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Mar

14

2017

16 Creative Email Design Trends to Watch in 2017 [Infographic]

Published by in category Email | Comments are closed

Change is the only constant. And email marketing is no exception to that. 

Over the years, email marketing has seen a number of significant innovations and advancements — giving designers the chance to explore more customized, innovative content for email subscribers. 

To help you stay ahead of the pack, EmailMonks created an infographic deciphering 2017’s biggest email design trends. Get ready to be enlightened with:

  • A dash of interactivity through elements like menus, forms, search, etc. supporting the purpose of the email will continue to make the rounds.

  • GIFs have enticed us so far, but they’ll now be joined by cinemagraphs: keyframe animations and live backgrounds.

  • With email’s metamorphosis into mailable microsite, subscribers will be able to “search” for what they want in the email itself, without having to visit the sender’s website first.

  • Personalization and segmentation will reach another level altogether. Dynamic content will be a critical component of every email sent in the coming days.

  • As people are getting used to assimilating more information through less content, less will definitely be more, inspiring minimalistic email design.

16 Email Design Trends to Watch in 2017

Check out the infographic below, and start planning your email design strategy for the rest of the year. 

You can view an interactive version of the Infographic here.

What email trends do you think will be big in 2017? Let us know in the comments.

104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration

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Aug

16

2016

5 Strategies to Build Trust and Sell Through Email

target-1.jpgIt’s every marketer’s dream: send an email out to hot prospects and get a flood of positive responses. This dream isn’t necessarily a pipe dream. Because even though technology has dramatically changed the way people buy, the human brain hasn’t changed. What it responds to is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. Which is fortunate for marketers, because this means we can take advantage of what the field of persuasion psychology has to teach us about how to influence people’s buying decisions.

But this article isn’t going to overview theories. (Although if you’re interested in the field, I highly recommend checking out the work of David Straker and Robert Cialdini.) This article is going to apply principles of persuasion psychology specifically to marketing email, giving you five ways to generate more conversions from your email marketing.

1) Send from a consistent “from” name and a personal email address.

You’ve probably read dozens of articles on how to improve your subject lines, and you likely regularly A/B test your subject lines. But just as important is that little piece of information that appears next to your subject line: the “from” name.

The “from” name offers a valuable opportunity to build trust with your recipients. If you consistently send highly-relevant emails with the same “from” name, your recipients will start to associate your “from” name with good things. And because they’ll want to receive those relevant emails, they’ll be looking for your “from” name and be less likely to overlook your emails in their overly-full inboxes.

So what “from” name should you use? Your company name or the name of a specific team member? I recommend using both. You can build trust in your brand while creating a more personal feeling by using both simultaneously. You might try “[Team Member First Name] @ [Company Name]” or “[Company Name] — [Team Member Name].” It’s worth running a few tests to see what exact combination works best for you.

Of similar importance is the email address your emails are sent from. In short, it needs to be personal. At the end of 2014, HubSpot ran an article reporting on the trend of human-to-human marketing. This trend has only increased in importance as more and more of life has become automated while the basic need for human connection hasn’t lessened.

Sending from a “no reply” email address is convenient (and who really wants to sort through all those out-of-office notifications?), but it discourages engagement, can come off as arrogant, and can also increase the chances that your email will be sent to the spam folder. Sending from an “info@” email address or other similarly non-personal address is better than a “no reply,” but if your goal is engagement, you’ll get better results if you send from a personal email address.

2) Personalize more than the recipient’s first name and company name.

Most buyers are tech savvy these days. They know you can use personalization tokens easily and know that it doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily taken the time to learn about them or their preferences. What does have an impact on buyers is personalized content. When you segment your lists to deliver highly-relevant content to each segment, your recipients will feel that you understand them and are inviting them to connect.

Research by Dr. Hugh Mackay shows that one of the basic human desires is to be seen as a unique individual. When you’re able to demonstrate to your recipients that you understand them and you acknowledge them to be unique, they’ll pay attention to what you have to say.

But how are you going to get that kind of detailed understanding of your recipients without using forms that have so many fields that your visitors hit the “back” button? Smart fields and progressive profiling. This is one of my favorite things about HubSpot — that we have the ability to keep forms short while gradually learning more about subscribers.

Over time, you can deliver a more customized experience to each of your subscribers as you learn more about them. Match your content to what you know about each subscriber, and continually be gathering more detailed knowledge to enable you to further customize your content for relevance. I guarantee your engagement will increase.

3) Offer relevant content that’s not locked behind a form.

This strategy may be controversial, but I truly believe that not all your premium content should be locked behind forms — especially the content you share with people who are already subscribers. I just talked about the importance of learning more about your subscribers through forms and customizing your content accordingly, so let me explain why I think you should occasionally offer and link to premium content that’s not walled off behind a form.

Sharing no-strings-attached resources demonstrates generosity. Generosity is a powerful persuader because it hits on two of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence: likeability and reciprocity. We are inclined to go along with someone’s suggestion if we like that person and if that person has done something nice for us. When you generously share content without asking for anything in return (including personal information through a form), people are more likely to do what you suggest.

This is not at all to say that forms are bad or that you shouldn’t use forms — you have to, in order to deliver relevant content! But occasionally offering content that’s not locked behind a form can generate the goodwill that will result in people eventually taking the action you want them to.

4) Bring in subject matter experts.

We defer to people who we perceive to be superior. If we believe someone knows more than we do about a particular subject, we tend to accept what that person says as truth. Marketers have been taking advantage of this fact for decades. Commercials feature recognized experts. Ads quote recognized experts. Marketers have spent a lot of money trying to convey credibility through the use of experts.  

But we sometimes forget that credibility is just as important in our content as it is in our paid ads.  A recent study by Relevance in partnership with Nielsen revealed that 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek out trusted expert content in the buying process. No one is going to believe what you have to say just because you say so.  

But you, as a content producer, don’t have to be a nationally-known expert with highly-impressive credentials. You can bring these experts in and benefit from the credibility they lend to your content. Whatever you’re writing about, include research. Quote experts in the field. Reference studies and reports. Interview experts and include their comments in your content.

5) Include social influence.

Experts aren’t the only ones people believe, however. Your email recipients can also be convinced by social influence, or social proof. Humans are wired for conformity. We take cues from our peers. If others we identify with are doing something, we’re drawn to do whatever it is. This is why we see mob mentality prevail in social situations — people engaging in behavior they would not have engaged in if they were by themselves.

Social influence can be a force for good, however, and you can use it to persuade subscribers to take action. Testimonials, case studies, and reviews are all powerful forms of social proof that you can include in your emails.

So enough dreaming of email responses dancing down your computer screen. . . . Put these principles into practice, and start making that email marketing dream a reality!

free email productivity tips

May

19

2016

7 Helpful Resources Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark

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Email has seemingly been on the brink of extinction for about a decade now. Over the past few years alone, email has been called “dead,” “not dead, evolving,” and even “dead, again.” But as you can likely tell by the steady stream of messages still flowing into your inbox every day, not to mention the ones you write and send yourself, email continues to keep on keeping on.

