Corey Koehler didn’t plan on making music his career. He
They say the fastest way to a man’s heart is his stomach, but around AWeber it’s more like the fastest way to make friends with one of the many ladies in the office.
Bring Kelly a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and she’ll be your friend for a week. Have leftovers from last night’s dinner for lunch? If you don’t give Erin a taste, you’re in serious trouble.
Our love of food has helped us stumble upon excellent email marketing campaigns before (hello, we realized that California Tortilla’s emails rock while eating lunch there!). This time the awesome emails come from Rita’s – the best water ice that just happens to be 3 minutes from our office.
Read on to see how exclusivity, charitable causes and involvement in social media sets Rita’s apart from other water ice chains, and how you can do the same with your campaign.
Their Messages are Exclusive
When you sign up for emails on the Rita’s website, you’re not just signing up to a boring, humdrum email list that sends out random company updates. Instead, Rita’s makes their emails enticing by turning them into an exclusive birthday club.
As promised on their sign up form, subscribers receive offers year round, a special birthday treat and the latest scoop on Rita’s, plus a coupon just for joining:
Take Note with Your Own Campaign:
- Make your messages exclusive. Use personalization to address subscribers by name and inspire instant recognition. Then, create a defined campaign that focuses on something trackable, like birthdays or anniversaries to excite new subscribers and keep them coming back for more.
They Embrace Charity
Throughout the year, Rita’s supports a variety of causes and encourages their email subscribers to do the same. When you’re on the Rita’s email list, you aren’t just a member of an elite club of water ice aficionados. You actually have the opportunity to help charities and give back to the community.
If you are sending email marketing messages, you have permission to contact every person on your list. Why not use that opportunity to make a difference?
Take Note with Your Own Campaign:
- Ask your readers to give back. Work on creating a responsible community of email subscribers. Your cause doesn’t have to be as large as Alex’s Lemonade stand, you just have to convey your passion and inspire your readers to contribute to a worthy cause.
They Get Facebook and Use Email to Promote It
In 2010, 54% of online marketers in North America surveyed said that combining social media with their email marketing led to better results.
Yet, lots of email marketers remain confused as to how to integrate their email campaigns with social media. They know it’s important to connect socially with their subscribers, but they aren’t quite sure how yet.
Rita’s is one of the companies that is doing it well. They embrace Facebook, and use the social media platform to run contests and engage fans. Once their contests are up on Facebook, they announce them via email:
Take Note with Your Own Campaign:
- If you haven’t yet, now is the time to create a Facebook Page. Then, promote it in your emails and test different strategies to find the one that works best for your campaign.
Want more information about how to create a mouthwateringly good campaign? Sign up for our email newsletter and get delicious updates twice a week!
You can sign up here.
Have you noticed that your subscriber engagement has decreased over time? Are you looking to get your online store more traffic from your email marketing campaign? With just a few changes you may be able to get back on track!
Inform Interiors is owned by Niels Bendtsen, and sells contemporary furniture online and in their Vancouver store. They have a fairly successful email campaign that they have managed with us for a couple years now. Even though their campaign has been a success overall, we couldn’t help but notice some small changes that could lead to even better results.
Read on to learn about how Inform Interiors use AWeber, what changes they made and the results they’ve seen.
Inform Interiors’ Email Campaign At A Glance
A page on the Inform Interiors site invites visitors to join the mailing list for invites to store and/or design events and information on sales and new product launches.
A few stats about their campaign:
- Their broadcasts average a 51% unique open rate.
- Their unique click through rate has averaged 18.5% this year, but this has been slowly decreasing over time.
- The current average from the last few months has been about 13%.
They also note that whenever a broadcast is sent they see an increase in sales.
While overall Inform Interiors was happy with how their campaign was performing, they recognized that there is always room for improvement. We offered some suggestions to help with these areas.
Welcome New Subscribers
At our suggestion, Inform Interiors created a welcome email for their campaign. It allows new subscribers to check out what the past newsletters have looked like, plus it invites the subscriber to follow them on Twitter, Facebook and/or YouTube right away.
Their new welcome message gets an 84% open rate, and an 18% click through rate. Inform Interiors reports that their fans on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube continue to grow because of including the social media links at the bottom of all their messages, which account for 20% of the clicks. They’re also happy with 27% of the clicks going to their products page.
Calls to action in your messages, especially one of your first points of contact like the welcome message, will have your subscribers interacting with your site while you’re on their mind.
