Forfront’s Campaign of the Month for Feb 2014: Exertis Micro-P

Feb 2014

 

A gigantic congratulations is in order. Fighting off stiff competition during an incredible month of email campaigning, a winner has emerged for our Campaign of the Month award. Our judges were locked in ferocious deliberations, it got heated, but eventually a unanimous consensus was reached.

The gong goes to the IT distribution specialists, Exertis Micro-P!

To analyse why their message won there’s no better place to start than the subject line, “New From Dell…” which is a great combination of being short and sweet, while still maintaining a certain level of intrigue to encourage opens. Personally, I’m a big fan of the ellipsis…

On initially opening the email the message reads properly; even if you don’t click “download pictures” you can still view all of the email’s crucial information which is very important, particularly if subscribers aren’t entirely familiar with your brand. After all, you want them to see the crux of the message without having to do anything more than opening the email.

Another box professionally ticked by Exertis Micro-P is the social sharing buttons. They’re distinctive, attractive and prominently positioned for the highest possible chance of attaining clicks and engaging subscribers.

Then there’s the nice, simple layout. From the top, where they stick closely to email best-practice by providing options to view the email in a web browser or to forward the email, and these are cleanly separated by a single red line, to the rest of the message which follows this well-spaced, sparse design approach.

Furthermore, there are plenty of call-to-actions which are inviting, rather than desperate or over the top – “learn more” and “visit now” – nothing as crass as “buy now!”

Finally, the first image you see is brilliant – both striking and effective. It makes me want a projector even though I didn’t want one before; it is a great advertisement of the product.

The final photo is another attractive picture, blending together with the rest of the email well and all nicely spaced out, while the call-to-action is again enticing without being too forceful.

So, once again a big round of applause to Exertis Micro-P for their exemplary design and very effective email!

Want to send emails as attractive as this or just want to know more about getting the most from email marketing? Then give us a call on 020 3320 8777 or visit our website.

And why not click here to view past winners of our illustrious Campaign of the Month award?!

Tip of the Month – February: Emails Needs More Than Just Content and Design

When writing, designing and executing an email campaign you need more than a copywriter and a designer to motivate the reader into making a purchase or taking your desired course of action.

It takes lots of planning and thought about all aspects to have the best possible impact.

We believe that the three key elements that need to be considered are:

  1. The key features or advantages of your product or service.
  2. The offer, incentive or call-to-action you will promote.
  3. Strategy; amount of messages and follow-ups to be sent, the time between sends and period of time to deploy the whole campaign.

There’s no simple way to solve things, but there are ways to go through these three questions step by step to ensure the best possible outcome.

1. Start by listing the most crucial features that your product or service offers. Then, it’s all about thinking from the perspective of your target audience: how does each feature benefit me? Why should I buy?

Lastly, list the advantages of getting this benefit from you rather than one of your competitors.

2. For the offer, incentive or call-to-action, have a look at what’s done well in the past. Obviously, searching your past email campaigns for ideas should be the first step. But use email marketing statistics and reporting tools (such as those offered by e-shot) to ensure you’re picking the optimum ideas, rather than those you simply liked the best.

If this is a new campaign and you have none of your own past emails to look to, explore the marketing done by competitors or campaigns done in other digital and print channels.

3. Finally, we get to multi-effort campaigns. Many marketers seem to believe that there’s a set blueprint for this type of campaign; that the key is the precise number of emails, sent with the perfect time between them. But that’s just not true.

A good way to devise your sending strategy is based again on past performance; which time of day got most opens, most clicks etc. Don’t bombard your subscribers, as this e-shot article warns (and warns again), but don’t leave it too long so that your first emails are forgotten. It’s a good idea to have a first message with a good overall perspective of your offerings and follow it up later with more detailed or specific information.

Don’t worry too much over the interval between sends – make sure points 1) and 2) are taken care of first.

The number of emails and the time between sends isn’t an exact science, and is rarely as crucial as the actual content, planning and purpose of the emails. That’s the part that needs careful planning.

