Saturday, August 29, 2015

Top Six Ways to Grow Your Email Subscription List

Top Six Ways to Grow Your Email Subscription List

Email, the Internet's first killer app, remains an essential tool in the modern marketer's arsenal. Whether it's to introduce a specific product or service, burnish and validate a brand's offerings, or follow up post-purchase, email remains one of the most popular and effective channels for connecting with customers.

It's a noisy world, though. Consumers are bombarded with information at every turn. And vendors looking to reach a global audience (in today's economy, that could be any of us) have to exercise caution: Many countries have enacted stringent email-related policies to better protect their citizens' privacy. Canada's recent anti-spam law, for example, has effectively ended the longstanding practice of batch-and-blast emails, sent to prospects en masse regardless of their consent or opt-ins.

Creating lasting connections with powerful, personalized emails has never been more challenging.

Here are six tips to help you cut through the clutter while adhering to ever-changing government regulations and convincing your subscribers to stay loyal.

1. Get creative in eliciting opt-ins

Sending one-off blast campaigns to people who have not opted in carries the potential to reach more prospects only theoretically. Because those recipients aren't expecting your message, you run the risk of getting those messages flagged as spam. And if you continue sending to unengaged, random recipients, you're asking for an abuse complaint. Plus, purchased lists often have high bounce rates. Even worse, purchased lists may contain spam traps, which could get you blacklisted.

Building an opt-in email list from scratch can be tough, so it helps to get creative:

  • Send a postcard with a special offer, and encourage customers to go online to redeem it.
  • Make the option to opt in more prominent and accessible—say, with buttons or links on landing pages.
  • Promote your e-newsletter on your physical mailings, such as bills, account statements, or flyers.
  • Host an in-person event or a customer appreciation party and ask for email addresses as part of a drawing or raffle. Be sure to include opt-in language on every entry form.
  • You can also try your hand at content marketing: Offer compelling e-books, infographics, and videos, but gate them with a registration form of some sort to ensure a mutually beneficial exchange (contact information in return for high-value content).·          

Many marketers are hesitant to deploy humor in their missives, and they are cautious about addressing hotly debated issues and anything else that distracts from their product. Yet, often, those are the things your audience cares about most, so don't shy away—but do be tactful.

If the material you produce benefits you more than it does your potential subscriber, you're doing it wrong. If people don't feel as if they're winning when they click "submit" on that form, they will never give up their email address.

2. Have fun with trigger emails

Triggered messages are sent out automatically, based on important or timely events that are related to the subscriber's actions. Most marketers limit their use of trigger emails to transaction-oriented emails (e.g., "Thanks for downloading!" and "Here's your purchase receipt"), but the creative applications of this email type are endless.

Look at other online behaviors, such as visits to specific pages on your website, video views, or interactions with your sales team: You can catch people when they are actively thinking about or engaging with your brand, which is priceless for marketers.

You could, for example, set up trigger email on your product pricing page, so that anytime a known contact visits your pricing page, you'll immediately trigger an email that serves up helpful content or recommends a subscription. It's a phenomenal way to "watch" a cold or aged email list and uncover hidden opportunities to engage with your audience.

3. Maintain clean and accurate lists of engaged subscribers

Few things affect email deliverability more than constant and careful maintenance. Even the best lists need to be checked regularly and monitored closely.

Between the steady turnover of email addresses (approximately 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually) and the always-possible loss of interest, email lists can get stale fast.

Among the best-practices for keeping lists fresh are the following:
  • Confirming subscribers who opt in (and doing so twice, if necessary)
  • Encouraging recipients to add you to their address books (with clear calls to action and buttons that facilitate that action)
  • Maintaining and displaying a clear privacy policy
  • Opting for organic list growth versus buying databases wholesale
  • Developing online forms that encourage people to indicate their interests, and using that data to create targeted subscription lists
  • Making it easy and obvious for contacts to opt out
  • Honoring "unsubscribe" requests immediately (it's the law)
4. Practice good email-list hygiene

Purging lists can be tough, because no one wants to lose potential customers. But a company's online reputation depends on maintaining a clean, healthy email list.

