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Top email marketing practices that small businesses must follow

Creating an email marketing strategy is essential for the success of your small business. Many consumers shop online now, which means that you have to have a strong online presence. A Web site is only as good as the number of quality visitors you get, and email marketing is a great way to drive customers to your destination. Learning about email marketing best practices can help you interact with customers on a mailing list in a way that will compel them to click.

Email Marketing 101

Before creating an email marketing strategy, small business owners need to know the facts behind this kind of marketing. For example, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 instituted strict regulations for email marketing. You have to have permission to email people or you face a potential fine. You may also find all of your emails blocked by Internet service providers if you receive too many spam complaints. To avoid this, make sure you get explicit permission from customers to be put on your mailing list or work only with companies that understand every detail of these email marketing best practices. Insist that every email communication has a link to unsubscribe from the list and a reminder of how the recipient got on the list in the first place to avoid any misunderstandings. You do not want to risk your business’s reputation.

Creating an Email Marketing Plan

To maximize the benefits of your email marketing strategy, create a targeted list of individuals who will be interested in your business. Have signup forms on your Web site to offer visitors the chance to subscribe to your list and partner up with other businesses to piggyback on their mailings. If you choose to work with a data merchant in your industry, ask for references and do your research to see if you can uncover complaints of spamming. After you have an idea of whom you’ll be emailing, it’s time to start creating your messaging. Plan your emails ahead of time so you never have to scramble last minute and send out emails that are lackluster or boring.

Email Marketing Tips

To get the most out of email marketing, your strategy should contain a plan for offering the customers on your list more than just an advertisement. Include weekly tips or other free information that would be interesting to those who signed up for your mailings. Use graphic design products, such as Adobe Photoshop, for lively visuals to grab your customers’ attention. Provide links in the emails to videos, photos and other elements of your Web site that will keep visitors interested once they click over to it. Create how-to videos that offer your customers knowledge. Keeping the members of your list engaged and always looking forward to gaining something from your emails is key to an effective email marketing strategy.

A good email marketing strategy follows the applicable laws as well as garners your potential customers’ trust. To grow your small business, the relationship with your online customers should feel as personable as the relationship you have with those who visit your physical location.

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Important mistakes that every email should avoid

To get the right feedback, it is necessary to make your email marketing flawless. There are a number of common pitfalls that every email marketer is bound to fall into at one point or another.

Here are the mistakes people make when sending mass emails and how you can avoid them.

Forgetting to BCC recipients

Putting your email recipients’ addresses in the to field instead of blind copying them is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when sending a mass email because you have just revealed hundreds or thousands of people’s email addresses, potentially exposing them to all kinds of follow-up spam. The other marketers may add them to their own email lists without permission, and if one recipient accidentally hits reply all, everyone on the thread will be bombarded with unwanted correspondence.

Messing up merge fields

Receiving a marketing email personalized with our names helps to make us feel like valued customers but when personalization goes wrong, the impression you are left with can be worse than if the email simply had a generic greeting. The smallest typo or case sensitivity issue is all it takes to mess up substitution tags. To avoid this mishap, send a live test to a real listto make sure the tags are populating correctly.

Failing to proofread

Small spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are incredibly common in marketing emails and while the odd typo is forgivable, they can create an unprofessional image for your company. Failing to properly proofread is a real risk when the email author is also the editor. Our eyes trick us and you do not see mistakes because of that, always have at least one other person look over your email before you send it.

Failing to check subject line

Subject lines often get overlooked in proofreading but they never get overlooked by your customers. Sending a test email, even just to yourself, is an easy way to spot this one. The gaff might go unnoticed when working in your ESP’s campaign builder, but the subject line is much easier to proofread once in your inbox. When you create segments in your ESP, be sure to clearly label them so there can be no ambiguity. For example, for subscribers to your event mailing list you could have segments such as loyal customers, one time attendees, yet to attend, or students so that you can tailor your message to suit each group. You can choose the recipient segment when you set up a new email campaign, but double check it in your ESP’s dashboard before you hit send.

