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.
A recent study by Outbrain seems to indicate that social media, while highly useful for marketers in many ways, may not be the best way to drive traffic, at least not for my audience anyway.
One article stated, “Despite studies that suggest email is still the top way people share content, and that search is still the top way people find websites, social sharing—newer and more exciting—is in the spotlight.”
I’ve always found it interesting that people who sell social media-related services say such things as “58% of people don’t use email any more” and “Facebook will surpass Google by 2012″ without batting an eyelash (much less citing a reference). Really?
Forgive the brief digression, I was setting the stage for explaining why I think this study seems to at least somewhat validate my feelings about the social media hype machine.
Yes, social media is “the new way” — and it helps marketers tremendously by letting us get directly into the relevant conversations with our buyers, or at least listen in on them. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more, and I welcome it. It’s about time.
Do our socializing buyers really want to be hit with our marketing message during their socializing activities? Apparently some don’t mind, but I dare say this does not reflect all of them. I believe that most “consumers” still want to get our marketing messages when they choose, and not when we choose to show them.
So, back to the study. The data shows that “referrals” (I assume this means shared links to external sites) from social media sites are hugely disproportionate based on the type of content being shared. News and entertainment together account for 72% of all referrals.
Well, I guess that’s why THE MEDIA is all agog about how great social media is for their business. But for the rest of us? Let’s see…
And on top of all this is the finding that the referred user who came from the social media site (compared to other sites like search engines and portals) were more likely to leave immediately and on average viewed fewer pages when they did decide, albeit briefly, to stick around.
It was inferred (quite logically in my opinion) that users have a certain mindset when they click over to your site from another site. For instance if they were in a search engine initially they were probably engaged in an information-gathering task and so they would be fairly likely to at least spend some time looking for the information they clicked through to get. If they came from another content site, they are already in content-consuming mode, and are inclined to continue doing that.
On a social site on the other hand, what were they doing before they clicked your link? Probably socializing. Is it likely that the link they clicked was saying something that made them want to suddenly stop socializing and start reading? Human behavior is not so fragile or whimsical. People are likely to want to continue doing whatever it is they’ve been doing.
Now here’s an interesting thought… do you think there’s an opportunity here? What if we place our messages on social sites and do it in such as way that it motivates the viewer to stop socializing and start engaging with our brand? Hm…? What do you think?
I’m almost done with Jim Kukral’s book, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money.”
I’ve read (or listened to) dozens of marketing books in the past several years, and this is one of the true gems. Most books I read now are basically repeats of all the others, only in a different voice with a different spin, with a few new terms and names thrown in to prove it’s current.
But Jim Kukral has made the process of getting attention for your brand an achievable thing for small businesses everywhere. All it takes is a little creativity and a lot of humility.
Business owners with big egos and a chip on your shoulder can just skip this book, you won’t get anything out of it. You won’t be able to bring yourself to implement many of the ideas Jim talks about.
The rest of you take note. Because if you don’t, your competitor will and you’ll soon be losing business to them.
The book does not go into a lot of detail about how to implement these programs. It’s not a how-to book. It’s an idea book — a collection of stories, case studies, and interviews that all focus on one theme – how to stand out from the crowd in your particular industry. The ideas are brilliant, doable, and effective. And for the most part, affordable. I found them to be truly inspiring.
Small businesses, with a little brain power and hard work, can achieve results that would rival larger brands with deeper pockets. Kukral gives one example of a local yarn store owner who got a van and installed a large ball of yarn on the top of it. The van was used to drive people to and from the store, being clearly seen about town. Tacky? Perhaps. Memorable? Absolutely.
The author cautions the reader that there is also a wrong way to do this. Not delivering on the promise is one. It might seem obvious to some but it’s a point worth making, even to those who should know better. Denny’s now-infamous stunt of offering free breakfast to everyone almost caused riots, and they ended up turning away a lot of unhappy people and hurting the Denny’s brand in the process.
These tactics are not for the faint-of-heart. But what entrepreneur do you know that doesn’t take risks? These ideas are perfectly suited to the take-charge, no-holds-barred, try-anything, boot-strapping small business owner.
If you’re one of them (us), get this book. If you don’t love it, I’ll buy it back from you and give it to someone who will.
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