Five Email Marketing Tips To Improve Your Email Campaign Execution

Last week, one of the largest wireless phone service providers in the world (see screen shot below) sent us an email inviting us to visit one of their newly remodeled ‘brick and mortar’ retail stores. The email body was well-designed, on-brand, colorful, and streamlined…plus, a 25% in-store coupon! We almost clicked through out of sheer excitement when we stopped in our tracks.

The culprit: a completely irrelevant message. The email was intended to go to Angola, Indiana residents / local customers and its subject header and email body screamed “Angola.” Upside Business Consultants is over 650 miles away (11+ hours of driving), located on Long Island, in Hauppauge, NY.  Other than the incorrect geo reference, we would have been happy to learn about their upgraded stores.

The experience reminded us of some of the less glamorous but important components to successful email marketing that can help avoid execution mistakes like this one:

1. Scrub Your Email Marketing List. Scrub well, scrub often (and don’t miss behind the ears). People move, people travel, mobile devices are used to check email, preferences change, names change etc. many data points in your database can become moving targets. Especially if you are going to make a geographic reference, you’ve got to have controls in place to assure yourself that you can reach them in the right location.

2. Think Through The Risks. Mitigate The Risks. Using this case as an example, proceed with caution when personalizing or geographically targeting your emails. Segmenting is a great strategy in targeted email marketing, but only when the execution is flawless. Are the costs of making yourself irrelevant by e.g. sending emails to the wrong zone or having an error in your customer profile greater than the benefits? Could a more general message sent to a larger email list achieve the same goals, such as “See how we’ve improved our stores for you. Is your store on this list?” You decide. You know best, it’s your business and your customers.

3. Test. Then, Test Again. Although email marketing service providers have really improved their testing capabilities, most email testing still focuses on email deliverability, whether all of your links work etc. Testing does not always find human errors made during communications, email coding or the mail merge process. If you are using an email service for blasts, make sure you really understand what they are and are not testing. Find a way to fill in the gaps with your own quality checks. Some reputable email companies recommend sending a minimum of 3-4 tests to yourself and setting up free test email accounts on different email provider’s sites (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail etc.). Testing your emails in different email programs will help reduce errors. Make sure your email is not sent to spam, that all images are showing up, that formatting is correct etc. Review content and anything mail merged from a database again too.

4. Use Email Analytics. Look At All Relevant Metrics. Tracking email marketing metrics to measure real events that took place and not just planned events is essential. Review performance metrics beyond open rates and click thru rates to help you identify any problems. For example, here, I would also look at the number/percentage of email unsubscribe requests and email “complaints” i.e. if people clicked “spam” or “junk.” It is very likely that these spiked compared to previous email campaigns and could be a red flag that something went wrong.

5. Ask Your Customer If The Email Is Relevant. All of us can agree that good marketers listen and react to their customers. We’ve seen email marketers integrate quick rating tools (e.g. a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” button) into the body of their emails that link to more detailed surveys or contact information/preferences forms. With direct feedback, you can go beyond personalization and geo targeting and start segmenting by data points that will directly benefit the customer first, then you. e.g. types of products the customer is interested in, types of offers they want to receive, whether the customer has visited your website, shopping habits etc. Which is more important to your customer, seeing his/her name, for example, or receiving an email built around his/her actual shopping preferences? You decide.

What type of email marketing process does your company have in place to make sure you are executing well and adding value to your relationship with customers? Drop our marketing consultants a note. We would love to hear your stories.

If you found our Long Island marketing blog post helpful, feel free to reply with your comments, follow @upsidebusiness on Twitter, or hit the retweet button. You can also subscribe to our Long Island marketing blog RSS feed. Happy marketing!

Key Terms: Long Island email marketing, Long Island email campaign, email blast, email marketing list, email marketing tips, K43DY92JMX4F

Is Social Media Marketing A Waste Of Time For Your Long Island Business? Decide For Yourself.

Welcome to our Long Island Marketing Blog.  We are kicking off an “ask and answer” series here after receiving some very good questions and comments from our Long Island clients and colleagues.  First stop: social media marketing.

Question one: “are social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook a waste of company time?”