Segment The List to Create More Relevant Emails
Segmenting is useful because it allows you to send more relevant messages to your subscribers, since you can base the message on similar behavior such as a link that was clicked. They mentioned that relating the most relevant and desired information to their subscribers has been a challenge, so we explained how sending to segments can help that.
AWeber’s QuickStats feature helps make segmenting even easier. There is a button right on the page that allows you to set up a segment to send to.
Inform Interiors has been sending to segments that have clicked on a specific link in a previous Broadcast.
These segments have averaged a 74% open rate, and they believe the segments also cause increased sales since they average a 24% click through rate.
These messages get more opens and click throughs than the more general broadcasts sent to all subscribers. Since they know subscribers are interested in a particular topic by what the subscriber clicked on, following up with more information lets the subscriber know you are paying attention to what they want.
How Else Can Inform Improve?
More web forms on their site should bring in more subscribers that they will interact with at the beginning with the welcome message, and continue to interact with through Broadcast messages relevant to subscriber behavior.
While Inform Interiors mainly segments based on links clicked, there are other options as well:
- track who makes a purchase. You can then send to a segment based on criteria such as amount spent, products bought, or simply if the order was placed online. Sending online coupons would encourage those outside of Vancouver to buy.
What suggestions do you have for Inform Interiors’ email marketing campaigns? What tactics do you employ in your own campaigns that could be adapted for their busines
As the self-proclaimed Carrie Bradshaw of email marketing, I’m constantly comparing the marketing endeavors of online and offline fashion retailers.
After all, somebody has to study their latest campaigns. It’s not my fault that I
often always feel obliged to take certain senders up on their irresistible offers and free shipping.
I really consider myself lucky to enjoy all aspects of a good shopping experience. From the marketing messages to the markdowns, I love it all.
On a recent shopping trip, it dawned on me just how similar a good email marketing campaign is to a visit to a well-run boutique. There are several key factors that contribute to the success of both. Keep reading to see how your messages stack up to some of my favorite stores.
They Welcome You
The very first thing I notice when going in and out of my favorite small boutiques is the way that I am greeted by the shopgirls and business owners. Some might gather that this is because I spend the majority of my paycheck in these stores, but I promise that’s not true. (They say hi to everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm!)
If a shopkeeper approaches me, says hello and asks if they can help me find anything, I instantly feel good about potentially spending my money in their store. Your welcome message should have the same appeal to new subscribers.
According to a recent Epsilon survey of 200 retailers, fewer than 2/3 of retailers do not send a welcome message at all, even though the welcome messages tracked had an average open rate of 50-60%.
Offer your assistance and let your new subscribers know how happy you are to have them on your list. Welcome them warmly, just like you would if they walked through your shop door. This way, they’ll feel just as welcome as if they were physically in your store.
Nordstrom does an excellent job of welcoming new subscribers:
They Let You Browse
After I’ve been in a store for a few minutes, I like to look around without being hawked by the shop clerk. Nothing is more annoying than being followed around. It makes most people feel uneasy.
A big mistake that a lot of email marketers make is to push specific, “big” products on their email list right from the get-go. This doesn’t allow subscribers the chance to form an opinion about your company or connect to it emotionally.
Instead of sending only big ticket items, give new subscribers a chance to see all of your goods and to get to know your brand’s personality. Send follow up messages that encourage readers to “browse” your website and your products.
Serena and Lily suggest that you browse their entire collection:
They Tell You About Current Promotions
Once I’ve had a chance to get my bearings and assess the shopping situation, then I’m ok with someone helping me. Maybe I have a few pieces to try on, or a question about pricing.
It’s typical and expected for sales associates to approach shoppers after a few minutes of browsing to inform them of current or upcoming sales and limited time offers. After all, customer service is a huge factor in my decision to shop somewhere.
To create the same experience with your email campaign, you can send one time, time-sensitive broadcast messages to subscribers to keep them in the loop.
Barneys New York often sends emails that contain their latest promotions:
They Suggest Similar Items
In the event that I’ve found a few things to try on when I’m shopping, I am always impressed by a salesperson who can successfully pull similar or complimentary pieces from the racks and bring them to me in the dressing room.
This shows that they are paying attention, even while they are giving me space to browse around. You can do the very same thing with your email subscribers – as long as you have analytics in place on your website. Email analytics can help you understand the needs and wants of your subscribers so that you can tailor your messages accordingly to address them.
How Does Your Campaign Measure Up?
Do you use any or all of these tactics? Do you find that the email marketing experience is similar to an in-person encounter in any way?
We’d love to hear what you think, and how you’re using these methods. Leave us a comment in the space below!
