website.
CA: I’d say the things that advertisers need to know are, one, know who you’re going to be using as an affiliate. There are quite a few advertisers that - and these are typically smaller ones - who come to us and who like us to try and find an email affiliate for them. Now we do have some partnerships, but ideally they’re going to want to do some research and find out who some reputable email affiliates are in their specific vertical. Obviously some OPMs and some affiliates target specific verticals, and they perform better in some than others, so just do a little research. Know who you’re mailing with, and then really all you need to know when you come to us is how large your suppression list is going to be. And your suppression list can be incorporated, not just email opt-outs, but it can also be customers as well. So if you want to suppress against that, know how large those databases are. Have a logo or if you would like to customize the opt-out page, have your HTML ready so that we can just cut and paste and put in there. And really that’s all they need to know. It’s a very quick setup. We typically have an account set up within 48 hours of signing on. A lot of them are done within one day. Typically, we’re the last step in getting an email affiliate marketing program going, so we have to be quick and agile and turn that around. If they know who they’re going to mail with, and then they know their database sizes, that’s really all they need to know to work with us.
JM: Do me a favor and talk a little bit more about a suppression list. Take it down to noobie level, where I am, with that term. What exactly is that?
CA: A suppression list is really any file that consists of email addresses that you don’t want to mail to. Obviously anybody who has opted out are going to be in that suppression file, right? And then some advertisers like to suppress against customers. For instance, if Netflix is running a promotion for $5 a month for 6 months, they don’t want to send that to me, who’s paying full $10 per month rates. They would include their customer list as well as their opt-outs in a suppression file. Some companies like real estate companies like to limit prospects as well. So they’ve gathered some leads that maybe haven’t converted, but they don’t necessarily want to have an affiliate mail them because they’re already doing direct mail or direct email to that group as well. So sometimes it can include prospects as well. What we’ll do is we’ll keep all of those files in UnsubCentral, and we’ll keep them separate so there’s no commingling. So at the end of the day, if the advertisers want to go pull their suppression file or their list they know, OK these are customers, these were people who opted out, and these were prospects, and they can easily tell the difference between the three. One of the other things we can do, and this is something that we just rolled out with release of our new platform last year, is a preference center. So rather than have a customer opt completely out of their emails, which can cannibalize your list or cause considerable list attrition, we allow them to opt down as well. So you’re still staying CAN-SPAM compliant. If they want to opt out of all emails, they can still do that, but we've found a decrease in unsubscribes by 75% for people that have implemented some sort of preference center. So they can opt down in frequency, for instance, going from daily to weekly or monthly emails, and they can also change the types of email that they would like to receive. For instance, if you signed up for promotions and you’re opting out and don’t want that any more, maybe you’ll actually sign up for a list for new product releases or webinars or blog information, things of that nature. And so what we’ve actually seen, as a nice sort of unexpected win, is that when people go to opt out, they’re not opting out completely. They’re actually opting in to additional lists that we store and give back to the client as well so that they can in turn go back and mail to them.
JM: Interesting, I’ve never heard the term opting down before. I can see how that’s, you said, up to a 75% increase.
CA: That’s right yes, there was a Gartner survey done a couple of years ago that said 78% of people who opt out from emails don’t opt out because they don’t want to hear from the brand anymore. It’s just the time or the type of communication isn’t what they want. By giving the consumer the ability to choose how often they’re getting messaged and what type of message, you can really cut down on your list attrition and your opt-outs. One of the other things that we’ve released, and I think it’s really kind of innovative, is that on the thank you page for unsubscribing, that doesn’t have to be a death knell, and you're unable to market to that customer anymore; it means you can’t email them. So what we’d like to advise our clients to do is on that thank you page say we understand that you don’t want to receive emails anymore, we totally get that, but maybe you’d like to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get promotions or deals that way. And so again, even though you may have lost that person, you know they’ve completely opted out, but you still might get a chance to market to them through your social media or other channels as well. Because again we’re allowing the customer to choose how often and how they want to be marketed to.
JM: Of course all of us have heard the horror stories of data breaches, online hackers, the whole mess that can happen. I would imagine email is similar to credit cards, although maybe not as damaging. In this case, how is email data security managed and what does an advertiser need to be aware of?
CA: Email security on the UnsubCentral side is managed in a couple of ways. So we have to manage the security of our own database and our own servers and environment there against attacks similar to what the credit card industry does with PCI as far as putting in best practices and keeping that environment secure. But UnsubCentral has the added complication of transferring large quantities of email addresses between advertisers and affiliates. To do that, we've set up a couple of different encryption methods. We support MD5 and SHA256. MD5 is a 32-bit hexadecimal encryption method which basically turns an email address into an unreadable string of characters. It works on the premise of replacing certain letters with other letters, and it has its own algorithm that runs so that you can hash the data and anonymize it so that it can’t be seen with the naked eye. SHA256 is a bit more complex - it actually is a 64-bit system, so it provides even more security and makes it much much harder to crack that encryption. To my knowledge, no one has ever cracked SHA256, so it’s been holding up quite well. Now in addition to that, we can also add a specific key. So in addition to SHA256 or MD5, we can create a special key for an advertiser that adds one more layer of anonymity to the actual process so that it will vary from affiliate to affiliate or advertiser to advertiser if they want to go down that road.
If you have questions about how to reduce your unsubscribes please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We offer encoded list scrubbing and secure sharing for sustained and single email campaigns. We’ve helped dozens of major brands protect their brand reputation. Learn more with our Compliance Handbook today!
The CAN-SPAM Act sets the standards for the sending of commercial email and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its rules. The intention of the act is to give recipients the right to decline spam emails. It is imperative to follow these principles because the penalties for non-compliance can be pricey, reaching a maximum of $16,000 for every single email in violation. Here are some useful guidelines to better understand the CAN-SPAM Act requirements!
DO: Include your valid postal address in every email you send out. This can be a physical street address, a post office box, or a private mailbox as long as they are all registered with the U.S. Postal Service or established under their regulations. It is necessary to provide true and honest information to your audience.
DON’T: Make it difficult to unsubscribe from emails. This means you cannot charge a fee, demand personal information other than email, or force them to take lengthy steps to unsubscribe. Sending a reply message or visiting a single page on an Internet website are the only steps allowed as a condition for opting out.
DO: Provide a clear and obvious way to opt out of every email sent out. Use of type size, color, and location may help provide clarity. If recipients wish to stop receiving emails, they should be able to make the request easily and effortlessly. You also need to honor that unsubscribe within 10 business days (but please just do it immediately).
DON’T: Sell or transfer any email address. After someone unsubscribes, you must respect the recipient and their personal information. You may transfer the email addresses to a company only if it is hired specifically to assist with CAN-SPAM compliance. While not recommended it is, however, legal to rent email lists.
DO: Use clear “From,” “To,” and “Reply-To,” language that correctly displays who you are. This applies to the domain name, email address, and the person or business sending the message.
DON’T: Use deceptive subject lines in your emails. You need to be clear and concise about the content within the email, so there should be no misrepresentation.
The goal of the CAN-SPAM Act is to allow recipients a choice in commercial messaging. By remaining transparent with the emails you send, you will abide by these principles. For more information, the FTC explains all the rules on their website. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of CAN-SPAM compliance and can apply these guidelines to your own emails!
Whatever your reason for using multiple email service providers, we’re sure you’re looking for ways to manage your current situation not only efficiently but effectively. It can be stressful making sure that every component of your email marketing program is running smoothly, especially when you’re juggling more than one email service provider. There could be a number of reasons you’ve ended up here:
You’ve amassed an assortment of niche email providers that you use for different purposes.
You’ve been bought and sold a few times meaning you have several ESPs for different branches or divisions.
Your homegrown solution is no longer the best fit and now you’re ready to move to a more robust platform.
As a marketer you’re already utilizing this ROI rich channel, but how do you do it better? It’s important to be able to share and communicate your data between platforms. Job number one: you’re going to need to centralize your data.
Syncing Providers Shouldn’t be a Headache
Maintaining multiple ESPs is not completely unmanageable, but you will need to implement the right tools for the job. It’s time to implement a centralized hub that your data can live in.
Creating an environment for all your data to peacefully coexist between ESPs has several benefits:
List Hygiene. Removing all hard bounces will help your deliverability stay high. Removing any email addresses that brands share will cut down on the amount of sending that you’re doing (though hopefully not too much). It will also keep your customers feeling good about your campaign and not annoyed that they received multiples emails with the same message.
Keeps your brand CAN-SPAM compliant. If a customer decides that they no longer want to receive emails from a company you’re working with and have unsubscribed, you’ll definitely want to be able to remove them from your co-marketing campaign sending list. While this is going a step beyond being compliant it’s important to always maintain a current database of customers who have unsubscribed from your email lists. A customer marking your email as SPAM will not only affect your deliverability it can affect your reputation.
Protect your deliverability and ultimately your bottom line. Sending emails that never arrive because of defective addresses can negatively influence your sender reputation. That increases the likelihood that your emails don't make it to the inbox. Emails that don't get delivered mean emails that don't get opened, don't get clicked, and don't generate revenue. The bottom line is undelivered emails affect your bottom line. You can never accurately calculate the amount of money you don’t make when emails don’t land where they should.
Investigate using a company that can assist you with list management. Scrubbing email addresses before you send is a vital part of an email program. Using or partnering with a company that can smartly and easily identify and remove invalid or unsubscribed email addresses from your lists will free up your time so that you can focus on the strategy of crafting a superb campaign not the logistics.
Clean lists are important, but keeping them that way can get complicated when multiple ESPs are involved. Luckily there are tools available to keep your deliverability on track, your customers happy, and your money in your pocket.While not ideal, having multiple ESP’s does not mean you cannot protect yourself from losing money.
There are many benefits to making email co-marketing part of your marketing strategy. It will give you the opportunity to create lasting relationships with like-minded brands. A co-marketing campaign will allow you to be introduced and get to know a new audience that is open to building a trusting relationship with your brand. It will also help to strengthen your message with your own customers because you’ve recommended a brand that they may like and created something useful for them.
It’s a clear day with little to no wind, so turbulence shouldn’t be an issue when finding your perfect co-marketing match. I’m sure you’re thinking, “But how will I know I’ve found them, oh captain my captain?” Simply answer the following questions:
Does working with this company make sense for my brand? The answer to this question is about more than social metrics. It’s great if a company can offer an extensive audience, but the value of what you can offer each other’s customers is most important because it offers the best ROI in terms of conversion and future partnerships. If you have a company that sells workout gear think about working with a juicing company instead of a company that sells chainsaws. Even if taking a chainsaw to something sounds therapeutic, it also sounds crazy.
Do we share common goals? What experience or asset will be of most benefit to your customer? Think about how your partner can fit that narrative. Your partnership will be more successful if your main goal is to create something that benefits both of your customers.
What do I have to offer? Get your game face on and think before you make contact. What specific pieces of information are you looking to collect? Consider what information is valuable to your potential partner. Now’s the time to think beyond name and email. In order to collect information that you can use to create meaningful and entertaining email reach outside the inbox, try zip code, birthday or shoe size. This will make your offer for collaboration one that’ll be hard to refuse.
2. Make the Connection
So now that you’ve got your signal locked on a fellow marketing traveller, it’s time to seal the deal. But how? The goal is to make a personal connection, not only to make an immediate bump in contacts, but to provide useful content for customers while fostering a relationship. Consider sending a LinkedIn message or tweeting the brand you’re interested in working with. Let them know that you have a worthwhile interesting project you think would be fun to collaborate on and see if they bite.
Remember to focus on the benefits for both of you that will come from working together. How will both of you benefit from a partnership?
3. Know Your Flight Path
You’ve made contact and they’ve obviously said yes. You’ve found out what initiatives everyone’s agreed on and you need to chart your flight path. Take initiative and have your co-marketing campaign as complete as possible. It’s easier to provide something to sign off on instead of shuffling your feet waiting for someone to complete a portion allotted to them.
4. Bonus For The Jet Set
Sharing plain text emails is an offense worse than smoking in the bathroom on a plane. Be sure any lists you share are encrypted. Don’t forget to check your lists for duplicates so that shared customers aren’t getting the same message twice.
This is your captain speaking. It’s a beautiful day in sunny email co-marketing city. You’ve reached your destination, and you can kick back with a pina colada and wait until the campaign data comes back.
If you still need help planning your journey through the land of email co-marketing campaigns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer list scrubbing before and after co-marketing email campaigns. We’ve helped dozens of major brands reach their campaign goals via co-marketing. Book your next co-marketing flight with us!
Here’s the newest low-down on some more than cool co-marketing we’ve seen lately. If you were there when we went on our most recent tour of publishers winning with co-marketing, then you’ll have some idea of what to look forward to in this article. If not, catch up here first, and prepare to be amazed by some brilliant B2C co-marketing campaigns:
We’ll begin our show tonight with a clear-cut goodie. While we all love to see the glitz and glam of innovative ideas, sometimes, tried and true methods are the best option to show your efforts are not just a flash in the email inbox pan. Free People used a giveaway to collect information for themselves and two other companies. Using a theme for their giveaway allowed them to promote other companies that made sense with their brand, in this instance their active wear line.
Not only is their email clearly branded, but their landing page plainly tells you what company offers you can sign up for in the future. This campaign could use some social sharing buttons for each brand. Overall, it’s a solid performance even if no one shouts encore.
While not strictly a retail company, themuse has associated itself with other companies that align with it’s message of self care. That is to say they’ve carefully cultivated a sense of community that even the best of retail companies struggle with or, to utter the overused word, a sense of authenticity. The campaign we’re featuring highlights them playing to their strengths and enticing customers with a message of self improvement. Like the example above, they’ve chosen to co-market with a number of companies to create a greater enticement for subscriber’s emails and promoting their brand with a sense of community or as a lifestyle.
The sign up is easy, with a minimal amount of information needed. Including a zip code in the information they’ve collected is vital information for all the companies involved. This is a good example of not only focusing on the best way to communicate with your customers but deciding which information will make a partnership worthwhile to other brands.
