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Best Practice B2C Email Marketing Subject Lines

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

We’ve been talking a lot recently about ways to improve the emails we do for our clients. In striving to create the best work we’re capable of, we’ve been doing a lot of research in all aspects of email marketing.

One of the most overlooked parts of the email is the subject line. It has to be compelling enough to get someone to read the email, succinct enough to display properly in the recipient’s email client, and worded in such a way as to communicate an offer or incentive without sounding overly cheesy.

Here are some of the best tips I found for writing Best Practice B2C Email Marketing Subject Lines.

Length

Direct Marketing News recommends keeping subject lines at 35 characters or less–subject lines that are much longer may be cut off in certain email clients on screens with smaller resolutions. Keeping a subject line short and to-the-point helps keep emails easily scannable.

(A quick check of my own email client shows that emails are cut off after about 50 characters–but I have a pretty high-res widescreen monitor). It’s important to aim for the lowest common denominator so as not to exclude anybody from your message.

WIIFM?

Gail Goodman at Entrepreneur.com advocates that marketers consider “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) from the recipient’s point of view to ensure the subject lines of B2C emails are enticing enough to click. Is there a special offer or promotion that will peak a consumer’s interest? Think about how your audience will react to your subject line. You want to dangle the carrot without sounding spammy.

Don’t Repeat Yourself

This article suggests not repeating the sender name in the subject line–your reader has already seen it in the “From” field. With the limited amount of character space, it’s best to keep the subject line meaningful and direct without namedropping in the subject line.

Use Your Consumer Data for Good

DJ Waldo writes on the Email Experience Council’s blog about the power of personalization. He received a B2C email with his (previous) location in the subject line and felt inclined to open the email. Depending on the consumer data available, there’s a lot of personalization that can be done to increase open rates.

Make It Your Own

Through testing and tracking, you can test and optimize what works best for your clients’ recipient lists. Find out what calls to action work best. Are they coupons? Contests or promotions? New product announcements? It’ll vary from client to client. Use your best judgment and track the open rates and click-through rates so you can improve further in the future. Your clients will thank you.

Our Favorite Search Engine Optimization Tools

December 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of any online marketing strategy. Here at DigitalDay, we work with a number of SEO tools to determine the best results for our clients. Particularly, we use tools like Wordtracker, SpyFu, and Google Analytics to closely monitor the most frequently searched keywords, determine the best keywords for paid and organic searches, analyze traffic, and look to see where our clients’ competitors stand.

Wordtracker is a great tool to check for related keywords. I entered “scuba gear” and the site returned suggestions for “snorkel,” “dive equipment,” and “wetsuit” among others. From this point, I can enter any one of these keywords into another field to see how frequently they appear in Wordtracker’s database, which utilizes a metacrawler that queries major search engines for popular keywords.

SpyFu is a useful tool that checks the keywords and pay-per-click (PPC) keywords of any site. It’s helpful in strategizing a successful campaign–if you can see what your client’s competitor is using, you can concentrate on areas that your competitor is overlooking. By making the best use of this information, we can plan an effective organic search and PPC campaign.

Google Analytics, probably one of the most helpful tools (and the only free one) of the bunch, has an array of helpful features. From a basic overview of statistics to in-depth analyses of keywords, traffic sources, and visitor information, Google Analytics is the most comprehensive tool of the bunch.

By using these tools and others, we can formulate custom SEO strategies for our clients and help them attract the audiences they’re looking for.

Categories: DigitalDay News

Ads that defy convention can generate more buzz than traditional ads ever could

September 23, 2008 Leave a comment

As a copywriter at a full-service web design and online marketing agency in Northeast Ohio, I can appreciate a good ad when I see one. It doesn’t matter if the ad is printed, filmed or published online–a good piece of advertising will stick with you. Who can forget the Geico caveman or the Budweiser frogs? Such campaigns can leave a lasting effect on their audiences. This can mean big sales when the consumer is ready to buy and thinks favorably of a certain brand or product.

There are plenty of clever ads out there—here’s one that I read about recently.

A campaign in San Francisco for a new video game called “Spore” (ad pictures and discussion here) features a tiny billboard so small that it requires a telescope to see. People were drawn to look through the fixed telescope and see the 14” x 7” advertisement, mounted on a building far away.

The ad is effective because it’s out of the ordinary. People will go out of their way to look through the telescope to see the ad. Had it been a conventional billboard, people might have passed it without thinking twice. By defying convention, the agency behind the ad successfully managed to have people take notice of the ad and talk about it. By getting people to discuss the advertisement, the agency successfully generated more buzz for the product than a normal billboard ever could.

While this is just one example of an outdoor ad, Web agencies like ours can challenge the norm of online advertising with creative ways of informing consumers of our clients’ products and services. By utilizing the latest Web technologies, we can create new and interesting ways of conveying information.

Designing for the Mobile Web

August 12, 2008 1 comment

If you can remember the last time we talked about it, you’ll remember that the Web is moving to, well, people’s pockets. As more and more smart phones become capable of accessing the web, new design issues arise. How do you design a site for a screen with a screen resolution smaller than the eight-year-old 800×600 standard? The answer is very delicately.

It starts with your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Understanding who they are and what they’re looking for is the first step you need to take. As this guy weighs in, there are three types of mobile web user: the casual surfer, the repeat visitor, and the “urgent, now!” visitor.

1.    The casual surfer is looking for nothing in particular. Perhaps he’s playing with his iPhone waiting in the drive-through line, or she’s browsing on her Blackberry before her flight takes off. The point is that no one is that it’s an informal and short site visit—the information should be organized clearly and effectively or the visitor will leave.

2.    The repeat visitor is seeking new content. Regular updates will keep this type of user more interested and involved in checking your mobile site.

