How to Create a Killer Company Newsletter

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The dreaded newsletter — It’s something that every company strives to send but also wonders if it’s worthwhile.

Most of the time your newsletter list consists of current customers or maybe even leads that weren’t ready to buy. A company newsletter is a great way to maintain brand awareness with your customers. Newsletters can also be a great asset to stay in front of those leads who are not ready to convert. It’s a subtle way to stay top-of-mind while keeping your company brand relevant. When putting together a newsletter, there are two major items to consider. 1) The design and 2) the content.

01. THE DESIGN

The biggest mistake companies can make with their newsletters is the design. While graphics and pops of color can look appealing, they should definitely be kept to a minimum. Here’s why:

  • Too many images increase the likelihood of your email ending up in spam/junk
  • Excessive code in emails can break how they render in different email inboxes
  • Heavy design elements like color, graphics, and custom fonts may not display properly on mobile

Newsletter templates should have a simple yet aesthetic design. It should easily allow readers to move their eyes throughout the content. One great way to accomplish this is by using different content sections or blocks, which can also help organize your newsletter.

                    newsletter1

These email templates are provided by BEE Free and are available for free on their website. Read our blog The Top 3 Free Email Builders to learn how to import this newsletter template into your email marketing platform.

02. THE CONTENT

The type of content within your newsletter will depend on your audience and company brand/voice. If your company voice can be fun and playful, a newsletter is a perfect place to portray it. For example, if your company is a financial institution and your newsletter audience includes clients, it may not be the greatest idea to use a playful voice. Your audience is expecting professionalism and valuable resources in your newsletter.

Contingent on your audience, the following types of content are great for peaking interest and may be a great fit for your newsletter:

Promotions

Promotional offers are one of the most common types of content in newsletters. Offering discounts or special promos can help encourage repeat business but can also help bring in new sales. Social sharing buttons or referral programs make it easy for your readers to share with fellow friends while helping you capture new business.

Resources

Resources like blogs, case studies, and ebooks are just a few examples of the valuable content you can offer your audience in newsletters. For B2B industries, it’s likely that customers will be interested in the material they can relate to their own business efforts. For example, a case study on how another company has overcome the struggle of increasing lead conversion may be valuable for others in the same position. By offering these types of resources you are encouraging your customers to build their knowledge base and in turn, customers will associate value with your company.

Spotlights

Whether you’re adding a new team member or introducing a new client, spotlights are unique content pieces to share with your audience. Employee spotlights could consist of industry related tips, fun facts, reviews, and more. Showcasing a new client may involve a brief introduction but also what your company will be doing to help them. If industry appropriate, spotlights are a great place to get fun with your company personality.

Industry/Company Updates

Reviewing the latest and greatest news in your companies industry is extremely important. By sharing industry updates you’re not only educating them, but you’re also showing your readers you keep up with industry trends and you’re ready to compete. It proves your business is continuously learning and making strides to remain relevant. Updates may also include software or application announcements, especially if your business works with the applications or are widely popular within the industry.

Events

Events are a timeless resource that can hold huge value with customers. Types of events can vary and may include: webinars, networking, fundraising, educational workshops, tradeshows, and more. Newsletters can be a great space to announce these types of events as the email list typically includes the mass majority of your database. Many times hosting or attending an event can also help capture new leads.

If you’re already a pro at email newsletters, check out 8 Valuable Content Marketing Tools You Can’t Live Without.

How to Create an Editable Marketo Email Template Using BEE Free

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In my last post I showed you how to create a one-off email for Marketo using the BEE Free site which is always a great, easy option when you’re tired of the Marketo editor. But, what if you want to re-use one of those emails just like the pre-built Marketo email templates? Not a problem! And no, you don’t have to be an expert developer to do so. I’ll show you exactly what you need to do.

Creating an Email Using the BEE Free Site

If you don’t already have an email in your Marketo instance that you want to make editable, then I suggest choosing a template you like from the BEE Free site. The site is very intuitive and easy to navigate but be sure you deselect the “pro” option when sorting through the templates. This will ensure you’re only viewing the free options. Once you choose the template you would like to use simply click “get started”.

An editor will open allowing you to fully customize that template design. Now, because we plan to use this as a Marketo email template you don’t necessarily need to fill it in with real content just yet. However, you will want to edit things like background color, text box and image locations, fonts, etc. in order to get the design exactly how you want it.

BEE Free Editor

When you’re finished editing, simply click the “save” button in the top right-hand corner. This will take you to a new page offering the Pro version of their services. The Pro version offers storage so you can save your template inside the BEE Free site. For our purposes however, we really don’t need that so you can simply click the “I just want to download it” button.

