EmailOut is a free email marketing software that thinks outside of the inbox.

Our blog is your go-to resource not only for all things email marketing but digital tips & ticks, business growth, SEO, copywriting, email tips, inspiration, case studies and expert wisdom – wrapped up in digestible bite-sized posts.

So, what are you waiting for? Starting watching our blog and do something great with all that knowledge.
Color
Background color
Background image
Border Color
Font Type
Font Size
  • Inactive Email Subscribers: Say Goodbye Or Re-engage Them May 20, 2020

    Are the email subscribers on your mailing list as active as they should or could be? Or, do they just ‘plague’ your email list and cost you money with seemingly little to no ROI? How are you supposed to deal with such inactive email subscribers? Should you just ‘purge’ them from your active mailing list? Or, should you attempt to jumpstart their interest with re-engagement campaigns?

    “Keeping inactive subscribers and sending them email campaigns can be harmful to your engagement, reputation & deliverability. Why not try to re-engage with them before parting ways?” – EmailOut

    As email marketers, we’ve all faced the brunt and nerve-wracking experience of having inactive email subscribers on our email list. It can be quite daunting. Especially, if email marketing is one of your top business growth strategies. However, does an inactive subscriber mean they are an inactive customer as well? Ah, and let’s not forget that some ESPs have pricing based on the number of contacts you have instead of on the number of emails you send. As such, trying to hold on to inactive email subscribers could be costly to your business.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following topics about inactive email subscribers:
    1. What are inactive subscribers?
    2. Types of inactive email subscribers
    3. Tips for re-engaging inactive subscribers
    Let’s dive in.

    Some email marketers might view the attempts of winning back inactive email subscribers as reviving a destroyed friendship or salvaging a shattered marriage. Nonetheless, depending on the type of inactive subscribers they are, there are strategies that could be put in place for re-engaging them.

    It all boils down to a few simple questions marketers need to ask themselves –

    a) which inactive email subscribers have the most value and the least risk?
    b) which inactive email subscribers have the most risk and the least value?
    c) at what stage does the deliverability risk outweigh the value inactive subscribers generate?

    After all, as a group, inactive subscribers certainly have value. Email marketers just need to evaluate the risk/value ratio. Ultimately, it costs five times more to obtain a new subscriber than it does to retain and nurture an existing one. You just need to decide if the effort you’ll put in is worth the possible reward afterwards.

    Inactive Email Subscribers: Who Are They?
    Way back, the old-fashioned way of dealing with inactive email subscribers was to avoid wasting time, as well as resources, and simply ‘cut them out’ from your email list in order to avoid issues such as damage to your deliverability through poor domain reputation. If ESPs like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail notice you are sending emails to recipients who aren’t even bothered to open them, they will (eventually) flag all your emails as spam. That is something you certainly don’t want to happen and takes several months and considerable expertise to reverse.

    On the other hand, the new-fashioned approach is to try and re-engage with those inactive email subscribers instead of ‘snipping’ them from your mailing list. After all, at some point in time, they were interested in your products/services. That’s how they ended up on your email list. Ultimately, isn’t it better to have an inactive email subscriber you can encourage to turn active again than to have no subscribers at all? Building an email list from scratch can be a Herculean task.

    Inactive email subscribers (a.k.a non-responsive email subscribers) are contacts who’ve opted-in for your email list, however, they’ve haven’t opened, clicked or engaged with your email campaigns in any way for a pre-determined period of time (3, 6, 12 or more months).

    The timeframe for a subscriber to be considered inactive depends on your business’s emailing frequency as well as on the type of campaign content. It’s up to email marketers to determine the subscribers’ inactive period. Professional ESPs (like EmailOut) can easily help gather and evaluate the data as well as create segmented email lists in order for you to re-engage with those inactive subscribers.

    Open your FreeForever account now and get to work >>>

    There could be numerous reasons for subscribers to turn inactive. Here are a few examples –
    a)
    they don’t need your help anymore;
    b) your sending frequency is becoming a bit too much for them;
    c) they changed their email address and no longer monitor the original inbox;
    d) the timing isn’t right;
    e) their inbox is too cluttered and your email was moved way down the list;
    f) your content is repetitive;
    g) the email address used to opt-in was ‘stolen’; and
    h) you’re always trying to sell them something – anything – without providing any value.

    Whatever the reasons for their lack of activity, you can certainly do something about it. As long as you are willing to put sweat, blood and tons of money into it. Just kidding! You might sweat a little bit, but once you’ve established the type of inactive email subscribers you’re dealing with, the solution is not as hard as you might think.

    Furthermore, if your business grows its mailing list organically, has strong opt-in practices in place, regularly monitors email campaign reports and maintains a stellar email list hygiene, the risks of ending up with inactive email subscribers will be highly reduced.

    What Are The Different Categories Of Inactive Email Subscribers?
    How should you deal with inactive email subscribers? Do you just say ‘Adios’ and be done with them? Or do you try and re-engage them?

    It all comes down to this: No two inactive subscribers are the same. As such, your course of action will definitely not be as simple as a walk in the park. But, you unquestionably can’t just leave such subscribers on your email list. If you do, your entire email marketing strategy will eventually suffer from it.

    The first step is to evaluate what type of inactive email subscribers you are dealing with. There are three main categories –

    1) The Sleepyheads
    This category of inactive email subscribers refers to those who were both active and engaged, but then, just turned dormant and uninterested. These subscribers are the ones that have the most value and the least risk. Why? Because they are the ones with the strongest engagement stats. They are simply ‘hibernating’. Thus, you don’t want to remove them from the email list and send them on their merry way. Instead, start on a re-engagement campaign as quickly as possible – before you lose them, for good.

    Email automation will be a tremendous help with this category. It allows you to set up triggered emails that will be sent at the precise time the individual subscribers’ activity declines. With this category, time is more of the essence than ever. So, making sure your timing is perfect. Ah, and don’t forget, personalisation is a key driver for high engagement.

    2) The Living Dead
    In this category, we have subscribers that were once active and engaged, but then, turned phantom. They are the ones who haven’t opened, clicked, converted or engaged with your email campaigns in a very long time (6,12, 18 or more months). This type of inactive email subscribers is the one that holds the most risk and the least value as the possibility of your re-engagement campaigns succeeding is close to none. These are inactive subscribers who’ve also turned into inactive customers. The best course of action for you here would be to ‘ease’ them out of your email list, gradually.

    Still, we’d advise you not to cross them out and consider them a ‘lost cause’. They opted-in for your email list once so put a little effort and try to retain them. A quick re-engagement campaign asking them if they still want to be on your email list would do the trick. However, make sure there’s a clear CTA redirecting them to your email preference centre so they can choose what they want to stay or not. If after a set period of time (let’s say a week or a month), you still haven’t heard from them don’t waste your time further.

    3) The Ghosts
    This category consists of all the ‘never-active’ subscribers who opted-in for your mailing list – for whatever reason (for example, just to get a free ebook or a whitepaper) – and then completely vanished. There were no email opens, no click-throughs, no conversions, no purchases and no type of engagement at all. As ‘the living dead’, this category of inactive email subscribers is associated with the highest risk and the lowest value as there was no sign of engagement. The best approach with this category is to remove those subscribers from your email list.

    As harsh as it sounds, you’ve already tried to re-engage them when they were in the first two categories. Their complete lack of response (opens, clicks, anything) sends a clear message that sending continuous re-engagement campaigns is futile. Also, it’s not only a waste of time and resources, but it can result in harming your overall sender reputation. You definitely don’t want to do that.

    Re-engaging Inactive Email Subscribers: The Mechanics
    After you’ve taken the time and audited your email list as well as accurately identifying the type of the inactive email subscribers, it’s time to take action by developing and implementing a re-engagement strategy.

    At the beginning of this article, we’ve mentioned that it’s five times more costly to acquire new subscribers than it is to retain those you already have. Therefore, before you give those inactive subscribers on your email list the boot, make sure you’ve tried every trick in your email marketing arsenal to re-engage them.

    Here are a few re-engagement techniques that can help you get back into those inactive email subscribers good graces –

    1) Segmentation is your best friend
    Being relevant is the best way to boost engagement. Yet, before you get there, you need to divide your inactive email subscribers into distinct segments. Cue, email list segmentation. By carefully examining your email campaign reports, you’ll be able to pinpoint the inactive subscribers. From there you’ll simply have to create a segmented list and then send your re-engagement campaign to it. Of course, you’ll need an awesome professional ESP for that – “Hey there, this is EmailOut. Why not try us out?”

    2) Honesty is your best policy
    Retaining and re-engaging subscribers would be quite easy if you show them that you honestly care about them. Tell them that you miss them, they’ll appreciate the honesty – trust us. Also, don’t forget that personalisation in your re-engagement campaigns is essential. Especially since stats point out that 72% of subscribers will only engage with personalised email messages. Thus, whilst being honest, make sure you also show your subscribers that you know them.

    3) Feedback is the key to improvement
    There is a reason your subscribers have gone quiet and stopped engaging with your emails. So why don’t you simply ask them why? Add a short survey to your re-engagement email campaign and ask them:

    a) why did they opt-in for your email list in the first place;
    b) was the content they received from you not to their liking or meeting their expectations; and,
    c) what would they be interested in reading about. By implementing this technique, you will not only get those inactive email subscribers involved but also, you’ll find the reason for their lack of active participation.

    4) Relevant content is your holy grail
    The relevance and tone of voice of your email communication are vital in your normal email campaigns, but they’re even more important in re-engagement ones. We’ve already emphasised enough how important personalisation is – it makes the subscriber feel like an actual person has reached out to them instead of an autobot (no, we’re not talking about Optimus Prime or Bumblebee). These days people are overwhelmed with all kinds of emails. Recent stats reveal that the average employee receives 121 emails per day and the CTOR for marketing emails in the U.S. is merely 18%. Therefore, providing relevant, attention-grabbing content can make all the difference to the success rate of your re-engagement campaign.

    5) Test, test, test
    In order to have a better idea of which re-engagement campaign will create more impact and will work (both now and in the future), make sure you split test. You can pretty much A/B test any element of your re-engagement email – from the subject line through to the images, the content and offers. Do you want to know a secret? By simultaneously testing both versions, you eliminate all the risks of getting it wrong. It means you can try a completely new and experimental idea alongside a tried-and-tested one… without the creeping terror that it’s all going to blow up in your face and get you fired.

    There are two very important things we’d like you to keep in mind. Firstly, there will always be some factors that will result in inactive email subscribers and there’s not much you can do to influence them. Secondly, parting ways with subscribers is an inevitability. In the end, it all comes down to what you’ll decide to do and your ability (and willingness) to say “Farewell.”

    Final Thoughts
    The bitter truth is that some email marketers don’t even have a plan on how to re-engage with inactive email subscribers. Others are not even willing to do it because they deem it a waste of time and resources.

    Regardless of the scenario, most of your subscribers are on your email list for a reason and they are interested in how you can help them. They just need you to remind them of that fact from time to time. Just make sure not to sound desperate when doing it.

    Overall, as hard as it is to obtain new subscribers versus retaining existing ones, it’s not impossible. But before you get to that point, why not save yourself all the hassle and simply try out these proven methods which are more cost-effective than finding new subscribers to replace your existing inactive ones?

    This article was originally published on 11 May and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email List Building 2020: How To Create A Mailing List From Start To Finish? May 19, 2020

    Email marketing has the highest ROI – 42:1 – compared to any other form of communication. As such, it’s the best approach for businesses to build a relationship with their customers. Yet, if you are starting from square one, creating an impressive email list can feel like a Herculean task.

    “A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.” – Ramsay Leimenstoll

    You’ve designed the perfect marketing email. However, if you don’t have an email list to send it to, what good is it? Regardless of your business’s industry sector, the most vital element of your email marketing strategy, as well as one of your most valuable business assets, is the email list. Except, did you know that attracting new customers costs five times more than nurturing exciting ones? Don’t worry though. Even if you are starting from ground zero, with no email lists whatsoever, there are a few tried-and-tested email list building techniques you can implement to attract new subscribers.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email list building topics:
    1. What is an email list?
    2. Pre-email list building DOs and DON’Ts
    3. Email list building techniques
    Let’s dive in.

    No matter if you are an experienced email marketer or a newcomer, having an effective email list building strategy could make all the difference to your business. Especially if you are operating on a sparse budget.

    Let’s face it, without a good-quality email list all your email marketing efforts may well be a waste of time and funds from that shoestring budget you have. No need to despair though. Growing an email list from the ground up might not be easy. But, it’s certainly not impossible.

    In the email marketing world, email list building from scratch is also known as organic email list building. It’s a permission-based strategy where only people who expressed explicit consent will be added to your email list.

    Before we reveal some of the best email list building techniques for you to take advantage of, let’s talk about some basic terms.

    What Is An Email List?
    As email marketers, the term email list is not foreign to us. However, a refresher is always a good thing.

    An email list is a collection of email addresses from customers, leads and subscribers that have been gathered through a blog, website, lead-generating campaigns, live events, leveraging business cards, etc. It allows for widespread distribution of marketing emails to multiple recipients.

    Email lists shrink for two reasons: a) people opting-out and b) natural decay. Did you know that an email list naturally decays by about 22.5% every year? On the other hand, there are numerous email list building strategies that can be implemented in order to continuously attract new contacts as well as engage with and nurture both new subscribers and existing ones.

    Pre-Email List Building DOs and DON’Ts
    Before you even start building your email list(s) and implementing all the awesome techniques we are about to divulge, there are a few things you must have in place first.

    DOs
    1) Get to know your target audience.
    Who are the people that you’re targeting? What’s their name? Their job? Their goals? How old are they? Where are they located? In the marketing world, this is referred to as a buyer persona. Once you’ve understood who your ideal email subscribers are, you can easily craft the perfect email campaign to attract them.

    2) Make sure you have a website with a landing page. You need a place for all your potential email list members to gather. A website is a good start. But, even if you don’t have one with all the bells and whistles, you don’t need to worry. All you actually need is a landing page which hosts your opt-in/sign up form. In fact, stats point out that only 64% of small businesses have a website – meaning that a whopping 36% of small businesses do not have a significant online presence!

