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Three Tips for Effectively A/B Testing your Emails

In a world where everything has become “social”, email has proven to continue to be a valuable asset in the world of online communications. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts is projected to grow from over 4.1 billion accounts in 2014 to over 5.2 billion accounts by the end of 2018. That’s almost 27% in growth.

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With the huge opportunity to truly capture new subscribers, companies are spending more and more dollars on testing – specifically A/B testing.

Campaign Monitor defines A/B testing (also known as split testing) as:

 A way of working out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging opens or clicks.

In an A/B test, you set up two variations of the one campaign and send them to a small percentage of your total recipients. Half of the test group is sent Version A and the other half gets Version B. The result, measured by the most opens or clicks, determines the winning campaign and that version is sent to the remaining subscribers.

It’s imperative to run A/B tests when trying out new techniques or formats for your email campaigns. The result is the improvement of open, click through and conversion rates, which will funnel down to other marketing efforts and ultimately, if sales-related, profit for the company. Now that you understand the importance of testing, let’s break down exactly what you want to test – as everything cannot be tested together. It’s important to only test one thing at a time to get accurate results.

  1. Timing

The time that you decide to send an email is very important. Some believe the hours between 8:00 pm – 12:00 am are best. Others believe mid-day is best. Truthfully, ideal times will vary by your subscriber list, industry and/or the content/offer. Try a variety of times to determine which works best and go from there. Some email databases offer paid scheduling testing services, such as Mail Chimps’ Send Time Optimization, which handles the work for you by 1) requesting a sample list (dividing it in half – hence the phrase A/B testing) 2) determining the best sending time for its subscribers and 3) distributing based on the most favorable time.

  1. Call to Action and Subject Line

When it comes to testing your offer, there is no clear-cut plan. Different subscribers respond to different offers. The key is dynamic offers – i.e. targeted e-mail offers that are customized for each individual subscriber based on the information you’ve collected on them. A few examples include:

  • Seasonal Offers (e.g. Holidays, Back to School deals)
  • Free Option Offer (e.g. Shipping, BOGO, upgrades, downloads)

Percentages and specific dollar amounts (e.g. 5% off, $20 off)

  • Reminder/Time Sensitive Offers (e.g. Last chance to buy and/or earn, 5 slots left)
  • Exclusive/Membership Based offers (e.g. New items in store, restocked requests, private shopping events)
  1. The Layout

The layout of your email may seem like a trivial thing to consider but as the world becomes more mobile, it is imperative to ensure that click through rates and open rates remain high. A few popular things to test are:

  • Body text (Single column vs. double column; font size and type)
  • Images vs. Videos (and whether or not to integrate at all)
  • Personalization (Jane vs. Mrs. Doe)
  • HTML text (Keywords vs. brand language)
  • Placement of the offer (and the repetition of the offer)

Testing can be seen as a long, thorough process but when done right, and often, can yield positive results for your business.

What are some of your best practices for testing emails – specifically related to A/B testing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Think Email Marketing is Dead? It’s not!

In a world where everything has become “social”, it’s refreshing to find that email marketing still thrives in the world of online communications. Sometimes the analytics/reports don’t prove it, which is why I always reference this infographic as a starting point:

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If you aren’t familiar, I suggest checking out Wolfgang Jaegel’s website. He has a great post on How to Optimize your Marketing Emails. What are some of your best practices for email marketing? Comment below!

Advertising · Blogging · Branding · Campaigns · Content Marketing · E-Commerce · Entrepreneurs · Inspiration · Marketing · Public Relations · Publicity · Social Media · Strategy

Different Ways Brands Use Pinterest to Authentically Connect

Although it is still fairly new, plenty of companies have delved and completely excelled in the new social media channel of Pinterest. The online visual board has been predicted to grow measurably in the next few years. As such, brands all over the world are looking for ways to authentically connect with it’s current and potential consumers on the site.

As with any other social media channel, a well-thought out strategy is needed to excel. To assist you with this, I came across an article that details 5 ways a few brands have used Pinterest to authentically connect with fans.

Feel free to check it out here.

What tips and strategies have you implemented that have been successful on Pinterest?

Advertising · Branding · Campaigns · Content Marketing · Marketing · Public Relations · Publicity · Social Media · Strategy

Three Myths about What Customers Want

I recently came across an article that outlined the three myths of what customers want. I found it to be very interesting. In my opinion, it was truthful in a sense, but it definitely cannot apply to every brand out there.

A lot of brands, especially lifestyle brands, thrive on establishing and communicating with their community. As such, they do not call them customers. If anything, they are brand ambassadors (I love that term, in case you haven’t noticed yet).

Check out the article below. It is apart of a three part series, so I encourage you to check out the other articles as well!

What do you think? Is there any truth to the three myths the author cited?

Most marketers think that the best way to hold onto customers is through “engagement” — interacting as much as possible with them and building relationships. It turns out that that’s rarely true. In a study involving more than 7000 consumers, we found that companies often have dangerously wrong ideas about how best to engage with customers. Consider these three myths.

Myth #1: Most consumers want to have relationships with your brand.

Actually, they don’t. Only 23% of the consumers in our study said they have a relationship with a brand. In the typical consumer’s view of the world, relationships are reserved for friends, family and colleagues. That’s why, when you ask the 77% of consumers who don’t have relationships with brands to explain why, you get comments like “It’s just a brand, not a member of my family.” (What consumers really want when they interact with brands online is to get discounts).

How should you market differently? Read more here.

Branding · Campaigns · Entrepreneurs · Marketing · Strategy · Uncategorized

BRANDnew…The Art of Rebranding

Rebranding is something that every company has or will have to go through at some point.

