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Videos | Why Email Marketing Is Still King

In the brave new world of Social Media Marketing, Email is still far and away the biggest ROI driver. Find out how to use Email marketing to propel your business.
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Video Transcript

In this video we'll be talking about maximizing your potential with marketing via email to boost your ecommerce sales. For some of you, you started up an ecommerce web site as a hobby and for others this is your full time position, you have a team of employees working under you. I tried to gear this presentation to all of your levels. Hopefully there's something in this for everyone. 

Today's Agenda
  • Is Email Marketing Really "King?"
We'll give any skeptics out there some good evidence of why they should be doing it.
  • Necessary Investment for successful Email Marketing.
Now even though email marketing is itself is inexpensive, the 
inherent cost for obtaining an email is significant. 
  • Conversion Rates
Next we'll talk about what everybody wants to talk about and that's how an email converts compared to other marketing methods and how it's still winning that battle. 
  • Benchmarks you need to know
I'll cover benchmarks that need to be taken into account, especially when you are reviewing the data for your email campaign so you know when you need to make an adjustment.
  • Strategy
The majority of this presentation will focus on strategy and we'll also provide some insight on works the best. I'm not an expert in everyone's industry, but I can certainly point you in the right direction for developing your own email marketing strategy. 
  • What's new in 2014
After that I'm going to be talking about some changes to email marketing that you should be aware of.
  • Real World Examples
I'll be showing you some real world examples of some successful email campaigns that should spark some ideas about what you can try on your own campaign. That will be followed by my personal conclusions and a time for Q&A. 

When I saw email marketing is King, what do I mean? King of what? You and whose army? When it comes to customer acquisitions, Google search wins, followed by email and then social media. It costs five times more to gain a new customer then to keep a current customer, so this shouldn't be a huge surprise. You'll find over time you'll spend much more in your pay per click and SEO campaigns then you will in your email and social media campaigns, but this chart doesn't show conversions which I'll talk about in a later slide. 

  • Email clearly crushes social media when it comes to generating new customers. 
  • You'll get 40x more customers through email. 
  • 94% of online activity is sending or reading email
  • 75% of all online adults say email is their preferred marketing method
Email marketing is pretty cheap, but let's not minimize the fact that getting someone to actually give you their email address so you can market to them isn't easy or inexpensive. You should treat every email like gold, because like digging for gold, you gotta work for it. This is really like a great journey or quest. You need a great product, a great user experience, you need trust from the consumer, awareness, if you're a small business you need referrals, sometimes you need to offer an incentive to get an email or a free offer, etc.

This is a really long journey and the treasure at the end of your request is that precious email where you have direct contact with each other and every subscriber. Now you have the opportunity to have an exclusive and private conversation with each person. So what are you going to do with that? You just going to blast them with the same old newsletter over and over again? Where's the personal touch in all of this? How do we maintain that feeling that you're speaking directly to each customer one on one? We'll talk about that in a little bit. 

Across all incomes, email really converts the best by a recent study done by AW Pro Tools and for those who earn over $100,000 a year, it's an overwhelming majority that convert through email. Jack Born, CEO of AW Pro Tools says the winning strategy for entrepreneurs in Fortune 500 alike is to attract a base of raving fans that open, read and click on the emails you send. So how do we tap into this? How do you make people want to buy from you loyally again and again using email? You develop a strategy based on testing, or in some cases invitation depending on what your resources are. As you test, make sure you're tracking your data just as closely as you would the traffic on your web site. Make adjustments according to the metrics you find. 

Now if you don't what your industry average is for open rate, bounce rate, click rate and opt-out rate you need to find out as a starting point to determine the success of your campaign. Now, just like you use Google Analytics to determine which pages are performing poorly, you also need to tract the data with your emails to see which ones need improvements. These numbers represent ranges from all industries on the left and on the right hand side you will see the retail average. Check out Constant Contact to find out your Industry's average if you have a moment. If you haven't been tracking your email marketing data until this point, use this to go on to start. You'll need to adjust your baseline after you've had a few campaigns under your belt, but email marketers are constantly trying to push the envelope and they want to push the average higher and higher based on their historical data.