“It depends.” It really does. Spending company time tweeting and posting updates to fan pages can be a waste of time for those that do not have a social media marketing strategy that takes factors such as company goals, resources, type and size of business, customer demographics etc. into consideration.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate and form your social media strategy:

•    Why are we on social networking sites? What is the purpose?
•    What are desired outcomes?
•    Which social media marketing tools will be most effective?
•    Why will our customers or target audience care?
•    How are these tools to be used on a daily basis and by whom?
•    How do we know when we are succeeding in the social media space?

Once you answer these questions, you will have the basis of a strategy for your business. Still, you may have reservations. A few we have heard and would like to address briefly here.

“I don’t need a strategy, the numbers say it all”

What about the fact that so many people are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites? It is easy to get caught up in numbers. The sheer quantities of people on Facebook and Twitter (there are over 370 million people on Facebook, over 750,000 Facebook business pages, 75 million+ people tweeting etc.) are impressive; however, they are not in themselves reasons to spend your time and energy tweeting and posting into feeds. If your customers are 70+ women who are disabled, for example, should you be tweeting or calling to deepen relationships? Or, is your target audience their children, who are likely in their 40’s and helping to make healthcare decisions for family members? Bottom line: know your audience. Don’t get caught up in numbers and think through whether or not there are better ways to deepen relationships and loyalty.

“We asked ourselves these questions and decided social media is not right for our business right now, so we don’t need a Twitter or Facebook account.”

OK, but think ahead. Social media sites are constantly evolving, however they are not going away any time soon. At a minimum, every business should “own their brand” online. You want your company name (screen name) in your Twitter account, Facebook page etc. and do not want to find out it is unavailable later or even worse, taken by one of your competitors (or dealers). We have seen this happen too frequently. Today, you need to own your name in many medias, not just your domain name ( URL) and variations on your domain name e.g. .net

“If sales don’t grow directly, then social media marketing is a waste of time.”
Take one step back. What is a successful social media campaign? What is success, period? Driving clicks to your website? Being able to respond faster to customer inquiries? The number of “fans” or “likes”? The number of sign ups on your newsletter sign up fan page tab? Even the simple act of engaging company employees more with customers? Bottom line: Know how you define and measure success in the social media space as a stand alone marketing strategy and in the context of your overall marketing strategy. Then, you will be able to best determine whether or not you are getting a return on your investment and using your time wisely. What are your company’s agreed upon metrics?

Here are three other pieces of advice you may know already that we advocate:

1. Be Very Selective When Choosing Who Will Write Content And Make Posts
Be very careful about who in your organization is in charge of generating content. If you are not, you risk not just being inconsistent, “unfollowed” or “blocked,” but eroding brands and reputations. Pick someone who is a true brand ambassador and can be trusted. Pick someone who knows your company in and out. Review posts before they are made public and have policies.

2. Don’t Cross-Promote In Personal Networks Too Much

Traditionally, sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc., users are communicating, telling their stories, interacting, sharing news and photos, telling self-deprecating tales, catching up etc. In contrast to users directly searching for a product on Google, Facebook users are rarely intent on directly buying a product or purchasing a service.

Even though business promotion and advertising on social media is mainstream through fan pages and pay per click advertising, for example, companies and individuals promoting on Facebook or Twitter should do so with caution and with subtlety within their personal networks. Avoid providing irrelevant unnecessary distractions, over communicating, disproportionately promoting or talking about yourself, and posting content that does not accurately portray company policies or a company’s brand voice.

3. Have Principles. Play By The “Rules” of The Game.

Every person should have principles, especially when it comes to social media.  People like consistency from brands. Create a set of principles or rules to live by on what you will post and what you will not. What are some safe principals? We advocate “Inspiring, Educating, Sharing Insights” when in doubt. When using humor, stay away from sarcasm and any comments that can be misinterpreted. Tell your own story and post meaningful content to your audience. Nobody wants to see a “copy and pasted form response.” Write in an authentic way, share interesting nuggets and show there are real people behind your marketing wall. You will be on the right path.

Have a question you would like answered? We are happy to listen to what you have to say. Just reply here. Stay in touch with our Long Island Marketing Consultants on twitter too @upsidebusiness or sign up for the Long Island Marketing Blog rss feed.