- 15 Tenets of Proper Email Marketing Etiquette
- 6 Deadly Marketing Myths BUSTED
- The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words
- Facebook Now Features Paid Ads in News Feeds
- 7 Silly Mistakes to Stop Making in Your PR Pitches
- 9 Unique Ways to Generate Leads With QR Codes
Posted: 11 Jan 2012 03:00 PM PST
The ultimate vision for inbound marketers is to "make marketing that people love." Rather than annoying and interrupting prospective customers with unsolicited and pushy messages, inbound marketing strategies are based on permission. And if inbound marketing is permission-based, marketers should be sure they're practicing proper etiquette in their inbound efforts. This is particularly important in email marketing which, when executed poorly, can ride a fine line between pushy, outbound behavior and permissive, inbound behavior.
Are you following the proper inbound etiquette in your email marketing communications? To make sure you are, check out and always adhere to the following principles of proper email marketing etiquette.
The Principles of Proper Email Marketing Etiquette
1. Obtain permission first. This is definitely the single most important rule of proper email marketing etiquette; failing to adhere to it is not only a violation of etiquette, it's a violation of the law. After all, permission-based marketing needs to have permission, right? Make sure every contact in your database has opted in to receive email communication from you. And if a contact has only opted in to receive a certain type of communication, such as new blog posts, don't add them to other segments of your list that have opted in to receive other communications like product updates.
2. Don't purchase contacts for your database. While purchasing lists for your email database is not against the law since those contacts have opted in (if you're purchasing from a credible vendor, that is), doing so is definitely not an email marketing best practice. While those contacts may have opted in to receive communications, they didn't specifically choose to receive email communications from you. Purchasing lists and sending those contacts emails will results in confused and unqualified email recipients. Don't waste your money; build your list organically.
3. Don't spam your list. Although our Science of Email Marketing research revealed that sending more email doesn't result in a significant drop in click-through rates, there is a fine line between sending enough email messages and spamming your list. The best way to determine which side of the line you're on is to do some testing to determine your optimal email sending frequency.
4. Don't over-automate. Executed carefully, marketing automation can be a helpful way to maximize the impact of your email marketing program. That being said, the key words there were "executed carefully." Don't automate your efforts so much that you're violating our previous etiquette rule and spamming your recipients. Balance automated messages with non-automated messages, and be sure you're either excluding or cutting back on non-automated emails to leads who are already being nurtured by behavior-driven automated campaigns.
5. Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe. According to CAN-SPAM laws, every email you send needs to provide recipients with an option to unsubscribe. Since this is not only a matter of etiquette but also a matter of the law, you should also make it as easy for users to unsubscribe as possible. To save potential unsubscribers, offer an option on your opt-out form for them to opt-in to a different type of email communication from you instead, such as your newsletter rather than your product updates. This can save the unsubscribe and also show contacts you respect their individual needs.
6. Honor unsubscribes. If a user has decided to unsubscribe, honor their request, and remove them from your list as soon as possible. Again, this is a provision of the law, but doing so in a timely manner will also ensure you uphold a positive brand image.
7. Scrub your list regularly. Understanding the difference between hard and soft bounces and acting accordingly can help you maintain a clean email database and execute accurate reporting. While soft bounces indicate only temporary deliverability problems, hard bounces mean permanent deliverability problems (e.g. an invalid email address), and those addresses should be removed from your email list.
8. Re-awaken inactive subscribers. Be respectful of inactive subscribers on your list. If a recipient hasn't opened or clicked on your emails in a long period of time, it's likely that they're no longer engaged. Send these contacts a re-awaken email asking if they'd like to unsubscribe from your list or subscribe to a different type of email communication you send. This not only shows recipients you're paying attention and don't want to keep bombarding them with irrelevant information, but it will also help you prevent uninterested contacts from lazily marking your email as spam instead of unsubscribing, which will damage the deliverability rate of your email campaigns overall.
