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By Jimmy Rodela

Understand what email blacklists are, and learn the strategies to avoid them. The Blueprint covers the nitty-gritty of email blacklists in this guide.

Building your email list takes time and effort, but all the hard work you put into it can go down the drain if you get blacklisted.

An email blacklist and other spam filters prevent your emails from reaching your target audience, hindering you from getting optimal results. Understand email blacklists and how they work so you can avoid them.

Overview: What is an email blacklist?

Email blacklists are real-time lists that identify domains or IP addresses known for sending spam emails.

Free mailbox providers, anti-spam vendors, internet service providers (ISP), and email service providers (ESP) use blacklists to stop spam emails from entering their systems.

Getting flagged by blacklist operators will add you to the list and block your content, preventing your emails from reaching your audience’s inboxes. If your business becomes blacklisted, your small business email marketing suffers, negatively affecting your email marketing ROI.

Factors that can get you blacklisted include:

  • Spam complaints. Complaints about your emails exceeding the acceptable threshold can prompt ISPs to add you to the blacklist.
  • Bad email content. Some ISPs filter emails by using keywords as a basis. Expressions such as “money-back guarantee,” and “free,” as well as using multiple exclamation marks and all caps can get you blacklisted.
  • Poor email list management. Poorly managed email lists lead to unnoticed unsubscribe requests, which can get you flagged and blacklisted. If you don’t check your email list, for instance, you might keep sending subscribers emails even if they unsubscribe, leading to them tagging you as spam.

How to find out if your company is on an email blacklist

The quickest way to check if your email is blacklisted is to use publicly available tools. Perform a blacklist check using popular databases, such as MXToolBox, to see if your IP address or domain is blacklisted.

MxToolBox's blacklist checker

Perform a blacklist check using MxToolBox.

Another approach is to check your email campaign stats, including your clicks and domain opens. Sharp open drop-offs, for example, could indicate you’ve been blacklisted from an ISP.

Implement good email sourcing practices, manage and monitor your email campaigns, and follow reliable email marketing tips to prevent getting blacklisted.

How to avoid email blacklists

Follow these tips to avoid getting blacklisted.

1. Use double opt-in for your email subscribers

Double opt-ins require a two-step verification where users sign up for your mailing list, then receive an email with a link to confirm their subscription.

This creates an additional security measure to prevent fake emails, ensuring your subscribers are real people and not bots. The additional signup step also ensures your subscribers want to receive your emails, whether you’re creating a newsletter, sending promotional offers, or alerting them to new offerings.

This reduces potential complaints against your business for email spamming and lowers the chances of people unsubscribing from your email list. Use double opt-ins to acquire more qualified leads, build strong relationships with new subscribers, and improve your email deliverability.

2. Include an unsubscribe link

Violating anti-spam laws can get your company’s domain blacklisted, so be sure to include an unsubscribe link to your email messages. This will keep you in adherence with legislation and regulations while improving your subscribers’ experience, too.

Add an unsubscribe link to your emails to ensure you send your messages only to people interested in receiving them.

Tips for including an unsubscribe link in your emails:

  • Implement newsletter best practices. Display your unsubscribe link so your contacts find them easily, reducing the chances of them tagging your email as spam. Learn from various newsletter examples, such as this one from PlayStation.

Email newsletter with unsubscribe link

Include the unsubscribe link in your email newsletter. | Image source: Sendinblue

  • Learn anti-spam laws. Familiarize yourself with the anti-spam rules in your market, state, and country to ensure you follow proper practices and avoid getting blacklisted.

3. Clean your email lists regularly

Implement proper list management and assess your email lists to detect potential spam traps to avoid getting placed on a blacklist.

Tips for cleaning your email list and avoiding spam traps:

  • Update your email list. Send re-engagement emails to subscribers who have not engaged with you for over six months. Then, remove unresponsive contacts to filter out potential spam traps.
  • Avoid list contamination. Check the correct spelling of your subscribers’ emails to prevent invalid email addresses and potential spam traps from contaminating your list. Use email validation in your sign-up forms to prevent typos, and use email checker tools to verify the legitimacy of the email addresses. Maintain a healthy contact list to avoid spam traps and improve the deliverability of your campaigns.

4. Optimize your email content

Avoid sending email blasts with generic messages to reduce spam complaints and prevent being added to an email blacklist, including a URL blacklist. Work with top-notch email marketing software, such as Zoho Campaigns, to create highly customized emails to personalize your content.

Use the software’s drag-and-drop email editor to customize email layout and design, plus add text, buttons, images, HTML snippets, calendar invites, and polls.

Its advanced option also lets you add dynamic content, allowing you to display different kinds of content based on conditions, such as a specific segment or a list.

Zoho Campaigns allows you to add dynamic content

Add dynamic content to your email newsletter with the Zoho Campaigns editor.

Build personalized, valuable content your subscribers can relate with so they don’t flag your email as spam and get you added to a blacklist.

5. Secure your server

Set proper security measures and use tools to check IP addresses to protect your email server from bots or malware that can hijack your IP address and email domain.

These harmful programs can send you fake emails, getting you blacklisted even if you’re following proper email marketing practices. Use an IP lookup tool to assess if someone else is using your IP address, which can mean your network server has been hacked.

Prevent malware infections and potential blacklisting of your business by setting up and updating email server security protocols.

6. Avoid manually entering email addresses into your database

Steer clear of manually adding your contacts to your database to avoid typos in their email addresses. This helps prevent you from sending your messages to non-existent emails that bounce and get your business blacklisted.

Also, avoid adding contacts obtained physically, such as printed business cards, to your email list if they didn’t consent to receiving your marketing emails. People who haven’t given permission will most likely report your emails as spam and could get you added to a blacklist.

