Email Marketing for Noobs Part 2 blog header

Email Marketing for Noobs – Part 2

In Part 1 of the Email Marketing for Noobs series, I explained the benefit of permission-based email marketing, and how to stay within your recipient’s circle of trust.

The Circle of Trust

Part 2 goes one-step further and helps you get the most out of your email campaigns and efforts.

 

Be a Trusted Email Sender

Pinky-Promise-Blake-Shelton-Gif

There’s no better way to be successful with email marketing than to send emails recipients actually want to open, read and share. The best way to do this is to only send messages that provide some sort of value.

If you’re a small business without much to say or offer, sending an email once a month, or quarter, is enough. If you’re a business that regularly generates valuable content, or consistently provides exclusive offers or discounts, multiple emails a week or month may still be effective.

Don’t send emails just because it seems like it’s been a while since the last one was sent out. Instead, only send emails when there’s something significant to offer.

The recipient doesn’t care how often they receive an email from a brand. Their only concern is the value of each and every email.

Otherwise, you’re just sending something that will end up in their trash.


 

Personalize the Email Address

Hello my name is noreply

When someone views their inbox the first thing they’re looking for is names they recognize. These names can be friends and family, colleagues or brands. People know which people and businesses they enjoy communicating with (or receiving communications from), and open these emails first.

Names that recipients recognize stand out and prompt them to open the message. Names they don’t recognize are left unopened until later, or even ignored completely.

Email addresses like:

Don’t look personal. These are email addresses which often send out mass-messages. There’s nothing personal about these names and people are rarely persuaded to believe they are.

Recipients don’t have the time or desire to open these types of emails. If they don’t instantly recognize the email address they probably won’t open it at all.

When choosing the email address that’ll be used to send out marketing messages, pick one that looks like it’s from a real person; not some faceless, automated robot.

Consider:

 

 

Write an Honest and Clear Subject Line

The most important part of every single email is the subject line. This single line often decides whether an email will be opened, ignored, deleted or marked as spam.

no spam

In 50 characters or less, a subject line must explain the purpose and intent of an email, invoke a reaction, stand out or detail its value; sometimes all four. A subject line is responsible for getting the recipient to open.

Don’t be too clever when writing subject lines; it’s often better to be straightforward than write something so witty it’s misunderstood. Five – ten words aren’t enough to explain context and it’s easy for a subject line to be misinterpreted if it isn’t direct.

Don’t attempt to hide the emails purpose or trick the recipient into opening the message based on a few words.

Homer Simpsons opening can of snakes

If the email is asking the recipient to take a specific action, requesting information, or attempting to sell something, make this clear. This is the difference between trying to capture leads by quantity over quality.

If the email is only for a small group of people interested in a very specific topic, use the subject line to be transparent. If only a handful of people open the email, but all are interested in whatever the email’s topic, this is far better than 1000 opens and only 5 interested recipients.

Effective subject line writing involves a practice that makes many marketers uncomfortable; honesty and transparency. Tell recipients what the email is about, briefly, and make sure to live up to that promise.

 

Write a Less-Formal Email

When people send and receive emails they typically don’t expect perfectly worded, eloquent and professional messages. Email is a quick-form of communication that is generally used for close friends, family and colleagues. Even inter-office email has a casual feel to it.

Don’t write emails that sound like they should appear below a company’s letter head.

Effective online marketing requires understanding how people communicate on different platforms, and adapting. A message on Facebook shouldn’t look the same as a brochure, and an email shouldn’t look like a sales-pitch.

Email is often quick, more relaxed and less rigid than other forms of business communication. As a brand, it’s important to recognize this difference and adapt.

Write emails like they’re to a close friend. Speak casually, without the need to sound so buttoned-up and professional.

This doesn’t mean a brand should always use emoticons or social media abbreviations, but it does mean they don’t always need to be avoided. What’s more important is that each message is written for the intended recipient.

The key is to learn, and then speak, their language.

 

Each Email Must Provide Actual Value

Don’t just send an email for the purpose of sending an email.

Emails should be sent every week, or month, ONLY if there is something new and unique to say every week or month. Emails should never be sent out for the sole purpose of reminding recipients the business exists.

The best time to send an email is when there’s something interesting or value to provide to recipients, and only if it’s unique and exclusive.

If a business has a coupon to give to recipients, this is an example of good value. However, sending the same exact email the next week is an example of a non-unique or non-exclusive message. The better strategy is to send out a different coupon, with a different offer.

While it is true that recipients occasionally overlook emails and may not have seen one the first time around, it’s more likely they did see it and just didn’t feel it was relevant.

