What’s your email marketing strategy?

So you’ve got a list of customers who want to receive email from you, and you have an idea of some of the things you’d like to send them, but you’re having trouble pinning down an overall strategy? You may find it beneficial to stop right now and decide upon your Email Value Proposition.

Email Value Proposition (EVP)

What is an EVP? Think about it as your email’s mission statement – Without a clear focus and value proposition, your email won’t hit your recipient’s “internal inbox.” People can manage only a limited number of regular email communications, so you need to give them clear reasons to open your emails every time.

Define your Email Value Proposition (EVP) much like you would a positioning statement and use it to drive your content, creative, frequency and segmentation strategies, as well as list-growth initiatives and future messaging.

You can use these fill-in-the-blank sentences to help build your EVP – just replace the items in [brackets].

First Sentence: Value of the Offering

For… [Target Customer] Who… [Statement of the Need or Opportunity] Our [Name of Email/Newsletter] contains…[Product/Services/Messaging Components] which provides… [Statement of Benefit]

(An example First Sentence: For frequent travelers who don’t have time to find cheap, easy lodging, Stay-n-Rest presents our Weekly Rest Email Newsletter. Every Sunday, subscribers will get an email with five coupons from regional hotels for various offers. This takes the guesswork out of “where should I stay?”, and empowers them to take control of their time and budget.)

Second Sentence: Positioning the Value

Unlike… [Primary Competitive Alternative] our product… [Statement of Primary Differentiator] because of our… [Proof that Benefits can be Delivered]

Email Marketing: I’m Calling Your BS

Well, Absolute isn’t calling your BS, but we found an article by somebody else who is

The basic premise here is this: “What are your excuses for not doing email marketing?”

Common reasons to slack when it comes to email marketing:

  • You don’t think you have enough data for the people on your list to send them relevant email
  • You don’t have the right content to send to your list and audience
  • You don’t have enough resources to do the work

Bottom line – just get it done. Just do it. Stop making excuses. You are only hurting yourself by not embracing email marketing.

Look at it this way:

  • If you lack lots of data regarding the people on your list, don’t worry about targeting them with specifically relevant content.
  • If you lack content, just send what content you can come up with.
  • If you lack help and time, find somebody to help you out with the process of sending emails, or find a system that helps you do it yourself more easily.

Absolute Marketing Group can help you out if you are lost when it comes to email marketing, feel free to contact us if you need some help.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.

I can’t see images in emails!

So you’ve just gotten an HTML email in your inbox, and you’re all excited to open it – wait – this isn’t right! There are a lot of little red X boxes instead of images! Why is this happening?

Well, your email client (Outlook, Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) might be automatically set to block images in emails.

In fact, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and AOL all have images turned OFF by default.

So, how do you UN-block them?

Well, according to Microsoft’s website – here’s how you unblock them in Outlook

When you open an e-mail message in Microsoft Outlook Express on a computer that is running Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the areas in the e-mail message that are supposed to contain images are blocked. These areas display a red X placeholder. Additionally, you are prompted with the following message just above the content window of the e-mail message:

Some pictures have been blocked to help prevent the sender from identifying your computer. Click here to download pictures.

This behavior occurs because of the new Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail security option. By default, this option is turned on in Outlook Express after you install Windows XP SP2.

This option helps you avoid viewing potentially offensive material, enables you to decide which images that you want to download, and helps reduce the junk e-mail messages that you receive. We recommend that you leave this option turn on and that you download images for trusted messages only. To do this, click the Infobar to download the images for each message. The Infobar is the banner that is near the top of a trusted e-mail message.

Manual steps to enable Internet images in Outlook Express
To manually work around this behavior, turn off the Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail option. To do this, follow these steps.

1. Click Start, point to Programs, and then click Outlook Express.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Security tab.
3. Click to clear the Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail check box.
4. Click OK

You can also try adding the sender to your “safe senders” list.

As for other email clients, here are some suggestions on how you can un-block images –

Open the message and click the green box above the message that says “Always Display Images from (the sender’s address)”.

Windows Live Mail
Open the email; click “open message”; click “show content” at the top of the message.

Click the Mail menu, then click Mail Settings. Click the “Hide images & disable links in mail from unknown senders” box to clear it. Click the “Save” button.

Click “options” and go to the “Spam Protection” section. Click “continue” until you’re on the 3rd step of the process. If you’ve taken the above steps to designate the sender as not Spam, select the “Block images in messages that SpamGuard thinks are spam” option.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.

Is your subject line sending your email straight to the trash?

By Luke Petterson

Well, that depends. Does your email subject line length rival some Shakespearean lines, or is it concise and to the point? Does it frequently include the words Reminder, Help, Percent Off or FREE? For that matter, IS IT WRITTEN ALL IN CAPS? According to several best practices studies done on the open rates for HTML emails and newsletters, the above might get your email ignored in a long list of inbox subjects lines or even netted in a spam filter before it even gets to it’s intended recipient.

