Email Marketing Feature: Email Templates
Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) include templates as part of their service. However, templates can also be purchased from third party providers.
It is important to ensure that email templates are responsive as look great on all devices, browsers, and email clients.
These templates are great for Do It Yourself (DIY) email marketers. They save time and money.
The alternative is to use a text-based email or get your email design custom coded which could be a hassle for many non-tech marketers.
It is important to note that templates are NOT offered by all Email Service Providers (ESPs). So if this is an important feature for you then look for an ESP which provides templates. [click to continue...]Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Purchase Behavior
Advanced Email Service Providers (ESPs) have the capability of tracking (among other things) individual customer’s purchase behavior.
Different pieces of information can be tracked including product name, SKU, order ID, purchase date, cost/sales price, the length of time between purchases, dollars spent, order history, number of times ordered, and number of items ordered.
Such tracking allows businesses to personalize future messaging and offer product recommendations that are most relevant to the customers based on their previous purchase history.
Some examples of such promotional targeting may include:
– Cross-sell offers
– Offering VIP discount to your best customers
– Promoting high ticket items to customers who have similar purchase history
– Following up with past customers who haven’t purchased after a certain period of time
The possibilities are really endless. Such targeted product recommendations hold the possibility of increasing sales and profits.Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Site/User/Event Tracking
This is an advanced automation and personalization feature provided by some Email Service Providers (ESPs).
The technology can track user actions on a website such as pages browsed, links clicked as well as events such as video plays, file downloads etc.
The tracked activity can be made actionable in a variety of ways:
Conditional content: Sending product recommendation emails with product pages visited
Triggering automated campaigns: Segmenting users based on specific activity and sending targeted campaigns. [click to continue...]Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Email List Management or Contact Management
Email List Management is one of the basic features provided by most Email Service Providers (ESPs). This feature allows managing your list of contacts in a variety of ways including:
Adding and importing contacts (individually or in a list) – please note some ESPs may require you to confirm that these contacts are valid and have provided you permission to contact them
Add new contacts using sign-up forms
Ability to categorize and tag contacts (also known as segmenting)
Add custom fields to add additional data about contacts
Duplicate and delete contact lists
Some other capabilities related to this feature are:
Some ESPs provide the ability to import and sync contacts from an external database. This is useful when you have external systems such as a Content Management System (CMS), billing or accounting system with its own database and you need to keep the contacts list up to date.
Some ESPs provide an auto import feature where contacts are automatically imported from 3rd party services (e.g. eCommerce platforms) at regular intervals. [click to continue...]
Transactional emails are emails that are sent to a user automatically as a result of taking a certain action (or when certain actions are not taken).
If you have ever forgotten your password to an online website or application and clicked on the “Forgot Password” link, you automatically receive an email in your email inbox with a link to reset your password.
Well, this is an example of a Transactional Email. Clicking on the “Forgot Password” link was the action that triggered that email.
Alternatively, if you added a product to your online cart but did not make a purchase (did not complete an action), you may receive an abandoned cart email reminding you of the product.
There are many examples of transactional emails, here are some:
Confirmation email after you sign-up on a website or online service
Email receipt of a product after your purchase
Weekly account summary emails
Notification emails (e.g. when someone follows or retweets you on Twitter)
Abandoned cart emails
The other type of emails are “Marketing Emails”, the kind of email that you generally associate with email newsletters, promotional product emails etc.Read More
Triggered emails are similar to transactional emails but are triggered as part of an automation workflow.
Emails can be triggered as a result of a variety of factors including: page views, events (e.g. video play), email activity (click on a certain link with email), customer attributes, conditions, and/or customer activity. The possibilities are endless.
The goal of triggered emails if to personalize and customize the emails in a way to make highly relevant to the needs and tastes of a user. The result is a better user experience and increased ROI for the business.
The result is a better user experience and increased ROI for the business.
Product recommendation emails are examples of such Triggered Email Messages.
They are based on customer activity on the website (e.g. recommend products from a certain category if a customer has visited 5 or more products from that category). [click to continue...]Read More
Third Party Ads
This is a feature offered by some Email Service Providers (ESPs).
3rd party ads are a way to monetize your email marketing through real-time display ads within your emails.
This is an email monetization strategy (especially if you have a large email list).