Sending incorrect segment

Segmenting your audience is a great way to personalize your campaigns and improve your response rate but it does mean you need to be extra careful when selecting the right list to send to. After all, you would not want to send an email to childless singles congratulating them on the birth of their new baby. There were red faces all around when photo-printing site Shutterfly did just that.

Sending test email

Creating a test email to double check your template is a good idea, but sending it out to your entire subscriber base is not such good practice. In order to avoid this mistake in the first place, take extra care to select your ESP’s send test email facility. This will give you the option to either enter email addresses, or select other users on the account to receive the test.

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Best ways to make your email more responsive

Email are part and parcel of our life and we need to know the right ways to draft them in order to get results. You might think you spend the majority of your time at work sitting in meetings or talking on the phone, but you could be wrong. In fact, a significant portion of your work week could be spent writing, ready, and responding to emails.

Here are some pointers that every emailer must follow.

Descriptive subject line

Your subject line should outline the reason for your email so the recipient is compelled to open and answer it. It should also be clear and succinct as after all, if your subject line is clear, your email will likely be, too. Try avoiding full sentences and only putting the meatiest part of your reason for emailing in the subject line.

To the point

In the opening lines of your email, you might be tempted to enumerate on your credentials or your organization, but you can do that later. Instead, the opening line of your email should immediately get to the point so the recipient immediately understands what is being asked of them.

Basic language

Resist the urge to use industry jargon or flowery language and stick to the basics. Make your sentences clear, straightforward, and short, if a sentence requires more than one comma, consider breaking it into two sentences. The easier your email is to understand, the easier it will be for the recipient to quickly respond.

Use numbers

There are a few ways you can use numbers and statistics in your email that will make it easier to attract and keep the recipient’s attention. Numbered list probably drew the eye of the readers more than writing that out in paragraph format would have. Formatting helps too, more on that later.

Keep it short

Researchers analyzed over five years of emails, and they found that shorter emails resulted in faster response times. That is helpful when you consider that reading and responding to emails can eat up so many hours in your week. Shorter emails help you and the recipient spend less time writing and replying to emails, which makes everyone more productive.

Add bullet points

Whenever possible, use bullet points or a numbered list to organize your email structure. Bullets do not require full sentences, so you can use fewer words to get the same message across. They help break up the formatting of an email to maintain the reader’s attention. Bulleted or numbered lists help clearly outline steps in a process that need to be taken, which is useful for email documenting meetings or initiatives.

Ask clearly

Some emails have clear asks, and some emails do not. Either way, make sure to clearly state what exactly you need from the recipient of your email to make it easier for them to reply. Whether you need them to edit a blog post, attend a meeting, or you do not need any specific action from them at that time, make sure that is the last line of your email. The final line of your email will likely be most memorable, so if the recipient does not reply right away, they will be able to easily remember what they need to do next.

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Top ways to create cinemagraph in email

People are lookingforwars to video content. Cinemagraph is a unique tableau with meticulously added cinematic effects. It is truly a revolution among revolutions. Hope you have read about the popularity and potential of cinemagraphs in email in our previous post. Monks take you a step ahead now with insights on how to create a cinemagraph.

Great idea

An idea is the first step to creating a cinemagraph. Look around for an idea and craft a plan. Choose your subject and the action that you want to capture in the video. Figure out the parts that should move and the parts that should remain still. Make sure you keep minimum movement in the cinemagraph and maintain its finesse. An idea gives way to another idea. Here are some that can inspire you for more.

Record video

Once you have zeroed down on an idea, go ahead and record the video. The primary requirement for recording a good video is having sufficient light. If you shoot out in the open, you will easily get good lighting. Keep the recording stable with the help of a tripod. While you are recording the video, your subject should have the least possible movement. You should record your video for 10 to 15 seconds to ensure that you can have a working space in the video with steady movements in the subject.

