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Plug it. Stick it. Rock it.

The email marketing landscape changes frequently, just as the digital and traditional marketing landscape. Email changes are based on what’s working and what’s not. Here’s a strategy that’s effective when it comes to email marketing: Plug it. Stick it. Rock it.

PLUG IT

Email marketing programs are promotional, so there’s nothing wrong with aggressively “plugging” the brand and the benefits of the product or service. And be basic and straightforward: the consumer does not want to spend hours of time working out hidden meanings and cleverness. Make your point. You can tell a story but make it quick and easy to understand.

STICK IT

If you’ve watched gymnastics, even for just a few moments, you’ve seen the most important part: the landing. All of the tumbling and somersaulting is important, but so is ending the routine with feet in just the right position. Just as with gymnastics one wants to “stick the landing,” it’s important to finish the email strongly; email marketing should never end weakly. Be specific with the call to action. TELL the email recipient precisely what you want them to do. For some reason, many email marketers often forget to send a clear CTA at the end of the email—and then wonder why the response is low. Place at the end of the message to ensure your recipients land in the right position!

ROCK IT

Email rocks. And it must be part of the entire marketing mix. It’s a proven marketing channel. If you’re in charge of marketing or communications, use proven email marketing techniques to communicate and sell then constantly strive to improve response. Part of the success of email marketing is providing an outstanding experience. Sometimes “rocking” the email marketing experience can be as simple as an irresistible offer like free shipping.

One final word of advice in the ever changing email world: keep up with best practices. It’s a big part of what we do here at StrongView and it helps us help our clients improve response.

Want to learn more? Check out StrongView’s email marketing learning resources.

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 3:54 PM
Categories: Email marketing best practices, email marketing

Integrating Pinterest into Your Email Marketing

Pinterest is a frequent topic of conversation these days.  According to Hitwise, Pinterest is the third most popular social media site in terms of site visits, behind Facebook and Twitter.  Pinterest (as I am sure you are all aware) is ultimately a virtual pin board where consumers can grab images from their web surfing activity and pin them up on categorical boards that allow them to share and revisit the information as necessary. It is a channel that is visual in nature, currently draws a largely female audience, resonates topically with the home, fashion and food (amongst others) and is leveraged heavily for planning (think weddings, birthdays, vacation, etc.). So a good thing to remember is that it isn’t the best place to be for every brand…yet.

Pinterest Logo

According to a recent survey of over 4,800 US online consumers from the price comparison website PriceGrabber , 58% of respondents are not yet on Pinterest – and about 1/3 of those didn’t even know what it was.  But these numbers are anticipated to shift – making Pinterest a channel to watch – especially since the same survey found that 21% of those surveyed that did have Pinterest accounts had cited purchasing a product *specifically* after seeing the Pin.

The ability to integrate and leverage the email channel to build and grow a Pinterest presence is a relatively easy task to accomplish. Here are a couple quick tricks and “good-to-knows” about bringing these two channels together – beyond the act of adding a “follow us on Pinterest” icon in your standard social set:

1. Use Email to Announce Your Pinterest Presence
Your email subscribers are often your best customers. If your brand aligns with the demographic and psychographic make-up of the Pinterest user, there is no reason to not share your presence and the content available with your customers. One great example is how zulily has embraced its Pinterest presence by not only telling their subscribers what they can find on Pinterest, but also creating content specific to the channel via poster creation and even featuring an incentive to encourage Pinning from their site (See zulily email).

2. Include “Pin This” Icons on Individual Content Within Your Email
Including a Pinterest icon with a simple string of code is all you need to do to get your content from your email to your Board. You even have the ability to pass through a description to accompany the image – and descriptions in Pinterest are important. A few fun things to note here: if you include a dollar amount price in the description, Pinterest will automatically place a banner in the top, left hand side of the image feature the price; it will also place the Pin in the Gift Guides from the main drop down. Another fun note is that descriptions can also help impact SEO. Think the descriptions through as carefully as you choose your imagery.

3. Coordinate New Boards or Pins Around Email Deployment
If you are including references to Pinterest within your email communication, chances are your customers may visit your Pinterest Wall of various Boards following an email deployment. It is a good idea to have new content available when they get there. To that point, you should be putting up new content, arranging boards and managing the “above the fold” appearances of your Pinterest presence frequently to deter fatigue.

As you can imagine, this is an ever-evolving topic and new information is coming out by the minute it seems – we are just scratching the surface of what marketers can do with this channel, so look at this as a solid place to start and get to Pinning.

To hear more of my tips on marketing with Pinterest,  check out the on-demand version of StrongView’s recent webinar, “Put a Pin in It.”

