Your audience varies. While you may appreciate a long-copy whitepaper, another prospect may simply want to review a feature list before they contact you for business. This great infographic from ContentPlus, a UK-based content marketing service, provides an overview of the variety of content offerings that exist, why they work, and some supporting data. They also have an accompanying blog post that ties it all together.
Internet users have become sophisticated content consumers in recent years, and their preferences continue to evolve. Gone are the days when brands could satisfy their audiences’ needs by just publishing bog-standard posts that conveyed the same information as everyone else in their industry. The organisations that leverage content marketing successfully today are the ones that deliver compelling content in the formats preferred by their audiences, and this is the topic of our new infographic Content Strategy Pick ‘n’ Mix.
We had a hunch that word choice in email subject lines have a strong effect on response rates. So, we tested 287 keywords across a sample of 2.2bn emails to see which work, and which don’t.
Why? Because President Obama has done more for email marketing than any world leader in the history of mankind. How? By focusing on subject line testing, his digital team optimised their donation campaigns to generate hundreds of millions of dollars online.
Despite Obama’s best efforts, most marketers still view email marketing as the Bluth Company’s Banana Stand of Arrested Development fame: a more boring and less sexy marketing channel than pretty much anything else imaginable.
But – and never forget this – there’s always money in the banana stand! There is great power in optimising subject lines.
In case you missed my presentations at MarketingWeekLive last week, you can find out more about our findings after the jump.
We tested a random sample of 95,000 global, English-language campaigns over the last 12 months (for a total of 2.2bn emails), and have isolated 287 popular ‘trigger words’.
Then, split by sector, we looked at the correlation between the word’s inclusion in the subject line and its variance above or below the average results for key email metrics (Open Rate, CTR, CTOR, and Unsubscribe).
To ensure outliers aren’t confusing things, we’ve also looked at the first, second and third quartiles to give an indication of data spread, not just nominal long-run means.
Bear in mind, these relationships are correlated, but not necessarily causal. There are simply too many variables in an email campaign to pinpoint exact causation. But, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and at the very least, this will give you many ideas for what to test.
And now some key findings:
People love free stuff
In related news, water is wet. Specific trigger words have a drastic effect on the response rates of offers. For example, ‘Sale’ delivers +23.2% opens, but ‘Save’ only +3.4%.
However, in terms of click throughs, they give +60.7% and -25.2% respectively. When you promote your offers, consider testing those trigger words – it could make or break your campaigns.
And, consider simple quick wins like ‘Free Delivery’ or even ‘% off’ – in the right context these keywords can drive massive response uplifts. But, if you do nothing but hard sell and offer discounts all the time, your customers will become bored and tune out.
Mix up your offer emails in a series of value-adding campaigns.
Content marketing works when the content isn’t crap
The problem with content marketing is the vast majority of content produced is crap. Too many people have outsourced it to agencies that don’t know enough about their clients’ markets, and focus on the wrong metrics. As a result, consumers have become anesthetised to content.
Take, for example, ‘Report’ (-23.7% opens, -54.8% CTR) and Webinar’ (-16.6%, -70.7%.)
Conversely if the content is good, people will consume it. So ‘News’ (+34.8%, +47.7%), ‘Bulletin’ (+15.8%, +12.7%) and ‘Video’ (+18.5%, +64.8%) work well.
Simply put, if your content is crap, it won’t work. If your content is good, you’ll get great results. When doing content marketing, make sure you’re in the latter group, not the former, or else you’ll be what we affectionately call in the industry a “spamming %$*!$#“.
More frequent emails are better than less frequent
Typical for an email guy to say, right? Full disclosure, when people send out more emails, ESPs make more money, this is true. But, if emails drive response and therefore generate revenue, then what’s the problem?
But, don’t take my word for it. We looked at newsletter frequency, and specifically the trigger words that indicate it. ‘Monthly’ brought -26.6% opens and -37.0% clicks. ‘Weekly’ brought +27.1% and +50.6% (not bad) and, amazingly, ‘Daily’ brought +27.8% and +100.3%. Simply put, more email drives more response.
And it’s not just us saying this, check this out if you’re sceptical.
Personalisation works, if your data is clean
Lots of people have played around with subject line personalisation, with varied results. We found the average opens and clicks decrease (-20.7% opens). But, the spread of the data is massive. The first quartile is -73.1%, but the third quartile is +30.8%. Why is this?
The main thing about personalisation is to ensure you don’t deliver users a disjointed user experience. If the subject line is personalised, but the email content isn’t, guess what? You may gain opens, but have done nothing to drive clicks. It leaves users with a negative experience.
Furthermore, if the subsequent online journey isn’t equally personalised, once again you’ve left your users feeling like you’ve given them the old bait-n-switch.
Most importantly, if your database is old and potentially incorrect, you’re in trouble. Eyeball your data first and pick recent, engaged data for testing personalised content.
