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Email Marketing Worst Practices Still Prevail, as This LinkedIn Post Proves

Mon, 04/17/2017 - 11:52

This really happened…

The following question was posted in a discussion group for email marketers: “I need to blast bulk emails on daily basis so suggest me some best email marketing tools.”

As soon as I saw it, I thought, “Oh boy, that person is going to get lambasted for using not one, not two, but three dangerous words in this group: blast, bulk and daily.” I checked the comments on the post, fully expecting to be embarrassed on this marketer’s behalf. Instead, I was the embarrassed one because not one marketer—not one—called this person out for potentially bad email marketing practices. They simply suggested software and vendors.

Now, I could be wrong. It could be this person and the company they work for are adhering to email marketing best practices. Perhaps the post was only the result of a poor choice of words. But still, you’d think one marketer would have commented on that at least, just to be sure.

Why marketers need to strike “blast” and “bulk” from their vocabularies
The words blast and bulk are problematic at best for email marketers. It would be best if we simply did not use them. These are old words, from back in the dinosaur age of email when that’s exactly what we did: blast bulk emails to our lists.

We’ve evolved, however—or some of us have, at least. Today we don’t have to blast bulk emails because we can segment. We can target. We can deliver relevant and timely emails to consumers as individuals. We know about cadence and we can test to determine which frequency offers the best results. We can even offer preference centers that give consumers some control over the emails they receive from us.

And we have proven best practices that say this is how to do email marketing in an effective, profitable way: by sending engaging, timely, relevant emails to subscribers who opted into a list.

But as marketers, even if we’re not doing the blasting to bulk lists, we need to stop using those words because they inherently make the practices seem acceptable. And apparently they are still acceptable, because I see so much of it going on—and no one in the discussion group took issue with the word use.

And about this word “daily”
Then there’s the issue of both the word daily and the timing of anything done daily. Since research shows most consumers say weekly is the right frequency for receiving an email from a brand, daily is probably a bad idea. Some emails are delivered (and devoured) daily because their content is so engaging and relevant that people want to get them every day (think Skimm). Those emails are the exception however.

Sending too many emails too often hurts everyone. The most common reason people unsubscribe? Too many emails. So says recent research from MarketingSherpa, and this result has been consistent from year to year. Over 26% of respondents in 2016 cited too many emails in general as the reason of unsubscribing—not emails from one company in particular, mind you, just too many emails from too many vendors.

Other top reasons include:

  • Irrelevant emails at 21%
  • Too many emails from one particular company at 19%
  • The emails are always selling something at 19%
  • The content is boring, repetitive, uninteresting at 17%

Daily emails are a contributor to the email overload that makes consumers unsubscribe from everyone’s lists, not only the lists of the perpetrators. And bad emails—the ones that are irrelevant, boring, pushy, repetitive or uninteresting—are one reason why consumers have a cynical view of email marketing. Consumers like email marketing. It’s still their preferred channel for hearing from a brand. But they’d like it better if the email was done better (and sent less often), I’m sure, and they’d be more likely to click through as a result.

So daily—daily is also a problematic word in this context, and a word that only a few noted email marketers should be able to freely use. The rest of us need to determine a sending schedule that works for our subscribers—and that probably won’t be daily.

Finally, why marketers need to call out other marketers
If you think that it doesn’t matter when another marketer uses the batch-and-blast approach to email marketing or sends daily emails that are irrelevant and pushy, I disagree. Every time someone goes against what we know to be sound and proven best practices, they do the whole industry a disservice. We work hard to get our emails delivered, then face so much competition when we finally do get to the inbox. As for me and ClickMail’s clients, I’d rather all the competition we had to face was legit email from legit marketers using legit email practices. Our emails would stand out more in the inbox and we wouldn’t have to fight against so much clutter. A rising tide lifts all boats, they say. That applies to email too.

Every time a marketer violates email marketing best practices, doing blasts to bulk lists on a daily basis, a legitimate email marketer must fight one more battle for a place in the inbox and the attention of the consumer. That makes it imperative that those of us who are mindful make sure to stress the importance of doing email right…not right now.

The post Email Marketing Worst Practices Still Prevail, as This LinkedIn Post Proves appeared first on ClickMail | Whitelist.

Content Marketing Infographic Shows Email Marketing Plays Crucial for Distribution

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 10:56

The folks at Skilled have created an impressive infographic on ways to use content marketing—55 ways to use content marketing, to be exact. The topic and all of the many noteworthy facts presented are interesting and useful on their own. But what really caught my eye is toward the end of the infographic as you scroll down. There you’ll find the information on how to disseminate that content marketing—and email marketing is a key component of that distribution.

Which types of content marketing top the list?
Infographics, blogging and video are featured as the best, most effective types of content marketing, with compelling numbers backing up the claims:

  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content.
  • Blogs are ranked as the number one most important strategy by 45% of marketers.
  • And 52% of marketers name video as the content with the best ROI. According to the infographic, simply using the word video in a subject line could boost open rates by 19%, and click-through rates by 65%, as well as decrease unsubscribes by 26%

But how do you get that content out there? Email!
This infographic on content marketing makes a compelling case for email being a central component of any content marketing strategy. According to the statistics, 93% or marketers say email is the most important channel for distributing their content marketing.

With 204 million messages sent every minute, email is obviously still a very popular communications channel, and 82% of B2B and B2C companies say it is the number one choice for content distribution. In addition, email is 40x more effective than Facebook or Twitter at acquiring new customers, and 72% of consumers prefer to receive promotional content via email compared to other channels.

For those organizations more sales focused than marketing focused, email might not be tapped into (yet) for distributing content. These numbers show that mindset should change, however.