Etsy & General Assembly
The collaborative efforts of General Assembly and Etsy are an interesting snapshot for the direction co-marketing may take. By utilizing events and offering resources they can work with a particular type of subscriber, influencers. These influencers can then promote the event or brands to their own followers or subscribers. Etsy and GA are creating excitement and building interest in two brands that you wouldn’t normally think complement each other. They’re harnessing two customer bases, the craftiness of Etsy and the classroom learning style of General Assembly to create a super DIY, or shall we say Skillshare in transit.
Next up, athleisure brand Bandier is following the trend by sending a co-marketing campaign with a number of other brands included. They’re trying to attract the 20-40 active female demographic by focusing on lifestyle, authenticity and experience creation.
They've made sure to show customers how they can interact with them, besides email, with their social links prominently displayed at the bottom of their email. Bandier also included a quick easy form and a listing for all the brands that you'll be hearing from by entering the contest. It's best practice to offer a check box that gives you the option to opt-out of emails. Its always good for companies to be transparent about how customer information will be handled when running a co-marketing campaign.
rag & bone
We’ll finish up with retailer rag & bone and talk about their partnership with publisherRefinery29. Refinery29 knows what will appeal to their 20-40 female demographic and they have a nack for creating tempting co-marketing campaigns.
The rundown is this, these brands are using their knowledge of their customer demographic to pick the most effective brands to partner with. This makes it more likely that customers will want to be contacted with future messages. The use of social sharing buttons is important because it allows your customers to become brand advocates and share your brand with subscribers who will be interested in what you have to offer.
These brands have all made it their focus to use co-marketing to further their branding as lifestyle or community creating brands. They've been able to do this by finding and collaborating with complementary brands and offering experiences that not only represent but promote that lifestyle.
If you're still feeling puzzled about co-marketing please reach out to us at email@example.com. We offer business-to-business list scrubbing— before and after co-marketing email campaigns—so brand participants can keep email lists secure. We’ve helped dozens of major brands reach their campaign goals via co-marketing. Yours can be next.
Once you’ve completed the herculean task of picking a company to co-market with, it’s time to decide how to execute your plan. Will you offer a giveaway? A discount? Provide beloved customers (or potential customers) with invaluable information? And once you’ve answered these questions, on an even more practical level, how do you execute your plan? What do you need to ensure your campaign will come to fruition with no hiccups and a whole lotta payoff?
Well I’ve got three killer email co-marketing campaigns to show you, from companies who have their co-marketing campaigns taking them to the bank. So without further ado, let’s show their moves.
Lucky Peach and The Paris Review
If you’re into interesting culinary info, check out Lucky Peach, the print brainchild of Momofuku Chef David Chang and food writer Peter Meehan. This nifty publication sends a weekly newsletter with some great deals for gift-giving holidays, and sometimes just because, like their recent collaboration with The Paris Review. This collaboration is a great idea because both of these publications reach the same demographic people with specific niche interest in, and those that overlap between the two brands are very to likely to get in on this deal. Those that don’t overlap have hopefully become new subscribers.
Saveur and Williams-Sonoma
Williams-Sonoma knows the best offense is a good defense. By partnering with a publication like Saveur, they’re helping customers buying that $100 stainless steel saute pan solidify their decision (Fond makes the best gravy, duh. Take that non-stick pans!). We’re going to walk you through all the things this partnership has done oh-so-right.
Williams-Sonoma is consistent every step of the way. They know who to target (food enthused and/or home cooks), how to target them, and once they have their attention, how to get the most out of it. Their email marketing efforts get an A+.
Then came this form that not only told me about all the cool stuff I could win but also gives me the option to opt-in (or not) for Saveur emails.
They made sure to include several calls-to-action at the top of the form. Time and space is money, and they’re not wasting theirs or their subscriber’s.
Refinery29 and DramaFever
Refinery29 is the “it girl” when it comes to publications for female 20-40 somethings. So you better believe they’re on point with their marketing efforts. Instagram, Snapchat -they do all things social marketing, and they’ve got their perfectly lined eyes on streaming services too. That means they know that DramaFever is the new K-Drama subscriber-rich kid on the block.
They targeted the DramaFever crowd a few months ago when they sent out this offer to DramaFever subscribers:
If that wasn’t enough to cause widespread pandemonium, they followed up with this super simple landing page. The form is meant for maximum email capture potential. Notice the BIG social sharing buttons.
So what did we learn about running a successful co-marketing campaign from these brands?
Do your research and find your kindred marketing spirit. It’s important to know the demographics your partner targets so that you know if they align with your own goals. Choosing the right brand can determine a campaign’s success. Decide how your campaign will benefit both parties. Knowing the benefits of partnering with you will give other brands a reason to jump into your co-marketing adventure.
Create specific messages for your customers. You know best what your customers want to hear, and how, so use your own carefully curated voice to offer them your co-marketing campaign. Do you want clicks, emails, purchases? Focus on streamlining your message for that purpose. Be sure to include social links from both parties.
If you have any other co-marketing quandaries you’d like answered feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer business-to-business list scrubbing— before and after co-marketing email campaigns—so brand participants can keep email lists secure. We’ve helped dozens of major brands reach their campaign goals via co-marketing. Yours can be next.
"We're honored to receive a place on the OTA 2016 Honor Roll for the second year in a row,” said CEO Tony D’Anna. “At UnsubCentral and PostUp, we believe that protecting consumer security and privacy online is critical to building positive customer experiences. We’re proud to be recognized for our work to help brands and agencies move beyond compliance to stewardship.”
“UnsubCentral has shown valuable leadership in the field of CAN-SPAM, data privacy and email compliance,” said Craig Spiezle, executive director of the Online Trust Alliance. “We congratulate them for achieving the Honor Roll again in 2016, demonstrating commitment to excellence in best security, privacy and consumer protection practices.”
To learn more, attend the webinar on June 28th at 8 AM or 4 PM Pacific Time. Register here.
50% of companies made the Honor Roll this year, including UnsubCentral. The analysis shows that company size and/or sales are not true measures of the level of security and privacy a company implements. “All companies are equally evaluated by the same criterion regardless of size. We have seen large e-retailers with significant sales fail to make the Honor Roll; conversely we have seen small to mid-size companies taking top grades,” said Spiezle.
Now in its 8th year, the Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll is the only comprehensive, independent online trust benchmark study. Started in 2008 as an effort to drive adoption of best practices, its objectives are to 1) recognize leadership and commitment to best practices which aid in the protection of online trust and confidence in online services, 2) enable businesses to enhance their security, data protection and privacy practices, 3) move from compliance to stewardship, demonstrating support of meaningful self-regulation, and 4) promote security & privacy as part of a company’s brand promise and value proposition.
The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) is a non-profit with the mission to enhance online trust and user empowerment while promoting innovation and the vitality of the Internet. Its goal is to help educate businesses, policy makers and stakeholders while developing and advancing best practices and tools to enhance the protection of users' security, privacy and identity. OTA supports collaborative public-private partnerships, benchmark reporting, and meaningful self-regulation and data stewardship. Its members and supporters include leaders spanning the public policy, technology, ecommerce, social networking, mobile, email and interactive marketing, financial, service provider, government agency and industry organization sectors. https://otalliance.org
UnsubCentral offers the industry's leading solution for email compliance and opt-out list management. UnsubCentral provides advertisers, agencies, and networks with the necessary tools to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act by allowing them to securely manage opt-out and customer lists across third party partners.
List scrubbing is a necessary tool for being compliant when sending emails. By the sound of it, email list scrubbing means making your lists squeaky clean. But there are uses for scrubbing beyond compliance. List scrubbing means comparing two (or more) encrypted email lists to look for data that does or does not match. Co-marketing, having a central hub for all your email platforms, and segmentation are all marketing strategies that email list scrubbing can help achieve. Here’s a look at how we help our clients scrub their lists..
When two different companies produce a piece of content or create a joint offer and present it to their audiences, it means they’ll likely be sharing email lists. Sharing your list with a carefully selected partner can be an effective way to gain new customers. Understandably, many companies will be reluctant to share their lists and it may even be against their privacy policies. UnsubCentral provides a secure space to share encrypted data. We’ll scrub your lists to make sure you’re not mailing the same customers twice and that you’re honoring opt-outs on both sides.
Often times enterprise-level companies wish to cross-promote their products between their own business units. Today’s tech-savvy customer will expect you to know that they may do business with more than one of your brands. Before conducting cross-promotions, you will want to compare lists to make sure the customers are not already on both lists and already own the product you are cross-promoting. If your lists are too large to manage internally, we can do that comparison for you. This can be done as a onetime list scrub, or we can provide ongoing support as your list continues to grow.
As companies grow, they can acquire a number of tools to manage their day-to-day activities, and this includes Email Service Providers. In order to stay CAN-SPAM compliant, you will need a central location for all your unsubscribes so that you can follow the law. Communicating between platforms can be difficult. By using UnsubCentral to host your lists, you will be able to make sure your data is up-to-date in all your platforms and encrypted for security. We can also provide easy-to-use tools for your affiliates.
We hope we've left you with some good insights about how list scrubbing can help you. If you have any questions about what else you can do to curb opt outs send them to us at email@example.com. Get scrubbing!
There comes a time in all our marketing lives where we wonder, what have we done? This moment can manifest for a variety of reasons, but email campaigns should never be one. Emails are that standby guy in the rom-com, the old friend the girl can always count on to deliver. Email is our Duckie.
Like a rom-com there’s always that cute new platform that moved in down the street that doesn’t appreciate us like it should ahem*snapchat. Unlike a rom-com, our relationship with our best friend email takes work. We don’t get what we don’t give. So how do we give our all?
Give your subscribers a reason to click on those emails. When you are able to speak to your subscriber like you know them then you’re at your personalization peak. Try to think beyond using a person’s name for personalization. Try to use other information you have available to you, like what emails they’ve previously opened, their time zone or even the anniversary of their subscription.
Personalization is about delighting your customers so that their experiences aren’t only good but memorable. Thereby nudging them to open the next time you send them something.
Preferencerize (not real a word but rhyming with personalize is tricky)
How else do we gather intel to provide our subscribers with the best experience? The answer to that very specific question is using a preference center. Utilizing a preference platform gives your customers the ability to tell the future, at least when it comes to your email program, because they’ll have picked what’s in store in for them. All that’ll be left for you to do is hand over the goods.
A good preference collector lets a customer pick frequency, topic, and mode of communication. It’s also a good option for unsubscription damage control. Providing a preference center can encourage your subscribers to opt down, not out.
If you have any questions about what else you can do to curb opt outs send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep on keepin on marketers!
The sting of a customer unsubscribing hurts but can be turned into a teachable moment. If the rate at which some your audience is unsubscribing gives you cause for concern, consider revising your email unsubscribe process.
There can actually be a benefit to unsubscribes. Keep reading to learn why letting your customers easily say hasta la vista actually works in your favor; maybe, just maybe, they’ll be back.
1. Protect Your Deliverability
Sending emails that don’t get opened by recipients is annoying; being reported as spam is the worst. Having customers unsubscribe is better than accidentally pushing them into pressing that SPAM button.
The unsubscribe process is a mutual and amicable separation; the divorce without the lawyer. It doesn’t have to mean goodbye forever since a customer can always come back. But if you make the process difficult or just plain ignore unsubscribe requests, you’ll get identified as SPAM – and that’s where your problems can start. Being marked as SPAM can affect your deliverability or inbox placement, and once it happens, it’s not easy to clean up.
2. Unsubscribes: The Not So Hidden Metric
The unsubscribe link is basically a call-to-action. By providing a link which allows people to easily click and unsubscribe, you are creating a trackable segment. The ability to see this metric provides marketers with the capability to see beyond what’s going wrong and understand who is opting out and infer why they’re opting out.
Monitoring the rate of your unsubscribes will enable you to see which of your campaigns do or don’t work. You could add a survey to help track why your subscribers want to leave, which provides another piece to the trackable puzzle.
3. Make The Unsubscribe Process Transparent
Feel like exasperating those people who are trying to opt out of your emails? Make opting out difficult. Using hard to see fonts and colors for a link is a no-go. Even worse — and illegal — is requiring passwords to complete the process. Make those links visible! You don’t have to be able to see them from space, but make sure you don’t need a magnifying glass to see them.
Focus on a way to make your customers reconsider unsubscribing by utilizing a preference center. Make the opt-out easy, but provide some extra options. That way your customers are not frustrated with your unsubscribe process, and they’re more inclined to stick around on their own terms. This may help you salvage your relationship with your customer.
Alternate options for your preference center include updating email addresses, changing mailing frequency, choosing which topic (or topics) they want to be contacted about, and communication type (maybe they prefer texts). Including these options is a smart way to play defense because they give your customer the option to opt down not out.
Being rejected is never fun and having customers unsubscribe can cause a red alert. The best way to combat that is to be proactive and provide your customers with a pleasant experience and options. By providing both, you can protect your deliverability and reputation and, more importantly, gather intel about when your customers unsubscribe and why. Make those unsubscribes work for you.
So you’ve been collecting email addresses. Your list is growing, and now you’re ready to launch email campaigns. But before you do, consider these three email tips to keep your audience from pushing those unsubscribe (or SPAM) buttons.
Everyone knows the must-be-exhausted adage, “don’t judge a book by it's cover.” But with the hundreds of emails your customers receive on a weekly basis, you genuinely only have a split second to make a good impression. It’s not just about content, it’s about looks too. So give your emails a hand so they can shine like breathtaking marketing diamonds. For a glitzy glimmering inspiration check out these dazzling email possibilities from Litmus.
3. Think Smarketing
Writing engaging content and creating emails that are pleasing to the eye are steps in the right direction, but if you don’t know who you’re writing to and don’t have a plan to meet their needs, your hard work isn’t going to achieve your goals. Knowing your goals can be the first step in figuring out what message you need to convey. What kind of conversion are you trying to generate? Do you want shares, click-throughs, purchases?