    3) Get a trustworthy ESP. Some email marketers may not perceive the need to complement their current ESP (such as Gmail or Outlook) with a professional email marketing provider. Yet, whichever email service you use to handle your one-2-one business emails won’t be set up for handling, tracking, analysing, data segmentation and automation of thousands of emails. Furthermore, many well-known business email providers can only send 50 emails at once before your account gets flagged and potentially disabled. Therefore, considering a professional email marketing provider that will work in collaboration with your chosen ESP will certainly be a strategic win-win move. If you are interested in taking your email marketing game to the next level, you can try EmailOut – at no cost.

    4) Always keep your email lists healthy. Regardless of how long you’ve been building your email lists, make sure you do a regular spring clean to remove inactive subscribers. Up to 30% of subscribers change their email address every year. Thus, our recommendation would be to ‘cleanse’ your lists every 6 months at a minimum. Don’t focus on having a huge email list, focus on having a high-quality one. EmailOut offers a one-click list cleaning tool ensuring that only engaged recipients receive your marketing – better engagement, increased open rates, improved click-through and increased domain reputation leads to even better inbox delivery & placement (winning!).

    DON’Ts
    There is only one crucially important DON’T many marketers are falling for – buying or renting email lists. Never, ever buy or rent an email list. It doesn’t matter that it might seem like an easy, low-cost, accelerated shortcut to growing your email list, as well as your business. It’s a huge no-no for email marketing. Here are the reasons why –

    a) the quality of the list is unreliable;
    b) reputable ESPs will not allow you to send to purchased or rented lists;
    c) people on those lists have no idea who you are;
    d) you will definitely be marked as a spammer; and
    e) you will be violating anti-spam laws which will result in serious ramifications for your business.

    If you decide to ignore our warning, that’s your prerogative. However, beware that by buying/renting email lists, you will kill your email marketing strategy before you’ve even started.

    Email List Building Techniques
    Waiting for people to come across your website organically is not the best email list building approach. Instead, focus your marketing efforts to potential subscribers around various email list building techniques. This approach differs from that of marketing to customers as its main purpose is to get more subscribers rather than outright sales. Just remember, gaining more subscribers ultimately aids generating more sales.

    Now, here is a list of comprehensive email database building techniques that can certainly help you build your list from start to finish –

    1) Don’t underestimate the power of pop-ups
    Don’t use pop-ups on just one landing page. If you’re not part of the 36% of small businesses that don’t have a website site then you definitely must add a pop-up/slide-in or two or three to your website. But, be mindful. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Don’t overwhelm or annoy your potential subscribers. Just gently remind them of your newsletter. Google OptinMonster. We found this tool to be great when it comes to designing awesome pop-ups. You may find the most effective method of deploying them is to set the first pop-up with a timer, which is 85% of your Google Analytics ‘Session Duration’, and have an additional exit pop-up that will remind website visitors that you offer valuable weekly newsletter content, discount, flash sales, etc.

    2) Surprise potential subscribers with sign up CTAs on every page
    Why not take advantage of that small empty space at the end of your blog post by adding a simple, standard sign up form? Yes, we are well aware that ‘white spaces’ give a more polished and easily readable vibe. However, why not utilise that to achieve your email list building goals. If it creates too much clutter though, have the sign up form appear on the website’s footer or sidebar. Potential subscribers visiting your website or blog are looking for something specific. Therefore, remember, when it comes to call-to-action personalisation is key. Make sure your CTAs will meet the potential subscribers’ needs.

    3) Utilise your social media profiles
    If you have a follower-base on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn or any other social media platform, why not use those already established connections to build your email list? Those that already like you (hopefully!), might’ve not had the chance to sign up to your mailing list. Simply pitch your newsletter sign up form across all social media platforms and give potential subscribers the opportunity to join your email list.

    4) Add sign up/opt-in forms in your email signature
    Do you feel a little pushy, seemingly desperate and a bit uncomfortable pitching your sign up form on social media? Are most of your business communications happening through emails? If the answer to both questions is ‘Yes’ then this email list building approach is exactly right for you. Simply add a link to your sign up page in your email signature. People who are already communicating with you on a one-2-one business basis are already engaged with your business so why not offer them the opportunity to receive your industry knowledge once a week, special offers, discount codes and flash sales too?

    5) Use a referral program
    Referral programs are basically using what you have (existing subscribers) in order to get more of what you want (new subscribers). Simply put, you are ‘bribing’ people so they refer friends, family and colleagues to your website where you ‘seduce’ them to sign up for your mailing list. Don’t worry though, you are not actually bribing them in the real sense of the word. It’s more of an exchange program. People refer others to your website and as a show of gratitude, you give the referrer a discount, a free ebook or an extended trial of your service. However, there is a free approach where you don’t have to ‘bribe’ anybody: a forwarding option in your welcome email or newsletter. A referral program can do wonders for attracting new subscribers and turning them into paying customers later.

    6) Use gamification
    Building a good-quality email list is not an easy task. You need to attract and engage visitors to your website in order to convert them into subscribers. More often than not standard coupons, discounts and sales might not be enough to get the job done. In such cases, thinking outside the box can be very useful. This is where gamification comes into play. It’s an interactive sign-up approach where visitors can have some fun before signing up to your email list. Since people are generally competitive in nature and one of the core elements of gamification is competition (with the other two being engagement and award), people are more likely to participate. Especially, if there is a prize involved. It’s a win-win.

    7) Create powerful lead magnets
    A lead magnet can be defined as offering your target audience something of value in exchange for their email address. As you can probably guess, the end goal is to boost subscriptions. A lead magnet could be offering a free ebook/guide/report, a checklist, a whitepaper, a video tutorial or really anything your visitor truly wants and needs. Overall, if your lead magnet offers something of value to the visitor, they will be happy to give you their contact information. This might as well be one of the best email list building techniques.

    8) Try out telemarketing
    During the day you probably talk to tons of customers and prospects. Why don’t you make good use of that opportunity, before you hang up and ask those people if they’d like to join your mailing list? Give them a short overview of all the benefits that’ll come from enrolling such as exclusive offers, discounts available only to email subscribers, etc. After all, the only thing you risk from asking is them saying ‘No’.

    9) Piggybacks and forwarding
    Have you ever considered sharing your email list(s) with other businesses? No, not giving it for free. That’d be against anti-spam laws, especially, since your subscribers gave their explicit consent to you. We are talking about a mutually beneficial relationship between businesses where one offers the other a bit of space in their newsletter where a link to their opt-in/sign up form will be and vice-versa. It’s called piggybacking.

    On the other hand, we have forwarding. Make sure any emails sent to existing subscribers or anyone for that matter, have a link to your opt-in form. In that way, once your email is forwarded to someone, they’ll have a direct way to sign up to your email list.

    11) Use the power of the printed press
    In this digital day and age, a lot of marketers underestimate the power of the printed press. From newsletter and magazines through flyers and brochures to billboards, banners, printed ads and direct-mail as well as any other printed marketing materials – you have tons of opportunities to advertise your newsletter and give potential subscribers the option to sign up. So, why waste it? Simply add a QR (quick response) code, which is easily scannable with a smartphone app, to any printed press and voila, people will be directly opted-in into your email list.

    12) Offline email list building
    Since most email list building techniques take place online (websites, landing pages, social media, etc.), most marketers have probably forgotten the ‘old-school’ offline method of collecting emails. However, we haven’t. Here are two offline email list building options you can take advantage of –

    a) collecting business cards – this is probably one of the oldest methods of building an email list. By having your own printed business card you can exchange it whenever you meet other people to talk about business. Make sure at the point of collection that you inform your future recipients what to expect, a weekly/fortnightly email including news, views and offers etc.

    b) sign up lists at business events – if you attend any business trade fairs, conferences or business exhibitions, make sure you have a signup list with an email column at hand. Then, anyone interested in opting-in for your email list can simply write down their email address. Having an iPad on a plinth that only shows your sign up form, thanks the visitor for their details and then refreshes back to your sign up form after a few seconds is an ideal way of capturing data quickly and efficiently.

    A very important thing to remember, when implementing offline email list building techniques, is that as you will have to enter the email addresses manually there may be some typos or mistakes (no ‘@’ or .com for instance) and so setting up this ‘Expo List’ as double opt-in is a must.

    As email marketers, any email list building techniques you can think of can be appropriate, as long as they’re legal, of course.

    Final Thoughts
    Regardless of whether you’re starting your email list building from scratch or not, the most imperative thing is to know your target audience. Thus, in order to grow your list, give the recipients a compelling reason to subscribe. Have a specific strategy and be consistent in your communication not only for customer acquisition but also for customer retention. You can’t just build a list and then forget all about it. You must nurture it.

    Your knowledge of building an email list from start to finish might not always be needed. Sometimes, you might just need to clean up an inherited email list. Either way, being familiar with all the different email list building techniques can only give you an advantage.

    Now that you know all there is to know about email list building, you should start thinking about the perfect way to greet all those new subscribers and we have the perfect ‘email onboarding’ article to help you prepare for it.

    This article was originally published on 10 May and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Digital Marketing News: Social Media Posting Times During COVID-19 Pandemic, A Small Improvement To GSC, Google Ads Blocking ‘Bad Ads’ and A Sharp Drop In GMB Impressions May 18, 2020

    What’s the best time to post on social media during the COVID-19 crisis? What little tweak did Google add to the Search Console? How many ‘bad ads’ did Google block in 2019? How did COVID-19 impact Google My Business listings?

    “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – Milan Kundera

    In this article, we’ll cover the following digital marketing news:
    1. [Report] The optimal times to post on social media during the COVID-19 mayhem
    2. A little tweak to Google Search Console
    3. Google blocked 2.7 billion ‘bad ads’ in 2019
    4. Google My Business experienced a sharp performance drop due to the pandemic
    Let’s dive in.

    Social Media News

    [Report] Changes In Social Media Engagement During COVID-19
    The COVID-19 outbreak keeps wreaking havoc on everyday life for both people and businesses. So much so, the time slots people are active on social media have changed immensely. With that in mind, all previous practices and recommendations about the best time to post on social media have pretty much become redundant.

    In March, our dear friends at Sprout Social published a report regarding the best time to post to each one of the major social media platforms. The insights in the report were derived from over 20K users utilising the company’s services. However, a lot has changed since the initial publications of the report.

    Due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, social media platform usage has seen a massive increase. Therefore, Sprout has revised its report after carefully reviewing more recent data. The updated report aims to help marketers fine-tune their social media strategy in order to adjust to the engagement changes during the COVID-19 crisis.

    According to the revised report, the best times to post on the major social media platforms (compared to the original) are –

    1) Facebook
    • In the original report, the most favourable time for Facebook engagement was Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.
    • In the revised version (based on data collected between March and April), the current best times to post on Facebook is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    [​IMG]

    2) Instagram
    • In the original report, the most optimal time to post on Instagram was Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    • According to the revised version, the ideal time to post now is Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 11 a.m. and Tuesday at 2 p.m.
    [​IMG]

    3) Twitter
    • The original report showed the best times to post to be Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m.
    • The COVID-19 version of the report shows a slight change. The current best times to post now is Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (the peak activity is at 9 a.m.)
    [​IMG]

    4) LinkedIn
    • In the initial report, the top times to post on LinkedIn were Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and around 12 p.m., Thursday at 9 a.m. and between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and Friday at 9 a.m.
    • The COVID-19 report shows the most favourable time slots to post to be Wednesday at 3 p.m., Thursday between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to noon.
    [​IMG]

    Marketers should keep in mind that the timeframes listed are Central Time Zone (CST). Nonetheless, they are highly indicative of all local time zones as well.

    These are only recommendations. The only way to determine what’s the best time to post for your business is by experimenting and observing the audience’s response. Depending on how the COVID-19 crisis progresses in the coming weeks and months, Sprout’s recommendations might shift even further from what they were in the original report.

    Search Engine and SEO News

    Google Adds A ‘Copy URL’ Button To Search Console
    After many people have requested it, Google finally gave its users what they wanted and announced a small improvement to the Search Console.

    upload_2020-5-18_10-34-56.png

    Instead of the unfriendly user experience of highlighting a URL and then going through the process of copying it whilst being vigilant not to accidentally click on it, the little tweak will allow users to copy a URL to the clipboard with one simple click. Despite being a very small improvement, this feature will certainly improve the user experience.

    upload_2020-5-18_10-35-22.png

    By improving the user experience with this little tweak, Google will also be helping its users to be more productive as well as improve their workflow.

    PPC and Ads News

    Google Blocked And Removed 2.7 Billion ‘Bad Ads’ In 2019
    The tech-giant Google published some of their Google Ads precautionary measures and insights on protecting users from ‘bad ads’. “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve closely monitored advertiser behaviour to protect users from ads looking to take advantage of the crisis,” says Scott Spencer, Vice President of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Safety.

    upload_2020-5-18_10-36-3.png

    According to the blog post, Google Ads have blocked and removed 2.7 billion bad ads in 2019 (that’s more than 5,000 bad ads per minute) and suspended nearly 1 million advertiser accounts for policy violations. On the publisher side, the company stated they’ve terminated over 1.2 million accounts as well as removed ads from over 21 million web pages. This is a 17% increase on the 2.3 billion bad ads Google removed in 2018.

    Google has also revealed the ways it’s preventing fraudulent ads related to the COVID-19 crisis. According to Scott, Google Ads have “blocked and removed tens of millions of coronavirus-related ads over the past few months for policy violations including price-gouging, capitalising on global medical supply shortages, making misleading claims about cures and promoting illegitimate unemployment benefits.

    Digital Marketing News
    Is your Google My Business listing experiencing a drop in impressions due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Don’t worry, you are not alone.

    A study, conducted by our friends at Reputation.com, of 81,000 Google My Business (GMB) listings – across several industries and U.S regions – found out that impressions are experiencing an average 59% drop across all verticals.

    Furthermore, the report revealed that clicks related to actions such as driving directions, calling a business and visits to websites are down by a total of 37%. With such a drop, the challenge for small businesses to make every impression count has become harder.

    Despite impressions and clicks experiencing a decline, GMB listings still play a vital role amid the COVID-19 crisis. Why? Because people have not stopped using GMB and by keeping your listing updated, you are ensuring they will learn about your business even during the pandemic. Besides, according to the report’s data, people searching for a business tend to engage with it either by calling or visiting the website.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what digital marketing news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful advice, tips, tricks and best practice. We will also keep you up-to-date with the most recent email news, social media, search engine as well as PPC & Ads news.

