Responsive email newsletters

Optimizing Your Email for Mobile Devices With the Media Query
Wide emails often require horizontal scrolling, especially when there’s a large image. This case study by Campaign Monitor explains how emails can be optimized for mobile devices using media queries and offers a couple of useful techniques and snippets to be used right away.

Optimizing your email for mobile devices with the @media query - Blog - Campaign Monitor

Responsive Design for Email, the Largest Mobile Audience
Another interesting case study that shows how the development team behind Beanstalk applied screen-size-specific media queries to target styles, and what design decisions were made to make the mobile email experience better.

Wildbit » Responsive design for email – the largest mobile audience - Thoughts on building web apps, businesses, and virtual teams

Media Queries in HTML Emails
This article covers using media queries to target specific mobile email clients.

Guide to CSS Support in Email
Designing an HTML email that renders consistently across major email clients can be time-consuming. Support for even simple CSS varies considerably between clients, and even different versions of the same client. Campaign Monitor has put together a guide to save you the time and frustration of figuring it out for yourself. With 24 different email clients tested, it covers all of the popular applications across desktop, Web and mobile email.

Guide to CSS support in email - Articles & Tips - Campaign Monitor

5 steps to determine optimal e-mail frequency

5 steps to determine optimal e-mail frequency

You know there’s a delicate balance between infrequent email communications and bombarding your email recipients with messages to the point that they opt out. Maybe you’re interested in ramping up your email marketing in 2012 but don’t want to see all your hard lead generation work go to waste by increasing your sending frequency. How do you know what email sending frequency is the right frequency for your subscriber list?

If you guessed “test,” you’re right on the money! While we’ve performed tests and released research on email sending frequency, every brand’s email marketing campaign objectives and subscriber lists are unique and thus require fine-tuned testing to determine appropriate sending frequency.

So how do you get started with an email send frequency test? Many people have been nervous about performing this test for fear of ruining their lead generation efforts, but it really is quite simple. Let’s break down the steps you can take to perform this test so you can start understanding how often you should communicate with your email subscribers.

Step 1 – Establish Your Hypotheses

Take yourself back to high school science class, and channel your favorite lab partner. It’s important to determine what specific results you expect to see from these tests so you can identify success.

For example, you might hypothesize that increasing your email send frequency from once a week to three times a week will increase your click-through rate by 35%, or perhaps it will increase the number of “wheat bread” leads that move to the prospecting stage as a result of your nurturing by 15%. Or perhaps you have an unnervingly high opt-out rate, and you think decreasing your email send rate from daily to every other day will also decrease your number of unsubscribes. You can (and should!) create more than one hypothesis to make the most out of these tests, and be extremely specific with the terms of your hypothesis.

Step 2 – Choose a List Segment

Think of this as your sample size. Since your email list is already segmented (right?), select one segment that you will test, and ensure it is sizable enough to provide meaningful data. Make sure the list segment you select also aligns with the hypotheses you are testing. For example, if you are testing for an increased offer click-through rate targeted toward prospects, it isn’t wise to test on a customer list segment. Instead, you might decide to choose a sample (a sample, not the entire list) from your blog subscriber list that is not only sizable enough to provide meaningful data, but is also used to receiving emails with offers from you.

Step 3 – Establish Baseline Metrics

Now that you know what you want to test and on whom, you can establish your current performance metrics for that sample. This step is crucial, because you need something against which to measure the results of your test. Note the email marketing metrics you’ll need in order to determine success in your test such as your open rate, deliverability rate, unsubscribe rate, and click-through rate for that particular sample.

And don’t be afraid to expand your scope beyond traditional email marketing metrics to website performance metrics. For example, if you were to use the hypothesis of increasing an offer’s click-through rate, you would also be interested to know how many of the email recipients not only clicked through the email offer, but also completed the form required to obtain their offer.

Step 4 – Create and Schedule Your Test Emails

Create a handful of test emails to rotate through the list sample, following your regular email marketing best practices. Now is not the time to experiment with creative new subject lines, test a new sender in the “from” field, or create a new email template. These types of content changes can skew your results, and should be reserved for a separate set of tests.