If a brand created an amazing eBook and wants to send it to all of the email addresses they have, the brand shouldn’t send an email every week with the same wording, images and links. Instead, switch it up and make it appear like different messages.

Consider this strategy:

  1. First Email – Alert recipients to the creation of a new eBook and include an exclusive link only they can access (with the input of their email address).
  2. Second Email – Remind them about the eBook and let them know that if they Tweet the link and @mention the brand, they’ll be signed up for a special contest.
  3. Third Email – Update recipients about the value and success of the eBook and let them know other people are talking about it online and social media. Embed some reviews, social shares or testimonials.
  4. Fourth Email – Let them know the link will expire on a set date, but tell them they can request a PDF version of the eBook by sending an email to: eBook@BrandName.com

 

Only send messages when there’s something interesting to say, or don’t send anything at all.

 

Blog originally posted on “A Working Progress” @ BecauseYouGoogledMe.com

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Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content Marketing: The Art of Selling Without Selling

 

No one wants to see a sales brochure.

Nobody opens emails they know is going to sell them something.

Everyone hates getting an unsolicited sales call while they’re eating dinner.

People don’t like being “sold.” They probably never did, but in today’s world of spam filters, ad blockers and caller ID, it’s even easier for people to ignore a sales pitch.

People are busy, living their own lives, dealing with their own problems, and securing their finances. No matter how much a business owner believes their product or service will solve the world’s problems, it probably won’t; and people don’t have the time or interest to be told how much better their life will be if they spend their time or money.

The sooner businesses accept this reality, the sooner we as a business community can come together and find better ways to “sell.”

 

The Answer is Content Marketing

It’s the art of selling, without selling.

Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of interesting, valuable or relevant content, for free.

That’s right; it’s just given away, for free.

“Free” is the most beautiful word in the world to every consumer. It’s also the most hated word for every business owner. But businesses stay in business because of consumers, not because of business owners.

No consumers means no business, so if consumers want free, then free is what they should get.

 

Not Just Any Kind of Free

The idea isn’t to give away products or services for free, but rather to share valuable content. This content can be:

  • A blog which provides insights to a specific industry or market.
  • A case study, or white paper, with valuable data findings discovered through research.
  • An entertaining video that makes viewers laugh.

Not all content needs to be serious; some of it can be fun. The types of content that should be created are catered to the target audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.

 

Every Company Needs to Be a Media Company

What do RedBull, GoPro and Lego have in common?

They’re all media companies.

These companies, and plenty of others, are media companies in addition to their primary business. These brands create and share content that goes viral, and is enjoyed by more people than actually buy their products.

But convincing every person that views their content to buy their product isn’t their goal. Instead, these companies focus on building brand awareness and creating positive brand images. These companies have a customer-focused content marketing strategy.

In return, these brands have some of the most loyal customers, and fans, in the world.

The reason is because they’ve provided free value to their audience, and in return only asked for them to tell a friend, or consider them the next time they make a purchase.

The Lego Movie was incredibly popular, and didn’t ask a single audience member to buy a Lego set; but because they created an entertaining and humorous movie, people went out and bought Legos anyway.

While most companies don’t have the resources to match what these brands are doing, the strategy still works for small and medium sized businesses as well. Create interesting content, and share it with people that may find it valuable; and then do it again, and again.

 

But Don’t Just Believe Me

I’m not breaking any new ground here with this blog, and the concept of companies becoming media companies has long been discussed in the marketing world.

Take a look at a few articles I believe explain it best:

 

The Competition is (Almost) Infinite

The internet is filled with content. The options to be informed and entertained are nearly infinite. Not only are brands competing with other brands in their industry, they’re competing with brands in other industries, along with people’s friends and family.

There are countless websites, platforms and applications which compete for people’s attention. Even within each of these exist a vast array of competitors.

On social media and email inboxes, brand messages can appear above pictures of a family member, and below an ad for a Fortune 500 Company.

The goal is to stand out, find a niche, and share something interesting. To do this, the amount, and quality, of content must continue to increase and improve. For businesses to stand out, they must create content quickly, regularly, and effectively.

This is why every company needs to become a media company.

 

In Other Words…

“Whether you like it or not, every person is now a media company. The tools are easy, free, and everywhere. More importantly, producing content is now the BASELINE for all brands and companies. It literally doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what industry you operate in, if you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist. So what’s your excuse?”

Gary Vaynerchuk

So what's your excuse Gary Vaynerchuk Quote

 

“It doesn’t matter if a company makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it’s neighbors. It needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc. And now with this emerging two-way Internet it also needs to learn how to listen.”