The best way to accomplish any of these goals is to give people the content they’re craving. Think about employing a preference center or surveys in order to segment your customers to send them the content most effective at catching their fancy.
Hopefully these tips will help you with your next email campaigns so that you can focus your time on other marketing tasks. If you need help figuring out how to best implement a preference center, feel free to contact us at email@example.com and one of our Account Executives will be happy to help!
We’re well into full political campaign swing. There’s been heated debates on both sides, campaign dreams rising and crashing, and copious amounts of commercials, social media messages, and emails….oh the emails.
You may not know that CAN-SPAM only applies to commercial email. This means that the political email you get from candidates doesn’t have to be CAN-SPAM compliant. However, it is in the best interest of anyone sending email to follow CAN-SPAM best practices. It’s best to keep your readers happy, especially when you want to leave a good impression.
Here’s a quick rundown of the best practices for being CAN-SPAM compliant (and someone constituents would donate money to):
Take people off your mailing list no more than 10 business days from when they’ve unsubscribed
Provide a noticeable unsubscribe link on all your emails
Don’t use false or misleading header info or subject lines
Marco Rubio included this subject line in a recent email campaign. Illustration: Ariel Zambelich/NPR
Emails provide a platform for fundraising. They also provide a direct connection with prospective voters. Voters are becoming increasingly aware of what makes a good (and not so good) email interaction. So why would you want to jeopardize your relationship or reputation by missing out on easily following CAN-SPAM laws?
As we race towards election day, let’s keep an eye on the political email in our inboxes and see if they are adhering to best practices or if they have slipped into some bad habits.
If you would like to find out how we can manage both your suppression and opt in lists, please give us a call.
It’s a regular day. You’re getting ready to push that send button on an email campaign. Suddenly, you hear a sweetly shimmering voice in your ear, “Wait! Wait! Are you being CAN-SPAM compliant?” I know this is somewhere on your list of top 10 things that didn’t happen, so let me be the angelic voice of marketing reason for you.
Don’t use false or misleading header info. Tell people what you want in the subject line.
Make sure subject lines aren’t deceptive. You are not the big bad wolf. Don’t play dress up and pretend to be someone you’re not.
If the message is an advertisement, say so. If you’re trying to sell something, make it clear that’s the case.
Include your physical address. Yes, people use snail mail to stop getting email.
Give subscribers an easy way to opt out. Make it as easy as 1, 2, 3… Actually, just make it a one-step process.
You have 10 business days to get people off your list. But let’s be real, just do it as soon as possible.
If someone emails an opted-out address on your behalf, you CAN be fined. That fine is $16,000 per email in case you were wondering.
I know you’re thinking “I would never send my customers or prospects SPAM. Who do you think I am? One of those spammers?”
But let’s think a step beyond email compliance. Basically, SPAM could be described as anything we don’t want. No one wants SPAM. But by this definition, there are quite a bit of messages and content people are pushing that could be considered SPAM. Sounds ludicrous right?
Wrong, because if someone doesn’t want your email and marks it as SPAM, it’s considered SPAM by email service providers. End of story. And while unwanted messages are not legally SPAM, they may affect your deliverability. Besides, email compliance laws are designed to do what? Make sure subscribers receive information they actually want.
“Well, now what?” you’re thinking, “what do you suggest I do, oh angelic voice of marketing reason?” We need to start thinking about what customers want and how they’ll get it.
Collect information about what content your customers would like to receive. You can:
implement a preference center to give your customers the ability to pick not only what content they want but when they want it.
When you follow CAN-SPAM best practices, you’re not just being compliant, you’re protecting your brand reputation. Having a positive brand image is a currency you don’t want to bankrupt. Like HubSpot succinctly put, when people have a positive feeling about your brand they will share it and that will benefit you in the end.
If you have any questions about how to manage your suppression lists or are intrigued by the idea of a preference center, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and our account executives would be excited to help you out!
In case you haven’t heard, UnsubCentral has released our newest feature, Preference Center. While we’re super excited about it, we thought you might have some questions, namely WHY are we so excited? It comes down to email list management.
That doesn’t sound exciting or novel but let’s think of a list as one of those tiny primary colored bricks that you don’t want to step on barefoot in the middle of night. The email list is the building block for developing a personal and wanted relationship between you and your customer. Lists help us to manage our customers and prospects while giving us greater control for HOW we interact with our givers of revenue.
We work so hard to create lists but don’t realize that they need to be nurtured to get the results we want. We’ve put together some tips to help you do just that.
1. Opt-in’s - the gold standard
It’s preferable for your subscribers to opt-in to your list directly. While it may not be the law of the land in the United States, our Canadian neighbors do require opt-ins for emailing (thanks, CASL). A customer opting to subscribe to your email really wants to receive content that you have to give. Just remember, with inbox access comes great responsibility.
2. Scrub-a-dub your email list
Clean up and clean out bounces, unsubscribes, and gasp maybe even inactive subscribers? When engagement metrics are the key to keeping your deliverability high, removing dormant parts of your email list can improve your inbox placement rates in the long run. Still, if you want to try and revive those long gone inactive emails, Kissmetrics will help you.
3. Give’em what they want… options!
One of Kissmetrics’ suggestions is giving customers options.You can do this by offering a quiz or preference center to allow the customer to choose what they want. They won’t know they have choices if you don’t tell them, and it’s worth the effort from you to keep them engaged. If that preference center idea sounds like something you could use, UnsubCentral can help with that.
4. Please. Don’t. Purchase.
On behalf of all the marketers everywhere, please don’t buy lists. Unlike your grocery trips, going organic can actually save you money! Buying email lists is always no bueno. You miss out on the chance to create a real authentic relationship with your subscriber and could potentially damage relationships with current customers. Please don’t succumb to the fast list temptation. Do follow the helpful hints for healthy, organically-grown lists by HubSpot.
We’ve also been digging this chapter from Zapier for a more in-depth guide to getting started with segmenting.
Lists are the colorful plastic building blocks of any solid email campaign. But now that you ‘ve got your list building, it’s time for some list management. It's not enough to just grow a big list, you have to manage it. Good list management will help you create an efficient and successful email marketing program. If you’d like some more information on list management best practices reach out to us email@example.com and our account executives would be excited to help you out!
We are all aware of the potential costs of a CAN-SPAM violation ($16,000 per each individual email: ouch) and the cost to your brand reputation caused by emailing customers and prospects too frequently, but do you know how much revenue is left on the table when you only give the option of global opt outs to your subscribers?
As consumers, we receive dozens if not hundreds of email marketing messages daily. They come in the form of offers and promotional discounts, newsletters, event notices, etc. As an avid golfer, I receive quite a few emails from club manufacturers. I like to receive information about promotions and demo day events, but I am not particularly interested in hearing about one of their sponsored pros and how they fared in that week’s PGA event. Unfortunately, when I click unsubscribe, I am only given the ability to opt out of all of the emails for that brand, and for the brand, that can be costly. For instance when I opted out of the TaylorMade emails after the announcement that Jason Day won The Barclays in August, they missed the opportunity to send me offers around the holidays, and as a result, I ended up buying a few dozen personalized balls from another manufacturer who sent a timely email in December.
Missed Opportunities Add Up
According to Smarter Insights, 0.27% of all email recipients per send opt out of further email from the brand. When you factor in an industry average 0.4% conversion rate and an average order value of $182.92, lost revenue to opt-outs can quickly add up. If you are mailing weekly to a list size of 10 million, you could belosing over $1,000,000 in annual revenue.
A great way to reduce your potential lost revenue and to keep your customers and prospects engaged is to utilize a preference center.
What’s a Preference Center?
A preference center is a single page that allows users to opt in or out of only the types of messages they want to receive as well as control the frequency of those mailings. A Forrester study revealed that only 26% of unsubscribers do not want to hear from the brand ever again. That means that 74% of global opt-outs would rather customize their preferences than opt out of future messages from the brand, but unsubscribe because they have no choice. Many of you are already using a preference center for your internal email marketing, but now with UnsubCentral, you can deploy a preference center for your third-party acquisition mailings as well.
By using a preference center, you will not only reduce lost revenue due to opt-outs but will also provide your customers with a better user experience. Want to see it in action? Schedule your demo today.
There are only so many ways to make statistics interesting. But it’s that time of year again; the ecommerce super bowl of sorts. Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and left, everyone’s gearing up for the holidays.
Here Come the Big Ecommerce Questions
What kind of mood were consumers in this year? What did they buy? How much money were they willing to part with? And the biggest question, what business cheer will this holiday season bring?
Once they open your emails, nothing should interrupt your customer's sleigh ride ride into holiday shopping. Consider tools like PowerInbox or Liveclicker to create targeted, specific, and relevant content for whoever is opening your email when they open it.
According to Hubspot, 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience. If your website has scaling issues you’re going to have some serious conversion issues. And for good reason, you can’t shop a site that won’t load and no one has time to wait. We’re not Santa and it’s gonna take our presents a couple weeks to ship.
On the Fifth day of Christmas: Gift Guides are Golden Ringers
When it’s getting down to crunch time and you need to order something NOW or it won’t be here by Christmas, people often turn to gift guides. Affiliate Window has a great blog post that shows how you can promote and design your gift guide for optimum holiday saving gift suggestions. Think about including these lists in the content that you share with your customers.
What happens when brilliant brands collaborate to reach more people via email? Basically, everyone wins—including consumers, who might otherwise have missed out on products and services that fit them to a tee.
It’s called co-marketing, and it can take on different forms, even within the email channel. Co-marketing email is different from co-branded email in that the participating brands aren’t creating a new, hybrid product or resource together. Instead, they join forces to offer discounts and promotions that appeal to a shared audience.
Think of Groupon, for example. The e-commerce giant doesn’t just use co-marketing as a campaign strategy; it built its entire business model around making connections between relevant subscribers and reputable merchants. So far, business is good…
But what if your brand isn’t a social coupon site or a “daily-deal” company? How can you leverage the potential of email co-marketing? Equally important: how can you ensure you’re following best practices, in terms of email compliance and secure list scrubbing?
Not everyone is dreaming of a white Christmas. As a global leader in the vacation rental marketplace, HomeAway/VRBO knows its client base well enough to know their wish list might trend a bit warmer. So instead of preaching “home for the holidays,” they built this inspired campaign around getting away.
They partnered with travel-related companies and organizations (like the Visit Orlando tourism association) to announce a series of vacation prize packages. In this example, Visit Orlando and fellow prize providers get help in their email acquisition efforts (contest entrants opt in to receive future communications), while HomeAway delights its readership with surprise getaway “reveals” throughout the month of December.
As with any co-marketing email campaign, it’s important here for both parties to share opt-out data. In other words, HomeAway likely purged Visit Orlando’s unsubscribes from its campaign mailing list prior to launch. With the right email list-scrubbing tool (or even with white-glove list-scrubbing services, for a one-time scrub) this not-so-minor detail is super easy to accomplish. And no one has to submit plain-text email data, which should never, ever happen.
2. Delight with a Discount
All throughout December, the only pairing more perfect than cocoa and marshmallows is an easier way to shop and an easier way to pay. Zulily and Visa Checkout teamed up to give consumers both. This festive co-marketing example introduces Zulily subscribers to a new payment method while offering $15 off select purchases.
Again, the trick here is to make sure appropriate recipients are targeted (or anti-targeted, as it were). These brands need to (securely) cross-reference their opt-out lists, so Zulily subscribers who have already unsubscribed from any Visa Checkout offers don’t see more content on the same subject. Additionally, Zulily subscribers who already have Visa Checkout accounts don’t need this extra nudge.
3. Reach Out with a Roundup
Brands like Groupon and Living Social are well-known for aggregating local deals and offers. You can follow their lead in the form of a seasonal co-marketing campaign or gift guide, “rounding up” quality brands that complement your offerings.
Is there still time to plan and execute an email gift guide for this winter holiday season? Not really. But hey, 2016 is about to usher in the next wave of giving opportunities: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation… Pointing your subscribers toward amazing gifts ideas can be a big win for them and for you. And remember, list scrubbing before email co-marketing is crucial, but it doesn’t have to be complex.
For more great examples of email co-marketing, subscribe to email alerts/newsletters from brands like Rue La La, Choxi, and Groupon. Meanwhile, if you’re creating a co-marketing campaign please share it with us so we can feature you in an upcoming blog!
Right now most email marketers are knee-deep in holiday campaigns: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Super Saturday… But the New Year will be here before you know it, and you’ll want strong numbers to maintain the momentum you built in Q4. So how’s this for a fresh idea?
Consider adding a co-marketing email campaign to your 2016 calendar. Co-marketing is nothing new and yet, as one CMO explains, it is among “the best-kept secrets for gaining valuable new audiences.”
We’ve offered examples of email co-marketing before. Now it’s time to talk logistics. Follow these steps to ensure you’re selecting the best possible email partners, then get the facts on exchanging email data—efficiently and securely—with another awesome brand. (It’s easier than you think!)
Consider the Size and Scope of Their Audience
For a successful co-marketing email campaign, it’s important to join forces with someone who brings at least as much to the table, in terms of reach and visibility. There are some easy yardsticks you can use to gain this kind of competitive intelligence. For starters, see if their web traffic is comparable to yours. Check out how many social followers they have or how many “view counts” their YouTube content has amassed. If your prospective partner is a publicly-traded company, it wouldn’t hurt to review its financials, either. Ultimately, the size of their subscriber list may be the most important factor, but looking at big picture stats gives you the context you need to start a conversation.
Find a Partner with Adequate Resources
Resources don’t just refer to marketing budgets. “Resources” can also mean dedicated brainpower. Ask for the names of any individuals you’ll be working with on your email partners’ teams. Do a quick LinkedIn search to verify credentials. Be leery of partners who can’t assign a concrete owner to your project, or of those who point you toward an intern/less experienced associate.
Email co-marketing campaigns aren’t necessarily labor intensive, but you need high-level input surrounding accountability metrics, campaign goals, creation and approval of the content itself. Once begun, you’ll want to ensure you can get answers or refine details with a knowledgeable contact. Speaking of details…
Be (100%) Sure Your Target Markets and Values Align
The importance of co-marketing with relevant, parallel brand almost goes without saying… almost.