Connect with prospects via their personal inbox instead, and lead them to a form or landing page, allowing them to opt in to your email list.

What should you do if your company is on an email blacklist? Consider these tips if you do end up on an email blacklist.

  • Learn the unlisting process. Every blacklist is different, so contact the particular blacklist operator to understand the necessary steps to take you off the list. Some blacklists will unlist you after a few days once they confirm the absence of suspicious activities from your emails.
  • Know the factors for blacklisting. Assess the activities, email content elements, etc., that got your emails flagged as spam or added to a blacklist, and improve your strategies.
  • Prove the credibility of your email marketing efforts. Work with blacklist operators and prove you’re a trustworthy sender by following email marketing best practices.

Know the right strategies and keep your business off email blacklists

As long as you know the factors that can get you flagged as spam and avoid them, you’ll be able to avoid being added to a blacklist.

Maintain excellent email hygiene, follow anti-spam regulations, and implement best email marketing practices to keep your business from getting blacklisted.

By Jimmy Rodela

Sourced from the blueprint

By David Nield.

We’ve all sent messages meant for someone else. Let’s just stop that.

Our emails aren’t always as well thought out, as accurately typed, or as succinct as we would like them to be—and that’s before you consider problems like sending emails without a required attachment, or typing the wrong person’s address altogether. If this happens to you often, you must know the “undo send” feature is heaven-sent.

This feature is easy to find on some platforms, but on others you may need to take some extra steps to set it up. Here’s how you can save yourself some embarrassment and enable it in all of your inboxes.

Gmail

Gmail already assumes you might make a mistake, so the Undo Sent button comes enabled by default. David Nield

A feature called Undo Send is built right into Gmail, and it works without you having to turn it on. Whenever you send a message, you’ll see an Undo link at the bottom left corner of the screen. If you tap on it, you’ll be able to bring your email back as a draft.

You can set the amount of time you’ve got before the email can’t be recovered anymore. On Gmail’s web interface, click the cog icon (top right), then choose Settings. Go to the General tab and you’ll see an Undo Send drop-down. There, you can choose from a time period of five (the default), 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Gmail will apply this choice across the web and mobile.

Outlook

You might have to jump through a couple of hoops before you can delay the shipment of Outlook emails.David Nield

The Mail app that comes preinstalled with Windows doesn’t have an undo send feature, but one is available in the free Outlook.com web client. You can set up a similar feature in the paid-for Outlook desktop app too, but it’s a bit more involved.

On the web platform of Outlook, click the cog icon (top right), choose View all Outlook settings, then Compose and reply. Use the Undo send slider to set up the window of time you’ve got for bringing the message back—from zero to 10 seconds (zero effectively disables the feature).

The desktop version of Outlook doesn’t have a simple undo send feature, but you can set a rule to delay every message you send. From the File tab, click Manage Rules & Alerts, then New Rule. Choose Apply rule on messages I send, then click Next twice, and Yes to confirm. You’ll reach a dialog box where you can click Defer delivery by a number of minutes. Check the box next to this rule, then click the link underneath to set how many minutes the delay should be—you can go from one to 120. Click through the wizard’s remaining screens to set the rule.

Any emails you send from Outlook from then on will sit in the Outbox folder for the specified number of minutes. If you want to cancel a sent message before the delay runs out, you’ll need to drag it back into the Drafts folder.

Third-party clients

Spark works with both iOS and Android, so you’ll never have to apologize for not sending the file you said you’d attach. David Nield

If you use anything besides Gmail or Outlook—including Apple Mail or Yahoo—you unfortunately don’t have a native undo send feature built in. If you think you’ll find a feature like this useful, you’ll need to set up a third-party client to access your messages.

Mailbird for Windows will set you back $20 per year or $40 for a lifetime purchase, though you can try it out for free for three days. If you click the menu button (three lines, top left), then Settings and Composing, and head to the Sending heading, you’ll be able to adjust the Undo send period from zero (disabled) to 30 seconds. Once you’ve enabled the undo send feature, you can click Undo at the bottom of the screen right after sending a message to bring it back.

Spark covers macOS, iOS, and Android, and is free for personal use (if you need team features, it’s $8 a month). The Undo option appears in the desktop and mobile apps as soon as you send a message, and you’ve got five seconds to change your mind—you can’t alter that time limit or disable the feature. If you undo a send, the message reverts to a draft.

Airmail for macOS and iOS is another option, yours for $27 for desktop but free on iOS. In the Mac app, open the Airmail menu and choose Preferences, Composing, and Sending Delay—you can pick from five to 120 seconds. While emails are waiting to be sent, you’ll find them in the Drafts folder, where you can click Cancel to stop them from being dispatched.

On iOS, tap the menu button (three lines, top left), then choose Settings, Undo Send, and either a five or 10-second time delay. For the specified time period, you’ll be able to tap Undo Send at the bottom of the screen right after sending an email.

Another option is Mailbutler, an extension that runs on top of Apple Mail on the Mac. You can pay for extra features, like support for teams, but the free version already includes the undo send feature. After installing it on your Mac, head to the web dashboard to set the undo send delay under Preferences and General from the web menu (the Mailbutler icon). With that done, you’ll see an Undo send pop-up appear whenever you send a message through Apple Mail.

Feature Image Credit: Did you just send that email to your boss? Yes, yes you did.Feedough via Depositphotos

By David Nield.

Sourced from Popular Science

By Kayleigh Barber

A constant for many publishers is email. But challenges including lapsed subscribers and the challenges of including traditional advertising in an email strategy, publishers can have a hard time justifying investment in the platform. Here’s some candid thoughts from publishing executives at the Digiday Hot Topic: Email for Publishing event held yesterday.

