Email Engagement: Playing The Long Game

Posted by on August 20th, 2014

Email EngagementFor some time now, a trend among webmail providers has been to offer “intelligent inbox” features that automate the process of sorting email. For example, Gmail® has released its Tabs feature much to the consternation of email marketers. At the same time, the filtering techniques of many internet service providers has gotten more sophisticated by pulling in excess amounts of data points about the sender.

As a result, long-term subscriber engagement has emerged as an important metric influencing inbox placement. For email marketers, this implies that success involves monitoring more than opens, clicks and conversions. These additional metrics may now influence program success to some extent:

  • Reply and forward rate
  • Junk mail placement rate
  • Rate at which subscribers move messages from junk to the inbox and then take an action
  • Percentage of subscribers are inactive without unsubscribing

Here are some suggestions for long-term email program success:

  • Segment your list and send content / offers appropriate to each segment: Among Harland Clarke Digital’s clients, email deployments sent to lists of less than 100 contacts show a 51% improvement in unique confirmed open rates over deployments sent to lists of over 10,000 contacts.This tells us that narrowcasting can be a powerful tactic.
  • Increase relevancy by sending automated email campaigns triggered by subscriber’s actions: Experience tells us that when someone does something online and immediately gets an email, he/she is more likely to read it.
  • Add content marketing to your repertoire: Providing useful, free information to your subscribers without directly selling to them sets your organization up as a thought leader. Through this process, you communicate your organization’s values to current and prospective customers.
  • Keep track of mobile engagement and use “mobile friendly” design: According to a recent HCD study on email engagement, nearly 50% of your readership may be reading messages on mobile devices.2
  • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: For example, if you suspect your mailings are going into the spam folder, don’t only focus on your subject line or content. Consider what might make certain subscribers mark your message as spam. Do you need to improve the sign up process so readers aren’t taken by surprise when they see you in their inbox? You should also try sending welcome / subscription confirmation messages when someone is added to the list.
  • Send periodic surveys to your subscribers soliciting feedback on your email program: Ask them to rate your emails or request feedback on what content they would like to see.
  • Analyze your message layout: Find and optimize “hot spots” for clicks and use the information to see what types of words and content are attracting more readers.
  • Keep track of inactive subscribers: Segment your list and try different tactics to get through to them. You might consider a reengagement email campaign or targeting contacts via social media.

All of these tactics can improve long-term subscriber engagement with your emails. Increased engagement can help land your messages in the inbox at a higher rate leading to further engagement.

Harland Clarke Digital’s SubscriberMail platform includes valuable tools to segment your list, automate email campaigns and track statistics on mobile and general engagement. Get in touch with us for a demo today.

1. Harland Clarke Digital Financial Email Marketing Benchmark Report (2014)
2. Harland Clarke Digital Infographic: Getting Digital: Engagement Habits of Today’s Email Recipient (2014)


Virtual Reality – The Next Big Marketing Star?

Posted by on August 19th, 2014

Virtual RealityAs Shark Week wraps up its 27th year of fascinating audiences with real-life stories, complete with compelling, visually enticing facts and features of the unknown, many are already anxious for Shark Week’s 28th year. The Discovery Channel® had its very own ocean of digital opportunities that brought about endless waves of promotional potential for Shark Week. Through real-time tweeting, shared links on Facebook®, interactive blogging, and more, the network was able to showcase, attract, and appeal to audiences around the world. What if there was technology available for the network to take viewers one step further? Imagine entering your very own shark-infested virtual waters, right from your couch? With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus VR®, one of the leader’s in virtual reality technology, this could very well be a possibility.

Oculus Rift®, developed by Oculus VR, is a virtual reality headset that offers video gamers the ability to step inside their favorite games and virtual worlds. Oculus VR, was initially crowdfunded before being acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in March, 2014.1 This acquisition also brought attention to the idea of virtual reality itself, catching the eyes of industry giants like Google® and Sony®.2 While Oculus Rift was initially built for players, the cutting-edge technology now offers limitless potential for all industries.

Several ad agencies are already exploring ways to enhance their brand through virtual reality. Coca-cola® offered World Cup attendees the experience of walking into a replicated locker room, and moving from the locker room to the actual field without leaving their seats. HBO® constructed a virtual 700-foot ice wall for fans of the hit series Game of Thrones. Viewable in select cities throughout the world, participants can enter a virtual elevator, and, for 90 seconds, see the wall, hear sounds emitting from it, and watch it actually shake from reproduced wind.

As we see more and more companies using virtual reality in their advertising and marketing efforts, it becomes clear that this phenomenon is not only here to stay but has the potential to be more than just the next big wave. Virtual reality’s groundbreaking technology and innovativeness exhibits the potential to be the latest marketing tsunami and next year’s Shark Week could very well be the next big star.