Do you remember what happened last year when Lands’ End rewarded preferred customers with a free gift? Many in Lands’ End conservative/female demographic do, because it turns out the free gift was an issue of GQ magazine— boasting a cover photo of a virtually topless model.
Condé Nast and Lands’ End might have avoided this co-marketing snafu by better aligning the offer with the interests and values of the target audience. Even though the campaign’s intended common ground—described as “fashion and lifestyle topics”—sounds fitting in theory, it’s clear that the publisher’s full collection of magazines was too broad to delight Lands’ End subscribers (particularly the ones buying school uniforms for their children). In the end, Lands’ End executives had to apologize, and switch the free gift subscription to Condé Nast Traveler.
Look for Partners that Are Actively Building Trust, Credibility, and Engagement
It’s one thing to collect 37 million Facebook fans. It’s quite another to earn customers’ trust, sustain a conversation, and truly understand the things they care about. Brands like Disney, Apple, and Oreo manage to do all of that, according to polls.
But you don’t need a major media survey to gauge a brand’s integrity and overall likeability. Instead, look for companies that are nailing it with user-generated content—one of the 10 trendsForbes identified as defining the future of marketing. Any brand that actively places customers in the spotlight—via online reviews, social exchanges, blogs, etc.—is proving its ability to engage and its willingness to co-create great content.
Ask about Co-Marketing Guidelines and Policies
While this is probably the step to start with, we’re listing it last to keep it top of mind: establish co-marketing/cobranding guidelines that clearly outline your brand’s audiences, values, and philosophies. When you put together a co-marketing proposal, this will be an important attachment. And you should ask for one in return from any email partners you’re considering. (Some brands have their cobranding guidelines publicly available; you can use them as a template if you haven’t drafted yours yet.)
Regarding email co-marketing specifically, you may want to add compliance provisions that address when and how customer/subscriber data will be protected. For example, you may want to include a guidelines requirement that says email partners must share and cleanse lists via a neutral, third-party list scrubbing platform or list scrubbing service. (You and your partners can now commission a one-time scrub as part of our white-glove service.) Because sharing plain-text email files and/or failing to de-dupe lists against current customers and opt outs is a very bad idea.
Do you agree that Daniel Smith’s assessment that co-marketing has “silently integrated itself into mainstream marketing without reaching its full potential or gaining the attention it deserves”? Are you already practicing co-marketing with email partners, and if so, are you following best practices for list scrubbing?
We all agree that email is great. Now, let’s see how we can make a good thing better. As email evolves, it continues to rank number one among all channels for digital marketers. But how can you take your highest performing channel and make it work even harder for you by diversifying your email service providers?
Save marketing dollars through load-balancing.
Since your email service provider, or ESP, charges by volume of email sent, it makes sense to send all your emails from a single provider, right? Counterintuitively, no. While volume affects rates at a single provider, it’s important to remember that not all ESPs cost the same.
What type of emails generate the most volume for your company? When you take the time to match message types (promotional, cross/up-sell, transactional, password recovery) to ESPs based on features and strengths, it’s possible to save significant marketing dollars.
Generally, a company might use lower-cost ESPs to handle transactional emails, like receipts, order confirmations and password recovery messages. Such messages are delivered to your most highly engaged customers – folks who are expecting to hear from you.
Alternately, your leads should be nurtured by a more powerful ESP with smart features designed to drive engagement and build relationships.
Improve deliverability (and thus email profitability) by playing to your ESPs’ strengths.
Consider your ESPs’ strengths. When you strategically match ESPs’ strengths - such as high deliverability to distinct ISPs or expertise in specific vertical markets – to your needs, you’re optimizing micro-deliverability of your email program and improving your email profitability. Because strengths can fluctuate, make sure to keep an eye on performance of individual ESPs over time.
Cover your bases to prevent costly mistakes by practicing redundancy.
While ESP outages aren’t common, they can be costly. Timeliness is critical for new business campaigns as it is for customer communications. Working with multiple ESPs ensures you have a backup. What’s more, you’ll be able to compensate for a temporary drop in delivery and performance from one ESP with another if and when that happens.
And last but not least, remember to centralize your email data.
Now that you’re thinking about how implementing multiple ESPs can make your email programs more effective and efficient, don’t forget to tie your systems back together. Centralizing email data across multiple ESPs is the final and arguably most critical step in making sure your new, strategic email structure works as intended.
Maintaining a global database for email will improve your targeting efforts in email and display (I’m looking at you, Facebook Lead Ads, Google Customer Match and Linkedin Targeted Self-Service Ads), it makes CAN-SPAM compliance easy for your marketing teams and partners.
We’re always trying to nail down the elusive formula for conversion. How can I get people to click, sign-up, or buy? While it’s a subject that could be discussed at length, here are some high points for you to think about.
Are you going after the right market? You’re on a sinking ship if you’re doing your dance for the wrong audience. Who’s the person you should be marketing to? Don’t know? You need to figure it out and fast. First, segment your customers and build profiles around them. Next, compare your conversion rate across different profiles and from different channels. Last, check out your competition. See what you can find out about their conversions and how you can apply that information to your own situation.
We all know the term top of the funnel and we’ve all felt the struggle of figuring out the best way to reach it. The best way to overcome this is to be inventive with your content, so that you’re not only helpful but impactful. Lately, there’s been oodles of marketers pleading for meaningful content. But how do you make your content meaningful? It’s obviously easier said than done.
It seems like a more feasible feat for all of the B2C companies out there. For example, say you’re a company that sells socks. I can see an emotional commercial with adorable siblings with bedhead shocking each other after shuffling across big fuzzy carpets. Their adorable dogs, golden retrievers the family dog, take naps on the floor and drolly roll their eyes at the adorable shenanigans of their tiny hoo-mans. (If you use my idea I expect to be richly compensated!)
Now, I know all my B2B data driven brethren out there are thinking, “but what about me?” I understand my friends!
The truth is there is value to your product, or it wouldn’t exist. Making meaningful content means understanding the limitations of your industry and using those limitations to your advantage. If your product helps your customers save time, you’re helping them capture that unicorn creature known as work-life balance. That may not seem like a big deal, but helping people focus on what they do best is a win-win situation for everyone. Think about how you can capture that message and share it with your prospects.
No jargon, please.
Your prospects are people, so talk to them like it. They don’t want to hear about the latest buzzword in the industry loosely associated with something in your hemisphere. Industry jargon creates a whole mess of visionary clutter that can distract (or worse get rid of ) your prospects. This circles back to our previous point. Who are you marketing to? If you’re aiming for the top of that imaginary funnel those customers probably have no idea what you’re talking about when you start throwing around industry lingo. I know it’s hard when you don’t have your vernacular crutches but, trust me it’s worth the effort. Not only does it get easier with practice but it’s the only way to write genuinely good content.
Wistia is a company I admire for their droolworthy content. Their library of informative videos is a wondrous place for video DIY. But these videos serve a bigger purpose. They help turn interested prospects into customers by showing them how to make videos that their platform could host. That’s strategic marketing. Do yourself a favor and go browse their shelves.
This goes beyond reaffirming everyone’s loathing for comic sans. A larger goal is testing to create segmentation of your customers. Yes, test placement of your CTA’s but also test if prospects like your emails at breakfast or bedtime (Disclaimer! Reading emails in bed is a health hazard!).
Take it a step further and test customization. If you’re a B2C company, don’t just remind someone via email that they left an item in their cart, make a suggestion based on an item they’ve previously purchased. Maybe they need that perfect pair of boots in red too.
Being from Texas, I’ve always chuckled at stores trying to sell me sweaters in October when it’s still eighty degrees outside. So instead of making a generic countdown to fall for all your customers, think about where your customers may be physically located and tweak your marketing strategy to accommodate and wow.
Your website shouldn’t look like you’re stuck in the early 2000’s unless you’re selling something not quite retro or are George RR Martin. (His LiveJournal does exist.) If you’d like some helpful tips about having an optimal website in 2015, read this pre-approved article.
Once your prospects have engaged with your website, don’t fussy up the process with information they don’t need. You need to streamline your messaging and hand them the information they want. It might seem like a no brainer, but your homepage should clearly tell them about your product or service.
A company that does this well is Quip. I know you’re thinking, “What’s to explain? They’re like Google docs without the Google.” Zip over to Quip's website to see what I’m talking about in action. When you get there you’ll see a homepage that’s clean and immediately asks you to sign in (or up) for their service. Scroll down and check out all the big name companies that already use Quip. Keep scrolling and they give you compelling reasons as to why these big name companies use their services. By keeping their information to the point and their visuals to a minimum Quip exemplifies a company showing themselves off in the best light.
Here’s the recap for all my skimmers out there:
Knowing your potential customers and how you’re going to reach them will help you fill your top of funnel.
Test for segmentation to create a better experience for prospects and make them into customers.
Great web design includes optimization as well as aesthetics.
Give people easy to understand info about what you do or offer.
Keep an eye out for our next post discussing the conversion puzzle. We’ll get sciency and talk about the psychology of conversion. We’re going on a journey of discovery to uncover what triggers people to convert and how we can harness this superpower for our own (mwahaha) marketing.
Email marketing metrics. Even if you’re pretty confident that you know you drill, some of your email partners and third-party affiliates may not. Share this list of email marketing metrics with anyone who’s using your name in their messages. And keep the lines of communication open, so you can make decisions and form strategies based on hard data—yours and theirs.
Open rates are a lot more informative than they used to be. Unique opens. Total opens to date. Opens by device type. “Detectable mobile opens…” Just keep in mind: open rates aren’t an exact representation of recipients’ interest levels. As Pamella Neely explains, some email clients (e.g. Apple iPhone, Yahoo! Mail) open emails automatically. And in cases where email images don’t load automatically, a legitimate open won’t be counted. You’re better off tracking opens as a comparative science—to gauge when your efforts are doing better or worse.
So how can you improve your open rates? Try a few creative subject lines. Use humor as a consistent part of your email strategy. And above all, test! (Good A/B tests to start with include day of week, time of day, subject line length and tone, and audience segments.)
Clicks and Conversions
High open rates are nice to see, insofar as they validate your subject lines and prove that people are happy to hear from you. But you can’t live off looks alone. You need site traffic, engagement, and if you’re in the business of ecommerce: purchases.
In terms of improving your click-through rates (CTR), look for tools to create responsive or scalable HTML email. That means email content/design that can be optimized based on the device used to open it. With mobile devices now driving more than 65 percent of email opens, static email gets you nowhere fast.
There are also plenty of studies, along with some pretty exciting tools, that can help brands personalize and contextualize content/CTAs. PostUp, for example, lets you integrate content in real-time, including product carousels, video, animation, timers, social media, weather, calendars and pop-up windows along with other widgets to grab user attention, leading to higher engagement and ultimately more conversions.
If you want a detailed explanation, HubSpot offers a good overview on the two different types of bounces you should be tracking: “hard” bounces and “soft” bounces. Essentially, soft bounces happen when there’s a temporary problem that impedes access to a valid email address (for example, the recipient’s inbox is full). In some cases, the server can store these emails for later delivery once the issue is resolved.
Hard bounces are very different—and very bad news for business. You incur hard bounces when addresses on your list are either closed, invalid, or non-existent. They aren’t just useless; they’re potentially damaging to your email sender reputation. If you don’t remove them (fast), ISPs may begin counting them against you and your email partners, curtailing deliverability.
Unsubscribes, a.k.a. email opt outs, are part of the cost of doing business. Recipients change their mind, get bored, go on an inbox cleaning sweep… and ultimately say adios. Generally, if your unsubscribe rate is less than two percent, you are within industry norms. So why do you need to pay attention?
For one thing, it’s the law. For another, unsubscribes are a good gauge of how well your messages are landing with people or affecting their brand experience. In fact, one Forrester report asserts that email marketing (as compared to other channels) is the most clearly and conclusively tied to customer lifetime value. When opt outs start to climb, you’re not just losing sales; you’re fracturing relationships.
Using one central platform—to manage opt outs and measure unsubscribes across all your various campaigns/senders—is the surest way to stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws, and to make informed decisions about email content, email partners, and overall email strategy.
Your transparent churn rate, or attrition rate, is the measure of how many subscribers you have gained over a certain period, after deducting for those you lost due to opt outs, hard bounces, and SPAM complaints. You can’t evaluate your customer acquisition efforts without taken churn into account—especially if you’re working with third-party email partners to grow your lists and audiences. Experts say transparent churn rates of 25 to 50 percent can be considered typical, depending on your industry.
Meanwhile, “opaque” churn often adds another 10 to 25 percent of deadwood—including folks who are missing your emails thanks to abandoned accounts, or seeing them go by without ever engaging. While you may be under the gun to minimize email opt outs, and to grow (or at least maintain) subscriber list volume, it’s important to keep unsubscribe mechanisms front and center, letting people leave as soon as they express the desire.
Yes, it’s still smart to provide email preference options (email frequency, message categories, a different preferred address), but when subscribers definitely want out, don’t give them a hard time. Straightforward opt-out mechanisms help to preserve your relationship with email-weary buyers, and improve your chances of engaging with them across other sales channels.
At the end of the day, remember that measuring metrics is pointless if you and your email partners don’t act on the results. Tell us about changes you’ve made in response to your email metrics!
Companies are always looking for a way to set themselves apart from the competition. Every company has a different way of accomplishing this: faster-than-a-speeding-bullet delivery, around the clock on-call customer service, the absolute best quality product at the cheapest price. What do all these approaches have in common? You stand out from the crowd by giving your customers what they want, and when you give your customer what they want, they’re more likely to come back.
The value of a brand is based on its connections with customers. But how exactly do you make these connections? It seems the goal is for prospects to not only know your brand but to evangelize it.
So how do these companies become a customer’s favorite?