Download Template

Adding the BEE Free Email to Marketo

First, you’ll need to open your computer’s “downloads” folder and locate a folder that’s named “beefree” followed by some random letters and numbers. Open that folder and click on the .html file inside. This will open a webpage. Right-click anywhere on this page (except on an image) and select “view page source”. Highlight and copy ALL of the text on that page. This is the coding behind your new template.

Next, you’ll open your Marketo instance, create a new email in the design studio, click “edit code” in the editor and replace the existing code with the new code you copied earlier. The reason I recommend creating an email here rather than a template is because it is easier to verify the edits we’re about to make to create editable fields. This will make more sense as we move through the next steps. Once you’ve replaced all the existing code with your new code, click “save”.

Making Your New Marketo Email Template Editable

Now that your email is created in Marketo, you’ll need to make it editable. To do so you simply need to add <div class=”mtkEditable” id=”section_name”> tags to each section of code. Editing code may sound scary to some at first, but it’s really not once you have a basic understanding of what html is.

So to start, open your new email in Marketo and get to the edit code page. In the code, your email is broken into sections. Each section is housed within <div> tags as shown below.

Example of Code Sections

Example of Code Sections

 

Also, keep in mind that the code of an email flows in the same order as your design. So if you’ve got a text block in the middle of the template you want to make editable, you’ll find the block of code for it toward the middle as well.

Example of code location

Making an Image Block of a Marketo Email Template Editable

If you want to make an image block editable, look through the code for an <img> tag. This is noticeable by the URL linking to the image and the <img> start tag. I typically use control-F to search for the URL of the image. For example, if I know the image is titled “wine” then I search the page for that term and will be taken directly to that portion of the code. Once you have the correct image located, back up through the code and find the <div> tag that comes directly before the <img> tag.

example of image location in code

You’ll notice that in my example this <div> tag already contains a “class=” designation. Since you can only have one of these designations per <div> tag, you’ll need to remove what’s there and replace it with class=”mktEditbale”. Also, Marketo requires every editable section to have an “id” designation. They use this as the section name in the “content” column on the right-hand side of the email editor. So you’ll need to add id=”header-image” (or whatever title makes sense for your email) directly after your new class designation.

To test to see if you added it in the correct location, click save code to get back to the Marketo editor and if when you hover over that section it highlights it or you see the section in the right-hand column, then you know it is editable and your edits to the code worked!

verify your work

Making Text Blocks in a Marketo Email Template Editable

You’ll need to repeat the step above for every section you want editable. For text blocks, the easiest thing to do is to hit control+F and search for some of the words in the text of your email. In the example below that would be “Lorem Ipsum dolor sit…” That will take you directly to the appropriate section of code. Then you’ll again locate the <div> tag directly before the text and add class=”mktEditable” id=”section_name” like below.

locating text block making text editable verifying in Marketo

Finalizing Your New Marketo Email Template

Once you have all the editable areas in place and your email looks just how you want it (again actual content isn’t necessary just yet), you’re ready to save it as a template in your Marketo instance.

Click edit email to open the email editor for your new email. Once in the editor, click the email actions drop down in the top left corner. Choose “save as template” and set your desired location and name. Then hit save.

save as template in Marketo naming your template

You now have a brand new Marketo email template ready for use. Go to your Marketing Activities and locate a program or campaign you’d like to add an email to. Create a new local asset. Choose email and you’ll new see your newest Marketo email template in the template picker.

Plus, as an added bonus, you can now say you know how to edit HTML code!

The Top 3 Free Email Builders

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As a content marketer, one of your most valued duties includes creating content and sharing it. However, using different marketing software may present as your biggest challenge. Picture this, you’re up against a tight deadline to launch an e-newsletter containing this month’s featured content, but you’ve run into a snag because your email template just doesn’t translate the way you imaged or worse isn’t rendering correctly.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this scenario, this blog is for you! By the end of this piece, you will know how to use the top free email builders and how to import your new design to use in Pardot.

 

BEE Free

BEE Free is one of the easiest email builders to use. You can drag and drop content onto email templates, including buttons, text blocks, images, and more.  With BEE Free, marketers can design sleek and modern emails with ease. This site also offers a way to export HTML to transfer into email marketing platforms.

To begin building your email template, head over to the BEE Free homepage and “Start Designing”. The site will prompt you to start your own design from scratch or select a template where you can filter through an abundance of free templates, usage types, and different industries.

 

Once you’ve selected a template you’re now ready to customize it! The drag and drop email builder gives you a seamless user experience. Once you’ve got the look you desired you want to “Save” the email template. However, if you’re using the free version, BEE Free will ask if you’d like to sign up for a paid plan or if you’d just like to download your template – you want to choose to download it.

 

After selecting to download the email, a zip file should load where you will find an image (holds all the images to the email template) and .html file. You’ll want to open this file and right-click to reveal the drop-down for “View Page Source”. This will allow you to view the code of the whole page. This is the code we’ll later copy and paste into Pardot.