    This article was originally published on 8 May and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.

    Attached Files:

  • Email Industry News: Microsoft Teams Phishing Attacks And Thousands Of Suspicious Emails Flagged By The U.K. Public May 15, 2020

    A new email phishing attack mimics Microsoft Teams notification messages targeting between 15,000 and 50,000 inboxes. The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) received public reports of over 160,000 suspicious emails only two weeks after the launch of its suspicious email reporting service.

    “There’s no conceivable system that can stop 1 person in 100 opening a phishing email and that can be all it takes.” – Ciaran Martin, CEO of NCSC

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email industry news:
    1. A new string of email phishing attacks spoofing Microsoft Teams notifications
    2. Over 160,000 suspicious emails were flagged by the U.K. public
    Ready to dive in?

    Email Phishing Attacks Tailored To Look Like Microsoft Teams Notifications
    Since the COVID-19 crisis started, cybercriminals have exponentially increased their malicious attacks. With people being on lockdown and working from home, the requirement for virtual meetings and video chatting apps spiked, including Microsoft Teams.

    With that being said, Abnormal Security discovered a new email phishing attack aimed at stealing Office 365 users’ login credentials. The new email phishing campaign utilises cloned imagery to send pretty credible emails tailored to spoof Microsoft Teams notification messages. According to the security provider, between 15,000 and 50,000 inboxes have received emails as part of the phishing attack.

    With Microsoft Teams reaching 75 million daily active users recently, tens of millions of people might be using the service for the first time. Considering the current global health crisis and the number of people using Microsoft Teams, these email phishing attacks are particularly dangerous. Especially for first time users who have no idea what types of email notifications Teams are sending out. However, even if a person is familiar with Microsoft Teams, the cloned imagery is so convincing even they could be fooled.

    The NCSC Received Reports Of Over 160K Suspicious Emails
    Last month, the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre – a part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) – launched its Suspicious Email Reporting Service which focuses on tracking and closing down fraudulent websites by utilising the public and relying on their ‘tip-offs’ or forwarding of suspicious emails.

    After initially receiving over 5,000 complaints about suspicious emails (and that’s on the first day the service was launched), just two weeks later that number has increased to over 160,000 suspicious emails which led to the take-down of over 300 phishing and scam websites, making a significant dent in COVID-19-related online fraud.

    Public reports, received by the NCSC, spiked exponentially after the service was promoted on the Martin Lewis Money Show. That ‘shout out’ to the British public combined with the further hype about the service in the MoneySavingExpert’s newsletter and social media channels led to the NCSC receiving over tens of thousands more suspicious email reports.

    The NCSC’s Chief Executive Ciaran Martin’s response was –

    “This really is a phenomenal response from the British public. I would like to thank them for embracing our reporting service. As well as the many organisations which have promoted it. I would urge people to remain vigilant and to forward suspicious emails to us. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

    We strongly urge you to report and forward any suspicious emails to [email protected].

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas about which email industry news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful email advice, tips and tricks. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll keep you up-to-date with the most recent social media news, search engine news, PPC & Ads news as well as other digital marketing news we found interesting.

    This article was originally published on 8 May and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Retargeting vs Email Remarketing: Is There Really A Difference? May 5, 2020

    Do you know how to utilise your emails in order to attain hard-to-reach customers? How about rekindling the interest of inactive subscribers? Or, do you simply want to reintroduce a product or service subscribers expressed interest in but never followed through on the call-to-action? There are many tactics that can help you achieve those goals. Cue, email retargeting.

    “Getting the right message to the right person at the right time is what email marketing is all about.” – EmailOut

    There are some businesses that primarily rely on that first email impression they make with subscribers. However, an effective email marketing strategy goes beyond the initial impact. As marketers, instead of concentrating on one or two tactics, we should focus on exploring multiple strategies that will help us obtain, retain and re-engage customers, grow brand awareness, increase sales and, hopefully, keep ourselves at the forefront of our customers’ mind. One such marketing strategy is email retargeting.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email retargeting topics:
    1. What is email retargeting?
    2. What is email remarketing?
    3. The difference between email retargeting and email remarketing
    4. Email retargeting and email remarketing best practices
    Ready to dive in?

    The ever-evolving and improving digital marketing technology offers businesses numerous methods they can use in order to approach potential clients who’ve already had an interaction with their brand.

    Each time a customer comes in contact with your product/service, you are presented with the opportunity to make a sale. Even if the person doesn’t initially make a purchase you are still in the game. Thus, don’t perceive them as a lost cause and simply move on. After all, according to stats, almost 60% of people’s purchase decision-making process is influenced by marketing emails; and, 80% that email marketing increases customer retention.

    Let’s say a customer clicked on one of your pay-per-click ads or filled in a form on your website or simply opened one of your emails – all of these present an opportunity for you to market to them, again. Once these customers expressed their interest in your product/service, they entered your buying cycle. However, how do you market to potential clients again, you might ask? The answer is quite simple: email retargeting. But, isn’t this the same as email remarketing?

    What Is Email Retargeting?
    As email marketing professionals, we are certain you are well aware of the topic of retargeting. However, for those who might need a reminder, email retargeting is an email marketing strategy which allows marketers to reintroduce their products/services to a segmented audience that expressed interest, however, never completed the call-to-action (for example abandoned shopping carts).

    To simplify the definition further, email retargeting is the practice of using customers’ information you’ve already gathered in order to refine the content you’ll be sending them.

    There are two important elements you must know about when it comes to email targeting. The first one is behavioural marketing and the second is website cookies.

    According to our dear friend and digital marketing guru Neil Patel, behavioural marketing is the practice of utilising all the available information from browsing and search history to IPs and cookies (we’ll tell you more about those shortly) in order to build a refined profile of your customers.

    One of the most common methods of tracking customers’ behaviours is through website cookies. Most of you already know what cookies are and how they work, but allow us to refresh your memory. They are small pieces of data sent from a website that are stored on a user’s browser in order to help track the user’s online habits and activities.

    However, this tracking method is presenting some difficulties: various technologies block cookies (or deleting them when the user closes their browser) and EU laws requiring all websites servicing and targeting EU customers to gain ‘informed consent’ before storing them.

    Nonetheless, email marketers have an alternative way of tracking customers’ behaviour – tracking pixel. It’s embedded into the HTML code of an email. Tracking pixels work very similar to website cookies and, currently, they cannot be blocked the same way cookies can be.

    All EmailOut email campaigns contain a tracking pixel, open a free account.

    What Is Email Remarketing?
    This is yet another practice we are certain you are familiar with. Nonetheless, we’d like to refresh your memory about what email remarketing is.

    Email remarketing, which is a type of behavioural marketing, is the marketing technique of following up and re-engaging with customers who already had an interaction with your brand but never completed an action through marketing emails.

    You’ve already ‘met’ your customers and invested time and money in obtaining them. Therefore, you should take the initial information you’ve gathered about them and use it to send relevant content. Some of the tactics included in email remarketing are –

    a) welcoming customers after they’ve subscribed ;
    b) promoting new products/services;
    c) advertising up-sells or cross-sells;
    d) reminding them to complete an order;
    e) requesting reviews;
    f) offering discounts;
    g) signing up for a webinar; and
    h) downloading a free ebook or a market report.

    In order to execute an effective email remarketing strategy, you should know your customer base – what they like or don’t like, which of your products/services interested them, etc. Then you can determine the range of triggers and once a customer trips a trigger, they’ll automatically receive an email from your brand based on their action.

    EmailOut offers free triggered automation and unlimited data fields to hold your prospects trigger points – trial it now.

    Email Retargeting vs Email Remarketing
    Some marketers have the assumption that email retargeting and email remarketing are the same. However, as similar as they sound, there is a difference between them and it lies in the strategy required to reach those engaged customers.

    If your business’s goal is to maximise your overall ROI (which we all strive for), measuring the effectiveness and success of your email retargeting and email remarketing is of vital importance. These are the metrics, for both tactics, you should pay attention to –

    a) page visits;
    b) email open rate;
    c) conversion rate;
    d) unsubscribe rate; and
    e) marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

    As we all know, by monitoring and analysing an email campaign’s success as well as its weak points, we will be able to make adjustments to our email campaigns in order to achieve better results.

    So far, all the information presented might lead you to the conclusion that email retargeting and email remarketing are pretty much the same. As similar as they might be, knowing what the difference between them is vital since one can be more suited for your email marketing strategy than the other.

    If your goal is to build brand loyalty via email, email remarketing is the way to achieve it. But, if the goal is to strengthen your brand’s presence, email retargeting is the best way to do it.

    Bottom line, both those strategies can deliver insight into customers’ behaviour, boost brand awareness and maximise your overall ROI. However, make sure you implement them correctly. But, before you set your sights on one or the other and make a judgment call, why not consider using them simultaneously. It’ll certainly help you create – and maintain – a strong email marketing strategy.

    Email Retargeting and Email Remarketing Best Practices
    One of the best things about email retargeting is that it’s focused on customers who’ve already expressed interest in your brand. Thus, the potential benefits of this marketing strategy are immense. However, before you proceed with building your email retargeting campaigns, there are several email retargeting best practices you should consider.

    1) Take advantage of email segmentation
    Email segmentation is the practice of breaking down huge email lists into smaller, more detailed and highly targeted ones. By segmenting your email lists, you will be able to better target your audience. Especially those subscribers looking for specific information. It ensures you are sending the right message to the right people.

    2) Timing is everything
    Keeping your brand at the forefront of customers’ mind is key. Thus, the sooner you start sending retargeted email campaigns, the better. Do not dilly-dally or you’ll risk losing those customers.

    3) Pay attention to inactive subscribers
    If there is a spike in inactive subscribers, email retargeting is a great way to gently remind them why they chose to subscribe in the first place. Remind them of what piqued their interest and invite them to take action.

    4) Always personalise
    Personalisation is the most powerful method of increasing email open rates and encouraging conversions. Subscribers can always recognise when they get an automated, generic email blast. You have the information required to personalise your retargeted email campaigns, use it. The success of your email retargeting strategy partially relies on this.

    5) Attention to details is imperative
    A small thing going wrong can cause a ripple effect in your email retargeting strategy. From the subject line through the call-to-action button to the fonts and images, you need to make sure your email retargeting campaigns are designed to perfection.

    6) Utilise incentives to encourage conversions and sales
    A customer who abandoned their cart might require a little nudge. Take a look at their browsing history and if it ends up being all over the place, offer them guidance to make their purchase decisions easier. Or better yet, why not offer them a discount. Everyone loves them.

    Final Thoughts
    Neither method is as difficult to implement as you might think. You just have to clearly outline your business’s goals and simply take your email marketing efforts to the next level.

    As a matter of fact, if you follow best practices, segment your email lists, design your retargeting email campaigns to perfection and, of course, keep an eye on the email metrics, you’ll be that much closer to achieving better results.

    Furthermore, with everything you’ve learnt so far, you can now swiftly – and smoothly – add email retargeting and remarketing into your marketing campaigns such as cart abandonment, customer support, re-engagement, product/service updates and so forth.

    Now that there are no smokescreens surrounding email retargeting and email remarketing, you can start developing and improving your email marketing strategy and turning it into a revenue making machine as well as getting ahead of your competition, of course.

    To get you started, open a FreeForever account with us now, we’ll give you 12,500 email sends each and every month for free – Free Trial.

    This article was originally published on 28 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Digital Marketing News: Location Transparency To Facebook Page Posts, An Unusual Update To Google Search, Google Ads Identity Verification and The State Of Marketing During The COVID-19 Crisis May 4, 2020

    Facebook adds location markers providing more transparency to Page’s posts, Google releases an unusual update to Search, Google Ads will require identity verification from all advertisers due to expansion of its verification program and a survey of the state of marketing during the COVID-19 crisis.

    “Constant improvement and innovation are the most important parts of your digital marketing strategy.” – EmailOut

    In this article, we’ll cover the following recent digital marketing news:
    1. Facebook adds more transparency to Pages posts
    2. Google rolls out an unusual update to Search
    3. Google Ads will require all advertisers to verify their identity
    4. [Survey] Marketing During COVID-19 pandemic
    Ready to dive in?

    Social Media News

    Facebook Adding Location Transparency On Page’s Posts

    The social media’s giant latest attempt in improving content transparency is adding a new feature – location marker – that will reveal the location of pages when they publish posts.

    According to Facebook, piloting this feature is part of an ongoing effort to make high-reach pages more transparent. When it rolls out, users will be able to see the location from which a page manager’s posted. It will be in the same spot the regular location tag is positioned.

    However, rather than displaying the exact city/state, it’ll only show the country. Thus, there will still be some level of privacy, whilst also achieving the goal of adding more transparency on individual business profile posts.

    We’d like to reiterate that this feature will only roll out to pages that, according to Facebook, “are based outside of the US but reach large audiences primarily based in the US.” As much as the update will not apply to all pages in the US, the company have not indicated what it qualifies as a page with “large audience” or “high reach”.

    It’s also important to note that the update is mandatory. Page managers cannot opt-out of having their location revealed when publishing a post.

    This feature is also joined by the ‘About This Account’ one Instagram launched back in 2018.

    Search Engine and SEO News

    An Unusual Update To Google Search
    Google is always doing its best to provide the most relevant search results for any given query. However, sometimes, that’s not always possible. Nonetheless, the search engine giant has fail-safes in place to prevent such things from happening.

    With that said, the company announced quite an unusual update to Google Search. Users will be made aware when the results for their query have lower-than-average quality.

    What does this mean exactly? When Google is not really able to match a user’s search query with relevant results, it will display a message notifying the user.
    [​IMG]
    The reasons for the lack of relevant results range from misspelling to not enough information on the web (which is rarely the case, but it happens). When possible, this new feature will provide alternative searches as well as tips on how users can refine their search queries in order to find the information they seek.

    The message shouldn’t show up too often as there is always something helpful the search engine giant can find. However, it will certainly help users save time that they would otherwise spend sifting through irrelevant search results.