Being true to your customers and your company values makes you trustworthy. Consumers feel a sense of security because, what they see is what they get. Take website publisher Squarespace. They power their own site with their platform, in fact it’s one of their values:
If you go to Squarespace’s website and look at the corner of a page, it is indeed stamped with, “Powered by Squarespace”. Boom. That’s impactful, and instills trust. (Onomatopoeia is where it’s at.)
With a name like Smucker’s it has to be good, right?
Smucker’s has a wholesome, family oriented, mom making peanut butter sandwhiches while it rains the the cutest of cuddly kittens, image. In the spring of 2014 the brand got caught in a sticky situation. As demand for GMO labels heated up, Smucker’s abundantly backed team anti-GMO-label. When this came to light some of their customers were unhappy and took to Smucker’s Facebook page to voice their opinions. Smucker’s quickly disabled their wall comments. So people began to leave their concerns on the comments sections of pictures.
Oh boy, were GMO concerned consumers unhappy.
Instead of apologizing, Smucker’s released a letter to its consumers letting them know that they had no intentions to change. They then seemingly waited for the whole thing to blow over while receiving national attention for their marketing faux pas. If you go to Smucker’s Facebook page today unhappy customers are still posting unhappy comments.
To clarify, being trustworthy doesn’t mean occupying a moral space, but it does mean being true to your brand. And that’s the mistake Smucker’s made. Their lack of transparency and refusal to apologize was not in line with their customer’s perceptions of their brand.Consumers want companies to listen. And Smucker’s did a poor job of this.
To show you an example of a company who listens well, I’m gonna get anecdotal on you. I signed up for Hulu, but didn’t want to pay the extra four dollars to be commercial free, so I decided to cancel my subscription when the time came. I followed the prompts on the screen and groaned as they were about to play me video. A video? Seriously? But to my bemused delight it was a video that begged me to stay while keeping me entertained. You can check out the video here.
And guess what? It really almost worked. I genuinely gave 3 seconds of thought to renewing my subscription. Why? Because it’s nifty to deal with a company that did as I asked with no fuss, a bit of creativity and some humor. This is something to consider for any brand. If a customer has decided to unsubscribe from your listing the best thing you can do is let them go as quickly and easily as possible. It’s all the pieces of their experience that add up to a consumer’s view of your company and so it’s to your benefit to let them leave you with a favorable opinion. Making a mistake with your compliance could royally stink and cost you a pretty penny, but fear of fines should not be your main motivation. Even more damaging is the loss of your reputation. You risk your reputation by not honouring the wishes of even your former customer’s.
An even better example of a company doing a good job of handling unsubscribing is Groupon. Customers were genuinely surprised (and more than a bit intrigued) when they experienced Groupon’s bon voyage present to their former customer’s view:
It’s really kind of genius. How many companies can entice their former customers to click through a call to action? Apparently, Groupon. By punishing Derrick they’ve cleverly played to two of our base emotions, humor and guilt. So, even though it’s extremely unlikely for a person to resubscribe they can’t help but tell their friends about poor Derrick.
When it comes to brand reputation, you need to start thinking about the the next step in assuring consumers that you are the best company to meet their needs. We all need to do more than meet consumer’s expectations and start thinking about ways to delight our customers. And as always, don't forget about compliance along the way! If you'd like to find out more about creative ways to take advantage of your opt outs, download our e-book below!
So, you’ve given consumers the option to opt out of your emails. Not only are you being CAN-SPAM compliant, but by suppressing your customer list (optimally in real time) you’re practicing good marketing. Unfortunately, people are taking advantage of your unsubscribe buttons.
I’m not going to tell you what people normally say after a bad breakup. It’s time for some tough love. It’s not them, it’s you. That’s not very helpful, but it had to be acknowledged to recoup and move forward.
Time to Focus on a New Game Plan
When a customer unsubscribes it can seem like all your hard work has been wasted but you can learn a lot from your customers who choose to opt out. Why are your customers unsubscribing? When are they unsubscribing? Answering these basic questions can help you answer a much tougher one, where do you go from here?
Keep reading to get some insight on how to plan your next email move and how to make your customers not only stick around but be excited to hear from you.
Look at Unsubscribe Data
Look at the facts. Did you get a downpour of unsubscribes with your last email? A light sprinkle? Do your unsubscribes mimic the Sahara? (Don’t we all wish?) It may seem intuitive to make reactionary decisions and simply not repeat an email that got negative reviews, but the real lesson to learn is that the more data we have at our fingertips the better decisions we can make. While it’s good to make note of specific occurrences of awesome (or not so awesome) feats of marketing, consider utilizing different platforms to see a bigger picture. Try CAKE or HasOffers to see how the unsubscribe rate for a given date and publisher corresponds to their conversions for the same time period. Likewise, look at data in your ESP like PostUp or ExactTarget to see how the unsubscribe ratio compares to your open and click through rate to see if you can detect any overall patterns.
Consider segmenting your emails. It’s time to think beyond A/B testing (although that’s a great place to start; for a useful guide to the basics look here.) The best way to engage customers may be the simplest, ask them what kind of interaction they’d like to have with your company. Here’s an article from Marketing Sherpa that outlines some legit claims in favor of segmentation.
We here at UnsubCentral can also help you with your list maintenance needs, check out this article for a great starting place on how to segment your lists within UnsubCentral. As usual, we want to hear your thoughts and feedback on what your unsubscribes are telling you!
Did you know that UnsubCentral has a parent company that is an award-winning Email Service Provider? Chosen by leading global companies, PostUp empowers brands to intuitively create, manage and automate complex customer lifecycle communications that drive greater engagement and increased revenue. Together, UnsubCentral and PostUp provide all the tools brands need to manage their entire email ecosystem. Each month, we will be featuring a post by the PostUp team to share insight on email marketing best practices and industry tips and trends.
The amount of data marketers collect is growing at an exponential rate. This may include: subscriber demographic information, content preferences, product usage patterns, and customer satisfaction surveys. With this growth comes added complexity and a need to make sense of what seems to be a chaotic situation. The ultimate goal is to improve your program’s performance while lowering costs.
Are you getting the most value from one of your biggest assets? To make the most of your data, here are a few suggestions to get on the right path:
1. Update your mindset. A lot of what marketers focus on is reactive reporting, which is important. We all want to understand important performance metrics related to our established goals. The issue is that’s only half of the picture. True email marketing aficionados know the value of real-time and predictive analytics. Marketers who take their data to the next step by utilizing performance trends have the ability to drive innovative decisions for future implementation.
2. Centralize your data infrastructure. This one is a bit trickier. It involves a coherent plan to combine all your relevant data sources into a centralized space. It is also important that your data is accessible and scalable; this means no more spreadsheets with valuable data sitting on your desktop collecting dust. Centralizing your data means making your data accessible to the entire organization from one location.
We took this to heart at PostUp and developed a comprehensive data warehouse. Our data warehouse serves as the hub for our customers’ advanced analytics needs. We’ve given our customers the ability to store billions of rows of relevant data acquired from many sources. This tool was built to serve as the basis for our business intelligence environment. Collaboration between the marketing decision-makers and technology experts in your organization will be crucial in getting this to work, but will reap benefits for years to come if done correctly.
3. Drive decision-making and storytelling through relevance and ease of use. The best intentions and data mean nothing if you can't interpret what the data is saying. One of the best ways to get actionable information out of an ever-growing pool of data is to see it visually represented in a way that you can easily understand. This way, the marketing team can work directly with the data, utilizing the infrastructure you’ve already built in an intuitive, visual interface. Through our partnership with Tableau Software, we’re building focused standardized and custom dashboards that allow access to data that's already been interpreted so all you have to do is make the importantdecisions. Once you get here, the possibilities are endless!
The problem of big data doesn't need to be a problem for marketers. PostUp is here to help you unlock the secrets of competitive intelligence. For more information on understanding your data, download our Email Strategy Solution Guide.
A version of this post was originally published on the PostUp blog.
According to research from Forrester Consulting, total advertiser spending on affiliate marketing is expected to exceed $4 billion between 2015 and 2016. Forrester’s survey also revealed:
The majority of online buyers visit two or three websites before making a purchase.
Affiliate marketing “favorably increases consumers’ perceptions of brands.”
Nearly seven in ten consumers say they don’t think less of a brand that runs promotions on a coupon website or comparison shopping site.
So it’s no surprise you’re planning to recruit third-party mailers in your digital marketing, too. We’ve blogged before about different options for managing email marketing affiliates (in-house vs. outsourcing), and the factors that should impact your decision.
But what about email compliance? Which affiliate management model helps you find the most relevant, reputable partners? And which model best supports ongoing compliance efforts—including partner monitoring for adherence to CAN-SPAM best practices? We sometimes hear from advertisers who tell us the confusion around partner monitoring makes them gun shy about email.
The truth is, affiliate email compliance isn’t just doable; it’s easy—provided you have the right tools on hand. So here’s a look at your email affiliate management options, along with compliance approaches for each:
Affiliate Tracking Platforms
Affiliate tracking platforms like Cake and HasOffers have the technology to drive your entire performance marketing program—including affiliate email. Within them, you can create offers, generates links for affiliates’ conversion pixels, plus integrate with a system like ours to ensure ongoing email compliance. With UnsubCentral, unsubscribe keys are transferred automatically and securely to partners’ preferred tracking platforms. Want to see how it works?
Keep in mind: a tracking platform is a hands-on solution—one where you’re actually creating the links and monitoring the reports directly. On the upside, you have access to partners’ complete information (i.e. not just a bunch of affiliate IDs, but actual names and contact details) at your fingertips. You also have complete control over each relationship.
One-to-one relationships are important when you’re just getting started with affiliate email or when you have a small percentage of affiliates driving a large portion of your revenue. Tracking platforms give you more flexibility, in terms of budget. You can afford to pay high-performing publishers more, because you’re not also paying a network to broker the deals.
Outsourcing affiliate management to a network makes sense if you don’t have the experience or the bandwidth to find, vet, educate, and patrol all your email partners. Networks set up all communication streams and monitor reporting. They create and test tracking links, deal with affiliate support (potentially for hundreds of partners), and intercept questions that would otherwise fall on you (e.g. “Why isn’t this tracking correctly? Why can’t I piggyback my conversion pixel? Can you help us set up server-side tracking? Can you explain these creative guidelines?”).
Networks also often have in-house compliance teams or anti-fraud teams at the ready, to address email compliance concerns and investigate unusual trends. Many of our favorite network partners have fantastic compliance teams; they monitor activities among all partners and affiliate channels. For email, this means keeping an eye on things like number of opt-outs generated, list scrubbing practices, and timely suppression list downloads.
Last but certainly not least, networks offer scalable support. Program growth potential is virtually unlimited. Networks can even accommodate international affiliate regulations and attribution rules.
OPM stands for outsourced (affiliate) program management. OPMs support brands using either of the above models. OPMs can help if you’re managing email affiliates as an in-house effort, or they can work with affiliates gathered through a network.
If you’re drawn to the control and flexibility of an in-house program, but you don’t have a designated affiliate manager, consider using an OPM in combination with a tracking platform strategy. On the other hand, if you’re looking to leverage niche expertise in your particular market, an OPM/network arrangement does more than just manage affiliate logistics. OPMs, for example, can advise on you on the best publishers/content affiliates within a given network.
Finally, OPMs have a different commission structure than networks. If you have any concerns about a conflict of interests (paying a network commissions on the partners it oversees), you may want to explore OPM services in conjunction with potential networks.
We hope this post answers some of your questions on managing affiliate email partners, particularly in terms of email compliance. Meanwhile, if you’re still uncertain about the benefits of adding email as an affiliate channel, here’s today’s reading assignment:
Last month UnsubCentral spent time in New York, where we partnered with COGO Labs and LashBack to host an email acquisition panel. Armed with cocktails and a great view, UnsubCentral GM, Todd Boullion and three other industry experts walked through the benefits, risks, and best practices of using email as an acquisition channel.
The full video is above, and if you'd like to take the next step in learning more about email acquisition, download our e-book below!
Did you know that UnsubCentral has a parent company that is an award-winning Email Service Provider? Chosen by leading global companies, PostUp empowers brands to intuitively create, manage and automate complex customer lifecycle communications that drive greater engagement and increased revenue. Together, UnsubCentral and PostUp provide all the tools brands need to manage their entire email ecosystem. Each month, we will be featuring a post by the PostUp team to share insight on email marketing best practices and industry tips and trends (or fun company news!).
PostUp Cares, the charity branch of PostUp Digital, recently engaged with two local charities allowing employees to give their time, donate goods, and get some exercise in a way that benefits others. Read more to find out which charities our employees chose to support!
Our employees care about the environment, caring for children, fighting poverty, and the list goes on. We can't do everything, but we do strive to give our employees a variety of activities to engage their community.
CASA Superhero Run
Mission: "CASA speaks up for children who’ve been abused or neglected by empowering our community to volunteer as advocates for them in the court system. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what's best for the child." -CASA programs of the Greater Austin Area, 2015
Population supported: Abused or neglected children
How we contributed: PostUp was among over 2800 superheroes who participated in the 2015 Superhero 5K and Kids 1K on September 13, 2015.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes
Mission: We provide food & clothing and promote dignity to our homeless brother and sisters in need. - Mobile Loaves & Fishes, 2015
Who this supports: Austin's homeless and low-income populations
How we helped: PostUp and Unsubcentral employees assisted the MLF staff from Riverbend Church with food preparation for their truck ministry. Each truck was then loaded with food, snacks, and basic necessities such as water, toothbrushes, books, and hygiene items. After the trucks are loaded they are deployed to communities in need. This event was extremely popular with employees and continues through the end of September.
To learn more about these charities, including how you can donate or volunteer please visit their websites listed below:
At UnsubCentral, we believe there are several things that differentiate us from other SaaS companies. A great product, the most secure platform available, and more than anything, our people. The service we offer our clients is something we take great pride in, and something we are constantly looking to improve. Read below to find out more about our newest team member, Sales Director Selina Yee.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born to Chinese imigrants, raised in a teeny-tiny town in NE Louisiana, went to university in New Orleans and lived in New York for well over a decade. Austin, TX is new territory to me, and I'm looking forward to eating my way through town.