9. Personalize and segment your communications. Intelligent email marketers understand the importance of both personalization and segmentation in their email sends. Personalize your email by sending it from a real person in your company and using the recipient's real name in the email's greeting. In addition, slice and dice your database into different segments depending on their varying interests, demographic information, or industry. Send different segments targeted information and content that appeals to their specific problems and needs. This will make your emails even more tailored and valuable to your recipients.
10. Direct the "Reply to:" address to a real person. Email is inherently a form of two-way communication. Respect that. If your recipients feel the need to reply to one of your emails, enable them to reply to an actual person in your marketing department. The "Reply to:" address should be sent to someone's name and personal email address, not a general 'email@example.com' address.
12. Offer a plain text version. While it's totally acceptable to spice up your emails with HTML, always offer an unformatted, plain text version, as well. Because not all email clients know how to properly render HTML, offering the option of plain text viewing will enable those recipients to read your email regardless.
13. Make sure emails are mobile-friendly. It's no longer enough to make sure your emails are readable in multiple email clients. According to a recent email marketing report from Return Path, email opens on mobile devices increased by 34% from April 2011 through September 2011 as compared to the previous 6 month period. And of those mobile email viewers, 43% check their email 4 or more times per day, according to Markle. As mobile usage continues to increase, you need to make sure your emails can be easily read on such devices as smartphones and tablets, too. Take the necessary steps to optimize your emails for mobile devices. (Good news for HubSpot customers: The HubSpot software automatically mobile-optimizes your emails for you!)
14. Leave out SPAM trigger words. Including SPAM trigger words in your email's subject line will not only make your email sound spammy to readers and discourage them from opening it, but it will also run you the risk of bypassing recipients' inboxes and landing straight in their SPAM boxes instead. To ensure you're not incorporating any of these SPAM trigger words, bookmark and consult this exhaustive list.
15. Proof/test all email content before you click "send." Face it: we're only human. And humans make mistakes. Hey, even The New York Times recently dealt with the ill-effects of some careless email marketing after sending an email that was meant for just a few hundred recipients to 8.6 million people. Don't let such a faux pas happen to you. Ask a colleague to proof every email you are about to send for grammar, spelling, formatting, and broken links. And always double check that the segment of the list you're about to email is actually the right segment, lest you pull a New York Times.
What other important email marketing etiquette principles do you stick to?
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Posted: 11 Jan 2012 12:45 PM PST
If I were allowed to keep only one piece of advice in my marketing career, that would be, "question conventional wisdom." It's easy to blindly follow the old preachings of industry experts. It's riskier, and often more effective, to take new directions and experiment with the unknown.
We want to take you down the latter path. Our new ebook, 6 Deadly Marketing Myths Busted challenges some widely held marketing theories. Authored by HubSpot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella, this ebook relies on real data to protect you from superstitious bits of bad marketing advice. (The ebook is free and available to all, so make sure you grab your copy today.)
Myth #1: Social media is for conversations, not broadcasting.
Dan's research showed no significant correlation between the number of comments a blog post received and the amount of traffic that blog post generated. In other words, the conversation didn’t drive traffic.
Interestingly enough, Dan also proved that there may be no useful relationship between the amount of feedback (comments and likes) on a Facebook wall post and the number of people who see that wall post. Finally, his research on Twitter showed that highly followed accounts tend to have a lower percentage of their overall tweet stream starting with an “@” sign. In other words, they’re less conversational.
Myth #2: “Please ReTweet” doesn’t work.
Dan's research also showed that tweets containing the phrase “please retweet” received more retweets than tweets that didn't contain either “please retweet” or "please RT." The lesson here is that marketers shouldn't forget to include calls-to-action in their tweets. As Dan writes in his ebook, "If you want someone to take a specific action, you have to actually ask them to do it."
Myth #3: Don’t market on the weekends.
Dan has found that articles tend to be shared on Facebook far more on weekends than on weekdays. Similarly, in his Science of Email Marketing research, he found that emails sent on the weekend had a much higher click-through rate (CTR). The lesson here is that marketers should embrace contra-competitive timing and question conventions.
Myth #4: Don’t call yourself a “guru.”