Holiday Inn is one of my favorite brands that recently went through a rebranding process.  The hotel underwent a billion dollar rebranding process with the help of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The re-launch included a new logo, remodeled bedrooms and a revamped welcome experience starting in the lobby area.

Now, Holiday Inn is a well-known hotel brand, but statistics reported that they hadn’t underwent a change since 1982! That is a long time, especially with so many competitors on the horizon, this process was necessary.

If you are thinking about rebranding your business, I recommend rebranding the whole business, not just a facelift…ie. a new logo. Think about revamping the whole customer experience.

Below are 5 crucial steps to an effective rebranding process:

1. Research. Everything, everything must begin with research. Take time to find out what went wrong by conducting focus groups, surveys or simply conversing your your regular clientele. If sales are declining, take the time to find out why. Could it be the product’s performance, formula or general reputation? A consumer poll through a marketing and research team might be in order as a way to figure out what could be wrong with your brand.

2. Keep the importance of your brand identity in mind. Don’t lose sight of what your company mission and goals are.  Holiday Inn was known as an affordable option for hotel stay. Even though they went through a rebranding process, they’ve always been able to celebrate the fact that they are trusted, well-known brand that was loved by money-conscious travelers.

3. Get all teams involved in the process. Don’t rely solely on the marketing team as they may not know what is going on the finance or operations department. Involving all teams will ensure that internal processes and procedures are appropriate given the new brand messaging, or determine that they need to be altered in some way. Additionally, this will garner a sense of excitement in the employees who are tasked with representing the brand.

4. Deliver on the new promises. Don’t let the excitement die down after a new logo or a interior design. Show customers that the process was thorough and consistenly ask for feedback to ensure that they are happy.

5. Introduce something new. Social & digital media, for example, has continued to flourish. Find out what competitors are doing online and determine if it’s worth the investment. Also, think about the new environmentally-friendly initiatives that have gained popularity lately.

5. Pace yourself. Rebranding cannot be successfully accomplished overnight.

6. Revisit your rebranding strategy every few months or years to ensure that it is consistent and truly working for the greater good.

Has your company underwent a rebranding strategy? What strategies did you implement? If not, name one of your favorite brands that went through a rebranding strategy?

Branding · Marketing · Public Relations · Publicity · Social Media · Strategy · Uncategorized

What makes a good brand?

That is the million dollar question. However, before we can answer that, we have to answer the obvious question: what is branding and how can it effectively help your product and/or service?

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Therefore it is safe to say that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about positioning your company to prospects as the “go-to” source for providing a solution to their problem.

A strong, trusted and identifiable brand can not only help you sell your product and/or service, but it can also open the doors for future community and business partnerships. People want to work with (and buy from!) established brands that have positioned themselves as leaders in such a saturated world.

With that said, I think it’s impossible to answer the question: what makes a good brand. Rather, a strong brand can help to deliver a message clearly. That message could range from new product developments in the marketplace to the benefits of a purchasing cell phone plan from Verizon over AT&T.

A strong brand can also motivate the buyer. This is where the importance of knowing your target market comes into play. If you know the attributes, behaviors and circumstances that motivate your buyer, then you can apply these into your branding strategy.

Furthermore, a strong brand builds customer loyalty. Effective businesses view their brands as tools that allow their messaging to cut through the noise of an overcrowded marketplace. They also position themselves as trusted brands based on the fact that their product and/or service has delivered on its’ promises in the past.

“The lack of a solid foundation for a brand will ultimately undermine its future success. This foundation goes beyond the logo and brand fascia and provides the underpinnings of legitimacy and ability to deliver real value.”

– Bill Nissim

If you are new to the branding world and working on creating a branding strategy, ask yourself this one question: What is my brand value and how can I use it to keep consumers coming back? That answer can vary depending on the scope of your business.

Branding · Campaigns · Marketing · Social Media · Uncategorized

The Power of Facebook Marketing

The Power of Facebook Marketing is amazing. Think about it: it’s a social media tool that a gazillion people use daily. Why wouldn’t your brand or company be on there?

That’s like…total.branding.suicide.

Not sure if you checked out my client work page, but i’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m a social media marketing consultant for this company; which means i’m in charge of their online consumer engagement and increasing their revenue through social media interaction.

As such, I spent a lot of my time today researching and brainstorming ideas on how to share creative content and get those “like” numbers up. Then it dawned on me, well actually, it dawned on my supervisor. Photo Contests!

Everyone is sharing their lives via instagram anyway. Why not make it beneficial for both of us?

She came across this great site for Offerpop; which is a third-party fan marketing platform (if you didn’t know, Facebook basically forces you to remove their name from all contesting and giveaways) that will allow you to effectively run viral marketing campaigns. Awesome right?! I think so.

I’ve been reading notes on a few of their past retail campaigns and I came across a case study for one of my favorite national clothing retailers. Forever 21. I’ve recently become a local boutique-hopping chic…yes, I know you care 😉

The national retailer has already created a lot of viral campaigns through Offerpop but this is one that stuck out to me:

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From Offerpop’s website: “Forever 21 ran their “Heart2Art Contest” using Offerpop’s Photo Contest app. Young fans submitted t-shirt designs explaining why their school is cool. The winner received $1000 for their school and had their t-shirt available for sale exclusively on forever21.com.”

We all love validation.

The great thing about a viral campaign is simply that…it’s viral. Meaning the hardwork (ie. the power of the ‘like’ ‘RT’ and ‘share’ button) is in the hand of the consumer but the return on investment (ROI) is given strictly to the company.

Have you shared and/or entered any viral campaigns?