With the state of email marketing constantly in flux these days, and with a nearly endless supply of tips and tricks floating around, separating the valuable resources from the noise can be a real challenge.

To help you make sense of all the email marketing information out there, we’ve put together this list of websites that you should bookmark. While some of the sites are geared toward providing email marketing stats and best practices, others offer helpful tools for making your job (and life) easier.

7 Websites Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark

1) HTML Email Gallery

Here’s another great resource for finding email inspiration. But in contrast to the Really Good Emails website, which showcases emails of all kinds, the HTML Email Gallery exclusively showcases examples of design-heavy, HTML emails. It’s a great site to bookmark if you’re looking to take the design of your emails up a notch.

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2) Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer

Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer tool will show you projected open rates, click rates, and other helpful stats based on Touchstone’s database. It’s like taking your subject line for a test drive before making the decision to use it.

The tool also lets you upload your own email data, so you can see how your actual subscribers are responding to your subject lines. While using Touchstone’s full database for analyzing subject lines is great for identifying trends, using your own data can give you insight into what’s working (and what’s not working) with your specific audience.

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3) IsValid

After running an email experiment (e.g., testing which subject line receives more opens) and collecting all the data, there’s one question that email marketers are often left with: “Are my findings statistically significant?”

With the free IsValid web tool, you don’t need to be a statistician in order to answer that question. Just enter the sample size and conversions/metrics from your original data set, then do the same for your experimental data set, and voilà: IsValid will automatically analyze the results and show you the degree of statistical significance. No math required.

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4) The HubSpot Marketing Blog’s Email Marketing Topic Page

This post you’re reading right now … we’ve got a ton more like it. In fact, we have a whole subset of our blog dedicated to email marketing content. 

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5) The Best of Email‘s Inspiration Gallery

As its name implies, The Best of Email is a website dedicated to highlighting top-notch emails that you can use as inspiration for your own email marketing campaigns. From examples of ‘welcome’ emails to killer email newsletter designs, The Best of Email has something for everyone. 

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6) SendForensics Email Deliverability Test

Want to make sure your emails will reach their intended destinations? SendForensics has got you covered with their free Email Deliverability Test.

After you sign up for an account, SendForensics will provide you with an email address that you can add to your contacts list and use for testing. When you send an email to that address, the Email Deliverability Test will provide you with a deliverability percentage (see screenshot below for example).

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7) HubSpot Research

One more shameless plug: Our research site — HubSpot Research — offers a ton of data across all facets of marketing. But if you go to the site’s chart-building tool, and filter the data by the “Email” category, you’ll be able to get your hands on our latest email marketing insights.

From exploring email open rates by company size, to checking out clickthrough rates by annual revenue, there’s a lot of great email marketing data available. And best of all, we’re always updating HubSpot Research with fresh findings.

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Know of any other great websites that email marketers should bookmark? Share them in the comments section below.

free email planning and tracking template

Apr

29

2016

7 Great Examples of ‘Welcome’ Emails To Inspire Your Own Strategy

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We’ve all heard how important it is to make a good first impression. Show up late for a job interview? That’s a bad first impression. Eat a ton of garlic and forget to brush your teeth right before a first date? Also a bad first impression. Go to meet your significant others’ parents for the first time dressed in Crocs and sweatpants? That might also result in a bad first impression (depending on prevailing fashion sensibilities).

It turns out that the “make a good first impression” principle holds true not only in face-to-face encounters, but in email interactions as well.

When you send off a welcome email to a new blog or newsletter subscriber, or to a new customer, you’re making a first impression on behalf of your brand.

To help ensure you’re making the best first impression possible, we’ve rounded up some examples of standout welcome emails from brands big and small. As you’ll soon discover, each example showcases different tactics and strategies for engaging new email subscribers. Let’s dive in …

7 Examples of Standout Welcome Emails

1) Kate Spade

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Let’s face it: We, the internet-using public, are constantly bombarded with prompts to sign up for and subscribe to all sorts of email communications. So as a brand, when someone takes the time to sift through all the chaos in order to intentionally sign up for your email communications, it’s a big deal.

In order to acknowledge how grateful they are to the folks who actually take the time to subscribe, Kate Spade uses a simple — but effective — tactic with their welcome emails: They say “Thank You” in big, bold lettering. And by placing that “Thank You” on an envelope, Kate Spade recreates the feeling of receiving an actual thank-you letter in the mail. (The 15% off discount code doesn’t hurt either.)

2) Virgin America

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A welcome email is the perfect medium for introducing folks to the characteristics (and eccentricities) that make your brand unique.

For Virgin America, that means putting the “sign of the horns” hand gesture, which loosely translates to “Rock and roll!”, front and center. The playful accompanying copy, “Welcome aboard,” and casual call-to-action, “Grab a seat,” also help to position Virgin America as a hip, fun-loving brand right off the bat.

3) Michaels

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The Michaels approach to the welcome email borrows elements from both Kate Spade and Virgin America. In addition to expressing gratitude to the folks who took the time to sign up, Michaels uses their welcome email to showcase their brand. And they do a great job: the lengthy email feels like one big arts and crafts project, complete with paint, yarn, and chalkboards.

Another standout feature of this welcome email is that Michaels makes it immediately clear what value their future email communications are going to provide. After thanking subscribers, there’s this nice bit of copy that sums it up: “We’re going to send fun stuff like DIY tips and tricks, invites to in-store events, and exclusive deals and coupons.”

4) InVision

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When you sign up for InVision’s free prototyping app, their welcome email makes it very clear what your next step should be: using the app.

To facilitate this action, InVision’s welcome email doesn’t simply list out what you need to do in order to get started. Instead, it shows you what you need to do with a series of quick videos. Given the visual, interactive nature of the product, this makes a lot of sense.

5) Food52

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Sometimes the tiniest of elements in a welcome email can speak volumes about a brand. And when it comes to Food52’s welcome email, their preview text at the top of the email, “We brought snacks,” definitely accomplishes this.

Also known as a preheader or snippet text, preview text is the copy that gets pulled in from the body of an email and displayed next to (or beneath) the subject line in someone’s inbox. So when you see Food52’s welcome email in your inbox, you get a taste of their brand’s personality before you even open it.

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Food52’s welcome email also does a good job of building trust by putting a face (make that two faces) to their name. As soon as you open the email, you see a photograph of — and welcome message from — the company’s founders.

6) IKEA

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It might not be the most beautifully designed email on this list, but that doesn’t mean IKEA’s welcome email isn’t effective.

Instead of going for the hard sell (e.g., “By stuff now!”), or explaining what it is they do (which is something IKEA probably assumes most people already know), IKEA uses its welcome email to turn folks onto its other, lesser-known programs and content channels. For example, there’s a call-to-action right at the top that explains the value of its member benefits program. There are also prompts to visit their design blog and to contribute to their collaborative “Share Space” site.