Once you’ve created the emails, schedule them for the sending frequency you outlined in your hypothesis. For tests that exceed a week in duration, be sure to select the same days and times so as not to add another variable to the equation, as time of day and day of week has been known to skew results. Again, this is an important test to perform, but reserve it for another time.

Step 5 – Measure and Analyze Results

Measure your results against the hypotheses you established in the beginning and the baseline results you recorded. You should monitor results frequently throughout the experiment, too, so you can respond to any dramatic swings that may crop up because of your change in emailing frequency.

Are the results you’re seeing positive? Do they confirm the hypotheses you’ve outlined? Do they allow you to increase your email send even more to see positive gains to your bottom line without sacrificing things like the size or quality of your list? Or is a decrease in sending what’s in order? Now that you have a new baseline for success, iterate off of it by beginning a new email test, whether for frequency, template design, subject line, message copy, offer content, or any other host of items you can test to make your email marketing more effective.

How to integrate Search Engine and Email Marketing

In the world of inbound marketing, integrating tactics provides marketers with incredible leverage. However, integration can often be challenging because individual marketing tactics sometime exist in silos with little collaboration. This is especially true with an unlikely power couple, search engine optimization and email marketing.

Search engine optimization is likely a strong source of traffic and leads for you already. And email marketing is most companies’ primary inbound lead generation channel. While both tactics rock on their own, they experience some exciting amplification when combined. Let’s look at a few ways we can combine search and email for even more leads!

Here are 7 Ways to Integrate Search Engine and Email Marketing

1. Distribute Link Building Content Through Email – Yes, email is mainly about lead generation. But don’t be short-sighted in your lead generation efforts. Search engine traffic can provide a steady flow of quality leads over time. For many companies, email marketing is their largest channel for marketing reach.

Emailing lead generation-based offers is definitely a great idea, but by also distributing content like infographics or awesome blog posts occasionally via email, you can improve the reach and, subsequently, the inbound links and authority of the pages where that content resides. In the future, you could then replace the content on that page with an awesome lead generation offer to take advantage of all of the search engine traffic the page is getting.

2. Optimize for the Best Lead Generation Topics – Look at your email data. Which offers and topics have the best open and click-through rates? If you have been doing email marketing for a while, then you probably have great historical data related to your lead generation efforts. Use this data to help you prioritize your search engine optimization efforts. Then optimize for the top-performing keywords and offers from your email campaigns.

3. Test Offer Conversion Prior to an Email Send – You don’t have to email an offer to your list the second it’s completed. Instead, you can use traffic from search engines, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and your blog to take a look at the conversion rate of the landing page and the offer. Use this data to make tweaks and improvements to the content or its landing page before sending it out to your entire list.

4. Use PPC to Boost Email Click-Through Rate (CTR) – In the crowded world of inbound marketing, your prospects usually need to be exposed to your ideas several times before they will convert. When planning your next big email send for lead generation, plan a PPC campaign that starts the day before and lasts a few days after the email send to help provide additional support for the email and its offer. The awareness built through these PPC ads can help increase click-through rates for your emails.

5. Search Engine Optimize Landing Pages – Don’t hide your landing pages! Landing pages are key to your inbound marketing success. Make sure that, beyond sending them out in marketing emails, you take the time to optimize the content of your landing pages for search engines. This means killer page titles, a great URL structure, and relevant copy optimized with keywords on the page itself.

6. Focus on Email Sharing for Link Building – Part of building links for search engine optimization is getting your content in front of as many people as possible. Simply sending out content to build links just isn’t enough. Instead, add social sharing links to the content you are promoting in your email. Include a quick message that also encourages folks to forward the email to their peers.

7. Use PPC to Test Email Subject Lines – Subject lines are a huge part of email marketing success. Instead of simply guessing which subject line you think will work best, use PPC to collect data on subject line options. Create five subject lines. Run a different PPC ad for each subject line. After you’ve accumulated enough data, determine which subject line had the highest click-through rate, and use it for your email send.

