3 Steps to High Email Click Through Rates

email click throughConstant Contact analyzed more than 2.1 million customer emails over the course of 13 weeks – and they made some stunning discoveries around the length of text and number of images that can make or break email click through rates (CTR) for both B2C and B2B businesses.

For B2C businesses (that is businesses that serve customers, as opposed to businesses that serve other businesses), there are three rules to keep in mind: Continue Reading ❯

Email Ideas for After the Purchase

email marketingYour small business spends a lot of time and money attracting new customers, but are you forgetting something? Like maybe your current customers that you already won over?

Every purchase your new or returning customers make is a great chance for you to further build on that relationship, develop loyalty, and really drive sales. SilverPop put together a fantastic email marketing guide on the subject, so I read through it and pulled out the top six post-purchase email ideas that any small retailer can use. Some of these ideas will work best for brick and mortar businesses, some will work best for online businesses.

1. Post-first purchase welcome messages

If someone subscribes to your email list during their first purchase (maybe right before or after check-out), write a unique series of welcome messages that build on your new relationship and encourage a repeat purchase.

The first email can thank them for their purchase and remind them of what makes your shop unique. The second email can offer a discount on their next purchase; these types of emails are called Bouncebacks, and they can be used after any purchase to encourage repeat purchases (they work, too, so definitely use them!).

The third email can remind new customers of where to connect with you on social media and what type of information they can expect to see/receive – or they can include one of the following four ideas.

2. Reminder to complete profile

For e-businesses, you don’t have to send a “complete your profile” reminder out after a new customer’s first purchase, but it’s the best time to do so, as their experience with your brand is still fresh in their minds.

In your email, explain that a complete profile allows you to provide them with relevant content and offers that they are actually interested in. In the profile, ask for brand and category preferences, general interests, and demographic information.

3. Product review/ratings

Did you know that reviews and ratings have been proven to drive purchases? Two or three weeks after a purchase (or once the customer has sufficient time to use the product), send an email requesting a quick review.

Allow customers to rate the product on a sliding scale for quality, functionality, and other factors that are important to your audience, and give them space for a brief write-up.

4. Cross-sell or upsell

Cross-sell and upsell emails recommend other products or services based on a recent purchase; talk to your web developer about setting these up. Like asking for a review or rating, timing can vary. Just be sure to include photos of the recommended products (bonus if you also include a recent review!).

5. Share your experience

Ask customers to share their experience using your product on social media (GoPro has built their business on this concept). Obviously, the experience needs to be something fun (cooking, traveling, adventure sports, etc.).

In your request, mention the product and ask specifically what kind of story you’d like and where to share it (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram).

6. Win back

If the Bounceback email (to encourage the next purchase) did not work within a specific timeframe, break out a Win Back “We Missed You” email. Highlight some cool new products or services, top sellers, or a sweet discount – whatever you think will resonate most with your audience.

If you are a retailer, what else do you do to drive repeat purchases?

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Email Marketing Ideas to Boost Holiday Sales

holiday email marketingEmail marketing is one of the best and most affordable ways to reach your customers during the frenzied holiday season – and stay on their minds. If you are looking for some new ideas to use in your email marketing campaign to boost sales this holiday season, we got ‘em.

With only about 60 days til Black Friday, it’s never too late to get your email marketing campaign planned, designed, and scheduled!

1. Offer a pre-Black Friday guarantee I saw this tip on the Vertical Response blog, and I have to say, it’s a very clever way to drive pre-holiday traffic to your store. Just let people know that if they find the same item you carry for less at a big box store, you will refund the difference.

2. Provide gift ideas by segment You can go beyond the general categories of “For Her/For Him” and get really creative. Segment by:

  • Family members (new parents, pre- schoolers, grandpa)
  • Interest (bakers, cooks, foodie who doesn’t cook)
  • Favorite activity (skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing)
  • Skill level (novice, pretty good, expert)
  • Age (pre-teen, teen, college)
  • Price (under $25, $50, $75, $100)

3. Highlight top-sellers Highlight your top selling or most popular items or services. Gather staff picks, and if you have enough, divide items into different categories (see above!) to get more mileage out of the idea.

4. Advertise in-store events or services Whether you host carolers or Santa, hand out free hot chocolate and cookies every day during the shopping season, or offer free wrapping or foot massages on weekends, give people a reason to visit your business.

5. Promote gift cards In 2013, $118 billion was spent on gift cards in the US alone, and by 2015, it is estimated that gift cards will account for 18% of holiday spending.* You do the math!

6. Offer daily deals You could offer a daily deal from Black Friday to New Year’s Day or offer one deal for 12 days, a la The 12 Days of Christmas (which actually begins on Christmas Day, but we’ll take creative license here).