Of course, if you’re not interested in any of that stuff, IKEA’s welcome email also makes it easy for you to simply log in and start shopping (there’s a login field right up top).

7) Drift

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No fancy design work. No videos. No photos. The welcome email Drift sends out after signing up for their newsletter is a lesson in minimalism.

The email opens with a bit of candid commentary on the state of email. “Most people have really long welcome email sequences after you get on their email list,” Dave from Drift writes, before continuing: “Good news: we aren’t most people.” What follows is simply a bulleted list of the company’s most popular blog posts. And the only mention of the product comes in a brief post-script at the very end.

If you’re trying to craft a welcome email that’s non-interruptive, and that’s laser-focused on adding value vs. fluff, this is a great example to follow.

Know of any other standout examples of welcome emails? Share them in the comments section below!

free email marketing tracking template

Jan

30

2016

7 Powerful Ways to Make Your Emails More Persuasive

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This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

Communication is the lifeblood of sales and marketing. Successfully closing deals, providing value, explaining complexities — they all rely on your ability to express yourself clearly and persuasively.

The outreach email is a special breed of writing. You only have a very small window of opportunity to capture your reader’s attention and convince them to move one step closer toward a purchase or intended action. Use these writing techniques to ensure your emails pack the most punch.

7 Powerful Persuasion Techniques to Use In Your Next Email

1) Know your audience.

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a writing tip. But it’s the foundation upon which your email’s effectiveness is built. If you don’t understand your audience — whether it’s someone who’s hesitant to buy, or a happy customer you’d like to upsell — you won’t be able to write persuasively.

2) Leverage social proof.

Why it works: Social proof describes the tendency to make choices based on other people’s decisions, because we believe those decisions reflect the right choices. You’re already leveraging the concept of social proof through customer case studies and social proof, why not extend these efforts into your emails?

How to use it: Reference high-profile customers or the size of your customer base. If you’re trying to move a potential customer towards a purchase, try pointing out how many of their competitors and peers use your product. 

Examples: 

  • The McDonald’s slogan “Billions and billions served” calls out the company’s giant customer base.
  • Yelp’s success is a result of its user-generated content: Crowdsourced reviews that leverage the power of social proof.

3) Get your foot in the door with a small ask.

Why it works: Once someone says “yes” to a small ask — the proverbial foot in the door — they’re more likely to agree to future requests.

How to use it: Ask your recipient a question that they are unlikely to say no to.

Examples:

  • If you sell software that tracks target accounts’ trigger events, an easy way to get a first “yes” is to confirm that their sales team wants to improve their prospect outreach.

4) Include a headshot in your email signature.

Why it works: When we make eye contact with people, we feel a subconscious sense of connection. In one Cornell University study, researchers edited images of the Trix rabbit mascot, then asked adults to pick between several cereal boxes bearing different versions of the image. Participants most often chose the box where the rabbit was directly looking at them.

How to use it: You can’t make actual eye contact through email, and by no means should you include a massive photo of yourself in the body of an email — that’ll just make people uncomfortable. But it can be easy to forget that there’s a person on the other end of your emails. Including a small headshot of yourself in an email signature is a subtle way to remind people that you’re human, too.

5) Agitate and solve the problem.

Why it works: Even if the person you’re emailing is already aware they have a problem in one area or another, it doesn’t mean they’re prepared to solve it. But emotion is a powerful thing. Whether it’s subconscious attachment to the old way of doing things causing inertia, or fear of making the wrong decision, your prospect won’t always warm to your product immediately.

To convince them, you’ll often have to talk about the problem in emotional terms, then swoop in with a solution to demonstrate how you can help.

How to use it: While you should never attempt to over-exaggerate a business pain or spin one out of thin air, use the agitate-and-solve technique when it’s clear they haven’t fully conceptualized the cost of inaction.

Find out what matters to them. Is it personal professional achievement that drives them forward? A desire to grow the business’ bottom line? Then show how inaction will only worsen their current situation, and demonstrate why your product would help.

Example:

  • An office supply salesperson could seek out its competitors’ clients who had been impacted by late shipments. She should probe into the significance of these delays, getting prospects to talk through the immediate and ripple effects. Then, she can describe her own company’s efficient service and customer support.

6) Include a reason.

Why it works: Giving people a reason why you need something — no matter how ridiculous — makes it far more likely they’ll do what you ask.

Psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a study in which experimenters asked to skip ahead in line at a Xerox machine. When they asked, “I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”, they were allowed to skip the line 60% of the time — not a bad outcome.

But when they asked, “I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”, 93% were allowed to skip the line.

Despite the fact that everyone else in the Xerox machine line needed to make copies, they complied with the request simply because the experimenters provided a reason.

How to use it: We wouldn’t recommend making up ridiculous excuses to get your prospects to sign a contract — that’s not good for anybody. But even providing a simple explanation — “I’d like to set up a meeting with you because I can help with X strategy” — could pay huge dividends.

Example:

  • Instead of writing, “I’d like to set up a conversation so we can discuss your project management software strategies,” try this instead: “I’d like to set up a conversation to discuss your marketing strategy because we’ve seen similar companies increase their lead generation by 40%.”

7) Remind prospects it’s their choice.

Why it works: Nobody likes to be told what to do. And even if you’re not being pushy or aggressive, many people will still chafe at the suggestion that you know what’s best for them.

A simple reassurance that you’re not attempting to push your preferences or worldview onto them is powerful. Across 42 psychology studies involving 22,000 subjects, it’s been demonstrated that using a phrase like “But the decision is yours” could double the chances that someone would say yes to a request.

How to use it: You don’t want to overuse this one — tempering every recommendation you make by reminding prospects they have no obligation to listen to you isn’t a great idea. But when you’re asking for a larger commitment or are dealing with a jumpy prospect, dropping in a reminder that you’re not here to force them into anything can be a powerful technique.

Example:

  • A software salesperson could write this message to a prospect skittish about switching platforms: 

When we last spoke, you mentioned that you were worried about migrating your system from your current tool to ours. Sales Engineer Sally put together this this high-level overview of the process, which is designed to be as easy on our customers as possible — we can discuss this on our call tomorrow. In the meantime, based on our previous conversations I strongly believe this switch is the best long-term solution for your company — but of course, the decision ultimately rests with you. Let me know what you think.”

How do you make your sales emails more persuasive? Let us know in the comments below.

optimizing email marketing ebook

Jan

26

2016

5 Emails Your Association Should Send to Increase Memberships

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Nonprofits operate in a crowded digital ecosystem with aggressive marketing tactics and massive advertising spends from the corporate world. It can be tough, as a result, to reach target audiences—especially for membership recruitment. How can nonprofits stand out, build visibility, and drive engagement in a landscape where the average email user sends and receives 122 messages a day?