Limiting sign-up friction gets you more emails
“We stopped requiring first and last name at sign-up. It limits personalization, but there’s also less friction at sign-up. We missed having that information though.”

“You don’t want to ask for 15 things off the bat — just get their email. But on the second interaction, you can ask for more personalized information to get more data.”

“For now, my vision is to make the user journey a priority. User data will trickle in, and we can use that to make inferred relationships.”

Your most valuable subscriber is your brand evangelist
“A brand lover is worth 100 times more to you than a casual reader.”

“We get more than 1,000 views a day based off our referral program, and the referrals are incredibly high quality.”

“Thirty-seven percent of [paid] members were free newsletter subscribers first, and 10% of members subscribed directly from a free newsletter.”

“Four percent of our audience is a habitual reader who has seven or more sessions per month, but the average revenue per user in that group is five times that of a reader with one to four sessions [94% of their readership.]”

30 to 90 days is the best time to attempt reengagement
“Our retention program works best, we found, at 30 days, but we’re predominantly a daily newsletter company.”

“It’s always a struggle with reengagement. Is it worth the effort to reengage someone versus the value that you get from them after they are reengaged? Because we typically find that if they disengage, they don’t really want to come back.”

“Old subscribers for us, we find that since more often publishers are landing in the promotions folder, an email coming from a different email address than they normally receive the email from is really effective in reengaging people.”

“What we started doing is actually buying their, what we call singles, so we’re able to see and match up in real time against their database when a user is opening and clicking other emails from other brands and then being able to trigger reengagement emails then, and that gives us a much better open and click-through rate.”

“We tend to look at it more of how we on-board people better to prevent them from disengaging. I think a lot of people are scared to ask upfront why you’re starting to disengage, but it’s about flagging it early so you’re not waiting for 90 days.”

Finding a place for affiliate links can increase the value of your newsletters
“The beautiful thing about affiliate data is that it can be used in many ways, but you can take it out to new advertisers to prove that there is an engaged audience getting to the point of sale in that email list.”

“We have 42 newsletters that we’re tapping into that have a highly engaged audience; 10 are relevant for commerce on average, but depends on the time of year.”

Include the editorial staff in your newsletter strategy
“For editors, being in the weeds helps them learn more about the audience than they would normally on the site, and that’s where we’re getting the ideas to create new newsletters — in the weeds.”

“Voice emails that utilize editorial talent build personal relationships with readers.”

“It’s important on the product-side to make the tools as easy as possible for editorial use and learn.”

By Kayleigh Barber

Sourced from DIGIDAY

By Jared Atchison

Building an effective email marketing list can help grow your business in numerous ways.

If you have yet to build an email marketing list, you’re missing out on a key way to help you achieve your business goals.

Email trumps every other channel in terms of conversions and return on investment (ROI). Research shows that for every dollar spent on email campaigns, you get a $44 ROI. In addition, 91% of subscribers are open to receiving promotional emails from brands. Digging deeper into research, you’ll find that you can’t go wrong with an email list if you want to grow your business to new heights and cater to customers.

There are nearly four billion email users worldwide, and with so much activity, it’s crucial to take advantage of this channel to market to customers. When built to target the right audience, growing an email list can be one of the most effective and lucrative strategies for your business. It provides communication between brand and customer, sends subscribers relevant content and lets businesses collect user feedback.

Email marketing is important because it turns everyday website visitors into paying customers. When someone signs up to join your email list, it’s clear they’re interested in your brand. All you have to do next is send them relevant content, cater to their needs and keep them happy. Since it costs five times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones, it’s crucial to pay attention to email subscribers.

Based on what offer they signed up for, you can then segment your subscribers, send them relevant content and move them down the sales funnel. Building a list from scratch can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

Here are 5 key ways how to build an email list from the ground up

1. Create personalized landing pages

It’s better to create separate landing pages for each campaign rather than one landing page for several campaigns. Why? Because people come to your website for different reasons, looking for different things. One generalized landing page is not going to cater to the masses the way you think it will. Instead, it’ll drive visitors away because they aren’t finding what they’re looking for.

Personalization is the key to creating landing pages your visitors want to engage with. If you’re a furniture company and you create a landing page for every piece of furniture in your store, then you aren’t catering to the small group focused on armchairs. When they don’t see offers for armchairs, they’ll quickly leave your website. The same goes for any website that doesn’t use personalization in its marketing strategy.

By using a landing page creative tool, you can create individual landing pages for each campaign. You can take subscribers who signed up for a specific offer or campaign and segment them according to their behavior on your website. The more landing pages you create, the better, since companies who increase their landing pages from 10 to 15 see a 55% increase in leads.

2. Use a timed popup

Timed popup opt-ins are effective because they appear to users after they’ve already spent time scrolling through your content. Unlike static forms, they use the element of surprise to encourage visitors to hand over their information. If someone is already engaging with your content and an opt-in appears, there’s a good chance they’ll join your email list.

Pay attention to the word “timed.” A popup should not appear after one second of someone visiting your website. It’s irritating and doesn’t give people the chance to consume your content before you bombard them with an opt-in form. Set up your popup so that it appears after a set time, or once a user scrolls to a certain point of the webpage.

Take it a step further by turning your popup into a simple survey. Limit it to no more than two questions followed by the opt-in that collects users’ email addresses. You can ask anything that helps you determine how to cater to them better, such as how their experience on your website is or if user navigation is easy. Kill two birds with one stone by collecting user feedback and growing your email list at the same time.