Tom Foremski

Tom Foremski Quote

 

Originally posted on “A Working Progress” @ BecauseYouGoogledMe.com

What’s in a Creative Brief?

A creative brief should be a stand-alone document, which speaks for itself. Often, briefs will be passed from one creative person to another, without any background, context or explanation. If you’re lucky, you may receive an email, or a call, asking for clarification; but there is no guarantee.

This single document can be used to design entire campaigns, or provide direction for a single graphic. All of the research that’s been performed, conversations with the client, and market analysis, must be translated into a 1 – 2 page brief.

But just like getting to Carnegie Hall, all it takes practice (practice, practice).

Here’s an overview of the key components to any effective creative brief. Feel free to use this as a template for your own creative briefs.

Timing and Deliverables

Desks get messy, and sometimes things get overlooked. Putting the most important information at the top will make it easier to set priorities. A quick glance at any creative brief should remind you of deadlines and expectations.
Answer the question, “what and when?” This is where you put the most basic of requirements, and place it prominently.

Overview

People are busy at work, managing multiple projects, answering emails, and attending meetings. Don’t force people to re-read an entire brief every time. Instead, summarize the most important information in the overview section. This section, along with the timing and deliverables section should provide enough info to remind them what’s required.
Explain the work needed and provide only the most important information. This section should summarize the entire brief, for quick reference and recollection. Save this section until the very end; after you know exactly what the rest of the brief contains.

Objective

Every marketing piece has a purpose. Most often, it’s to encourage a consumer to take a specific action. It’s important to know what you want a consumer to do before you start working on it. If you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s easier to stay focused.
Know what you want the consumer to do, and state it clearly. If there are specific calls-to-action, include them. It’s important to understand the goal of each creative piece before starting the work.

Most Important Thing(s)

Similar to the objective, understanding the primary goals is essential. Where the objective details the purpose, the most important thing(s) lists mandatory elements, specific rules or essential things to include.
If there are elements or considerations which must be used, communicated, or included, list them in order of importance. The purpose of this section is to let the creative person know, that any work missing these thing(s) will be considered incomplete.

Target Audience and Insights

When you attempt to target everyone, you end up reaching no one. Know your audience, their pain-points and interests. Messaging should always communicate with audiences the way they communicate.
Briefly define the target audience. Reference market research or reports which can more thoroughly describe the demographic. Explain who the creative is for, and how communicate with them.

Messaging and Copy

Words can be persuasive. They can be controversial. Words can provoke reflection, initiate action, or make a person smile. Know what you want to say, and how it should be said.
If there are specific phrases or keywords that should be included, add them here. Provide direction to the copywriter, by defining communication styles, and the brand’s voice. If the creative will be used online, be sure to add SEO keywords and anchor text.

Design and Graphics

In the marketing world, looks are everything. In a rapidly refreshing environment like the internet, visual elements must stand out, or risk being ignored.
Describe the look and feel of the creative. If there’s a theme, make sure it’s explained. Any required elements, such as logos, trademarks, or product images, should be included.
Try to avoid telling an artist how to design, but give enough information and direction to get them on the right track.

Considerations and References

The structure of this brief places the key information at the top, and provides enough specific details to get started. A brief should be formal and consistent, since this one document may be seen by multiple creatives, who may or may not have context.
However, this is where you should break free from the formalities, and give any other information that may help get the work completed.
If there are previous marketing materials that are similar, reference them. If the client wants the piece to match something they’ve seen from a competitor, add a link. Anything else that can help, add it here. The more information you can provide, the better the final product.

 

Say Goodbye to Father-Son Bonding; A Sam & Cat in the Cradle Tribute

Ariana_Grande-Same_&_Cat-Nickelodeon-Cancelled-UpRoxx

Playing catch. Going fishing. Sharing that first beer. Father-son bonding is a cherished tradition. But today, that tradition has taken a tragic hit. Watching Sam & Cat was an experience fathers and sons could share. As a children’s show on Nickelodeon, turning on Sam & Cat wouldn’t get Mother asking questions. It’s a kid’s show. On a kid’s network. About babysitting. What’s the harm?

“Sonny Boy is in good hands,” Father would say to Mother. “I’m just taking an interest in the things Sonny Boy likes,” he’d continue. And Mother would be pleased. “I’m just happy their spending quality time together,” she’d think to herself. And then she’d leave the room, off to tell her network of gossipers what a great Father he was.

So Father and Son would enjoy the show, together. Chuckling alongside the artificial laughter of the audience. Getting caught up in the suspense of yet another babysitting dilemma. And Son would enjoy the adventures of Sam & Cat. And Father would enjoy the double entendres. Son would take pleasure in whacky high jinks and low-brow jokes. And Father would take pleasure in whack-able short shorts and low cut shirts. And both Father and Son would bond. For different reasons, but nevertheless together.