My curiosity about pretty much everything led me to pursue a career in media. Prior to UnsubCentral, I had the pleasure of utilzing my english and architectural background in launching new products and growing advertising revenue for B2B and B2C media platforms like Interior Design Media, Metropolis Magazine and Apartment Therapy. With UnsubCentral, I am diving feet-first into the tech space, where I believe my consultative and collaborative leanings will contribute to solving many a client's email list concerns.
What has surprised you about working at UnsubCentral?
The nuances of our business. It's very targeted. The company culture - for both UnsubCentral and PostUp - have been a welcome surprise. There is a tendency for some tech companies to have a rah-rah culture that feels put-on, forced. I'm pleased there's an absence of that here. In fact, there's almost a sense of ego-less humility here - we're here to do our job and to do our best. That's not to say it's not fun here. I do my part in joining or kicking off the bouts of cackling laughter that break out across the office throughout the day.
What's your favorite dessert?
Almost anything egg-based: crème brulee, panna cotta, flan, cheesecake, etc.
What's your favorite tool to use at your job? (ie sidekick, etc)
Salesforce - I had a chance to preview the Lightning Experience iteration of the Sales Cloud - can't wait! Other than that, I'd say the phone - there's nothing like connecting person to person to talk through a client's challenges.
Tell us a funny childhood story.
Even before I spoke english I liked Michael Jackson. The drama, the panache! In kindergarten, I was just developing conversational english, so there wasn't too much to say to my classmates, but I really liked to engage, making paper swords for sword fights or sailing planes across the room. It didn't help that I was in a class of particularly mischievous kids, too. One winter day, during nap time, I decided to coat the insides of my knit gloves with chalk, do my best imitation of a Michael dance and proceeded to clap my gloves together, forming the most dramatic cloud of chalk dust. My classmates were inspired. We grabbed all the chalk board erasers and slammed them agains the walls, each other and coated our gloves and everthing else in chalk and chalk dust in the most fun frenzy ever. We then build forts out of the sleeping mats and hid there until our teacher returned, shock-faced.
Do you have any questions for Selina? Let us know in the comments below, or shoot her an email at selina (at) unsubcentral (dot) com.
Email acquisition via homepage lightbox actually works—and not just for gathering email addresses. Smart brands are winning new customers with well-designed homepage lightboxes and follow-up messaging. In fact, 29 percent of Internet Retailer's Top 500 companies now use “acquisition to welcome” lightboxes regularly.
Five Winning Lightbox Strategies:
Lightbox #1: Gap
The Strategy: This lightbox aims to capture email addresses and begin regular correspondence with prospective customers.
Follow-up: Gap sends a welcome email thanking registrants for the information and provides a 25 percent-off coupon code. The retailer also offers people the chance to set their preferences on the site and promises to send advance notices of special events and sales.
Why It Works: When people use the email to link back to the website to set their preferences, this allows Gap to personalize the shopping and communication experience for users, and at the same time, the brand promotes the benefits of becoming a Gap cardholder.
Lightbox #2: HauteLook
The Strategy: HauteLook uses its lightbox to capture an email address, first and last name, gender, and zip code. Registrants get free membership to shop the brand’s specialty events.
Follow-up: Participants get a welcome message that encourages them to invite a friend. The referral earns a $20 credit in return for the friend’s first purchase.
Why It Works: Users feel that the membership gives them access to special deals. The incentive offer also encourages people to persuade their friends to shop at HauteLook, too, so everyone benefits.
Lightbox #3: Forever 21
The Strategy: Consumers who share their email with Forever 21 earn a mystery deal.
Follow-up: The email that arrives links people back to the website, where another lightbox reveals the discount amount, along with a code to use at checkout.
Why It Works: By taking people back to the website, they are more likely to browse the merchandise and use the code to complete a purchase. In addition, by making the discount a mystery, people are more likely to want to click through to the site to find out the amount.
Lightbox #4: Williams-Sonoma
The Strategy: Williams-Sonoma asks for an email address and in return provides 10 percent off and free shipping for new subscribers who spend more than $49.
Follow-up: After entering the email, a new pop-up thanks users for their information and invites them to fill out their full name and address to sign up for catalogues from Williams-Sonoma and its related brands. In addition, consumers receive a welcome email that offers the initial sign-up promotion code for the discount and free shipping and directs users back to start shopping.
Why It Works: The retailer gets more bang for its buck by attracting visitors to sign up for information from its entire family of brands in one interaction. This can help multiple retailers build a lasting relationship with the consumer in the most efficient manner.
Lightbox #5: Crate & Barrel
The Strategy: Crate & Barrel keeps it simple, asking for an email address to communicate sales and special offers, and offering a 10 percent discount on full-priced items to get the relationship started.
Follow-up: Once users submit their information, they receive a thank you email with a link back to the site.
Why It Works: The interaction is quick and painless and the promotion code is good for only a week, so consumers who are considering making a purchase might be tempted to act quickly.
Follow the Leader
As these savvy brands demonstrate, homepage welcome lightboxes and follow-up emails are a key part of their companies’ customer growth strategies. You can follow their lead and put this method to work with your own target audience, engaging with your visitors and ultimately converting them into loyal customers.
Unqualified Status—Some leads simply don’t fit your marketing-qualified criteria.
Current Customers—There’s no reason your current customers should be receiving promotional emails from affiliates.
Geographic Factors—Some campaigns may be irrelevant or unavailable to a particular geography.
Strategic Issues—Many companies filter out competitors’ email addresses, making it harder for them to borrow ideas.
Unsubscribe Requests—And of course some leads are self-designated “opt outs,” contacts who have expressly requested you remove them from frequent mailings or from email altogether.
In this last case, the reasons behind email suppression lists are much less important than the mechanisms you use to honor opt-out requests. Believe it or not, some companies are still using spreadsheets. Some are using email compliance software that lacks easy integration and plug-ins for affiliates, which means email partners may be less likely to download suppression files or scrub their lists on a regular basis.
How confident are you that your brand is using the best solution to manage opt outs across all your different programs? If you’re anything less than positive, keep the following consequences in mind:
1. Getting Shamed on Twitter
Lots of prospects and customers now look for their favorite brands on Twitter. In fact, according to social media experts, nearly half of all monthly Twitter users (49 percent) use their accounts to follow brands or companies. Forty-two percent learn about products and services via Twitter, while 41 percent are offering (some rather candid) brand opinions.
So if you don’t have effective software in place—to generate and share suppression lists among your email partners—people may find your name alongside some unfortunate mentions...
2. Losing Customers (New and Old)
Think you can control your social media reputation with a vigilant customer support team and prompt resolutions? That may be true. But you still can’t address brand damage that’s happening offline.
According to a retail customer dissatisfaction study, only 6 percent of frustrated customers actually contact retailers with formal complaints. Meanwhile, 31 percent tell family and friends about their negative experiences (e.g. unwanted emails). As a result, 48 percent of those surveyed reported having avoided certain brands based on others’ negative experiences.
3. Incurring CAN-SPAM Fines
The FTC makes no bones about it: brands are obligated to honor opt-out requests promptly—even if the requests stem from an affiliate email campaign. You have 10 business days to ensure unsubscribes get added to your global suppression list (This CAN-SPAM provision includes B2B email, by the way.) Otherwise, each individual email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000.
But hey, email suppression lists shouldn’t always be exercised out of fear. To learn more about the strategic uses of email suppression lists and suppression list software, take a look at our recent guide:
You open your email and see 5 more ads asking if you'd like to meet THE cutest-50-and-up-singles in your area and you think, “Why do I keep getting these emails and how do I make them stop? Is there anyone I can talk to about this? Who can I get even with?”
All vengeful feelings aside, here's what you need to know about SPAM emails.
What makes an email SPAM?
Does your message offer you the chance to win a, “$$$million$$$ dollar sweepstakes!!!!!$$$!!?” Are you going to get, “The latest and GREATest revolutionary onion chopper for FREE!!! (shipping and handling not included)?”
SPAM emails are normally so absurd they’d be laughable if you weren’t getting 20 plus a day. Some traits of SPAM include:
• ludicrous language and offers (unbelievable, wacky, nonsensical … I could keep going) • abusive use of punctuation (too many exclamation points is offensive) • the message could be written to anyone (emails starting, “Hello Sir/Madame,“ belong in a SPAM folder )
Have you asked them to stop?
By law, every commercial email you receive must include:
• an easily accessible opt-out or "unsubscribe" button • their address or a physical mailing address • who the email is from and how to reach them via the internet
I pushed that unsubscribe button thing and nothing happened!
Companies do have 10 days to comply with your unsubscribe request so it can take a few days to see results. Now I know you're thinking, “Isn't there a master unsubscribe list so that I can click once and be done?”
The answer is, unfortunately not. We here at UnsubCentral manage opt-out lists for our clients. Not only are we trying to help our clients stay compliant but we want to make sure their customers are happy. That makes our clients happy and us happy.
Who is ultimately responsible for unwanted emails?
The advertiser and the sender of the unwlecome email is responsible for keeping track of opt-out lists. UnsubCentral helps make this process easier and more effective by hosting unsubscribe lists for our clients.
SPAM Fighting Bonus!
There are a few things you can do to combat SPAM:
• Push that unsubscribe button, that’s why it’s there! While the sender has 10 days to honor it, odds are you’ll be off their list within a day. • Be aware of who you’re giving your email. • For more tips and resources for reporting SPAM check out the links to OnGuardOnline, Yahoo, and Gmail at the bottom of our resource page
I sincerely hope this has helped lower your blood pressure when it comes to CAN-SPAM compliance. If you start to see red again, give us a call. We have a few more tips up our sleeve and would be happy to share them!
Big things are happening this summer. The US women’s soccer team just won the World Cup. Shark Week locked its jaws on huge numbers of TV viewers…
Instead of competing for consumers’ attention, some brands simply ride the tide—borrowing big-event hashtags and theme-related subject lines, in a practice known as newsjacking. Have you tested the waters?
Newsjacked subject lines can be great for increasing open rates, but they might not always lead to improved conversions…or long-term brand affinity wins. In fact, without a solid strategy in place, some overzealous marketers wind up with more unsubscribes and longer suppression lists.
So if you’re thinking about rolling out a timely campaign or an eye-catching subject line, here are three rules on how to newsjack without generating mass opt outs:
1. Newsjack stories that are relevant to your audience.
Who was watching #SharkWeek during the second week of July? According to the Discovery Channel’s overview, the brand targets adults between the ages of 25 to 54, which aligns well with Malibu Rum’s target buyer. And Shark Week’s beachy, tropical scenes (think intrepid film crews exploring the waters around Mexico, South Africa, Australia, etc.) also jibe with Malibu’s messaging. So this example made for a fin-teresting pair!
2. Create a bridge between the event/story and your brand.
Just like you shouldn’t tack an unrelated hashtag (#NationalBurgerDay or #GreekDebtCrisis) onto a tweet about your patio furniture sale, you shouldn’t compose a newsjacked subject line that has nothing to do with the content of your email. Instead, find ways to insert your message into the trending conversation. Look for angles and segues that highlight your brand values.
For example, major sports events often command public attention and inspire real-time marketing campaigns. But just because your audience is watching doesn’t mean they’re interested in yet another game day email with sports-related promo codes. Several years ago, Rue La La stood out during Super Bowl weekend, by sending an email with a subject line about Beyonce (the game’s halftime performer), who effectively bridged the gap between football and fashion-conscious customers.
3. Only newsjack stories that are light-hearted and non-controversial.
You’ve probably heard about the bad press and brand damage that can come with poor-taste newsjacking. Some companies have leveraged natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy to entice subscribers into online shopping deals. Meanwhile, serious tragedies were taking place.
Whatever trending topic you choose, make sure you run the concept by two or three colleagues before hitting send. In 2010, GameStop crafted a teasing subject line about Tiger Woods’ return to golf (after his public sex scandal promoted him to take a hiatus). In this case the subject line was considered a success, but for some audiences it may have pushed the envelope—and lengthened suppression lists.
One last piece of advice: when it comes to sporting events like the World Cup, the Super Bowl, or the World Series, there are often strict rules that prevent non-sponsors from using official logos or even game titles in their marketing. Instead, you can allude to “big game” buzz by using venue city names or star athletes in your subject lines. Then ensure subject lines, email copy, and visuals are consistent with the language and visuals on your landing page(s).
Every day you’re doing more with email marketing: More mobile. More visual. More personalization. More affiliates and publishers, which means more opt-out data…
Isn’t it time you found a tool for email compliance that works as hard as you do?
Our fully redesigned system (now in beta!) makes suppression list management and email compliance 100 times easier for you, your client-facing departments, and all your brand’s partners. We’re talking more intuitive design, more proactive partner alerts, more robust APIs, and countless other user experience upgrades.
How did we do it? Certainly not by ourselves.
We incorporated feedback from you and your email marketing peers. So now the best tool for email compliance and opt-out management is even better than before. Here’s proof:
"The new UnsubCentral has an extremely intuitive user-interface and enables our team to more easily manage all of our email partner relationships, advertisers, and unsubscribes at an unparalleled granularity," said Zac McGrath, GM of ROI Rocket (an UnsubCentral customer).
Todd Boullion, UnsubCentral GM, explains the reasoning behind the innovative new platform,"Compliance and email hygiene are paramount, and we are continually looking for new ways to automate and improve our systems so the team can focus on our core business of campaign strategy, consumer research, and recruitment. The automation abilities of the new system are exceptional. We're excited to start leveraging the new UnsubCentral and find new ways to integrate."
New email marketing technology and smarter email platform features are cropping up every day. In fact, some of the “futuristic” concepts marketers talked about just a few years ago—advanced personalization, dynamic content, triggered transactional emails—are now standard practice for most enterprise email programs.