This works very similar to how Adsense works for websites:
Enable 3rd party ads through your ESP
Place the ad merge tags within your email (banner ad, body copy etc.)
Targeted ads will be served in real-time to each subscriber automatically (i..e each subscriber will see an ad that is relevant to them)Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Ecommerce Storefront
Some advanced marketing automation platforms (e.g. Infusionsoft) provide extended functionalities that would normally be offered by an eCommerce platform.
- eCommerce storefronts
- Payment processing
- Order processing
- Inventory management
- Order fulfilment
- Referral program management
This provides a seamless eCommerce and digital marketing integration. May also saves the hassle of integrating multiple platforms and services. [click to continue...]Read More
A/B Split Testing
In the context of email marketing, A/B Split testing (or A/X or multivariate testing) is a way to do controlled, randomized experiments on different email elements with the goal of improving email metrics such as open or click rates.
For example, two subject lines can be tested to see which one will lead to higher open rates. The software will randomly send one subject line to 50% of the subscribers and another subject line to the other 50%.
After a specified period of time, open rates are checked to see which subject line performed better.
Many Email Service Providers (ESPs) provide the ability to split test and optimize the conversion process of your email campaigns.
A variety of elements can be tested including:
– Call to action
– Subject line
– Effect of testimonials
– Body Copy
– Closing text
Here are some important email metrics to track with A/B split testing:
– Email open rates
– Call to action “Click-through Rate (CTR)”
– End goal conversion rate
Email Marketing Feature: Dynamic/Conditional Content
Dynamic content is an advanced email personalization feature offered by many Email Service Providers (ESPs).
Using Dynamic Content, the content of the same email is automatically personalized (based on pre-defined criteria) for different subscribers. As an example, it means if you are a male you will see male shoes and if you are female you will see female shoes.
The general idea behind using dynamic content is that the more relevant a message is to a customer’s interests and needs, the better outcomes (engagement, sales etc.) it can drive for your business.
Combined with other marketing automation technologies, Dynamic Content has the potential to tailor excellent user experience for the customer and improve ROI for the business.
Dynamic content can be presented in a variety of ways:
- Using Dynamic Tags: An email can be personalized using tags that help personalize the message with information that is directly relevant to the prospect (such as First Name, Twitter handle etc.). It provides the experience of a personal custom tailored email message rather than general message sent to the entire list.
- Using Customer Segments (existing data): Customer segment data such as “gender” can be used to send targeted product recommendations (e.g. female versus male shoe recommendations with respective images).
- Using External Data/Content to customize messages: An example of this would be using external weather forecast data for customer’s zip code to send “last minute vacation deals” for a particularly cold/snowy weekend.
Drip campaigns are automated series of email messages sent out on a predefined schedule. Drip campaigns are often used in lead nurturing process.
A five part email course series sent using a Drip Campaign would look like this:
Day 1: Email 1 – sent immediately
Day 2: Email 2 – 9AM
(24 hour delay)
Day 3: Email 3 – 9AM
(24 hour delay)
Day 4: Email 4 – 9AM
(24 hour delay)
Day 5: Email 5 – 9AMRead More
Not all leads are created equal.
Let’s consider a simple example. Two separate leads entered your marketing funnel through a free webinar presentation.
An analysis of their activities for a month following their subscription reveal the following:
The first lead visited your website once in the last month and read a blog post after clicking on the link in your weekly newsletter during the second week following the free webinar. She hasn’t visited your website since.
The second lead, however, has visited your website multiple times in the last month, specifically visiting the features, testimonials and pricing pages of one of your product at least 5 times in the last week alone. This lead has also downloaded a couple of white papers related to the same product.
Now let me ask you this: Would you treat both leads the same or differently?
Of course, this would be a no-brainer for any smart salesperson.
A salesperson would likely follow up with the second lead because their activity suggests that they are more likely to purchase the product today as compared to the first lead.
This is easy to determine when you only have two leads. It would be much complex if you have thousands of leads in your marketing funnel. Then you would need to somehow automate the same process.
A smart marketing/sales technology would automatically score the leads based on a set of criteria defined by you. [click to continue...]Read More
Email Marketing Feature: HTML Email Editor
HTML Email Editor allows WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) interface to create email newsletter designs. You can easily switch between visual (WYSIWYG) mode and HTML code mode.