The answer is simple: do what you already do best by building long-term relationships with the communities and stakeholders that you serve. Rely on your value proposition to stand out and build an emotional rapport with your audience. Communicate your organization’s unique value proposition in a way that sparks interest and action. And of course, be practical: humans need friendly nudges and reminders from time to time. 

For inspiration, we’ve compiled a few ideas a examples. 

 5 Types of Emails Your Association Should Send to Increase Memberships

1)  Tailored, Personalized, Human Invitations

As more visitors spend time on your website, your association will slowly build a repository of data. Using this information, you’ll want to create focused messages around the benefits of joining your association. You can use the following types of data to guide you: 

  • Content consumption patterns
  • Referral paths and traffic sources
  • Time spent on different parts of your site
  • Past engagement, online and in person, with your organization

In addition to using this data, make sure that you send your messages from a real person from your team—not a corporate-like mouthpiece. Your target audiences want to feel like you value their time, attention, and participation with your organization. Remember that you’re connecting with a human being on the other side of the computer screen.

For an example from outside of the nonprofit space, take a look at the following message from HubSpot. It’s customized around specific audience interests and tailored to specific actions that audiences have taken on the site (based on the webpages they’ve viewed and the content they’ve read).

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2) Diverse Options for Joining

One-size-fits-all memberships are a thing of the past. Today’s consumers are looking for highly personalized complements to their lifestyles—nonprofit affiliations are no different.

In addition to featuring clear benefits for joining, nonprofits need to offer several options for membership, to make joining easy for the largest group possible. You’ll want to consider the following: 

  • Payment timings
  • Payment amounts
  • Value offered
  • Perks available

If you’re not sure how to structure these options, your current members are a great resource to leverage. Start by segmenting your member database by demographic and psychographic traits that are relevant to your organization (i.e. household income, cause affiliations, educational interests, etc.). Run a survey and conduct qualitative interviews: you’ll see patterns that are relevant to your messaging.

Your audiences will respond to different incentives. Make sure that your organization’s are fully defined.

As an example, take a look at ProductHunt. The company puts together a curated email newsletter with products and services that its subscribers will find helpful. The company uses social data to piece together its messaging, based on what its subscribers’ connections are upvoting.

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3) Content-Driven Newsletters

Time is a valuable asset: audiences may be interested in the cause that you support, but they may not be ready to get involved just yet. Instead, they’ll need a bit of warming up and nurturing. You’ll need to engage with them at multiple touch points—to share stories and educational resources around your mission and vision. It may sound counterintuitive, but you won’t want to push memberships too aggressively here. Instead, you’ll want to focus on building a rapport with your audience. Here are some tips for types of content to share:

  • News and regular updates about your organization
  • Impact reports and stats surrounding the communities that you serve
  • Stories about the people you’ve helped

What’s most important is that you reach audiences with information that they’ll care about and find personally valuable. Over time, you can build a feedback loop between your readers’ content consumption patterns and messaging that they’ll find compelling. You can use personalization technology, for instance, to share news and updates that they care about rather than communicating every last thing that has happened over the past month or quarter.

Take a look at the following email from Inbound.org, which curates relevant content into a regular newsletter. Information comes tailored to specific audience browsing patterns and interests.

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4) Renewal Notices

Life gets busy, and memberships can fall through the cracks as a result. You’ll want to make it as easy as possible to automate membership sign-ups and to give your audience a friendly nudge to take action. Email makes this process easier.

Send follow-up reminders when memberships are about to expire, and make renewing as seamless as possible. You can start by filtering your list based on expiration date: contact your members two months out, one month out, and then within a few days.

Be attentive and sensitive to the fact that your audiences are busy. Make sure that ‘next steps’ are easy and clear. By automating the processes and reaching out to audiences ahead of time, you’ll ensure that no member falls through the cracks.

A great example to follow comes from domain registrars. Well ahead of expiration day, these companies reach out to their customers for renewals. Consistency and tactful persistence are key for moving the needle.

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5) Opt-Out Surveys

If you’re losing members, you need to figure out why. Email can help you identify pain points and identify improvements to make in your messaging, moving forward. 

Start by running a simple form or email survey to ask members why they’ve decided to leave. You could then use that data to send more personalized follow up emails that ask your former members to come back, while telling them about new features that make them want to join again. 

Last But Not Least

Always thank your members—this small gesture can go a long way. When someone new joins, thank him or her, and drop a reminder of the benefits of the memberships upfront. Find subtle ways to make your audience feel appreciated. Make connections stronger, as a result.

  nonprofit email cta

Oct

8

2015

10 Essential Email Subject Line Lessons (Straight From My Inbox)

The email inbox is a mysterious place.

It’s given a private address and gets hidden behind lock and key. Only a lucky few businesses gain access to it, but once they do — it’s every brand for itself.

The average consumer subscribes and receives emails from approximately 9 different brands and when your message finally lands in a lead’s inbox, each and every one of them becomes competition.

In an inbox, industries, branding, and marketing budgets are set aside and the playing field for the recipient’s attention is leveled. All any brand has to work with is a sender’s name and of course, the email subject line. 

Like anyone, I check my email armed and ready to swipe left on anything that doesn’t immediately grab my attention, but the 10 emails in this article made the cut for a variety of different reasons.

Check out their subject lines below and the valuable lessons they offer for your email marketing strategy and open rates.

1) Canva: “Ever had this problem? Tell me about it.”

Why it Works:  Reflection & Engagement

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Canva does a great job with this vague, yet interest piquing subject line.

Not only does it make you wonder what problem they’re talking about, it also forces you to reflect on your own life and challenges. This self-evaluation makes the subject line feel that much more personal, and in turn, makes the reader more interested in clicking open.

As an added bonus, Canva humanizes their brand by making it clear that they’re looking for responses and engagement with this email. It’s not just another sales pitch; they want to connect with you personally.

The Lesson: Ask a question. By forcing your reader to reflect on themselves, your subject line is more likely to trigger an internal thought process and elicit a response.

2) UConn Athletics: “Don’t Miss The Action This Season” 

Why it Works: Fear of Missing Out (FoMO)

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With this email from my alma mater (#BLEEDBLUE), the UConn Athletics team capitalizes on the psychological phenomenon of “Fear of Missing Out”, or (FoMO), as it’s become known in popular culture.

Human beings are loss-adverse. Addressing what your reader is losing out on causes distress  and makes them want to do whatever they can to avoid doing so — including clicking through. Go Huskies!

The Lesson: Create a sense of urgency with your subject line. Include a deadline or phrases like “for a limited time” or “last chance” to signal to your reader that this offer isn’t going to last forever. They need to click open and act now if they want to take advantage of it.

3) Sidekick: “find anyone’s email”

Why it Works: Concision and Differentiation

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Now, this one is a bit unusual. I don’t know if Sidekick’s team did it consciously or not, but regardless, their use of curt copy and all lower-cased letters caught my eye and the eye of my teammate, Christine. (We spent a good 10 minutes talking about it. Not kidding.)

While studies show readers prefer subject lines shorter than 10 characters, most that arrive in my inbox stretch across the screen and have Every Word Capitalized Like This. Sidekick broke that mold. 