There’s always money in the banana stand
This report analysed a vast sample of subject lines. More than anything, it showed there is lots of short-run variance in every keyword sample. What matters is that you test things out to your lists, and never stay standing still. What works one week may not work the next, but if you aren’t trying out new things then you’re treading water and ultimately throwing away money.
Email still delivers the strongest revenue of any digital channel by a country mile (source). In all your tweeting, pinning, and facebooking, are you making sure you dedicate enough time to your email subject lines?
Remember – of Obama’s 30 person digital team, 24 of them were focused on email.
They knew that there’s always money in the banana stand.
To see the full list of keywords (287 common words were tested in addition to the ones above), you can download the report. (Registration required – Ed)
There are hundred of apps that claim to “increase productivity” and “optimize company workflow,” but how many apps actually do? We’ve selected a list of 8 apps that actually make your workday easier, and team collaboration more enjoyable in the process.
Did we miss any of your favorite team collaboration apps? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.
Dropbox is the quintessential app for file-sharing and document collaboration. Through Dropbox, you can share PDFs, files and folders. When you star a file, you can access it offline later on.
The free app comes with 2.5 GB of free storage space, with options to upgrade your account at a flat rate of $100 per year for 100 GB of space. Dropbox also offers 250 MB of storage for free when you complete five out of seven Getting Started tasks.
Flow makes project management incredibly easy and collaborative. Many business apps try to do too much, resulting in an overwhelming and stress-inducing experience. Flow’s clean, simple design, however, brings a zen-like peace of mind to task management. Plan a project by creating a folder, adding in lists for each project component and writing in an itemized task for each list. You can delegate tasks to co-workers via email, even if the person you’re delegating the task to doesn’t have a Flow account.
The activity log helps everyone involved in a project see when someone is assigned a task and when someone completes it.
This app is ideal if you work in any kind of visually creative field. From planning concert brochures to laying out next month’s magazine cover, Skitch makes it easy to communicate visually.
Image courtesy of Evernote
Salesforce offers an array of options for business-related apps that run on the cloud for seamless work-integration and collaboration.
The Sales Cloud is Salesforce’s CRM app. Its Leaderboard feature shows each sales team member’s rank. It also comes with access to a prioritized list of your top leads so that you can see them all on one page. The Sales Cloud also includes a page with customer contact information and links to their social profile so you can monitor their interaction with your brand on social media.
Social.com is a social advertising management app and is part of Salesforce’s Social Marketing platform. This app helps you manage all of your ad campaigns across every social media platform, from Twitter to Facebook. Social.com helps you target a specific audience and time of day in order to maximize your social reach. It automatically runs higher performing ads, so you get the most out of your campaigns. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud recently expanded its “listening” power to China and Russia through deals with each country’s primary social network.
The Service Cloud is Salesforce’s Customer Service app. It brings together all of your company’s customer support into one place and then directs certain issues to the appropriate channel, whether it’s to a 1-800 number, email address or social media channel. If there’s any problems fixing a problem, the Service Cloud has a task status feature that you can “Escalate” in order to alert your coworkers of the issue and solve the problem collaboratively. You can even facetime with customers through the app. The Weekly Agent Productivity feature provides incentive to solve situations quickly, while the customer satisfaction metrics let you know how good of a job your team is doing.
Dynamics Business Analyzer is Microsoft’s free CRM app. The app requires Windows 8 or Windows RT to run, and features a colorful metrics dashboard so you can copy, edit, view and refresh reports directly on your desktop. You can customize which reports you want to include on the dashboard, ranging from gross profit reports to sales per month reports. This app integrates with the Windows 8 edition of Lync so that co-workers can collaborate directly on the reports.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
6. Google Apps
The Google Apps for Business suite includes the Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides for collaboration in the cloud. Google offers a free 30-day trial and charges $5 per employee.
Google Hangouts is also a popular business app by Google. Hangouts are especially useful if you have employees who work remotely, as they can participate virtually in meetings and brainstorm sessions. You can share photos or emojis and add up to 10 friends per hangout.
Tempo is a calendar management tool that pulls in contextual information about your daily events — from contact information to driving directions. Every day, Tempo generates a daily schedule that you can preview either in calendar or list view.
Tempo is not specifically targeted toward businesses, but it can be especially helpful for pulling in email information about meetings or corporate events. The app comes with built-in Foursquare and Yelp integration, so locating your meeting is painless.
Evernote Business breaks down communication barriers between departments. This democratization of knowledge facilliates collaborative problem solving, which drives faster solutions. Evernote Business also makes it easier for customer feedback to influence strategy.
Evernote Business easily integrates with your existing Evernote account and grants you access to Evernote Premium. With a Premium account, you get access to 2 GB of personal memory a month, and your company gets an extra 2 GM to share in Business Notebooks.