When Dan analyzed more than five million Twitter accounts using data from Tweet Grader, he found that accounts containing the word “guru” in their bios had 100 more followers than the average user. This shows that you shouldn’t be afraid to identify yourself authoritatively.
Myth #5: Send less email.
In The Science of Email Marketing, Dan found that there was no major drop off in click-through rates when sending more email messages. Instead of worrying about the number of messages you send to your database, what you should be concerned about is your subscriber recency. Dan's research showed that the older a subscriber was, the lower their response rates were.
Myth #6. Klout is worthless.
The argument has been made that Klout isn’t a useful measure of marketing influence. Dan compared Klout score to two other unrelated measurements of marketing effectiveness (inbound links to a website and website traffic) and found a relationship between high Klout scores and incoming links and traffic. This goes to show that social media and other marketing channels are tightly connected and impact each other on levels that we are often unaware of.
Are there any other marketing myths you'd like us to debunk? Share them in the comments below. Don't forget to download the ebook for an in-depth description of the research, including charts and graphs.
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Posted: 11 Jan 2012 10:30 AM PST
Writing the subject lines for your emails can be one of the most stressful steps of email marketing. Is it engaging? Too short? Too long? Too boring? Will people click 'delete' because of it? Or will they open it? Will it even get to them, or will it trigger SPAM filters? It's the last of these concerns that we're here to help with today.
SPAM filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons, causing your email to skip recipients' inboxes and land straight in their SPAM box. One of easiest ways to avoid SPAM filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email's subject line. Trigger words are known to cause problems and increase the chances of your email getting caught in a SPAM trap. By avoiding these words in your email subject lines, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting beyond SPAM filters.
Next time you sit down to write an email subject line, consult the exhaustive list below and make sure you aren't using any words that will get you in trouble. In fact, you might want to bookmark this list so you can refer back to it every time you craft an email subject line. Back off, SPAM filters!
Financial - General
Financial - Business
Financial - Personal
Sense of Urgency
Photo Credit: Arndog
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Posted: 11 Jan 2012 08:15 AM PST
You've probably heard rumblings of it over the past few weeks, and like it or not, the time has finally come: Facebook is now featuring paid advertisements in users' News Feeds.
Yes, right in between photos of your cousin's new baby and your college roommate's update about burning his toast again this morning (lol, am I right?!), you could now see an ad from a company that paid to have it featured in your News Feed. These ads are officially being called "Featured Stories."
But it's not just any company's Featured Stories that can show up in a user's Facebook News Feed; there are two major caveats for placement.
1.) A user will see Featured Stories from brands they have already 'Liked' on Facebook.
2.) Users will also see Featured Stories from brands their friends have liked, even if they haven't liked the brand themselves.
(Therefore, a user will only see Featured Stories from brands they or their friends have Liked.)
The content of a Featured Story can be anything from an update you post on your company Facebook page, to someone liking your page, to someone checking in with you or using your app. If you want to pay for any post or behavior to appear as a Featured Story in News Feeds, you can do so. Users will know they're looking at a Featured Story because, as you see below courtesy of ZDNet, they are marked with the word "Featured." An explanation of what that means appears when a user hovers over the word. However, unless people are staring at their News Feed all day, Facebook anticipates the average user to only see one ad per day.
The social world is in the middle of a battle between free, ad-driven services, and paid, ad-free service. It's unclear which way consumers and the industry are going to lean, but the biggest marketing takeaway in the interim is that we all have to know our audience. Are your fans likely to be turned off by this interruption in their News Feed? Will it cause them to unlike your Facebook page?
I predict this update will be received like most Facebook updates: Users will be up in arms for about a week, and then Featured Stories will settle into the norms of day to day Facebooking. So if you're worried about fan backlash from experimenting with Featured Stories, just wait a short time until the hoopla dies down. After all, Featured Stories gives you the opportunity to get in front of your fans' friends. So even if a few fans unlike your page in the beginning, you're still benefitting from ever-expanding reach as your fan base grows over time.
If you decide to pay for Featured Stories, the most important thing you can do is ensure your content is valuable. If you're choosing to not only interrupt your fans, but to pay to do so, it should be with something so awesome -- remarkable content, a valuable coupon or discount, etc. -- that your fans would regret missing out on.