Looking ahead, marketers have strong opinions about what should come next. According to a Forrester survey, mailers’ most anticipated innovations—the functionality they hope to gain from vendors—include:
Microsegment targeting (66%)
Open time personalization (61%)
In-email transactions (58%)
Email-enabled video (43%)
But if your email program is ready for fresh campaign strategies and innovative approaches right now, you don’t have to wait for your ESP to roll out the next big feature. Here are three examples of email marketing technology—for both sophisticated/enterprise and emerging SMB email programs—just waiting for you to adopt them:
Did you know that 65 percent of consumers seek out user-generated content before making a purchase?
No wonder brands are excited about platform integrations that will help them connect their email and social marketing strategies. But getting it right with cohesive messaging and effective content is easier said than done.
Enter Olapic. Olapic is a tool that doesn’t just connect email and social channels; it mines them for customer photos featuring your brand products, then enables publishing across all web and mobile properties. Olapic makes (approved) user-generated content shareable and shop-able. Meanwhile, the profoundly user-centric experience lends to increased engagement, revenue, and ROI.
Curious? Check out Olapic’s stats page on visual content and user-generated content.
If you oversee email marketing for a small or mid-sized business, you probably hadn’t set your sights on big data sources for predictive or contextual email content. But Square Marketing is putting big business intelligence in the hands of SMBs and local merchants who employ Square payment and point-of-sale solutions.
Square Marketing is a tool that helps you connect with your customers via personalized email promotions and announcements about your business. Using Square merchant payment data, you can target customers who shop in stores with new product emails, event invitations, and relevant rewards. Adweek reports that Square Marketing’s pilot program helped SMB mailers improve email open rates and redemptions by 100 percent, generating $1 million in sales.
The trend from desktop to mobile email usage has elevated inbox real estate into the stratosphere. Now, wearable technology is shrinking recipients’ screens even more. (Current devices from Samsung, Apple, and Motorola average just 3.98 centimeters.) So tomorrow’s email campaigns will require doubly amazing subject lines and killer pre-header text, in order to capture attention and guarantee an open. Email body copy will also need to be more succinct, compelling and—at least for now—limited to plain text enticements.
Are your copywriters up to the challenge? Maybe they don’t have to be…
Here comes Persado, a “persuasion automation solution” for companies seeking the highest-performing marketing language possible. Persado’s copy is machine-generated and derived from “persuasive emotional insights.” Solutions are available to support various channels—including email subject lines, body copy, and landing pages.
The kicker? With Persado, custom content is generated… “with a 99 percent probability of higher performance.”
While we’re on the subject of email marketing technology, are you up to speed on the best tools and practices for sharing suppression lists and managing opt outs? This quick guide is worth sharing with your teams:
In the summer, everyone is on the move. School is out. Camp is in session. Workdays end earlier. The beach house is open for business…
Paying attention to consumers’ changing schedules and shifting habits can pay off big for brands. So how do you tailor your email approach, in order to accommodate June-September lifestyles? Just ask!
Here are some examples from savvy brand mailers, who proactively supply preference options and get creative with their opt-out/unsubscribe mechanisms.
Use Proactive Opt-Out Management CTAs
Not every consumer is sophisticated enough to seek out an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email, in order to change his or her frequency/content preferences. In fact, by the time most people go looking for an unsubscribe mechanism, they are already disenfranchised with the email relationship—and it may be difficult to sway them.
Instead, include email preference CTAs in your reengagement campaigns, like this one from Banana Republic:
Provide a Simple Opt-Down Menu
Summer days may be long, but patience levels for nonstop, irrelevant email are still pretty short.
One of the easiest ways to minimize email opt-outs is to give customers a chance to reduce email frequency. This example from Fab.com shows how you can provide lots of opt-down options without adding too much complexity.
Remember to Offer Opt-Over Alternatives
By now most brands provide some type of email preference center or opt-down options alongside unsubscribe buttons. But there are still quite a few who forget to promote other channels, just as subscribers are saying goodbye. For some of their consumers, Twitter, Facebook, or postal mail may be much more convenient places to connect.
Here’s how Applebee’s Grill & Bar makes it painless for email recipients to cut ties…but clearly reminds them about alternative channels—including Applebees’ social media accounts and dining apps.
Leverage Timely Themes to Encourage Opt-Up Actions
You may have gained the bulk of your subscribers during the holiday shopping blitz or the dull, gray months of winter, but that context doesn’t have to define or limit your relationship. Get creative in tying your products to topical themes: beach, vacation, heat, backyard, cookouts, road trips, etc.
Better still, use seasonal cues to introduce a sister brand or a customer loyalty program. Last month, Anthropologie introduced subscribers to Terrain, another lifestyle merchandise label under the Urban Outfitters, Inc. umbrella. The brand leveraged Mother’s Day in enticing recipients to “opt up” (and into Terrain’s email list).
How do you use opt-up or opt-over opportunities in your opt-out management strategy? (Try saying that three times, fast!) More important, do you have an effective opt-out management solution in place, for dealing with confirmed unsubscribes?
More than a decade after the passing of the CAN-SPAM Act, consumer-facing companies are well-versed in email compliance policy. They’ve even established a list of CAN-SPAM best practices that go beyond compliance, and differentiate the more consumer-friendly brands from the rest of the pack.
Meanwhile, B2B email compliance still seems to confuse or intimidate some sales and marketing teams. Many business-to-business companies are doing more than they have to, while others are missing basic, required elements that every commercial email needs to contain….
Is your B2B email program making any of these compliance mistakes?
Waiting for opt-in permission
As a B2B sender, you don’t need express permission to email a prospect. You don’t need it from a legal standpoint, and—some experts argue—you shouldn’t wait for it, even from a customer relations/reputation standpoint. The point is up for debate. According to Ruth P. Stevens, a Columbia Business School instructor, “your business customers generally would prefer the reverse: an opt-out arrangement in which you send them messages unless they say ‘stop.’”
Just keep in mind: Opt-in permission is a completely different story in Canada, Australia, and the UK. If your customer base extends to those locales, you are required to have a firm opt-in consent policy… and include unsubscribe links, as well.
Failing to include an opt-out mechanism and a physical address
What’s that you say? An opt-out mechanism?But I’m not a marketer; I’m a salesperson. I send emails from my Outlook account…
Doesn’t matter. If you’re sending unsolicited commercial email, you must include a physical postal address in your message. B2B salespeople may want to add the company address to their email signature, just to ensure it’s always there.
You must also provide a way for recipients to “unsubscribe,” even if you hadn’t intended on creating a multi-part campaign or an ongoing, newsletter-style conversation. Make sure your opt-out workflow can get through your SPAM filter. And whenever you receive an opt-out, you must honor it within 10 business days…PLUS share it with the rest of your company. Which leads us to…
Failing to scrub against a global suppression list
Does your B2B company maintain a global suppression list? Many don’t. Suppression lists are often associated with consumer marketing (i.e. lots of different people emailing on your behalf). But internally, your various teams and divisions are generating a fair number of unsubscribes on their own. It’s your responsibility to collect and honor them all.
So now you might be asking, doesn’t our ESP do all of this? The answer is yes and no. Email service providers can store the suppression lists that are created when you send emails through that particular ESP. But they don’t talk to other ESPs, company mail servers (like Outlook), or CRM platforms used for outbound sales emails. Aggregating opt-out data from all your email campaigns/tools requires a central repository that’s designed to deliver global suppression list management.
Being careless with purchased or rented email lists
When it comes to third-party lists, the rules are pretty clear in places like Canada and the UK. But the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t address the issue directly. This creates a bit of a gray area for sales teams that are thinking about buying or renting a targeted, B2B email list.
Technically, third-party lists are within the bounds of compliance—so long as senders provide opt-out links and scrub against their companies’ global suppression lists before deployment.
Still, purchased and rented email lists create other concerns and logistical hurdles. Some bulk mail senders (HubSpot, MailChimp) have acceptable use policies that prohibit purchased lists. Trying to sneak one below the radar may get your account shut down.
B2B companies should also be careful about distinguishing a reputable list provider and about selecting a list/target group that is truly aligned with campaign offerings. Companies should employ data hygiene services to scrub the list of any invalid address (these can still crop up on quality lists).
Even after all these caveats, proceed with caution. If too many of your B2B emails get marked as junk (and lots of messages sent to third-party lists do), your sending reputation may suffer. Eventually, certain ESPs may block you—and everyone else at your organization.
Looking for more advice on B2B email compliance or B2B sales email? Ask our experts!
If it’s happening in partner email, then it’s happening here at UnsubCentral. Our summer calendar is heatwave hot—even by Austin standards. From the platform re-launch you’ll have to see to believe, to the series of summits and conferences we’re attending, everyone on the team will be busy advancing our email compliance tools and partner email marketing knowledge.
Here’s what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead:
Our Platform Re-launch
Did you really think we’d just be working on our tans all summer? Not a chance.
For the past year, we’ve been samurai-focused on enhancing our list suppression/email compliance platform for brands, networks, and individual affiliates. In case you didn’t know, we’ve always been the leaders in email opt-out management. But most recently, we’ve taken your feedback and translated it into even better features—including:
A more intuitive user experience (for brands and affiliates)
More advanced partner reporting
More proactive compliance alerts
More robust APIs and lots more…
Keep an eye out for our re-launch video. If you’re not already using UnsubCentral to manage opt outs like you mean it, this is news you’ll want to share with your email program stakeholders.
IRCE in Chicago
Known as the “flagship event” for e-commerce, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition is taking place the first week of June, in Chicago’s McCormick Place. UnsubCentral will be there connecting with brands, publishers, and industry thought leaders. Jason Goldberger, President of Target.com will give the keynote address on Tuesday, followed by Christopher McCann, President of 1-800-Flowers.com on Wednesday. Will you be there?
MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit
The following week we’ll be at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit (#MPEIS). Billed as “a unique event where the biggest brands and brightest minds caucus for three-days on the state of email marketing,” the Summit is sure to send us home with big ideas. And of course we’ll share them with you. (Not following us already? Connect with UnsubCentral on Twitter, and see what we’re saying in real-time from Kiawah Island.)
Affiliate Summit East
Last but not least, no partner email professional would miss #aes15. So of course we’ll be in New York this August, rubbing elbows with Brian Littleton and Tim Ash… In fact, I will actually be speaking at one of the Roundtable sessions, and would love to have you come out. More details to follow!
As always, thanks for your readership and thoughtful feedback. Every year UnsubCentral gets a little bit better. You’re a key part of that evolution. Have a safe and happy summer!
May is “Master Your Inbox Month,” according to these Australian productivity specialists. So if you’re targeting busy buyers, this is an ideal time to think about your emails (and your email opt-out solution)… from a consumer’s point of view.
Ready for some stats about email overload? Working Americans spend between 25 and 50% of their workdays writing, reading, or replying to email. Over one-third of these adults continue checking email on a frequent basis, after work is over. Ultimately, too much email overwhelms basic brain functions (how many times have you replied to the wrong person?), while increasing stress levels.
Experts say the only solution is to “ruthlessly unsubscribe” from all unwanted email. Many consumers are taking this advice to heart. Does your email opt-out solution support them?
Here are three things that real consumers want (as evidenced by their tweets) from brand emails and opt-out solutions:
Hopefully you’re already taking steps to minimize opt outs in the first place. Offering email preference options, for example, might help you preserve connections with buyers who only want to receive print catalogues or once-a-month email updates, for example.
But don’t get crafty with your unsubscribe options list. One of the biggest reasons why consumers opt out of email is because they’re too busy to spend time on messages that no longer interest them. So why would you use a stealthy default selection to avoid giving them what they want?
Unsubscribers may not have the patience or the user-experience savvy to read your list of alternative actions. Plenty will click on “Update” (as in the example below) without realizing the misstep. In the end, you’re not preserving a contact; you’re just aggravating (and potentially losing) a customer who wants your products but not your emails.
You can’t please all the people all the time. But Gmail came pretty close, when it added the one-click Unsubscribe button to the top of all promotional emails. Most people who click “unsubscribe” want to end the email relationship…like, now. Providing alternatives is a smart way to retain the remaining group—as long as you minimize clicking and navigation.
This consumer just wants your opt-out mechanism to work. CAN-SPAM Act enforcers do, too. According to the FTC, any opt-out solution you offer “must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message.” You should also ensure your own SPAM filter isn’t blocking opt-out requests. Meanwhile, monitor your support tickets and social media accounts for alerts like these:
Even though studies show 91% of adults like getting email from their favorite brands, you can’t be a favorite brand to everyone. For some folks, opting out is inevitable. It’s essential that you have transparent, convenient, functioning mechanisms in place for them.
Learn more about our email opt-out solution, and check back for a list of enhanced features we’ll be launching this month!
It’s important to have effective tools in place for email opt-out management. Heck, it’s the law.
But great brands can do more than just practice defense. Working to proactively meet email subscriber preferences is equally important. Making an effort to send the right message at the right time can reduce the number of opt outs you and your partners generate in the first place.
So get your email opt-out management tools in place. Then get current with your offensive playbook. These stats can help:
Repay Expressed Interest
As explained by Cynthia Price, Director of Marketing at Emma, Inc., freebies are the number one reason why people sign up for email. They want “stuff”: holiday coupons, exclusive discounts, early access, free gifts, expert advice... Give it all to them! And while you’re at it, acknowledge how grateful you are for the exchange.
Extend Your Subject Line
50 ways to leave your lover are like, a lot of ways. 50 characters for a best-practices-approved email subject line are actually pretty limiting. And keep in mind you’ve only got about 3 seconds to make those characters count. The solution? Use snippet (a.k.a. “preview”) text to flesh out the idea. And if you’re still struggling to invent great subject lines, HubSpot has some doozies to inspire you.
According to Salesforce, 95% of email opt-ins agree that your brand messages are “somewhat or very useful.” Live up to that assessment. Keep messages fresh and focused on subscribers’ demonstrated interests. Email marketing ROI is somewhere around $44 for every $1 dollar spent. You can afford to invest time in good content ideas.