7. Send a holiday card Work with a graphic designer on a beautiful holiday card that ties into your brand and thanks customers for their loyalty. Short, simple, and genuine is the way to go.

8. Bring shoppers in post-holiday Get your post-holiday emails ready to go now rather than December 26. Remind people to treat themselves and shop your sale to get what they really wanted.

What else do you have planned for your holiday marketing campaign this year?

*Stats courtesy of the Executive Board.

 Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Personalizing Content to Increase Sales

personalize and customize marketing contentOver the summer, eMarketer released a fascinating Content Personalization Roundup report that was pretty eye-opening, especially for B2B small businesses. The report had ramifications for B2C (aka regular businesses) as well.

There are three data-backed reasons to personalize your communications:

  • Consumers prefer relevant, personalized offers (per a survey conducted by International Data Corporation).
  • Consumers spend more money with brands that send them targeted offers (per a study conducted by Conversant).
  • B2B companies said it is effective and helps them reach their marketing objectives (per a global survey conducted by Ascend2 and NetProspex).

Here are some suggestions for how to personalize those communications:

Use a loyalty program Loyalty programs are extremely sophisticated. They will not only track behavioral and demographic information, but they will also allow you to send the right messages to the right people at the right time.

For example, you can send an SMS text at 3pm on a Wednesday to everyone who has come to a happy hour in the last month with an offer for a free appetizer that night.

Send emails based on past behavior Your point-of-sales (POS) system is also pretty sophisticated and can track what customers purchased over the last month, 6 months, and year. Use that information to personalize emails.

For example, email a discount offer to a customer who hasn’t made a purchase in six months or up the ante and email a customer who buys a lot of shoes to let her know that a big shoe sale is coming up.

Allow customers to set their preferences Turn the tables and put some of the work in your customers’ hands. Allow them to set preferences for the frequency, type, and subject matter of the emails they receive.

For example, I might only want to hear from you once week with special offers and events from the location that is closest to me.

Have any questions about personalizing content? If you already personalize content, what else do you do?

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

5 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Marketing

Improve Facebook MarketingI will come right out and say it: I do not encourage any new small business to start using Facebook. Since typing that sentence did not cause the Earth to implode, I guess it’s safe to continue writing.

For new businesses, I just don’t think Facebook is worth the time, money, and aggravation. There are too many obstacles to overcome and it’s too expensive to build up a community there. BUT, if you have been using Facebook for your business for a few years now and have built an engaged fan base, keep at it. You just need to stay flexible, which is where this blog post comes in.

I am always on the look-out for new advice around Facebook marketing, and this article in Social Media Today caught my attention because it contains really solid, useful information. Here are 5 fail safe ways to improve your Facebook marketing strategy:

1. Use email Huh? Yeah, I know, it seems counterintuitive to use email for Facebook marketing, but let me explain because it makes perfect sense. If you send out a newsletter on a regular basis that is fun and interesting, your audience will probably want to hear from you more often and actively engage with you – so let them know they can do so on Facebook, and oh, here’s a link to our Facebook page! Become a fan today!

2. Adopt the 80/20 rule I don’t mean that 80% of your Facebook posts should be non-company news and 20% should be company news. Nope, instead, think about this in sales terms: What do the 20% of your customers who account for 80% of your revenue care about? What are their interests? What’s their lifestyle like? Focus your Facebook posts on them, since they are already highly engaged with you off Facebook.

3. Make sure videos are in the mix “Since January 2014, the number of minute-consumption for videos on Facebook has spiked to nearly 120 million hours per month compared to 63 million hours in December 2013.”

If you want to show up in your fans’ news feeds, create and share videos. Don’t forget that beautiful images also resonate, or that a thought-provoking question can inspire a lot of response.

4. Remember your fans Keep notes on your most engaged fans, because you can turn them into brand ambassadors. Remember their names, thing they shared, likes or interests that stand out, events you met them at, etc. When it’s appropriate, call them out by name – they will be very, very impressed.

5. Create events on your page Did you know that if you create an event on your page, every time you post something about it the people who joined the event will get a notification? This lovely little feature allows you to reach and engage with the people who are interested in the event while not bothering your other fans who are not.

Do you have a Facebook page? Share it below and we’ll come visit. Don’t forget to visit Grouponworks on Facebook, too.

Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

Six Ways to Ensure Your Emails Get a Response

Get a better email response rate

Get a better email response rate

If it sometimes feels like your inbox is connected to a fire hose, well, you’re not alone. Everyone gets too many emails, including the people you email – prospective customers, possible partners, journalists and bloggers, etc.

So the question becomes, “What do I need to do to make sure people read and respond to my emails?” I ran across this interesting article on Entrepreneur that covers this topic. A lot of it is common-sense, but a few points stood out for me.

