Net Atlantic Quarterly - Summer 2013
Note from the CEO:
Mobile devices account for more than 40% of email opens in the US, and this number is only going to increase. It's time to seriously consider not just optimizing your emails for mobile, but making mobile your main priority. In this quarter's newsletter, we give you tips on how to do just that.
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by Karen Frasca
There's a lot of buzz going around about optimizing emails for mobile devices a priority–if not the priority.
While this makes perfect sense for some of you out there, it might seem counterintuitive for others. After all, you know your email design best practices and standards backwards and forwards, and you have beautiful and effective emails to show for it. Do people really expect to see your message in all its glory on a mobile device?
With 73% of people using their smartphones to check email every day, and more than 40% of all email opens in the US coming from mobile devices, it's time to seriously consider not just optimizing your emails for mobile, but designing with a "mobile first" mindset.
People have quickly come to expect a mobile-friendly experience, and if your customers and prospects are having a bad one–being forced to read tiny text or scroll horizontally, being unable to click links, and so on–you could be missing out on an opportunity to win their business. Maybe forever.
At the risk of stating the obvious, mobile is not going anywhere. In fact, it's only going to become more prevalent in the coming months and years. With that in mind, we're offering the five tips below to help you understand what you need to do to optimize your email designs for mobile devices.
Tip #1: Use responsive design
With email, it's virtually impossible to customize your content for every different mobile device on the market. Unless, of course, you have the time to code lots of different templates. We all have that kind of time these days, right? Sure we do.
A seemingly easy fix would be to send the same content, in the same template, to everyone on your list. The problem with this, though, is that it might look gorgeous on a widescreen Mac, but it's going to look horrible–and function even worse–on a super-small BlackBerry screen.
Thankfully, there is another alternative. If you want your message to be easy to read and engage with, regardless of which device it's viewed on, the best way to go is to use responsive design.
Responsive design is an approach that enables you to create emails that look great no matter what type of device they're viewed on, from desktops to mobile devices. It's the wave of the future, and the future is now–at least as far as mobile design is concerned.
Tip #2: Content is (still) king: Make it good
Great design is only half of the equation. You could have the most beautiful email on the planet, but if your content isn't relevant or enjoyable to your readers, it's ultimately going to fall flat.
Many people use their mobile devices to scan and filter their emails, so in many cases you've got one shot at getting them to open your message. If they don't like the looks of it, though, or if the content is not all that interesting, they'll delete it without thinking twice.
That said, a well-designed email will definitely give you an advantage, but content is the part you really need to get right if you want results. How do you do it? Here are three suggestions to get you started.
- Get to know your audience. Send them surveys. Ask them what they want or how you can better serve their needs. Follow your email subscribers on Twitter. Like or friend them on Facebook. Invite them to join your LinkedIn group(s). Listen to what they're saying, and join in the conversation. This won't just help you build relationships with your customers and prospects. It's a great way to generate ideas not only for marketing and email campaigns, but also to find out where there are needs in the marketplace that you could fill with a new product or service.
- Dedicate time on a regular basis to generate ideas and come up with interesting and relevant content, and then craft your messages to make them simple, straightforward and engaging. And don't forget to build in a compelling call-to-action!
- Create an editorial calendar and plan your campaigns well in advance, so you're not scrambling to come up with ideas at the last minute. The editorial calendar helps you organize your ideas, and keep track of all the different facets of your campaign so you can coordinate your efforts between product releases, emails, blog posts, social media activity, etc.
The more thought you put into what you're writing, and the more planning you do, the more cohesive and powerful your emails will be. Which translates into improved ROI and–potentially–increased revenue.
Tip #3: Focus on a single call to action
The key to designing emails with mobile in mind is simplicity.
Too much visual noise–busy images, a lot of small text, multiple calls to action, etc. - will only overwhelm the reader and make them hit "delete."
So keep it simple. And above all, keep the goal of your email campaign in mind. What do you want people to do as a result of reading your email? Redeem a coupon? Sign up for a demo of your latest product? Take advantage of a special discount or offer?