 

In the Pardot email builder, you’ll want to paste the code from the page source into the HTML tab in Pardot.

 

*Note: You may receive the following alert: HTML message: An unsubscribe tag (%%unsubscribe%% or %%email_preference_center%%) is required somewhere in the body of the email. This can be done by highlighting the text you’d like to link for unsubscribers and selecting the hyperlink icon to choose the unsubscribe tag as the link type.

 

Once the HTML code is added I suggest previewing your email template and making revisions. Please note if you’re adding images to the BEE Free template, you will need to readd them to the Pardot template.

 

TOPOL.io

Similar to BEE Free, Topol.io allows users to design emails with a drag and drop tool and it’s “sooooo easy”. In comparison to BEE Free, Topol.io also provides a number of email templates but not nearly as many. One feature I believe Topol.io does better is the process of exporting the email HTML. Topol.io automatically creates a download of the .html file, rather than a zip file.

 

After selecting your email template to design, you’ll want to “Save & Download”, which will prompt an automatic download of the HTML. From here the same process as stated above should be followed to import the email HTML into Pardot.

Stripo.email

Unlike our first two contenders, Stripo requires users to sign up for a free account and caps off at 4 free downloads each month. However, Stripo.email states the download limits get reset every month. By selecting “Email Templates” in the navigation bar, you’re able to select from numerous email templates and filter by type, industry, and season.

 

“Try Out” your email template once you’ve selected the right fit and begin to make your revisions. When you’re ready to export the HTML, you will save the email template which will then prompt you to create a free user account.

 

When your new account has been registered you will be brought to an overview screen of all your email templates. Select the one you’d like to export the HTML and proceed with selecting the “Export” button > HTML > Download HTML file.

 

Not a Pardot user? Here’s a similar article for Marketo.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn 4 Tools to Determine Audience Segmentation in Pardot

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What is Audience Segmentation?

As a content marketer, it’s common to hear that segmenting your data is important, but do you know why it matters? Segmenting your customer data allows you to pinpoint different subgroups that relate to another in one or more ways. This simple strategy can be extremely beneficial to a content marketer. The most significant reason a to consider audience segmentation is due to the fact that it hones in on a data subset, which allows you to better understand your customer. In turn, you can create customer-specific content that resonates with the right target audience.

Why Does it Matter?

With all the advertising and marketing clutter today, it is more imperative than ever to offer relevant and valuable content to your target consumers. By delivering worthwhile resources, customers immediately see value within the company and brand. This can result in a greater opportunity for cross-selling/up-selling, consumer retention, higher conversion rates, and more.

Who is your Audience?

If you are just starting out with content marketing and have yet to determine who your audience is, here are the most common characteristics for segmenting your data.

1) Geographical/Regional (i.e. State)

2) Demographic (i.e. Income)

3) Behavioral (i.e. Product Purchased)

Keep in mind your audience segmentation is going to be specific to your company – learn more about audience building. For example, as a loan lender, you may choose to segment your data by income. The greater the income a contact has, the larger loan you may be able to offer them. This would determine the specific campaigns marketed to these groups – leverage your content the right way.

4 Pardot Tools for Audience Segmentation

If your company utilizes a marketing automation tool like Pardot, you can take advantage of the native tools within the platform to create audience segmentation. These tools include:

1) Static vs. Dynamic List

  • With this tool, you are able to create a one-time list (static) and lists that automatically update based on a set of rules and criteria (dynamic). Static lists are manually updated by importing or removing contacts. These are the standard types of email lists. As for a dynamic list, the only way a contact can be added to that list is if they meet the criteria. For example, you may create a dynamic list that only holds contacts with the state MA. If a contact has the state RI, they will not be added to the dynamic list and you cannot manually add them.

2) Suppression List

  • Pardot allows you to prevent certain contacts from receiving specific mailing communication when opting to “suppress” them. For example, you may want to create a suppression list of everyone who has not opened an email within the last 30 days to avoid mailing uninterested leads.

3) Tagging

  • This functionality in Pardot allows you to apply “tags” to individual contacts. This helps to organize and segment your data even further. For example, you may want to tag your “tradeshow contacts” within Pardot to easily distinguish they need to be placed in a pre-show campaign. You can also use these tags to create dynamic lists or automation rules later on.

4) Automation Rules

  • Pardot allows users to create automation rules, which can automate a number of things. Specifically, regarding segmentation, automation rules can push contacts to a mailing list based on criteria. Automation rules can also automatically apply tags to contacts given criteria has been provided. There are many other actions you can take with automation rules like updating contact fields or adjusting their Pardot score.

Now that you have learned how to segment like a pro, let’s look at how to create an effective content and distribution strategy.

