OTW 048 - 3 Guiding principles to a successful email marketing strategy

In our latest episode of On the Winbox, Marc explains what principles you need to consider when designing and implementing your marketing strategy. 

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WinboxLtd #WinboxWinners
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Website: http://www.winbox.co/

Effort: the secret of success in marketing and life

As a huge personal development fan, I read several books and attend a handful of talks each month to quench my thirst for self-improvement. An avid sports fan, I particularly like talks with a sports theme, and the more successful the speaker, the more interested I am. That’s because I’m driven to learn from people who have been there and done it; scouting through the specifics of their achievements and trying to find the trends their success is built on.

 Over the past year, I’ve seen some incredible speakers, including Karen Brady, Roger Black, Gary Vaynerchuk, Barry McGuigan and Maggie Alphonsi. Each of them was full of fascinating stories, having reached the very pinnacle of their chosen fields. But what was strikingly obvious was the one piece of advice they all gave for their success – something we can all do ...for free.

It’s a case of putting in the work.

Every one of the speakers above said they just worked exceptionally hard. Some called it an obsession; others stated that they simply put in the hours. If you follow Gary Vee, you’ll know he’s a big advocate of ‘the hustle’. The other speakers mentioned the fact as a passing comment – something they just expected of themselves.

 Whether in sport, marketing, fitness or acting, the field doesn’t matter; but there is a clear correlation between working hard and achieving more. In marketing, professionals are often seeking a quick fix. That’s why articles like ‘Top 10 Things…’ do so well for clicks. But the truth is if you want to get great results you need to put in the work.

If you’re putting little effort into creating your marketing email campaigns, you’ll likely get poor results. This is because you’re not super-focused on producing something helpful to your audience, or a must-see email in their inbox. Instead, you’re simply adding to the clutter.

 And there is a lot of clutter. In fact, on average we get 121 emails per day. I’ll bet only 1-in-10 of these are worth your time. I’ll often come out of an hour-long meeting to find ten unread emails on my email app, only to swipe left on almost all of them, deleting them before I’ve even opened. Do you do the same?

But what happens when you put thought and effort into your campaigns? What if you carefully construct an email strategy you believe will offer real value to your audience; target and segment your list so each email you send is relevant; write compelling content, beautifully presented; and constantly test, measure and analyse to learn more about what your audience wants and doesn’t want?

 Well, then you’ll get good results.

 All of the above take effort and commitment, however. But at the end of the day – and in the modern marketing and business environment – this is what it takes to get great results. So ask yourself: Is the work you’re putting into your marketing campaigns equivalent to the ambitions that you want to achieve?

 I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment below or tweet me at @WinboxLtd. Onwards and upwards!

One off email campaigns: When do they work, and how should you do them?

Ok, so you’ve got your email newsletter set up and, no doubt, by now you’re seeing a significant surge in traffic. However, there are times when even your regular mailer doesn’t provide the time, space and focus needed to promote or explain a particular aspect of your business. That is where the one off mailer comes in.

What’s the difference?

As the name suggests, a one off mailer is an email that is sent to your subscribers a single time only. This differs to a recurring email template such as a newsletter, which is sent out at the same frequency every week, month, etc. and designed to look the same albeit the changing content presented within it each time. 

Now, we know what you’re thinking: if you’ve already got a regular newsletter why opt for a one off mailer?

Well, because it is the most direct and economical means to highlight an aspect of your business that is deemed important but is very much of the moment or time dependant. If the message is only going to be conveyed once, why spend on costly marketing as even social media channels, arguably the most instant form of communication, often require paid promotion and targeting to get people to even notice your content. 

Another benefit of the one off mailer is that it adds variety to your content schedule. This also breaks up the gaps between your regular newsletters, helping to further engage your subscribers by promoting or reminding them about the products and services you offer. 

When to go “one off”

While there are endless examples out there, the one off mailer can be split into three main categories, which are as follows:

Sales oriented

When it comes down to it, all customer communications are sales oriented in one way or another. So what we really mean by this term is those emails that can be directly linked to driving transactions and even measured for success using analytics tools. This includes hero campaigns, for example a flagship product launch, through to arguably the most upfront of all marketing campaigns the sales, offers and promotions.