Once you've decided what you want your subscriber to do, create a single, irresistible call-to-action (CTA) around that desired behavior. Focus the design and content of your email around the CTA, and make your message very clear and easy to act upon.
Which brings us to...
Tip #4: Make it easy to engage with your message
Now that you've got your powerful call-to-action, how do you get your reader to answer the call?
Well, if you require your reader to click on a link to engage with your offer, and they are using that old BlackBerry we mentioned earlier, what do you think the chances are that you're going to get the click-through? Not very high.
But there is an answer: Use a button! When designing for mobile, you must make it a point to use buttons instead of links wherever possible in your email, but especially for that all-important CTA.
Most mobile devices have touch screens, and those screens are designed for the "tap", not the "click". They make it easy for people to interact with your message–if it's designed right. And it has to be easy, or you won't get the results you want. People aren't going to fool around with enlarging the email text just so they can then search for and click on a link you've embedded somewhere in there.
So just use a button. As discussed above, keep your design clean and clear, but make that button eye catching, so the reader knows exactly what to do.
Tip #5: Don't forget about your campaign landing pages
Here's where we've seen some otherwise excellent campaigns crash and burn.
A marketing team will spend loads of time and resources getting their email just right:
- Simple, straightforward, and captivating content? Check.
- A beautifully designed email that looks great on mobile devices of all types and sizes? Check.
- An irresistible and clear call-to-action? Check and check.
The reader taps the button (they did use a button, of course) and lands on a Web page that looks an absolute mess when viewed on their device. And that's all, folks. The campaign is dead in its tracks.
While this scenario might seem unlikely, landing pages can fall through the cracks more often than you might think.
The good news is that all you need to do is make sure each of your landing pages has been optimized for viewing on mobile devices, using the tips above.
We hope this article has helped you get a sense of what you need to do to optimize your email efforts for mobile in 2013 and beyond.
by Karen Frasca
Incorporating social media into your email marketing strategy is becoming integral to growing a healthy list.
You might be thinking, "Why would I want my Facebook fans and Twitter followers to sign up for my emails, too? Aren't they already receiving my messages through my social channels?"
Well, there are some very good reasons why.
One is relatively obvious: More exposure. Your emails will reach more people. In turn, your readers will see your company name more frequently. You show up on their Facebook wall, in their Twitter feed, and again in their email box. When it comes time to think about purchasing the type of product or service you offer, they will think of you first, because they've been exposed to your brand more often and have gotten a sense of who you are and what you do.
Another reason is that, once someone takes the time to sign up for your list, you can assume they are a bit more invested in you and what you have to offer. It takes more effort to sign up for your list than it does to simply click the "like" button on Facebook. This is not meant to diminish the importance of Facebook - because it's clearly an important part of your marketing mix. It's just to point out that someone who elects to receive your emails is probably more interested in what you have to offer, now or in the future, and wants to receive information from you directly so they don't miss anything. Because of this increased engagement, email subscribers are also more likely to respond to promotions and offers, because they're more committed to you and/or your brand.
So, how do you get your social community members to sign up for your email?
A great place to start is to use your social media channels to promote free giveaways, which you provide in exchange for a name and email address.
Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Create a piece of high-value, free content to give away in exchange for an individual's email address
The kinds of giveaways you can do are only as limited as your imagination. The key is that they are of high quality and provide value to your audience. They can include:
- white papers
- audio recordings
- product trials
- product demos
- initial consultations or evaluations
- a brief ebook (or a chapter from an ebook
Whatever you decide to do for your free giveaway, make sure it's something that's useful and/or informative for your audience. What you want to avoid at all costs is a giveaway that could be perceived as a thinly (or not so thinly) disguised ad or sales pitch for your product or services. This is a perfect way to send new subscribers running in the other direction, never to return.
Step 2: Promote your free content via a post on your social media channels
Once you have your giveaway, create and publish a post promoting your giveaway (and the benefits of signing up for your email list), to your social media fans and followers.