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 10:20 AM
Categories: best practices, Pinterest, Social Media, Strategy

Email Marketing Excellence: The Barnes & Noble Unsubscribe

While trying to whittle down the number of email newsletters that pour into my email inbox, I noticed that I had signed up for Barnes & Noble's newsletter with two different email addresses. Unsubscribing one of these addresses was a no-brainer.  As I went to click on the unsubscribe link, I hoped they wouldn't require me to log into my account to complete the action. 

As the resulting BN.com page popped up in my browser, I was immediately impressed by their particular email marketing execution. Instead of a straight unsubscribe page, they served up an email preference management page that gave me tons of options for tailoring the type and frequency of email received from the brand. 

Without logging into my account, I could easily unsubscribe from all B&N email if I so desired, but more importantly (as a fellow marketer), it first presented options for signing up for seven different types of communications – all with links to samples so I could evaluate whether that particular action would be worthwhile.

Next, in case the type of content wasn't the issue, it allowed me to limit the frequency of emails to either one a week, and even one a month. Saved for the last was the one click unsub from all BN.com email.

The fact that I was impressed by this unsubscribe process shows how infrequently I have similar experiences with other brands and their email marketing. More often than not, the brand either makes it difficult to unsubscribe (whether by requiring login, retyping my email address or verifying some additional information) or they serve up a one line web-page confirming the unsubscribe, which misses an opportunity to try and save the relationship through preference management.

The one thing Barnes & Noble didn't do was include an optional field for subscribers to identify the reason for their unsubscribe, which can provide critical information for optimizing future communications. All-in-all, my hat goes off to Barnes & Noble for designing an effective email preference page that balances the ease of unsubscribing for the consumer with opportunities for the marketer to save and even expand a customer relationship.

The moral of the story: great email marketing solutions means great customer interactions.

Barnes & Noble Unsubscribe

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Interested in reading more about email marketing best practices? Try giving one of our other blogs a look.

Posted by: Jason Klein at 4:37 PM
Categories: email marketing, unsubscribe, best practices, case study

Email Campaign Test Plan: Most Important Thing You Do

What would the executive team say if you could increase opportunities for revenue from each email marketing campaign by 10-20% this year? No doubt you'll get their attention.

Getting approval for budget to add this to your process might take some effort. Execution requires additional time and focus from the strategy, creative and production teams.

Let’s say your email campaign test plan adds an additional 5% to your overall enterprise email budget. A well-structured email subject line test can increase opens by 10%, which means an additional 10% of opportunities for clicks...that coupled with an offer test can increase lift to as much as 25%.

To build your proposal, perform a few simple tests to prove it and then do the math. Since we know email ROI is immense, your email campaign testing efforts will likely pay for themselves in a short time - if you approach it with proven strategies and best practices.

1. Solid Methodology
To achieve an increase in yield and repeatable learnings, a solid methodology should be in place before you start, usually starting with a question that solves an important business problem. I’ve seen companies haphazardly implement tests – just to report up that they are testing – and then look back at the metrics achieving minimal results or unclear learnings. Take time in the beginning to plan for success using proven methods. Consult your strategist to provide the methodology and strategic business use cases that will resonate with your customers. Next, run it by your creative director to ensure that the best email design and creative and content elements are present to make your test even more successful.

2. Clear End-to-End Process
Think through your email campaign test process from start to finish. Many times the process portion gets shorted and it causes disruption and ultimately missed deadlines. It starts with strategy and planning, then needs to get vetted with your brand managers and design agency. Many people assume that to execute a hero image or offer test, the only consideration is to switch out a module. Any creative director worth his or her salt will tell you that is not always the case. Other elements in the creative can influence engagement. And finally, ensure your production team knows how to implement what you plan without a lot of churn.

3. Organizationally Sound Plan
The best laid plans of mice and men concept applies here. If you have a fantastic test plan but it doesn’t meld with the maturity of your program, you may be in for a very frustrating experience. Make sure your design agency, email campaign management and production teams are well equipped, trained and have the bandwidth to execute.

4. Well Documented and Socialized Test Plan
Even if you can only plan a month in advance, document the objectives of your tests, what exactly is going to be measured, anticipated results, process steps and timing …and then discuss your execution and launch plans in weekly meetings. Unclear communication leads to time lapses and delayed launches.

5. Documented Learnings
Repeating successes is the name of the game. If you don't document it, it will be lost. Also, reviewing carefully planned and executed email campaign tests along with success metrics helps to convince your teams that the extra effort is worth it. And, it makes for more efficient content planning. Consider it missed revenue opportunities if you don't.