Every week, a group of hungry AWeber workers pile into cars at precisely 12:02 on Tuesday afternoon. We quickly buckle up and head to the nearest California Tortilla for what has become a weekly lunchtime tradition: Taco Tuesday
It all started on a whim, really. Our web designer Bob had a hankering for a burrito and his partner-in-crime Eric suggested California Tortilla. Soon enough, developers and CS members caught on and began to tag along
One day, as sometimes happens when you work for an email marketing company, the lunchtime conversation turned to the topic of email. “Dude, California Tortilla sends me awesome emails,” Eric stated mid-bite.
Dude, awesome? After such a bold claim, I had to see these “awesome” emails. Skeptical, I asked Eric to forward them to me when we got back to the office so that I could see for myself. He was right! Their emails are pretty awesome and they include easy things that you can do so that your email marketing campaigns are awesome, too.
Send an Informative Welcome Email
When you dine at California Tortilla as much as we do, it’s beneficial to become what they call a Burrito Elito, or a card carrying member of their loyalty reward program. From the moment you sign up, they shake up your inbox with fun and informative emails about your account.
Their welcome message is particularly engaging, because it does a few important things that every email campaign should do. It clearly explains:
- What they will receive: The first email summarizes exactly what members will receive as Burrito Elitos.
- How they will receive it: The message explains how members can redeem their reward points in the restaurant of their choice.
- When they will get further messages: They explain that subscribers can expect to receive further emails from California Tortilla on a monthly basis.
Offer Free Stuff
Part of the reason that we go back to California Tortilla every Tuesday is their rewards program. After a few trips, each of us earns enough points to enjoy a lunch for free.
When we’re close to receiving a free burrito, Cali Tort sends us a reminder via email to let us know that we have free goodies coming our way. Giving freebies via email is a great way to build a loyal subscriber base. If it’s something you’re interested in doing, you should always:
- Make sure the giveaway is relevant to your list: If you sell men’s shoes and you’re giving away a pair of high heels, chances our your subscribers will stop taking your messages seriously.
- Write up a quick guide to your industry or offer a free sample: As long as your free gift is relevant to the content of your newsletter, it’s the perfect incentive for prospects who might be on the fence about signing up.
Send Birthday Messages
While lots of businesses send birthday emails, California Tortilla’s message is extra sweet. On your birthday, you get a free burrito! In our office, this is a big deal and grants the birthday girl or boy bragging rights for the day.
Sending a special message to your subscribers at the beginning of their birthday month, you can really catch them by surprise with a personal touch by:
- Offering an exclusive coupon or discount: When sending a Birthday gift, remember to send something that’s actually of value to your subscribers. Something that really says thank you for being a subscriber, please come back!
- Boosting return business throughout the year: Perhaps your subscribers visited your store or restaurant earlier in the year and signed up for your email list, yet haven’t been back since. Birthday emails get them back in the door and encourage return business throughout the year.
Why Do California Tortilla’s Emails Work?
As you can see, their emails aren’t intricately designed. In fact, each one contains only an image or two and some text. Their content is what makes their series a success – they infuse personality into each message.
California Tortilla has fun with their subscribers and the playful atmosphere of their restaurants carries over to their emails. After all, subscribers don’t want to read emails that sound too corporate or too impersonal. They want to know that companies are human, too.
Do your emails set the tone? Are they playful and welcoming? We’d love to know! Tell us more in the comments below.
We talk about setting expectations in your email marketing campaign, and the welcome message is often overlooked as a place to do that. This is an ideal place to let subscribers know they have successfully signed up, what emails to expect from you, and any other important information.
The welcome message is the first message in your autoresponder series. Whether you are just setting your messages up or have had them in place for a long time, it’s time to ask yourself if your welcome message is one to be proud of.
In this article we’ll look at three businesses that have done an excellent job in setting up their welcome message.
Jamie Coles runs http://www.freewebstore.org, where you can sign up for their e-newsletters. First off, he did a really good job with the layout of this message. Notice the company logo at the top:
Inserting the company logo at the top of each email helps with brand recognition and consistency. If your subscribers are able to easily identify your emails, that will help with reducing unsubscribes and complaints.
After explaining the value of being on his email list, Jamie details what to expect tomorrow:
Little teasers like this are great for keeping subscribers hooked. They know what they can look forward to, and that they will need to read your email tomorrow to get that information.
Sports Car Digest
Jamie Doyle runs the email campaign for http://www.sportscardigest.com.
Jamie breaks down the information that will be shared with his subscribers very well. One line in particular really helps set subscriber expectations:
Letting the subscriber know what day to expect emails means they will be prepared when the email shows up in their inbox and will be anticipating it.