3. Simplify your forms

According to a recent study, 55% of B2B professionals say their top priority is increasing lead generation. It’s a struggle many marketers face as they try to grow their brand and its following. An easy way to collect more leads is by simplifying your opt-in forms.

You need to make it as easy as possible for visitors to join your email list. For new visitors especially, they won’t bother dealing with an opt-in that’s difficult to navigate or asks for 12 different pieces of information. It might not seem like a big deal, but when you go out of your way to make things complicated, you’ll see your conversions remain stagnant. Removing as little as one form field can increase form conversions by 26%, so avoid adding several fields in your forms.

4. Create a lead magnet

Instead of showing a standard opt-in to visitors, what if you incentivized their reason for signing up? As much as 30% of people will return to complete a form if they get something in return, which is why creating a lead magnet increases conversions.

Lead magnets are free resources you provided your audience in exchange for their email. Visitors gain access to high-quality content while you gain a new email subscriber, which is the perfect start to a mutually beneficial brand-customer relationship.

Examples of lead magnets include:

  • Ebooks
  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars

Whatever freebie you offer subscribers, the important thing is that it has value. No one will bother giving you their contact information for content that doesn’t have anything to offer. Make sure you teach something new or provide excitement and intrigue so that the subscribers you convert stay for the long haul.

5. Host a giveaway

If you want to increase your subscribers, build buzz around your brand, and heighten its recognition, consider hosting a giveaway. Giveaways are fun and encourage those within your target market to check out your website.

It’s important to find a giveaway plugin for WordPress that works for what you’re trying to achieve. Pay attention to the specific features you want so you pick the one that’s right for your campaign.

Choose a giveaway prize that sparks interest in your audience. Offer them something you know they want so they’re more likely to enter.

Set rules that do the work for you. For example, you could create a rule that subscribers must tag a friend in your giveaway post to enter. That way, they spread the word about your giveaway and encourage their friends to enter as well, increasing your subscribers. If you plan your giveaway with a strategy in place, your email list will grow.

Building an email list is something every marketer and business owner must do to succeed. Email is the easiest, most responsive channel for generating leads and sales, and it connects brands to their audiences. When you market your email list to visitors by giving them content they care about and making it easy to subscribe, it makes all the difference in your conversions.

By Jared Atchison

Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.

Sourced from business.com

By Olivia Scott

The world has moved on from what it used to be in the 90s, especially in terms of the use of emails in the delivery of business services worldwide. Businesses and individuals nowadays not only require an email to receive vital communications but also for accessing essential services across multiple web platforms.

But what exactly does your email address say about you? Could the perceptions received from your email be harmful or beneficial to you or your business? Are you using a reliable and secure email provider?

This article explores all you need to know about what your email address may be revealing about you and some of the best tips for taking your email marketing game to the next level.

Examples of email addresses and what they say about you

As human beings, we’re bound to have first impressions or other perceptions when we meet people and this is no different when we receive emails. Here are some examples of different email providers and what they reflect about you.

@Hotmail.com

Hotmail is owned by Microsoft and was eventually changed to Outlook.com. It is the biggest email provider outside the US (over 360 million addresses). However, because it’s been around for so long, and since most millennials don’t even know what it is, it usually reflects that you’re old and behind the times.

@Yahoo.com

Yahoo is the biggest email provider in the US and is widely popular for its many data breaches. Although Yahoo is also an old provider, using it will most likely reflect that you’re neutral and not overly sensitive about protecting your data online.

@Gmail.com

Gmail is owned by Google and is compulsory for accessing a wide range of services offered by the provider. Gmail users are typically tech-savvy, conscious about their IT security and generally, know their way around the internet.

Work/University Email

Sending out an email from a Whitehouse.gov or Harvard.edu will usually be received with a lot of respect because of the reputation of these prestigious establishments. Similarly, if you’re claiming to work in an organization, nothing says “I work here” better than a work email.

Customized/Domain-based email

In today’s business world, it’s critically important to ensure you set up a professional email for your business and even personal use.

By all means, you must avoid using an email address that contains inappropriate words or connotations. If you can, stay away from any religious or political to avoid crossing any sensitive barriers.

A professional email format like johnsmith@hiremybusiness.com essentially allows potential clients to take you more seriously and allow you to put one foot in the door.

Top tips for improving your email marketing strategy

In 2018, 281.1 billion emails were sent per day worldwide and this figure is expected to double a decade from now. If you’re still wondering whether email marketing is worth your time or investment, you should be aware that the average ROI on every $1 spent on email is $44, making it one of the most effective marketing options available.

The following are some of the best tips aimed at helping you improve your email marketing game a notch higher.

1.Choose a reliable and secure email provider

While this may not be a regular tip, it’s become one of the most important steps to take for anyone that uses emails. Email is the most common attack vector for phishing and with cyber breaches constantly rising, it goes without saying that you should ensure you’re using one of the most reliable and secure email providers to back your email marketing efforts.

2. Focus on building quality lists

When it comes to email marketing in these highly competitive times, quality will always trump quantity. Building a long extended list that never engages with your emails makes absolutely no sense. You can use email verification services to check for deliverability and also avoid some spam traps.

You could also remove old and inactive subscribers to reduce campaign costs and improve profitability. This is even more important as email providers like Gmail are constantly evolving their machine learning algorithms to block around 10 million spam emails per minute.

3. Create an engaging header

The importance of email headers to your marketing campaign cannot be overflogged. An email header typically refers to the visible information directly above the content of your mail, including the subject line and your name. You’ll need to be as creative as possible to create an engaging subject line to stand a chance of having your email opened.