Visually, their subject line stands out, which is hard to do with just text. It’s different because it’s simplistic nature and it grabbed my attention by taking a more subtle approach than most others in my inbox. 

The Lesson: Try the unexpected. Even if something is a little out of the ordinary in your industry, don’t be afraid to try it. A/B test different approaches/styles in your subject like (i.e. capitalization, caps, etc.) to see which your audience responds to best.

Also, remember to be brief. According to MailerMailer, emails with only 28-39 characters in their subject line see the highest click-through rates, so say as much as you can in as few words as possible.  

4) Uber: “Have You Heard?” 

Why it Works: Curiosity

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What? What haven’t I heard? TELL ME!

Ok, maybe not every reader would react as frantically as me, but I’m sure at least one of these questions would enter their minds.

This subject line leaves absolutely everything about its contents a mystery. The only way to close the curiosity gap between what you know and what you don’t is to open the email and see where Uber takes us. (Pun very much intended.)

The Lesson: Open the curiosity gap just enough that the only way to close it is by clicking into the email. Try asking a question, making a bold statement, or using words like “secret”, “confidential”, “shocking”, etc. You can learn more about these methods here.

5) Barack Obama: “Ramona, will I see you in New York?”

Why it Works: Personalization

Not to brag or anything, but President Obama wrote this email specifically for me. See, my name’s right there in the subject line. — At least that’s what I might think if I didn’t know any better. 

Personalizing content with your reader’s name, job, home town, or any other relevant information you have about them, instantly makes it more likely to resonate with them.

Our brain’s are wired to react to hearing our names.  By addressing someone using their first name in your subject line, you will create the impression of a more personal, intimate experience and grab their interest right off the bat.

The Lesson: Evaluate the information you already have about your reader and explore ways to incorporate it into your subject lines. For example, you can address them by their first name like the example above, or reference their location. This will make the message appear more relevant and in turn, more appealing.

6) Panera Bread: “Ramona, come on in and get rewarded.”

Why it Works: Motivation (Adding an Incentive)

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Like POTUS, Panera starts strong by personalizing its subject line, but this one earned my click for another reason.

The restaurant chain’s subject line works because it offers a clear and direct incentive. If I click, I’ll find out how to get rewarded. If I don’t click, I won’t get rewarded. It’s as simple as that. 

The Lesson: Big or small, offer an incentive and make it clear in your subject line. Even if they don’t end up following through, at least you motivated them enough to click through and learn more about your campaign.

7) Redbox: “A scary good movie night starts here.”

Why it Works: Direction

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Redbox’s subject line makes for an enticing (and clever) proposition. In many ways, it is a call-to-action, giving me direction rather than just a sales pitch.

If I click this email, a great movie night awaits me. The catch is, I need to open the email to find out how. Not a bad cliffhanger, Redbox. 

The Lesson: Give your reader a clear plan of action or path to conversion. Like CTAs on your website, when your subject line conveys value and a simple way to achieve it, people are more likely to follow through with the action.

8) Moe’s Southwest Grill: “Queso, Queso, Queso, Queso, Quesopalooza” 

Why it Works: Humor

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Welcome to Moe’s! For regular patrons of the Southwestern chain, the humor and quirk of this subject line comes as no surprise. It’s a little random and not really descriptive, but it makes you laugh and curious to see what lies inside. 

The Lesson: Make ‘em laugh! Don’t be afraid to incorporate humor into your subject line copy. Humor is humanizing and using it will help decrease any friction or reluctance your reader feels about opening your email.

9) Forever 21: “LOOKS WE ❤” 

Why it Works: Connection

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From this subject line, it’s clear that Forever 21 knows its buyer persona.

Emojis/emoticons are basically a second language to millennials, the company’s primary audience. They associate them with fun, friends, and technology — aka the Holy Trinity of most teenagers.

By literally incorporating a little heart into this subject line, Forever 21 appeals to these positive connotations and reinforces to their audience that they understand their lifestyle and the way they express themselves.

Unlike the word “love” they used inside the email, Forever 21’s emoji resonates with the audience on a more personal, visual level and lets them know that the contents of this email may very well be something they’ll “” too. 

The Lesson: Speak the same language as your audience. Use words (or even symbols) that they will connect with on a personal level. Consider trying one of these unusual methods to find the right phrasing for your copy that will resonate with your audience.

10) Godiva Rewards – “Your Sweet Afternoon Meeting”

Why it Works: Addressing Pain Points

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Afternoon meetings are the worst, and the sophisticated team over at Godiva knows that.

Recognizing this pain point, the delectable brand uses their subject line to position its email as your ticket to an afternoon meeting you’ll actually enjoy. It’s just one click away. 

The Lesson: Turn a negative into a positive. Know your persona’s pain points and find a way to align the value in your email as a solution. If your email can help make your reader’s life or job better, there’s no reason for them not to hit open.

Key Takeaway 

Subject lines, in many ways, make or break a  marketing email. If yours doesn’t hit the right buttons for your reader, they’ll never make it to the meat of your campaign or complete the action you want them to so give your subject line the time and attention it deserves.

When it comes to your next campaign, use the lessons above to put your best foot forward and ultimately, generate the most leads possible. Come up with a bunch of ideas, then A/B test your very best ones on a small group before sending it out into the wild.

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Jun

12

2015

6 Email Tips and Tricks That Don’t Actually Work

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It’s no secret that email marketing is a critical component of the inbound methodology. After all, why work so hard to build up a database of leads if you never do anything with them? An email campaign can be a very successful approach to nurturing leads through the funnel if you take the time early on to outline a solid strategy.

Like most digital citizens, you’ll probably start off by doing some online research around email marketing. If other marketers have seen success with this method, it’s likely that you’ll want to figure out what worked for them.

Unfortunately for your research, just about anybody can pass themselves off as an expert in this modern age of digital marketing. While there is certainly a great deal of good advice available on the internet to help you improve your online marketing efforts, there is just as much bad advice out there that could potentially derail your hard work if you’re not careful.

On the other hand, it’s not always a case of pseudo-experts publishing inaccurate information. There are tons of outdated articles out there, in which case something that used to be effective just doesn’t work anymore.

To help you sort out the good email marketing advice from the bad, I’ve put together a list of real life “tips” I found on the internet that actually don’t work at all.

1) Send Your Message From a Reputable Email Marketing Provider to Avoid Spam Filters

“I send all my emails through MailChimp, so I can say basically whatever I want and it won’t end up in the spam folder because MailChimp! Right?!”

Wrong! While it’s true that you should coordinate your email efforts through a reputable email marketing provider to reduce the chances of getting blocked, you cannot rely on that fact alone to guarantee your emails won’t get stuck with a SPAM label. If you don’t want the spam filter to block your messages, then don’t send spammy emails!

2) Focus Most Your Efforts On Creating a Great Subject Line

“So if I spend all my time crafting the most clever subject line ever, my open-rate will be off the charts! Right?!”