    PPC and Ads News

    All Advertisers In Google Ads Will Be Required To Verify Their Identity
    As part of a major expansion of Google’s ad transparency requirements, the company will require all advertisers to provide official documentation that will confirm their identity.

    It’s worth mentioning that this new ad policy is tied to Google Ads 2018 policy update for political advertisers.

    The verification program will include –

    a) personal identification methods;
    b) business incorporation documents; and
    c) any other documents legally verifying the advertiser’s identity.

    When advertisers are required to submit their ID documentation they will be alerted and they’ll have 30 days to respond. According to Google, “multiple failed attempts to complete the verification program will result in your ads not serving.

    Once the company has verified the advertisers’ identity, it’ll use that information to generate a new disclosure panel on any ads they run, displaying the business’s name and country of origin.

    With millions of active advertisers, approving and running with the new disclosure tag will prove to be quite a significant task for Google. Therefore, the company will be verifying advertisers in phases, starting in the U.S. and continuing to expand globally.

    You can read more about the verification program here.

    Digital Marketing News
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a vast majority of marketers have either adjusted or completely halted their marketing activities.

    Marketing and PR firm Element-R Partners conducted a survey polling 127 professionals in the digital, PR and marketing communications. According to the results, 74% of marketers stated they’ve changed course or have temporarily ceased their marketing activities. On the other hand, 26% said they have not altered their marketing approach.

    Furthermore, of the marketers who participated in the survey, 61% feel highly annoyed when receiving emails (or calls) from businesses that seem to be operating as usual. Actually, 29% appear to be highly irritated by this. Only 11% state it doesn’t really bother them – at all, whilst 28% simply remain neutral.

    When asked to describe their current marketing activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, 47.2% said they are shifting tactics, 16.5% have temporarily suspended their marketing activity, 15% are doing less while only 7.1% are doing more with their marketing activities. Moreover, 8.7% are using this dreadful pandemic situation as an opportunity to plan their marketing approach, while 5.5% are conducting business as usual.

    The survey also asked the participants the one question that’s on all marketers’ minds: “When will things get back to normal?” Unsurprisingly, 48% of respondents said they will wait to see ‘signs of normalcy’ and 26% don’t even know. 11.8% believe things will get back to normal within 3 to 5 weeks and 7.1% believe normalcy will come within two weeks.

    We’d like to warn you that the survey was conducted at the end of March. Thus, the results may not be reflective of the current situation.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what digital marketing news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful advice, tips, tricks and best practice. We will also keep you up-to-date with the most recent email news, social media news, search engine news as well as PPC & Ads news.

    This article was originally published on 27 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Industry News: An Email Reporting Service To Fight COVID-19-related Scam Attacks and Gmail Blocking 18M Daily Coronavirus-related Scam Emails May 1, 2020

    The U.K. government launched a cyber awareness campaign and an email reporting service in order to fight COVID-19 email scams. Gmail has also been fighting the coronavirus-related phishing attacks and reported it has blocked an average of 18M COVID-19-related scam emails daily.

    “Be suspicious of any unexpected emails. Should you receive one you haven’t opted-in for, the best thing to do is delete it.” – EmailOut

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email industry news:
    1. A U.K. cybersecurity organisation launched an email reporting service to tackle COVID-19 scams
    2. Gmail blocks 18M coronavirus-related email scams per day
    Let’s dive in.

    NCSC’s ‘Cyber Aware’ Campaign and New Email Reporting Service
    The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched an online security campaign called Cyber Aware. It will offer advice on how users can protect themselves online during the pandemic.

    Aside from launching ‘Cyber Aware’, the cyber-security organisation has also launched its new Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). It will allow users to report bogus, deceitful and suspicious emails including such that offer coronavirus-related services.

    In a single day after launching SERS, the organisation stated they received more than 5,000 complaints regarding suspicious emails and shut down 83 malicious web campaigns.

    On April 21, NCSC reported in their press release that they have removed over 2,000 coronavirus-related online scams including –

    a) 471 fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus related items;
    b) 555 malware distribution sites set up to cause significant damage to any visitors;
    c) 200 phishing sites seeking personal information such as passwords or credit card details;
    d) 832 advance-fee frauds where a large sum of money is promised in return for a set-up payment.

    Criminals are seeking to exploit our greater use of emails, video conferencing and other technologies for their advantage. I encourage everyone to follow the Cyber Aware advice and to use the Suspicious Email Reporting Service,” stated the Minister for Security James Brokenshire.

    SERS was co-developed with the City of London Police. When a user forwards any dubious emails to [email protected], the organisation’s automated programme will instantly test the legality of the site. If it finds the websites to be phishing scams, they will be promptly removed.

    The service will also provide police with a real-time analysis of phishing patterns to better track and stop campaigns.

    Gmail Blocks 18M COVID-19 Scam Emails Per Day
    Email scams aren’t exactly a novelty. But, we must give credit where credit’s due and to Google’s credit, their Gmail platform has been doing quite well at battling – and blocking – scam emails. However, with the COVID-19 mayhem, it appears that there are now more scam-related emails than ever.

    According to the search engine giant, the pandemic has led to a burst of phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are using those attacks to trick users into revealing personal data. Within just a week, Gmail saw and blocked 18 million daily scam emails related to the coronavirus; and, this aside from more than 240 million COVID-related daily phishing emails.

    Our ML models have evolved to understand and filter these threats, and we continue to block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing, and malware from reaching our users”, states Google.

    Among the phishing attacks are those mimicking legitimate government bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    [​IMG]

    Another such phishing attacks was addressed to work-at-home employees states.

    [​IMG]

    The company stated that it’s working to protect users against such phishing attacks. They also recommend that users complete Security Checkup, avoid downloading attachments they don’t recognise, use Gmail’s built-in document preview (it prevents malware from automatic download) and always double-check the integrity of the URLs in the email.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas what email industry news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful email advice, tips and tricks. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll keep you up-to-date with the most recent social media news, search engine news, PPC & Ads news as well as other digital marketing news we found interesting.

    This article was originally published on 27 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Marketing KPIs: How To Measure Your Campaign’s Success? Apr 28, 2020

    When compared to other communication channels, email has a gargantuan advantage – it’s fully trackable in every aspect. As email marketers, you are perfectly aware of email marketing metrics like open, click-through and unsubscribe rates. But, are these email marketing KPIs enough when it comes to determining the success of your email campaign?

    “That which is measured improves.” – Karl Pearson-Cater

    There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to email marketing. We can spend days (weeks even) discussing how to optimise your emails, common email design mistakes, email design best practices, email deliverability, email engagement and more. But, when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter how perfectly optimised your emails are or that you’ve implemented all known best practices if you can’t see and measure your email marketing efforts. After all, the best email marketing decisions are data-driven. So, in order to establish the success of your email campaign, there are certain email marketing KPIs you simply cannot do without and which can help you increase your email marketing revenue.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email marketing KPIs:
    1. Open and conversion rates
    2. Click-through and click-to-open rates
    3. Bounce, unsubscribe and complaint rates
    4. Delivery and deliverability rates
    5. Email campaign ROI
    Ready to dig in?

    In order to be a masterful email marketer, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind – it takes time. You might have learnt everything you think there is to know about email marketing. But, if you haven’t determined your business’s goals and considered all possible email marketing KPIs, knowing about common email marketing rookie mistakes and optimising emails won’t lead you to success.

    As email marketers, you create email campaigns for different purposes each with a different goal in mind. Therefore, there are certain email marketing metrics you should be familiar with to measure the success of your email marketing efforts.

    The key email marketing KPIs can be divided into two categories –

    a) on-mail KPIs – these metrics refer to the recipient’s interaction with your email campaign and they’re tracked directly by you ESP making them automatically available and easy to read;

    b) off-mail KPIs – these metrics measure everything that originates from the email but is then directed elsewhere (a website, a blog, an e-commerce site, etc.) These KPIs analyse numerous aspects related to the email channel like the volume of attracted traffic, average purchase amounts and so forth. Your ESP is not the one providing these metrics. They come from third-party analytic systems such as Google Analytics, for example.

    Today, we’ll focus on the on-mail KPIs every email marketer should know about, follow and analyse.

    Email Marketing KPIs You Should Pay Attention To

    Open Rate (OR)
    An open rate indicates how many times your subscribers opened your email compared to the total number of emails delivered (or sent). Most ESPs automatically calculate this email marketing KPI for you. However, if you want to double-check the numbers, you can always use this formula –

    Email Open Rate = (Number of Emails Opened / Number of Emails Delivered) x 100
    Example: 12,150 opened emails / 37,000 emails delivered x 100 = 32.8%


    Email service providers track email opens by embedding a small transparent image or a tracking pixel (a.k.a 1×1 pixel) into your marketing emails which are recalled whenever a recipient gets your email.

    Recipients can open your email multiple times which consequently will be counted by your ESP increasing the open rate. However, if they don’t download the image, the open rate cannot be tracked.

    The elements of your email which affect the open rate the most are the subject line and the preheader. Therefore, make sure you A/B test your email campaigns before sending them to the recipients.

    What’s a good open rate? Well, that’s a big question. Across the board, open rates for email marketing campaigns hover around 25%. Though, if you manage to get a higher rate than that then you’re certainly doing something right.

    Keep in mind that getting an accurate open rate can be tricky. Some people might only open the text version of your email (which won’t register as an open) and some email clients block images by default (with Outlook, for example, you have to manually download the images). On the other hand, some recipients might use preview panes for their email (Outlook is again an example here). In this scenario, an email open is counted but the recipient may not have read the email at all.

    Conversion rate
    This email marketing KPI is the one that matters However, don’t start seeing pound signs yet.

    A conversion rate indicates the number of recipients that have acted on your email. It represents the percentage of recipients that have clicked on a link within your marketing email and then completed an action – filling a signup form, participating in a sale or claiming a discount designed specifically for them.

    The formula you can use to calculate your conversion rate is –

    Conversion Rate = (Number of Completed Actions/Number of Email Delivered) x 100
    Example: 400 completed actions / 8,000 emails delivered x 100 = 5%


    Conversion rates are essential for determining your ROI. By knowing how much you’ve spent on an email and the number of subscribers converted, you can pretty easily determine if the funds, as well as time you’ve put into your email marketing campaign, are paying off.

    What is a good conversion rate? That’s a tough one to answer. It all depends on your business’s goals for each of your campaigns as well as the industry sector. You can find more details about the average conversion rate for a range of sectors (including B2B conversions) here.

    The best way to successfully measure this very important email marketing KPI is by integrating your ESP as well as your web analytics (like Google Analytics) and by creating a unique tracking URL for each link in your marketing emails.

    It’s important to keep in mind that your CTAs are directly linked to your conversions. As such, they must be linked directly to the end-goal of your email campaigns.

    Click-through rate (CTR)
    A click-through rate (CTR) is another common email marketing KPI which helps businesses to establish the level of success of their email marketing campaigns.

    A CTR measures the number of recipients who clicked on one or more links within a given email. The following formula can help you calculate your CTR –

    CTR = (Number of Total Email Clicks/Number of Delivered Emails) x 100
    Example: 1,500 email clicks / 25,000 emails delivered x 100 = 6%


    As an email marketer, you should also measure individual and holistic CTR. Individual CTR measures how many people clicked through, while holistic CTR tells you how many clicks took place.

    You must be vigilant when creating your email campaign if you want to increase your CTR. One option is to add links in strategically chosen locations throughout your email. Another is to carefully craft CTAs in order to draw the recipients’ attention. For example, what would be the colour of your CTA button, what about the text.

    What’s a good CTR? As with your open rate, your CTR can be influenced by different things. Some businesses may observe a 20-30% CTR for welcome emails or email campaigns calling for specific actions (like downloading an ebook). However, an average click-through rate is around 4%.

    In order to improve this crucially important email marketing KPI, you must carry frequent A/B testing – on wording, content layout, CTAs design as well as images used in your email.

    Remember that clicking on the unsubscribe link might count as a click, too. However, that’s a ‘bad click’. So, be vigilant about tracking what recipients actually click on.

    Click-to-open rate (CTOR)
    A click-to-open rate (CTOR) indicates the number of clicks with respect to the number of emails opened. CTOR also measures how many recipients clicked on a link, however, it only takes into account recipients who got as far as opening your marketing email.

    This email marketing KPI does not include everyone on your mailing list or all the emails delivered. It is also the most accurate email marketing metric for measuring interactions. The following formula can help you calculate your CTOR –

    CTOR = (Number of Unique Clicks/Number of Unique Email Opens) x 100
    Example: 800 unique clicks / 5,000 unique opens x 100 = 16%


    A low CTR but a high CTOR could mean your emails are well crafted but you’re wasting a lot of effort sending emails to recipients who don’t want them. A low CTOR, on the other hand, suggests that your emails are falling flat once recipients open them.

    What’s a good CTOR? Ideally, the answer to the question would be 100%. However, it’s highly unlikely to get such results. Unless, of course, you’re offering something the recipients wouldn’t want to miss from the get-go and they have no other choice but to take action. The average CTOR is around 20-30%.

    It is important to keep in mind that some recipients can’t bear the thought of having unread emails in their inbox so they open everything. Yet, despite opening your email, they might not be in the mood for reading in or taking an action.

    Overall, if you are wondering how many recipients close your emails immediately after opening them or the number of times they’ve interacted with the email’s content or visited your website, this email marketing KPI will give you the answer.

    Bounce rate
    As email marketers, we are all familiar with what a bounce rate is. However, let’s go through the details just one more time, shall we?

    The bounce rate measures the number of recipients who did not receive your email. Basically, it’s the percentage of email addresses that returned an error after the email’s been sent.

    There can be a few reasons why an email bounced –

    a) the recipient has restriction filters;
    b) the recipient’s inbox is full; or
    c) the email address you’ve sent to is incorrect or mistyped.

    There also two types of bounces –

    a) soft bounces – temporary issues with a valid email address. For example, a full inbox or problems with the recipient’s server; and
    b) hard bounces – permanent issues with the emails on your mailing list. For example, invalid, closed or non-existent email addresses.

    You can calculate your bounce rate using the following formula –

    Bounce Rate = (Total number of bounced emails/Total number of emails sent) x 100
    Example: 80 bounced emails / 15,000 emails sent x 100 = 0.53%


    Measuring your bounce rate might not be directly linked to your goals, yet it’s important to keep track of it in order to ensure the ‘health’ of your mailing lists as well as monitor any deliverability issues. A high bounce rate can result in a poor sender reputation and make your business look like a spammer in the eyes of the ISPs.

