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Is Email Marketing Dead? No, But These Practices Are

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99% of people check their email every day.

With a statistic like that, it’s not hard to see why email marketing is a go-to for marketing campaigns. What’s confusing, though, is that sometimes, email marketing ROI can look a little bleak.

An un-successful email campaign in a world where opening emails is such a big part of people’s lives can be confusing, and brings up an important question:

Where is the gap between consumers checking their email constantly, but not clicking on your brand’s message?

Before you pull the plug on email marketing completely, consider this — 73% of millennials prefer email communication when receiving marketing material.

Ultimately, the problem may not be the marketing channel, but the message delivery.

So, is email marketing dead? Or, is there something that can be done to enhance the email marketing experience — for consumers and marketers?

In the next section, we’re going to answer that question and why a marketing strategy makeover might be necessary for a struggling brand.

There’s no need to hold a funeral: email isn’t dead, just outdated.

If your brand’s email marketing strategy is currently struggling with bringing in high ROI, it could be because your strategy hasn’t been improved to reflect how email currently works.

Ultimately, if you’re not catering to your audiences, or if you’re not using metrics to appropriately measure and improve your email campaigns, you’re likely missing out on ROI — not because email marketing is dead, but because your strategy is outdated.

To improve your email marketing ROI in 2020, here’s what to retire:

Email Marketing “Dead” Practices

1. Impersonal subject lines

Email marketing starts before readers even open the email. Subject lines can make or break open-rate, a metric that tracks how many subscribers open your emails.

A major component of a successful campaign is targeting the customer by creating content that identifies with their lifestyle. In email marketing, this begins with the subject line.

As a consumer, if I see an emoji in a marketing email’s subject line, I immediately open it as opposed to others, because to me, this shows that the sender took a little extra time to personalize the message.

For instance, here’s a look at the promotion emails I’ve opened and engaged with:

Personalizing marketing messages makes readers feel connected to what’s being sold. Generally, making a subject line personal can be as easy as noting the holiday season or asking a question to get readers thinking.

Think about what in your email is the “must-know” takeaway, and create a short subject line that taps into emotions to get subscribers clicking.

2. Ignoring GDPR standards

In a nutshell, GDPR means making sure the reader gives clear, unambiguous permission to receive marketing emails. Full compliance with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) ensures that sending marketing emails is legal.

GDPR was created so consumers know their data is protected and being used by brands they have trusted with personal information. They opt-in to emails they’d like to receive from brands they’re interested in.

This is good news for marketers because it means your email campaigns will only be sent to users who are genuinely interested in your marketing messages. It also ensures your email marketing messages are compliant with the law.

Email marketing software should be GDPR compliant. If not, it’s time to choose new software. HubSpot has a great guide about navigating GDPR, incorporating these rules into strategy, and why the email marketing tools from HubSpot already follow the standards.

3. Using templates that aren’t mobile-friendly

The world is mobile now. When I check my emails in the morning, I’m checking from my phone, where I prefer to check my email.

Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly are probably raising your bounce rate exponentially due to poor user experience. Because it’s so easy to click away from something that’s unappealing, emails optimized for mobile should be an important step in the design process.

Apple’s iPhone is the most popular method for opening emails, with Gmail in second place. For some audiences, marketing emails that are stellar for mobile should take priority over emails for desktop, so the majority of readers don’t get turned away from desktop-friendly templates.

For businesses using email automation software, check the mobile previews as well as the desktop previews when drafting your email design. If the template being used interrupts comprehension or is just plain ugly on mobile, it might be a good idea to switch to something else.

4. Poor email design

We’ve talked a little about design, but it’s really imperative to take time designing emails that delight readers.

Emails lately have gotten snazzy. From animations to GIFs, and even embedded full-length videos, businesses are dipping their toes into exciting email marketing efforts to pull readers in.

Emails that have quick loading time, bold CTAs, and colorful visuals typically perform best. Consider this email I received recently from Adobe:

Adobe personalized email example

There are ways to include helpful information in emails without sacrificing the user’s experience, and it’s all about using visuals

Think about it — an email newsletter with an emoji in the title, a beautiful infographic, and a couple of lines of exciting copy before an engaging CTA is exciting to look at and read.

An email newsletter with long paragraphs, the same-old template and a CTA that hasn’t changed in years are … less than exciting, and probably leave readers clicking out of that email in favor of something that is.