Some Email Editors may have “drag and drop” design functionality.
Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) provide some sort of HTML Email Editor. Not all have the “drag and drop” functionality though.
There are third party email editors also available on the market.Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Reporting & Metrics
Reports provide the critical feedback necessary to determine whether the campaigns that you are running are being successful or not.
Most Email Service Provider (ESPs) provide some sort of reporting functionality.
However, they may vary in the kinds of metrics they track, the level of depth they track (e.g. Opens versus Open by kind of device) and their presentation styles.
Some basic metrics reported are Opens, Click Through Rate (CTR), Bounces, and Unsubscribes.
Advance reports may include metrics such as click heat maps, and A/B testing results etc. [click to continue...]Read More
Single versus Double Opt-In
Opt-in status refers to the consent/permission given by the subscriber in relation to their privacy and willingness to be contacted in the future.
A double-opt in involves an extra confirmation step taken by the subscriber granting permission to be contacted in the future.
Here is a breakdown of the opt-in process:
The subscriber enters the email address in an opt-in box and is immediately added to the email database of the receiving person, business, or entity. The subscriber starts receiving email messages.
The subscriber enters the email address in an opt-in box. The subscriber then receives a confirmation email asking to click on a link to confirm their subscription.
- If the subscriber clicks on the link, they are added to the email database of the receiving person or entity. They will start receiving email messages.
- If the subscriber fails to click on the confirmation link, they are not added to the subscriber database and do not receive any other email messages in the future.
The single versus double opt-in could also be thought of in terms of implicit versus explicit permission.
A single opt-in implicitly considers someone who opts-in as providing permission to be contacted in the future.
The extra step in the double opt-in process can be thought of as providing explicit permission to be contacted via email in the future. [click to continue...]Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Subscription Forms
Subscription Forms or sign-up forms are the opt-in forms installed on a webpage used to collect the email address of subscribers.
The subscription forms provided by Email Service Providers (ESPs) integrate seamlessly with their email services.
Subscription forms can also be created using third party plugins or softwares that provide integration with different ESPs.
Alternatively, the forms can be designed and coded manually.Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Universal Form Capture
Here is a scenario: You switch your Email Service Provider (ESP) from ESP-A to ESP-B. You have email capture forms on multiple webpages on your website already configured to send email addresses to ESP-A.
After switching to ESP-B, how do you go about configuring it so the subscriber details are captured by ESP-B?
One way is to manually change the code in each of your subscription forms.
However, some ESPs offer this neat feature called Universal Form Capture.
Universal Form Capture refers to an Email Service Provider’s (ESP) ability to automatically detect and integrate with (i.e. capture email addresses) existing email subscription forms located on the webpages of your websites.
You don’t need to switch forms or change code to send email addresses to the ESPs database.
This usually requires first installing a tracking code provided by the ESP on the pages the subscription forms are located at. [click to continue...]Read More
Marketing Automation refers to softwares, marketing platforms and technologies that enable automation of marketing tasks.
The automation tasks may be pre-programmed. For example scheduling of posts on Twitter or Facebook to be posted at scheduled dates/times.
Alternatively, the automation may be conditional (if > then format), i.e. based on user activity, specific events, or purchase behavior.
For example, if a user visits a specific product page 3 times in the last 5 days, then send an email with a coupon code.
Marketing Automation technologies may also integrate multiple marketing channels. This allows reaching the user at multiple touch points via different marketing channels thus creating an integrated user experience.
Marketing automation helps simplify marketing workflows and automate repetitive tasks.
Ultimately, the goal of marketing automation is to reach the user at the right time with the right offer or engagement opportunity.
It may result in greater brand awareness, loyalty, and ROI for the business.
Please note that different Email Service Providers (ESP) have different automation capabilities. [click to continue...]Read More
Email Marketing Feature: Automation Workflows
Email automation workflows is an advanced marketing automation feature offered by many Email Service Providers (ESPs).
Workflows allow you to use a variety of “if > then” type of rules to automatically send personalized email messages to the right users/customers at the right time.
According to ESPs, using workflows may help in creating a stronger relationship with your customers and may overall be profitable to the business.