 

For example, Birchbox, a New York City-based subscription service includes the image of a mailbox in its subject line to encourage subscribers to open the mail. According to Salesforce, only 2% of businesses include an emoji in their subject line. This is certainly something businesses need to take advantage of since Experian’s research suggests that including an emoji in subject lines can lead to a 56% increase in open rates.

4. Personalize email content and build segmented lists

Emails addressing their receivers usually receive more attention than the generic “Hi there” since they’ll most likely be considered more relevant. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to build segmented lists that cater to individuals with different needs. Just be sure to test that it works effectively so you don’t end up calling your subscribers the wrong names.

According to research, marketers who used segmented campaigns experienced as much as 760% increase in revenue. Using segmented lists is certainly a no-brainer if you’re looking to experience success in your email campaigns.

5. Optimize for mobile

Since most emails are opened from mobile devices, it certainly makes sense for you to set up your messages to be easily accessible and readable from these devices. For instance, increasing font sizes to 13 and ensuring the entire message or image does not exceed 600 pixels should go a long way in ensuring your emails are optimized for mobile devices.

The following key stats should ideally convince you that optimizing for mobile is not optional.

  • 74% of smartphone users check their emails from these devices.
  • 55% of emails are opened from mobile devices.
  • Only 20% of email marketing campaigns are currently optimized for mobile.
  • Consumers are more likely to respond positively to an offer when they open an email from their mobile devices.

6. Run tests where possible

As mentioned earlier, running tests is essential for the success of your email campaigns. Testing for the efficiency of your segmented list personalization and deliverability are some of the key tests you should consider running.

For example, a broken link in an email that wasn’t tested can seriously harm your ROI. Similarly, since the digital landscape is constantly evolving, running tests will help ensure that you do not end up in the spam folder.

7. Track your email stats

Tracking your email campaigns is the best way of understanding how well they’re performing. Tracking your email stats will give you detailed insights into why campaigns are performing badly and what can be done to improve the situation. For instance, too many hard bounces are a clear indication that your list is old and outdated or simply has too many inactive email accounts.

By tracking emails, you will also be better informed about how recipients are accessing it and better optimize for the future. Clicks and open rates, as well as complaints, are also essential to look out for when tracking emails.

8. Include a CTA

A Call to Action (CTA) essentially prompts readers on the next steps to take after reading the mail. Since the email message is ideally aligned with your marketing goals, the CTA should also be in line with your objectives, whether it’s to sign up to your mailing list or to your paid service.

The bottom line

Email marketing has evolved over the past two decades to become perhaps the best marketing options especially because of the decent return on investment it offers.

If you use an email for business as you rightly should, you’d want to avoid using a free account as much as possible to avoid giving off the wrong vibes. Whatever email address you choose to use, you should ideally ensure it’s one of the most reliable and secure email providers available.

By Olivia Scott

Marketing Manager @ VPNpro.com
Team of online security & privacy professionals

By 

Email is a powerful marketing tool, but too many businesses miss out on its potential. Is yours one of these?

Email is one of the most effective ways for businesses to advertise their services. While many businesses still use direct mail, their budgets might be better spent on email marketing. According to a partnership study conducted by the Data and Marketing Association and United States Postal Service, more than half (57 percent) of mail being sent at the time of the study was still direct mail.

But this strategy, the researchers said, produced a return on investment of just 7 percent. In comparison, email marketing offered an ROI of 28.5 percent. In terms of value, studies have found that email marketing offers businesses $44 for every $1 spent.

Still, some businesses fail to realize email marketing’s full benefits, so to convince them, here are five of the best ways for any business to improve its email campaigns.

1. Personalize your email content.

Most marketers are aware of the benefits of personalization, but many don’t take it seriously. Personalized email content is by far one of the best ways to increase email marketing effectiveness. According to statistics, personalized emails offer six times higher transaction rates than emails without any personalization. Other studies have shown click-through rates are 14 percent higher and conversion rates are 10 percent higher when personalization is part of the general email content.

However, personalization for many businesses means they’re just including the name of the contact in the content. This is far from perfect as a strategy, and many subscribers are now fully aware of this tactic. Instead, personalization needs to be taken to the next level.

One way of doing this is to segment your audience into groups. Then you can send more relevant content to each group. A wedding specialist website that attempted this asked one question: Are you shopping as the couple or for the couple? This simple question split the website’s audience into two groups, but the results showed a 244 percent increase in open-rates and 161 percent increase in click-through rate.

2. Avoid certain words.

Spam filters are there to stop malicious emails from reaching audiences. Of course, spammers usually use words that businesses themselves would like to use. So filters are growing more sophisticated, and allowing more genuine content to gain access into inboxes. Still, there are times when your email might be mistaken for something malicious.

Therefore, you need to minimize the use of certain words that are considered spam by these filters. For instance, words like “bargain,” “50 percent off” and similar keywords will likely send your email to the spam folder.

When you do want to use a typical spam word, because it is relevant to your content, be inventive with your subject lines. Also restrict yourself to just one high-level spam word per email within the content and email subject line. This will reduce the chance of your emails being blacklisted.

Related: This Is Why Email Marketing Still Outperforms Social Media

3. Change the times you send your emails.

The aim here is to catch people who are just about to check their inbox or are in the process of doing so. This will put your email close to the top of their inbox. The more time between your sending it and customers checking it, the less likely it will be that your email is read.

You also don’t want to be sending your promotional content at the same time as everyone else, so sending your emails on the weekend might be the best option. Research has shown that many businesses don’t start campaigns on weekends, so you’ll have less competition, and more people are checking their emails on the weekends now than ever before.

