spam tin as a metaphor for bad email

Overcoming a spam label by MailChimp

One of my clients did something ill-advised and their account got flagged by MailChimp as  spammer.

Goodness that’s a tough call and the restrictions placed on the account are significant.

The good news is that I succeeded in untangling the situation and restoring the account.  BUT it would have been better never to have got into that situation in the first place.

And so if you’re tempted to re-use an old mailing list, don’t.  Digging out old lists from a few years ago who haven’t been mailed and who haven’t had a history on your account is a big risk.  If your email service provider gets a higher than normal bounce or spam reporting rate, it will be noticed.  I think ISPs are very vigilant at this time.

If you do want to re-use an old list, I suggest you create a separate audience and after the first mail-out has identified unsubscribes and bounces, then later merge it into your main audience so it doesn’t contaminate your good standing.

Good mailing list hygiene

Something to do today – run through your email list and check off whether you have everything in place to enable personalisation.  Correct first name, last name, company name?  No capitals? Can you deduce recipients’ names from their email address e.g. fred@xyz.com

Now start planning out your segmentation.  Here are three easy segments for you to set up.

  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Industry groups

Focus on retention

For most direct marketing at these times, I recommend retention rather than acquisition.  It’s easier to keep than acquire a new customer.

Three quick campaigns you can run

  • Repurchases – a suitable date after the last event
  • Best sellers – your top 20% of sales by product
  • Referrals and testimonials – ask your customer to do ONE thing for you

Untangle a spam label by Mailchimp

 

How to write a good Covid-19 email

There are 3 types of message – two are a waste of time and effort.

  • Focus appropriately.
  • Give clear messages.
  • Understand the customer’s point of view.
  • Be practical.

Help others to stay within the Government’s Level 4 guidelines.

Subscribe to get these short update videos in YouTube or LinkedIn and please pass them to folks who need help.

 

office view for copywriting inspiration

Anatomy of effective cold direct mail

I love getting really timely direct mail messages that are relevant.

This one came just in time to help me navigate a change to podcast categories.

Let’s analyse the direct message

Hello podcaster,

[Small fail here as they don’t know my name.  Implies a purchased list rather than an opted in CRM database.]

In case you missed it, Apple Podcasts have changed how they categorize podcasts. In short, new categories like True Crime have been introduced, old categories have been rebranded and lots of new sub-categories dedicated to sports, comedy, TV and more have been added!

[Opening paragraph – helpful link to contextualise in case I haven’t seen the news.  It’s a blog post on their website…. that’s good because it drives traffic and cookies my browser.  Nice bold text for likely interesting new categories to draw my eye.]

Unfortunately, some services as SoundCloud don’t support them yet. Spreaker is a platform dedicated to podcasting and we put the podcasters’ needs first.

[Natch!  a snipe at a popular competitor.  I use SoundCloud for my podcast and so this is relevant to me.  Could be a merge field – but not likely.  I think they may have targeted me from the SoundCloud platform.]

For this reason

  • our podcast platform already fully supports the new Apple Podcasts categories so you can improve your show’s discoverability
  • Spreaker allows you to set three categories – your podcast will rank in more than one category on iTunes at the same time – and fully customize the RSS feed tags
  • our service enables you to earn money with your podcast thanks to the Spreaker’s Monetization Program.

[Small quibble about supplying 3 reasons and not numbering them… and referring to “this reason” when it should be “these reasons”.  However, their nimble coding enabling the new categories quickly is encouraging when considering an alternative hosting platform.  Hopefully they keep up the speedy work.]

If you want to start using the new Apple categories and are curious about what Spreaker could do for your podcast – why not give us a try with our FREE, no strings attached, month-long trial.

All you need to do is click this special code: GETAPPLECATEGORIES

[Simple offer, clear time limit and a coupon code so they can identify subscribers from this campaign.]

If you need instructions to move your podcast over to Spreaker, you can follow this guide.

[More useful user guides to smooth a transition.]

We hope to see you on Spreaker sometime soon!

Template your own message

Follow the same paragraph structure when approaching your own prospects and try this for yourself.

Read more of our articles on copywriting and learn tips for your own marketing.

Is Guest Posting Dead?

In 2014, Matt Cutts, former head of the Web Spam team at Google, wrote the following:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Ever since the state of guest blogging has been debated heatedly. Indeed, guest blogs with low-quality content have truly been dead for decades.

On the other hand, high-quality blogging is an effective strategy to create backlinks, and drive traffic to your website. Even Cutts eventually published a correction, and said: “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.)”