For many retailers, the sale season is a make or break part of their financial year and without question deserves more than a footnote in a newsletter. Individual emails announcing the launch, further reductions and close of a promotional period are a must for any e-commerce site and tied in with the right piece of content, the one off mailer can provide a speedy transition from pitch to click through to order. 

Brand building

Unlike sales oriented emails, brand building is less quantifiable but then again that is not really the point. These often lack a transactional thrust because what you are really trying to sell is the brand itself by creating an image of the business that will encourage subscribers to continue shopping with you over your competitors in the long run. One off mailers that support this type of brand building can cover everything from the heritage of the business to how your products are crafted, partnerships with charities to a recent award win. If there’s an unique angle or story to your business this is the space in which to share and enthuse about it to your customer base.


Your customers have subscribed to your emails because they want to stay informed with what’s happening at your business. While you may already send out newsletters, there are occasions when a piece of news content warrants more than simply a mention and can be better explored using a one off mailer. This could be for a number of reasons: perhaps it is an important event that you wish to promote; the business has gone through a merger that will have repercussions as to how it operates; or there has been a change to policy that affects the customer experience. Whether it is celebratory or more serious in tone, a one off email gives the topic the weight it deserves and will help prevent customers from feeling that they have not been properly informed.

How to do it right

Staying on brand, use the one off mailer as a chance to do something different with the graphic design compared to your regular newsletters. It needs to stand out, whether it is the colours used, a different type of font for the headers or a whole new layout, so spend some time thinking about how you want it to look or better yet get a professional design team to do the work for you.

Similarly, you can have a bit of fun with the copy provided it fits within the scope of your “house” style. Writing a punchy email subject line is an art form in itself with a one off mailer a good time to test out something different and see how it affects factors like open rates. If your subscribers are more responsive to a pun then why not give the people what they want? Afterall, it means more people opening your emails and discovering your products.

How you present your email will also depend on the type of products or content you’re attempting to drive people to. Say you have a new product launch, a one off mailer should be there to drum up excitement so that your subscribers click straight through to the product and are compelled to purchase. You can also use a single subject email as a means to drive traffic to underperforming areas of your site, for example a product category. Together the design and copy can tell a story or provide some inspiration to reignite interest.

Taking this a step further, incorporating editorial content such as blogs into your emails helps build your authority as a brand. For example, a one off mailer that provides a user guide to getting the best from your product will appeal to those who have purchased from you before and will likely encourage them to keep coming back. Importantly, it also allows you to market your products in a more subtle manner, providing a more informed user journey that feeds from email to blog to product. 

Implemented correctly alongside a regular newsletter, the one off mailer can dramatically enhance the user experience. That added layer of interaction, insight and inspiration is something that will not go unnoticed by your customers and will not only lead to a short term lift in sales but also translate to long term brand loyalty. It’s also a case of not underselling your business. If you know you are the go-to for a particular product or service then to not properly communicate that story using low cost channels such as one off mailers is an opportunity wasted.

OTW 046 - How to do email marketing for e-commerce companies

In this episode of our video series, Marc explains the basics of email marketing for e-commerce companies. 

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WinboxLtd #WinboxWinners
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WinboxLtd/
Website: http://www.winbox.co/

12 key dates for your email calendar

Say the words “awareness days” in company and you’ll no doubt hear a groan or two - and for good reason. The list of “celebrated events” on our calendars is no longer confined to the likes of Christmas, birthdays and New Year. After all, how boring would life be if we didn’t celebrate British Tomato Week in May, Sewing Machine Day in June, or Don’t Step On A Bee Day in July?

(We scoff, but we’ll make an exception for the likes of National Beer Day and National Doughnut Week…)

While many of these national days, weeks and months seem ridiculous, they can prove beneficial to businesses that have a connection to these occasions - especially when it comes to email marketing. Calendar days shouldn’t be ignored when planning your marketing strategy but, as with everything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Let’s take a whistlestop tour through the calendar year for some ideas.

Date: January 1st - New Year’s Day

Why? Because the New Year not only signals a fresh start, but also one of the year’s biggest sales periods: your customers and prospects will be in shopping mode, and they’ll be looking out for a bargain.

Tips: For B2C campaigns, be sure to think about timing - which will all depend on the purpose of your campaign. If your sale begins on December 27th, then send out your email either on the day or the day before. If you’re sending a “New Year, new start” type email, then New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is perfect. Either way, it makes sense to get Christmas out the way first.