Here are some examples of how email campaigns are stepping up design. In a nutshell, think about how every email can visually tell a story as much as words.

5. Not strategically using metrics

Tracking metrics helps fill in the gaps when looking at where to improve with marketing efforts. They break down the behavior of email subscribers. 

There’s been a lot of talk about metrics, and that’s because metrics drive results. They are the numbers behind the campaign. Metrics tell marketers a plethora of important details.

Metrics collect data on how many people are interacting with emails, when they are, who they are, and for how long. All of this information is important to know when planning because they lead to important marketing decisions.

For instance, let’s say a marketer who checks email marketing metrics regularly notices that the bounce rate is high, meaning that readers are opening emails but not engaging with them. This can stem from a variety of issues, but knowing the bounce rate tells the marketer what to focus on improving for the next marketing email.

Metrics save time by reporting on what’s working and what isn’t. To begin tracking metrics, consider what email software you use. Many have reporting and tracking built into their tools, as well as information about how that data is collected and interpreted.

Ultimately, the reasons you may not be seeing results is not because email marketing is dead — it’s because of how you’re email marketing. So, before you turn away from email marketing as a whole, think about ways you can beef up your strategy to compete.

 





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Marketing Strategies

How realistic strategic planning can help SMBs support annual performance goals

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30-second summary:

  • Keap is an email marketing and sales platform for SMBs with CRM tools that include: SMS text management, appointment scheduling, and invoice/payment automation.
  • Keap’s sales-focused tools include pipeline management and marketing automation features.
  • The strategic planning eBook is informed by Keap’s internal and very successful strategic planning process which has helped grow the company over 10 years into a $100 million enterprise.
  • Keap’s planning process involves five steps: identify your business’s purpose, analyze results, understand how strategy guides planning, establish a meeting rhythm, and involve and motivate your employees.
  • Keap’s 2020 Strategic Planning Guide is available as a free download from ClickZ for a limited time.

Headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, Keap is an automated email marketing and sales platform for small businesses. The platform provides tools focused on CRM such as SMS text management, appointment scheduling, and invoice/payment automation. Their platform also includes sales-focused tools including pipeline management and marketing automation features. Keap currently supports over 200,000 users and has recently experienced tremendous growth which is a credit to their strategic planning process.

Neil Patel, a New York Times bestselling author and  Digital Marketing Strategist, is a Keap Pro user and a proponent of the platform. He referred to Keap as “The one tool to power up your website”, and in a 2019 article wrote,” “the flexibility you’ll gain by using Keap will help you make more money.” Keap’s all-in-one platform includes everything you need to grow your business.

They channeled their knowledge of strategic planning into a new eBook. The 2020 Strategic Planning Guide aims to help SMBs create their own successful strategic plan.

Content produced in collaboration with Keap.

Guidelines for strategic planning success

Keap’s strategic planning process for SMBs includes three key elements—a detailed walkthrough of the planning process, a roadmap for the planning process, and a worksheet of tactical next steps to facilitate your plan.

Per Keap, “In this strategic planning kit, we’re going to look at the strategic planning process Keap employed to grow the company over 10 years into a $100 million enterprise. By following these guidelines, your business can do more than just survive—you can thrive.”

In this post, we’ll summarize some key points from Keap’s 17-page guide which is available for download from ClickZ. The eBook breaks down the planning process into five steps which we’ve elaborated on below.

Step one: Identify the purpose of your business

It’s important to clarify the vision for your business. This is a process that should involve everyone in your company. Keap lists three elements that a business vision should have, per Jim Collins’ book, Business Entrepreneurship. These are:  purpose, values, and mission.

Keap writes, “Every employee at Keap knows our company vision from the start. We also reference our purpose in conversations, meetings, email exchanges, and more, so it shapes our work each day.”

Step two: Analyze results for continuous improvement

Keap uses a process they call SWOT+ when looping employees into the planning process. As most businesses know, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The + is a reference to their inclusive, collaborative approach to planning.

A SWOT+ approach ensures:

  • Everyone’s voice is heard—This is a celebration of successes, a chance to learn from mistakes, and an opportunity to move forward as a team.
  • Perspective—A company facilitator ensures that, although everyone’s POV is heard, planning is viewed from the company’s perspective.
  • Participation—During the planning process, everyone’s input is important, and thus everyone should be encouraged to speak up and participate.

