Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Joke: Email Marketing Grows Business Like Nothing Else

We recently came across a pretty interesting piece in Target Marketing, called "Nuts & Bolts Comedian: Email Pulls in Crowds, Social is Ephemeral", featuring comedian Steve Hofstetter. Aside from the rah-rah nature of the title (how could we not be drawn to that??), the fact that it reflected the actual email marketing experiences of a professional comedian was totally intriguing.

Comedian Steve Hofstetter
Why share?
First, we thought it would be beneficial for our clients who may be in similar businesses. Steve's motivations make perfect sense. The kicker is, his nearly flawless execution and rationale behind the outreach is really impressive. Next, this guy was obviously successful, so we wanted to hear his first-hand account for ourselves, too. Turns out, Steve Hofstetter knows what the heck he's talking about.

You've got to read this article.
It's only a couple of quick pages, so dig in, and we'll meet you back here.

Tick tock ....

Interesting. Now consider this, our "final" thoughts on the topic.
So, we don't necessarily completely agree with all perspectives of the article. To say social media is "ephemeral" isn't true. In fact, email marketing that ties into the power of social media can increase your campaign's word-of-mouth and boost your potential subscriber list. But, it's true that you have to know how to use it effectively - and whether your audience is actually following your brand. On its own, social can be hard to track - and the ability to offer lengthier conversion content is out of format and can turn off socially-savvy engagees. HOWEVER, again, if it leads into the more trackable, marketing-rich structure of email outreach, the sky is truly the limit.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway to consider: Stay true to your audience. Be good to them in terms of the information they've opt-ed to receive and feel free to reward them for their ongoing patronage (in clicks or transactions). In the end, the more reciprocal your relationship, the more you each will benefit.

If you see anything on the web related to email marketing that you think we should share, give us a shout. And as always, if you have any questions about our JangoMail features or how we can help you, just ask.

Until then, have a great rest of the week!

Psst: Want to see Steve in action? YouTube has some clips you can check out.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Having Fun & Getting Funds With Filters

This week, a case study in the spirit of the holiday weekend ...

Joe's Outdoor Store is a strong, local retailer in Nashua, New Hampshire. They've been around for almost 5 years and have a solid following of outdoor enthusiasts, weekend warriors and even tourists who happen upon their prime spot off the main interstate.

But, business can always be better!

So, last week Joe's Outdoor Store sent out a major email marketing campaign to announce a Memorial Day Sale. Not just any sale, but one of the biggest sales of the year for Joe's. The thing is, not everyone was invited. To kick off the summer camping season, they sent out a special sales announcement for sleeping bags. Not just any sleeping bags. These are high-performance models designed to withstand high altitudes and adjust interior temperatures based upon exterior conditions. Yeah, they're pretty serious. And only serious campers would really be interested - and willing to entertain the big price tag.

Joe's Outdoor Store took their business' master email list off JangoMail and suppressed the email addresses of anyone who didn't opt into their list as a "Serious Camper" (their words from their group list compiled from the customized email signup form they created). Then, they blasted the beautiful thing. Joe's JangoMail reports said the email campaign was fairly successful in terms of opens and clicks. Now, they just have to wait for the weekend to see the foot traffic it generated. Well done, Joe.

But, other not quite-so-serious folks like to camp in the summertime, too. And Joe's does have other varieties of sleeping bags and camping gear they may want to hear about. Extra foot traffic is always a good thing, so they decide to send another email campaign to attract those potential customers.

Hmm... so what's the easiest way to use the email Joe's already created for "Serious Campers", make a few tweaks, and then blast it to the remaining, general audience? With JangoMail, it's simple. In fact, we already answered this dilemna in the lengthy speech above.

All Joe's Outdoor Store needs to do is load the "Serious Campers" email and make edits for their "General Campers or General Audience". Replace pictures, make the content less exclusive and more along the lines of "if you've never camped, try it with our sale gear". Then, it's time to create their specific email list using our Filter features. They simply need to click and suppress the addresses of all recipients who received the first campaign. It's that easy!