So, the question is, how can we create quality guest blogs every time?

Here, we have outlined three easy and effective strategies to create guest posts that are sure to attract links, and bring in traffic:

The Robin Hood Technique

The Robin Hood technique, as suggested by SEO Gold Coast, is a quick and effective way to write guest posts with good quality content. This technique involves recreating great content from popular blogs and offering them to platforms with a low ranking, and less credibility and traffic.

Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean plagiarizing the content – instead, you must only take inspiration from the blog to recreate ideas for your own post.

The following steps can be undertaken for this technique:

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool contains one billion pages and can be used to find blogs you can write a guest post for

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool

Source: ahrefs

  1. Enter a keyword corresponding to your chosen topic to find similar articles
  2. Check the “one article per domain” box to find unique blogs related to your keyword
  3. Sort the results according to Language, Shares, Domain Rating, Organic Traffic, and Number of Words to truly find a customized blog post idea

Note the importance of Domain Rating (DR) that showcases the popularity level of a backlink, based on a scale of 1-100.

While it is tempting to only work with high DR blogs, low DR blogs are also worth investing your time and energy in, as they usually have a niche following and are bound to grow.

What’s more, low DR blogs usually receive fewer pitches and have less strict editorial standards – thereby making it easier to get featured or published.

Finally, you can move on to step 4:

4. Read the content of your chosen blog piece, and recreate it by adding a unique spin to it –  conclude by pitching it to low or high DR blogs through email outreach

Splintering Content

Another effective way of guest posting is by splintering or breaking existing blogs into shorter, but authoritative posts.

The point of splintering content is to dive deep into a topic that you have already researched before, as it is easier to recreate, revise, or rewrite.

After writing detailed individual posts, you can then pitch the pieces to online magazines and platforms that would publish it as guest posts, whilst still re-directing the reader to your original blog post – thereby creating quality backlinks.

The Perspective Technique

A small change in perspective can lead to a completely new, and unique piece of writing.

The trick here is to use a previously written blog post and turn it into multiple guest posts by simply tweaking your overall perspective.

For instance, if your previous blog post was on the “The Future of Link Building” – you can now write on a variety of topics by changing your viewpoint, such as:

  • Future of link building for small business
  • Future of link building for E-commerce
  • Future of link building for startups, and so on

Effective Guest Posting

The techniques outlined here are a good way to get you started. Keep in mind, however, that once you start pitching your guest posts, you may be faced with some problems.

For instance, editors and bloggers may routinely reject your pitch, negotiations may take months, or the link to your article may be taken down suddenly and without prior notice.

To address this concern here is what you can do:

  • Focus on creating good quality content for your blogs
  • Pitch to multiple blogs at the same time
  • Include links to your other guest posts to generate more traffic
  • Keep exploring and writing for new platforms and sites

In short, by following the techniques outlined above, you can defy Matt Cutt’s claim that guest posts are dead. Indeed, guest posts are thriving and can be used to generate traffic and brand awareness for your business in the long run.

Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

A nicely written GDPR email

Today I received a GDPR email message from a LinkedIn connection – we are 1st degree connected.  But because he’s in Europe, all his written electronic mass communications are now governed by GDPR – the European Union legislation General Data Protection Regulation.

The full email is reproduced below.  Here is my analysis of why it’s such a nicely composed text.  If you are in B2B marketing, I recommend taking a close look and deciding if this sort of annual review of your mailing list is appropriate.

Because we pay (mostly) for our email mass communications in a monthly fee calculated on the size of our mailing list, it’s worthwhile doing a “cull” to remove people who are either not reading your messages (since Gmail introduced the tabbed viewing this has increased for my list)  or those who are no longer relevant to you or vice versa.  It keeps your messaging tight and focused.

6 direct mail copywriting tips

  1. The opener explains why – in large font.  The subject line is “Why did we connect in the first place?” so I was intrigued to open it.
  2. The addressee (me) is personalised.
  3. The four points summarise Paul’s brand offering and gives me more reason to check out his current work.
  4. Then he justifies continuing to mail me post-GDPR (not sure I buy this – but points for trying)
  5. He gives permission to unsubscribe and suggests reasons why I should do this.
  6. Lastly, in the footer he reminds me to update my LinkedIn contact preferences – a very nice touch

So here’s his article in which he explains what IDK means and here’s the list management options for future communications showing my selections.

I think this is clear and totally appropriate.  Get in touch if you’d like me to review your mailing list strategies.

Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

Email list marketing permission options

The Full Email Text

Rebecca, You are receiving this email because we are 1st. grade connected on LinkedIn.

Rebecca,

“I did not have time to write a short note” sic. Mark Twain The words appeared in a letter [JRMT] 1871 June 15, Letter from Mark Twain to James Redpath, Elmira, New York

  1. Was it because my profile caught you attention, or was it something in my Company  page which appealed to you?
  2. Was it one of my groups on Business Development or Logistics Collaboration that inspired you?
  3. I know …it’s my management books drew you over the hurdle, and gave you courage to send me an invitation!
  4. Or you wanted to network and reach out to bring your services or product under my attention.
Good because Linked-In delivers leads!

We are lost without connections!
Sic. Owen Jones

All good reasons and fine with me…, as these are my reasons too.

By connecting 1st grade you signed-in = pre GDPR opt-in – when accepting the connection request.
Your connection is as valuable to me as exchanging a business card containing all contact data during a life network event. A licence to contact… by phone, fax (I still remember), mobile phone (now WhatsApp), mail … This in order to set-up a business deal, meeting (now virtual) and social event… stay in contact.

And which is more, exchange or reach out for knowledge, an introduction, bring articles, whitepapers, books – all now with e- extension – which added to our success to each other’s attention and use. Shortcutting the learning curve, avoiding pitfalls, grow faster.

It is cumbersome to maintain contact with your network (it contains the verb …work) so here is how I do it: I am a giver – the golden rule in networking: give and not expect to be given – by sharing courtesy content, summits, introductions…. Proper GDPR set-up in place to safeguard and cherish our contact.

When your interest, position, business evolves, it is okay to: * Unsubscribe * or hit the * No longer interested *,  * Unspecified * , * Other * (a reason appreciated) tab. No hard feelings!

But don’t throw * Did not sign up * back at me because you did  – pre- GDPR – check your linked-in connection list.

It gets worse  with * Inappropriate content *: how am I supposed to know things changed when you are not telling me, your once 1st linked-in chosen contact, what changed, what your interests are today… so Update your preference.

Have we lost the art of 1to1 communication?

Do not *S.s.s.s.p.p.p.p.a.a.a.m.m.m.m.m.m.* me.
I for one will never do that. Never!!!

Next time before sending: IDK * Think 2-ice .. Here is Why 

Having said this, I rest my case with respect for your decision and the consequence that our 1st connection will be discarded.

Best Personal Regards,
Paul Van den Brande
Co-Managing Partner

—We Never Forget You Have A Choice —

—–&—-

You are receiving this email because we connected on LinkedIn.

Our mailing address is:

Noble House Group

Max Hermanlei 74a

Brasschaat 2930

Belgium

Add us to your address book

–We Never Forget You Have A Choice! —

Your GDPR safety requires you to update your preferences

GDPR Contact Paul Van den Brande – pvdb@noblehousegroup.eu
Your data will never be shared without prior information.
You can change your mind at any time using the unsubscribe from this list
No hard feelings!

Raz Chorev, Marketer, Australia,

Raz Chorev talks Email Newsletters

Raz is CMO of Orange Sky CMOs in Sydney, Australia.  We caught up recently and got his insights into the latest in email newsletters for business marketing.

Raz Chorev, Marketer, Australia,

Raz Chorev

You’ve been doing email newsletters for years. How frequently do you change something major e.g. layout, frequency, type of article?

Every couple of years: content, structure and design.

When you assess the analytics on a newsletter, what are the top 3 metrics you use?

Open rate, engagement rate, and unsubscribes. This keeps me focused on people opening the email, reading / engaging with it, and not getting pissed off or bored with it.

Do you have a view on whether B2B brands should re-use blog content in newsletters?

Content can be repurposed, based on the audience. not the sender. You can use blog posts, videos, images, tweets, quotes – anything to engage your audience and add value to them as they read.

What’s one tip for the future in newsletters?

Talk to your audience, like as a person, like in a conversation. See what I’ve just done here? Don’t talk AT them. Try talking WITH them – and they’ll respond.

What’s your favourite AdTech for newsletters?

I’m not fussed either way. they are all pretty similar. it’s your content which is the most important, not one fancy feature over another.

Connect with Raz via LinkedIn or Orange Sky outsourced CMOs.

How to Market Your Consulting Services Effectively

Consultants offer all types of services from HR placement to IT, but when compared to other businesses such as selling cars or real estate, marketing a consultancy is much harder to drum up new business. Most of the time, your potential clients are not even aware that they need your services.