    What’s a good bounce rate? Well, the answer should be quite obvious – as low as possible. However, it’s pretty much impossible to reach 0% bounce rate for a number of reasons – from changing between email service providers without updating SPF and DKIM records through ISPs having temporary issues to closed email addresses.

    Unsubscribe rate
    This email marketing KPI is one of the ‘musts’ you should be tracking. There’s also much you can learn from it.

    The unsubscribe rate represents the percentage of recipients who opted-out from receiving your future email messages. Basically, it counts the number of recipients who clicked on the unsubscribe link in your marketing email. Normally, most ESPs add this link to your emails automatically. However, if it’s missing make sure you add it as it’s also a legal requirement. You don’t want to force people to stay on your mailing list if they don’t want to be there, do you?

    Your unsubscribe rate is usually automatically calculated by your ESP, however, this formula can help you do it yourself –

    Unsubscribe Rate = (Total number of people who unsubscribed/ Total number of emails delivered) x 100
    Example: 25 people unsubscribed / 5,000 emails delivered x 100 = 0.5%


    What’s a good unsubscribe rate? Depending on your emailing frequency, your unsubscribe rate will definitely fluctuate. A healthy unsubscribe rate is around 0.2%. Anything above this average should be alarming and will require your immediate attention.

    More often than not, a high unsubscribe rate can be quite discouraging. However, don’t let it get you down. Be positive. View it as a good thing. Why? Because it can help you fine-tune your subscriber lists and end up with people who want to get your emails. Ah, those recipients are also highly likely to interact with your marketing emails and get you closer to your end-goals.

    Complaint rate
    Complaint rate
    (a.k.a abuse or spam complaint) measures the number of time recipients reported your marketing emails as unwanted or worse, as spam. Email complaints often occur when a recipient clicks on the TiS button in their email client.

    Most ESPs calculate your complaint rate automatically, however, here’s a formula for you to use –

    Email Complaint Rate = (Number of complaints/Total number of emails sent) x 100
    Example: 5 complains / 5,500 emails sent x 100 = 0.09%


    However, the above formula will not necessarily give you an accurate idea of the complaint rate ISPs are observing. This is due to the fact that not all ISPs have feedback loops set up with ESPs, although all professional ones should.

    What’s a good complaint rate? Well, there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ complaint rate. However, an email complaint rate lower than 0.1% (1 complaint for every 1,000 emails sent) is considered to be acceptable – as an industry standard. Any percentage above 0.1 is considered high and may affect not only your email deliverability but also result in your account being suspended by the ESPs.

    You can read more about email complaint best practices here >>>

    As email marketers, make sure you’re monitoring both your complaint rate as well as your unsubscribe rate simultaneously because some recipients can be lazy and instead of going through the trouble of locating the unsubscribe link and clicking it, they’ll simply hit the spam button. In the event that both email marketing KPIs are showing the same results, take immediate action.

    Delivery & Deliverability rates
    A delivery rate indicates the number of emails accepted by the recipients’ server. Basically, an email counts as delivered if it didn’t bounce. You can calculate your delivery rate using the following formula –

    Delivery Rate = (Number of emails delivered/Number of emails sent) x 100
    Example: 39,000 emails delivered / 40,000 emails sent x 100 = 97,5%


    A deliverability rate (a.k.a inbox placement) measures the number of emails that have actually reached the recipient’s inbox or any other folder (except the spam one). This metric is based on the domain’s setup, authentication and reputation. So, if something goes Pete Tong, the burden lies on the shoulders of the ESP from a technical perspective, or your copywriting if the email campaign is filled with spam words – free, best, download now etc!!

    Simply because you have 100, 1,000 or 10,000 email addresses on your mailing list(s) doesn’t mean all your emails will be delivered. Achieving a 100% deliverability rate is virtually impossible.

    Learn how to improve your deliverability with just a few simple steps >>>

    As you can see, delivery and deliverability are two completely different email marketing KPIs. Even if the first one is ‘healthy’, you might still have troubles with the latter.

    Email marketing ROI
    This particular email marketing KPI is considered to be essential for measuring the success of your email marketing efforts and it also gives you insight into your campaign’s value.

    We all probably know what return on investment (ROI) measures. However, just for the sake of it, let’s have a quick reminder.

    ROI is a metric used to evaluate the efficiency as well as the profitability of an investment. In our case, it’s also one of the key email marketing metrics to monitor as it accurately measures the cost-effectiveness of email campaigns. An email marketing ROI shows us how much we earned from our email campaigns in comparison to the costs which we incurred to implement them.

    You can calculate your email marketing ROI by using the following formula –

    Email Marketing ROI = [(Value of sales made from an email campaign – Campaign costs)/Campaign costs] x 100
    Example: [(£1,500 in sales – £300 in campaign costs)/£300 in campaign costs] x 100 = 400% ROI for the campaign.


    We can’t emphasise enough on the fact that email marketing has an ROI of 42:1 which is not only encouraging but also, an excellent reason for those who have yet to leverage this channel should start.

    Final Thoughts
    When measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns, data monitoring and analysis are indispensable.

    We’ve already outlined ten important email marketing metrics for businesses to keep track of. However, setting clear goals and determining the most relevant email marketing KPIs for your industry is imperative. There might be even more metrics that would suit your business needs better but, by tracking the ones we’ve told you about, you’ll get the most out of every email campaign you send.

    Bottom line. Be smart about the email marketing KPIs you are tracking and make sure to effectively measure the individual email performance. After all, an email metric should always provide: valuable data, insight into the recipient’s activity and help you improve your email marketing efforts as well as keep you focused on the end-goal. As long as you track, effectively measure and ‘listen’ to the results of all the listed email marketing KPIs, your email marketing strategy will be on the right track.

    This article was originally published on 9 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • The Decade-Old Debate Of Plain Text vs HTML Emails Apr 27, 2020

    Are plain text emails primarily used by B2B brands? Do B2C brands rely only on HTML emails? Which type has better email deliverability? When it comes down to choosing between plain text vs HTML emails, which one would you go with?

    “Email is the way of the past, present and future.” – Trevor Carss

    As email marketers metrics like open rate (OR), click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR) mean everything to us. So much so that we are constantly testing email campaigns in order to improve them. We’ll alter – and refine – whatever necessary from subject lines, headers and call-to-action through images, link positions and general layout to copy, content and length. All in the name of achieving better deliverability, user experience, brand consistency and, of course, customer satisfaction. However, when it gets down to choosing plain text vs HTML emails, some marketers feel like they are at a crossroad.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following topics on plain text vs HTML emails:
    1. Pros & cons of plain text emails
    2. Pros & cons of HTML emails
    3. Which email format is best?
    Let’s dig in.

    Despite what some email marketers might think and the fact that the debate of plain text vs HTML emails has been ongoing for almost 20 years (give or take), we honestly think that it’s far from settled. Some marketers would choose plain text emails, whilst others will swear by HTML emails for both B2B and B2C correspondence.

    Both types have their advantages and disadvantages; and, no matter how meagre the differences in performance between them might be, when magnified across thousands of emails, the outcome may not be as satisfactory as businesses would expect.

    You might be an experienced email marketer and a fully versed email guru in all the technical parts of an email; or, you might not be. Either way, we’d like to impart all our knowledge on the topic of plain text vs HTML emails.

    Plain Text Emails: Definition and Benefits
    A plain text email is exactly what its name implies – plain, simple text that can’t be formatted (for example – font, font size, bold, italic,etc.), no links can be embedded, no images or media either, no CTAs (well, you can have CTAs but they won’t stand out) and no tracking. The latter probably being the biggest disadvantage.

    Some even call plain text emails “the stripped-down HTML email” type. Since plain text emails are formatting – free, they also don’t require vast knowledge in coding. This can be quite an advantage for some email marketers.

    Once upon a time, all emails were plain text ones. Maybe that’s why some businesses consider them as the preferred type of emails to use; and since they pose no rendering issues that makes them work well across absolutely all email clients. Just know that, if you choose plain text emails for your email marketing, they will be sent with ASCII text giving little to pretty much no control over the email’s formatting.

    Possibly one of the ‘sweetest’ advantages of plain text emails is the fact that you won’t have the same level of technical issues you might experience with HTML emails. Since there’s pretty much no code, there’s nothing for you to worry about. There is also zero chance of having broken images or the email not being supported by email clients. Also, with the rise of wearable technology and IoT devices, plain text emails are way more accessible.

    Pros & Cons Of Using Plain Text Emails
    Pros:
    plain text emails are supported by all email clients which ensures consistency in delivery and better accessibility, messages are more personal, they load quickly and they’re favoured by B2B marketers.

    Cons: lack of control over formatting, no option to include links, images or other visuals, no tracking of important email metrics, harder to stand out CTAs, difficulty to differentiate brands and they are not absolutely safe from the spam folder.

    A best practice is to offer your subscribers the option to choose the type of email messages they would like to receive – plain text or HTML. ESPs like EmailOut handle both HTML and plain text emails for you – with the plain text version automatically created.

    HTML Emails: Definition and Benefits
    As most of you probably already know, HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It’s basically the way webpages (such as ours) are encoded to handle things such as bold, italic and even colour text.

    HTML emails have everything plain text ones are missing – layout styles, images, embedded links, diverse colours, beautiful stand out CTAs, footers with legal information, formatting and better tracking ability.

    Initially, HTML emails appeared in the early 2000s and they caused a bit of trouble. Especially, since not all email clients rendered such an email format properly; not to mention the lack of proper rendering on mobile devices.

    Overall, when HTML emails first entered the email marketing world, marketers were in a state of mayhem. However, as things progressed and ESPs as well as email clients evolved, HTML emails gained popularity. Things also became a lot easier by the mid-2010s, when responsive design began its rise. Yet, it wasn’t until 2016 that Google finally rolled out support for responsive design and CSS in Gmail.

    A big disadvantage of HTML email is the possibility of phishing scams and viruses. This email format is way more likely to be caught in spam filters than plain text emails. Furthermore, every now and then, all CSS styles in the HTML email will get automatically removed by antivirus software, leaving it completely unrecognisable.

    To sum it up, HTML emails are rich in visual, interactive and media elements. They have everything from beautifully formatted content through images, animated GIFs and tables to attention-drawing CTAs. We don’t feel like we should give you an image example because pretty much most of the emails in your inbox are HTML ones. Simply open any of them.

    A professional ESP (like EmailOut) will handle all the nuts and bolts when it comes to your HTML emails. It’ll also automatically send a plain text version of your email to make sure your subscribers will read your message no matter what.

    Pros & Cons Of Using HTML Emails
    Pros:
    better and more sophisticated design control, ability to embed images, multimedia, links and tables, higher conversion rates, more dynamic and personalised messages, better email analytics, better interactivity and engagement, more professional and modern look, easy to differentiate in the inbox and they are the favoured email format by B2C marketers.

    Cons: higher potential for viruses and phishing scam, CSS styles can be stripped away, more likely to end up in the spam folder and some email clients and devices don’t render HTML well which can result in a mishmash of code.

    A best practice is to ensure your HTML emails are responsive. So, in order to be on the safe side try to keep the email design simple and test, test, TEST once you’ve designed your template.

    Now that you know the differences between plain text & HTML email as well as the advantages and disadvantages, we’d like to draw your attention to one very important thing – mistaking HTML emails for plain text ones. Yes, it can happen more often than you might think.

    Depending on the purpose of your marketing email, you might decide to limit the formatting of your HTML email; which (in design terms) will make it look a lot like a plain text one. However, it is not. It’s still trackable though simpler in design HTML email. This type of emails is known as a hybrid email and marketers use them quite often.

    Plain Text vs HTML Emails: Which Email Format Is The Best?
    Remember in the beginning we mentioned that the debate of plain text vs HTML emails is far from settled? Well, we firmly stand behind that statement.

    Plain text emails don’t allow marketers the freedom of bringing to life everything they might want to because it has restrictions on formatting, imagery and multimedia. On the other hand, HTML emails allow email marketers all the freedom they want in order to bring their message to life.

    Plain text emails are favoured mainly in B2B industries, of which most lean toward a hybrid construction of HTML formatted emails that mimic plain text to utilise the benefit of tracking and analytics as well as guaranteed formatting once delivered.

    Let’s face it, customers nowadays are being bombarded by hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing emails on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Some of them might, and probably are, from your competitors. So, how can you make sure that your brand stands out and is not fading into the background? Will a plain text email achieve that? How about an HTML one?

    The answer is quite simple – try both email formats. You will certainly achieve higher deliverability, open, conversion and engagement rates. After all, analytics point out that 62% of marketers rely on hybrid emails in their email marketing campaigns.

    Of course, you can always leave the choice to your customers. But, wouldn’t that be a bit of a lazy approach? Go the extra mile. Show them why you are the best. Yes, it might cost you a bit more time to design an amazing email campaign, but with the help of a professional ESP (like EmailOut), it will be as easy as riding a bike.

    Final Thoughts
    Plain text emails
    are less time-consuming, easy to read and free of distractions. They also feel more personal and create a sense of exclusivity. On the other hand, HTML emails are very eye-catching, dynamic and way more interactive. They can also be highly personalised and present a more professional look.

    So, next time you’re creating a campaign and wasting time on deciding plain text vs HTML emails, remember that both formats have their advantages and a mixture of them would get you where you want to be. Most importantly, don’t forget to test, test, test. The answers lie in your data and analytics. After all, what works for some might not necessarily work for all.

    This article was originally published on 8 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Digital Marketing News: New FB Messenger Desktop App, LinkedIn’s Content & Engagement Trends, New Ad Policies and the UK’s Startups Call For Help Apr 24, 2020

    Increasing usage of FB’s Messenger leads to the launch of the very first standalone Messenger Desktop app, an infographic on content and engagement trends during the COVID-19 mayhem, Google releases a new COVID-19 announcement tool, the ‘Big Tech’ introduce new ad policies and UK startups call for emergency support in order to survive the coronavirus crisis.