Don’t rely on just fancy design or hard-selling language. Ensure you’re approaching your product/service from an angle that resonates with your customers first.

Want help with making sure your campaigns are planned, created, executed and analysed to maximise their potential and maximise your ROI? Give us a call on 020 3320 8777 or visit our website and our seasoned email marketing professionals will guide you through.

Best Super Bowl Adverts of all Time

 In general, I prefer my footballs round, not egg shaped. And I prefer my athletes slight and skilful, not armour-wearing beasts.

But despite my inclination for the world’s most popular sport (and its sensibly shaped sporting equipment), it’s undeniable that the annual Super Bowl is a monumental occasion, especially for advertisers.

In 2013 the average cost of a 30 second Super Bowl TV advert was a ludicrous $4 million. Yet when the average audience of 2013’s event was 108.7 MILLION viewers, you can understand why such a brief advertising opportunity is so highly prized, pricey and widely talked about. Particularly as our age of viral videos and social media sharing means an advert shown once has the potential to bounce around the internet for years to come.

So putting aside my football/soccer prejudices, we decided to curate a countdown of some of the most noteworthy Super Bowl adverts ever. Looking at social media shares and YouTube views as well as the more traditional indicators of cultural impact like longevity. We’ve missed plenty of significant examples, but these are a few of the most important and interesting.

Volkswagen: The Force (2011) You can’t argue with the figures; 5.24 million social shares and over 68 million views makes this the most popular Super Bowl advert of all time, hands down!

 

Apple: 1984 “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’”. It’s an absolutely brilliant tag line – and a clear indication of the bold and rebellious advertising risks Apple would use for decades to come. Not many people would try to introduce their futuristic computer using imagery of George Orwell’s terrifying, dystopian future. Yet it possibly achieved more for the brand than any Super Bowl ad, before or since. Plus, it was directed by none other than Ridley Scott.

 

Budweiser: 9/11 Tribute* (2002) This ad was literally aired once – so as not to be seen as making the company money (unlike some of these tribute failures). In the process Budweiser created a touching commercial that has trended every September for the past 11 years and has been shared 3.34 million times on social networks and blogs. Impressive.

 

READ RELATED ARTICLE: Eulogising or Exploiting? Reactive Marketing Needs to be Careful

 

Budweiser: Brotherhood* (2013) The watery-flavoured beverage maker hit our list once again, achieving 2.73 million social shares with this tearjerker. It’s a classic bromance tale… Of a man and his horse.

 

Doritos: Pug Attack (2011) & Casket (2010) These two ads from Doritos achieved a staggering level of success, even more staggering seeing as they had such huge success twice in a row! Hitting 36 million and 50 million views respectively, their slapstick approach clearly went down well with the American public.

 

And to top it all off, here’s an example of memorable Super Bowl marketing that didn’t require an extortionate TV spot to be hugely successful; Oreo in 2013 (via Twitter).

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It’s an exemplary display of real-time marketing that took the digital world by storm.

Posted during a 34 minute power cut at Super Bowl XLVII, the cookie’s social media department jumped into action, tweeting an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” with an image of a single Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.”

The message caught on almost immediately, getting over 15,000 retweets and producing countless column inches on websites, blogs and newspapers in the immediate aftermath.

Scarlett Johansson’s SodaStream advert has already been banned this year for being “too sexy”, or something ludicrous, while there’s a huge amount of teasers online for 2014’s ads. Yes, you read that right. Teasers. For adverts. What is the world coming to?!

Let us know what you think will take the marketing world by storm at this year’s event or what should have been included in our list on Twitter @e_shot or @copywritertom.

 

*Budweiser could have made our list over and over again. We practically could have made an entirely Budweiser countdown. I mean, nobody could escape the frogs from 1995 could they?!

Overdoing It with Emails Might Be Your Undoing

In October 2013 I bought a watch from the American clothing site Jack Threads. I liked the design so much that I overlooked the poor quality watch strap which began to disintegrate almost immediately.