For B2B campaigns, timing is also important when planning a New Year campaign. Since many offices close for weeks around Christmas, think about when you’ll get the chance to put the campaign together - and when your subscribers will have a chance to read it. Creating your campaign early and scheduling for a set date and time will save you a lot of hassle during this busy time of year.

Date: February 14th - Valentine’s Day

Why? Because there are some easy wins, even if you’re not a chocolatier, greetings card retailer or florist.

Tips: Segment, segment, segment. Blanket emailing your entire database with exactly the same message could lead to more unsubscribes than interest. It’s likely that men and women will respond better to differing subject lines, content and design at this time of year, while a couple in their sixties will (on the whole) celebrate the occasion in a very different way to a couple of university students.

Valentine’s Day marketing for B2B brands isn’t as tenuous as it sounds either. There’s plenty you can do to tie in with the occasion: showing the love in the form of a charity donation and sharing the news, sending ecards to your customers to show your appreciation (or to prospects to say how much you’d love to work with them), or even a “spread the love” referral campaign to tout for new business.

Of course, you should love your customers all year round, as we explain in this Valentine’s Day piece...

Date: March - National Puppy Day

Why? Because it’s a way to stand out from the crowd. Because the Internet is obsessed with dogs. Because, unless you’re in a dog-related business, chances are it’s a slow news day, so take advantage!

Tips: While many of the “awareness days” we read about are… somewhat spurious, this can be a positive for businesses. The “big” holidays - Christmas, Valentine’s Day and others - will see customers’ inboxes deluged with emails linked to the occasion, but celebrating lesser-known days like these means you can stand out from the competition, and show your fun side. Content-wise, try humanising your business by sharing photos of employees with their pooches, or making a donation to a local dog shelter and sharing the news with your subscribers - ideas appropriate for B2B and B2C firms alike.

Date: April 22nd - Earth Day

Why? The mission of Earth Day Network is to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide”. It’s your chance to show your business’ environmental credentials.

Tips: Don’t boast. Simply listing out all of the ways that your business contributes to helping the environment will simply sound like bragging. Soften the message, offer value to your readers, just like usual.

One option is to focus your campaign on education. Consider explaining what Earth Day is and why it’s important; you could even tie it in with how consumers can use your products in an environmentally friendly way. An office supply company could talk about recycling printer ink cartridges, a food company could talk of the best way to dispose of cooking oil… there’s a potential environmental message to everyone’s work.

From a B2B angle, you could talk up a change that you’re making to celebrate this year’s Earth Day - or again, humanisation could come in, by asking employees to make pledges to change one thing, which you share with your customers.

Date: May - National Share-A-Story Month

Why? Because storytelling should be at the heart of your marketing efforts.

Tips: Although National Share-A-Story Month focuses on connecting kids with stories each May, there’s no reason why adults shouldn’t get involved too. Both B2B and B2C brands can leverage this date as an opportunity to tell your own brand stories: let customers know about you and your brand in more detail. Listen to their stories, too: ask them how your product/service has made a difference to their lives, or run a short story competition where entries need to feature your brand.

Date: June - The Big Lunch

Why? Because it’s all about networking.

Tips: The Big Lunch, funded by the National Lottery, is all about getting neighbours together to share meals, whether big or small, casual or packed full of activities.

For a business, it’s a chance to get involved and to get to know your own neighbours and local customers; which is another way of saying “a segmented marketing campaign.” Consider hosting your own Big Lunch as a chance for customers to see where the magic happens, to enjoy a meal and for them to get to know you better - and vice versa. Invitation management can all be done via email, as can sharing news of the event itself.

Consider inviting other local businesses who aren’t on your mailing list too, and offer incentives (apart from the free lunch) such as a goodie bag. It’s a day of the year that many businesses won’t think to take advantage of; one that can deepen the relationships between you and your customers, and give you plenty of content for your newsletters and website post-event too.

Date: July - Tour de France

Why? Because it’s a major event on the sporting calendar.

Tips: While the Grand Depart no longer takes place in the UK, the Tour is still popular in this country. Like the summer itself, it’s long and drawn out: email marketing at this time of year can be a challenge for B2B and B2C businesses alike. A large part of your subscriber list are likely to be ignoring their emails and enjoying the sunshine - either at home or abroad.

