5 Tips for Writing Killer Email Subject Lines

We recently discussed best practices for developing an email-timing strategy. Of course, it doesn’t matter what time you send your e-blast if no one opens it! Today we discuss the top factor between you and your readers’ eyes–the email subject line. Here are 5 tips for writing killer email subject lines:

1. It’s Personal
Despite popular belief, personalizing you email’s greeting does not improve your open rate. MailChimp instead reports that personalizing the “from” field of your email and adding localization–including a city or neighborhood in the subject line–will increase email open rates.

2. Spamalot
It’s general knowledge that using the word “free” in your subject line will send you straight to the spam folder. But according to MailChimp, there are three other must-avoid words for your subject line: “reminder,” “percent off,” and “help.”

3. Short is Sweet
Many in the web marketing industry acknowledge that an email subject line must be under 50 characters. And many e-newsletters have had excellent success with a simple one-word subject line! During his last presidential campaign, Barack Obama had striking success with with this subject line: Hey.

4. Keep it Fresh
MailChimp also warns against repeating subject lines: a stale subject line is a great way to decrease your open rate fast. If you are running an ongoing campaign, be sure to change up your subject lines for each mailing.

5. On Target
We can’t emphasize the importance of a well thought out, non-spammy subject line enough. But it’s also really important to send your email to a relevant list of people! Are you segmenting prior to your mailing? Be sure to consider who will be reading your email before you write and send it.

Litmus.com offers an excellent subject line infographic:

subject line infographic


We’d love to hear about your success with email marketing! Join the conversation in the comments section below.

2015 SEO and PPC Trends

I recently attended an excellent 2015 SEO and PPC Trends webinar by Krista LaRiviere of gShift and Chris Doran of Acquisio. Their presentation was packed with useful information and engaging graph-filled slides. Big thanks to both of them for such a well-planned and informative session! What follows is a summary of what Krista and Chris covered during the webinar.

5 SEO and PPC Trends to Watch in 2015:

1. Increase in Voice Search
Most consumers have smart phones these days, and in October 2014 the number of devices surpassed the number of people in the world. With that, more and more people are using voice-based search. When we use voice search, we tend to speak in full sentences. As search marketers, we need to account for the difference between conversational voice search and pared-down keyword phrases typically used in searches via desktop browsers.

We’ll also likely begin seeing a change in ad formats as voice search continues to become more common. It will be interesting to see how digital marketing grows alongside user behavior!

2. Mobile Growth for Paid Search
Mobile paid search on Google properties is up 14%. And the amount of online purchasing occurring via mobile is huge: 79% of users make purchasing decisions via their phones and 50% make purchases on mobile devices with an hour of their search. As a comparison, the average delay between search and purchase on desktop is one month.

Why is purchasing behavior so different for mobile users? Customers conducting searches on mobile devices are looking to meet an immediate need, are doing price comparisons or looking for local products, and are looking for a streamlined experience. This means optimizing websites for mobile use is more important than ever.

3. Video Ads and Vlogs
You like watching videos on YouTube or Vimeo, right? Most of us do. And with that, more and more content marketing strategies contain a video component these days. Does your business offer a vlog? You will benefit from vlogging in the following ways: you’ll be offering your audience an alternate way to consume content; you’ll be expanding your digital footprint; your video can be indexed and discoverable within 15 minutes of uploading to YouTube. Your vlog does not have to be fancy, so why not get started today?

4. Native Ads
Native ads are becoming more and more popular because they look so natural. A lot of times, we don’t even realize we are looking at an advertisement when we see a native ad! LaRiviere projects that we’ll soon see a pivot point in which there will be more and more ads and therefore less integration.

Native advertising is growing quickly and will reach $5.7 billion this year. Yahoo, in particular, is investing in this trend. So how do we use it? Your SEO and content strategy can inform and drive your native advertising campaign. Consider boosting your owned and earned content with native ads. Why not?

5. Continued Growth in Digital Marketing Technology
There has been a 100% growth in digital vendors this year. Look at chiefmartec.com‘s 2015 Digital Marketing Landscape. Incredible!

When asked what marketers thought the year’s most exciting opportunity would be in 2014, here is what they predicted compared to what actually happened:

2014 digital marketing survey

What aspect of the digital marketing world are you most excited about this year?