Nearly one-third of all opt-ins would prefer shorter promotional emails, suggests MarketingSherpa’s 2015 email survey. Let your landing pages do the heavy lifting; keep actual email content concise and compelling.
Check In Daily
Subscribers aren’t just tolerating your emails; they’re welcoming them. A whopping 91% of adult consumers say they like to receive promotional emails from their preferred brands. And believe it or not, daily emails are actually welcome by 15% of subscribers. Find out who these folks are by incorporating frequency preference-setting buttons into your opt-in and opt-out process.
Grease Wheels with (Smart) Abandoned Cart Emails
Shopping cart reminder emails are a sticky subject. According to the same MarketingSherpa survey, 38% of consumers find them annoying—which should sound the alarm bells vis-à-vis email opt-out management. But strategic execution can make a big difference. Remember there are lots of different reasons why a customer might abandon a purchase (shipping cost sticker shock, a technical issue, a security concern…) Check out some abandoned cart email examples that solve these problems… and some that are just, well, annoying.
Of all the subscribers who want your emails to change, 29% want more personalization. For that, we defer to our brilliant sister company, PostUp. Check out their blog on email personalization ideas.
So there’s probably no better time to experiment with color in your email marketing—including the creative you supply to your email partners. Below, we’ve listed some colorful statistics about branding, buying, and testing. Review these lessons in color psychology; then use them to create brighter mailings for your brand subscribers and for your affiliate email partners.
How Color Affects Brand Perception
No doubt you’ve seen this chart, outlining color perceptions and the brands that leverage them. We all know, for example, that blue is supposedly a universal marker of trust and competence. Green connotes health, growth, and earth friendliness. Some of these examples test the model. (Is Taco Bell really wise? Creative maybe, in terms of its recipes…) But by and large, you can see how this marketing rainbow works.
Proving color theory is another story.
There’s not much hard science to support the responses different brand colors elicit. But there is science to support the value of consistency and strong branding. According to a radiological study of consumer partici
pants, familiar brand logos activated cortical areas involved in positive emotional processing and associated with self-identification and rewards. Weaker logos, on the other hand, forced participants’ brains to activate “working memory” areas, and produced a negative emotional response.
Email acquisition is a powerful tool. Just don’t let it dilute your brand’s greatest strength (recognition). Try to keep your affiliate email partners on a short leash, in terms of design specs and creative alignment. By giving them the colors, fonts, and images you’ve designed, you’ll be helping your conversion rates in the long run.
How Color Affects Purchasing Decisions
Color can also improve your marketing in the short term, apart from those major choices about logo and branding. Studies indicate color can single-handedly improve readership rates (up to 40 percent), increase comprehension (up to 73 percent), and actually accelerate learning (between 55 and 78 percent). This is good to know if your products or services have more benefits to offer than what immediately meets the eye. Highlighting important features or promotions with color might gain you a few extra seconds of attention.
There’s also evidence to suggest that different audiences have unique responses to different colors and color palettes. Female consumers are said to prefer blues, purples, and greens, while men are drawn toward black. Neither sex likes orange; yet it may be the color most likely to entice impulse shoppers.
Hard science or no, most brands have already factored color perceptions like these into their logo/website designs. But there’s still room to experiment with color psychology within more segmented messages.
Places to Insert Color in Your Creative for Email Partners
Have you tested different colors for CTAs yet? Of course you have. According to one Performable study cited by HubSpot, red CTA buttons outperformed green CTA buttons by 21 percent! As always, the best approach is to conduct your own A/B testing on your own audiences.
One way to maintain consistent branding, but still test color theory is with bright background shades. Here, Shutterfly sticks to its trademark black buttons, but lightens the overall effect with a splash of forsythia yellow.
There are lots of case studies that compare the effectiveness of traditional blue links versus alternative link colors. Some suggest that bolder link colors generate higher conversions among new visitors/new subscribers, who are perhaps less entrenched in the usual look and feel of your messaging. Here again, test different options; then use the winning results in your specs for email partners.
Images help recipients process your message faster. If you want to ensure the end result is a positive one, borrow this tip from retailer merchandisers: tell a story with color. By designing an image and a color-coordinated CTA around a mood or a concept, your email subscribers may be more inspired to go after your product. Here’s a great example from Wayfair.com.
Just keep in mind that most ESPs block images by default. Some sources say up to 60 percent of customers have email images disabled. Descriptive, compelling ALT tags can help entice more people to view your message in full.
Also remember not to incorporate oversized images or image-based information displays with minimal accompanying text. Your email should contain a balanced text-to-image ratio to avoid getting filtered as SPAM.
Tell us what you’ve tried and where you’ve triumphed with color in email marketing. We love hearing your stories!
Why are we compiling a list of the best email marketing blogs?
Because it’s spring. Finally. And even if you’re not taking the kind of spring break that involves conga lines or bikini bull riding, you still need a breath of fresh air.
Sometimes the best way to recharge is to step away from your work, and see what other people are talking about. The following list will keep your email marketer’s brain sharp and inspired all year long…
Not a huge fan of excess reading? Copyblogger has super smart insights packaged in non-boring ways: videos, infographics, guest blogs from cool, famous people (in terms of marketing authorities, anyway). Copyblogger CEO, Brian Clark, also hosts Rainmaker.FM—a series of webcasts on all things digital marketing. You can learn the latest and still have the bandwidth to read your work emails.
When it comes time to really drill down into email practice and technique, Marketo can be your guide. These guys come to play with loads of real-life examples and data-packed resources. Did you catch last year’s Email LookBook? Hey @dayroth any chance we can get a sneak peek at the 2015 edition?
We highly recommend signing up for ML’s weekly newsletter to “step up your email marketing game.” 113K Twitter followers and 93K Facebook fans can’t be wrong. Well, unless they were the same ones seeing blue and black (because that dress was clearly white and gold).
You might not think to seek fresh perspectives from a company that provides email fraud protection services (among others), but Return Path’s dynamic blogging team will absolutely keep you coming back. Learn more about email intelligence, email optimization, and yes email fraud-related topics. We think you’ll enjoy this site for its great writers and email analysts, who can dish on complex topics without sacrificing readability.
Okay, full disclosure: PostUp is our sister company. But including their blog on this list isn’t a mercy pick (like asking your cousin to the prom). A visit to the PostUp blog promises serious email marketing info. Learn about email strategy, email deliverability, email templates… and much more.
You may associate the HubSpot name with hip and helpful marketing tools. But HubSpot also offers a trove of marketing resources—including great advice on email campaigns. We quote them all the time. You should, too.
Looking for industry-specific marketing advice? If you work in retail, consumer brands, travel, automotive, or financial services, you’re in luck. These guys also dedicate an entire section of their blog to consumer centricity. Love that! Stop by to remind yourself what you and your brand are working toward.
Which email marketing blogs are your favs? Better yet, what kinds of topics would you like to see bloggers cover? Send us your thoughts!
Did you know that UnsubCentral has a parent company that is an award-winning Email Service Provider? Chosen by leading global companies, PostUp empowers brands to intuitively create, manage and automate complex customer lifecycle communications that drive greater engagement and increased revenue. Together, UnsubCentral and PostUp provide all the tools brands need to manage their entire email ecosystem. Each month, we will be featuring a post by the PostUp team to share insight on email marketing best practices and industry tips and trends.
There’s nothing worse than finding an email link that intrigues you, clicking on it, and landing in the dreaded land of ‘Page Not Found.’ Actually, there is something worse: landing on a completely unrelated page. Most of your subscribers are not motivated enough to search intently to find a specific page so, if a link doesn’t work on the first click, subscribers are probably going to move on to something else.
So, how can you prevent this problem? The answer is to use a ‘link validator.’ What is a link validator, you may ask? Well, just as the name implies, it’s a tool that checks to see if your links are “valid.” It will alert you to any links that “don’t work.” Now this is a useful feature, to be sure, but not a catchall. A “valid” or “working” link is one that directs to an actual webpage that isn’t a phishing or malware page. While this may prevent the landing page of nonexistence, it does not necessarily mean that your recipients are on the page you intended for them.
Most of the email marketers I work with never start a new message from scratch. Sometimes they start with a template, but more often they begin by copying an existing mailing. This creates an entirely new set of problems that a link validator alone cannot solve. Yes, you may have “valid” links, but they could be links left over from the original message. Unless you are specifically going through and clicking each and every link in your test message, there’s no surefire way to guarantee the links have been updated to redirect to the correct pages.
Many assume that as long as their link validator gives the “all good” confirmation, an email is safe to send. But, you can see this is not always case. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to rage against the link machine. Instead, remember how to use a ‘link validator’ effectively. With the powers of man and technology combined, you too can ensure a good experience for your link-clicking recipients.
This post was originally published on the PostUp Blog, which you can find here.
Humor is uniquely human. Dogs and cats don’t appreciate sarcasm. Your goldfish won’t even crack a smile at an episode of Parks and Rec. Yet laughter and comedy are among that few things that can unite just about everyone on the planet.
Why should this matter to you, an email marketing professional?
Social psychologists believe that humor is a key ingredient in conflict resolution. Humor helps opposing groups to overcome their divisions or competing interests. As a marketer, you’ve got a pretty big division standing between you and your prospective customers…
They don’t trust you. Not yet, anyway.
Attracting new email subscribers, and then turning those subscribers into customers are both examples of conflict. Sure, you know that the awkward vibe isn’t necessary. (Thanks to your great products and your responsible email compliance practices, customers stand only to gain from a relationship with you.)
But prospects don’t always approach new relationships that way. Many come along reluctantly. Many expect the worst. Here are reasons why humor (funny emails) should inform your email strategy and set subscribers at ease.
Humor sets the tone.
Lots of research has been done to help email marketers get people’s attention—to isolate subject lines that stand out in a crowded inbox. We know, for example, that words like “invitation,” or “urgent,” are highly engaging.
But what happens after the open is achieved? What kind of tone have you created? Without the right context, you might actually offend a prospect who mistakes your clever subject line for a personal message (possibly an emergency).
Teaser subject lines make better sense if you’re willing to go all in—creating humorous email content to justify the bait and switch. Here’s an example originally cited in Marketo’s blog wherein the subject line began, “So I’ll pick you up at 7?” See how the rest of the message unfolds…
Humor eliminates the elephant in the room.
Ultimately, you want to sell. Email recipients know you want to sell. But you don’t want to sound like selling is the only thing on your mind.
So your emails begin with all sorts of niceties and crafty segues. Speaking of this long, cold winter…
Adding humor to your email strategy can help you acknowledge your position and your desired results without coming across as a jerky solicitor. See how this simple, B2B follow-up campaign states its purpose and still manages to win a smile:
Humor can signify compatibility.
We tend to believe that the people who are closest to us have a similiar sense of humor. Conversely, people who demonstrate a similar sense of humor tend to feel more familiar—even if they’re complete strangers. By taking what you know of your target buyers (age, education level, interests, etc.) you can design an email strategy that looks and sounds very much like the casual conversation in their circles.
The following example from Water.org does this perfectly. Granted, it’s coming from Matt Damon (not a complete stranger). But the tone and the voice could have succeeded from anyone (minus the Ben Affleck reference).
Now get out there and say something funny. Say something human. Here’s a funny email content quiz to get you inspired…
Are you up to speed on the Google Inbox email app and desktop interface? Google’s Inbox by Gmail already has over 47,000 followers, even though it’s still an invitation-only service. And just last month, Google announced Inbox for Work—another invitation-based rollout, allowing Google Apps for Work administrators to request access to the service. With thousands of consumers clamoring for this new email experience, email marketers can’t afford to ignore the change.
Users are excited about an email service that promises to make them more productive. Marketers, on the other hand, should be excited about the look and functionality of new message lists—a new email experience that creates even more incentive for brands to be timely, visual, and engaging.
Here are a few components you’ll need to get there:
In an effort to make landmark email content more accessible, Inbox offers a Highlights feature that pulls information from inside an email and stamps it to the main message list (think flight info or confirmation numbers). Highlights ensures that emails containing videos, photos, or other attached files will get more real estate in the Inbox. Users will be able to click play or view/open the file without actually opening the message that delivered it. And this might mean compelling video content is soon to be as important as a compelling subject line.
We’ve talked about the emergence of video in email marketing before. Google Inbox seals the deal. Imagine how well text-only emails will perform in a queue of promotional emails wherein some are displaying colorful still images with play arrow icons. We already know that tweets with images and video get more attention than textual posts. Time-strapped consumers will likely display similar behaviors when choosing what to read and what to forward inside a more visual inbox.
Are you already using geotargeting or “geo-conquesting” strategies within your email campaigns? If you’re seeing any success based on mobile customers’ movements, the new Gmail interface could take you to the next level…
Google Inbox features a “snooze” component, which allows mobile email app users to ignore a specific message until some selected future time, or until they are geographically in a relevant space (e.g. at home, at work, or inside your store). Imagine how your marketing teams might be able to leverage this functionality—even encouraging subscribers to snooze on a particular email until they’re at XYZ address: your nearest store location. Recipients would then get automated pop-ups, reminding them of your message (along with your product highlight or coupon/offer) at the precise moment they need it.
Better Engagement Ideas
Google Inbox gives new meaning to the term “low priority.” In fact, it’s an actual directive now. So in addition to (or instead of) being labeled as a Promotional email, your message might soon get bundled as a low priority read. What’s worse, some users will opt to have low priority messages not just separated, but excluded from the main Inbox view.
Your response? Be the brand that subscribers have to connect with. Keep in mind that Google Inbox is meant to function more like a to-do list than an email repository. By giving recipients opportunities to take action (or delay action until a specified future date), your messages will be more in sync with the mindset behind this new interface.
So give them images to pin. Give them exclusive discounts to cash in. Give them time-sensitive calls to action. And don’t forget to give them a big, bright, colorful logo. Your sender image has never been so important. According to this HubSpot overview, “Gmail automatically pulls in the logo used on your company's Google+ Page in the Promo Bundle—as long as you have the Google+ Related Pages Widget enabled.”
Have you started using Google Inbox? We’d love to hear about your experience!