For B2C businesses, try enticing them in with tour-related offers: restaurants could offer discounts for customers arriving by bike, department stores could promote offers on cycling gear, health and wellbeing brands could shout about the benefits of cycling.

If you’re operating in the B2B arena, consider using the Tour de France to inspire content that helps your customer base. Maybe a piece on how cycle races are all about marginal gains - small improvements in both technology and performance that can create a winner. It’s the same for businesses… and so on.

Date: August 19th - World Photo Day

Why? Because photography can be a powerful marketing medium - and because it’s great for crowdsourcing content.

Tips: “Photography is a powerful method of communication that we can use to uplift, inspire and initiate change in our world” says Korske Ara, the founder of World Photo Day. The day’s about getting people to “share their world with the world” via photography… and putting a campaign together around this day can have numerous benefits for email marketers.

There’s no denying the power of visuals in marketing: in 2016, 42% of B2C marketers ranked visual content as the most important form of content for their business, while 51% of B2B marketers said that creating visual content was one of their top priorities.

A competition where subscribers submit a photo of how your product or service fits into their day-to-day lives can not only initiate engagement with both B2B and B2C brands, but give you insight into how your offering is really used.  Sharing your brand’s photos on social media and encouraging subscribers to follow these accounts can help to create cohesion in your marketing efforts.

Date: September - Back to school

Why? Because the return to school after the summer offers fantastic opportunities to market to the needs of parents and their children alike.

Tips: Think laterally. It’s not just suppliers of stationery, school uniforms and laptops that can benefit from a back to school email marketing campaign. Think about mums now having more time to themselves, teachers needing to stock up on teaching aids, and consumers who are neither parents nor teachers, but who may enjoy a good old fashioned dose of school nostalgia (or who are simply glad that there are no longer hordes of kids around on week days).

Don’t forget about university students at the end of the month; they benefit from all sorts of sales campaigns, from tenants’ insurance to toilet cleaner. Depending on who you’re targeting, you may wish to run multiple campaigns to catch those who shop at the start of the summer holidays to be organised, and those who leave everything until a few days before the schools go back.

In the B2B world - especially for those providing services, rather than products, the “back to school” theme can be used as the backbone for content focused on going back to basics for maximum profitability.

Date: October 31st - Halloween

Why? Because it’s a chance to share some FRIGHTENINGLY good content with your subscribers, to TREAT them to an exclusive discount, and to BOOst your statistics...

Tips: Combine email and social media. Halloween is perfect for crowdsourcing content: photo competitions for the best Halloween costume or spooky party food, asking customers for ideas of how to use your products to celebrate the occasion… there’s loads you can do. Start your campaign early to capture these ideas, and share results in early November too.

Think beyond the subject line. While an eye-catching, Halloween-themed starting point will grab attention, you need to back it up with great content. Whether this is a trick or treat game which will offer some customers a discount code, crowdsourced costume ideas from your customers or showcasing products that tie in with the Halloween theme, there needs to be both style AND substance.

On the subject of Halloween, here’s a little piece we wrote that compares email marketing campaigns to different monsters, demonstrating how varied your spooky content can be. Campaigns like this are perfect for brands who, like us, operate in the B2B arena.

Date: November - Movember

Why? The combination of moustache-based fun and charitable giving can work wonders for your brand image.

Tips: For companies such as razor manufacturers and shaving cream producers, a Movember email marketing campaign is a no-brainer: it’s the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of their products, and even for them to consider a charitable donation.

You don’t have to be in this sector to make the most of this month-long endeavour, though. Want to encourage more subscribers to open your weekly emails? Share progress photos of those in the office who are taking part. Consider awarding a prize to subscribers in various moustache categories at the end of the month: length, style, most bizarre hair growth pattern… you get the idea. It’s a great way to inject some humour and personality into your brand.

On a more serious note, Movember’s all about striking that balance between fun and fundraising. It’s the perfect time for B2B and B2C brands  to show their charitable side: consider hosting fundraising events, sharing details of the sponsorship money raised by those in the office who are taking part, or even donating a percentage of November’s profits to cancer charities and sharing the news with your subscribers - it builds rapport and positive brand equity, and may make them more likely to buy.

Date: December 25th - Christmas

Why? Because...well, because it’s Christmas! Who ignores Christmas?!