    “The digital marketing world has changed in recent months. In order to survive, marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.” – EmailOut

    In this article, we’ll cover the following recent digital marketing news:
    1. Facebook launches Messenger Desktop app
    2. LinkedIn content and engagement trends during the COVID-19 crisis
    3. New announcement tool in Google Search Console
    4. Tech companies are rolling out new ad policies
    5. UK startups cry out for help to survive the pandemic
    Let’s dive in.

    Social Media News

    New Facebook Messenger Desktop App

    At the beginning of April, Facebook launched the very first standalone Messenger app for desktop which is available for both Windows and macOS.

    According to the company’s announcement, there was more than a 100% increase in the usage of desktop browser for audio and video calls via Messenger. Could it be because in the last couple of months people have stayed home?

    No matter the reason, Facebook reacted pretty quick to the increased demand by launching the dedicated Messenger desktop app. People who choose to use the desktop app instead of the Messenger on facebook.com via a web browser will be able to take advantage of numerous benefits.

    Perhaps, one of the most valuable benefits would be the unlimited and free group video calls. Nonetheless, here is a list of key highlights of the Messenger desktop app –

    a) group video calls – users will be able to stay in touch with friends and family on a much larger screen compared to smartphone;

    b) easy to connect – if you’re connected with someone on Facebook then you’re also connected in Messenger. No need for phone numbers, emails or signing up for a new service;

    c) multitasking – users will have easy access to chats and they can pop in and out of the app whilst doing other things on their computer. You can’t do that on a smartphone;

    d) notifications – they’re available on desktop but the user is in control of the notification preferences – mute or snooze, for example;

    e) chat syncing – users can sync chats across mobile and desktop without losing any of the Messenger history; and

    f) all the features users love but on a bigger screen – all the same Messenger features you are used to will be included in the desktop app as well as the dark mode and GIFs.

    LinkedIn’s Overview Of Content And Engagement Trends During COVID-19 Crisis
    Like many social media platforms amid the COVID-19 pandemonium, LinkedIn has seen a big increase55% – in engagement between connections as well as a boost in the volume of content posts and messages.

    To give its users some context, the career-oriented platform has published an overview of just how significant discussions about COVID-19 have been as well as the topics of professional interest derived from that.

    As much as most of the trends are what one would expect in these crisis times – ‘remote working’, ‘online learning’, etc., it’s quite interesting when you review the numbers for yourself.

    Here’s a brief overview of what LinkedIn’s infographic will tell you –

    a) top trending topics have shifted significantly in relation to today’s environment;
    b) 32% of members publish COVID-related posts;
    c) 36% of pages publish posts related to the coronavirus; and
    d) 7% of companies in the IT sector mention coronavirus during company updates.

    You can review the full infographic here.

    Search Engine and SEO News

    COVID-19 Announcement Tool In Google Search Console (GSC)
    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more and more businesses need to publish urgent announcements. This may include health and government organisations announcing shelter-in-place directives or quarantine guidelines; schools and learning centres announcing transitions from offline to online; travel bans; or, disease spread stats.

    With that in mind, to help organisations out, Google has released a new tool in the GSC. It’s still considered to be in beta meaning it’s not fully developed and can be subject to changes. The new announcement tools will help authority websites to submit important announcements on their website without needing to use structured data. Keep in mind that because the tool is still in beta, you may not see results in Google Search right away.

    The tool has the following requirements and rules –

    a) announcements must expire within 1 month of posting, so it’s only for short-lived announcements;
    b) if an expiration date is not required, the announcement will default to expire 7 days from the time it was posted;
    c) it’s focused on health and government organisations as well as schools; and
    d) it doesn’t support news articles.

    Although you or your clients may not be “authority sites”, it’s always great to keep up-to-date. However, beware and don’t abuse the tool as Google may decide to take manual actions and mark your announcement ineligible to display as rich results. If such a drastic measure is taken, you’ll have to resubmit your website for consideration to fix it.

    PPC and Ads News

    Tech Giants Are Rolling Out New Ad Policies During The Pandemic
    Usually, when tech companies introduce new policies it happens after long periods of careful internal discussions as big reversals aren’t usually the norm. Cue COVID-19.

    Once the threat started hitting countries, tech giants decided to roll out new ad policies

    a) in early February, Google banned most nongovernment COVID-19 advertising. However, according to recent news, it seems the company will be lifting the ban;

    b) shortly after Google’s ban, YouTube followed suit demonetising videos about the coronavirus in order for advertisers to avoid having their ads placed on unpleasant COVID-19-related content. The company reversed the policy shortly after rolling it out – as did Google;

    c) in February, Facebook announced it was banning coronavirus-related ads that promoted false cures and other virus-related disinformation;

    d) in March, Twitter announced new ad policies tailored to COVID-19 which – as Google And YouTube – it reversed a few weeks later; and

    e) Google Ads was the last to address this matter. The company has updated its Inappropriate Content policy to disallow content that “…potentially capitalises on or lacks reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, public health emergency, or other tragic events.” Google also announced it would disburse $340 million in ad credits to SMBs.

    The big tech companies seem to have underestimated the scope of the pandemic and what would happen. They rolled out ad policies then reversed them back and carried on like everything was back to normal. We don’t know about you, but with so many changes, our heads have been spinning – a lot.

    Digital Marketing News
    The U.K. government is looking for a way to support its startup industry by exploring a range of different options. They are considering a possible co-investment model involving state-owned funds (via the British Business Bank); and, private venture capital (VC) funds.

    One of the options considered by the ministers is convertible loans which could either be repaid in a later stage or they can be transformed into equity stakes owned by the state. However, this would require a matched co-investment with VCs which ensures only existing venture-backed startups will be eligible.

    According to the Financial Times (subscription required), ministers are considering the above option on a case-to-case basis and only after companies have sought out fresh capital from private investors. Another option that’s been considered is additional grant funding via InnovateUK which is a government body providing support to innovative businesses – and an expansion of R&D tax credits.

    Furthermore, under recently-appointed Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, the government has launched a £330 billion ($409 billion) loan scheme and other relief measures to help firms avoid collapsing. Additionally, France recently introduced a 4 billion euro ($4.4 billion) liquidity package to support its start-ups’ cash flows.

    Some worry the U.K. could be at risk of falling behind. Many startups are stating they can’t access this funding because they are not yet profitable.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what digital marketing news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful advice, tips, tricks and best practice. We will also keep you up-to-date with the most recent email news, social media news, search engine news as well as PPC & Ads news.

    This article was originally published on 7 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Industry News: State Of Email During COVID-19 and An Increase In BEC Attacks During the Pandemic Apr 24, 2020

    An in-depth look into COVID-19 email analytics shows that 1 in 15 emails have virus-related content and FBI’s IC3 warns people about a rise in business email compromise (BEC) attacks due to the pandemic.

    “Email may well be your most productive marketing tool.” – Dan Zarrella

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email industry news:
    1. [Webinar] The state of email amid the COVID-19 mayhem
    2. An increase in BEC attacks during the time of the pandemic
    Ready to dive in?

    Email Marketing During The COVID-19 Pandemic
    Has your inbox been flooded with COVID-19-related email messages? Trust us, you’re not alone.

    According to recent data, in today’s COVID-19 pandemonium, 1 in 15 marketing emails contain content related to the virus. The percentage of virus-related emails in the last couple of weeks of March was 2%. However, that percentage has peeked to 7% but the rates are decreasing on the weekends.

    Moreover, COVID-19 email messages have placed 2% higher in inbox deliverability than emails with non-virus content. Additionally, such emails are 11% less likely to be marked as spam. The stats also point out that recipients were 10% more likely to open virus-related emails than any other messages on weekdays. But now, that percentage has decreased and it’s close to 7%. However, recipients are 30% more inclined to open such emails on weekends.

    In the days before the pandemic, standard marketing keywords such as “new” or “now” were dominating the marketing emails. But, in the days amid the COVID-19 mayhem, there’s been a dramatic switch in keywords. Now, leading words are “COVID” and “coronavirus” along with keywords/keyphrases conveying a sentiment such as “stay safe”, “hope you are doing well”, etc. According to Validity’s senior director of product management Greg Kimball, the education, manufacturing, distribution and government sectors are “carrying the weight on the proportion of emails”.

    You can get more information by watching this awesomely detailed webinar.

    FBI Warns About A Rise In BEC Attacks Due To COVID-19
    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a warning that cybercriminals are abusing popular cloud-based email services amid the COVID-19 pandemic in order to expand their business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

    The agency pointed out that a typical BEC scam involves recipients getting emails they believe to have been sent by a company they usually conduct business with. However, these emails request money to be sent to a new account or alter the normal payment practices. The bureau has witnessed that COVID-19 has been used as the false reason for changing the payment practices.

    This is the second time within a month that the FBI has warned people about the malicious attackers. According to the agency’s press release, “recently, there has been an increase in BEC frauds targeting municipalities purchasing personal protective equipment or other supplies needed in the fight against COVID-19.

    Here are a couple of recent examples of COVID-19 BEC attacks –

    1) a financial institution received an email claiming to allegedly have come from the CEO of a company where he requested a previously scheduled transfer of $1 million to be moved up and the recipient account to be changed “due to the Coronavirus outbreak and quarantine processes and precautions.

    2) a bank customer received an email from someone who climbed to be one of the customer’s clients in China where the alleged client has requested all invoice payments to be changed to a different bank due to their usual bank account being inaccessible because of a “coronavirus audit.” The victim had already made a few transfers before discovering the fraud.

    The first warning issued by the FBI in regards to BEC scams was last month – March 8 – where the bureau informed that hackers were targeting Microsoft 365 and G Suite users.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas what email industry news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful email advice, tips and tricks. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll keep you up-to-date with the most recent social media news, search engine news, PPC & Ads news as well as other digital marketing news we found interesting.

    This article was originally published on 7 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Security Best Practices: The Importance Of Protecting Your Emails Apr 23, 2020

    Are the emails you’re sending protected? Currently, there are numerous different ways – from phishing attacks and spear phishing to email spoofing – that cybercriminals are utilising. To protect your brand’s reputation, it’s imperative to secure your email communications. What better way to do so than by implementing email security best practices?

    “If you spend more on your coffee than on securing your email communications, you’ll be hacked.” – EmailOut

    Despite the rapid growth of different communication tools, from Slack, Telegram and WhatsApp to Microsoft Teams and more, many businesses still rely heavily on email in order to communicate with their customers – or for internal purposes. With recent stats showing the number of email users is expected to rise to a little over 4 billion in 2020, it’s crucially important to protect your emails from cyber threats. After all, most cyber breaches are happening because of poor email security practices. To avoid being a victim, we advise you to enforce tried-and-tested email security best practices.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email security best practices:
    1. What is email security and why is it important?
    2. Types of email authentication methods
    3. Best practices
    Ready to dive in?

    Before we go forward and outline the importance of email security as well as tell you about the email security best practices that will help you keep your email communications secure, we’d like to give you some stats that’ll give you an idea of what’s happening in the cybersecurity world.

    a) 94% of malware is delivered via email;
    b) 80% of security incidents are due to phishing attacks;
    c) business lose an average of £3.2 million ($3.92) due to data breaches;
    d) in 2019, 2 billion unique email addresses (and over 21 million passwords) were exposed within a single data breach;
    e) 68% of businesses ‘feel’ cybersecurity risks are increasing;
    f) in 2022, worldwide cybersecurity spendings are expected to reach £109 billion ($133.7); and
    g) 37% of top malicious email attachments are .doc and .dot files and 5% (which is the next highest) are .exe files.

    These stats probably left you quite shocked. Nevertheless, we’d like to emphasise that proper email security, if implemented correctly, will certainly protect not only sensitive information in your emails, but also prevent any potential phishing attacks, email spoofing and will protect your emails against unauthorised access, compromise and/or loss of one or more email addresses. With that out of the way, let’s turn our focus to email security best practices.

    Email Security: What It Is and Why It’s Important?
    According to the dictionary definition, email security refers to “the collective measures used to secure the access and content of an email account or service. It allows an individual or organisation to protect the overall access to one or more email addresses/accounts. An email service provider implements email security to secure subscriber email accounts and data from hackers – at rest and in transit.

    To put it simply, email security is a variation of cybersecurity techniques that help businesses keep sensitive information in email communications – and email accounts – safe from unauthorised access and compromise. But, why is it important?

    In this day and age, the majority of businesses conduct their communications – being it internal or with customers – via email. By implementing simple email security best practices, you can ensure three very important things –

    a) your business email correspondence will not be compromised and any confidential information (such as sales reports, balance sheets,etc.) will be protected;
    b) your identity will be protected against theft (prevent hackers from getting a hold of your email and password and sending false, malicious email messages from your account); and
    c) you will be compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, LGPC, CASL, PDPA, CAN-SPAM Act, etc.

    Cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated by the minute and exploiting each and all possibilities to cause harm. So, businesses must be extremely vigilant when it pertains to email security. As a secure email marketing provider, we always aim to educate our customers on the consequences of sending emails through unsecured email systems. Now, let’s start building your defence with a few simple email security best practices.

    Email Security Measures: SPF, DKIM, DMARC and BIMI
    Good email security is not just about choosing a strong password or investing in antivirus software. So, avoid shooting yourself in the foot by missing the basics.

    By implementing authentication methods such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identifier Mail (DKIM) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), you will be able to prevent people pretending to be you (known as email spoofing) and verify that the sender is you. When all three methods are properly set up, they prove the sender is legitimate, its identity hasn’t been compromised and the emails are not being sent on behalf of someone else. Now, let’s take a deeper look at each of these authentication methods.

    Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
    SPF is an email authentication method whose purpose is to detect falsification of the sender address (return-path header) during the delivery of the email. It’s a DNS record that specifies which IP addresses and/or servers are allowed to send email communications from that particular domain.

    If you want to implement SPF, you will be required to add a DNS TXT record which contains all the IP addresses that are authorised to send emails on your behalf. Keep in mind, each domain can have a maximum of only one SPF record. This handy tool will allow you to easily generate an SPF record.