Guaranteed ways to annoy your Email recipients

Without a doubt, email marketing can be a powerful lever in your inbound marketing mix. It can help you nurture prospects, connect with existing customers, distribute your content, and yes, generates tons of coveted leads for your business.

But that said, email can be tricky, and there is a fine line between sending contacts in your database emails they want to open and enjoy reading, and ticking them off. And the price of ticking them off? An email database that atrophies at a much higher rate. As you create your email marketing strategy and the specific emails that it includes, use this checklist to avoid rubbing your email recipients the wrong way.

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Tick Off Your Email Database

1. Violating CAN-SPAM Laws: Are you still emailing people who have already opted out of your database? Perhaps you’re just not making it possible for people to opt out in the first place. Do these things, and you’ll not only make your email recipients angry, but you’re also likely to get into some legal trouble. First and foremost, make sure you understand and adhere to CAN-SPAM legislation.

2. Failing to Include Your Company Logo or Visual Brand Recognition: Make it so your recipients can immediately tell who your email is from when they open it. Not including a company logo or some visually identifiable image that they automatically associate with your brand might cause them to believe it’s spam and prevent them from even reading your email in the first place.

3. Not Optimizing the Alt Text of Your Images: If your email client doesn’t display images by default, well…things can get pretty ugly. Be sure to edit the alt text of each image you include with descriptive keywords (not the default file name like img_3058), or you’ll come off as sloppy and unprofessional to your email recipients.

4. Having Nothing to Offer: You shouldn’t be emailing your database just for the sake of emailing them. People open email because they want to get something from it. Make sure you’re including an offer of some sort — whether it’s premium content, a discount/coupon, or some other special opportunity just for them. 

5. Providing No Value: To piggyback off of number 4, you also need to make sure that whatever you’re offering in your email is valuable to your audience. Be sure you’re optimizing your emails to include your top offers. Emailing just any old thing is a guaranteed way to entice your email recipients to opt out.

6. Including Too Many Offers: Furthermore, including multiple calls-to-action for different offers in your email is the perfect way to confuse your recipients and encourage them to click ‘delete.’ As a best practice, stick with just one offer per email. You can include more than one call-to-action in your email, but make sure they are all promoting the same offer.

7. Not Segmenting Your List: Most likely, your email database doesn’t include a one-size-fits-all group of contacts. And likely, your products and services cater to different types of personas. Treat your email database that way. Segment your list into various groups, and send those groups personalized emails that target their specific wants and needs. Sending email messages that are broadly targeted, not relevant, and mostly impersonal is a great way to whittle your list down to nothing.

8. Making Emails Too Lengthy, Difficult to Read, and Not Easily Scannable: Chances are, your email isn’t the only one sitting in your recipients’ inboxes. Likely, your readers will only give your email a few moments to capture their attention, so make sure it’s brief, to the point, easy to scan, and has clear, concise language that makes it simple to read and understand quickly. Create an eye path with bold fonts, links, and bullet points to help readers skim; use colorful language; and communicate the offer with simple text, not fancy jargon.

9. Omitting Social Media Sharing Buttons/Links: If you’ve gotten the reader past the hurdle of reading the email and valuing its contents, don’t make it difficult for them to share it! If a recipient has to copy/paste links within your email to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you’re doing it wrong. Include social media sharing links and buttons in every email you send to make it easy for your contacts to spread your messages if they want to, which will (BONUS) also expand your email’s reach!

10. Sending Emails When Everyone Else Sends Them: It doesn’t matter if your contact loves receiving and reading your emails. If that person’s inbox is flooded with emails from vendors all at the same time, they’ll likely bulk delete them just to purge their inbox of all that annoying “spam.” When sending emails, consider times when your competitors email and try counter-competitive timing so your email reaches recipients’ inboxes at time when they’re under less water.

11. Sending Emails Too Frequently (or Infrequently): Don’t spam your list! While our own data shows that businesses might not be emailing enough, don’t cross the line between being top-of-mind and annoying. Furthermore, understand the habits of your target audience. Every business and industry is different. Some audiences might be more receptive to more frequent messages, while others might tap out at a certain number in a given time period. Test your frequency to determine the optimal number of times to email your database in a given time. And be sure you’re segmenting! 