Finally, make sure you're really, really likeable -- both in the Facebook sense, and as a brand. If your foray into Featured Stories turns out to be a bust, it's crucial that your brand and its Facebook page be likeable enough for your fans to forgive you the misstep. Keep your page content entertaining and useful to ensure you don't suffer a barrage of unlikes from your current fans, or suffer alienating your fans' friends in the process of testing out a new ad tool. But if your Featured Stories are interesting and don't add to the clutter of the News Feed, you shouldn't experience tidal waves of unlikes.
As a marketer, are you excited for Featured Stories in users' news feeds, and will you be experimenting with it? As a Facebook user, do you feel differently?
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Posted: 11 Jan 2012 06:00 AM PST
Pitching to the press is no easy task. Every day, journalists receive thousands of emails from public relations professionals who are pitching their clients' ideas; sometimes hundreds of mass pitches are sent to unsuspecting journalists from just one person in a given day. With such a high quantity of pitches, it is really easy to make a mistake, but it's a shame when those mistakes could've easily been avoided with just a little awareness.
Take a look at the 7 biggest mistakes, and unfortunately some of the most common ones, that PR and marketing professionals make when pitching their stories to journalists. And next time you're pitching your story, make sure you don't fall victim to these public relations faux pas so you can increase your instances of PR success.
1. Forgetting to Follow Up
There is a fine line between calling and emailing a reporter non-stop until they answer you, and leaving a friendly voicemail reminding them about your pitch or sending over a short email following up. Reporters get so much email, that it is easy to lose track of a pitch, even if it's one they're interested in writing about. Give them a day or two to think about the email, and then make your contact. But most importantly, keep track of who you follow up with so you do not contact those who have already said "no."
2. Pitching at the Wrong Time
On a Friday afternoon, your email will not only get lost in the other mass emails from the week, but journalists will also not want to talk to you. It is almost the weekend, and many people will already be out of the office. It is also important to figure out what times the reporters are on deadline because they will not be interested in hearing new pitches; they'll be busy finishing up some of their other stories. Timing is EVERYTHING.
3. Depending Solely on Press Releases
Press releases used to be the best way to get out messages about new developments. But in a world dominated by social media and short messages, press releases are not always the most successful way to announce something new. Press releases are still useful, but they should not be the only tool used. Combining press releases with email pitches that have bullet points of the main information in the press release can be the perfect combination to get the press you are looking for. It gives your media contacts the wherewithal to disseminate your information in other ways that may be even more beneficial for you.
4. Not Conducting Research About a Reporter
When you are pitching a reporter, make sure you are knowledgeable about his or her past articles. Research what topics he or she likes to write about and whether or not the reporter has written about competitors. Also conduct research on the news source that reporter works for to see what type of topics they have written about in the past. Having this context will make the pitch much stronger and make your conversation with reporters more relevant, increasing your likelihood of coverage.
5. Not Doing Background Research On YOUR Industry
It is important to know a lot of information about your own industry, competitors, and other press in these areas. Before you get on the phone with a reporter, know all of this information like the back of your hand so your answers aren't generic, but rather speak to the meaty topics in your industry. Competitive and industry knowledge will let you, and thus the reporter, position you correctly in their coverage.
6. Making Careless Mistakes
With the large quantity of pitches public relations professionals send out every day, it is all too easy to make a careless mistake. Unfortunately, that usually guarantees your email goes right in the trash or your voicemail is deleted. In addition to proofing for grammatical errors, make sure you're not misspelling a reporter's name in a pitch, using the wrong news source, or point blank including incorrect information to ensure you're taken seriously.
7. Not Personalizing Your Pitch
No one wants to be on the receiving end of mass communication. Every pitch should make the reporter feel like he or she is special and that you put a lot of thought into a pitch that was appropriate for just one reporter. Whether that means referencing past articles that the reporter has written or connecting with them via Twitter or other social media networks, it is a necessary step to get their attention.
What egregious mistakes have you seen public relations professionals make when pitching to reporters?