Build a Workflow in Pardot’s Engagement Studio

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A workflow can be summed up in one phrase. They can save you a ton of time! Specifically, a workflow is a sequence of actions that are automated based on set criteria. This criterion is usually established by a prospects behavior and/or data your business has collected on that individual. A workflow can be built out using Pardot’s Engagement Studio tool. This tool is a visual workflow builder that allows a number of actions to be automated such as sending emails, updating fields, adjusting prospect score, and more. While the most common type of workflow is client facing, they can also be used for internal efforts, such as setting notifications and updating custom fields via Salesforce.

Common Types of Workflows

1) Prospect Activity Workflow

Based on your prospects activity, you can automate actions like sending email autoresponders. Pardot’s Page Actions are meant to “flag” priority pages on your website. You can also set Completion Actions within these Page Actions that tell Pardot to kick-start an automated activity when this page is visited. If you’re a content marketer, Pardot’s Page Actions are going to be a dream come true. This tool will allow you to mail more relative communication to prospects who have visited content offers. For example, a contact visits your blog The Best Snacks to Have with Peanut Butter. Using Pardot’s Page Actions you can automate an autoresponder email linking to your related blog Top Peanut Butter Desserts for the Holidays.

**Note: Keep in mind that page actions do not work if you do not have a website tracking code from Pardot present on your website.

2) Nurture Workflow

This type of workflow is exactly as it sounds. The idea is to nurture prospects over time to introduce your company and offer value. New leads may not be ready to commit to your company’s product/service, but by nurturing them you stay top of mind. Nurture workflows typically have three objectives

Create awareness — Introduce your company and it’s products/services. What makes your company special? Why choose your products/services over the industry leaders?

Offer value — Share valuable content that will resonate. Blog posts, case studies, white paper, etc. Offering valuable resources helps creates trust.

Convert — Converting the prospect is the most important objective in a nurture workflow. A prospect converts to a lead or contact once they’ve requested more information in one form or another. Some examples include inquiring on a web form, creating a membership, starting a free trial, etc. This signifies a point of interest or sale.

3) Upselling/Cross-Selling Workflow

Creating additional opportunities for your company can be easily automated with Pardot’s dynamic list and engagement studio tools. If you’ve ever heard the expression data is key, here’s a great example of why it matters. Dynamic lists are emails list that can automatically populate based on criteria. Furthermore, these auto-populated lists can be entered into engagement programs, which automatically filter contacts through a workflow. Companies can use these Pardot features to cross-sell or upsell to their market segments. For example, by creating a dynamic list based on recent customers who have purchased a lawnmower you can automate an email series showcasing your top grass seed brands.

3 Steps to Build a Workflow in Engagement Studio

Workflows can vary in size and complexity. If it’s your first time with a marketing automation tool like Pardot the set-up and launch of an engagement program may be overwhelming. Just remember to take a step back and always keep in mind what the ultimate goal is get more help on building Pardot campaigns.

Step 1: Ask yourself these questions

  • What is the end goal/objective of this workflow?
  • Who is your audience?
    • What does your audience want to hear from you?
  • Are you offering value to your audience? (i.e. Whitepaper, Case Study, Downloadable Resource, etc.)

Step 2: Create your assets (if applicable)

  • Resources
  • Landing Pages
  • Email Templates/Write Content

Step 3: Build and Launch

  • Sketch your workflow out on paper
  • Build in Pardot’s Engagement Studio
  • Launch!

Engagement Studio Terminology

If you have started to play around with Pardot’s Engagement Studio, you’ve probably realized the three different options when building the steps to your workflow — Action, Trigger, and Rule.

An action is an activity Pardot is taking internally or towards your prospect. Some examples include adding a prospect to a list, applying tags, and sending an autoresponder email.

A trigger is an activity your prospect has taken in which you are looking to track. Triggers can consist of tracking email opens, clicks, form submissions, landing page visits, and more.

A rule is checking for internal data you have on your prospect. Rules include checking if they have a custom field, if they’re a member of a list, if they have a certain score, and more.

Both a trigger and rule can be used to build out different “yes” and “no” paths within your workflow – get more hands-on with an engagement studio webinar.

Learn more about the basics of Pardot’s Engagement Studio.

5 Ways to Enrich Subscriber Data in Email Marketing

Getting good information about email subscribers can be a challenge for even the savviest email marketer. Privacy is a big concern for many people, and that means some of your subscribers will dig in their heels at the thought of handing over anything more than their email address. Basic facts like age and location can be difficult to come by, and that can make it much harder to run personalized email campaigns.

If you’re struggling to enrich your subscriber data, you aren’t alone. In fact, a recent survey found that 54% of marketers named enriching contact data quality as their number-one challenge. But that doesn’t mean you should give up trying to learn more about your subscribers. There are some strategies that will help you get the information you need, and once you do, it could have a big impact on how well your emails convert.