Use email to drive content
Although it’s not reflected in the infographic, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can also use email to drive the content you use in your content marketing. Track the data generated by your email marketing distribution of your content: What gets the most engagement? Do more of that. What gets the least? Tweak that or drop it. Test your subject lines and your frequency. Try a variety of content marketing types, such as the infographics or video mentioned above, or something else like white papers or guides. When you use email to distribute your content, you can learn how to refine and improve that content as a a result.

In the meantime, put the nuggets from this infographic to use.

Presented by

The post Content Marketing Infographic Shows Email Marketing Plays Crucial for Distribution appeared first on ClickMail | Whitelist.

4 Months and Counting! Staying CASL Compliant Post July 1

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 14:42

Disclaimer: As we do every time we post about CASL, we encourage you to seek legal advice to ensure CASL compliance. This post is informational only and not intended to serve as legal advice or guidance.

This summer, Canada’s strict anti-spam law will get stricter—and the risk of non-compliance will get riskier. The Canadian Anti Spam Law (CASL) was set up that way, to give marketers time—three years, to be exact—to be ready for compliance with the harder-hitting version of the law. So here we are, into a countdown of the final four months before that happens.

Are you ready?

A CASL refresher
In effect since July 2014, CASL is far more stringent than the U.S. CAN SPAM law, and it applies across borders. Yours does not have to be a Canadian company to have CASL’s regulations apply to your email marketing. Whether you’re in Canada or send to Canadian residents from somewhere else in the world, you have to comply with CASL. Period

CASL applies to more than just email. It applies to any Commercial Electronic Message (CEM) sent either from or to Canada. This can include text messages, instant messages and some social media communications. For our purposes here, however, we are only talking about the email marketing part of it.

Understanding the two kinds of CASL consent
Compliance for email marketers can be a little tricky to understand, because there are two kinds of consent that apply with the Canadian law—and consent is required. One type of consent is implied, meaning the consumer or organization has bought from you or had some communication with you implying they are willing to get emails from you. The other type of consent is express, and it is the ultimate goal of CASL as I understand it, to ensure that those on the receiving end of any email marketing messages have expressly stated they want to receive those messages.

I am grossly oversimplifying the implied consent here, which is actually quite complicated, so please see the DMA’s excellent resource on CASL for a much better explanation. But we have to address implied consent in order to talk about one of the changes coming July 1.

First change: You must have express consent
As of July 1, 2017, you have to have express consent with one exception. By the time this change goes into effect, email marketers will have had three years to get express consent. This means that if the consumer’s implied consent is dated before July 1, 2014, then you have until July 1, 2017 to reconfirm permission—getting express consent.

If you got implied consent after July 1, 2014, implied consent is fine for 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry. Anything outside of that timeframe requires express consent. And obviously, you’re still limited in how long you can email someone based on implied consent alone.

One caveat to all of this: You have to have some kind of date stamp or record of the implied consent. If you don’t have proof that the owner of the email address has given implied consent on a certain date, then you don’t have the consent at all—even if they did make an inquiry or a purchase from you. No dated proof, no implied consent.

Second change: Private right of action now possible
Keep that in mind as we delve into the other change that takes effect in four months. Starting on July 1, individuals and organizations will be able to bring a “private right of action” against persons or companies they judge to have violated CASL regulations—in other words, spammed them. The law allows these individuals or organizations to pursue actual and statutory damages. Up until July 1, only the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, could investigate and litigate against those not complying with CASL.

If that doesn’t give you pause, know that the first organization to be found in violation of CASL received a fine of $1.1 million. Are you nervous now?

What’s an email marketer to do?
Honestly, when you read through the nuts and bolts of CASL compliance, it’s simply a matter of common sense and email marketing best practices. Complying with the Canadian law should not be a challenge for any email marketer who is diligent in their list building and maintenance, and who actively strives to engage their audience. It’s also worth complying with CASL because it will keep you compliant the world over—something that will be even more top of mind for marketers in 2018 as the EU’s new data protection law, known as the GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation, goes into effect.

What’s an email marketer to do? Brush up on best practices if you need to. Put a regular list hygiene plan into place. Review your list acquisition practices. Strive to engage the people on the receiving end. In short, what you should do is what you should do even without CASL in place to force you.

As for the actual compliance, however, read up on it. I mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning a second time: The DMA has an excellent guide to CASL compliance. I strongly suggest you review it to ensure your compliance now, and after July.

The post 4 Months and Counting! Staying CASL Compliant Post July 1 appeared first on ClickMail | Whitelist.

Just Published! The 2017 Guide to Finding an Email Service Provider (ESP)

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:35

Looking for the best ESP for your organization? Download the newly updated 2017 ESP selection guide.

Every year, we take an in-depth look at the email marketing landscape to revise our annual ESP guide. As technologies and expectations change, the lens through which a marketer evaluates an ESP must also change. And that’s why we update this guide every year.

Switching email service providers is costly, time-consuming and—quite honestly—a pain. Choosing an ESP for the long term in the first place can save a lot of money, time and pain down the road.

If you’re starting the search for a new ESP, download the guide, confident it’s current with your 2017 concerns. It will help you strategically consider your needs and how they compare with an ESP’s capabilities, both current and future. It will walk you through practical considerations like scalability and usability, but also complex ones such as dynamic content and customization, so you can make an informed ESP choice—one that will last.

Find an ESP you can stick with—and grow with—for years to come with this essential guide.

The post Just Published! The 2017 Guide to Finding an Email Service Provider (ESP) appeared first on ClickMail | Whitelist.