Taking this seriously is the difference between increasing revenue opportunities by 0-5% or 10-20% or more. It deserves input from your experts, careful consideration of your customer segmentation and personalization capabilities (demographic, psychographic and behavioral profiles), the customer experience, and plenty of time and communication to make that difference. But it doesn’t end here. Typically, email marketers are responsible for demand generation. You'll need the help of the website team to follow this all the way through to increase conversions and revenue. Once you increase your opens and clicks, the path to conversion must be of the least resistance. Another area to test!

For more information about end-to-end email campaign test plans, call us at 800-971-0380 or contact us. If you are a StrongView customer, contact your account manager.

Posted by: Laura Crawford at 3:01 AM
Categories: best practices, email ROI, email marketing, testing

Top 5 Tips for Increasing Email Marketing Subscriber Engagement

The latest edition of StrongView's popular Email Breakthrough Report series is about to be released, containing innovative ideas for how you can take your email marketing programs to the next level. Given the recent changes at Gmail and Hotmail, increasing subscriber engagement is on every email marketer's mind. This report offers some unique and proven ideas for how to achieve this.

1. Getting Your Email Moving – Email marketers have been striving for years to determine the most effective application of movement in email. Whether it has been the proper use of animated gifs or the holy grail of video in email, marketers have struggled with applying them effectively. This quarter, both Intercontinental Hotels Group and Fandango have both engaged their recipients through the relevant application of motion without compromising the marketing message.

2. Tying it all Together – Unless you are seeing follow-up messages to offers being received, the idea of carrying content through more than one message seems to be a lost art, unless you are Fandango. Not only did they send a dedicated message about the upcoming release of The American in theaters, they also carried the messaging through subsequent messages, achieving recognition of the content and keeping it top of mind.

3. Taking the Subtle Approach – The tides seem to continuously turn between direct, sales-centric messaging and the soft-sell approach in email marketing. This quarter, many of our favorites chose the subtle approach. The Limited and FranklinCovey both had direct calls-to-action in their messaging; however, it became secondary to the content focus. The first goal of these messages was to either educate or engage – which, once achieved, makes the progression to conversion more natural.

4. Leveraging Word of Mouth – If you've been in email marketing for more than a day, you know that its strength is not in acquisition – unless you are using your existing and engaged customer base to help you out! Equifax reached out to its email subscriber-base (which is where most of your best customers exist) and asked them to tell their friends about their experience with the brand/product. And the incentive to win an iPad is a great way to say thanks!

5. Let the Content Flow – The amount of content you put in your email marketing campaign is always a concern….too much and no one will read it, too little and no one will understand it. But it isn't all about how much – sometimes it has more to do with how it is organized. In the FranklinCovey example, you will see that they've effectively organized a lot of content without it feeling daunting.

Want to know more? For in-depth analysis and creative samples of email campaigns leveraging these tactics from IHG, Fandango, The Limited, Equifax and FranklinCovey, download the full Q310 Email Breakthrough Report.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 4:20 PM
Categories: best practices, creative_ideas, email marketing, subscriber_engagement

Best Practices for Email Opt-in

All email addresses enter your database through some form of opt-in process. Subscriptions can come in from a website, call center, POS display, trade show, sweepstakes offer, etc. Consumers are opting in to receive information from your organization for a specific purpose – to receive your email campaigns or to manage an existing business relationship.

Forrester Research reports three primary methods that can help increase opt-in rates:

  • Make registration easy, intuitive and valuable for the customer.
  • Give the customer control of how much information they want to share with you.
  • Start with basic questions and ask for deeper information gradually.

Additionally, organizations can make the opt-in process more effective for subscribers by doing any or all of the following:

  • Provide an opt-in on every page throughout your website.
  • Include a subscribe link in every email campaign.
  • Explain the benefits of registering (through a value statement or privacy policy).
  • Use standard form field names and limit to ten questions.
  • Ask basic segmentation questions.
  • Avoid asking for sensitive information without cause (such as password reminders, etc.).
  • Use a single email confirmation opt-in strategy.
  • Use viral marketing.

According to Forrester Research, the majority of marketers find that their website registration page proves to be the easiest and most effective way to ask a consumer to opt-in to their email programs. That said, make sure the website opt-in process isn’t convoluted or time consuming for the customer. This will establish a good relationship, and heighten your chances of that new subscriber referring friends or colleagues to your organization.

Posted by: Amanda Hinkle at 12:00 PM
Categories: best practices, email marketing, forrester research, opt-in, tips

Why? Because I Said So.

As my first post on the Email Marketing Insight blog, I thought I would give you some background on me.

When I tell one of my three children to hold the railing when coming down the stairs or not to touch the hot oven, they are taking advantage of my years of experience negating minor burns and abrasions.