Anyway, this blog isn’t the place for me to air my consumer woes – it’s not Short Change. But this blog is the place for explaining something remarkable that happened subsequently concerning my relationship with the brand.

Essentially, my relationship with Jack Threads absolutely nosedived during the next four weeks. And the reason for this relationship breakdown is extremely noteworthy from an email marketing perspective.

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Plain and simple, it was an example of email marketing bad practice.

Not because of the design which was always attractive and clear and even looked fine on my phone.

Not because of the content which was exactly as you’d expect from an online retailer you’d recently shopped with.

Not because of the subject lines which grab your attention in the inbox (and that’s harder than you might think).

No, the reason our brand-customer relationship was destroyed was because of their overwhelming, overpowering frequency.

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Between 22nd November and 17th December I received over fifty emails from Jack Threads (the screenshot of my Gmail inbox is one just one page of their messages).

That’s an average of more than two emails per day!

Admittedly, this was during the pre-Christmas marketing frenzy so some extra emails with BUY NOW deals and last minute promotions is expected. Nevertheless, that’s an excessively extreme barrage.

If you check enough preference boxes, Amazon will probably send you a similar volume of communications. However, the crucial differentiating factor is that a retailer like Amazon offers you email communication preferences in the first place – and there’s a huge amount of options (see screenshot).

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There was no way to cut down how many emails I received from Jack Threads, or what category they pestered me with. They just kept on coming in a relentless stream of “last minute” promotions.

I’ve written about the benefits of inbox condensing site Unroll.me before, and to begin with I put the Jack Threads bombardment into my daily subscription emails “rollup”. Yet even though I was receiving their emails once a day in one email digest, I still felt inundated. Sometimes the “rollup” would arrive containing nothing else except Jack Threads’ latest pestering.

And so I did the one thing that email marketers and businesses don’t want to hear.

I unsubscribed.

I would’ve liked to continue receiving the messages, once a week or so, and might have even considered making another purchase down the line – because I do really admire their products. In fact, for anyone that likes to browse the internet for great deals then their offers are a great place to start.

But they broke the golden rule; they abused my trust as a subscriber by hounding me. It felt as though they were a desperate spammer.

There’s an extremely important lesson to be learned here, like the moral conclusion to a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode. An email marketing parable. Offer subscribers choices and don’t repeatedly ram your adverts down their throat.

Of course keep in touch, remind subscribers what you do and present them with offers to boost sales. But in the long run a slow and steady approach will be infinitely more beneficial than going quite so frantically over the top.

Email on the Move

With more and more people using smart devices what will happen with email marketing?

According to the Litmus Blog, in November 2013 mobile accounted for 51% of email opens – the majority share! Lagging behind, desktop now makes up 31% of opens, while webmail has dipped to 18%. In the space of one year, the amount of emails being opened on mobile devices has increased a huge 24%.

In our predictions for 2014, we’ve said that smart phone and tablet growth will continue on their seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory, and the faster email marketers react to this this better.

This was based on the fact that tablet shipments are expected to grow by 53.4% in 2014 according to Gartner.com, while the Radicati Group predict the number of mobile users will grow 28% in 2014 (and a further 23% in 2015).

Moreover, Yesmail believe that revenue per mobile click on an email is almost double that of a desktop click.

Despite all of this evidence endorsing the monumental growth of mobile devices and a matching growth of email use on those mobile devices, it seems that most email marketers still aren’t ready to adequately embrace this form.

According to Equinux, in June 2013 just under 12% of newsletters used responsive design techniques to optimise their layouts for mobile devices. Such a poor amount of mobile-optimised design needs to drastically adjust in order for businesses to take advantage of the changing trend of email use.

At the start of the smartphone boom (especially when Blackberry ruled the industry, but still continuing now for a lot of ESPs), mobile emails simply meant basic, text-only emails – no photos, no branding, little colour and lots of small blue hyperlinks.