54% of marketers named enriching content data quality as one of their biggest challenges, while 32% said it was one of their most important goals. Source

Why Subscriber Data Matters

Your subscribers don’t want to receive generic emails from you – they want you to know them by name. Basically, more personalization is better for your email campaigns, as long as you aren’t coming off as creepy. People will pay more attention to your emails if they’re personalized, and if you can build a good sense of rapport, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase.

You’ll also be able to segment your email list more effectively if you have a lot of information about your subscribers. Segmenting allows you to target different sub-demographics within your audience with greater sophistication. It helps ensure that your emails are interesting and relevant to your audience. There are dozens of ways you can divide up your email list, but all of them require you to have plenty of data on hand.

How to Get More Data about Your Subscribers

Ready to start gathering more information about your email subscribers? Here are some ideas for obtaining the data you need without coming off as invasive.

Set up a preference center (and encourage your subscribers to use it)

Do you have an email preference center yet? If not, it’s time to set one up. Having a preference center doesn’t just lower your unsubscribe rate – it also lets your subscribers give you their personal information, with no nagging or bribery on your part. In fact, your subscribers will probably be happy to tell you what kind of emails they want, along with other details that will help you customize their content better.

Sephora lets you set your email frequency and your location in their preference center.

Getting people to actually use your preference center can be easier said than done, so remind your subscribers that it’s there every so often. When a new subscriber signs up for your list, take the opportunity to send them an email prompting them to review and adjust their settings. At regular intervals after that (maybe every year or so), send them a reminder email asking if they’d like to update their settings again. This can be especially effective if a subscriber has stopped engaging with your brand so much – they might just need a reminder to come back.

Consider including more fields in your email sign-up form.

Yes, you should generally keep your opt-in forms short – people don’t generally want to give their information to an unknown entity. But you might be able to get a little more information than just an email address from your sign-up form. Consider adding a field for the subscriber’s first name or birthday, for example. This will give you something useful to start personalizing your emails with.

Make a quiz, poll, or survey.

Many people who resist filling out forms will happily take a fun quiz. If your brand lends itself well to quizzes, design a few based on the information you’d like to gather, and direct your subscribers to them. You can also create polls or surveys for your subscribers to take. If you go this route, highlight how the information will help you produce better email content for your list.

Offer freebies in exchange for more information.

What’s the quickest way to get your subscribers to part with valuable data? Offer them something they really want in return. Guides, eBooks, and white papers can all be good bets – just make sure the content is juicy enough to convince your subscribers they can’t live without it. Discounts and samples are also great incentives.

You can use OptinMonster or similar software to capture information from visitors who are about to leave your site. Get their attention by offering something desirable, like an ebook, in exchange for some information.

This trick is easy to repeat, so don’t feel like you have to wring every bit of data out of a subscriber in exchange for a single downloadable. It’s fairly straightforward to capture different bits of data by offering different discounts or pieces of gated content at various times. Asking for only one or two pieces of information at a time cuts down on friction, so you’ll probably get more data in the long run.

Extra: Learn how to use structured data correctly here.

Look at what your subscribers do.

Not having much luck getting specific personal information out of your subscribers? You can still learn a lot about them simply from observing them. Pay attention to how they interact with your emails and your website.

For instance, which of your subscribers click on your emails the most (and which click the least)? Do some people seem to prefer specific types of emails? Based on email data, you could segment your list by highly engaged versus unengaged subscribers, subscribers who like reading your newsletter updates, and subscribers who always click on your sale emails.

You can also tell a lot from how people behave on your site. Which of your subscribers have already made a purchase, and which ones still seem to be on the fence? What are their browsing habits like? You could segment your list based on people who like looking at specific types of items, big spenders versus frugal shoppers, and how often people visit your site.

Wrapping Up

Personalization is key if you want to maximize the potential of your email marketing. It takes subscriber data to personalize your content successfully, though, and that data isn’t always easy to come by. These ideas can help you harvest more information from your subscribers while building trust and rapport with them. Two rules of thumb: people are usually happier to give you their information gradually than to hand it all over at once, and you’ll see more success if you offer your subscribers something nice in exchange for their personal details. And, of course, you can always look at your web and email analytics for an overview of how your subscribers are interacting with you.

What’s the most effective way you’ve found to gather subscriber data? It’s over to you in the comments!

How to Build Your Mailing List from Scratch

It is easy to believe that email marketing is effective and a key component to any marketing strategy, but if you don’t have an email list, that task can seem daunting. All too often people turn to purchasing lists, which is not only against best practices, but actually illegal on many of the mail servers. This means that you risk getting banned, so the best option long term is to build your mailing list from scratch for a number of reasons. Below explains some of the reasons to build a mailing list from scratch and then focuses on how to accomplish it.

Why You Should Build Your Mailing List from Scratch

As mentioned above, there are many reasons why you should not purchase lists or obtain email contacts in inorganic ways. While this may seem like the easiest path to success, it can cause you a ton of problems. Not only that, you can never actually be sure that the contacts are getting are really people who have interest in hearing from your brand, which means you won’t see any conversions, so is there really much point?