Jamie also asks the subscribers to add him to their address books to insure these emails will be delivered:
If you’re in your subscribers’ address book, you’re much less likely to be filtered into the Spam/Bulk folder. With Gmail’s priority inbox, it’s even more important to make sure you remind your subscribers to do that.
Fun Music Company
Kevin and Janice Tuck run the site http://www.funmusicco.com, which offers resources for music teachers. Janice has an attractive welcome message using images and side bar links:
A lot of HTML email templates have these side bars that allow you to have images and listings of featured products without distracting the subscriber from the main point of the email. These multiple calls for action will keep subscribers engaged with your website.
Janice does a great job in explaining what to expect in her emails:
It’s important your subscribers know up front exactly what they signed up for. The more your subscribers know about your email campaign and what to expect from it, the less likely they are to unsubscribe or complain.
How to Apply These Lessons To Your Welcome Email
Make sure your welcome message sets expectations, and that it (and all your messages) are consistent and keep subscribers engaged with your website.
You can accomplish this by:
- Letting subscribers know when you’re sending messages
- Explaining to your subscribers what you’ll be sending them
- Asking subscribers to add you to their address book
- Branding your messages with your logo
- Using templates that will allow you to feature products in the sidebar (if applicable)
How Does Your Welcome Email Stack Up?
What have you done to set subscribers’ expectations in your welcome email?
But the writing is on the wall for marketers who aren’t getting subscribers to add them to their address books.
Soon, if you’re not in there, it’ll be even easier for customers and prospects to ignore your email marketing campaigns.
Here’s what I mean:
Yahoo! Helps Subscribers Quickly Filter Out Email From Non-Contacts
On their official blog, Yahoo! Mail announced that users can now toggle from viewing all mail to only mail from their contacts.
As they say in the announcement,
“You get a lot of emails, some good (from friends, family, even favorite interests that you’ve added to your Address Book), and a lot of not-so-important emails (special offers, newsletters, emails you rarely read).”
So they’ve introduced a way to quickly separate those “important” emails from the “not-so-important” ones.
Essentially, Yahoo! is making it easier for users to do the same thing with emails that we all do with our postal mail – we look through for messages from friends, family and other people we know and put it in an “A” pile, and we take everything else and put it in a “B” pile.
Many of us already do it with email, too, by using filters – but up until now we had to set those up manually. It’s not hard to do, but it is an extra hoop that most email users wouldn’t jump through.
A one-click filter like the one Yahoo! has created makes faster email filtering accessible to even novice users. Don’t be surprised if you see other email programs do something similar.
So How Do You Make Sure Your Email Doesn’t Get Filtered Out and Ignored?
Well, in this case you do it by getting subscribers to put you in their address book (sometimes called a “contact list”).
As for how you do that?
- Ask on your thank you page.
You should already be using the thank you page to set expectations immediately after subscribers join your list.
And one of those expectations should be telling people who the emails will come from (i.e., your “from” name and email address).
Add a sentence asking subscribers to add that address to their address books. Quick and easy.
- Ask in your welcome email (and maybe other emails).
Some people might not add you to their address books while on your thank you page (they may have overlooked the request, forgotten or just not wanted to yet).
Now that subscribers have seen an example of your email, point out that to ensure that they keep getting the information they signed up for, they should add you to their address book.
You might also put a reminder in some of your follow ups and/or broadcasts.
- Build a relationship with subscribers.
If you want subscribers to treat you like a contact, you have to earn that status in their minds.
Providing valuable content is a big part of this.
So is coming across as a real person (see our social networking tips for email marketers).
So is being accessible.
The Inbox is Shrinking
One could argue that this Yahoo! move is effectively creating multiple inboxes – one with all email and one only with email from contacts.
Given a choice between viewing “all” email, and only email from preferred sources (like your contacts), which one are you going to spend time in?
To take a “tree falling in the forest” view of it,
If an email goes to an inbox, but nobody ever looks at that particular inbox, is it really delivered?
If you think about it, as more email programs implement tools like Yahoo!’s and the email that’s important/relevant to the recipient ends up in a “contacts” inbox, the “default” inbox really becomes more of a “junk” folder than an inbox.
And none of us want to end up there. Right?
1: Hat tip to Mark Brownlow for pointing out Yahoo!’s announcement.
With over 75 proven HTML email templates under our belt, I got to thinking…
…what would really set our new email templates apart from the rest?