3.    The third kind of visitor is looking for information and they want it ASAP. If your information isn’t properly organized, they’ll simply find a better way to find what they’re looking for. It is critical you’re your site is easier to navigate than the sites of your competitors.

Once you’ve planned your site, it’s time for design. It’s best to keep it simple—the mobile Best Buy web site, for example, has just two search fields: one to help find a product and one to find the closest store. When designing for the online web, less is most certainly more.

Ultimately, your design is for your audience and not your portfolio. It is important to remember that in mobile web design form follows function. If your potential customers can’t easily navigate your site they’ll leave to find a site that will work for them.

The Benefits of Proactive Search Engine Optimization

July 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Here at our Cleveland-based web design agency DigitalDay, we’ve been talking about the importance of good page titles, meta tags, descriptions and alt tags for search engine optimization and it seemed like a good time to mention this blog post. Author Paul Elliot suggests that optimizing a site for search engines is far more effective if implemented at the beginning of the design process rather than post-launch—and he’s right.

While the temptation to rush a project through the design process may be enticing, the benefits of proper search engine optimization definitely outweigh the few weeks saved by cutting corners and not focusing on optimization efforts from the beginning.

Amit Singhal spills the beans about Google search technology in this recent post, giving a little insight into how the world’s most popular search engine can adapt user queries to find relevant information. As he says, search has moved from “give me what I said to give me what I want.” Even as technologies improve, if Google can’t find your site, your potential customers can’t find you either. Who your would-be customers will find, though, is one of your competitors.

As crawlers become more sophisticated, factors such as URL formatting, directory structure, file names of graphical elements, and even comments in HTML markup are becoming more important in helping spider-based search engines determine the fullest extent of a site’s content.

When designing a site with heavy use of Adobe Flash, AJAX or Javascript, it is important to think of the spiders and allow your site to be indexed with proper usage of page titles, meta tags, and descriptions. Although even now, Adobe, Yahoo, and Google have teamed up to make spiders index Flash .SWF files. This makes planning even more important as poorly organized .SWF files, once irrelevant to SEO, can bog down a site’s PageRank.

SEO doesn’t stop at the content development stage, however. As Paul Elliot mentions, “poorly formed code that is difficult for the spiders to traverse can negatively impact ranking performance.” Coding in CSS allows the relevant content information to be at the top of the page with everything else following it.

Keeping these SEO basics in mind can save a lot of headache later. Elliot compared “four projects in which optimization was a post-launch initiative to four projects in which optimization was include in the initial scope of the design…” and found that “on average, the post-launch method of search engine optimization led to incremental redesign project costs of roughly 30%.” This is no small amount of money for something that could have been avoided.

Money isn’t the only cost of delaying search engine optimization. The cost of lost opportunity can be far greater. “The process of ranking for competitive terms,” writes Elliot, “can take upwards of six months.” Elliot found that “the integrated approach to SEO, in which optimization activities are embedded in the redesign project scope, can shave roughly five months off of the time that is required to achieve top organic search engine listings.” This time is invaluable in getting your product or service to the top of Google’s PageRank, allowing you to inform the searching public about your company.

Like so many other things, it pays to do the job the right way the first time.

Categories: Internet, Search Engine Marketing Tags:

The Decline of E-mail and the Future of Electronic Marketing

July 17, 2008 1 comment

If teen Internet use is any indication of the future of Internet communication (and I would surmise that it is), it would seem that e-mail is on the way out. In a recent article published in the Miami Herald, author Rachel Leibrock explores the way Generation Y uses the Internet and her results are not surprising. She references a pair of 2007 studies that found that, “while 92 percent of surveyed adults said they regularly used e-mail, only 16 percent of teens made it a part of daily life…” So teens are shying from e-mail—where, then, are they going?

The studies found they’re moving to more instant and mobile means. Text messaging, instant messaging and social network site messaging are all increasingly becoming a part of the daily lives of teenagers.  Messages via these mediums require near-instant attention—it’s far easier to ignore an e-mail in an inbox than a bouncing IM icon on the dock.  Even here at DigitalDay, we’re all connected via Skype.  Its instant message feature has proved invaluable for our interoffice communication.

E-mail is still useful, albeit in a different capacity.  E-mail serves as a way to keep an official time-stamped record of communication. The “CC” feature is a convenient way to include people on projects who may not necessarily be involved but still have an interest in the status of the project.  It also functions as one of our primary ways of contacting clients.

While e-mail hasn’t gone the way of the buffalo just yet, what happens when Generation Y takes their Internet habits with them as they age into certain target market demographics?  What does this mean for the future of e-mail marketing?

Shar VanBoskirk, senior analyst at Forrester Research, a technology consulting and market research company, explains that, “…the focus becomes less on sending out as many messages as you can and instead on running analytics to figure out whom you should be sending messages to, or tech integration so that your e-mail program is better aligned with your customer service or your database marketing efforts.”

As people grow increasingly less dependent on e-mail as their primary form of electronic communication, the future of electronic marketing lies in brains, not bulk. Dynamic elements such as Quova’s geo-targeting will become even more crucial in marketing towards certain demographics. Geo-targeting makes an e-mail relevant to a certain location, enabling the marketer to pinpoint the target’s location down to the zip code.  Testing e-mail blasts and tracking clicks will help electronic marketers find the most effective applications of their strategies.

E-mail marketing will spread past e-mail, thinks Ken Magill, a media watchdog for DIRECT magazine.  Cell phone text messaging services already exist and will probably expand in the future.  Marketing via social network sites may very well be a possibility.

No matter which medium the majority of consumers decide to embrace, one thing is certain: effective marketers will adapt and use relevant content and advanced technology to stay ahead of the curve.