So, what’s to be done to increase your open rate and try to avoid those pesky spam filters?

First, don’t use the 4 words mentioned above – not only do they trigger spam traps, but open rates on emails with those words in the subject line have dismal open rates.

Second, NEVER USE CAPS. Not only is it considered rude (in ‘net etiquette, it’s the equivalent of YELLING), but it’s also a technique frequently used by spammers – not someone you want to associate with.

Third, keep your subject line short. Under 50 letters is ideal for most newsletters. Along those same lines, a subject that tells what is of interest inside generally gets better open rates than those that try to sell or tease.

Basically think about which emails you open and which you send straight to the round file when faced with that daunting list in your inbox – you’re not the only person pressed for time and annoyed by spam, so what would get you to open that letter?

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.

Email list churn, and how to avoid it

By Luke Petterson

Your business may have a decent sized email mailing list that you’ve compiled over time. If your business depends on using it’s email list to communicate with your clients or subscribers, you need to know about “email list churn” and how to handle it.

What is email list churn?

Email list “churn” is losing subscribers due to the fact they have changed or abandoned their email address. If a subscriber can no longer access the email account that you send your mailings to they’ll no longer be a subscriber to your mailing list. Simple as that.

Your subscribers will change their email addresses from time to time. This is common. Changing email addresses could be due to:

  • Changing jobs, and subsequently changing their work email address
  • Getting sick of Hotmail and wanting to set up a Gmail account
  • Getting overwhelmed with SPAM on an email account and abandoning it
  • Wanting to change to a more fun or different email address, or to change their name
  • And probably a myriad of other reasons

How many times have you changed your email address?

The numbers

The fact is, your list will probably lose about 1/3 or more of it’s subscribers yearly to email churn

This means if your list doesn’t keep growing, in just a few short years you’ll be left with zero or few subscribers. That’s a lot of churn, and that’s why it needs to be recognized and dealt with.

How to prevent or handle list churn

The most effective method to help avoid list churn is to offer subscribers a way to change their email address for their subscription.

Mailings commonly will contain links to allow users to unsubscribe, but it’s not so common to see the option to update subscription account options. Add this option to your email footers and your users will be able to provide you with a new email address if they change email accounts. It’s that easy.

Another way to prevent your list from dwindling is to actively promote it to attract new subscribers. Don’t just sit back and hope people will subscribe to your email list – ask everyone you come in contact with to sign up for your emails – both online and off. Some easy ways to do this are –

  • Put a link to your email list in your email signature
  • Tell your sales staff to ask everyone they talk with if they’ve subscribed
  • Put out a guest book in your store and ask people to write in their email address so you can send them updates

In closing

Even with an email update option on your mailings, you will still lose subscribers to list churn. The only sure fire way to completely counter the effects of list churn is to continue to grow your list. Just make sure that all your new subscribers are officially opting in for your mailing list (keep it legal!).

Luke Petterson is the interactive director for Absolute Marketing Group of Moorhead, MN. Feel free to contact Luke at 218.284.1111 with any questions about email mailing list management for your business.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.

Why You Should Be Using Email Marketing

By Luke Petterson

Why should you be using email marketing? Email marketing has the uncanny ability to captivate your consumer audience, that’s why! The proof is in the numbers, we’ll be taking a look at the numbers here.

According to new research by Epsilon, people who receive a companies permission-based emails are more likely to do business with that company, as well as form a better opinion of that company.

It should be noted that the majority of opt-in email subscribers generally are in favor of the company when they sign up for an email subscription. But this still is a great example of email improving the relationship between the companies and the consumers.

Email marketing has the power to improve your relationship with your customers:

A full 56% of recipients of permission-based email from retail companies said they were more likely to make purchases from the sending retailers. Meanwhile, 52% said they had a more favorable opinion of the retail companies that send them email because of the communications they receive.

In addition, 48% of respondents reported feeling more loyal toward the retailers and their products as a result of receiving permission-based emails.

The subscribers are already interested in hearing what you have to say or have to pitch to them when they sign up. When you deliver upon their expectations and show them some love through your email communications, they will respond.

Moreover, consumers like it when you tailor emails to their interests:

A clear majority–87%–of respondents who receive permission-based email from retail companies said email is a great way to learn about new products, while 63% of those who receive permission-based email from retail companies said they want to receive personalized content based on their Web site activity and past purchases.

These numbers are the reason that you should be reinforcing your company with email marketing. Those that opt in to your list want you to communicate with them. All you have to do is give them what they want!

Consumers also interact with emails at a good rate:

What actions did respondents take as a result of receiving permission-based email from a retailer? About 88% reported downloading or printing coupons, while 79% clicked a link in an email to learn more about a particular service, product, or promotion.

This shows that you can depend on using emails to get your users to interact with you or your web site. Using your web site and email marketing in tandem can create an interactive experience that will draw in your customers and get them to interact with your company and your brand, all online.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.