Sure, that could be true. You could end up with the best open-rates the world has ever seen. However, if you spend very little time on the content – the actual meat of the email – your click-through rates will be in the toilet and your unsubscribe rate will skyrocket.

Your subject line should be a reflection of the time and effort you’ve poured into the content to ensure recipients are getting what you’ve promised them. It’s definitely an important component of a successful email strategy, but it’s not the most important and, therefore, doesn’t deserve the bulk of your focus.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to creating compelling subject lines, you can check out this post for some ideas and inspiration.

3) Utilize As Many Beautiful Images As You Can

“I read that 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text information, so I should send emails chock full of spectacular images, right?!”

I agree that it sounds like a good idea given the popularity of social giants like Instagram and Pinterest. However, most email administrators turn images off in emails so that the user must download the images themselves. That extra step means that nearly 45% of those that actually open your email won’t ever see your images.

That also means that placing your call-to-action within an image is a terrible idea. Even if you use alt-text properly behind the images (definitely a good practice!), chances are good that your recipients will miss your message completely!

4) Continue to Send Similar Content After a User Has Downloaded an Offer

“Someone came to my website and downloaded a whitepaper about multi-factor authentication, so I should continue to send content specific to that service, right?”

While it might seem intuitive to frame your follow-up email marketing around the first resource a visitor downloads, there is no way to know where their actual interest lies without doing a bit more digging. If you are overly presumptuous in the content you send your contacts, they could become frustrated and, ultimately, unsubscribe.

So how do you learn more about brand new contacts? There are a couple of ways. One, you could wait for them to download additional resources before you determine the content you continue to send them. Or two, you could send them opportunities to tell you what else they might be interested in. Emails with multiple offers or short surveys can be a very effective way to learn more about your contact base.

5) Appeal to Potential Subscribers With a Deal They Can’t Pass Up

“I need to reach more people with my email messages, so I should pitch new subscribers an offer they can’t resist, right?”

Tempting as this strategy may be in growing your database, keep in mind that attracting the wrong visitors – those that aren’t a good fit for your product or service – to your opt-in conversion point will only hurt your efforts. Like most inbound marketing strategies, quality trumps quantity when it comes to email marketing.

Instead, try offering an actual resource that the RIGHT visitor can’t pass up.

6) Choose a Single Opt-In Approach Because It Helps Capture More Contacts

“The first article I read mentioned I should definitely just use a single opt-in method for growing my contact database, so that’s what I should do, right?”

Sure, you could certainly do that. There are obviously advantages to that approach, like a higher conversion rate from prospect to subscriber. If you’re playing the numbers game, then that could mean higher profits ultimately.

However, you shouldn’t take that approach simply because an article suggested it, especially if the article didn’t mention the disadvantages of the single opt-in approach. The thing about making it incredibly easy to become a subscriber with a single opt-in is that your mailing list could fill up with mistyped email addresses or people who never actually wanted to be on your list due to bots or ill-intended folks.

Of course, these aren’t necessarily reasons to go the double opt-in route either. When it comes to your mailing list, it’s a good idea to test each approach for a period of time, analyze the results, then move forward accordingly.

If you want to read more about the pros and cons of each approach, check out this article for a holistic view. Simply choosing a direction for your strategy based on something someone on the internet said is never a sound reason.

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Feb

2

2015

9 Effective Email Unsubscribe Pages

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One of the most important aspects of inbound marketing is delivering relevant content to followers who want to see it. People opt in by signing up for newsletters and downloading premium content. A sad reality, though, is once they opt in, people change their minds or decide they’re not actually interested in your content after all.

Perhaps their email inboxes overflow daily and they’re tired of going through and deleting each email. Or, maybe they had a bad day and spent their lunch break un-friending people andunsubscribing to email blasts.

In any case, it is important to provide a simple “unsubscribe” option so that the unqualified people on your list don’t skew your click, open and conversion rates. It will pay off for you in the long run if you trade a larger unsubscribe rate for higher clicks, opens and conversions.

Thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act, we know that we have to give people a way out. There are simple ways to speak through an unsubscribe option and there are comical ones. Here are 9 different examples of unsubscribe pages that bring a fresh take on the email breakup.

1) J.Crew Factory

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J.Crew’s unsubscribe page recognizes that all email campaigns might not be specifically reaching the right people, so they enabled the option to personalize your inbox. The language on this page fits right in with J.Crew Factory’s personality: it’s a casual and classy combo that leaves users feeling like they have control of their future inboxes.

2) Barneys New York

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Barneys New York provides a characteristically classy “You will be missed” message and a simple survey for users to note why they are unsubscribing. This one-step unsubscribe process is simple for subscribers and still effective for the marketing team at Barneys to adjust their email campaigns as needed.

3) Puma

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The playful, athletic brand Puma takes a more lively approach with their unsubscribe confirmation page. They show an icon of a movie reel with the text, “Remember the good times,” and a CTA to rejoin if they would like to re-subscribe.

While many users will likely stick to their original decision to unsubscribe, it’s also possible that many will appreciate the humor and sign up again.

4) Bed Bath & Beyond

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The home wares giant, Bed Bath & Beyond, takes users to a page that allows them to adjust the frequency of their emails. We recommend that rather than giving users the choice between receiving or not receiving emails, you should give them more choices – either choosing which types of emails to receive like J.Crew does or choosing how many emails they would like to receive, like Bed Bath & Beyond.

5) Free People

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The thoughtful clothing company, Free People, notices that subscribers haven’t been interacting with their emails and they send a friendly note asking if they’d still like to receive their emails.

This may prompt subscribers to start engaging with Free People’s content again, but it may provide a friendly opportunity to unsubscribe from their mailing lists. True to their brand, the unsubscribe page is girly with its floral design and “handwritten” typefaces.

6) charity: water

The clean water non-profit, charity: water, gives readers the option to confirm their opting out or to watch their CEO get doused with water in the “clean water treatment.”

charity: water provided insights to their results: out of over 70,000 emails that were sent, 100 unsubscribed and 740 watched the video.

If it is appropriate for your brand to make a lighthearted video along these lines, it might be worth a splash of water to see an unsubscribe rate at close to one thousandth of a percent.

7) Sidekick

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Like Free People, HubSpot’s email tracking function, Sidekick, sends an email to their subscribers who have not been interacting with their emails. The email says, “Happy Holidays – we’re unsubscribing you!” with a CTA at the end – “Wait, keep me subscribed!” This way, people don’t have to make the awkward choice to unsubscribe and it also simplifies the process – they literally don’t have to do anything! If they want to remain subscribed, they click one button. Simplicity at its finest.

8) Fab

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Using the same strategy as Sidekick, Fab also automatically unsubscribes users who have ceased to interact with their content. Their large “Stop” banner is likely to catch the attention of readers and gives the option to re-subscribe to their email campaigns if they choose to.