And isn’t that what truly matters. Regardless of how creepy Father is, as long as he’s creepy with his Son, at least they’re bonding.

But today we say goodbye to father-son bonding, with a Sam & Cat in the Cradle tribute.

 

 

Say it First and Make it Wicked

It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow. 

Have you experienced live-tweeting? You know, the digital version of note-passing in class. The act of telling ‘Yo Mama” jokes to strangers watching the same show. A cultural phenomenon which involves being the first to troll the entertainment you choose to watch.

The concept is unique. Unlike anything we’ve seen throughout communication history. Real-time discussions about the topics we care about. No other medium allows people to share their thoughts, opinions or jokes to mass audiences, instantly. Unfiltered. It’s theoretically and technically revolutionary.

So of course businesses see dollar signs. Wherever people go, and whatever they see or hear, will attract advertising. Live-tweeting is today’s untapped advertising resource. Brands are joining the discussions; getting involved and trying to attract and engage. But just because brands are learning to show up to the party, doesn’t mean their invited inside.

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards aired this past weekend. ABC was smart enough to know they need to be part of the discussion. #Billboards2014 and #BillboardAwards were trending hashtags all night. And ABC made sure to stamp the entire broadcast with their hashtag of choice; encouraging viewers to join the conversation and live-tweet. Viewers listened. Topics, thoughts and jokes streamed throughout the Twitterverse. On paper, it worked.

But what ABC missed, or more specifically, couldn’t have predicted, was an even bigger trend.

Lorde-Performing-at-Billboard-Music-Awards-2014

When Lorde performed, Twitter went crazy.

 

Was everyone making the same exact correlation simultaneously? Was Lorde so obviously a Wicked Witch of the West clone that the analogy created itself? Or did one person make the joke and everyone followed? Probably a bit of both.

Neither ABC nor the Billboard Music Awards could have predicted this trend. No marketer could. It was fluid. Organic. Original. Memorable. Obvious. People saw the joke and understood, immediately, there was truth behind the punchline.

Live-tweeting, and social media as a whole, is filled with these examples. Brands spend money trying to get people talking. And then some random person, with no real influence one-ups the pros and finds success.

For the digital marketing and advertising industry to find success on social media, pre-packaged and planned messages will never work. They’re too safe. Too scripted. Too perfect. And in business, the safe way almost always gets chosen.

Which works out for the few people and brands willing to cross the line. To make the insight, joke or observation we’re all thinking, but not quick enough (or brave enough) to post.

Let’s hypothetical:

If the first person to post the “Wicked Witch of the West,” comment was secretly a marketing advocate for the release of a new, re-mastered version of the Wizard of Oz, how many extra DVDs would they have helped sell?

Or, what if this person was actually the social media marketer in charge of promoting WICKED the musical? And the day after starting the “Wicked Witch of the West” trend, you saw a commercial for the musical. Would you be more inclined to buy because it was fresh in your mind?

Business and brands can’t plan for these unscripted life moments. But when they happen, and people are willing to listen, an unrivaled marketing channel opens. It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow.

 

 

GameTime-Gives-Thanks-Holiday-Event-Flyer

I Tend Toward Modesty; But Let Me Explain.

 

In October of 2013, I was challenged to create a one day event at the GameTime – Tampa venue. The goal, as assigned by the CEO, was to get as many people possible in venue, on a single day. The underlying problem, as the CEO saw it, was the GameTime – Tampa venue was still unknown in the area, and too many potential customers were unaware the venue existed. My mission was to create, develop, promote and organize this one day event, with an “as needed,” and “case-by-case” budget.

As the Director of Marketing, with a single, part-time graphic designer working under me, it was my responsibility to first research the demographic near the GameTime – Tampa venue. While researching and analyzing the data, a concept began to emerge.

With the end-of-year holiday season quickly approaching, I realized a tie-in would be beneficial. The concept I began strategizing, was to piggyback upon Black Friday; with a twist. As Black Friday is a day when consumers are encouraged to spend, GameTime would have a day encouraging guests to save. The promotion became known as “GameTime Gives Thanks,” and was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. For an entire day, GameTime – Tampa would offer unlimited and free video arcade game play for all guests. The promotion centered its messaging around the idea of: “being thankful for all the guests that visit and pay to keep GameTime’s doors open, and GameTime would like to give back with a day of free video games.”