Workflows allow you to design a sort of marketing “maze” in which the subscriber enters. Based on a user’s specific actions and preferences (which are tracked), the user receives the most relevant set of email messages.
ESPs often offer the workflows in a visual drag and drop (or drop down choices) interface which helps the marketing team better visualize their marketing strategy and funnels.
(Image : Example automation workflow from Infusionsoft)
Another value proposition of using workflows is that they are non-tech marketers friendly. You don’t need to be an IT guy or a developer to use them.
ESPs usually offer workflows as a premium feature.
Some ESPs provide pre-built workflow templates based on email marketing best practices as a value-added feature. These can be easily customized and deployed quickly. [click to continue...]Read More
Remember in the good ol’ days when you didn’t have your smartphones with you 24/7 and didn’t have access to the wi-fi everywhere?
You usually set up “away email messages” in your email clients when you went on vacation or were unable to attend your inbox for extended periods of time?
When anyone emailed you – they automatically received your “away email message”.
That is one of the original examples of an autoresponder.
As the name suggests, the autoresponder automatically sends an automatic response or message based on a pre-defined condition or trigger.
With the advent and development of Email Marketing, the concept of autoresponders has been taken to the next level as well.
The Autoresponder is one of the basic features included in most ESPs these days.
An example of Autoresponder use is that of a new subscriber receiving an automatic “Welcome Message” after they have confirmed their email subscription.
More advanced forms of Autoresponders are also called Drip Campaigns where a marketer has the opportunity to schedule a series of email messages that are sent out at pre-defined (after a few hours, days etc.) intervals. [click to continue...]Read More
Deliverability may perhaps be one of the most (if not The Most) important aspects of your email marketing efforts.
Your email marketing could be perfect but if it never reaches its intended recipients then all the other efforts are useless.
Successful Email Deliverability means that your messages have successfully reached their intended recipients.
Unsuccessful email deliverability means either your email messages never reach your recipients inbox or they end up in bulk/spam folders.
Poor deliverability rates can negatively impact the performance of your email marketing campaigns.
A variety of technical factors may affect the deliverability of your email campaigns. Email Service Providers (ESPs) may have their own rules and policies to ensure that their users are not spamming email recipients.
In general, some best practices to keep high deliverability rates in your business to make sure that your emails are getting delivered are:
- You are emailing only those who have given permission to receive emails from you (permission based marketing)
- You are sending emails with content that is relevant to those whom you are emailing (to keep high engagement rates)
- You are cleaning your lists to remove email addresses that are not opening/engaging with your emails.
- Make it easier for people to unsubscribe.
- Don’t use deceptive marketing techniques to make sales
Shared versus Dedicated IP
The reputation of the IP address through which the emails are being sent can have a direct impact on the deliverability. [click to continue...]Read More
Geotracking and Geolocation
Geo-tracking and Geolocation are features offered by a variety of Email Service Providers (ESPs).
Geotracking and Geolocation features identify your subscribers’ location based on their IP addresses. These features can help you target your campaigns based on your subscribers geographical locations and thus make your messaging more relevant to your subscribers.
Here are some of the benefits listed on Benchmark’s website:
- “Get the Big Picture of where most of your customers are located”
- “Create custom email lists based on geographic location”
- “Build and send custom campaigns targeting customers in certain countries and cities”
- “Focus your efforts on pockets of people in different areas”
Inbox preview is a feature offered by many Email Service Providers (ESPs) and is also available through 3rd party email testing and analytics services (if your ESP doesn’t offer this feature).
Different devices, email clients, and browsers may use different standards to interpret the design code (HTML) used in your email, Therefore, your email may look beautiful on one device or client and completely broken on another.
This feature allows you to preview how your email will look like on different devices (desktops, tablets, mobile), browsers, and email clients before your hit the send button.Read More
Segmentation is the umbrella term given to subdividing a larger email list into sub-lists based on shared characteristics or qualities.
The purpose of segmentation is to personalize and customize the messages to make it more relevent to specific groups of people.
A study by Mailchimp suggests that segmented campaigns perform significantly better than the non-segmented ones.
Overall, segmenting may also have a positive impact on the email reputation which may improve deliverability.
There are a variety of ways an email list could be segmented, e.g. geographic location, age, gender, expressed interests and purchase history etc. [click to continue...]Read More