When is the Best Time to Send Email?

When it comes to email marketing, the million dollar question is: when do I send it? Any e-newsletters and promotions we send are competing for readers’ attention before they even reach inboxes: demanding workdays, busy personal lives, and floods of business-related emails–not to mention the other promotions competing to be seen!

Determining the best time to send email promotions depends on your audience and can vary greatly by industry. Start by looking back at previous email campaigns to see what worked best for your company in the past.

Email timing has also been studied and researched by numerous marketers and below are some highlights of recent findings that will help you develop guidelines for email testing strategies:

-Don’t mail on Mondays.
You aren’t the only one who is really busy at the beginning of the week! Your email is likely to be lost among everything that came in over the weekend. Many consider Tuesday to be the best day to send email; Wednesday and Thursday are favorable as well. By Friday, people are more focused on weekend plans and completing to-do lists than inboxes, so avoid this day as well.

-Don’t send email promotions while your target audience is sleeping.
E-blasts sent overnight tend to go unseen. If it arrives when they are asleep, your audience is less likely to see it when they’re awake. This is similar to the issue with Monday: a lot of emails come in overnight–more than you may expect. Therefore, your competition to be seen is that much greater.

There is some debate over whether it is better to send email in the morning or afternoon. This can vary by industry, and it also varies by who you ask. Marketers test and research email open rates frequently and a case can be made for mailing on any day of the week. Wordstream recommends sending campaigns between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. or between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

And Dan Zarrella and Pure360 offer an excellent infographic chronicling their research on email timing:

email timing

Don’t be shy about doing you own testing. What works great for one mailing list may not be the best choice for your company. To eliminate the guess-work completely, use an email service, like MailChimp, that offers Send Time Optimization. This feature uses data from the millions of emails sent using their service to determine the best time to deliver your email.

What experiences have you had with email timing? We welcome you to join the conversation in the comments section below.

Keeping Up With Social Media: Upcoming Facebook Advertising Changes

If we told you that Facebook advertising changes were coming your way next month, would you be surprised? We’re guessing you wouldn’t. Marketers and consumers alike notice frequent changes (often with shock and dismay) to their favorite social networks. While sometimes these changes are for the better from a consumer perspective, more often than not social media users are frustrated by surprise layout and functionality changes. As marketers, we understand the ramifications these changes can have if they catch you off guard! Scrambling to catch up is never fun, which is why we’re here to let you know that yet another round of Facebook advertising changes is set to roll out beginning in June 2014. The right-hand column ads we all know and love (pictured below) will be displayed at a larger size starting next month. Facebook righthand column ads   The current 100×72 size will be phased out, which means the best way to get the most out of your right-hand column advertising is to create new 600×315 versions of your ads. These new ads will be rendered at 254×133 and are expected to increase engagement with your potential customers. We certainly can’t argue with that. Start planning your new right-hand column advertising strategy today and stay ahead of the curve!

How Does Color Influence Our Online Experience?

According to eMarketer.com, the average American adult spends five hours per day online–more time than we spend consuming any other form of media.


Many factors influence how we interact with a website: easy-to-read text, images, clear call-to-actions, and a clean design encourage web users to stay awhile. But did you know that color has a great impact on user behavior as well?

This infographic from TestKing.com shows us which emotions are evoked by each color, discusses subtleties determined by color shade, and how to best use colors to evoke the emotions you want potential customers to feel when they visit your site:

color infographic

Does Facebook’s use of blue and gray inspire us to trust the site with the most important moments in our lives? It’s very possible, considering that some of the most-used social networking platforms utilize similar color palates: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

What emotions do your favorite sites evoke?

Enhancing Online Marketing with Retargeting

The internet is a noisy place. With numerous social networks, search engines, and popular websites, it can be difficult to remain visible to potential customers. While services such as Google AdWords help businesses acquire new customers via search, retargeting keeps your brand front-of-mind on the sites web users love most. In this post, we explain what retargeting is and how to use it to help your business gain new leads and customers.

What is retargeting? 

Retargeting is a type of paid online marketing that targets potential customers based on their previous web-based actions. Visitors to sites that have implemented retargeting are tagged with a cookie or pixel and are later served image ads about that company to entice them to come back and make a purchase.