The eBook contains a detailed outline of Keap’s full SWOT+ process, a four-step approach that begins with listing accomplishments and ends with addressing strategic issues to tackle in the coming year.

Step three: Understand how strategy guides planning

Keap emphasizes the importance of understanding all the resources available within your business when formulating a strategic plan. The starting point for this process involves performing an inventory of assets that focuses on 3 to 5 core assets of your company.

Keap writes, “While it’s true that resources can be scarce for many small businesses, annual planning is really about making the best use of all your resources so that nothing is forgotten or ignored. This kind of strategy will help put you ahead of your competitors.”

The strategy planning approach will help your company connect its overall vision to its daily operations. The process itself can be summarized in the following outline (each element is elaborated on in the eBook):

  • Mission
  • Strengths to leverage
  • Strengths to develop
  • Annual priorities
  • Quarterly priorities or tactical operating priorities
  • SMART objectives (SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)

Step four: Establish a meeting rhythm for success

Once strategic planning is complete, the focus should be on achieving your plan’s vision. Keap recommends scheduling “a steady rhythm of productive meetings” to assess and learn from both your successes and failures.

Since all businesses are different, there is no specific meeting schedule that everyone needs to follow, but consistency is key. Identify the meeting rhythm that works best for your business, then stick to it. Meetings should be structured so that there are clear deliverables and priorities established regardless of how frequently you meet.

Keap recommends devoting at least two full days each year to create your annual priorities, one full day per quarter for Quarterly TOP and a half day each month to assess SMART objectives.

“Work with your team to identify a cadence of ongoing meetings that will support your defined goals and objectives. The sooner you get your business into a consistent planning and execution rhythm, the sooner you’ll be able to delegate more responsibility to your team,” writes Keap.

Step five: Involve and motivate your employees

The final step in your strategic planning process focuses on employee involvement. Involving your team ensures that your strategic plan is relevant to the day-to-day activities of all team members.

Per Keap, “Daily relevance is also a key for employees who aren’t in leadership roles. They need to be aware of how their job affects the mission of your business. Each person matters. People need to know why and how their daily activities support the mission.”

Keap employees a methodology they call “Big 3”—a reference to the three primary responsibilities associated with each employee’s role. The Big 3 can be a moving target for some employees, changing quarterly. For others, the Big 3 may remain the same for a year or longer.

The value of establishing and monitoring the Big 3 for each employee is that it helps employees understand how their performance impacts the company, instilling confidence and ensuring that each employee understands their role in the company’s overall mission.

Keap’s 2020 Strategic Planning Guide provides a more comprehensive overview of their strategic planning approach and includes a detailed worksheet to help SMBs establish meeting schedules, tackle issues and set milestones for success.

The post How realistic strategic planning can help SMBs support annual performance goals appeared first on ClickZ.



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Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times

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The events of the last few weeks have had a dramatic effect on millions of people’s lives. Uncertainty over health, childcare, work, food and the wellbeing of loved ones has dominated all of our thinking over the past few days.

Not only has it changed the way we’re shopping and interacting with others, an expert at online search specialist Epiphany, Paul Norris, has looked at how it has impacted what users are turning to the internet for and advises how businesses can adapt their search strategy during this tricky time.

The Prime Minister’s speech on 13th March 2020 served as a catalyst for many to search for “working from home essentials” with searches such as computer chairs increasing by 185%.

As a nation, we also considered our options for emergency deliveries, including “wine delivery” services, which nearly tripled in just one week.

As people’s searches change to reflect new (increasingly home-based and socially distant) situations, it’s important that marketers adapt to the shifts in search behavior.

Here are a few ways to navigate the next few weeks and to prepare for when we emerge from the current situation:

1. Identify and capitalize on emerging trends

Monitor your search query reports closely – look for increased use of convenience and supply modifiers as availability and fulfillment is valued more. Searches containing “near me” have started to fall as queries for “online” services have increased.

If your business offers quick deliveries (and can still fulfill them), ensure it’s prominent in messaging, listings and on-site. Searches for next and same-day delivery will only continue to grow.