Now, let's broaden this case study a bit. Imagine how easy it is to send customized email messages for unique customer or client groups, while letting other groups receive information that only interests them. The long and short of it is that your customers will be happier knowing that YOU know what THEY want, and your messaging won't take the short road to the spam folder.

If you have any questions about Filters, List Suppression or any other JangoMail feature, hit us up. We'd love to hear from you! Until then, have a terrific Memorial Day weekend, everyone.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Is Outlook Mangling Your Emails?

Last week, we talked about some general email rendering issues. This week, we want to dig a little bit deeper. Specifically, let's tackle potential rendering problems using MS Outlook. Why highlight Outlook? Well, let's just say that the Outlook "issue cup" can certainly runneth over - or so we're hearing.

When the original gets mucked up
When your email looks less like Robert Redford's classic Great Gatsby and more like Leonardo DiCaprio's techno-Gatsby version, you know something's not working as it should. (Sorry, couldn't resist).

Here are 8 ways to troubleshoot and avoid some common issues:

1. Start with any tables you may have in your email. Does every table - and column - have a width?
Spot check your code. Make sure the column widths plus any cell spacing you have both add up to the width you gave your table.

2. Make sure that all of your images have a set width and height, as well.

3. Whenever possible, avoid CSS.

4. Replace floats, div's, background images, padding and margins with basic HTML.

5. Consider replacing the spaces between words with   if the words appear to be 'pushing' together.

6. Switch out new paragraphs with double line breaks: </br></br>.

7. If your whitespace isn't showing up well, try making a white image with a set width and height, and then putting it in your email.

8. Check all of your HTML and make sure you aren't missing any end tags and fix any HTML errors.

That's about it for now - and we hope this helps a bit. If you continue to have rendering issues with Outlook or experience problems not addressed here, feel free to give us a shout. We're here to help, and our team has seen just about everything.

Until next time, have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Maintaining Email Integrity With Mobile

Your email marketing campaign may look pretty spiffy on a PC, but check it out on a smartphone or tablet. It could very well look like the stuff of nightmares. Unless you adopt a truly "Mobile Mentality", you're not in shape to move ahead with the rest of the pack - let alone sprint ahead.

The EEC, or email marketing arm of the Direct Marketing Association, is a global professional organization that strives to enhance the image of email marketing and communications. Translation: It's a good idea to listen to what they have to say.

Here's your chance (and benefit)
EEC has some concise and helpful tips to help you keep your email marketing cohesive, attractive, and in terms of mobile connectivity, professional looking.

1. Concentrate on your content
With every email you create, mobile rendering should be a part of the process. This includes: subject lines, body content, graphics, testing, links, metrics (i.e. everything). Your "From" address, subject lines and headlines are perhaps the most important variables to consider. They're the first thing recipients see, so you'd better optimize the smaller space capacities to put your most effective, eye-catching and relevant foot forward first. Used to writing short subject lines? Cut it in half and get used to it. And while you're at it, eliminate more conceptual headlines that prompt viewers to ponder too long. You're dealing with an audience of shorter attention spans, and your competition in the mobile space is fierce.

Bottom line: Mobile simply doesn't offer the space to present a "says it all" graphic, so use your words wisely.

2. Respect fingers and hold the Flash
You'll have better results if you build landing pages optimized for mobile using HTML, CSS and smaller amounts of JAVA. Also remember how your recipients will be scanning through your emails. It's the power of the mighty finger - and unless they find your email communications easy to swipe, they could get fed up and flee before absorbing your message. Improve functionality after the fact, and they may still hesitate to click-through in the future for fear of the repeat experience. Buttons need to be a legible and usable size, as well.

3. Keep your forms brief
EEC recommends simply asking for an email address. While it's easier to submit information on an iPad or similar tablet, how far do you think recipients will go to fill in the tiny blanks on a smartphone?

One final bit of advice
This you already know: Test and then test again. And somewhere in the middle, revisit and tweak your content for the optimal experience. This little bit of sweat on the front end is well worth the desired result on the other side, not to mention the potential ROI you want to achieve in any email marketing campaign.

Get a jump start on testing by using JangoMail's Email Preview Rendering tool! As always, if you have any questions or comments on our blogs, give us a shout.

Until then, have a great week, everyone!