The Industry Benchmarks
Constant Contact 

All Industries Averages:
Retail Average
  • Open Rate = 13% - 24%
  • Bounce Rate = 6% - 12%
  • Click Through Rate = 5% - 20%
  • Opt-Out Rate = .11% - .44%
  • Open Rate = 18%
  • Bounce Rate = 6.95%
  • Click Through Rate = 13.99%
  • Opt-out Rate =.21%

  • Conversion rate should be 1-5%
  • Define conversion rate
    • Purchase
    • Awareness Campaign
    • Measure against ROI
Most of us consider a purchase of a product a conversion, but I would not make that a goal of every single campaign that you run. Sometimes it's just about awareness. Sometimes it's just getting people to talk about your site. Plenty of time your campaign is just about measuring your click through rate itself or getting a customer to see a new feature or a new product which starts the decision making with the consumer.  Just make sure that you set a primary goal with each campaign you run and define your conversion and make sure your data can be collected to determine the success of that particular goal. 

How to Grow Your Email List
  • Offer an Incentive for signing up
    • Promise of a discount/free item
    • Let them know why they should sign up
  • Make it easy to find
    • Add sign up widget on Facebook
    • Visible on your site
    • Multiple opportunities to sign up
Home Page - Checkout - User Registration - Wish List - Customer Service
  • Make it easy to Sign Up
    • One click or only ask for relevant info

Make sure your email sign up is easy to find, visible on your homepage at the very least. Make sure at the subscriptions and purchase touch points you offer the option of signing up for the newsletter for some sort of incentive. Let them know what you're going to send them and make it enticing. "Sign up for our newsletter" is boring and understated. "Receive special discounts and information about new products!" that's better. 

Make it easy to sign up. Don't ask for information you don't need. If you use an esp (email service provider) that requires this or you're looking for a double opt in experience, make this a time to collect relevant data. You do not need my physical address. For example, you might want to ask me what I'm shopping for today or something that would profile me in your data base. Now this information can be of great use when it comes to segmentation, which I will discuss later. 

Increase Your Open Rate
  • Subject line length
Your subject line should be as short as possible, except when they shouldn't be. This is something we'll get into when you AB test. We'll get into AB testing later. 
  • Ask a question
Ask a question in the subject line to get an open. i.e. "How are you going to stay dry today?"
  • Put the promo at the start of the phrase "25% off..."
If you are running a promotion, put the promo at the beginning of the line, not at the end. Say "Up to 25% off all necklaces", not "all necklaces 25% off." You want to make sure that promo message stands out at the beginning of the phrase. 
  • Urgency i.e. "deal ends at midnight"
Make this an urgent call to action. Let them know if they wait they are going to miss out. 
  • Send it at the right time of day/week
  • Qualify your list and send quality content
Make sure your subscriber list is getting information they want. Someone who signed up for weight loss information, won't want to get information about some random unrelated topic than weight loss. You'll see your unsubscribe rate really skyrocket if you do this.
  • Take out the spam words
Most esp's help you determine spam words. If yours doesn't, you can always do a quick Google search to determine which words are spam triggers. Words like "sale" and "cheap" come to mind. 

The Best Time to Send an Email
Mail Chimp 12/4/13

24% of all email opens occur during the first hour of delivery. After 24 hours after the send, the chance of an open drops below 1%. Let's look at the Industry Standard here:

Tuesday - Thursday are the best days to send an email. These are the high volume days. Now as I said before, you need to test this stuff. Maybe your clientele's boxes are going to fill up on these days and it's better for you to send yours on a weekend or whenever other retailers are refraining from sending theirs. Keep testing and you'll find out. 

2-5pm is the optimal time of day. These numbers all come from Mail Chimp and I can tell you that a lot of retailers stick to this time of day for the most part. But again, consider your audience and test as you may very well be the exception to the rule. 

How Do I Improve My CTR?

  • A/B and Multivariate Testing 
    • Length of copy
    • Number of images
    • Image placement
    • Call to action: color/placement/wording/quantity
    • Plain text vs. rich text vs. HTML
    • Time of Day (early, mid, late), Day of the week (M>F?)

AB testing is inexpensive when it comes to email. Major retails spend tens of thousands of dollars to AB test their web stores and that's a very expensive endeavor, however, you can get just as big of an impact doing this on your email account. Don't forget to test the time of day to see which time works best for you. 