Lists must be cleansed regularly:

  • Remove distribution, role-based, or administrative addresses such as "" or
  • Monitor feedback loops so you can identify and immediately remove people who complain about receiving your emails.
  •  Segment disengaged subscribers via criteria such as whether they ever made a purchase.
  • Re-engage inactive contacts with messaging and offers targeted to their specific segment.

5. Remember that content is king

Every email you send ought to tell your readers a unique story or expand one they know already. Your best chance of accomplishing that is to double down on the content you produce and include in emails.

Some general guidelines:

  • Make sure your subject line creates an expectation that the body copy will fulfill, and keep the subject line short and pithy, if possible; most email programs will display 60 or fewer characters (including spaces).
  • Be brief in the email body, too; short, compelling emails are more deliverable (and tend to get better results).
  • Make links—including link title, color, and placement—obvious.
  • Create your message so it displays well in the preview pane; 600 pixels is a good maximum width.
  • Giant images are characteristic of spam messages, so be sure to deploy visuals sparingly.
  • Don't include important copy in your images (where it's likeliest to be overlooked), and keep a high text-to-image ratio so your subscribers are provided something substantial.
  • Offer a clear, direct method of contacting you.
  • Using ALL CAPS is a spam characteristic. Also, use exclamation points sparingly, and don't use several in a row.
  • If you're mailing to an opt-in list, add a line at the top reminding people that they opted in.

6. Don't neglect your opt-out page

Lest we forget: it's always easier to retain subscribers than it is to acquire new ones.

You're bound to have caused some annoyance if subscribers are visiting your opt-out page, but that doesn't necessarily mean you've lost out on relationships. Give these subscribers the care, consideration, and attention they're due.

Think of your opt-out page as your last chance at winning the heart and mind of that annoyed subscriber. Try a witty message, be boldly inspirational, offer alternative content, or even add a video of cute kittens if all else fails. What do you have to lose?

And, of course, give the subscriber a clear path back to the fold: Include a re-subscribe call to action on the page.

Give these tips a try; you may find they'll help create brand experiences that will keep your audience interested and engaged.

If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak
X2Media, LLC

Four Tips for Marketing Live Events in the Era of SMAC

Four Tips for Marketing Live Events in the Era of SMAC

Today, four technologies are driving live-event marketing: social, mobile, analytics, and the Cloud—"SMAC."

SMAC technologies provide myriad new ways to get to know your fans, reach them at the right time through the right channel, and measure results to ensure you spend your precious event marketing dollars wisely.

The days of spreading the word about concerts or other live events with fliers and radio spots have all but disappeared, laid to rest alongside the cassette tape and the Discman in the graveyard of Music Industry Past.

Here are four ways that live event promoters and venues can use SMAC in their digital marketing.

1. Social: Make social spending worth every penny
Facebook is your best social media friend for promoting live events. But Facebook has dramatically reduced the organic reach of Page posts deemed to have "promotional content." For example, if you have a call to action relating to purchase intent in your post (e.g., "get tickets"), it will be flagged as promotional and Facebook's algorithms will reduce its reach.

Venue and promoter Pages no longer get a free ride on the News Feed, so how can you make the platform work for you?

The first option is to promote your event without being overly or overtly promotional. Your goal is to simply get people talking. Comments and shares are more valuable than likes: When fans engage in conversations with you, a notification appears in their friends' News Feeds, which can lead to a social snowball effect. So ask questions, or have your fans "fill in the blank," and post videos and pictures (fans love images and videos of their favorite artists).

The second option is to support your organic social activity with paid advertising—now almost essential to gain visibility in News Feed. However, if you do decided to spend, then spend wisely:

· First, find the right audience. Custom audiences help you reach fans you already know, and lookalike audiences help connect you to new fans with profiles similar to those of your best customers.

