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design & marketing blog

Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

5 Reasons eMarketing Campaigns Fail

July 22nd, 2016

Internet Marketing or eMarketing is a term we use to encompass any electronic publishing that has the goal of generating demand. This can be both direct (such as special offer, buy now) or indirect (such as helpful articles that appeal to your target audience). The typical distribution channels for eMarketing include traditional blogs (like this one) with RSS, Email marketing (through services such as VeticalResponse, Constant Contact and iContact), Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and other social media channels.

eMarketing can be compared to generating “foot traffic” in retail. For instance, many people venture into a retailing business because they’re passionate about a product or service. So they lease a storefront, flip the sign on the front door to read “Open”, and wait for the customers to rush in and buy their goods. What separates a successful retailer from a bankrupt retailer is the realization that rewards are derived from hard work, quality, attention to detail, and a dedication to match the market need as it evolves. Retailers can even spend a significant portion of their budget to advertise their product or service, but if they haven’t addressed these variables, they’ll never generate consistent demand. And yes, these same principles apply to eMarketing.

So why do so many eMarketing campaigns fail? Here are 5 reasons:

CONSISTENCY – The marketer fails to consistently develop content on a regular schedule; which in turn disengages the audience.  eMarketing is very easy to back-burner and before you know it the last time your bi-weekly marketing blast was published was four months ago.  Not only are you loosing the chance to simply ask for more sales, your display of inactivity on your blogs and social media sites will carry negative connotations to your audience. If the last time you published a blog post a site visitor will entertain such thoughts as, “Is this company still in business?” or “If it takes them that long to get to things what kind of customer service must they have?”

ATTENTION TO DETAIL – Although our society has significantly lowered its standards on grammar and spelling, both are still important to develop readable and discernible content. Many eMarketers, myself included, have a tendency to become lazy in regards to proofreading. It still matters. Even a 1% error rate in any published marketing piece can greatly reduce the credibility and effectiveness of the piece; no matter how great the design and content might be.

RELEVANCE – A marketer must evolve their passion to address a market need. People desire content that emotionally engages them and equates to their own interests. All material must be written from the perspective of your audience and it should be written in a way that captures and keeps their attention. Regardless of the subject matter, successful marketing communications should capture the emotions of an audience by making them laugh, cry, ponder, or get angry. Even nude para-sailing could become a relevant blogging topic if the subject matter is able to emotionally engage the reader and you’re able to relate to your business goal.

QUALITY AESTHETICS – No matter the content, people will make a strong initial judgement of your credibility based on the quality of graphic design for your marketing communication whether it be a blog, HTML email or Facebook page. By maintaining professionally designed electronic collateral, marketers  will enhance their credibility and improve the viral component of their distribution – because who really wants to refer a terrible looking Web site to a friend or professional acquaintance?

MARKETING DISTRIBUTION – Going back to the retailer example, one cannot simply flip the sign on the front door to read “Open” and expect customers to pour in. Generating an audience of prospects will take effort; the content must be distributed out to a targeted group of readers in order to generate interest.  Utilizing technologies such as Social Media, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and viral components such as a “Send This to a Friend” link are all viable methods to help build and maintain an audience. Marketers should also encourage their immediate sphere of contacts (family, friends, neighbors, work contacts, etc.) to read their content and spread it along.

Do you need help with putting together a more successful digital marketing strategy?  We’d love to learn more about your needs and provide you some feedback on how we might be able to assist. Contact us anytime.

Email Marketing Best Practices

July 16th, 2015

Have you ever opened your email only to find a long list of uninspired, unappealing, and loud advertisements all screaming at you? What did you do, read them all one-by-one, carefully considering their content and offers? Probably not! More than likely you simply deleted them all before you ever got past the subject line. So does this mean email marketing is dead? Hardly, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing to your existing client base if it is done correctly. So what are the best, most effective practices you can take into consideration when launching your own email marketing campaign?

Subject Line

For many people, it begins and ends at the subject line. If it looks like spam or is not interesting and eye-catching, they’re going to delete the entire email without ever opening it. You need to carefully craft a subject line that intrigues your clients and makes them want to read more. It needs to offer value to your target market and be personable, catchy and targeted directly to the reader.