In my non-mommy role, there is hardly a day that goes by that I’m not explaining to a colleague, prospect or client the “why” of the methodology behind an email strategy or the technology that drives it. The moniker of “email expert” didn’t come without years of research, hundreds of hours of coding experience, industry conferences and countless debates on best practices with fellow email cronies. Did I also mention that I’m a very humble person? (smile) Title aside, I’ve earned my email chops and in the end, what’s in my head can help you. All you need to do is take notes and be ready for answers that you might not want to hear.

As email marketers, we are all at different stages of our career and the sophistication level of the marketer on the other end of the line often correlates with the amount of information that is digested and eventually incorporated. My role is more about taking a concept and serving it up in a way that is understandable from the tech folks to those looking at the bottom line. With the tug and pull of getting the most of your email program in the shortest amount of time, those little nuggets of goodness might get lost. Sure, search long enough and you can eventually find someone who will tell you what you want to hear; however, good things don’t come easy. Engaging with an email expert and giving them your ear can definitely make things easier.

I liken my role in the email world as more of an email doctor. I can help fix problems but also provide a bit of insight on the best plan to keep your email programs healthy and fit, as well as ideas on how to grow big and strong. So I might say “because I said so,” but know that I’ve got your best interests at heart. If you have got the time to listen, I’ll gladly explain why.

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 12:15 PM
Categories: Kara Trivunovic, best practices, email marketing, strategic services

StrongView Expands its Strategic Services Team with Respected Industry Veterans

Earlier this week, StrongView announced the appointment of two key industry veterans to our Strategic Services team, and we are very excited to have them on board. Ryan Deutsch, who has graced this blog with his insights for many months, has been promoted to VP of Strategic Services and will lead the division’s growth and development moving forward.

StrongView has also hired Kara Trivunovic, former principal of The Email Advisor, as our Senior Director of Strategic Services. Kara is a 10-year veteran of the email marketing industry who formerly led the Strategic Services division for Premiere Global Services after its acquisition of Accucast. She has deep experience working with B2C marketers to achieve their business goals for the email channel and will be a tremendous asset to the Strategic Services team.

StrongView Strategic Services provides StrongView's clients with a true strategic email marketing partner that is committed to delivering innovative programs and services for achieving business goals while meeting the needs and expectations of end recipients.

Stay tuned for exciting new offerings coming out of this division to help marketers drive more value from their email marketing programs!

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 5:28 PM
Categories: StrongView, email marketing best practices, new hires, strategic services

Name That City?

cincinnati.jpg

If you said Cincinnati, Ohio - The Queen City - you were right! I'm a huge fan of Cincinnati because of the cool people that call it home and the awesome chili (Skyline anyone?) I'm also a fan of the home of the Reds because I'll be at the Hyatt Cincinnati, March 20th doing a transactional email seminar with my colleague and fellow blogger at email solutions provider StrongView, Spencer Kollas.

This is going to be another awesome StrongView event, adding to the many, many hundreds of email solutions experts who joined me on-the-road in the 11-city tour we recently did with Forrester Research. All my faithful blog readers and participants are welcome to join us. I've included the exclusive registration link below. Don't miss a great time of email marketing best practices in a personalized clinic atmosphere.

Exclusive Registration

Want some more email marketing resources? Check our our white papers!

Posted by: Sam Cece at 4:30 PM
Categories: Cincinnati, Ohio, email seminars. email marketing best practices

What is the Number #1 US City for Email Usage? ANSWER: See Thursday

julieseattle.jpg

Atlanta Magazine ran stats courtesy of AOL & Opinion Research in their November 2007 issue highlighting the top 10 US cities for email usage (yes, I'm a packrat who's saved this stat for 4 months). This list has special significance for me this week since I'm visiting the top 3 -Washington DC, Atlanta, New York - for part II of my StrongView Email Marketing Best Practices Seminar series with Forrester Research's Julie Katz. That's Julie at the Seattle Space Needle during the first part of our tour ( - love the retro Pink Elephant Car Wash sign).

In addition, we'll be in Chicago and Boston this week too. Having already covered 6 cities on our tour, this has proven to be a really fun way to meet new email marketing gurus to share stories and techniques. Reservations for some cities this week are still available, so if you're interested click this.

By the way, here are the top 10 emailing cities from AOL & Opinion Research Corp.:



    1. Washington DC

    1. Atlanta

    1. New York

    1. San Francisco

    1. Houston

    1. Los Angeles

    1. Seattle

    1. Orlando

    1. Denver

    1. Miami
Want some more email marketing resources? Check our our white papers!
Posted by: Sam Cece at 11:26 AM
Categories: email marketing, email marketing best practices, email marketing seminar and conferences