2. Listen to your visitors – use your site search reports and Hotjar polls

Your on-site search function is an absolute gold mine in times like these – demand and behavioral changes from your visitors are picked up directly. Use the Site Search report in GA (found under “Behaviour” on the left-hand side) as a listening board.

closely monitor site search reports to effectively work on your search strategy

Surface the most-searched-for products and services on relevant high traffic pages. Rethink, test and measure your carousels and other key product and service listing elements where relevant. Enabling Hotjar (or similar) polls can also enable you to get more specific insight.

3. Shift budget into investment channels

If you’re pulling back on sales activation because demand is dropping, look to move that budget and resource into a medium and longer-term activity that will pay dividends when demand picks up. With the previous points in mind, conduct a meta-data review and weave more highly valued services such as next day delivery into titles and descriptions. Has content taken a back seat? There are some definite benefits to content strategy, planning, and creation with the headspace you’re afforded when working from home.

4. Bypass dev queues and do what you can from your CMS

Prioritizing your activity in a busy dev queue can be difficult at the best of times. If dev time is booked up because the team is completely promo and sales activation focused, do what you can. Are you able to edit content and optimize existing pages in the CMS? Can you create new landing pages in your CMS without tech intervention? If so, now is the time to utilize those capabilities.

5. Maximize performance where demand is strong

Identify where demand remains strong (or has even picked up) and do what you can to capture and convert it. Your top landing pages and product reports are a good first port of call and can provide you with some quick wins. Segmenting and analyzing site performance by product/area/service (depending on your sector) can help you identify and capitalize on bigger emerging trends. If you’re a retailer, think about splitting out essential and non-essential products.

Paul Norris is Senior Strategist & Head of London Operations at Epiphany.

The post Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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Marketing Strategies

How to improve your high-converting forms in 2020 [Infographic]

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Even in the year 2020, forms are still a crucial step in the process of connecting with leads who visit your website.  

Contact forms on your website offer convenience, help with marketing automation and information gathering, and make sure that your databases are filled with good-fit contacts who have opted in.

Whether you are looking at implementing a brand new contact form or updating an existing one, this infographic by 123FormBuilder has some great tips on how to get your form conversion rates up and delight your customers all at the same time.  

Visitors are looking for human connection

Consumers love to know that on the other side of that contact or conversion form that there is a real live person who cares about them. 

Add some content around the form that is unique to your business and really educates the user about what they can expect if they choose to hit that submit button.

Will they get a response within 24 hours? Or two business days? 

What happens next? Will they get a follow-up call or email? 

Adding a video alongside your form gives you an amazing opportunity to do all of the above. When a user can associate a face with a company it helps build trust — even before they hit the submit button.

Check out this great example of the River Pools contact page. Note the human-to-human connection established by the video. Once you’ve watched it, you know just what to expect. Additionally, the fact that the company has anticipated your concerns suggests they are in-tune with their customers’ needs.

If you want even more tips and examples of videos dive into this article

UX matters

User experience is something that should always be top of mind when creating or updating a form. 

Here are some simple guidelines to follow that can make all the difference when a user is deciding to hit submit or abandon your page:

  • Keep form fields succinct and simple. Only ask for the information you absolutely need and make sure related fields are grouped accordingly. HubSpot recommends around five fields, but that number can go up or down depending on the value the form provides. 
  • Include help text and labels. If fields should be formatted a certain way, let the user know. For example, a phone field may use this format, (XXX) XXX-XXXX. The user should not have to guess and then receive an error after they hit the submit button.
  • Your form should be easy to find. This may seem obvious, but your contact page should be in a prominent position in your site navigation and the page should have the form front and center. You do not want a user to have to dig through your website to find your contact form or have to scroll down on the page in order to fill it out. 
  • Make sure your form is mobile-friendly. The form should be just as simple and clean on mobile as it is on desktop, if not more so. The fields and buttons on mobile need to allow a person to easily input and submit with their fingers. 

How else can you stand out? 

After focusing on all of the points already discussed, there is still more you can do. 

Consider adding social proof to your page by adding partner logos or client testimonials. If someone is unsure about getting in touch with you, the credibility can help tip them in your favor. 

You can also give a quick link to an FAQ page or possibly include some of your most common FAQs directly on the page itself. This can benefit both you and your consumer by potentially getting ahead of some of their questions and concerns. 

Lastly, providing a physical address on your page can help build trust with a user and make them feel more secure about converting.

If you want even more examples check out some of our favorite contact pages here, and see the full checklist in the infographic below. 

 





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