Make the post as compelling as possible by including an image or - even better - a brief video, and make it all about your prospect. Explain the benefits they'll receive when they sign up for your email list, and how it will help them reach their goals.
You may need to modify your post depending on which channel(s) you're using. For example, a Twitter post is limited to 140 characters, including a link; posts on Facebook and LinkedIn can be much longer.
And now for the critical part: Include a link to your email sign-up page in the post. Make it clear that that this is where your reader can access the free content in exchange for their name and email address.
Step 3: Follow up and follow through
Be sure to acknowledge new subscribers right away with an email that welcomes them to your list, and delivers your giveaway instantly.
If the giveaway is not something you can embed in your welcome email, like a video, then include a link or button that takes the recipient straight to it.
Once this initial contact has been made, be sure to uphold your end of the bargain going forward. Your new subscriber has trusted you with their email address. Make sure they know you respect that:
- Let them know what to expect from you (how often you will email, what types of content they'll receive, etc.)
- Consistently deliver on your promises
Building trust with your audience is the key to getting results from your giveaway strategy in the long run. Once people know they can trust you and your brand, they will be less likely to opt out of your mailing list. It's well and good to bring in new subscribers, but if you want to keep them, you must consistently deliver high caliber content on a regular basis through emails, blog posts and additional periodic giveaways or special offers.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and trust can't be earned through one giveaway alone. Consistency and integrity will take you far, and before long your list will grow beyond what you may have thought possible.
by Sue Bergamo
Many of us use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and a whole host more. We look for opportunities to post tidbits about ourselves online; including where we are located, what we are doing, pictures of our friends, families, and our opinions.
As a user of these sites, have you ever stopped to wonder about your privacy rights? Have you ever really considered what you've agreed to by accepting each site's User Agreement? Lastly, are you aware that, by accepting these terms, you are in fact entering into a binding contract with a social media company?
It's probably safe to say that you haven't read the fine print. Most of us don't. So you may not realize that you've subjected yourself not only to what you might consider a breach of personal privacy, but you've also unknowingly given away your thoughts, images and lifestyle information to social media sites to use however they like. This can include using your pictures and ideas as media for advertising, or allowing the data you post to be sold to third parties for data mining or marketing purposes.
Let's take a look behind the curtain and see at what really happens with your personal information on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:
Sharing Your Content and Information You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
- For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
- When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
- When you use an application, the application may ask for your permission to access your content and information as well as content and information that others have shared with you. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information. (To learn more about Platform, including how you can control what information other people may share with applications, read our Data Use Policy and Platform Page.)
- When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
- We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Facebook, but you understand that we may use them without any obligation to compensate you for them (just as you have no obligation to offer them).
For more information on Facebook's Terms and Conditions: https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms.
LinkedIn's mission is to connect the world's professionals to enable them to be more productive and successful. Our registered users ("Members") share their professional identities, engage with their network, exchange knowledge and professional insights, and find business opportunities. We believe that our service allows our Members to effectively compete and achieve their full career potential. The cornerstone of our business is to focus on our Members first.
Maintaining your trust is our top priority, so we adhere to the following principles to protect your privacy:
- We protect your personal information and will only provide it to third parties (including affiliates such as LinkedIn Ireland Limited): (1) with your consent; (2) where it is necessary to carry out your instructions; (3) as reasonably necessary in order to provide LinkedIn features and functionality to you; (4) as we reasonably believe is permitted by law or regulation; or (5) as necessary to enforce our User Agreement or protect the rights, property, or safety of LinkedIn, its Members, and the public.
- We have implemented appropriate security safeguards designed to protect your information in accordance with industry standards.
As you can see, each of these social media sites has a different view and policy of how they can use your personal information. Some make more liberal use of your information than others.
So, the first thing you should consider is how comfortable you are with a third party using or sharing your personal information. Once you know that, you should make it a point to read the fine print in the user agreement on any social media site, so you know what you are legally consenting to before accepting their terms and conditions. In that way, you'll be able to make informed decisions about which social media sites you want to join and which you would rather skip.
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