A/B Testing
This is just a different way to test calling out the promotion that I'm working on. One one email I might put a graphic header where on the other I might place text with some hyper links. Sometimes you want to keep the messaging and the images exactly the same, but you want to change out the promotion. Maybe your customers are more attracted to a percent off discount rather than a dollars off discount. It really just depends. You'll never know unless you do the testing. Now typically I leave the B spot banners personally when I A/B test. That doesn't mean you have to do it. There's so many different ways you can do this. Again, my primary goal of the email is signing you up for custom email design services. That's the primary goal of this email. So I A/B test is my primary goal. 

Other ways you can improve your click through rate. This example is a Miva Merchant client called Julie's Jewels. She sells some really nice jewelry pieces online. This is really just a basic email that I put together for her. The click through rate usually improves when you have visual anchors in the form of images and contextual texts combination. Notice the callout within the image. Notice that the text below has hyperlinks. I'm putting a lot of links and even duplicating some of them. Don't forget to include that pre-header text that shows the content of the email before the images get loaded. This is the preview of the message next to the subject line in the email. These are all good things to include in your click through rate. 

Try sending emails only when it's relevant and valuable. Don't just blast your list weekly with the same old story. Wait until you have something truly enticing to tell them or sell them. However, there's a caveat to this. There really is no limit to the number of emails you can send. There are plenty of retailers out there and you'll notice that they send every day. They wouldn't do it if their sales weren't skyrocketing. If you just have one list, just one plain subscriber list, you have 100,000 people on that list, and you email them every day then expect your opt outs to grow. If you're going to send a blast to your entire list make sure you have something enticing that would apply to your entire list. Now there should be a very clear value proposition statement as the disclaimer of the email. This is good for legal purposes. You might include a benefits recipients clause. This helps with can spam laws as well. 

Optimize for Mobile
  • Implement full responsive email designs (at the very least mobile optimized)
  • More than 50% of users check email on their smart phones and mobile devices - performancein.com
Now in case you didn't know half the world checks their email on their phones. If you are not optimizing for mobile on both your web store and your email you are seriously missing out. Note this is the way an email looks on a mobile phone. The desktop view on the left and an optimized for mobile view on the right. Notice I can't read anything on the left hand side. I'm going to have to pinch and zoom, but on the right the optimized for mobile site the picture nice and big and I can actually see the text, the call to action button on the bottom right hand corner.  

There are now more smartphones in the world than there are credit cards. I think this is a pretty easy argument to make. if you want to get deeper in to email marketing and I strongly suggest that you do if you have the budget you would be wise to invest into an auto response system. Note here:

Automated Emails Get Response
Note here that we:
  • Have 24% higher open rates compared to newsletters. 
  • Have 47% higher CTR compared to Newsletters
  • Average auto responder sequence has 8 messages and is 49 days long
  • Initial messages perform best. As time goes by the subscribers engagement gradually fades. 
Miva has some out of the box and there are some third party venders out there that we work with and I'm going to try and stay third party agnostic, but if you want to know about any that I would recommend feel free to reach out to me and I can put you in touch with some great people. Now you can really expand these for a triggered response for every touch worthy.  

Miva & Event Triggered Messaging
  • Utilize 3rd party vendors for add-ons to augment Miva ETM
  • Miva has basic trigger emails out of the box
  • We have a couple out of the box with Miva. There's a backorder notice, a customer created, order confirmation, shipments shipped, you might want to consider implementing some marketing messages within these. It can all be done through Miva. If you would like to consider a third party vendor, here are some examples of some additional Intuitive Triggers to get you brainstorming on your end.
  • Examples of additional Intuitive Triggers not provided by Miva
    • Birthday Messages
    • Reminder Campaigns
    • Time to Reorder Campaigns
    • Shopping Cart Abandonment
    • Profile Update
  • Click Stream data and transactional history to create marketing programs and messages that are personalized.
  • Open Rates for ETM increased 84% over batch messaging. 
  • CTR for ETM increased 32% MarketingSherpa
Marketers can respond easily to customers profile characteristics, provide information, offers and drive them in whatever direction they choose. Now event triggered messages range from very simple one-step autoresponder messages which is a welcome message that's triggered by a new signup or a birthday, anniversary or something more complex triggered message series or conversation that uses profiling and dynamic content to create highly specific multi-packed messages to different segments of a list. Or an advanced trigger messaging campaigns to reengage customers or prospects who have abandoned a shopping cart or a form. They use quick stream data and transactional history to create these marketing programs and make the messages even more personalized to every single consumer. 