Instead of creating an incomprehensible, difficult-to-use email with a link to a “mobile version”, you should always, always make it mobile-friendly in the first place!

The first way to do this is to prioritise mobile above desktop et al. This way, when it’s perfect on mobile devices, it will automatically therefore render impeccably on larger tablets and all laptop and desktop screens too.

The second option for preparing your email for mobile use is the most specialised and efficient; creating those under-used mobile-responsive email designs. While these take more effort, time and coding ability, they are the optimum way to satisfy all email users. And you can always easily utilise e-shot’s professional designers to sort it out for you!

As this Litmus blog explains, “Responsive email designs use CSS3 @media queries to render two different layouts depending on the size of the screen the email is opened on. CSS media queries can auto-adjust the layout, content and text size of an email depending on the screen size of the device it is being read on. In addition, images can be swapped out or completely disabled, images and buttons can be resized and colours can be changed.”

Although this responsive design demands more input to create, it’s really the only truly “mobile first” strategy.

A recent BlueHornet survey showed that 80% of consumers delete emails that don’t render well on a mobile device. So this is something that just can’t be ignored.

If you want to have your emails looking great as subscribers browse on the go, get in touch with e-shot today and we’ll get you ready for the ever growing mobile market of potential customers.

Upcoming Company Changes

Out with the old, in with the new (and improved). 

This year is set to be a truly thrilling and innovative time for us, with some monumental developments ahead

However, we can’t give away too many details just yet…

Builders at work!But we don’t want to be a tease. We can announce that we’re doubling and remodelling our office space (which is well underway), and everything else is getting a makeover too.

We’ll be launching a brand new website, designing a fresh new logo, creating a new mission statement and instigating a unique colour scheme – plus a huge amount of exciting extra alterations.

The changes will be fully unveiled in the coming weeks, including the extent of our cutting-edge software updates and e-shot’s all-new email marketing features.

So keep an eye on our Twitter and Pinterest as well as the hashtag #TheTransformation for teasers. There will be work-in-progress shots of our extensive office renovations every Friday, rebranding sneak peeks every Monday and much more.

We can’t wait to get all of these changes up and running and look forward to hearing what you think!

Email: The Bridge that Connects Your Marketing Islands

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More than ever before, marketing campaigns aren’t carried out on a single channel.

The growth of so many forms of digital media, alongside ever-present formats like print or broadcasting, has given companies a wealth of opportunities to advertise their products and build their brand’s image.

However, at e-shot we believe email marketing is the key to connecting all of these separate strands.

Email can act as the bridge that links together your marketing islands.

You might suggest that we’re pretty blatantly biased, being an email marketing company after all. While this is true, email is our trade, that doesn’t mean we’re being misleading!

As we mentioned in this examination of TripAdvisor’s trailblazing cross-channel marketing techniques, there’s no method as powerful and adaptable as email for succinctly tying together any other advertising and marketing format you employ. Email is a peerless device to bind your cross-media marketing strategies.

Think of it as a way to capture the essence of your blog, website, Twitter feed etc. into one digestible, presentable message. Rather than having messages lost amongst cluttered news feeds, packed newspapers, busy timelines or having to hope for site visits, email marketing puts you in your subscribers’ inboxes for when they’re ready to pause their hectic lives for a moment to enjoy your content.

 

Social Media

Social media is often heralded as the executioner of email marketing because it’s still the much-hyped new kid on the block in internet terms, and it’s certainly growing. However, first and foremost, ignore the idea that digital marketing channels must be in competition with each other.

According to Hostpapa, email marketing reaches 75% of its target audience, whereas social media reaches only 4% (on average), but you’d still be wasting opportunities by ignoring either option.

By always including clear social media sharing links in your emails you ensure your content will have a presence in both arenas, a chance to be passed around between users, as well as the reassurance that your messages are going directly into subscribers’ inboxes to begin with.