Aside from the negatives of not building from scratch, below are a few positives:

  • People want to hear from you. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if people are signing up fro your mailing list in one way, shape, or form, it means that they want to hear from your brand. If they like the products and services you offer and have already interacted with your brand, you are in the best position possible to reach out via email with promotions, news, special offers, and events.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of repeat customers. The people who have already interacted with (often repeat customers) are 24-45% of a successful business’ base. That means the people who give you their contact info are going to be some of the most influential members of your own business success. It is important not to underestimate building your list out of customers or prospects who have interacted with your brand organically! Below is a great example from Sumall that shows the trends you can expect to see:

  • Don’t Waste Your Time. Email marketing takes time and effort; it also takes money. All of these things considered, you do not want to waste businesses resources developing and sending mailers to people who are not likely to be interested in what your brand has to say. By building a list from scratch you are doing your very best to make sure that the people on your list care about what you are sending out.

The How-To: Building Your List from Scratch

Okay so now you understand the value of working with a list of contacts that you build yourself—but we need to talk about how to do it. One key thing to remember is that you are going to want to get permission when you gather information. While this may diminish people interested (especially with all of the mail flooding our inboxes every day) this is another way to keep your subscription, performance, and click through rates high. You can do this in several ways:

Get Permission: At Point of Sale

Whether in-store or online, point of sale is a great opportunity to get individuals on your mailing list so that they can stay informed about future opportunities and information you have for them. This is a point of opportunity because you have already sold them on your brand—now you just have to keep them engaged.

Get Permission: At First Landing

Having a pop-up to ask visitors to sign up for your online mailing list is actually a very effective call to action. As Just Uno points out, you need to do this in an effective way with a marketing mindset for it to work. The example below uses a clever headline, engaging imagery, and clear incentive with a CTA. You are telling people what you want them to do and why they should do it right as they land on your page. You can also create custom email templates with FeedOtter to really start off your campaigns right and stick-out amongst the competition.

Get Permission: On your Blog

If someone is reading your blog then that means they share a common interest with your brand. If your brand’s content is perceived as valuable, this means that your emails are likely to share the same value. Having a form on your blog for visitors to fill out (again for incentives and the promise of groundbreaking emails they wont want to miss) is a great opportunity to add to your mailing list. FeedOtter has found success with this strategy, as seen below:

Get Permission: On Social Media

Many social media sites, such as Facebook, have the opportunity to add an app or extension that will add interested followers to your mailing list. These apps are often offered through your email-marketing provider, but you can also add them as an extension yourself. If people are following you on social media, it is likely that they will want to follow your email marketing as well. The Penny Hoarder shows how this works on Facebook with the “Sign Up” button, shown below:

Make it Exclusive

Don’t just say your emails are for exclusive members—actually make it exclusive. In other words, if you are going to provide incentives or host events that are exclusive to your mailing list, be true to your word and do not make it available for anyone who performs a coupon Google search. By making your emails more valuable you allow more people to see the importance of actually joining (and staying) on your mailing list.

Be Creative

I was at a Chicago brewery recently, and they had postcards sitting on the table. You could write a post card to someone and they would stamp and mail it for you if you signed up for their mailing list and gave them an in-store review. I was so impressed by their creativity and joined their email list without hesitation. The post card was such a small incentive that cost them nothing, but it was creative and grabbed my attention. In short, the idea is that to build your mailing list in a way that is beneficial and most likely to help your business grow, you need to be creative!

The Takeaway

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does hit on some key points you need to consider in building your mailing list from scratch. Do put in the effort to grow your list organically and make sure that you are as creative as possible. Have sign-up forms anywhere they seem logical and make sure the incentives you are offering are exclusive.

What has been your biggest hurdle in growing your email-marketing mailing list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Photo Image Credit: lynnrich.com

How to Successfully Test the “From” Field in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

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When it comes to starting an email marketing campaign, generally businesses think about how often to send emails, what content to include, which audience to target, etc. What isn’t often considered is who to send the email from. It’s coming from their company, right? But whose name, if any, should they use for the “From” field?

There are a variety of options for this, and believe it or not, which choice you make does have an influence on the success of your campaign. Below we’ve explored using various alternatives from a company’s name, to an employee’s name, to the founder’s name, and more. Read on to find out how your choice will impact the outcome of your email marketing campaign.

Which “From” Names Should You Test?

Personally, we believe that people are inherently more willing to open an email when it has an actual person’s name as opposed to the name of a business. We think your chances of reaching your audience are even better if you use the same name over and over and if it’s the name of a person that the recipient has spoken with in the past. That being said, every business is different and you won’t know what works for your company until you test it. Send emails using several different “from” fields, such as:

  • The name of your business
  • The name of the founder of your business
  • The name of a department head who works for your business (such as the marketing manager, who may be a public name or face for the business),
  • The name of a customer service representative who speaks to a lot of customers when they call your business.