9) Groupon

When you click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of a Groupon email, you are taken to a screen to confirm your decision. Upon confirming, you land on a page that has a gif of a man named Derrick sitting at his desk.

By using a little humor and personality, people who unsubscribe likely leave Groupon with a positive view since they weren’t begged to stay. Readers may even experience some level of gratification for having seen Derrick punished for their annoyance over the emails. Win-win?

Why Do They Work?

There are three recurring tactics used in these examples:

  1. Provide a way out with an unsubscribe link on all of your emails and/or give subscribers a way to personalize their inboxes.
  2. Conduct a wellness check by sending out an email asking, “Are you getting too many emails? Let us know and we’ll try not to bother you again” or something along those lines. That way, you’re giving your subscribers a choice – they can unsubscribe guilt-free or they will start reading your emails again after being re-engaged.
  3. Introduce humor. If a simple “We’re sorry to see you go” is too serious for your company, try emulating Groupon’s unsubscribe page.

In addition to crafting an effective message, it’s important to note that not all marketing automation systems are set up for simple unsubscribes. Make sure that no matter which platform you’re using, you honor the requests to unsubscribe. And if you’re wading through unsubscribes, don’t be discouraged! It’s a normal part of email marketing – remember that you want to reach the right people, not just as many as possible.

What email unsubscribe pages have you seen that you’ve enjoyed? What is your marketing team going to try in this fresh, new year? We want to see what you come up with! Curious about what goes into an effective email marketing campaign? Download our Email Marketing Guide to learn more. 

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Jan

20

2015

8 Big Tests You Should Run in Your Email Marketing Program

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What’s the last major thing you tested in your email marketing program? Small tests, like subject line or sender personalization are quick and easy, something most great email marketing softwares can do out of the box.

However, these small tests, which can provide some data, can’t compare to larger, more comprehensive email tests. And really when it comes to testing email marketing, it takes more than one email to really determine what works best for any given company.

Comprehensive email program testing may seem daunting. However, you can clearly define your own company best practices and utilize those results for a long time if you complete email tests properly. But the question remain: What should I be testing?

Types of Email Marketing Program Tests

For comprehensive tests, small things like subject lines or button color won’t give you the kind of data you need to improve your overall email marketing efforts.

Instead, take the opportunity to test things that have significant impact on recurring emails.

Visual Style Tests

With many marketers focused on design, we often think that what looks best also performs best. However, there can be times when over-designing makes an email look too promotional.

Is this the case with your email marketing? Testing the visual style of your email, comparing high-end creative design to low-end personal emails can often have a big impact.

1) The Plain Text Email

Rather than sending an email with a colorful header and graphics in the body, try using a blank template that’s made to look like an email sent from Outlook or Gmail. For more than one (though not all) of our B2B marketing clients, the simple look and feel performed better, especially as we moved to higher levels in the organization.

2) Visual or Text CTA

Visual style test may can also be as simple as testing the call to action in the email. Do more people click on text based links or button style CTA? So rather than adjusting the entire email template, simply uncovering whether a text CTA in the body of an email performs better than a button, which for some of our B2B clients is the case, can improve the overall performance of your email program.

Structure Tests

Digests and email newsletters are still common marketing tools. But after the initial design, it’s rare to rethink the actual structure of your email asset. Placement of content matters, especially when it comes to clicks and conversion.

3) Re-arrange the Layout

Look at your email newsletter template and see if you can create a version where something in the middle of the structure can be easily moved to the top. You can even remove modules altogether to see if the value of building it out really matters.

4) CTA Placement

For basic promotional emails with a single offer, does the call to action work better on the left, right or bottom of the email? This type of structure test can also be done on a per offer basis. So the structure that works best for an ebook, might not work the same way for a webinar.

Time/Day Tests

Time and day tests are common but the a commitment to refining them is often neglected. A good time/day test is run over a series of batch emails, slowly whittling down the list of times to find the optimal send for your business.

You should expect to give yourself a good month or two, depending on the number of batch emails you send, to really get a good grasp of the optimal send time.

5) More Small Sends to Determine Optimal Time

When you have a batch email scheduled, try sending a series of 10 emails at different times and days. As you get a better idea of the times and days best for your company, send batch emails to larger groups with fewer options. After comprehensive testing, we found for one client Wednesday at 2 p.m. was the best send time, but for Kuno it was Thursday at 7 a.m.

6) Testing Different Types at Different Times

In addition to just testing the day/time, you can also determine what type of email works best throughout the week. Earlier in the week you may find that short quick emails perform better for busy professionals.

But later in the week, a longer more thought out email can be a better send as recipients have more time to ingest your content.

Content Tests

Regular email communication is important to any good email marketing program. (One touch per contact per week is a good rule of thumb.) But what should you be sending? Blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, videos?

7) Testing Content Types

Content tests work especially well in structured digests and newsletters. Adjust the type of content you have in the main content area for different random groups and see what performs the best.

Like one of our clients, you may find that putting a popular blog article at the top every time doesn’t produce the clicks a more high-quality download does.

8) Testing Content by Segment

To refine your email program further, testing content with different segments can produce vastly different results. An IT person might respond to a different type of content than someone in finance.

A busy executive might prefer something more quickly digestible than a manager. Varying the offers for different buyers not only improves the email program, but also helps focus your overall content strategy.

When Should I Test Again?

The speed of changes in digital marketing and email technology mean that what works now won’t work forever.

If you can commit to one comprehensive test per quarter and then revisit the test again in a year, you’ll at least have a structure in place to get started with the major email tests you’ve been missing.

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Jan

13

2015

9 Essential Email Inbox Filters for Marketers

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Tragically, if you’re like me, we live in a world where your average daily email volume exceeds the grand total of all the handwritten letters you’ve ever received.

That may be slightly exaggerated, but you get the point: email is hard to keep up with.

Email volume is growing, attention spans are shrinking, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to effectively manage your email.

What Is Proper Email Management?

For me, properly managing my emails simply translates into:

  1. Reading the emails that are important to me.
  2. Not reading the vast number of unimportant messages.
  3. Efficiently achieving objective #1 and objective #2.

There are countless techniques for email management, but in this post, I want to focus on the filter technique and 9 specific inbox filters that you may want to adopt, especially if you work in marketing.

Inbox Filters 101

An inbox filter is just a rule that you impose on the emails in your inbox.

A filter is an if-then configuration — e.g. if a message comes from X, mark it as important, and put it in folder Y.

Every email application is a little bit different, but almost every single one supports filters. At GuavaBox, we use Google Apps, so I live in the Gmail interface. If you use Outlook, Mac Mail, or something else, a quick search can help you figure out the best way to configure your filters.

9 Inbox Filters for Marketers

The first set of rules I set up are focused on filtering the important stuff to make sure that I see it. The “important stuff” includes personal emails, client emails, team emails, financial emails, and emails from leads or prospects.