Tips: Much like Valentine’s Day, the advent (see what we did there?) of Christmas will see consumers’ inboxes becoming fuller than Santa’s sack. They’ll be promised offers, discounts and gift ideas galore - so how do you make yours stand out?

Effective targeting is a good starting point: lavish Christmas bonuses on loyal customers, and “we miss you” emails on those who are MIA. Consider advent calendar competitions with a prize each day, encouraging subscribers to open, click through, and move on in the customer journey.

The gifts angle works well for B2B brands too. Here, it’s important to think about how Christmas ties in with your offering, getting a little creative if needed. Law firms could talk about Santa’s employment law requirements for his elves, hotel chains targeting corporates could encourage early booking to avoid a “no room at the inn” situation. It’s a time of year when people are expecting a little fun.

That said, don’t sweat the Christmas angle if it’s not right for your business. If you’re trying to flog weedkiller or engine oil, trying to position it as “a great stocking filler” will likely do more harm than good.

The important thing to remember is not to shoehorn a date into your email marketing efforts if you actually have nothing to say - or if it goes against what your business does. If you’re a meat producer, for example, trying to create a campaign around World Vegan Day in November may not be a great idea.

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful days to celebrate throughout the year, and adding seasonality to your email marketing campaign, when done the right way, can really boost your stats. When done wrong, though, you may be better off celebrating National Quiet Day the whole year round...

Starting from scratch: What to expect from your first email campaigns

A couple of weeks ago, we had a concerning conversation with one of our clients. They had just launched a newsletter campaign, and were a bit stressed about it. They only had 23 sign ups after a month, and were starting to wonder if email was worth the investment.

There are a couple of things that we’d like to clear up. One’s about expectations: your first campaign is not going to earn you everything you’ve ever wanted for your business overnight. The other’s about metrics: at first, your results will depend on the traffic you already have, and momentum will take a while to build.

Expectations: what to know before you start

We advise clients to set their expectations by the quality of the data they start with. The more traction you already have, the more effective your campaign will be.

For example, if you’re already generating a lot of traffic to your website, a scroll box inviting readers to sign up and providing an opt-in incentive will yield results. Merely adding a box to Entrepreneurial Spark’s website secured them 3,000  sign ups in three months, while HS Johnson secure an average of 120 new signups a week by offering subscribers a discount on their first purchase.

If you're starting from a low starting position in terms of awareness and momentum, it will take longer to build your list. Opt-ins and existing customers will yield more results than a bad list, full of cold clients and unconfirmed prospects. The first thing to do is clean your existing data, and look at importing your existing networks by approaching LinkedIn contacts or Twitter followers and asking them to sign up.

Metrics: how to tell if you’re doing well

Considering your campaign’s results in isolation is never a good idea. We need context to evaluate our performance in any field, and email marketing is no different.

Check your campaign against benchmark figures in your industry; you’ll usually find that any concerted email marketing effort results in a bump against that standard, as well as against your previous performance. Our clients generally beat industry averages by 50%. After about six months of continued campaigning, and provided their analytics are up to scratch, most have a realistic sense of how well they’re doing and how to change or improve their strategy in future.

Ultimately, though, opt-ins are based on the traffic you already have. Whether you’re inviting signups through scroll boxes on the website, social media shouts with a call to action or conversions from other media platforms, you’re still working with people who already know you exist. Realistically, 5-10% of your existing traffic would be an amazing signup rate; 1-5% is more likely.

Email marketing is not a quick fix or a silver bullet, and it depends on getting people to sign up - which means it goes hand in glove with other channels that bring people to your website, social presence or events. The goal of email marketing is to warm up prospects and build long-term rapport with them; not to get a thousand subscribers in a day.

OTW 045 - The benefits of email marketing for e-commerce companies

In this episode of On the Winbox, Marc explains what the keys benefits of email marketing are for an e-commerce company. He also shares some advice for what you can include in your campaigns. 

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WinboxLtd #WinboxWinners
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WinboxLtd/
Website: http://www.winbox.co/

I did the HubSpot Email Marketing Certificate, and here’s why you should too!