Have you ever visited a hotel website or shopped for products online and later saw images advertising these businesses as you surfed the web? That’s retargeting.

retargeting example

Example of a retargeting ad.

You also may have heard the term “remarketing.” This is simply retargeting via Google and their partner sites. Google is the company serving the ads and the type of advertising is called retargeting. This can be a bit confusing but don’t fret! They are not two different types of advertising. That said, many marketers are now using these terms interchangeably.

What are the benefits of retargeting? 

The rule of thumb with eCommerce is that only 2% of users make a purchase when visiting an online retailer. Retargeting enables you to remain front-of-mind among the 98% of visitors who spent time on your site but did not convert during their first visit. Unlike traditional advertising, you can customize your ads to specific types of users via retargeting. For example, you can serve ads showing specific items from abandoned shopping carts to encourage potential customers to come back and make their purchase. You can also keep current and former customers interested in your brand by showing them ads for customer loyalty programs and other special offers.

I’m already using paid search. Isn’t that enough?

While implementing paid search on Google and other search engines is a great place to start with paid online marketing, it is important to be where your customers are as often as possible. This means having a presence on search, social, and the websites your potential customers visit.

Consider this: say a potential customer visits your site via a Google AdWords ad, looks around a bit, but does not make a purchase. This visitor later sees image ads for your business while surfing the web and/or social media and remembers that they were interested in your products. This user is significantly more likely to come back to your site and make a purchase than if they had seen your content via AdWords alone!

Do you have retargeting success stories to share? Join the conversation in the comments section below! Contact us today to kick off your retargeting campaigns. We look forward to working with you!

Small Steps to Success

“Improve 1,000 little things by 1%…”

Dollar Sign

A few months ago, I was referred to a new customer by a colleague of another customer. Since most of my new business is referral based, I spent extra time getting to know the business of the new customer and understanding how we could help. As is quite common in the Digital Marketing industry, the project as described originally by the client turned into something a lot more extensive. What started as SEO consulting for an eCommerce site, blossomed into social media marketing, being the webmaster, blogger and web marketing analyst. Needless to say it has been a blast learning a new industry, business and making a new relationship with my client. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share a small success story about it.

What’s the biggest indicator of digital marketing success?
Dollar signs of course! And we saw a significant increase in the number of sales in Q4 2013 compared with all previous sales on the website. We started optimizing the website in August and adding the other responsibilities in September. As you can see from the chart below, the numbers speak for themselves.

Chart Showing Success with large increase in sales in Q4 2013

“You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%” – Jan Carlzon Former President & CEO of the Scandinavian Airlines Group (SAS)

What are your favorite success stories from 2013? Please share in the comments below.

How to Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature

Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature in 21 Easy Steps

Since we’re all tweeting, sharing, liking, linking, connecting and blogging these days, I’ve had a few requests from people asking how to show social icons in their email signature.

It’s easy enough to do it manually every time you send an email, but if you want to automate the process and really have the icons in your signature line, the trick is in being able to host the icons on a server somewhere and not linking or inserting the icons from your local computer.

If you would like to use any of the following icons, I got them from http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/social-media/icons/ who offers them for free. The social icons you see below were downloaded from http://psd.tutsplus.com/freebies/icons/81-pixel-perfect-social-media-icons/ and then uploaded them to my server, so that we can link to them individually for use in an email signature.

Step by Step

  1. First make sure you know the URLs (web addresses) to each of your social media profiles.

    For example, mine are:
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susby

    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/susanbarnes

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SusbyDigital

    Google Plus: http://gplus.to/susby

    See https://www.facebook.com/username if you don’t have a Facebook Vanity URL (custom username) yet.
    See http://gplus.to to get a shortened URL for your GooglePlus page