 

Content Marketing

Filling your blog or website with helpful, worthwhile, entertaining and valuable articles is a great idea. By creating and curating relevant content you will attract and retain customers and keep engagement and interest high. Yet what better way to present a digest of recent articles than a regular email newsletter? Snippets of stories dispatched straight to a subscriber’s inbox provides you with the best possible platform, so you don’t rely on people thinking of you and then directing their browsers to your site.

 

Cold Calling

Cold calling potential customers is becoming less and less popular – and perceived as a nuisance by the general public – but in the B2B world it is still a vital marketing tool. Nevertheless, sales are extremely rarely initiated and closed in a single conversation, so a follow-up email is a vital component for salespeople to capitalise on leads. With email marketing’s personalisation and segmentation capabilities, following-up on a cold call has never been so efficient or effective. Email marketing services mean you can save time while still guaranteeing a personal touch.

 

Direct Mail Marketing

Whether you’re sending out old-fashioned postal campaigns or attempting a unique take on the mail marketing genre like these brilliant efforts, either way it doesn’t have to be the antithesis of digital marketing as you’d imagine.

For a start, mail marketing runs a high risk of being quickly discarded and a much larger risk than email of getting damaged under muddy shoes as somebody walks through their front door this winter! Also, the email marketing average ROI is £22 for every £1 spent, whereas direct mail’s average return for each pound invested is just a lowly £4.60.

More than this, the two formats can work in tandem. Inside your physical mailshot you could include an incentive for the recipient to go online and sign up to your email newsletter – for a chance to enter a prize draw for instance. Thereby doubling your marketing reach! Then continue to send your postal campaigns but now with the chance to email new subscribers too. Keep both formats strictly adhering to your brand message and you unlock a whole new layer of marketing possibility.

 

Traditional: TV/Radio/Magazines

“Traditional” marketing channels are risky, expensive and possibly the hardest way to accurately target relevant prospects – not to mention being a very problematic form for gauging results.

Nevertheless, if you follow the theme or content of a traditional campaign with a consistent email marketing send, to reinforce your brand’s identity and underpin your overall message or promotion, then you will be able to really take advantage of any heightened interest that a traditional marketing campaign might generate.

On its own a traditional campaign might fall on deaf ears, but coupled with email marketing you can remind customers and prospects of what you’re trying to achieve for an excellent chance of a great outcome. Plus email marketing’s report generation and detailed analytics provide an insight far beyond any information gleaned from a traditional advert.

Email Marketing Guide for Florists

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I should buy flowers for my girlfriend more often. In fact, she reminds me of this on a regular basis. Yet, generally, I still stick to the classic, clichéd occasions. Well, basically Valentine’s Day and when I’ve got some serious making up to do.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this floral negligence.

For florists this translates to times of intense sales, such as just before February 14th, coupled with long stretches of dwindling business for the rest of the year.

So they need a way to bypass such seasonal extremes, to boost sales all year round and keep subscribers updated – while gently reminding them that they should buy their loved ones flowers far more often.

Email marketing with e-shot is the perfect solution; florists can stay in the forefront of their customers’ minds and ahead of the competition.

Using email marketing to send out email reminders, newsletters, catalogues, coupons and announcements, florists can give the personal attention that customers appreciate – without the time or hassle of doing it manually.

Email marketing helps retain current customers, build lasting relationships and also reach new markets without breaking the bank.

With a well segmented and organised database of customers and order histories, email reminders can be sent out regularly without you having to sift through old order forms or client files.

Email newsletters can highlight new designs, flowers that are in season, large projects that a florist has supplied flowers for, or even congratulatory messages for clients celebrating weddings and other events.

Have a large supply of pansies? Write about the varieties you have, how they can be used in great bouquets and even promote special offers.

Maybe you worry about running out of red roses in February? Well, write about other flowers that are great for Valentine’s Day and back up your claims by easily displaying attractive pictures.