I also combine filters with a folder system to stay on top of my mail. Let’s dive in and I’ll show you how it works:

1) Filter out personal emails

Sure, it would be ideal to use separate emails for personal and work stuff, but a lot of friends and family members send personal emails to my work address. For the common ones (parents, my wife, and close friends), my filter looks like this:

  • Trigger: “from” address (this is the sender’s email address)
  • Actions: never mark as spam, star, and apply appropriate label (“Family,” “Friends,” “Home,” etc.)
    • Note: with Google Mail, I have the option to have the message “Skip the Inbox,” but I don’t choose that option for these emails. I want to make sure that I see them!

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Another side note: I’m coaching high school baseball, and I’ve coached high school lacrosse, served on community boards, and been involved with ministries and in church. For the cases where I haven’t had a separate email address, I set up filters for these emails as well. I make sure they hit my inbox, but get automatically labeled to take one step out of the tracking process in case I need to dig these up at some point.

2) Filter client emails

Part of my personal workflow when we add a new client is to add or edit my inbox filter for the client contacts.

  • Trigger: “from” address (all of the client contacts)
  • Actions: apply “Client” label and selectively skip the inbox.
    • Note: if I’m CC’d on a lot of messages, but not the primary point-of-contact, I often choose to have those messages skip my inbox. I do have that folder name always visible in my sidebar, and it displays the number of unread emails inside that folder. Every day, I check all unread emails to make sure that I don’t miss an action item, but I have the benefit of saving time by batching that process.

3) Filter team emails

We primarily rely on HipChat for internal communication. It’s one of our 7 core business tools – grab the full list here . That said, we still send emails here and there. I filter those similar to my client rules:

  • Trigger: “from” address (based on internal team members addresses)
  • Actions: apply “Internal” label and/or additional labels based on that team member’s role and our typical conversations.
    • Note: I use a batching method for reviewing internal emails, similar to client emails. I also have a couple subject line-based filters set up that relate to finance, HR, etc.

9 Inbox Filters for Marketers

4) Filter financial emails

Until recently, I handled a lot of bookkeeping and finance work for both GuavaBox and DoInbound. Because of that, I received a ton of finance-related emails that were important, but rarely required action.

  • Triggers: “from” address (based on financial institutions domains), subject line, and whether or not the email has attachments.
  • Actions: apply “Business Finance” label and/or additional labels based on email, never mark as spam, skip inbox if it met rules that didn’t require action, otherwise, I keep those emails in my inbox until they are taken care of.

Side Note: if you’re an agency struggling with your invoicing/accounting processes, tools, or follow-through, I’m putting together a bunch of resources on this right now (sign up for early access here).

Business Finance Email Filter for your Inbox

5) Filter vendor emails

This is similar to the filters we’ve already covered. Based on what action I might have to take and what types of emails each vendors send, I pick a filter to weed through and bring the important stuff to my attention.

  • Triggers: “from” address (based on vendor domain or specific address), subject line, and whether or not the email has attachments.
  • Actions: apply “Vendors” label and/or additional labels (receipts, platform updates, etc.) based on email, never mark as spam, skip inbox if the message met rules that didn’t require action (most of them don’t require action).

6) Filter prospect emails

Response time is very important in today’s high-paced sales environment.

As an agency owner, I’m involved in a number of sales conversations. It’s important to showcase the kind of responsiveness during the sales process that a prospect can expect when they become a client.

A GuavaBox client should never wait 8 hours for a service response, so why would one of our leads?

  • What Triggers This? It’s a combination of triggers and non-triggers:
    • Triggers: “from” address (if I’ve already set them up as a “lead”) or subject line (if they’ve filled out a form and I know what that subject will be).
    • Non-Triggers: I’m careful about what triggers I have in place. By using smart triggers to filter out the non-actionable items and to batch the actionable, but non-urgent items, I’ve already created a system that brings heightened attention to non-filtered items (like first-time emails from a referral lead).
  • Actions: apply “Leads” label and/or additional labels based on email, never mark as spam, star the item, and keep it in the priority inbox until I move it.

9 Inbox Filters for Marketers - Gray MacKenzie Example

7) Filter social media emails

Most folks get tons of notification emails from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. I set up filters to send most of my notifications directly to folders. That way, the notification is archived appropriately, should I ever need it, but it doesn’t steal my attention from the important inbox items.

  • Triggers: “from” address (examples: info@twitter.com, noreply@youtube.com, groups-noreply@linkedin.com, etc).
  • Actions: apply “Social Media” label, skip inbox, and mark as read if appropriate. That way, I always have those notifications somewhere, but never bother with them unless I need them.

8) Filter lead nurturing emails

I’m on too many email lists to count. Big companies, small shops, single products, thought leaders… at this point, I’ve subscribed to them all.

Even though I’ve subscribed, I still don’t want all these emails in my inbox. Here’s how I get around that:

  • Triggers: “from” address (you’ve read that before), or, a little more complicated, I’ll filter based on contents.
    • Example: I used to filter out emails that included the text “Powered by MailChimp” in the email. They would go into a “Subscriptions” folder and I would batch through that folder once or twice a week.
  • Actions: apply “Subscriptions” label and/or additional labels based on email, typically skip the inbox, and I’ll batch review these emails weekly.

9) Filter completed forms

We use a number of forms for leads, clients, vendors, and team members. Some forms indicate the status of the person submitting the form, and most form submissions require some type of action.

Some quick examples:

  • We use a marketing inventory form during our GamePlan Development process – a submission indicates that the sender is a client.
  • We use an Inbound Revenue Calculator during multiple processes. This doesn’t necessarily require action, but it does require review.

I’ve got filters in my inbox that help me determine my action steps based on the forms that are submitted.

  • Triggers: most frequently, I filter based on subject line for form submissions.
  • Actions: apply appropriate labels, never mark as spam, forward as necessary, use canned responses (handy Google Mail add-on) where appropriate, and keep it in my primary inbox.

Suggested Resource: Unroll.me

There are a lot of places where filters come in handy, but for dealing with email newsletters and brand subscriptions, you may also want to consider using a tool like Unroll.me.

This allows you to easily unsubscribe from emails, or add all the marketing emails that you’d like to batch review, to a single, daily rollup email.

How does this save you time?

I currently have 709 subscriptions on my rollup, which translates to an average daily rollup including between 100 – 200 daily emails. Instead of clicking buttons to open, archive, or delete, I click on the single email, review the subject lines, and wind up taking action on (guestimating here) about 5% of the emails in my rollup.

Unroll.me saves me a ton of time every day, plus I don’t have the distraction of seeing those emails hit my inbox, and going to look at what I just received.

Bonus Giveaway

If you’ve read this far, odds are that you care about productivity.

For that reason, I’m giving away a free downloadable PDF of the 7 Core Business Tools that we use at GuavaBox. These are the most important tools in our day-to-day operations, and 5 of them have freemium models.

Struggling with your Marketing Processes?

My partner, Andrew, developed this awesome B2B Marketing Checklist that we’re giving away to help you do more and better marketing. Click the download button below to grab your copy!

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