    After an SPF record is checked, there are a few possible outcomes –

    a) None – this result means no SPF record exists;
    b) Neutral – an SPF record was found, however, neither a positive nor negative assertion was made about the sender. It pretty much an equivalent of getting a none result;
    c) Pass – this outcome means the sender is authorised to send email communications on behalf of the domain;
    d) Fail – it means the sender is not authorised and the mail server may decide to reject the email; and
    e) Soft fail – the sender is not authorised, however, the mail server shouldn’t reject the email only based on this.

    As with everything, there is always a positive and a negative side. In the case of SPF, the negative is that this authentication method alone cannot authenticate the original author of the email, but rather only the source of it (return-path). Nothing will stop a threat actor from setting up their mailbox and domain with an SPF record that will authorise their IP address to send on behalf of that domain. In other words, the only way to prevent email spoofing would be to combine SPF with DMARC and DKIM.

    DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
    DKIM is an email authentication method aimed at detecting forged sender addresses in emails (email spoofing). Just like an SPF record, DKIM is a TXT record which is added to a domain’s DNS. If you hear someone using the phrase ’email signing’ know that they are referring to DKIM. It allows the recipients of an email – claimed to have come from a certain domain – to check if the email message has been indeed authorised by the owner of the domain.

    This type of authentication is achieved by attaching a digital signature, which is linked to a specific domain name, to each outgoing email and affixed to the email as a header. By looking up the sender’s public key, which is published in the DNS, the email can be verified.

    In contrast to SPF, DKIM uses an encryption algorithm to create a pair of electronic keys – public and private. The public key is the one that’s placed in the DNS record, whilst the private key stays on the servers it was created on (which is your mail server).

    By having a valid signature, certain parts of your email cannot be modified (such as attachments) since the signature was affixed.

    To implement DKIM, you are required to update your DNS – same as SPF. However, it’s a bit more involved than setting up SPF since you’ll need to –

    1) choose a DKIM selector – it can be anything – word, number or a combination of both (see an example below, the selector is highlighted);

    DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; d=example.net; s=brisbane;
    c=relaxed/simple; q=dns/txt; t=1117574938; x=1118006938;
    h=from:to:subject:date:keywords:keywords;
    bh=MTIzNDU2Nzg5MDEyMzQ1Njc4OTAxMjM0NTY3ODkwMTI=;
    b=dzdVyOfAKCdLXdJOc9G2q8LoXSlEniSbav+yuU4zGeeruD00lszZ
    VoG4ZHRNiYzR


    2) generate both public and private keys;

    3) publish your selector and public key; and

    4) attach the token to each one of your outgoing emails.

    Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)
    DMARC is an email authentication method aimed at tackling the problem of email spoofing by protecting both the sender and the recipient. This method’s main purpose is to protect domains from being used in BEC attacks, phishing emails and email scams. Implementing DMARC requires the same as SPF and SKIM – updating your DNS records. This tool can be particularly useful in creating a DMARC record.

    Your DMARC record is published with your DNS records. It instructs the receiving server not to accept an email if it fails DKIM and SPF (among other checks). All the leading ISPs have already introduced DMARC checks on their receiving servers; and, it’s moving closer to becoming the industry standard.

    If you are wondering if DMARC is enough to authenticate your email, the answer is ‘Yes’. Why? Because it aligns the domain from the SPF and DKIM results and if the outcome of your check is ‘pass’, then your recipient can be confident of your identity as the email’s sender.

    If you are ‘starving’ for more information on DMARC, we have a whole article dedicated to it.

    Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI)
    BIMI
    is an open standard allowing businesses to verify their identity and be easily recognised in recipients’ inboxes. Similar to SPF, DKIM and DMARC, BIMI is a text record which lives on your servers. It works alongside all the other three authentication methods to indicate to email clients you are you. Some even call this email authentication method DMARC 2.0.

    What differentiates BIMI from the other three methods is that it allows businesses to display their logo in supported inboxes.

    To enable BIMI, you have to make sure the following requirements are in place –

    a) having a DMARC record with a ‘quarantine’ or ‘reject’ policy;
    b) be recognised as a bulk sender and have a good sender reputation; and
    c) you need another DNS record, the so-called BIMI Assertion Record.

    This TXT record needs to be placed as default._bimi – for example – in the DNS of the sending domain. Usually, this would be the From header. The value of the record looks like:

    v=BIMI1; l=https://www.example.com/images/logo.svg

    You can find more information about BIMI here.

    Email Security Best Practices
    Email security breaches that business should be aware of are divided into five types –

    1) Spam – it refers to all those unsolicited emails hitting your inbox. Despite the fact spam can occasionally seem harmless, it carries a significant risk to data security;

    2) Phishing – attacks that use email to impersonate a trusted sender and deceive recipients that the message is coming from a reputable source;

    3) Viruses – the purpose of a virus is to creep in and wreak havoc on systems by adding malicious code. More often than not, viruses accompany spam and phishing attacks. They use emails as the point of entry and then gain access to your business’s systems;

    4) Ransomware – it’s a form of malware used to prevent users from accessing their files or systems by demanding payment to regain access. Furthermore, according to Norton, there are five types of ransomware: ransomware as a service, crypto-malware, scareware (it mimics antivirus software), doxware (threats of publishing private and/or confidential information) and lockers (you are locked out of your computer; and

    5) Insider threats – have you seen the horror movie When A Stranger Calls? The threat came from inside the house. Well, inside threats work on the same principle. Your employees, depending on their role in the business, have unlimited access to all sorts of information. Thus, all it takes is one employee with little or no knowledge of email security and you’ll have a data breach on your hands. Trust us, in this case, ignorance is not bliss.

    Now that we’ve outlined the five main email security breaches, we consider it vitally important to emphasise that the consequences of an email security breach can be disastrous to your business. Fortunately, there are a few simple email security best practices that can be implemented.

    Best Practices
    1) Cyber-awareness training for employees.
    The human factor is considered to be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to email security. Therefore, it’s imperative that you educate and train your staff. Teach them how to identify, safely handle and flag phishing and spam emails. According to stats, 2 out of 3 email hacks happen due to employee negligence and that can cost an average of £228,000 ($280,000) per incident.

    2) Implement email encryption. By disguising the content of your emails as well as any attachments, you will protect any sensitive information from being accessed by outside parties that are not part of the intended recipients.

    3) Perform phishing simulations. To ensure your employees are on par with phishing is to simulate phishing attacks. It’s not only the safest way to test your employee’s knowledge, but also educate them on how to make the correct choice in their everyday work.

    4) Use secure email gateway (SEG). SEGs are essentially firewalls for emails. Their purpose is to monitor inbound and outbound email communications. SEGs work best when combined with email encryption. Most importantly, never allow your staff to use company emails for personal use.

    5) Use unique, strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA). Encourage your employees to create unguessable passwords and make sure they never use the same one for all their accounts. For additional email security, your staff should also implement 2FA or multi-factor authentication (MFA). Both methods require the user to give two (or more) pieces of evidence to verify their identity.

    6) Choose quality antivirus software. As obvious as it might be, implementing this measure can exponentially reduce threats of email security breaches. However, keep in mind that on its own, it’s not nearly enough to protect your business.

    Final Thoughts
    Your parents taught you not to talk to strangers when you were growing up, right? Somehow though, in the virtual world, we seem to have forgotten this very important lesson. So much so, that we willingly engage with the same ‘stranger danger’ type of emails and put not only our businesses but our customers and their data in danger. In order to prevent this from happening in the years to come, implementing email security best practices is imperative.

    It doesn’t matter if you are a conglomerate, SMB or a mum-and-dad shop. Securing your emails should be a priority. Yes, it’s challenging to keep up-to-date with all email security threats out there. Especially since threat actors are upping their game constantly. However, the fight is not lost. As long as you are careful and you implement the outlined email security best practices, your email communications will be as protected as possible.

    This article was originally published on 5 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Onboarding Email Series: How To Develop An Impactful Onboarding Sequence? Apr 22, 2020

    Imagine you’ve just entered a car dealership. The salesperson greets you and then gives a brief speech about the dealership but then, they just disappear. You’re left wondering around the various cars with no idea which one is best suited for your needs. You feel a bit lost and you need some guidance. In the email marketing world, such guidance comes in the form of onboarding email series.

    “Every study that’s been done on email marketing has shown that increased frequency brings better results. If you’re only emailing somebody once a month, they’ll forget you.” – Ian Brodie

    First impressions matter. Especially when it comes to dealing with customers. As email marketers, we get one shot at making a great first impression. We mustn’t waste it. There is a very narrow window to capture – and retain – a new customer’s interest before they are gone. Your first point of contact will set the expectations for the whole relationship. Therefore, how you go about it is of vital importance. Cue, onboarding email series.

    In this article, we’ll cover the following aspects of creating onboarding email series:
    1. Why is creating an onboarding email series important?
    2. How to create an effective onboarding email sequence?
    Ready to dive in?

    A lot of businesses send a welcome email to their customers. However, that’s where their email marketing efforts stop. Now, since we believe you want to have a highly successful business (who doesn’t?), our advice is to focus on developing and implementing an onboarding email series.

    Why? It’s really simple. The first month of a subscriber’s lifecycle (a.k.a onboarding phase) is the period for a business to make the first impression and establish the flow of the relationship. The emails you send during this time play a key role in transforming new subscribers into customers. However, according to stats, despite the fact that engagement rates are the highest when you first get touch with a customer, close to one-third of newly acquired subscribers ‘desert’ an email program exactly during that time. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, we suggest creating an onboarding email series.

    The Importance of Onboarding Email Series
    You’ve certainly heard the phrase ‘love at first sight’, right? Well, by creating an effective onboarding email series, you’ll ensure that “the love” will happen even at second sight; and why not at third sight, too.

    Having a welcome email is a great start. It can generate 4 times more opens, 5 times more clicks, 3 times more transactions and revenue per email as well as boost open rates with 50%, according to statistics. We aren’t really surprised by this data. After all, once a customer gives you their email address, it’s expected of you to send them a welcome email.

    However, is one email enough to retain a customer? We’ve observed that having – and sending – an onboarding email series can increase revenue by 51% than just sending a single welcome email.

    There are a few reasons for that –
    1)
    at the initial stage, customers are hungry for information and they are at their peak interest which, statistically, makes them more likely to open your emails; and
    2) having an onboarding email series can be your safety net in the occurrence that the customer doesn’t engage with you at the beginning (the welcome email).

    By expanding your email sequence to more than just the welcome email, you will present the customer with different options for them to interact and familiarise themselves with your business and products/services. An effective onboarding series will result in higher retention rates, greater revenue, an increase in the customer lifetime value and a decrease in unsubscribe rates.

    But, how can businesses cut through all the clutter customers are getting in their inbox? How can they deliver a compelling onboarding email series that will convert?

    Before we divulge the ‘secrets’ to creating a successful onboarding series, we strongly advise you to choose an email marketing software that will help you tailor your emails based on different factors (incl. the stage of the life cycle funnel your customer’s in).

    The Process Of Developing An Onboarding Email Series
    Before even thinking about the design of your automated onboarding email campaigns, you should carefully outline their purpose. What do you want them to achieve? Do you want the sequence to attract new customers? Or, do you want to re-active inactive subscribers? Maybe, you just want to tell your subscribers about a brand new product/service they’ll be interested in? Whatever the goal is, the strategy must be thought through and executed perfectly.

    Now, let’s go over a few guidelines that will help you create and implement engaging, impactful onboarding email series that will certainly drive results –

    1) Craft the perfect welcome email
    Yes, we did say that only a welcome email isn’t enough. However, you can’t have an onboarding sequence without one. Therefore, it’s of vital importance to create an impactful welcome email – which should be sent immediately after a customer subscribes – and show your gratitude to the subscriber for signing up.

    Emphasise on the benefits the customer will get from choosing you. Outline what information they will be getting in the future. Ah, it’s essential to realise that your welcome email has nothing to do with the verification (or confirmation) email. Each one serves a different purpose. Verification emails are important for the health of your email lists (and to keep you on the right side of data protection laws), whilst the welcome emails express your thankfulness and outline the next steps.

    Lastly, make sure that your call-to-action (CTA) is presented clearly. Since this is the first email the customer receives from you, try to limit your CTAs to one main one per email. If you overwhelm the customer the first time, you’ll force them to lose interest; and consequently, either ignore your future emails or worse, unsubscribe from your correspondence altogether. However, you can increase the number of CTAs as the onboarding series continues.

    2) Enlighten your subscribers with personalised emails
    First and foremost, you should always remember that no two customers are the same. With that said, it’s essential for businesses to tailor personalised onboarding email campaigns from the subject line through the email copy to the end goal it strives to achieve.

    Forget the annoyingly boring “Welcome to Company X, Y, Z” subject lines and even more maddening traditional email copy. Craft the subject line and content so it directly relates to the action you want your customers to take.

    Now that the welcome message is out the digital door, you can follow it up with a series of different automated emails triggered based on the subscribers’ actions/behaviour. For example: if the recipient opened the email that action will trigger an additional email message that will introduce the customer to your brand and all there is for you to offer them – free shipping, 24/7 customer service support, special offers, a chance to earn rewards, blog content, etc.

    However, keep in mind that the primary goal of these additional messages in your onboarding emails series is to educate the customer; as well as, make their experience not only meaningful but also beneficial.

    3) Always remember the alternative (ALT) text
    Most of the time, businesses include images to their email campaigns. However, there is a possibility that some email clients can’t display those images. Therefore, you need to make sure you have ALT text in place. By implementing this practice, which is becoming a standard for most businesses, you’re making sure that even your images might not be displayed, the customer will have some context as to what the image is. It is also important to add ALT text as that is what visual readers use for any visually impaired customers.

    If you don’t include ALT text to your images – and they are not displayed for some reason – then there is a high chance your recipients will only see a clutter of empty squares. That in itself will result in less (or no) engagement and can potentially cost you a new subscriber. Therefore, if you don’t plan on providing additional value to your images with ALT text, we suggest you forgo adding any to your onboarding emails.

    4) Stop, collaborate and listen to your customers
    By implementing onboarding email series in your email marketing strategy, you have the opportunity to collect more information about the customer. Instead of thinking about what they’re interested in or playing the “guessing game”, just ask them about their preferences. For example: what topics they are interested in; how often they want to hear from you; where are they located; how ‘young’ they are, etc.