You must, therefore, come up with a consistent approach to marketing if you want your business to get traction.  Diligence and persistence pay off when selling services.  

So, if you are new to this line of work and need clients, here are a few ideas on how to market your consulting services effectively.

1. Send Direct Mail

Direct mail is an effective marketing tool since it accurately targets the right audience. To get started, first make a list of prospective clients. Next, send them a brochure, flier, or sales letter detailing the services you offer.

However, remember to address each recipient by name both on the envelope and in the sales letter. By personalizing a sales message, you increase your chances of getting a favorable reception. In the letter, describe the benefits of your services before listing your contacts. Finally, include an attention grabber such as “limited time offer” on the envelope.

Also, make sure that you play up your area of expertise. If you have an online masters in communication management and you’re intending to become a communications consultant, make sure that your qualifications like the master in communications is front and center on any of your sales material, especially your blog.

2. Make Cold Calls

Simply put, cold calling is making calls to prospective clients who do not expect to hear from you. Although many people resent cold calls, they are still worth giving a shot, especially when you are starting out. So, expect a lot of rejections. For every prospect who says yes, hundreds may say no.

3. Advertise

Traditional advertising, which is expensive, may be out of your reach when you first start out as a consultant. So, focus on advertising in trade magazines and journals as well as in consultant’s directories. Also, use another (mostly) free, and often overlooked, advertising tool – the Yellow Pages.  Other local Marketing tips include free directory listings.

Once you install a business phone line, your business name and phone number are automatically listed in the book. You can opt to leave it at that, for, after all, it is free advertising, but to look more professional, consider paying for a larger ad. It also makes your business more conspicuous.

4. Newsletters

Newsletters are another effective way of drumming up new business. They work by presenting relevant information about your trade to prospective clients. In addition, they remind your former clients that you still exist.

A typical newsletter includes helpful tips, your opinions on a particular subject, and any news of importance to your work.  Remember to include local marketing news and information – most of your early clients are likely to be in your city or region – so let them know what’s going on locally where you could meet them to say hi. Here are more local marketing tips which you can action immediately.

5. Referrals

This is probably the easiest marketing tool at your disposal. After you complete an assignment, send clients a note to thank them for their business, and to ask for the names of associates who might be interested in your services.

Overall, a consultancy advisory business is unique because prospective clients rarely know that they need your help. To stand out in the marketplace, use as many marketing methods as possible and deliver them consistently every month.  

We use our 8 Step New Business Development process and each has a category – this blog post is related to Step 4 – Profile Raising.  Click the link to read more free advisory articles on how to raise the profile of your business.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

Push Notifications: Is this the death of email newsletters?

In the world of Digital Marketing, there is a constant need for innovation to stay ahead of competitors and create the next novel experience in order to sell to customers. We saw it first with the use of email marketing communications in the 90s which was a bandwagon – everyone jumped on board and our in-boxes got swamped with newsletter.

Nowadays there are a plethora of services available to the digitally savvy, but how effective are they, and are they likely to oust the tried and tested methods?

So our thesis is that email newsletter subscriptions are falling because we get too many of them. EdgeRank removes the free postings by businesses on Facebook and Twitter is too crowded.

BUT people want high quality content.

So how can we deliver content from our website without using a newsletter or social media?

To answer this question, let’s look at a relatively new service to enter the market, Push Notifications  and how they compare to our most powerful channel at present, the good old fashion email/newsletter subscriber list.

So before we go any further, what exactly are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are simply alerts that pop up on your computer or mobile, on demand when the publisher releases something of interest to you.

“Hmm well this sounds kind of invasive though…“

I hear you. Pop-ups generally are annoying and frustrating, however these alerts only appear when you opt in to the list. A cookie is placed in your browser and each time the publisher wants to send out a notification, every browser containing that specific cookie receives the alert, regardless of whether they are browsing the web or not. In some ways they are less invasive than the hassle of having to enter your contact details to download an eBook. 

To find out if Push Notifications were a worthy substitute or indeed even a necessary supplement to our tried and tested marketing methods, we asked ourselves the following questions:

Are consumers growing weary of newsletters and email marketing?

I recently unsubscribed from at least 5 different brands’ emails because of the constant bombardment of marketing material. If others are finding themselves doing the same, does that pose a risk to the future of email marketing communications? And if so, are Push Notifications a smarter way to engage?

Are people still interested in content?