I combined my favorites with some of the things I do when I email. (Note that these tips apply to both personal business emails (sent to one person) and email marketing in general.)

Here are 6 ways to ensure your emails get a response (and not the delete button):

1. Write specific subject lines

In email marketing, we tend to talk about eye-catching subject lines that pique a person’s interest and make them want to read more. Well, when it comes to business emails, the same is true – but subject lines should also be specific. Instead of typing “Lunch meeting” try “Let’s work together to grow our businesses.”

2. Include specifics in your email

Make it easy for people to respond to you by being specific about what it is you want. If you would like to set up a lunch meeting, for example, suggest 2 or 3 days, a start AND end time, a location, and what you would like to talk about. Bonus: Fewer emails will fly around between the two of you.

3. Insert praise

You’ll really catch people’s attention if you praise them at the beginning of the email and again at the end. They’ll immediately like you and want to do nice things for you (like respond) simply because you like them so much. Try it – it works!

4. Lighten the mood

Whenever I email a client about a more serious subject, I will write both a subject line and short note that are warm and friendly. Here’s a recent example of what I actually did sent to a few clients:

Subject: Quick question about invoice!

Message: I think my paperwork has been sprouting legs and walking off, because I can’t find record of payment. Could you double check for me? Many thanks!

5. Read your email out loud before hitting send

When you read your email out loud, you’ll read it more slowly and be able to spot typos, grammatical errors, incomplete sentences/thoughts, and random musings that don’t belong in the email. Bonus: You’ll notice if it’s too long or repetitive as well. Edit appropriately before sending

6. Double-check email addresses and spelling of names

Make sure you are sending the email to the right person or people and that their names are spelled correctly in the body of the email. If you don’t, well, you might not get the response you were looking for!

What else do you do to ensure your emails generate a response?

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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

How to Use Images in Email to Boost Engagement Rates

How to boost engagement with email

How to boost engagement with email

If you are looking for ways to boost engagement with your emails – more opens and especially more click-throughs – images could really help for a few basic reasons:

  • People scan emails, they don’t read them
  • People gravitate to images
  • Images create an emotional connection

Well, Emma, the email marketing company, just wrote a great (highly visual) blog post on this topic. I loved their valuable tips, so I grabbed some of theirs and combined them with my own knowledge.

Here’s how to use images in your emails in order to boost engagement:

Place an attention-grabbing image above the fold

Start your email off with a large image that illustrates your point, a strong headline that piques interest, and a clear call-to-action – all of which will appear above the fold.

Position images on the left side of your email

As we scan emails, our eye travels down the left side of the page.  It only makes sense, therefore, to place your images and headlines along the left side of the page where they have a better chance of being seen.

Use images of people

Images that include people draw us in and create a connection, especially if the person in the photo is looking at the camera. You can also use images of people that convey a mood to really ramp up that emotional connection.

Curate images

Finding the perfect image can be tricky, but it’s important to curate them – rather than randomly pick them – so they have the same “look.” For one of my clients, we use only photos with rich, saturated jewel-tones. Use the same filter, size, or frame for a cohesive, professional look.

Pay for stock images

It is absolutely worthwhile to pay for access to stock photos and illustrations from sites like iStock, Getty Images, Shutterstock, or Bigstock. You’ll find hundreds of beautiful images from professional photographers, which will help you make a great impression.

How else do you use images to boost engagement on email, social media, and elsewhere?

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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

 

Your Five Point Email Marketing Checklist

Email marketing checklist

Email marketing checklist

I get a massage every month (yes, really, and yes, it’s worth it!). The massage therapy practice I go to uses email marketing, and though I love everyone at the practice, I do not love their emails. Their emails are … how do I put this nicely …  riddled with mistakes.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes, and yes, they are massage therapists, not marketers. But because their emails are not professional, I will not forward them to my friends, and say, “Hey, check these guys out the next time your back is a tangle of knots!” First impressions are everything, and their emails won’t make a good one.

So, to ensure you sends out emails that are so awesome your clients want to forward them and spread the word about you, here’s a 5 point email marketing checklist:

1. Find a good writer

First and foremost, your email has to be well-written. You don’t need to hire a professional copywriter, but you do need to find someone who is good at writing, whether it’s an employee, friend, or spouse. Ask him or her to either write the email copy for you or copyedit/proofread it.

2. Segment your lists

Divide your customers into groups based on demographics, location, buying behavior, or even gender. Information and offers that are targeted to a specific group of people will convert into sales much more effectively than one that is generalized for everyone.