All of these names are worth testing to see which one(s) elicit the most clicks and the least amount of unsubscribes. Seer Interactive created an excellent case study where they sent emails from the founder of their company, Wil, as well as an employee of the company, Emma. Their data showed that more people chose to open emails from Wil than they did from Emma (see screenshot below). That being said, I didn’t fully agree with the way they chose to conduct this test, which brings me to my next point.

How Long Do You Need to Test a “From” Name to Get Accurate Data?

What struck me about the Seer Interactive case study is that they used Wil’s name to send emails essentially from the day the company was founded, so a long time. When they tested the alternative name, Emma, they chose to only send one email to a handful of people who attended their events. This means that essentially, the audience was choosing to either open an email from a name they recognized and had received emails from for an extensive period of time, or from a strange name from whom they had only received one email.

For accurate data, it’s important to send the same amount of emails from each field you’re testing for the exact same amount of time. I do believe that the longer you test the sender field the more accurate data you’ll receive, but I also understand that not all companies have the luxury of testing this field for an extensive period of time. With that said, I definitely encourage you to send more than one email from each sender, with the most important thing to focus on being that you send the same amount of emails at the same intervals for each sender that you’re testing.

Fortunately, most email campaign software has the capability to do the test for you. Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, and Active Campaign all have the tools built in and are good choices for when you’re ready to start a test!

What Metrics are Most Important?

Once you’ve determined which names to test and how long to test them for, you’ll need to decide what “success” looks like to you. The Kissmetrics Blog suggests going back through your email campaign history and reviewing that data to create your goals. For example, if in the past your click rate was 15%, perhaps you’ll want your goal to be 20% for this new campaign. Click through rate, the number of people who opened the email, and the number of people who chose to unsubscribe after opening are all great metrics to analyze. However, the number of people who choose to open the email is the most important metric because it’s directly correlated with the sender field; people are more or less likely to open an email based on who it’s from, whereas the unsubscribe rate could be due to the content of the email and not the actual sender’s name.

At the end of the test the data should speak for itself, and you’ll have a good idea of which field produces the best results for your company. Definitely use the software resources listed above as they will make retrieving the data and results much more accessible for you.

Does Transparency Have an Effect on Your Audience?

One more factor about the Seer Interactive test that I think is interesting is that they chose to ignore the data and results obtained from their test in favor of audience transparency. In the screenshot below, you can see that although the data favored emails sent from Wil, they felt that continuing to use his name in the sender field was dishonest to their audience. Instead, they chose to go with total transparency and use many different employee names in the sender field to show a true picture of their company.

So, depending on the results of your data, should you ignore the numbers in order to be upfront with your subscribers? Unfortunately, Seer Interactive seems to be one of the only case studies out there, so any assumptions would be just that—assumptions.

I believe that transparency is incredibly important, but that it doesn’t necessarily have to correlate with the name(s) you choose to use in the sender field. When it comes to this test, I think consistency in this situation is a more effective marketing tool than transparency. While I don’t advise making up a fake name to use when sending emails, I disagree with Seer and think that it’s ok to use the company founder’s name, or an employee’s name, even though that person may not be the only one representing the business. Again, this is of course all personal preference as a business owner and a consumer and not based on any real data—yet. I would love to see more case studies on this subject and will be updating this post when mine is complete!

Keep in Mind: Transparency Does Matter

Regardless of your choice, transparency is important and Seer Interactive absolutely has the right idea. Show transparency to your customers by asking their permission before sending them emails, letting them customize how often they receive emails, being open in your email subject lines, and asking for their feedback on your marketing campaigns. All of these things will go a long way in building lasting relationships with your consumers. If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate transparency into your marketing strategy, this article by Cio and this one by Greenlight are both good resources to use.

Which name(s) are you currently using in your sender field? Have you tried testing out other alternatives, and if so, what were your results? Comment in the section below!

Image credit 1: MailChimp.com

Image credit 2: SeerInteractive.com

UTM Tracking Best Practices For Content Marketing and A Step-By-Step Guide

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In the simplest terms, UTM tracking attaches a custom URL to a source, medium, or campaign name in order to customize tracking. UTM tracking can be used on social ads, social posts, email campaigns and newsletters, affiliates, display ads and retargeting, even on webpages you’re advertising on a bus or a car wrap.

There are five different parameters in a UTM code, three of which are mandatory for tracking to work. The three mandatory parameters include medium, source and campaign.

  • Medium is essentially the traffic channel, such as social, email or affiliate.
  • Source would be the website or type of ad, such as Facebook, newsletter or affiliatesite.com.
  • Campaign would be unique to the advertising initiative, like a Black Friday sale, new product launch or free e-course.