· Second, measure your success via conversion tracking. Decide ahead of time what matters most: reaching new audiences (impressions), engagement (clicks), or purchases (conversions). Set a performance goal for the measure that matters most to you, hold yourself accountable, and try something new if you're not getting results.

In a world of last-click attribution models, sometimes ads influence purchase behavior without getting credit. Make sure you're not missing out on the true value of an ad by installing Facebook's conversion pixel and setting your attribution window (the number of days following a user's click on your ad you would still consider a purchase as one that was influenced by that ad).

2. Mobile: Build for mobile first
Some 44% of ticket buyers open event-related emails on their phones, a Ticketfly study found. Obviously, you'll need to build every single campaign with mobile in mind.

Here are three common channels affected by mobile:

· Email: How does building for mobile change your marketing emails? Consider this: If a fan is skimming through emails on an iPhone (by the way, if you're in the US, around 94% of them are), only the first 35 characters of your subject line will appear on her screen—about half of the length that would be seen on a desktop. A mobile-optimized campaign should have short, high-impact subject lines that generate opens with very few words.

· Websites: Don't launch or update a website without first checking it out on various mobile devices. Make this a policy. Google Chrome offers a built-in tool that helps you do so easily at the office on your laptop or full-screen computer. Once your mobile site is optimized, segment website conversion metrics (e.g., orders per 100 sessions) by mobile and by device. Monitor these metrics frequently to identify possible purchase blockers and measure the impact of improvements you make to the mobile user experience.

· Mobile advertising: Make sure you optimize your ad campaigns for mobile devices. The mobile News Feed on Facebook has room for only a handful of words, so pithy taglines and eye-catching photos are imperative. Google AdWords also suggests and accepts different ad types depending on whether you're advertising on the mobile Web or within mobile apps.

3. Analytics: Reward your best fans and drive loyalty
Marketing campaigns are meant to be tracked and adjusted; you should never wonder whether your campaigns are working. You should know.

The holy grail of analytics is a unified customer profile that captures every touchpoint consumers experiences with your brand, from online behavior (browse and search) to everything they've bought—online and in the event venue.

Having a unified customer profile provides the foundation for optimizing campaigns to repeat purchase, segment your audience, and measure the lifetime value of a fan. Having insight into the true value of a fan—segmented by acquisition channel, demographics, and more—allows you to optimize campaign spend for new customer acquisition and long-run profitability instead of only looking at the value of a single ticket sale.

A great customer relationship management (CRM) solution will house your unified customer profile data and enable you to identify and reward your most loyal fans. While you love all your fans, not all fans are created equal; your superfans have an outsized impact on your business: Just over 5% of ticket buyers account for about a quarter of ticket revenue, promoters that use Ticketfly's technology platform have found.

So enlist your best fans as a marketing channel and reward them for their loyalty—with something as simple as a thank you note to recognize their patronage, or bigger-ticket items, such as early access to sales, discounted drinks, or VIP upgrades.

4. The Cloud: Use marketing in the Cloud to bring together all the tools you need
Marketing software solutions that reside in the Cloud give you everything you need to acquire, engage, convert, and enlist your fans—all in one place. Say sayonara to silos and goodbye to guesswork; since all marketing tools are powered by the same system, Cloud-based marketing tools can help you collect data across consumer touchpoints and build out the unified customer profile I referred to earlier.

Marketing automation tools have become ubiquitous and increasingly easy to use. There are the big guns, such as Adobe; its aggregated marketing Cloud offering provide a comprehensive solution that spans SEM advertising, email marketing, Web optimization, and targeted content. Others are geared specifically toward certain verticals, such as Ticketfly's CRM solution, Fanbase.

Bringing SMAC to bear in the live-events industry presents a huge opportunity for marketers, though not one without challenges. In a rapidly shifting landscape, we need to pay ever-increasing attention to new technologies. As with the latest hot band, we have to determine which marketing channels and tools have long-term staying power and which are one-hit wonders. The key to success across all those technologies is measurement. With data on what's working and what's not, you can determine where to lean in and where to abandon efforts and instead try a new tool or new approach.

