Small business owners who have an e-mail marketing program in place know full well how important it is for their messages to make it to their recipients’ inboxes. E-mail clients have all sorts of clever ways of keeping your e-mail messages away from their users, all in the name of SPAM control.
We know our readers have opted in to our list and are just sitting there at their computers waiting for our newsletter to arrive! But the sad fact is the email clients don’t know this, and are using their best algorithms to determine if our message is SPAM or not.
Even a few percentage point increase in deliverability can make a huge difference in the bottom line. Here are two things I did with my own newsletter recently that made an immediate significant difference in getting my email to inboxes.
I know they BOTH worked because I did them at different times and saw results.
The text that appears in the From field of an email can be customized via the settings on your email campaign. The best From address is your company’s name. There are several reasons for this, but the main ones are recognition and avoiding spam filters.
First, using your company name consistently in all the emails you send will get your readers accustomed to seeing your name, and it will become more memorable to them over time.
Second, company names are more likely to make it through SPAM filters. For example, using the From text “Free Advertising” would be a red flag, even if that’s what your company does. Plus it doesn’t sound like a company name and a reader might assume it’s SPAM anyway, even if it makes it through.
When you set your email provider settings to “track opens” (this is probably a check box on one of your campaign screens), your email will automatically get a teeny little image inserted into it. This image is not visible to the reader, it’s usually transparent and is so small that it’s impossible to detect by a human.
However, the existence of this image (it’s called a “tracking beacon“) is one of the things junk mail filtering mechanisms look for when deciding what goes into the junk bin. This is because the tracking beacon, when loaded by an email client, can talk back to the computer that sent the email, telling it the email message was opened. This is the only way opens can be tracked.
When you turn off the “track opens” setting, it will make your email more likely to bypass the junk mail filter. Yes, it also means that you won’t be able to track open rates, but open rates are inaccurate anyway (I’ll talk about that in another post).
When I did both of the above things, my deliverability rate increased, and hence my click-through rate also increased! So the next time you’re sending an email campaign, make sure your From text is your company name, and turn off your open tracking setting, and see if it makes a difference for you too.
I’ve been telling my clients for years, “Don’t get too comfortable with your Social Media marketing, it’s going to change tomorrow.” You may have noticed Facebook’s recent plethora of changes. They’ve changed the newsfeed (again), added a timeline (questionable usefulness), and they’re reducing the value of the Like button. Wait… what was that???
That’s right. The ubiquitous Like button, which has become so much a part of our online lives, is evolving into more of a voting mechanism. In my opinion, this is great news.
So what does this mean to you? You’ve spent countless hours and maybe thousands of dollars, increasing your “Likers” on your Facebook business page. It always seemed almost ridiculous to me, that we as marketers should be practically driven into a frenzy of getting people to “follow” our brand. 90% of our messages get ignored anyway. This is why small business marketers say their Facebook page doesn’t work for them. At least not in the sense that it gets them any business.
Users will now have a way to “vote” on content. To me this makes a whole helluva lot more sense. It means the boring, all-about-me promotional content that we see so much of can now get voted down into oblivion, while the interesting cool stuff will get promoted to the top.
This is one Facebook change I can hang my hat on. From both a consumer’s side and a marketer’s side. From a consumer’s side I will no longer have to tolerate crap on my Fb feed. From a marketer’s side I will have a lot less competition, and my truly authentic and valuable message will clearly shine amongst the drivel.
Not that I think for a moment that the spammers won’t come up with some way of getting around it. Like hiring legions of $2/hr off-shore teenagers to Vote Up the crap content they post for their clients. Black hat will always exist, but somehow the brains behind the beasts (Google, Facebook, etc.) will continue to find ways to combat it. Good for them. And for us.
I invite you to read Mashable’s blog post, which was my source for this post, at: http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/facebooks-changes-marketers
[This is part 9 (the final installment) of the series "Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing."]
The number one thing I hear from business owners when I talk about email marketing is “I don’t want to annoy my customers.” Neither do I! And the good news is it’s REALLY EASY not to do this.
Permission marketing is a term made popular by Seth Godin with his book of the same name. At it’s very basic level, it simply means you ask for and get explicit permission from people to market to them.
This concept manifests in many ways, but most poignantly in e-mail marketing. This is where the concept not only makes a lot of sense, but absolutely shines!
So picture this… you walk up to a person at a networking event and they ask you, “What to you do?” You tell them, “I am a small business accountant,” or “I help businesses with their Internet marketing,” or “We help homeowners going through life changing events to de-clutter their homes in order to cope better.” Then you ask “Would you like to learn more about what I do for my customers?” If they answer yes they have just given you permission to deliver your marketing message to them.
The same goes for electronic marketing. If a visitor on your web site enters their email in a form and clicks the button that says “Add me to your newsletter,” you can safely assume that they want to hear what you have to say!
So as long as you only add people to your email list who have given their explicit permission you will not be spamming them when you send out your emails.
Another very important point is that you have to make good on your promise. The people on your list have said they trust you, and you need to protect that and respect it. You need to add value to their lives, not just sell to them. Nobody wants to walk into a place and get pounced on by a sales person. It’s creepy and annoying. Help people, they will learn to trust you, they will respect you and they will buy from you.
Once you have proven that you are trustworthy and have earned their respect, more and more people will want to join your list. Your list will grow… and you will do it all without annoying anyone.
Emailing your customers every day is probably going to be too much, and you will definitely annoy them. Unless of course that is their expectation. For example you might offer a daily tip of some kind. As long as your subscribers signed up knowing that’s what they were getting, then it’s a perfectly awesome way to stay in front of them!