4. Ensure you’re building an engaged email list.

It is often the pride of some entrepreneurs to promote how many people they have on their email lists. However, long lists mean nothing if those people aren’t engaged.

There are many ways to ensure that your list is engaged. It requires removing old and inactive subscribers, but in the end, it will help you achieve more profitable campaigns. The first thing is to check for addresses that have bounced three or more times. Ensure that a simple typo such as .con instead of .com is not responsible for the error.

You can also use email verification services. Those services will identify emails that bounce or are inactive, and they can help to remove spam traps: old emails that ISPs use as a tool to identify businesses that send spam.

5. Optimize emails for mobile.

The number of people who open emails on their mobile varies depending on the study being cited. One study said that 46 percent of people opened emails on their mobiles while another found that 59 percent of emails were being opened on these devices. Very few people actually use a desktop mail client to open emails (15 to 18 percent).

To support your efforts, ensure that your campaigns are optimized for these devices. If your campaigns don’t look good on a mobile device, people aren’t going to read them and take action. Therefore, check to make sure you have great mobile templates. A few quick tips include:

  • Have short subject lines.
  • Use one-column email designs.
  • Keep your email design under 600 pixels.
  • Usie a larger font (13 or 14 pixels).

Related: How to Launch Your First Email Marketing Campaign and Get the Results You Want

Conclusion

Email marketing could be the best way to make your business grow. For over a decade now, it has remained the most profitable form of digital marketing. Yet, too many businesses are failing to optimize their campaigns to maximize potential revenue. So, ensure that you are personalizing your emails as much as possible and make sure you avoid the traps your competitors are falling into. Most of these changes can be made without too much disruption to your current campaigns. So, why not implement them right away?

Feature Image Credit: Image credit: anyaberkut | Getty Images 

By 

Sourced from Entrepreneur Europe

By Brendan Gannon

Implementing innovative tactics in your messaging could help generate more leads and increase conversions. Consider these insights when creating—or updating—your marketing strategy.

Email marketing has a proven track record of success, but brand managers must be willing to adapt if they want to continue to reap the benefits of this powerful marketing channel.

Technological advancements are allowing for more engaging messages to be sent to users’ inboxes. Sending an email that loads slowly or features low-quality images will probably end up in readers’ digital dumpster bins.

According to an infographic from Email Monks, readers want visually compelling, interactive emails. The guide asserts that savvy marketers should tap into advancements including higher-quality visuals, Advanced Mobile Pages (AMP) and intelligent design such as embedding surveys.

Additional insights include:

  • Ditch the standard header image, email copy and call to action layout for something more innovative.
  • Integrate your digital and email marketing by inserting live social media feeds into your emails.
  • Play around with fonts and typography to make your messages stand out.

For more email design trends marketers should be keeping an eye on, check out the full infographic.

 

By Brendan Gannon

Sourced from Ragan’s PR Daily

This year the email marketing landscape will continue to focus on personalization with a focus on quality over quantity as well as expanding loyalty programs.

Many exciting trends and developments hit the world of email marketing in 2018 as email turned 40 years old – from the emergence of AMP for Gmail to mobile email reaching its long-awaited tipping point.

As we head into 2019 and marketing budgets “refill,” it’s our chance to give our email programs a restart and refocus our efforts on innovation and speed to keep pace with the demanding customer. In 2019 we can expect consumer expectations for quality content to increase – it’s become an annual tradition. Marketers will need to leverage new technologies and disciplines to continue to push the boundaries. Email programs will become even more personalized and more interactive, and as a result, more effective at driving revenue and brand loyalty.

To achieve these lofty goals and marketing dreams, below are my predictions for 2019 changes in the email marketing landscape you should be most aware of.

Personalization will put the right content in front of the right customers

Email marketing content can and should be more deliberate based on customers behavior, and I believe in 2019 we will see this become more prevalent in marketing strategies. Marketers have no excuse not to personalize email content based on the plethora of data they capture from browsing, purchase histories and email preferences.

The use of this data is becoming less “creepy” and using it in a deliberate way can deliver success. If you haven’t done so already, you should make it a priority to collect and use more data for personalization in content execution. Marketers should implement/expand their current preference centers for content choices or follow browse, purchase, click and open behavior to identify the content that piques subscribers’ interest most.

This process will get even more scientific as marketers push vendors for perfection. In 2019, marketers will continue to test AI platforms, while pushing vendors to handle their AI needs and automate at a larger scale. This innovation in technology should enable marketers to identify content combinations that perform better, faster and more efficiently.

The growth of mobile average order value

Historically, mobile average order value (AOV) has lagged behind its desktop counterpart because consumers are less likely to make big-ticket purchases (e.g., large, expensive items) on-the-go. In 2019, we’ll see this gap close. In fact, Yes Marketing data from Q3 shows significant growth in mobile average order value (AOV) for the first time in a long time. In Q3 of 2018 mobile AOV was $66.40, just $20 less than the $86.20 desktop AOV – and this is just the start.

In the year ahead, it will become more common for subscribers to purchase larger orders on mobile devices as the user experience gets better. To take advantage of this trend, brands will need to gain subscribers’ trust by offering detailed product content, more images and videos, or customer testimonials to push subscribers over the edge.

The continued rise of interactive content

As in 2018, I’m a firm believer in interactive content and I’m predicting it will continue to take off in 2019. Emails that contain games, quizzes, image carousels or simply “fun’” clickability (my word for 2019) allow users to interact with the brand without leaving the email itself. The more brands allow subscribers to engage within emails in new ways – whether it’s a personality quiz or the ability to book hotels without leaving email – the more engaged and ready to purchase subscribers will be with the brand.