3. Spend time on your subject line

Because your customers will decide whether or not to read your email based on its subject line, spend time writing a good one. Don’t title your email “ABC Company January Newsletter.” Let them know what’s in the email. For example, if you are offering a limited time promotion or hosting a special event, say so.

4. Write copy that is scannable, short, and fun

When people read emails, their eyes travel down the left side of the screen. Use headers, subheaders, and bulleted lists, and keep the most important information to the left. Also be sure to keep the email short, as most recipients aren’t going to bother reading the whole thing anyway. Infuse the copy with your personality as well – just because it’s short doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

5. Include a call-to-action

Always, always, always include a call-to-action in your email. Tell people what to do, link it to a landing page on your website where they can take action, and make sure it stands out in the email!

Do you get emails from other small businesses? What do you like most about them? What don’t you?

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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

 

Five Email Marketing Ideas For The Holidays

How to target email communications around the holidays

How to target email communications around the holidays

If you’re like most small businesses, you are already planning your email marketing promotion campaigns. With Hanukkah coming early this year and Thanksgiving coming later than usual, many marketers are scrambling to reach Hanukkah shoppers now, followed by Christmas shoppers and New Year celebrants shortly thereafter.

As you gear up for the holidays, here are five fun promotion ideas to try out in your email marketing this year:

Gift guide

Curate your products and services into gift guides to take some of the burden out of choosing a gift – especially for a hard-to-gift person (we all have them in our lives!).

You can categorize guides by gender, age (baby, kid, teen, adult), price (under $10, under $25, etc.), or by relationship (for your mom, dad, grandparent, child, co-worker, babysitter, best friend, employee).

Free delivery

Just because you’re a small retailer or merchant doesn’t mean you can offer free shipping or delivery. Include a promo code in your email for customers to apply at check-out, and add whatever limitations work best for you, such as an end-date for the promotion or a restriction on international shipping.

Gift wrapping

There are a lot of options when it comes to how you offer gift wrapping. You can offer it for free, add a nominal charge, restrict it to specific items or only online purchases, or, if you offer it in-store, only on certain days or at certain times. After all, you don’t want to overburden busy employees!

Charitable giving

Build goodwill and support your local community by doing something for those less fortunate during the holidays. You could donate a portion of sales on one day or every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. You could collect non-perishable food items or coats on behalf of a local food bank or shelter in exchange for a small discount on purchases. There are lots of options!

Daily or weekly specials

One of my favorite retailers did a Twelve Days of Christmas themed promotion last year, which was really fun. Every day, a different item was for sale. You could do something similar, or offer a daily or weekly discount on a specific items.

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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Why Every Small Business Needs To Emulate PetSmart’s Loyalty Program

Tips for implementing a loyalty program

Tips for implementing a loyalty program

My family and I just adopted a dog. Buddy is one of the happiest and most energetic balls of fur I have ever met. We love him to death already.

Like any good pet owner, I immediately got him everything he might need – dog bed, treats, food, water bowls, shampoo – most of which I purchased at PetSmart, a store I had never set foot in. I quickly discovered that their employees are some of the nicest and most helpful around, but I digress.

Anyway, I signed up for their PetPerks loyalty program while I was checking out. When you sign up, you have the option of creating an online account. I did this yesterday, and I was so impressed with the thought that went into their loyalty program, I had to share it.

Why PetSmart PetPerks Rocks

After you enter all of the usual information – name, address, name of dog, breed – you are asked what promotional information (coupons, sales, etc.) you want to receive. Promotions are broken into categories – leashes, toys, food, treats, vitamins, beds, crates, and so on. Choose a category, and then you are asked which brands you prefer.

The result: You only get emails for products you actually care about. Genius!

But why is that genius? Why don’t all B2C companies do this? If you rip a page from the PetSmart book, you will only be sending promotional emails with information your customers specifically said they want to receive.

What you won’t be doing is cluttering their inboxes with emails full of stuff they don’t care about. When you do that – when you don’t segment customers – you are training your customers to automatically hit the delete button. Your customers miss out on promotions for items they do want, and you miss out on sales.

So, here is what can you do to emulate them:

1 – Let customers segment themselves

On your loyalty rewards or email sign up page, ask customers what kind of information they want to receive. Let them choose as many options as they’d like – and be sure to include an “all of the above” option.

2 – Give customers control over timing

PetSmart does not offer this, because you will only get promotions for the items you care about. However, I have seen this numerous times, so bonus points to you if you let customers regulate how often they want to hear from you. Daily, weekly, every other week, monthly?

3 – Remind customers of their preferences

I have not gotten a promotional email from PetSmart yet, so I don’t know if they do this, but I like to be reminded of my preferences. Somewhere in your email (either at the top or on the left side where the eye is more likely to land), list the customer’s preferences per their account with a link to that lets them change it.

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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.