However, if you are offering a newsletter, you want to be more discerning. Besides it’s time consuming and unless you have 4 hours a day to write newsletters, it’s not practical. I personally send my big robust newsletter once a month. I know folks who send theirs once a week. Both are fine, do whatever you can handle and your customers want/need/will accept.
On the other end, you can’t wait too long between emails. Some of your subscribers, especially the new ones, will forget they signed up for your list if you wait three months to send them the next one. They may even think you added them without permission and report you for spamming them.
So be practical and respectful of your audience. Somewhere between twice a week and once a month is reasonable.
My definition of spam is “Repeatedly send people irrelevant, ad-filled junk e-mail without their permission and without giving them a way to unsubscribe.” (Here’s the Wikipedia definition if you’re interested.)
You probably picked out the key components…
3. without permission
4. without an unsubscribe option
The bottom line is if you avoid all of these nasty things, you will be on the right track. Go for it.
Thank you for reading all 9 installments of this series. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope it helped you ignite your desire to do e-mail marketing. Truly it is the number one way to do effective internet marketing, and no small business should be without it in their e-marketing mix!
If you have any questions at all, just post a comment in the box below and let me know, and I’ll be happy to answer you. Or email me privately.
[This is part 3 of the series "Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing."]
In E-Mail marketing your list is everything. Everything.
However, a big list, just like a large number of Likers for your Facebook Business Page, won’t do you any good if you didn’t acquire the subscribers the right way. And by the "right" way I mean organically and relevantly.
In this case bigger is not better. Better is better.
A good-quality list is one that is mostly made up of people who are likely to buy from you. If you only get people on your list who join because they’re your friends and they wanted to be nice and help you out, you’ll never get any conversions. Therefore you have to constantly work to find people who want what you offer and motivate them to join.
A high quality list could potentially get you a 15% – 20% response rate on your newsletter. If that list has 1,000 readers, that’s 200 people clicking on your links and reading your messages. Isn’t that much better than a 2% response rate from a poor quality list with 5,000 readers. (I’ll do the math for you, that’s only 100 clicks.) And on top of that you are risking annoying a whole lot of people who aren’t really interested in your message.
I will give you one very strong word of advice — don’t buy an email list. Purchased lists don’t work, plus they’re a huge risk. Many of those people won’t recognize your brand when they suddenly start receiving your e-mails, and they will mark it as SPAM. Many e-mail providers automatically report the sender of e-mail that gets marked as SPAM, and if you get enough of them you could potentially be investigated. To say nothing of the damage to your brand because those people now have acquired a negative attitude toward it as their first impression. That can be hard to recover from.
So, you ask "if I don’t have a list, and I can’t buy one, where do I get one?"
You build it. This takes time so start now (well, as soon as you’re done reading this). I have a whole segment in my workshop on how to build your list, but here are some tips for you on how to do this:
Just remember, as long as your offerings are both valuable and relevant to your subscribers, it’s relatively easy to build a quality list. There are lots of ways to build the list, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
But it’s very much worth it in the end.
For more info, read my two-part article series on “Every Business’s Goldmine.“
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Check out my new eBook, “The 3 Secrets of Online Marketing Success” which you can download for free at FreeWebMarketingEbook.com.
If your teenage child is on Facebook, and you’re not, I suggest you get on it asap. You may believe your child to be responsible and aware, but there are some very smart people out there who know how to take advantage of smart aware teenagers.
I recently had a real eye opener with a teen in my own family. I had become Facebook “friends” with this person about a year ago but they weren’t too active and so I didn’t pay much attention.
Recently I went to their wall to say hello to them and found their wall was filled with advertisements for products teens generally like – Nike shoes, nail polish, baseball mitts, fast food, etc. This not only confused me, but concerned me so I looked a little closer. When I discovered what was happening it was like a light was switched on for me. And then I got really mad.
My teen family member has about 500 friends on their friends list. Originally I found this to be amusing. Even I, at 50 years old, can’t say I know 500 people well enough to be their Facebook friend. But kids are kids and I thought it was cute and funny.
Here’s the scenario… Kids love their friends, and they want more of them. They collect them like they collect baseball cards and Pokemon. It’s a game to see who can out-do the rest. So they get into the habit of friending anyone and everyone.
As we (adults) all know, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, and there are many who get paid to advertise products and drive web site traffic by whatever means necessary. So they start friending the young, ever-so-willing youngsters who are their clients’ audience. They slowly build up quite a large collection of “friends” themselves. They pretend to be someone who might be appealing to whoever their target is.
They post advertisements along with photos, using the status update feature. Then they TAG a bunch of their new Facebook “friends” in the photo. What this does is to 1) notify the teen they’ve been tagged and 2) post the tagged advertisement to the teen’s wall, which then 3) announces it to all their friends. Easy and free advertising for the product or brand, using these unsuspecting kids as a free advertising medium.
The kids are not savvy enough (or they don’t care enough) to realize this and un-friend the person. Besides, “if I unfriend her I’ll have one less friend and I’m trying to get more friends, not less!”
Sheesh. It’s really sick. I wanted to report this happening, but as most of us know by now, Facebook seems to be averse to any kind of customer service. Or maybe they already know about it and they just haven’t figured out a way to deal with it yet.
Which brings me back to my original statement, You need to be friends with your kids on Facebook, and you need to monitor their account. This particular instance is fairly benign on the surface, but it’s actually quite clever when you think about it. Who knows what else these unscrupulous but clever people will do next, or maybe are already doing?!
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