The old adage that ‘content is king’ may have held weight in the past, but do customers actually want to receive endless articles and information related to products they might purchase? With every brand under the sun fighting for your attention as a consumer, how much is too much?

My answer is yes. Emphatically. Good content gets liked, shared and commented upon.

Will people actually engage with these invasive interruptions?

My initial thoughts are yes, if used sparingly. Too much of anything can be bad. I feel the key to making the most out of Push Notifications is moderation. Subscribers aren’t going to respond well to being pestered several times a day while they browse the web. But they may be interested in what’s been going on if it is restricted to once a week, for example. Similar to SMS notifications, users must interact with the push notification in order to view it or close it. Compare this with email, where readers can simply delete, filter, file or ignore without having to open the message at all. Push notifications by-pass this barrier to opening email by displaying the message title straight away. 

You have to respond one way or another!

Would Push subscribers never have joined the email list anyway?

Perhaps. Even if there is no clear preference for one over the other, having both allows your brand to capture your audience’s attention in a medium that works for them. Without having to provide an email address, we may never know who has opted in to Push Notifications, which makes communicating outside of Push challenging unless we can cross-match against other subscriber actions.

With email and push running simultaneously, which one performs better?

We ran Push Notifications for the second half of February on a client website. Our provider of choice was OneSignal – a service that promises to remain free forever! An interesting claim, but what’s the REAL cost? I suspect Edward Snowden would fall off his стул (chair) in frustration  – let’s save it for another day.

Results from Push Notifications test

  • At the beginning of February, we had 5,334 email subscribers. At the end of the month, that figure had risen to 5,426 – a gain of 92 subscribers.
  • Push Notifications began on February 15th. Two weeks later we had 63 push subscribers.

Our Push Notifications were promoting the same material as our emails, so which one performed better?

Our blog article “Plan, Develop and Write – Content Training Workshop” was published on both. The newsletter received a respectable open rate of 30% and a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 1.4%. The Push Notification received a surprising CTR of 21.43%!

The Push list is much smaller than the email list; that is a significant difference.

This was obviously only one campaign and we have not yet built up a data set large enough to draw significant conclusions.

So do we think Push could supersede email? Well the jury is still out on that one, we’ll continue to test them both and come back with our conclusions in the future.

In the mean time, what do you think about Push?

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Preparatory work for direct mail lowers costs

Direct mail is a highly effective marketing technique that delivers sales revenue in a short time frame.  

Some direct mail is poorly conceived and so does not achieve its potential.

[WARNING – this is not always true].

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

Printed direct mail promoting a printer

I received three mailers from a printing firm which serve as a great example of a campaign that could have been much more effective with some pre-planning working with an expert in direct mail campaign structure such as us.

Direct Mail campaign structure

Using a mailing list of marketing agencies, three print pieces of DM were posted out.

The copy promoted “digital by nature” and a new world of digital printing.

The positives

  • Each card had a number to show where it came in the sequence
  • Each one showed different paper colours front and back
  • Each card had the print specifications for the front and back detailed which was cute
  • All print was beautifully executed
  • The 3rd card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital White Toner
  • The 4th card showed how to set up artwork to work with digital Clear Toner

The negatives

  • I did not receive the first card so the campaign opener was lost
  • My agency does not buy print or do graphic design, we are not a good prospect for this service
  • No landing page for the campaign on the website
  • When I first visited there wasn’t a mention of the campaign on the homepage, there is now.
  • This goes to a landing page which has the wrong link in the contact us button.

    wrong link

    Wrong link – testing would have showed this up

How I would have improved the campaign

  1. Combined telephone canvassing with direct mail
    1. Checked the database by phone first asking one question “Do you design for print?”
    2. This would have reduced the downstream print and mailing costs, focused the campaign
  2. Published a landing page URL on the collateral
    1. Tested all the links so the contact us URL was correct (it currently references the same page it’s on)
    2. Included a “behind the scenes” video to show the inside track of the skill Valley Print used to create the mailers and the challenges they faced e.g. printing white on black for the envelope
  3. Used a courier delivery not NZ Post to improve delivery success
    1. This is particularly important for a posted print direct mail series
  4. Followed up by phone with
    1. an invitation to watch the video
    2. stay in touch
    3. subscribe to news updates
    4. further qualify for future work opportunities
  5. This would have built a mailing list, fully up to date and ready for in-house new business sales team to continue to work in the coming months
  6. Planned follow up campaigns including more of the excellent tutorials for designers

Ready to talk direct mail with us?

Give us your challenge and let the creative team loose!