  1. Now go back go Gmail.
  2. Click Compose mail in Gmail.
  3. Make sure the rich-text editor is enabled: if you see “Rich formatting »” right above the message’s text composition area, click it. This will change from plain text to rich-text editor.
  4. Now Click Discard, because you don’t need to compose a new message yet.
  5. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail inbox’s toolbar. Look for the gear symbol in the top right area of your gmail screen.Gmail settings gear button
  6. Now select Settings from the menu that appears.
  7. Go to the General tab.
    General Settings tab in Gmail
  8. Scroll down until you see the Signature option.Gmail Signature Creation
  9. Make sure the signature entry area (or the desired account) is selected under Signature:
  10. Enter the text for your signature.
  11. Position the text cursor where you want the image to appear in your signature.
  12. Click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.
    For image icons you may copy from the following:
    http://www.susby.com/s/youtube.pngPlease note that you MUST use the complete URL, with http://www.susby.com/s/ plus the icon filename in the URL or the image will not show. This is just how email works. All URL must be absolute URLs, and exist somewhere out on the web, or your images will not show to other people, even if they are showing for you when you link to them from your own computer.So, copy one of the above links in full.
    Then click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.Paste the URL(link) into the Image URL field.
    Insert your social icon image
  1. Click OK.
  2. Now highlight the icon you want to add your social network profile link to. (The Google Plus icon below is highlighted.)Highlight social icon for inserting a hyperlink
  3. Insert the text of the link for the icon you highlighted. In my case the link is to my Google Plus Vanity URL which is http://gplus.to/susbyInsert hyperlink for social icon
  4. Click OK.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
  6. Compose a test message to yourself or a good friend (or me) and test all the icon links to make sure they are going to the right place.
  7. Make any corrections and then you’re good to go and people may click on your social network icons to view any of your social networking profiles.
  8. Happy socializing on the social networks!

Have you noticed any increases in visibility since adding social icons to your email? Do you have any other tips for making your social accounts more visible to the people that you are communication with regularly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Promises, Another in the 7 P’s of Marketing

Promises, promises, promises.

Promise to keep them and you’re one step closer to making it with social media marketing. Promises is the seventh P in the new P’s in Marketing. The previous several posts on this topic are explained here.

Promises Guarantee

“Package it up to look pretty.”
“Pack in a great punch line.”
“Where’s the hook, please?”
“Position the message.”

These old marketing tactics are soon to be replaced by authentic referrals, real value, pride and passion. Brand influencers are worth more than gold and social media is relentless about brands that don’t live up to their word.

Think about all of the review sites. Yelp! Amazon.com reviews, TripAdvisor etc. People are all too willing to share their experiences of products and services for the greater good of the community.

Promises are often made too lightly causing law suits for false advertising and negative comments about your brand or offering. Afterall, happy customers might tell a few friends, but angry customers 3,000.

Since we’re in a world of word of mouth, promises made are even more important to keep, because if you don’t keep your promises, the community will out you and your shady marketing in less time than it takes to even say your company name.

So what are your thoughts? Do you have other words and/or concepts starting with P to add to the list? Do you follow the 4 P’s in Marketing? Do you think it’s time to shift to the 7 P’s instead? Please add your comments (and promises) below.

Partnerships, the 6th P in Marketing

Partnerships are key in new media marketing.

What makes perfect partnerships in business?

To be social means to have and form partnerships of all kinds. Whether it’s a partnership in the form of becoming a fan or follower, a friendship with a high school classmate, a business partnership or simply a meetup group for learning and expanding your contacts, partnerships are prevalent in marketing today. They always have been, but if you look at the most successful businesses today, it’s those that have been most strategic and smart with their partnerships.

Google’s Larry Page and Sergei Brin were the original dream team who started Google. They then hired Eric Schmidt to create a partnership that resulted in the beginning of profits for the company. Google purchased many a young startup company including Blogger, Picasa, and YouTube and those partnerships even if they were acquisitions has served to increase profitability exponentially over time. Google also partners with its customers by helping them make money for themselves through their core product, Google AdWords. They provide many tips, tools and tutorials for advertisers and reward customers who are performing well with better pricing and higher rankings.

Facebook has partnered with several third party application developers, (such as Votigo and Involver) service providers (like Spotify and Instagram) and game developers (like Zynga) in order to keep their user base. We partner with twitter users every time we reciprocate a follow, retweet or enter into public conversations. No solitary person can exist in a vacuum and certainly no marketing can happen without anyone around. In the conversation economy, word of mouth is a world of mouth. People and partnerships are crucial for business and even more crucial in social media marketing.

What are your favorite examples of winning partnerships in business today or from the past? Please add your thoughts in the comments area below.

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