Simple Auto Responder / Advanced Multi-Path
  • Form Submission or Subscribe
  • Thank you email
  • Terminate Converstation
A couple examples of some autoresponder email paths. Try and see how these can relate to your business. This should hopefully start some more ideas of how you could do the same. The first is super simple. Someone fills out a form on your site, a basic thank you email is sent and the conversation is over.  Now here's another scenario:
  • Form Submission
  • Wait until 1 week before birthday
  • Birthday Message
  • Goto Wait until 1 week before birthday
  • Terminate conversation
The recipient subscribes to a restaurant list online for example. They enter their birthday information. One week before their birthday the system sends out a happy birthday email and a coupon for a free appetizer. After that the conversation falls back to a wait status and no other actions are needed but next year, one week before their birthday, the restaurant sends out another happy birthday with a 20% coupon for the entire bill. The conversation goes back to the wait step until the following year and the conversation is terminated when the person unsubscribes from the list or the person chooses to stop receiving email on his birthday. 

Simple Auto Responder / Advanced Multi-Path
Here's a more advanced multi-path conversation. The organization, let's say they are a video on demand service. They send out an email to their entire list and they are announcing a sale on dvd's and a couple of categories. There's comedy, there's western, and there's Sci-fi. So the recipients have one week to click on one of the links in the message. If no action gets taken the recipients are terminated from the conversation. But if a recipient clicks on one of the links, either comedy, western or Sci-fi, another email is sent out on dvd's and that genre and because no further action is needed, the conversation is terminated. Now think about how this may apply to your business.

  • If you collect data at sign up, make sure it is relevant 
  • What are their preferences?
  • Use purchase history to develop targeted campaigns
  • Aspire for a 1:1 relationship/experience

Let's talk a little more about segmentation. If you don't want to go with the event triggered email amount I was just describing due to cost, a segmentation is still something that can be accomplished on a shoestring budget. Now this can be more robust if you collect more relevant information at sign ups. Ask your customers what they like and what products you offer and hang on to this data. One company that comes to mind for me is Eventful. If you've never checked out Eventful they promote live events all over the world. It could be live music, restaurants, movies, screenings, whatever you want. Checkout what their signup process is. It goes on for days, literally pages and pages but they are asking me, what are the artists I like, what are the genre's of movies that I like, but since I want to hear about all this stuff, I'm going to take the time to fill out all these forms because I want to know about it. Now, even if you don't have detailed information on signups, you can in some case make some assumptions based on their purchase history. So for example if you sell home furnishings and someone buys a shower curtain for example that customer might be redecorating in their bathroom, let's assume that? Why not email some suggestions that would complement their order? Maybe send them an email with info on towels, bathmats, floor mats, decor, etc. That would be a reasonable follow up to someone whose shopping for a shower curtain. Now imagine having a captive audience of one with every email you send. Obviously that goal is probably never going to be reached, but if you've ever had a shopping experience where a great automated response campaign, you really feel like every message is catered specifically to you. It sticks with you and you remember it. It's going to enhance your overall user experience. 

Changes and Predictions for 2014
  • $2 billion will be spend on email marketing - Forrester Research
  • The average person dedicates 13 hours a week to email - McKinsey Global Institute
  • In 2014, expect to see new marketplaces for email that copy the advances that have been made on display and search. - PerformanceIn.com
  • Video in emails is a growing trend. 25% of marketers use it. Marketing Profs
  • Product Recommendations - Upselling
  • Event-triggered emails - Previous customer behavior triggers a targeted and relevant email campaign which results in what the marketer has predicted. 
  • In December 2013, Gmail blew up email marketing by caching all images on Google Servers Arstechnica.com
Ever wonder why most email clients hide images by default? The reason for the "Display images button" at the top of your email is because images in an email have to be loaded from a third party server. So when you load these images, you aren't just receiving an image, you're sending a ton of data about yourself to the email marketer, information like your ip address, http referral, your email client, what device you're looking at it on. However, Google shut most of these tactics down and they now cache all images for gmail servers. Embedded images will now be saved by Google and the email content is going to be modified to display those images from Google's cache instead of from a third party server. Email marketers will no longer be able to get any information from images. They will see a single request from Google which will then be used to send the image out to all Gmail users. So unless you click on a link, marketers will really have no idea the email has been seen. Now there's also a bonus side for Google. Email marketing is advertising and Google exists because of advertising dollars, but they don't do email marketing they just made a competitive form of advertising much less appealing to advertisers so no doubt Google hopes that his move is going to push marketers to spend less on email and more on ad sense. 