Marketing to the Tech-Savvy World

Posted by on August 14th, 2014

Tech-Savvy WorldThe concept of personalized marketing communications has been around for a long time, but the definition of what it actually means is ever changing. To many, personalization has been — and remains — limited to the use of a recipient’s name in the subject line of an email or the salutation in the body of a message. Others take things much further by creating personalized web images, referencing previous purchase behaviors or directing traffic to website landing pages featuring personalized/dynamic content.

These strategies, while enjoying a well-earned reputation for having a positive impact on campaign performance, face the same obstacle as other time-honored digital marketing strategies; the rapidly expanding knowledge and increased savviness of the average web user.

The almost constant exposure to technology has made the general public extremely aware of its digital surroundings. This isn’t to say that the aforementioned knowledge is a bad thing, quite the opposite, really. The more empowered the average web user is to identify phishing emails, avoid dangerous websites and take steps to protect his/her personal information online, the less success cyber-criminals will have.

With that in mind, it’s a delicate balance that must be struck between providing relevant marketing communications and over-personalizing to a point that is uncomfortable or alarming to your audience. Visit a product page on a website, then immediately receive an email or a text message with additional information — one person’s targeted marketing campaign becomes another’s “big brother is watching” moment. Reactions to different levels of personalization will, of course, vary from audience to audience, because not everyone is terribly worried about their data being used for marketing purposes.

If feedback from your audience indicates any level of discomfort, or you simply want to be cautious, segmentation strategies can provide a more subtle method of personalization that still allows for targeted, data-driven content. Here are just a few examples:

It’s an approach of targeting, without giving the impression of targeting. Traditional methods of personalization can still play a role in your communications, but the use of more subtle methods can be an effective alternative in a world where customers demand relevance while at the same time being wary of how their information is being used.


If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

Posted by on August 12th, 2014

Google+ SEOAverage open rates for promotional marketing emails in the U.S. are between 17% and 20%, which means that about 80% of the people you are trying to communicate with are not paying attention.1 The idea of the inactive resend is not a new one, and in my experience, the best practices that overcome the test of time are usually incredibly effective and some of the easiest to implement.

One of the most useful aspects of digital marketing is the ability to track a user’s path down to the most minute detail including those who open your email and those who do not. With the average open rate statistic in mind, think about the numbers if you deploy an email to 10,000 people. Even if you achieve a very high open rate at 20%, that still leaves 8,000 people who did not open your message.

So what do you do now? Well fret-not my email marketing friends, you can easily resend your message to the inactive portion of your audience by using the filter and campaign functions within the SubscriberMail platform.

  1. By going into the List tab, and creating a Dynamic Filter, you can target those email recipients who did not open your message specifically. There are a variety of ways to increase your open rates, starting with your subject line. Consider revising what you sent the first time around and focus on using keywords that work for your audience. You could also focus on different content and make that your headliner. The most important thing to always do is test and test some more and do so frequently.
  2. Don’t forget about those who did click on your email. You can quickly identify those users who received the first message and opened it within your Reports tab in SubscriberMail. From there, you can automatically schedule follow-up email deployments to contact those users a second and third time with relevant content.

For a fresh perspective on your marketing programs, visit our site. Also, you can learn more about Harland Clarke Digital’s array of services, subscribe to our newsletter, download a white paper or review one of our webinars.

1. 2014: DMA Statbook


When It Comes To Internet Speed, Is It Time For A New Minimum?

Posted by on August 8th, 2014

Google+ SEODid you know that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently defines “high-speed internet” (i.e., “broadband”) as speeds of 4 mega bits per second (Mbps) for downloading and 1 Mbps for uploading?1

As we spend more of our time online using apps, streaming video, updating our social media profiles, that definition is lagging behind since one of the most popular video streaming services, Netflix®, recommends a minimum of 5 Mbps to ensure consistent HD quality.2

To that end, the FCC has issued a “notice of inquiry” this week, which indicates the agency’s interest in exploring the redefining of “broadband.” In the notice, the FCC appears to be exploring a change that would make 10 Mbps the minimum for download speed and questions whether the upload speed minimum should be increased. Such a change would change the map in terms of “broadband” capability around the country, as fewer customers’ service would reach this new standard.3

It has been obvious to everyone for many years that portions of the country, in particular rural areas, lack broadband access (25% lacking versus 6% nationally). A quick look at the National Broadband Map clearly illustrates our regional disparities.4

The FCC is now collecting comments and it’s important that we, as citizens, participate in the dialogue as it impacts so many parts of our “always on” digital lives. With the release of its new Broadband Progress Report, agreeing on a realistic baseline for defining high-speed Internet is critical to future infrastructure planning. Also, it impacts media/content producers as they continue to evolve their delivery of everything we connect with, download/upload or stream.