At uni, my life was consumed by further reading and a constant sense that there was always something else I should be doing to study towards my final marks. When I graduated, I did so with a huge sense of relief that I would never have to spend my free time further educating myself again. I would get a job, do my work, go home and focus my attention on other things. Down time is important, but learning is also about developing and bettering yourself. In my role at Winbox, I look after a client’s campaign and then analyse what worked and what didn’t. I have the skills and expertise to make sure our clients’ marketing makes an impact in a big way. But by developing my existing email marketing skills I could then, in turn, develop our client’s campaigns and better them into an even more engaging piece of marketing for their clients. Not only did it make sense to get myself certified, but I actually never really lost that itch to keep on learning and developing my marketing skills.

So a few other reasons as to why I did this certificate are as follows:

  1. HubSpot are, arguably, one of the biggest sales and marketing platforms out there. They know their stuff, they’re trusted and they're respected. If you’re going to get certified from anyone, it might as well be them.

  2. I put together the email campaigns for our clients, why wouldn’t I want to make sure that I’m following the best practices and therefore getting the best results for clients?!

  3. It took up an hour of my day for a couple of weeks, if that.

Marketing is a huge part of business, market yourself badly and it can have detrimental implications. With GDPR only a year away, not following best practices can be a huge price to pay, €20m in fact. The HubSpot certificate looks at how you can be compliant with your data, and what the best practices are to follow. Also, a lot of what was covered in the course are things already implemented in the Winbox process, so whilst completing it, it was a little extra reassurance from HubSpot that we were doing things the right way. Thanks HubSpot!

If you’re doing email marketing yourself, or are outsourcing it and just want to brush up on what it’s all about, then I’d highly recommend this certificate for you. I’d also be more than happy to answer any questions you might have on the certificate so please reach out in the comments box if you’d like to know more.

Email marketing for the financial sector: Red flags and golden eggs

Adestra’s 2016 Email Marketing Industry Census reveals that 22% of financial services firms have a team or individual dedicated specifically to email marketing - and that 65% of businesses in that situation rate email marketing’s ROI as excellent. It sounds great - yet Adestra also reports that despite delivering higher ROI than any other form of marketing, including SEO, email isn’t receiving a correspondingly high budget share or take-up. Around 28% of companies actually restrict their spend on email.

When we dig down, we can understand why. Compliance regulations for the financial sector are notoriously strict. We’d normally suggest avoiding direct promotions, instead adding value for your readers by demonstrating best practice or offering tips for resolving a situation - but that’s giving advice. Giving advice creates compliance issues which make this kind of content marketing challenging, at best.

This doesn’t mean email marketing doesn’t work for the financial sector. It means we have to get creative.

Golden eggs - what works?

Opinions on news are an excellent workaround. The compliance rules exist, in part, because financial services jargon isn’t easy for the lay reader to understand. You can, however, explain what the news means to your subscribers without offering advice on what subscribers in specific situations should do.

Industry round-ups are also good - you’re bringing together the news that matters to your audience, which they might have missed, but you’re only presenting it - not offering advice on what they should do with it.

Communication with your compliance team is still key, but only to make sure that you don’t stray into giving advice at all - it’s a check-and-avoid process rather than a full vetting.

Financial services can often feel faceless, lacking in personality. An address from the head of the business or a specific team member personalises the content you send, attaching a name and face to a routine communication. It also ticks a basic box of email marketing - making the customer feel like someone’s taken the time to contact them personally.

Finally, there’s automation. A personalised email related to the subscriber’s own policies and prior purchase/interaction behaviours. If they have a policy coming up for renewal, or they’ve asked for a quote and done nothing with it, or if there’s an option for cross-promotion (savings accounts to current account customers, targeting email openers and inviting them to download a banking app), a well-crafted, human-seeming email can wing their way with minimal effort from you.

Red flags - what doesn’t?

Guidance works. Advice doesn’t. Guidance is an overview of what's available, in strictly generic terms, whereas advice relates to someone's own circumstances and is covered by compliance regulations. Guidance is "here's some information on various types of investment", whereas "here's some information on various types of investment and the best type for different types of people" would be advice. Bottom line? Avoid specifics - even imaginary specifics.

Beyond the content itself, there’s a practical issue that needs addressing. Email marketing content is often ghost-written by people who can write a good email, but aren’t necessarily experts in the field they’re writing about.

We avoid issues here by ensuring that our writers get a good brief. The brief we hand to them has to identify the topic, why it matters to your business and to your subscribers, and what spin you’re putting on it. It also has to clearly frame the content tilt - the content your business can write that no other business can.

