You’ve got a shiny new template and some fresh content with an irresistible subject line that is sure to result in lots of opens and clicks. You’re good at what you do as an email marketer, but don’t you want to be a warrior? Don’t you want to be the best around, like Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid?
Let’s talk about 3 advanced techniques (for warriors only) to use in your campaigns. They’re sure to benefit both your subscribers and your marketing team.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Braveheart, then you’re familiar with William Wallace who fought for Scottish freedom from English rule. You can give your subscribers their own taste of freedom with one simple enhancement to your templates – preheaders.
A preheader is an area to place text at the top of your email that complements your subject line. They’re especially useful when you have a large mobile audience. Preheader text is available in the preview pane of an email, meaning it can be viewed without having to actually open the message.
While the subject line of your email may be great, the preheader gives readers that nugget of wisdom they need before they’ll commit to reading it. Whether or not they open the message, offering preheaders saves subscribers time in deciding if they want to read about what you have to say.
You’ve probably come to the realization like Neo from The Matrix that the rules of the physical world can be bent and sometimes broken in the digital world. Say hello to responsive design.
What if I told you that you could code a single template to render differently on different devices, based on the screen size of each device? This is happening right now all across the email universe and it’s awesome.
Consider that if you have a substantial portion (35% or more) of your membership reading emails on cell phones and tablets, using responsive design will give them the best experience. If you’re not using responsive templates, the way your message renders for those mobile readers could leave much to be desired. Show them what a world without grainy images and horizontal scrolling is all about and go responsive today.
In the movie Iron Man, the main character Tony Stark is relentless at testing and improving the high-tech equipment his alter ego uses. Email marketing warriors can take similar action with A/B testing.
Test subject lines. Test friendly-from addresses. Test personalizations. When you’re done running those tests, run more. Continuously refine your process with A/B testing to determine what keywords and other elements truly capture your audience’s attention. The fruit of your efforts will show its head in your reports in the form of greater engagement.
Having the discipline to apply any or all of these techniques will help you soar above the competition, just like Iron Man.
Some colleges are faced with declining enrollment. But Carroll University? They’re forecasting an increase in enrollment, indicating that they have mastered the art of targeting the right prospective students. Carroll University uses email marketing as one of the key tools in the admissions funnel and has determined that 18% of all prospects who open their emails enroll at the Institution.
Clearly, the Carroll University Admissions Office is making the grade when it comes to their email marketing initiatives to prospective students. With Informz, they have implemented an email marketing strategy that supports their goal of building relationships with prospective students, while shifting admissions counselors’ energy to more targeted, personal follow-up. They know exactly the right message to send to the right person at the right time.
Using the Informz API, Carroll University built a web service that integrates Informz with their database, which synchronizes their data, triggers timely email communication,
eliminates importing and exporting of data and writes activity back to the student record. Additionally, the Admissions Office developed a process to use real-time data to determine quantifiable ways of assessing whether or not their triggered emails are contributing to more enrollees at the Institution. As a result they were able to determine that in a year Carroll University receives approximately 50,000 leads and of those, 11,000 request more information from the school. Of the 11,000 requests, Informz reporting shows that 3,600 opened an email from the Institution and 18% of those actually enrolled at the College. Of those who didn’t open an email, less than 5% enrolled.
Carroll University utilizes several triggered email campaigns to push prospects through the Admissions funnel. For example, Carroll runs a recurring campaign that invites prospects to visit the campus. If they open the invitation email, they are then asked if they want to schedule a visit through an email that contains a registration form. They are then sent reminder emails and followups. If they do not respond, triggers are set in the system to contact them again.
Another example is using targeted emails to drive prospects to create a login to their online Portal. They have established a triggered email campaign where after a prospective student creates a login for their Portal, they are sent a series of emails encouraging them to log in again. Carroll University also calculates Predictive Enrollment Points (PEP) for every prospective student. Each PEP score includes Informz real-time reporting data: opens, clicks, forwards and the recipient’s actions are factored, re-calculated nightly and accessible through the student record in their Jenzabar database. The Admissions Counselors use this data to narrow their focus on the prospective students that express the most interest from their online behavior.
As a result of automating their email campaigns, Carroll University has saved over $15,000 by eliminating some direct mail pieces, five hours of IT staff time and the Admissions Office is now more focused on prospects that are likely to enroll. In addition to the significant savings from using Informz, Carroll University admission counselors are now cultivating stronger relationships by using the email response tracking data. According to Jim Weisman, Vice President of Enrollment at Carroll University, “Resource allocation is really important to Admissions Offices. It comes down to sending the right message to the right person and Informz automates this for us. If you are not targeting, you’re wasting your resources.”
Through sound enrollment management practices and carefully planned email communication strategies, Carroll University is achieving their new student enrollment goals. Since 1992, they have increased their enrollment class by 250%.
To read more about their story, download the full case study here.