The two optional parameters are term and content. Term is rarely used because it applies to instances where you’re targeting specific keywords, and AdWords and Bing Ads do this by default. Content can actually be very useful if you’re testing several emails or social ads to see which works best. You can use content to describe the creative strategy used, the messaging, landing page.

The Two Ways to Set Up UTM Parameters

Google’s Campaign URL Builder Tool. If you’re a small company not particularly interested in data or rarely running campaigns you want to track, then Google’s tool is a good option for you.

A Spreadsheet. If your larger business and you’re interested in keeping tracking consistent across your teams your teams, this Google Spreadsheet has the formulas built in to generate the UTM tracking URLs for you when you add the destination URL and parameters. It also serves as a repository. It’s a great asset and I recommend making a copy for your company. Below is an example I created to show how it could work:

 

 

The Best Practice Schema

A schema as it applies to UTM tracking is simply the naming convention you use. It’s important to keep that consistent. Describing the different parameters in UTM tracking above, you might have an idea of how a schema applies to your business, but I’ve written up a few examples (which can also be found in the Google Spreadsheet) to help you understand the use cases a bit more.

In example 1, your customer was so thrilled with one of your products that you produced a case study on them and posted it to your Facebook account.

In example 2, you mentioned the launch of a product in your monthly newsletter email and tested a couple email layout variations.

In example 3, one of your affiliates, named Joe Smith, produces a video demo of your main product on YouTube.

In example 4, you run a display ad from AdWords specifically targeting your Canadian market testing two different ad images.

In example 5, you’re retargeting your website visitors with ads on Facebook promoting your Black Friday sale and testing an ad that lands on the homepage with an ad that lands on the page that lists your products.

In example 6, you run a full-page print ad in Time Magazine promoting career development at your company with hopes of acquiring great talent. Don’t worry; keep reading and you’ll learn how to track print ads and other traditional marketing with UTM codes.

4 Steps to Track Traditional Marketing with Google Analytics

Traditional marketing is still very much alive. If you’re company spends money here you should try to measure the impact digitally. Users will usually search your company on Google, which would show up as Organic Search, or go directly to your homepage, which would show up as Direct, but by following the four steps below you will be able to measure a portion of your traditional marketing and make your traffic mix a little more accurate. Below explains the four-step process:

  1. Create a Vanity URL

Vanity URL’s are unique, short and/or simple URL that demonstrates the brand or ad campaign. Vanity URLs should be kept as simple as possible because most of the traffic from traditional marketing will come from mobile devices. For example, if EntoBento, a San Diego based dog treat company, ran a promotional ad in Time Magazine, the vanity URL might be “entobento.com/time”.

  1. Create and Apply UTM Parameters for the Ad

Use the Google Campaign URL Builder or Google Spreadsheet to create the tracking URL for the ad. Continuing the previous example, the tracking URL for EntoBento’s ad might look like:

entobento.com/?utm_source=time%20magazine&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=promo

  1. Redirect the Vanity URL to the URL with the UTM Parameters

Have a developer create a redirect to send traffic from your vanity URL to the tracking URL. Example:

So entobento.com/time would redirect to entobento.com/?utm_source=time%20magazine&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=promo

  1. Check Google Analytics Real-Time Report

After setting up the redirect, paste the vanity URL into the browser to make sure both the redirect and the UTM tracking is working. Then, open Google Analytics, navigate to Real-Time reports on the left side, and select traffic sources to confirm that you see your test traffic:

By implementing traditional marketing tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic Search, which can provide insight into how those efforts translate to your website.

3 Creative Uses for UTM Tracking

  • Printed Materials: This same redirect process from above can be applied on your business cards, handouts, fliers, bench ads, bus stop ads or event marketing materials. Imagine knowing the bounce rate on one of your salesman’s business cards? Or how many sessions you got from the samples you gave out at a trade show? Pretty cool right?
  • Links in an Email or Signature: If you send someone links via email or have a link in your email signature, those clicks typically result in Direct traffic. However you can use the UTM tracked URL as the hyperlink. This is another great way to track some of the efforts of Business Development or Sales teams.
  • Linking to Someone Else’s Site to Get Noticed: If you’re sending referrals to a website because you want to partner with them or be an affiliate or brand ambassador or even get a job there, you could use UTM tracking for the traffic you refer them and if someone is reviewing traffic on their end, hopefully they are, you can get noticed. You could even put your name or phone number as the campaign parameter!

Overall, UTM tracking is under rated in the digital world. To many businesses it might seem tedious or not worth the time to learn and apply these processes, but if you’re data hungry, love measuring and are always curious about the various efforts you’re undertaking to grow, I suggest applying them. If you have any questions about UTM tracking or Google Analytics, we’d love to hear from you! You can contact us here.