    All of this data will help you craft not only more personalised future email messages and relevant content, but also it’ll demonstrate your appreciation for the customer. It will also showcase that you value them. After all, if you know someone wants your opinion – and asks for it – wouldn’t you be more interested in engaging with them?

    5) Keep it simple and fun, don’t overwhelm customers and create a great experience
    When creating an onboarding email series, it’s important to remember that less is more. Your emails don’t have to be extremely short, neither do they have to be excruciatingly long. Not do they need to be filled with images and GIFs. As long as you make the message concise and easily digestible with eye-catching visuals and sophisticated CTAs, the customer won’t get annoyed and unsubscribe.

    Making your onboarding emails interactive – with some how-to videos, tutorials, polls or quizzes – will also ensure the whole process is fun. It will encourage subscribers to engage more as well as getting them excited about your brand.

    An important thing to remember is to never, ever bombard new subscribers with too many email messages. Especially, immediately after they’ve signed up. Despite the number of messages you have in your onboarding email series, we advise you to hold off on sending additional emails (if the whole process is automated – which professional ESPs such as EmailOut offer, you might be required to make some adjustments to the triggers you’ve set up).

    Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of having an onboarding series is the ability to customise your subscriber’s journey step by step. Depending on where you want to take them, of course. By combining all of the guidelines we’ve divulged, you will be able to take your new customers on an incredible journey and give them exactly what they want, when they want it.

    6) Test, test, test and optimise
    EmailOut is a big fan of testing and a strong believer that through testing businesses can determine what’s the best strategy and approach for their specific audience.

    Before you set up your automated onboarding email series, you should test everything – from subject lines and email copy to timing. With 42% of emails being opened on a mobile device, running A/B tests is key. You will get actionable results which will help you optimise (and improve) your onboarding emails not only for desktop but mobile as well. Additionally, you will achieve better results as well as long-term success.

    Final Thoughts
    One of the biggest fallacies in regards to building an onboarding email series is that it takes too much time. Well, in our experience, creating an onboarding series is no harder than creating a normal email marketing campaign. You decide on the series length, which sets the email frequency expectations then you decide on the content; and finally, test, test, test.

    As much as you might dread starting an onboarding email series, you don’t have to. Do you want to know the “secret” as to why you should find it daunting? It’s simple. You can always experiment and change the sequence. You can add steps, remove steps, you can do whatever you want to in order to achieve the desired results.

    Most importantly, any and all new subscribers have signed up to your email list(s) for a reason. Being it because they are genuinely interested in your brand or because they trust you enough to welcome you to their inbox (which speaks volumes nowadays). Take advantage of their invitation.

    With a strategically designed onboarding email series, you will not only improve your subscribers’ engagement and loyalty but also decrease complaint rates, improve deliverability and ultimately increase your revenue. Now is your time to shine. Go for it.

    This article was originally published on 4 April and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Digital Marketing News: New Features and Guides From Facebook, GSC Account Preferences Updates and GMB’s Limited Functionality Apr 21, 2020

    Facebook updates its data access tools, publishes three new Facebook guides that will help businesses deal with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact as well as launching a new set of video features, Google adds better control over your Search Console user-level preferences, LinkedIn launches ‘Conversion Ads’ and limited GMB functionality due to the pandemic.

    “Mediocre marketers think in terms of campaigns. Great marketers think in terms of growth frameworks.” – Neil Patel

    In this article, we’ll cover the following recent digital marketing news:
    1. Facebook updates Data Access tools, publishes new guides for businesses to help them deal with COVID-19’s impact and releases a new set of video features
    2. Google launches new features giving site owners more control over their account preferences
    3. LinkedIn helps businesses capitalise on the rise of messaging by launching ‘conversion ads’
    4. Google My Business is not working as expected during the pandemic
    Ready to dive in?


    Social Media News

    Facebook Updates Its Data Access Tools, Publishes Guides To Help Businesses Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and Launches A New Set Of Video Features

    The social network will be adding new sections to its data access tools for Instagram as well as Facebook. The reason. To provide more transparency over the information that’s collected on users’ activities as well as to show how it uses that information in order to show more relevant content and ads.

    Facebook states that “over the last decade we’ve been working to extend the functionality of our self-service data access tools to help people access data in meaningful ways. Today’s step is part of these efforts. There have also been growing efforts by many policymakers and regulators to enhance people’s rights around access to their data. These laws include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, which was implemented in 2018; and, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which took effect earlier this year.”

    The new elements that will be included in the data report are –

    1) additional information about the user’s interactions on both Facebook and Instagram;
    2) more inferences about the content users engage with in order to improve experiences; and
    3) a list of categories that are assigned to each Instagram user which is used to suggest content in the Explorer tab.

    Despite the fact that history shows people will probably not use such tools, it’s a nice move from Facebook to provide more transparency over the information it collects from its users.

    Facebook Guides To Help Businesses Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic
    Not so long ago, Facebook was providing guidance for businesses impacted by the major fires across Australia. Now, the social network has published a new set of guides with the purposes of helping businesses (in a wide range of sectors) to deal with the latest major event which has effectively put most of the world on lockdown – the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The three new guides offer general recommendations for retail businesses, retail advertisers and eCommerce advertisers.

    The short guidebooks offer practical advice on keeping yourself and your staff safe, while also protecting your customers; and, maintaining connection, and operations, where possible, via your Facebook properties.

    New Facebook Video Features
    With more and more people working from home throughout this pandemic, Facebook has launched a new set of video features which are designed to help creators build audiences for their video content as well as to increase their discovery rate.

    As marketers, the four key updates you should know about are –

    1) updates to the bulk uploader;
    2) updates to playlists;
    3) new ‘bulk actions’ features; and
    4) a brand new ‘series’ feature which allows marketers to organise content into episodes.

    Considering the increasing rates in viewership for video content, it’s no surprise that Facebook is providing a pathway into Facebook Watch for regular creators.

    Search Engine and SEO News

    Google Adds New Account Preferences Controls To Search Console
    Google announced that it has released a few new features in Google Search Console (GSC) that will give site owners more control over their account preferences. The company will also give site owners greater control over which types of emails they want to receive.

    upload_2020-4-21_10-49-12.png

    Performance data. According to Google, users will have the option to choose whether or not to show performance data for their property directly in the search results. Initially, search console data in search results began popping up back in 2018 –

    upload_2020-4-21_10-49-46.png

    In the past, site owners were not able to choose whether or not they saw a ‘summary card’ in search results; but now they can.

    [​IMG]

    Email preferences. Site owners can now also tell Google which types of emails they want to receive. In the enhanced email preferences page, they can enable (or disable) emails of specific types. Or, disable email notifications altogether. However, keep in mind that if you unsubscribe from any or all emails you can still see the message in the message panel for your property. Thus, no need to worry about missing important emails.

    [​IMG]

    Why should you care? One of the bigger nuisances SEOs have with GSC is the fact they get one too many emails from Google. With the new preferences features, users can now control the email notifications they receive; as well as, whether or not they want Search Console data to be visible in search results.

    PPC and Ads News

    LinkedIn Launched ‘Conversation Ads’
    LinkedIn is rolling out a new type of messaged-based ad aimed at providing members with more personal as well as engaging ways to interact with prospects.

    The ‘Conversation Ads’ option will essentially enable users to add clickable CTA buttons that the recipients can choose from in-stream. It’ll make the Sponsored InMails more engaging – and more interactive; which, consequently, could help to drive better results.

    [​IMG]

    Among the various options, the in-message CTAs can be things such as: ‘Visit website’, ‘Register for Webinar’, ‘Sign up for newsletter’, ‘See case studies’, ‘Sign up for demo’, ‘Learn more’, ‘Tell me more’, etc.

    Of course, there are limitations on how many CTA buttons users can add. So, this is less likely to be an issue with Conversation Ads; and, with more people engaging with messages on the platform, it could be a good option to consider.

    Digital Marketing News

    Google My Business Is Not Functioning As Expected During COVID-19 Pandemic
    Google is temporarily removing a few Google My Business (GMB) features as a result of limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Things such as new local reviews, review replies and new Q&As, will be disabled until further notice. However, keep in mind, existing reviews, review replies and Q&As will still be visible.

    Initially, a lot of local SEOs were surprised by what was happening despite the fact it was mentioned in Google’s announcement regarding the restrictions and limitations of GMB’s functionality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    upload_2020-4-21_10-51-35.png

    Despite Google stating its intent to prioritise “open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and business attributes edits”, there were quite a lot of SEOs that were unhappy about the numerous problems within GMB.

    Furthermore, the company has stated that during this time, they’ll be prioritising critical-health related businesses meaning other businesses should expect delays for publishing new listings, claims and verifications.

    However, a few days after users have spotted that GMB posts have been disabled, the company announced on Twitter they have resumed post services as of March 31.

    upload_2020-4-21_10-52-8.png


    Why should you care? For a lot of business owners and multi-location brands having the ability to update their GMB listing in order to provide consumers with updated hours or store closure information is of crucial importance (see Google’s instructions for further details).

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what digital marketing news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful advice, tips, tricks and best practice. We will also keep you up-to-date with the most recent email news, social media news, search engine news as well as PPC & Ads news.

    This article was originally published on 31 March and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.
  • Email Industry News: Subscriber Sign Up Stats, New Phishing Attacks In Time Of Pandemic and Gmail’s Multiple Signature Option Apr 7, 2020

    A study revealed most subscribers are self-serving and opt-out after getting a freebie, new phishing attacks in the time of pandemic and Gmail’s support for multiple signatures.

    “Every email is a customer survey of your target market, by testing they vote on what resonates best with them.” – Kath Pay

    In this article, we’ll cover the following email industry news:
    1. Subscribers sign up stats you wouldn’t want to miss
    2. Threat actors capitalising on the COVID-19 fears with new phishing attacks
    3. Support for multiple signatures in Gmail
    Ready to dive in?

    Most Subscribers Opt-Out After Getting What They Want
    According to a recent study, it seems that consumers are getting tired of marketing emails. The stats point out that 66.9% have a ‘junk’ email address (inbox) which they use separately from their main email.

    Furthermore, 72.9% will give their email address for a free resource and then immediately unsubscribe once they get what they want.

    Out of the 1,001 consumers who participate in the survey, 46.8% read 25 per cent or less of the newsletters they sign up for and 25.8% read roughly 50 per cent. According to the survey’s data, only 15% read 75 per cent of the newsletters they receive and a mere 7.3% read all of them; 5.1% never read email newsletters at all. Yet, they sign up – 85.5% – because they want those freebies: ebooks, PDFs and/or webinars.

    Additionally, 69.7% sign up because they like the content they see on a website and want to hear more in a newsletter. 38% of the participants in the study state they are willing to give their email address because they hope to keep up with a blog and 12% will do so after a pop-up asks them to.

    The data from the survey also points out that 63.5% signup from one to ten newsletters and 23.6% from eleven to twenty. Whilst, 6.5% sign up for twenty-one to fifty and 4% to more than fifty-one newsletters. Only 2.4% subscribe to none at all.

    The survey also reveals that consumers are still concerned about privacy. For example, 73.1% hesitate to supply personal information online because they don’t want to be contacted by salespeople; 67% are worried about the company will sell their data; and, 57% fear hackers will get their hands on their personal data.

    Phishing Attacks During The Pandemic
    The Cofense Phishing Defense Center (PDC) discovered that malicious threat actors are capitalising on the populations’ fear amid the COVID-19 pandemic with new phishing attacks.

    The attackers use socially engineered email campaigns which are promising the recipients access to important information about newly discovered cases of COIVD-19 in their area.

    The phishing email campaign uses spoofing tactics to effectively evade Proofpoint and Microsoft Office 365 advanced threat protections (ATPs). The phishing emails do not include any personalisation such as the recipient’s first name; nor do they have any greeting in the email copy. Which, according to Cofense, suggests that the emails are being sent out to a broad target audience.

    Cofense researcher Kian Mahdavi said that “while these secure email gateways (SEGs) are designed to safeguard end users from clicking on malicious links and attachments, both failed in a new phishing attack they recently observed.”

    In order to evade detection by ATPs, the attackers are impersonating the domain splashmath.com which is an online learning game for children. They are using a spoofed IP address located in the U.S. – 167.89.87.104. By examining the phishing attack deeper, Cofense discovered that the emails sent to people are not coming from spoofed addresses; but rather, an IP corresponding with Kaunas (a city in Lithuania).

    Once the phishing email bypasses the Proofpoint and Microsoft 365 ATPs, the threat actors spoof the sender email address. They use keywords in the subject line in order to trick the recipient into believing that the email is coming from a trusted source of information regarding COVID-19.

    This latest email phishing attack is one of many new cyber-attacks that has been created by attackers and used in the last month as the pandemic spreads.

    Support For Multiple Signatures In Gmail
    Earlier this month, Google announced a new Gmail feature that will certainly make users’ life a lot easier. According to the company, users will be able to create and use more than one signature depending on the purpose of their email.

    Users will also have the option to make one of their signatures the default. To use this feature, Gmail users will need to head to Settings > General, where they’ll find a Signature section towards the bottom of the page. Then simply click on the ‘Create New’ option, create the signature you want to use – you can enter up to 10,000 characters with formatting and each can be named – and voila. Your new Gmail signature is ready to use.

    Users can quickly access their signatures from within the ‘Compose’ toolbar.

    The feature was supposed to start rolling out on 10 March and be available for both personal and G Suite accounts, however, the Google team has delayed the rollout and it’s now set to begin on 8 April for rapid release and 22 April for scheduled release.

    It’s arguably an overdue addition, but it could make all the difference if you’d rather not tweak your signature every time you’re emailing someone outside of your usual circle.

    Final Thoughts
    Do you have any suggestions or ideas what email industry news topics you’d like us to look out for in the future? Write your requests below. We’ll keep an eye out (or two) so you don’t have to – and all for FREE, of course.

    In the meantime, you can take a look at our email marketing blog for useful email advice, tips and tricks. Last, but certainly not least, we’ll keep you up-to-date with the most recent social media news, search engine news, PPC & Ads news as well as other digital marketing news we found interesting.

    This article was originally published on 31 March and can be found here.

    Open your Unlimited Sends one-month free trial today – after your first month with us you can switch to our FreeForever account giving you 12,500 sends to 2,500 contacts each and every month for free, forever. Corporate email marketing? Contact us.