Ultimately, your business exists to solve problems - your email marketing briefs should be aimed at them too. Doing so in this indirect style while still offering value is a challenge - but a challenge is an opportunity for your business to show its capability.

To see what email marketing can do for a careful financial services firm, read about our work with Richard Higgs, founder of Wealth West Medical.

OTW 043 - The differences between cold and warm email lists

In this episode of 'On the Winbox,' Marc updates us on his charity cycle success and explains the differences between cold and warm email lists.

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WinboxLtd #WinboxWinners
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WinboxLtd/
Website: http://www.winbox.co/

Email lessons from ecommerce: Repeat purchases

57% of email subscribers spend between 10 and 60 minutes a week looking through marketing emails. 69% of purchases by US adults are influenced by email marketing. Consumers use coupons or discounts that are emailed to them. Email is 40 times more effective than social media in acquiring customers.

The message is clear: when it comes to ecommerce sales and repeat purchases, email marketing is hugely influential.

We’ve been working with ecommerce clients for the last 12 months, and the needs, wants and preferences of B2C email marketers are very different to those in the B2B world.

Here are the four key things we’ve learned.

1. Make it regular.

In B2C ecommerce, the more frequent the emails, the better.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what “regular” means, however: for different types of business, it could be monthly, fortnightly, weekly or even daily.

In the US in 2015, a survey by MarketingSherpa showed that 91% of people do want to receive promo emails, with “at least monthly” and “at least weekly” being the most popular choices.

In our experience with ecommerce brands, subscribers want to receive product emails - galleries of products that will give them inspiration for their next purchase, alongside competitions, offers and insights. While monthly emails are optimal for some of our B2B customers, we have tested both fortnightly and weekly options for our B2C brands - with weekly coming out on top for effectiveness.

Every industry, company and subscriber is different, though. While you may still be testing to understand your optimal frequency level, it’s worth telling subscribers roughly how many emails to expect and how often, so they can make an informed choice to sign up.

2. Combine three types of content.

While frequency is important, so is the message: there’s no point sending out weekly emails if you’re repeating yourself.

Our experience has led us to create three different types of mailer for our ecommerce clients, and the combination of all three has been hugely effective.

Transactional mailers, such as product showcases and sales mailers, highlight our clients’ key offerings to their customers - a popular choice for B2B and B2C campaigns alike.

A regular monthly or weekly newsletter gives you the chance to share updates with your customers and prospects, making them feel like part of a community which receives all the  important updates, offers and news.

The third mailer type is automation - automatic emails triggered by an event such as cart abandonment, or by a specific date, such as birthday emails. We find that sending an email two weeks before the customer’s birthday with a discount code or freebie keeps it separate from the numerous “on-the-day” emails that they’re likely to receive, and makes them feel special.

The value in sending these three mailer types is in driving repeat purchases - but in order to do so, your recipients need to want these emails. Email opt in is vital (especially with GDPR on the horizon), and personalised mailers based on previous behaviours and purchases can improve the response. Which brings us on to relevance...

3. Keep it relevant.

What makes ecommerce email subscribers open, click, and buy? Relevance.

Relevance is sending the right email at the right time - not just sending a blanket email to your entire subscriber list because it’s Wednesday, or because you have news. It’ll improve the customer experience - which is key to repeat purchase.

Understand your audience: their preferences, their purchase history, their place in the sale cycle, the previous interactions they’ve had with you, the time of year, whether there are special calendar dates (either generally, or special to them) coming up that will help you to tailor your message, your timing and your approach.

For an ecommerce email to be truly relevant, you’ll need to segment your database and choose your strategy accordingly: daily emails sent to a database member who requested monthly communication will not be relevant, and nor will sending promotions for formalwear to a customer whose last purchases have been workwear items.

4. Focus on reporting.

There’s no denying that click throughs and open rates are important, but with ecommerce email campaigns, it’s far more useful to have a view of the purchase cycle in its entirety. This means not treating your CRM and your email database as two separate entities - instead, combine the two for the maximum possible insight. Consider asking a few extra questions at sign-up - age, location, gender, interests - to make segmentation even easier, and to use your CRM to capture a wealth of data.