Well, I have a couple ideas on this (and I want to hear yours too!). Here’s the first one…
Our latest HTML email template is designed to help you quickly and easily create one of the most critical (and often-overlooked) messages: the welcome email.
Our Newest HTML Email Template: “Welcome”
This is the first in a line of “functionally themed” templates that we’ll be releasing.
Specifically designed to be a welcome message for new subscribers, the “Welcome” template incorporates the elements we believe should be included in your first correspondence.
Create Effective Welcome Emails Using This Template as a Guide
Just for good measure, lets go over what makes a welcome message successful:
- Confirm the subscription was successful
What good is a welcome email if you fail to mention that the user has successfully subscribed?
I recommend making this the most prominent piece of information in the email.
- Re-iterate what your subscribers should expect to receive
Using bullet points to display this information not only makes it easy to spot but easy to read.
- Includes a return link(s) to your website
Although we incorporated this into our new email template you could easily expand on this.
Providing some interesting links to some recent content might help prolong the users interest and intice them to wait diligently for your next broadcast.
- Encourage subscribers to add you to their address book.
When a subscriber adds you to his/her address book, it not only helps with email deliverability but also increases the likelihood that images will be enabled in your future broadcasts.
- Provokes user interaction.
Showing that you are easily accessible by hitting the reply button builds a stronger relationship between you and your subscribers.
You also may want to refer to the example of an effective welcome email (although not as good-looking as this template!) that we blogged recently.
So What’s Our Next “Functionally Themed” HTML Email Template?
There has been a lot of talk regarding what type of messages our customers might get the most use out of.
Here are some possibilities:
- Templates for Downloadable Files.
Whether its regarding a PDF file, audio file or video, I could create a template for specific types of media to be downloaded.
- Template for Podcasts
This template might incorporate a mock player for click through, a place to summarize recent podcasts, and/or a recommended set up to display the transcript for your latest podcast.
Have a Theme Idea for a Future HTML Email Template?
I’d love to hear some feedback on the templates I’ve created and any ideas I could possibly pursue in the future.
Have you taken a look at your welcome email lately?
- Thank people for joining?
- Point them to helpful resources, such as an article, FAQ or product/service tour?
- Tell them how to connect/get in touch with you, and encourage them to do so?
- Anything at all? (Do you have a welcome email?)
I was reminded of the importance of a good welcome email last week after signing up with SlideShare to post the slides of my Podcasting and Email Newsletters presentation.
Shortly after signing up and confirming my registration, I received an email welcoming me to SlideShare. And I was impressed.
Their welcome email does a lot of great things that we can all learn from and apply to our email marketing campaigns.
SlideShare’s Welcome Email
Below is the email I received from SlideShare after activating my account (click the image to see the full email).
While it’s a short, simple message that anyone could write in minutes, it does a great job of getting me interested in using and exploring SlideShare.
Here are just a few things SlideShare does well in their welcome email:
Welcome New Users
Both the subject and first paragraph of the email are short and to the point: they tell me that my account is verified and welcome me to the service.
One often-overlooked purpose of welcome emails is to remind people that they signed up in the first place.
If your subscriber doesn’t check his/her email right away and/or is distracted when reading your first email, s/he may not understand why you’ve sent it, or remember signing up.
Point Out Helpful Resources
SlideShare links from their welcome email to an online tour, and their blog’s RSS feed.
On top of that, they list out a number of things that users can do with the service – in effect, pointing out extra features and benefits that the new subscriber may not have known about. (I think anyone running an email marketing campaign can see the value in doing this!)
These resources encourage users to get more value from their subscription (in this case, both immediately through the tour, and also later through the blog).
Is This a Perfect Welcome Email?
We’re doing a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison here since SlideShare’s welcome email isn’t designed specifically for an email marketing campaign, but even so…
I don’t think this is a perfect welcome email. There are a number of things I would have done differently.
I think SlideShare should promote other ways for subscribers to connect with SlideShare (through their Community section, for example, or through external social networks) and that they should link up a few other useful areas of the site (this email doesn’t even link to a login page, which is a definite “whoops” for an online service).
But those are really minor details. This welcome email does a great job of making me want to dig deeper into my new SlideShare account. And the more I do that, the more value I’m going to get out of it, and the more I’m going to tell others about it.
Your Turn: What Makes a Good Welcome Email?
- Do you think this is a good welcome email? What would you do differently?
- Do you do these things in your welcome emails?
- What other companies do you think create good welcome emails (and why)?
Our readers shared some excellent insights, and a lot of them had similar opinions on urgency. Today, let’s talk about one of the factors that we all seem to agree affects how well urgency works: trust and credibility.