Also, talk about living bouquets for those environmentally conscious clients. With e-shot, email newsletters have pre-set templates that can be quickly personalised with your own information and sent out to your entire database in an instant or our designers can produce bespoke designs just for you.

For slow months in which you are anticipating low sales, send out discounts and special offers. Obviously you’ll never know everybody that has a birthday or special occasion coming up, but by sending out email announcements and coupons you can remind your customers that flowers are the perfect choice for any event.

Email marketing helps safeguard your revenue so that you won’t suffer from the natural income dips during slower months.

Personalised treatment for clients once meant your staff had to work extreme hours. With email marketing, everything is quick and easy and an added benefit of the format is that every piece of marketing you send can quickly be forwarded on to friends with just the click of a button, or shared on social media, allowing you to have a much further reach without extending your marketing budget.

2014 Digital Marketing Predictions

There’s no psychics here at e-shot, although my colleague Pete did have an eerie case of déjà vu the other day. Nevertheless, we decided we know enough about digital media, and the way the winds are blowing, to back these five predictions for 2014. Agree or disagree? Let us know on Twitter @e_shot or @copywritertom.

 

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Premonition 1: Mobile will grow.

Smart phone and tablet growth will continue on their seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory, and the faster email marketers react to this this better:

  • According to Gartner.com, tablet shipments are expected to grow by 53.4% in 2014.
  • Revenue per mobile click will be almost double that of a desktop click, according to Yesmail in their “Email marketing compass: consumer purchase behaviour” report.
  • The Radicati Group predict the number of mobile users will grow 28% in 2014 (and a further 23% in 2015).

However, according to Equinux, in June 2013 just under 12% of newsletters used responsive design techniques to optimise their layouts for mobile devices. Such a poor amount of responsive design needs to change for businesses to take advantage of the growing market.

 

 

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2. Email will continue to be essential for marketing.

  • According to the experts at Reachmail, the number of people receiving and responding to email promotions may increase to 2.7 billion between now and 2017.
  • Uberflip report that companies spent 20% of their marketing budgets on email marketing in 2013, a figure that is projected to grow by another 10% in 2014.
  • Social media marketing will keep rising, and diversifying into arenas such as Snapchat, but nevertheless email will maintain its position as the bedrock of a brand’s campaign; the unifying format that ties together all other digital marketing strands.

 

 

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3. Higher use of HTML5 & an elevated importance of the inbox.

The inbox will no longer be a place to navigate away from. Landing pages will be less relevant and video in email will become commonplace as part of the inbox experience.

  • According to a recent study by Email Monks, 58% of users can now see HTML5 video in their inboxes.

This opportunity will start to be seized upon by more forward-thinking, creative email marketers.

  • To get a head start, contact us today because e-shot can now provide video integration with your emails as a bolt-on service.

 

 

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4. Greater personalisation capabilities and emerging location marketing.

Not only personalised “Hello, Tom” greetings at the start of emails (which should be standard if you use any respectable email marketing platform, such as e-shot). Instead, 2014 will see better ranges of tailored goods in emails.

  • 2014 will even see the budding emergence of geo-location features, mobile users triggering the display of deals and suitable content based on where in the world they are when they click open.
  • Websites adapted for customer’s habits and past transactions will become more common, beyond the trendsetters such as Amazon or Netflix.

 

 

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5. Analytics will evolve and become even more valued.

With social media marketing, measuring your return and using analytics is a convoluted process. With content marketing it’s even less quantifiable. Email marketing is the one area of digital marketing where analytics are extremely useful, and ROI is clear. In 2014 this will become even more sophisticated and useful:

  • Companies such as CANDDi bring together different aspects of web analytics to produce information about individuals that browse your site and click-through from emails.
  • These newfound advancements in big-data analytics will become far more widely utilised, revolutionising lead-generation.
  • We will see more integration of these analytics platforms with email marketing software, meaning users have a complete package to track who is visiting a site, so that chasing sales becomes more intelligent than ever before.