Build Your Brand by Separating It From Product

Build Your Brand by Separating It From Product

Sometimes the hardest thing—conceptually—for marketers to do is to separate their brand from their product.
"Product is king."
"All people really care about is the product."
"Price and product—that's it."
"Our brand is our product—they're one in the same."

We've heard it all before, and from some very successful people. But it's all an illusion. None of it is true.
When people choose brands, they are projecting an extension of themselves onto the brand. The brand augments their identity, just as their choice of friends, music, and fashion does.
Consumers will literally brand themselves by identifying with your brand. It's personal. It's emotional.

Here's what a brand really does
To develop a brand, you need to understand how it works and what it does. You need to separate your brand from your product, and think of it as its own entity.
  •  A brand is a promise of quality, values, virtues, and consistency.
  • A brand has a voice, style, persona, soundtrack, and vibe.
  •  A brand tells you to expect to pay more or expect to pay less.
  • It creates preference based on how it's presented.
  • A brand can be fashionable, and it can fall out of fashion.
  •  A brand needs to be supported and nurtured.
  •  A brand can be sold separately from a product, and licensed to be associated with other products.
  • A successful brand can launch a failed product and survive.·          
In contrast, products are goods. Quite often, a product is manufactured by a company that is different from the brand. Kraft doesn't make its own cheese. The Ford Fusion is really a Mazda 6. Nike licenses its brand name out to many manufacturers.
Brands are bought and sold separately from manufacturing facilities. Different brands often sell the same product with far different results.
It's true that brand attributes should be consistent with and supported by the attributes of the product it's attached to, but the brand has its own distinct role and identity.
Here are some of the exercises we go through when developing brand positioning and messaging. Give these five a try.

1. Develop customer personas
To develop a brand that will be meaningful to your consumers, you need to understand who your consumers are, what they're seeking, and why they're seeking it.
We recommend using consumer personas in planning. Through formal and informal research, marketers should develop profiles of consumers that include physical and emotional needs as well as their influencers, sources of information, and media and product consumption patterns.
Most likely, a matrix of several types of customers will gravitate to your brand out of a sense of need and preference.
Building your brand for success involves a constant effort to reinforce the attributes of the brand that meet the emotional needs of the consumer.

2. Develop your brand's persona
Create your brand's persona; in other words, describe it as a person. Think of how your brand may be perceived today and how you would like it to be perceived. This exercise enables you to see the brand in a more conceptual way. Challenge yourself to identify applicable traits.

Here are some thought-starters:
  • Masculine or feminine?
  • Age?
  • Conservative or risk-taker?
  • Sense of humor?
  • Authoritative or social?
  • What brands are its friends?
  • How does the brand differ from its competition?
Then, list your brand's promises to the consumer:
  • What do you stand for?
  • What do you deliver?
  • What are your guarantees to the consumer (implied or real)?·          
Summarize your answers into one generalized and simple promise.
Now, identify your product's attributes and deliverables.
List your product's attributes:
  •  What does it do?
  • How does it do it?
  • What is it made of?·          
List your product's deliverables: Because of what the product does, what does the consumer receive?

3. Arrive at an ultimate consumer benefit by reconnecting brand and product
Connect the product's deliverables and the brand's promise. That intersect defines the benefit to your customer from experiencing your brand and using your product. That benefit is also your point of differentiation, and it will allow you to develop creative campaigns that the consumer connects to and finds meaningful.
A few examples:
  • Coca-Cola makes you happy/smile.
  • Volvo makes you feel safe and secure behind the wheel.
  • Harley-Davidson lets you become a free spirit.
4. Get a partner to help
Sometimes, it takes a third party, such as a good agency, to come in to your business and help you separate your brand from your product.
An experienced hand can see the dynamics of your brand in the larger picture and lead you down the right path. Corporate marketing managers often get so wrapped up in the details of management that they need outside perspective to maintain a clear view of their situation.