The use of interactive content can help boost sales or simply educate and entertain. Fun games are a great way to get subscribers in the habit of opening your emails. The ability to actually make purchases within email makes the buying process even faster, and will boost sales for the brands that embrace interactivity.

Quality over quantity (deliverability + greater spend in targeted digital acquisition)

Deliverability has become a serious concern for marketers. Due to poor data management and increased standards from major ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo and AOL, emails can quickly land in the SPAM folder, making all that hard work in creative useless. To reach the inbox every time and maximize revenue from email marketing campaigns, marketers need to ensure they are sending relevant content to high quality value email subscribers and stop focusing on the total quantity of emails sent. In the coming year, that means embracing best practices even more, such as segmentation, data hygiene, email verification and preference centers.

In addition to reaching current subscribers/customers, smart marketers will use data to drive their digital acquisition efforts and better target new subscribers. Again, quality over quantity in acquiring new subscribers will pay dividends for your email program down the road. Model out your digital acquisition by appending the right types of data and finding look-a-like versions of your best customers instead of just paying your standard cost per lead. Yes, this approach may and most likely will cost more to successfully acquire quality subscribers. But in the end the lifetime value of higher quality customers is worth the additional investment. Smarter acquisition = greater ROI.

Loyalty programs will further expand to collect customer data

Many marketers already embrace loyalty programs and in 2019 these programs will become much more sophisticated. Smart marketers will use loyalty programs to collect customer data and better understand customer behavior, allowing them to reach loyal customers with better personalization and acquire new customers with the same characteristics.

What will this look like? Email marketers can track the behavior of their most loyal customers (e.g., those who engage with loyalty emails most frequently) and better understand their needs when it comes to email. What time of day do they want to receive emails? What types of products do they typically browse and purchase? What promotions work best for them? Then, marketers can take this data to encourage subscribers with similar behavior to join the loyalty program. Additionally, strong brands are already leveraging loyalty points as an incentive to receive data from their customers. This combination will lead to greater engagement in the inbox and more revenue for brands who execute flawlessly.

Over the past year, it’s been fun watching email marketing turn 40. While many in the past have claimed email is dead and ready for replacement by a shiny new channel (*cough* Sheryl Sandberg *cough*), we’ve yet to see a true successor. That’s why I’m challenging all marketers to keep up the strong work in 2019 to make it even better.

As you ring in the new year, consider tactics such as AI for personalization, interactive content, improved loyalty programs and spending a little bit more in acquisition so next year at this time, you can give yourself the greatest gift of the holiday season – a bonus or raise.

By 

Kyle Henderick is Director of Client Services at Yes Marketing, a single solution provider who delivers relevant communications across all channels for mid and enterprise-sized companies. Kyle is responsible for helping major clients implement new programs, processes, and data-driven strategies to create campaigns that truly drive revenue. With a passion for technology implementation and a background in database, email, web, and social media marketing, Kyle turns his real-world experience into executable tactics to help clients see an incremental lift in revenue, subscriber engagement, and customer retention. A lover of all things Chicago, when Kyle is not reading up on latest marketing practices or focusing on improving client programs, he can be found enjoying the city’s great restaurants or wearing his heart on his sleeve while rooting for all Chicago-based sports teams. A curious individual willing to try any and every food that does not include raw onions, he is always looking for exciting dining options and new adventures around the city.

Sourced from Marketing Land

By Tobin Lehman

In the B2B space, we can sometimes get lost looking for the newest shiny objects and forget about the basics of digital marketing. Don’t let that happen to email. There’s a reason it’s tried and true – it still holds the highest ROI.

It’s time to go back to the basics.

The Basics of Email Marketing

For most B2B organizations, email is used in every aspect of their business. Your sales guys send emails. Your marketing team sends emails. Your customer service team sends emails. For most organizations, email is the number one touchpoint for communicating with customers. Your customers likely receive more email from you than they ever receive phone calls or in-person visits. So, the content and context of your email marketing should never be taken lightly.

That said: why do we think about email so little in our organization? We’re going to dive into three areas of our business to determine how to best use email to reach our goals.

Sales Team Emails

As I mentioned, your sales team should be sending a lot of email. The reason they do this is because with the advent of email marketing and CRM integration, you should be able to send a lot of emails that cut down a lot of time and increase productivity. But we still get asked this question often: “What kind of emails to our sales team be sending?”

Well, it’s a good question. The reality is that email offers more of a challenge for sales guys than it does for any other department. (If you’re a sales guy, you can quote me on that.)

The reason why it’s much more difficult is that you’re expected to be both personal and automated at the same time. In other words, you need to get a lot of emails out, but it can’t be willy-nilly, because your potential customer is looking for personal attention and customization. They want to feel that you’re paying attention to them – and so does everyone else. The problem is that you’ve only got so much attention to give.

Marketing helps with this a bit, but it can’t totally fill the role of “personal attention” for the customer. Yet, without that, the prospect can feel funneled, or herded, which would detract from the impact you are trying to have.

This means that from a sales perspective, an intelligent CRM-based email marketing with high customization is an absolute requirement. If you’re sending out templated emails but you are not using a system like HubSpot or Infusionsoft, you’re probably spending a lot of time doing it. Or, if you’re not, you’re definitely not doing it well.

If you’re just getting started, the key is to start slow and find the biggest bottleneck. Then, work to find the areas where email automation can have the biggest impact – places where it can really help you save time and increase your productivity. Create those templates first, and find easy ways to automate them. If you’re not using HubSpot Sequences, for example, this could be a real leverage point for you in the organization.