Content

Once you’ve gotten someone to open an email, you have to keep their attention. Make sure that the content of the email provides valuable information, offers, deals or links that the client will want to hear about. But be careful, you don’t want to just blast them with self-promotional messages. Content should help clients fill a need they have in their lives, and should offer them something they’re truly interested in learning about. Make the content intriguing, and make them interested in hearing more. If you give them what they want now, you will be sure to make the sale later, and you don’t have to be pushy about it in the email.

Design

Don’t forget, however, that no matter how great your content is, if it doesn’t look good, your clients will delete it in the blink of an eye. Emails need to utilize the full capabilities of HTML coding, and they should be attractive to look at. The design should also fit in with your overall brand messaging so that it is easily identifiable as yours and yours alone. Professional, modern and uncluttered designs work best for email, so make sure to keep it simple. And don’t forget to make sure that the email works on every email platform, including mobile platforms. It might look good on your desktop, but if a client on an iPhone only sees a jumble of mixed-up images, the message will be lost and you’ve lost your sale.

If you can create a valuable, content-driven email that has great design that works well on all platforms, you will drive interest to your business. Remember that even though email marketing’s end goal is a sale, you don’t want the reader to feel pressured. They should feel like you’re giving them great information they want to hear first. If you get their interest and trust, the sales will come.

Emailing Groups – The Right Way

May 22nd, 2014

Are you aware that how you send emails to your customers can dramatically affect the viability of your entire business? In the most extreme cases emailing to customers the wrong way can result in your entire domain being frozen or shut down.

While a successful email marketing strategy involves much more, there are a few basics that you must adhere too to protect the good name of your business and prevent potentially serious problems with your company’s ability to deliver emails of all types to vendors, clients and customers.

1. Never send to large groups using Outlook or Webmail!

Have you ever logged into your individual email account and sent an email to a group of customers by adding them all to the bcc field? Or have you ever taken a larger list of customer email address and broken them up into smaller sequential emails?

Because of the prevalence of spam, email service providers and ISP’s closely monitor emails sent to multiple addressees as well as the frequency in which they’re sent. ISP’s and service providers tend to be overly cautious and favor erring on the side of preventing potential spam. Therefore  they are likely to flag your email/domain as potential spam when they see this type of group sending activity. In some cases I’ve seen email service suspended as a warning for 24 hours if too many such emails are sent, and, in extreme cases, the Website and email for your domain can be shut down.  This threat exists when sending through an individual account no matter how legitimate the email is and how much your recipients want to receive it.

The best alternative is to utilize one of the large 3rd party email marketing companies, namely VerticalResponse or Constant Contact. They send millions of emails each month and have the ability, because of their size and volume, to safeguard that your domain name does not get associated with spam. Not only will your domain name be protected, for their nominal cost, there are many other advantages such as tracking and the ability to have have a custom HTML email design developed for your brand.

2. Never buy lists of email addresses from 3rd parties!

There is a good reason why Constant Contact and Vertical Response do not allow the use of third party email lists . . . they are often not poor quality in terms of relevancy, they tend to result in a much higher rate being marked for spam by recipients (thus potentially blacklisting your domain) and most importantly there is no way to verify that these lists were obtained legally. In short, they present a very high risk of damage to your domain name and the deliverablity of all your company’s email . . . just don’t do it!  For more information on this topic and insight about best practice email marketing visit Word to the Wise or Deliverability.com; both great sites about email, delivery and spam.

There are of course legitimate ways to collect addresses for your email  marketing—you can start with this these 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business provided by VerticalResponse.

3. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act on all your marketing related emails (It’s not hard).

While admittedly The FTC is not overly aggressive in prosecuting, the fact remains that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. This should serve as good motivation to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  4. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  5. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  6. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

For full details on these email guidelines, see the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Facts for Business.

Setting up HTML Email Signatures in Microsoft Entourage (Mac)

February 25th, 2012

This screencast tutorial shows the basics on how to use images when setting up a custom HTML email signature using Microsoft Entourage for Macintosh.

See also Setting up a html email signature in Microsoft Entourage (Mac OS X)

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