Import and clip

Import the video to Photoshop by choosing video frames to layers in the import option of file menu. Make sure you import only the necessary part of the video. You will see a dialog box that lets you clip the video. This is an important step because it allows you to cut down the number of video frames to work on. It will give you an option to limit the video frames too, but it is advisable that you do not limit the frame rate if you want enough frames to work on. You should be able to see the Timeline when you choose timeline in the Window menu. However, make sure that you do not mix it up with the video timeline of photoshop. After the video is imported, all the imported frames in your Timeline will be visible to you at the bottom of the photoshop window. Go to the timeline and select the speed at which you want your video to play and make the right choice according to the kind of cinemagraph you wish to create. It should neither be too slow nor too fast. To create an infinite loop, set the imeline to repeat forever. The next step is to play the video in photoshop and delete the frames other than the ones you wish to show.

Create mask

Assuming that you have a video just the way you wanted it to be, do proceed to creating a cinemagraph. You will need a layer to mask the layers on each frame and cover up all the areas except the one where you need movement. Choose the first frame in your Timeline, and in the Layers panel, duplicate the layer that you can see in the frame. Bring it up above all the remaining layers ensuring that it is visible. This is known as layer mask. You can rename it the way you want. At this point of time, your video will not show any movement as the mask has covered it. This implies that you have frozen your video. To create a cinemagraph, all you need to do is unfreeze the area.

Edit mask

Go to the layer panel and select the mask layer. At the bottom of the panel, you will be able to see add layer mask icon. Just select the new white mask layer, and not the image layer. Start to paint the areas where you wish to see movement. Use brush tool rather than the Eraser tool. Contrary to using Eraser, you can easily edit masks if you have masked a wrong area by mistake. Determine whether you want to reverse and after you are done with masking, you should decide whether you want to reverse the cinemagraph. If you decide to reverse the cinemagraph, you can select the frames in your timeline and then reverse them after duplicating the frames.

Export cinemagraph

Go to File menu and choose the save for web option to export the final cinemagraph. There are several options in the dialog box out of which the most important one is to save your file in gif format. Before saving, resize the image so that it performs well on your website or blog from the Image Size option. In case you are unable to resize the image to an optimum level, you can even do so with the help of online gif resizing tools. You can preview the gif in the dialog box and click save only after you feel content with your creation.

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Vital features that ESPs must have

ESPs are very important to have in the email marketing busines. From the first email system that was developed in 1971, emails have evolved and changed and have also gained popularity among masses. Today, 269 billion emails are sent daily, as per the 2017-2021 Radicati email statistical report. More so, by the end of 2021; worldwide email users is estimated to be over 4.1 billion – and that’s a huge market. Changes in terms of the UI, additional features or even simplification of existing features are an indication that ESPs are drastically changing to accommodate this massive email shift. In our coding journey we Monks come across many different ESPs and are on a lookout for some features that all ESPs should have.

Social sharing

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. are some of the few social platforms that have gained popularity over the years. These platforms are great to connect with prospective clients. However, some emails lack social sharing tabs that can otherwise help boost popularity and connections along with increasing open and click rates. It offers an option to add a social sharing feature within your email template, it limits you from creating custom social sharing tabs. You have to make do with the one provided by the ESP and unfortunately, other major ESPs do not have any provision for social sharing. This option is majorly used for the articles or newsletter emails that are worth sharing on social platforms. However, as this is not a feature included by any ESP, it is unfortunately not possible for all email marketers to have them in their Email Template.

Add event to calendar

Time management is a great yet rare skill. As humans, with so much to do and such little time in hand, it is natural to miss out on certain important dates and occasions. This will not only keep your life on track but will also help marketers increase conversion rates. Again, it is not available in all ESPs. But with one-off emails that are time bound and invitation based, it’s mandatory to send ICS or calendar invite helping them save the date.

Forward To Friend

Forwarding an email to your friend is something every email marketing manager will either love or hate the most. Hate because the rendering goes haywire if HTML email is forwarded from Outlook or Thunderbird. Love because this is a great way to allow subscribers to forward your email campaigns to their friends and get more opens and clicks. Doing this without the entire layout being ruined is a challenge if forward is done using email client. But including a Forward to a Friend link of ESP within all your email campaigns can help increase and boost open and click-through rates. A forward to a friend form must have certain required details such as your friend’s name, their email id, your name and email id and a message optional. This process creates a list and then forwards the exact email to your friend.

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