Marketing Emails

Marketing is the act of positioning your product or service within the marketplace. Advertising is the expression of that position to the targeted customer. So your goal, in a marketing context, is to continually position your firm or service within the mind of your potential customer.

When you think of a channel such as email, this could include such tactics as an email newsletters and drip campaigns, but on a bigger level, you should push thought leadership. The marketing message should focus on the unique differentiators of your firm or service within the market. This means you need to drive the value of your firm’s service every time you send an email.

So if you are a professional services firm, this positioning should include your expertise, which is really the summation of all your experiences being applied to a customer problem. Don’t just send your latest project; send some of the thinking that made your latest project successful.

The success of your communication will directly correlate to how well it helps customers solve their problems. If you’re constantly talking about yourself or your products and services without a correlation to your customer, or if you never tie in how your product or service will solve their problems, you’re just creating noise.

There are too many product and service emails that simply talk about what’s being offered without ever considering the benefits that the end customers actually care about.

For example, you may have the highest-rated service on Yelp, yet that means nothing to me if you don’t address my pain points specifically.

This is a high-level review of marketing email, but hopefully it provides direction toward where you should push.

Customer Service Emails

The communications you have with your customers over requests, service calls, or even the day-to-day management of an account are sometimes just viewed as inconsequential. But how could we leave these major touch points to chance?

What’s most important is that every email that’s sent out of your firm is thought through in terms of how it affects the customer experience.

Have you reviewed your customer service rep’s email sent box recently? Think about what kind of information you could find in there. If they’re being polite, if they address the customer concerns, if there’s terseness – frankly, there could be a whole array of challenges or wonders inside of that email box in terms of who is winning and losing accounts when it comes to customer service.

Since every firm and company is different, let’s talk about this from a conceptual standpoint. You should determine your email communication standards from a customer service perspective on day one. This could include response times, response context, and other technical standards, all the way down to the signatures and closing remarks of emails.

A good email customer service strategy may need to be broad to encompass all situations; it could also be very narrow in terms of an escalation or communication policy around particular issues. If you’re setting up a meeting, for example (which seems minor), you could have templates for emails that are sent out to make sure all the details are covered. The alternative is to just ad hoc it, sending an email saying, “Hey we got a meeting tomorrow here’s the agenda see you then..”

Yikes.A properly thought-through strategy could include some reminders on directions and the more formalized greeting, for example.

Don’t Take Email For Granted

All this to be said, every email from your firm or your company is a piece of communication to your customer. Don’t leave it to chance.

Email should be thoughtful, purposeful, and measurable to make sure it’s having the best impact. The emails you send will be a large part of the communication experience your customer has with your firm.

ByTobin Lehman

Sourced from Business 2 Community

By Christina Crawley.

Email is as important as ever. While it’s not part of the latest generation of shiny digital marketing tools, it is still very much one of the most effective. Ahead of any social media handle, the email inbox remains the most coveted digital possession, being checked and refreshed at all hours of the day.

From cold business solicitations to newsletter subscriptions, I see many companies and organizations – especially those in the social good sector – that miss conversion opportunities by not following basic email design norms. To ensure that the emails you are sending to your target audience are effective – i.e., they are noticed, opened, read and acted upon – design must take a front seat. No, this isn’t about fancy, shiny templates. It’s about following structural design best practices so that your email grabs people’s attention, even before they’ve opened it.

To improve open rates, click-through rates and, ultimately, increased engagement with your brand, the following items need your attention as you build your email marketing content.

Strong Email Subject Lines

Just as we all sift out the junk and flyers in our paper mailboxes, email subject lines determine in large part whether a message is even worth the time it takes to open. Be compelling, but also be clear. Focus on your value proposition and show your readers what to expect when they open your email – whether that’s a discount toward their next purchase or to learn about your organization’s latest research findings.

Relevant Preview Text

This is probably my biggest pet peeve, mainly because it’s easy to do well but is often overlooked. Preview text is content from within the email that you can see before you have opened it. It appears both on desktop and on mobile and is the next clue (after the subject line) for someone to know whether they should open your email or not. Don’t waste that space with automatic text such as, “This email may include images. To view in your browser, click here.” Jump on the opportunity to take another stab at grabbing their attention and relaying the objective of your ask.

Well-Structured Content

If you’ve gotten as far as getting your email opened, that’s great. It’s now more important than ever to keep your audience’s attention and interest. Avoid long, text-heavy emails that require so much scrolling that people forget what they were hoping to get out of them. As a follow-up from your subject line, clearly state your message, and be as brief as possible. You only have a couple seconds of their time. Long emails with lots and lots of text are not an effective way to communicate your message or inspire your readers to act.

Clear Calls To Action

Once you’ve mastered the art of catching someone’s attention and getting them to take those ten to fifteen seconds to read your email, make that next step as easy and obvious as possible: Use a clear call to action (CTA). Your email should ideally have only one of these. Too many emails try to do it all in one, e.g., wanting someone to register for an event and also read an interesting white paper. Once they’ve clicked out of your email, the chances are very small that they will come back for that second CTA. So focus on one, and make it easy for them to complete with a reasonably sized button. When in doubt, take the Goldilocks approach on the size question: Not too big (you’ll just annoy people), not too small (you don’t want them to miss it), but just right so they see it, understand it and click through.

The above items make up the fundamental pieces of your email. As a next step, A/B testing will help you optimize your approach – from testing the placement of your CTA buttons to the callouts you use to lure your audience in – as will your email analytics. No matter what, make sure you are covering your bases. From there you can then focus on optimizing your content to reach even more people.

By Christina Crawley

Director of marketing at Forum One, leading global marketing and outreach to the world’s most influential nonprofits and foundations.

Sourced from Forbes