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Posted: 10 Jan 2012 04:00 PM PST
This is a guest blog post written by Jamie Turner, founder and chief content officer of the 60 Second Marketer. In addition, Jamie is the co-author of the book Go Mobile, written with Jeanne Hopkins, VP of marketing @HubSpot. He is a regular guest on CNN and HLN on the topic of digital marketing and is a popular mobile marketing speaker at events and corporations around the globe.
If you’re like a lot of people, you may be wondering how to use mobile marketing to generate leads for your business. For HubSpot users, the good news is that you have a head start -- the HubSpot platform automatically creates a mobile version of your site for you.
But what should you do next? After you’ve got a mobile website, what mobile tools should you use to attract new customers to your business?
In doing research for our new book Go Mobile, Jeanne Hopkins and I took a deep dive into the most important mobile tools for small- to mid-sized businesses. There are plenty to choose from, including QR codes, mobile apps, SMS (text messaging), location-based services (Foursquare, WHERE, SCVNGR), and mobile display ads.
Out of those listed above, QR codes are one of the easiest to get started with. You’re probably already familiar with QR codes, but if not, they’re the square barcodes like the one on this post that are being used by companies to drive prospects to their websites. On the Go Mobile website, we’re using QR codes to provide clues for a nationwide scavenger hunt for four iPads hidden across the country. Visitors to the site can scan the QR codes to download the clues. To ensure that we capture leads from the promotion, we’re also providing the clues via email for anyone who fills out the form on the site. That way, we capture the lead information so we can re-market to that audience in the future.
A key point to remember about QR codes is that they’re simply a mechanism to engage prospects and customers. In other words, they’re not the end-game, so it’s up to you to figure out how to use them to capture the visitors you drive to your website as leads using landing pages.
How to Create Your Own QR Code Promotion
Creating a QR code promotion is actually pretty simple. Here are the steps we followed when we created the promotion for our iPad nationwide scavenger hunt.
1) Create a Landing Page: First and foremost, you’ll need to create a mobile-optimized landing page. That means a landing page that is designed to be viewed on a smartphone screen. Keep things simple – for example, on a mobile landing page, forms should be kept to a few fields only. Most people don’t have the patience to fill out lengthy forms from a smartphone.
2) Create Your QR Code: Once you’ve created your landing page, copy the URL into a QR code generator. There are plenty of QR code generators on the web, so just do a search for one. Paste your landing page URL into the QR code generator and, like magic, your QR code will be generated on the spot. This QR code is unique to you, so nobody in the world has another one just like it.
3) Add Your QR Code to Your Promotional Materials: Grab your QR code from the generator. On a PC, that means right-clicking it and saving it to your computer. (On a Mac, you can drag and drop.) Now that you have the QR code handy, add it to your promotional materials. That includes any printed materials or websites that are going to be part of the promotion.
4) Let the World Know About Your Promotion: There’s no point in launching a QR Code promotion if you’re not going to let the world know about it. So broadcast your message using your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google + or any of the other social media tools at your disposal. The key part at this stage of the game is to let as many people know about the promotion as possible.
5) Stretch Out the Promotion: For our iPad Scavenger Hunt, we wanted as many people as possible to participate, so we’re uploading a new QR code each day for several weeks. That way, our audience builds, and we’re able to create as much buzz around the promotion as possible.
How to Put QR Codes to Work for Your Business
There are a variety of ways you can use QR codes for your business, and new ones are cropping up every day. Here are some great ideas you can use below. And let us know in the comments about any other ideas we may have missed!
There’s no real mystery to using QR codes to grow your business. All you have to do is generate the code, and drop it into your promotion. Be sure you test the campaign before you go public with it – people who scan your code expect things to work relatively smoothly the first time out of the gate. But other than that, running a QR code promotion is a snap.
Good luck! And let us know about your QR code experiences in the comments section below.
What are you doing to make sure your mobile marketing efforts generate leads? Join us for our free mobile marketing workshop on Thursday, January 12 at 12 PM ET to learn how to master mobile marketing in 2012. Reserve your seat for the webinar here.
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