The Outlook page break is one of the most confusing rendering issues for those who send out email. First I’ll define the problem, then I’ll show how to “fight” it, then I’ll discuss the technical reasons why it happens. The easiest example (and likely the issue you’ve run into yourself) is when you have a template with a sidebar, and when you send a test, portions of the sidebar or main content area get pushed down for no apparent reason:
The Outlook page break can manifest in a number of other ways as well: images not lining up exactly where you want them to, three column areas not lining up, buttons getting pushed far below the content that they belong with. The bottom line is, large gaps are occurring in your email and you need to fix it pronto.
The cause: Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2011 don’t like very tall tables (HTML tables, that is). The problem is, templates require a “buffer table” to ensure background colors are present and that content gets centered in a way that all email clients can agree on. So if we have a template with a single buffer table, a bunch of content in our mailing, and a couple of columns to place our content in, we end up with a “very tall table” with some side by side content that Outlook will adjust. And outlook will create a page break. Here’s a diagram of a dramatic page break, where the entire sidebar gets pushed too far down for anyone’s good:
If you notice your template having Outlook Page Break issues, you can segment your table into several different buffer tables. I’m talking completely separated HTML tables, not separate rows (<tr>) of the same buffer table, because even if you separate by rows, it’s still a tall table and the Outlook versions in question will not like it. Here’s a diagram of a template with three separate buffer tables – one for the header, one for the content, and one for the footer:
Just because we’ve gone that far, it STILL doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear, because there is always the potential of filling up your mailing with more content, and more content means higher probability of page breaks. If it happens again – you guessed it – you’ll need to add another content area inside another buffer table.
If you want to avoid the whole process of coding and recoding your HTML templates on a mailing to mailing basis, consider the following suggestions that not only will simplify your template but just might provide the results you need.
Now that I’ve gone over the solutions – here’s why the Outlook page break happens:
With two full weeks under our belts, 2015 is officially in full swing. If your marketing team is anything like ours, your past two weeks have likely included a lot of planning, preparation, and goal-setting for the next 12 months. There has also been a lot of talk about data and its role in tracking the success of our campaigns in 2015. How will we know how our 2015 programs compared to 2014′s programs if we haven’t reported on them?
If your association is in the same predicament we are, a great place to start is the 2014 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report. This year’s shiny new report is already in the works, but last year’s report will give you a good idea of what campaign metrics you should start to look at. Before you embark on your own campaign planning this year, start here.
Not every marketer has the time to check their email reports after each email is sent — and that’s okay. But what if you start checking reports on a monthly or weekly basis? Having an idea of your average overall email metrics — your delivery, open, and click rates — are key indicators of an email’s success. When we shared this information last February, we told you that the average click rate for associations was 18.03%, which had declined from 2013. Did you see the same trend with your campaigns?
We suspect the decreased click rate can be attributed to the rise of mobile, especially when benchmark results by email client type revealed that mobile email usage continues to surpass desktop email usage. According to Marketing Sherpa, 31% of marketers aren’t aware of their mobile open rates and 33% aren’t aware of their mobile click rates. If you fall into that group, make it a goal to educate yourself on the email habits of your members and use that information to guide your strategy. Maybe it’s time to give responsive design a try!
For the longest time, we used to send our weekly newsletters at the same day and the same time (you have to start somewhere). But once we started to switch it up and test out timing, results changed. We looked at our reports to see when subscribers are most likely to open and click, and adjusted our schedule accordingly.
Have you done the same? The 2014 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report revealed that Fridays were the best day to send and evening had the highest open and click rates. Open and click rates had little variation from day to day, but that might not be the case for you. People say that “timing is everything” for a reason (especially when it comes to readers choosing to view your email on a mobile device or desktop computer). Try testing out send times this year — or even use send time optimization — and see how your metrics are affected.
Determining the right frequency is one of the biggest challenges email marketers face. Benchmark data shows that 70% of associations send one to five emails to members each month, and associations who send at that rate also have the highest open rates.
When we were looking at our own end of the year metrics, it turns out that there was one group of contacts we were hitting a lot harder than others. The group we weren’t hitting as often? It was impacting engagement. Looking at different segments, their engagement rates, and the frequency of your email communications with that segment can be an eye-opening exercise. We’re now aware of a new area to focus on, and plan to use marketing automation to remedy our frequency challenges. One of our clients, EDUCAUSE, used reports and surveys to revamp their sending cadence, and saw positive results.
Timing and frequency are just two items on a laundry list of measurements to examine for 2014 so you can accurately track your progress in 2015. Mobile readership, duration tracking and engagement are other great places to start. Just keep in mind that the only way you’re going to be able to effectively measure results is by benchmarking now. Start today! For more helpful information, download the 2014 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report.
Informz is committed to helping our environment. Our offices are 100% wind powered and we pledge to plant 10 trees for every new client!