As Director of Marketing at GameTime, my responsibilities are vast and multifaceted. I solely manage Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. I manage, edit and create all content for the website, utilizing a WordPress CMS. I develop, create and implement daily and weekly promotions, design marketing collateral and write all copy. I manage the sole, part-time graphic designer; along with supervise the sales/event coordinators at each of the six GameTime venues. And to succeed with this particular marketing campaign, I had to include each of these responsibilities.

In one month, I designed the GameTime Gives Thanks logo, tagline and description. Utilizing a creative brief I wrote, along with a series of mock-up designs I created in Photoshop, I assigned the graphic designer to develop content for: posters, social media posts, emails, in-store collateral, flyers and direct mailers. I used this artwork to schedule and send daily/weekly social media posts and emails. Facebook promoted posts and ads were used to increase impressions and engagement. I wrote and submitted a press release. A street team was created, under my supervision, to distribute “Golden Ticket” die-cut flyers, promoting the event. A Google AdWords campaign was implemented to promote targeted keywords in the geographic area. A direct mailer was designed and distributed to over 25 thousand local residents. All work was created, designed, scheduled, organized, supervised, written and promoted by me.

As a result, on Saturday, November 30, 2013, GameTime – Tampa saw an increase in guests of over 1000%. Despite all video games being free for the day, sales of food and drink were higher than comparable days, along with an increase in birthday party bookings. In fact, there was a line of over 100 people waiting outside the door before opening. This has never occurred on any other day in GameTime history.

Overall I am abundantly proud of what I accomplished, with little outside assistance. I was provided an open-ended challenge, and went above-and-beyond with success. But I  tend toward modesty, so let me explain. I did not accomplish all of this by myself. The graphic designer played a big role in creating the final artwork. Constant Contact made emailing a targeted list simpler. The sales/event coordinators, along with street team members worked the phones and streets to interact and promote the event face-to-face. PRWeb helped distribute the press release I wrote. Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest all assisted with attracting and engaging an audience online. And of course the CEO and COO provided funds and guidance. Without any, or all, of these people, groups and platforms, the “GameTime Gives Thanks” event would have never succeeded.

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-Pie-Chart-Favorite-Bars-BecauseYouGoogledMe

1st World Digital Marketing Problems

 

In essence, we must fail to succeed. – Daniel M. Christensen

What can you learn from reading LinkedIn updates? That everyone is an expert. Regardless of their field, every professional is convinced they must prove they have all the answers. Because of the inherent self-promotional attitude necessary, marketing professionals suffer from this “guru-mentality” at much higher percentages. Every marketer, especially in the digital realm, is convinced their methods will lead to success. They’ve tested, perfected and out-performed all of their peers.

The truth is, however, most digital marketers simply pick-and-choose segments of data, test results and insights to “Frankenstein” their own personal creed. No marketer likes to admit they’re still learning.

Luckily this method works. Too many executives, bosses and decision-makers know too little about the industry. They hear their business must exist online, but don’t know how truly make it grow. They understand social media is culture’s latest “fad,” and believe simply existing on Facebook will grow their business.

They want success, but don’t always believe in investing in true talent. True success comes from true talent. Talent’s the offspring of competition. To compete is to fail. And to fail is to learn. In essence, we must fail to succeed.

But before one can succeed, it is necessary to teach the inexperienced. In today’s corporate environment, all people, regardless of title, must keep social media in their mind. Today, no business-related action lives in isolation. It is crucial to include marketing teams in most business decisions, since each decision affects customers. And marketing teams are often the first point-of-contact for many customers. Whether through social media, email, or online review, customer’s opinions are often first heard by marketing teams.

Unfortunately, too many people are still unsure what digital marketing entails. It’s time we discussed today’s most common misconceptions.

1st World Digital Marketing Problems:

What my Boss thinks I do…

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-Pie-Chart-Favorite-Bars-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What my Co-Workers think I do…

Hamster-on-a-Piano-Derek-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What the Accounting Department thinks I do…

The-Joker-Burns-Money-Stack-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What the Web Designer thinks I do…

Zoolander-Files-in-Computer-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What the I.T. Guy thinks I do…

Hackers-I-Want-a-Cookie-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What Google Search thinks I do…

Cats-and-Kitties-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What my Customer’s Inbox thinks I do…

Hoarding-Burried-Alive-Newspapers-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What my Grandmother thinks I do…

Iron-Man-2-Touch-Screen-Scene-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What my Friends think I do…

South-Park-World-of-Warcraft-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What my Optometrist thinks I do…

Clockwork-Orange-Treatment-Scene-BecauseYouGoogledMe

 

What Teenagers think I do…

A-Night-at-the-Roxbury-BecauseYouGoogledMe