12. Continuing to Email Inactive List Members: Every email database has inactive members. These are people who religiously delete the emails you send (or worse — mark them as spam) but are too lazy to opt out of your list. Continuing to email inactive members is annoying to those members, and it can also mess with your emails’ deliverability to other recipients who actually want to receive and read your email content. Take a deep breath, and just remove those contacts on your list who haven’t interacted with your email marketing in the last 120 days.

Ways to keep Facebook fans from unliking your page

Your Facebook fan base is an incredibly powerful marketing asset. You should be aiming to grow the number of fans of your business page in order to continually expand your reach. At the very least, you should be looking to retain the fans you already have. But they already “Liked” your page, so you shouldn’t have to do much to keep them, right? Well, as it turns out, not only is this not true, but it’s actually a very dangerous assumption to make.

Last fall, Facebook came out with the “Unlike” button, which allows fans to unsubscribe from business pages. According to a recent study by DDB and OpinionWay, this button could have serious implications for your Facebook page, considering the study found that 2 out of every 5 Facebook users “Unlike” business pages.

A survey to find out why fans unsubscribe from brand pages revealed the following reasons:

Reasons for Facebook unlikes

In another study conducted by ExactTarget and CoTweet earlier this year, research revealed that the top 4 reasons for fans hitting the “Unlike” button were companies posting too frequently (44%), fans’ desire to get rid of the clutter of marketing posts on their wall (43%), content becoming repetitive or boring over time (38%), and that fans only “Liked” the page to take advantage of a one-time offer (26%).

With these daunting percentages, it may seem like the odds are stacked against you when it comes to retaining your Facebook fans. However, there are many things that you can do to avoid high “Unlike” rates.

4 Ways to Keep Fans From “Unliking” Your Page

1. Keep your posts interesting. The top two reasons fans unsubscribe from a page are because they’ve lost interest in the company or they’ve lost interest in the information the company is publishing. This means that your top strategy for retaining fans should be to publish interesting content. Don’t be repetitive or boring! No one likes to see the same messages in their news feeds over and over again. Facebook is social media, which means people are looking to have fun and read interesting things. Next time you write a status update or post a link to some content, ask yourself, “Does this sound exciting enough to make my fans want to read it?” If not, try to find a way to make it more interesting before you hit that “Post” button.

2. Publish relevant, valuable content. Not only should the content you publish be interesting, it should also be relevant and valuable to your fans. Make your posts informative and helpful. Think education, not marketing pitch. The point of content marketing is to establish yourself as a thought leader and educate your reader base, thereby enticing them to want to learn more about your product and offers. So don’t use Facebook for direct sales. Use it for engagement that generates leads.

3. Find a good balance for publishing frequency. Another top reason fans hit the “Unlike” button is because the company publishes too often, which gives fans of the page the feeling that they’re being flooded with updates. This can very easily become overwhelming and/or annoying, making it far more likely that fans will choose to unsubscribe from the page. On the other hand, though, 14% have “Unliked” a page because the company didn’t publish often enough. Publishing too infrequently leads the fans to either feel like there’s no point in remaining subscribed to the page, since they’re not getting any updates, or to lose interest in the company (and its page) and choose to unsubscribe. Find a posting frequency that maintains a good balance between these two extremes so you can keep your fans satisfied but still hungry for more. Which brings us to the final point…

4. Keep them coming back for more. The ExactTarget and CoTweet study we mentioned earlier found that 26% of Facebook users only “Liked” a business page to take advantage of a one-time offer. Running a Facebook contest or promotional offer can be a great strategy for attracting more fans to your page, but don’t let it stop there. Once they have “Liked” your page, keep them engaged. Give them more reasons to be excited they are fans of your page, whether it’s new offers, unique content, exciting company and industry updates, or fun games, quizzes, and contests. In other words, make your fans glad they found your page through that one-time offer, not because of that one-time offer alone.

There’s no shortage of ways to take advantage of a large fan base on Facebook to improve your marketing and extend your reach. So keep drawing in the fans, and once they’ve “Liked” you, use these tips to show them you’re too awesome to even consider “Unliking.”