Analytics can help you to understand who’s buying off the back of email communication, what they’re buying - and therefore how you can target them.  Past searches, abandoned carts and purchase behaviour all add insight for further campaigns and sales promotions. Following the sale from start through to finish will ensure that your email campaigns are properly focused - and therefore that repeat purchases will be more likely.

Retail email marketing is very different from B2B campaigns. Email is a huge driver of success: keep it regular, relevant and reported - with the right content. It may seem like far more effort than the odd tweet or Facebook post, but it’ll be worth it for the results.

Looking for a fully managed email marketing service? Find out more about what Winbox can do.

Re-engagement campaigns: How to win back lost fans

It may be hard for some young ‘uns to believe, but marketing was a big thing even before Tim Berners-Lee fired up the internet. Big, but different – it was very much a one-way street, focusing on conversion through memorable, attention-grabbing campaigns rather than long-term engagement. Fast forward thirty years, and thanks to well-crafted email campaigns, great content marketing and the power of social media, it is engagement that is the marketing gold.

Yes, it’s still important that your marketing campaigns grab attention – that’ll get you a tranche of email subscribers, but then what? It’s not enough to lob an email over the fence to them every week if they’re not even opening it and engaging with the content. However, it is natural that, after an initial flurry of engagement with your brand, their interest could lapse.

Let’s take a look at how you can re-engage with these lapsed subscribers, and discover why encouraging some of them to unsubscribe may not be such a bad thing.

It starts with data

Step zero in any re-engagement exercise is to identify those subscribers whose interest has waned. Crack open your campaign reports and focus on those recipients who haven’t opened your emails in the last six months or so. These are the people who need a carefully crafted message to get them back on board. But what to say?

Right now, there is a trend for ‘what have we done wrong?’ emails that tug on the heart-strings, either by tapping into memories of bad break-ups or presenting images of sad-looking teddy bears. There is no doubt that this can be effective, connecting with the recipient on an emotional level – particularly with judicious use of subscribers’ first names. However, it is important to make sure that the reconnection message fits with the tone and style of your business – if your newsletter goes out to CFOs at blue chip professional services firms, a Love Hearts-themed tear-jerker may not be your best bet.

Emotionally charged content aside, make sure that your re-engagement emails link through to your contact preference centre. Let them pick the frequency of the emails they receive and let them tell you what topics they are interested in. If your customers are regularly deselecting certain types of email content or subjects, take the hint and focus your efforts elsewhere.

And yes, let your recipients unsubscribe…

It’s good to let go sometimes

As well as being the polite thing to do, offering an easy way for recipients to unsubscribe can have a positive effect on your email campaigns. Your stats for click-throughs and opens are being driven down by recipients who are genuinely not interested in your product or service. Beyond the stats, a dearth of click-throughs can affect your sender reputation, as an ongoing lack of engagement could see your emails routed to the spam folder. By removing the unengaged, your efforts can be focused more sharply on ensuring delivery to those subscribers who will engage when the message, the content or the time is right.

If you really want to keep them on-board, there's no denying that bribery is also a powerful weapon. Nothing re-engages quite like free stuff, be it a money off voucher, free delivery, or other goodies. However, don't fall into a cycle where the subscriber works out that if she ignores three emails, the fourth one will be a voucher - this will do nothing for your open rates.

Rather than be too profligate, also consider making the lapsed customer work for their freebies - a smartly crafted three-question survey that unlocks the voucher or discount code could give you some valuable insights as to why they had previously stopped engaging. Just be wary of offering 'more freebies' as an answer to the question 'what would you like to see in our emails?'.

Everybody wins

However you choose to draw people back in, you are very likely to see results. Why? Because the re-engagement email is a personalised message. It shows people that you have not forgotten them, even if they’ve forgotten you. It’s also a win/win situation – if they re-engage, that’s great, as you’re squeezing more value out of your mailing lists, but even if they unsubscribe, you are purging your list and may well see an increase in your click-throughs and opens overnight.

A successful re-engagement campaign is the big attention-grab all over again, but with little effort required. That’s something your marketing forefathers would have killed for in the 1980s.

Re-engagement efforts are part of our fully managed marketing campaign service – find out more here.

OTW 042 - How to re-market to an old email subscriber list

Do you have an email subscriber list that you have not contacted in a while? In this episode, Marc explains how you can reconnect with this list and start sending relevant and engaging campaigns to them. 

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