I want to take a look at another one of Miva's clients. This is Squishable. They sell these adorable little plush toys. This is what their web site looks like. I wanted to take a look at their email campaigns because it looks like they have a really great graphic designer, really great call to action, and great product images and this is what their email looks like. When I saw it I thought, wow, this could use a little bit of help. So I reached out to them and said, "Hey, you have a great graphic designer, what's going on? Do you need a little bit of help with your email marketing? Then they said, "you know what, we A/B tested and this one won." I just thought this was really interesting and I wanted to share it with all of you. Something like this for a plush toy company seemed to work really well. They said once we put the images in the email itself, people really aren't clicking through as much. If we put it in a rich text message like this, people click through, they get through the site and they buy. So wouldn't this be nice if this could happen to all of us? Think about how much we could save on design resources. It's really just something I want you to think about and A/B testing every single scenario you can think of. You never know what's going to get people to click through more. So keep A/B testing. 

So, before I conclude, I just want to emphasize a couple mistakes I see on a daily basis from a lot of my clients.

Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid At All Costs  
  1. Sending too many emails to your entire user base. (focus on quality rather than quantity)
  2. Sending without permission (sending marketing emails without permission will rarely persuade someone to buy your product)
  3. No call to action (Add visible links like "Shop Now" or "Click here" is a good idea for a call to action)
  4. No segmentation of Target Audience (there's no "one size fits all" email strategy. Marketing emails should feel like a 1 to 1 communication. Don't treat every individual the same).
  5. No optimization for mobile emails (non optimized emails for mobile will look like a total mess and will not grab the attention of your audience.)
  6. Content Errors (like grammar, spelling, length of copy - make sure that you're  copywriter or you are looking over the grammar for errors in your emails)
  7. Landing in junk mail (do not get blacklisted, don't include too many images, they are going to lower the quality scores on the email firewall checklist. Have a text only option of your email and don't include an attachment or anything that looks like a virus and please, don't buy lists. There are a lot of companies that sell third party information. Some people think that's going to get them ahead. Some how they are going to bulk up their subscribe list by cheating. It's not going to work. Spam laws are going to shut you down really quick if you do that.
  8. Not gauging the effectiveness of your campaign (Email marketing analytics should help you keep track of the effectiveness of your marketing strategy has been and how you can improve upon it with better results. 
  9. Over-promising subject lines (If you say something like, "Open this and all your birthday wishes will come true" it's only going to put off the reader. 
  10. Not sending emails at the right time (If you're introducing a new product in the market or a special reward or discount and it's email worthy, don't burry the offer in your web site. You want to create a multi email campaign around it.)
  • No one size fits all solution
  • Focus your marketing on what actually works and generates results
  • A/B testing with email is relatively inexpensive
  • Don't have time/money to A/B test? Subscribe to your competitors email and imitate them.
  • Even on a shoestring budget, you can run a successful email campaign and continue to increase your conversion rate by reviewing your data
  • Miva can help!
Please don't hesitate to reach out to us here at Miva. We can help you with your email campaigns. We can help you design an email that you can easily use for A/B testing and assist in developing a strategy around it. We can custom build your email, we can code it so it works across all email service providers and even provide an editable template for you to reuse the template with different text and imagery over and over again. This can be a really great and efficient way to manage your A/B testing and segment your users in the future. 


Q: Why do we offer integration with MailChimp and not Constant Contact?

A: That's a good question.  It's a usability issue. The way that MailChimp is set up to collect data at the store level is better for results. 

Q: If I don't use MailChimp can I export results via a batch report in csv format so that I can use my email provider? 

A: It doesn't really matter what email service provider you use. You're going to have to reconcile your list against your subscribe list. Just want to make that clear.

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