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?

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!

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!

Trends in Mobile Search

Mobile Search Trends
You probably use your mobile phone for the occasional web search. But have you thought about how much the search marketing landscape has changed since smartphones became ubiquitous?  Recent research on the difference in desktop and mobile search trends resulted in some fascinating statistics.

Desktop search peaks at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. while mobile search peaks at lunchtime and in the evening between 9:00 p.m. and midnight. Despite the difference in time of day, topics searched are the same on both platforms. eMarketer, a daily eNewsletter, projects a 65% increase in mobile ad spending since 2010, which is expected to increase exponentially in future years.

Categories of mobile ad spending from highest to lowest are currently ranked:
1. SMS
2. Banner ads
3. PPC Search
4. Video ads

Spending for video and banners is expected to be equal to search spending in 2012, with banners and video spending surpassing search in years following.

Mobile search has increased five-fold in just two years! Users are searching with the intent to take action, making neighborhood-targeted ads very effective in some cases.

And what about the future of mobile search? Revenue for mobile gigabytes is projected to decrease from $25/GB (now) to $5/GB by 2015. Carriers will likely need to develop new pricing models at that point, which will very likely result in changes in how we use our mobile phones.

All You Need Is Love

Several posts ago I talked about LOVE being the secret to social media. Well Starbucks has been doing their L-Listening and came up with this response to the “Where the Hell Is Matt?” movie which took the web by storm a few years ago, and also the wild success of the T-Mob Dance videos where people break out in dance at random train stations to the thrilling surprise of commuters.

The game to be the most viral video on the net is on and all the big brands are playing. Did you see Coke’s Happiness Machine? It’s not show me the money in social media, it’s show me the LOVE!

Starbucks is really playing to win though, because they’re playing on your heart-strings too. If you watch the movie all the way to the end, they ask you to share it, because for every voice added they donate to Fighting Aids in Africa. How charitable! How giving.  How… loving?

The companion (campaign) website is also executed with lots of love. Check out the photo gallery displaying the ultimate in interactivity and enabling people to share the love through various social loveworks, I mean social networks.

What do you think of this strategy? Is it getting overplayed? Are you still enamored? Are you still in-love? Please share the love… um, I mean your comments below.

P.S. Use red for LOVE and remember… Love is all you need.  xoxox

Social Ads

I just noticed this PG&E ad on Mashable and like the format. It’s interesting that they are showing ways that PG&E is using social media to reach out. Obviously it speaks to the audience of social media mashers on Mashable.com, but the ability to share the ad as I am doing here is a new trend. Heads up folks, this could be the future of social advertising.

I also love that the movies are slight, with the “Play with Sound” call to action on them. Way to ask people permission before bombarding them with your message! Also, thanks for thinking of the different ways I may like to learn more about your company with video, twitter or articles. Just like Hulu.com, giving your customers a choice means you respect them and they will appreciate that. Nice work PG&E!

The Power of the Group and Exclusivity

Since I’m teaching tonight at the downtown campus of SFSU CEL, I was particularly interesting in the Groupon email in my inbox this morning. The offer is for $35 worth of scrumptious Italian food at Zuppa for $15. That’s a $20 savings and in any economy, that sounds like a deal!

Zuppa is on 4th Street, just around the corner from SFSU, so perhaps some of my students would like to take advantage of it for a late dinner.

If you haven’t heard of Groupon, it’s worth a look because there are some great offers and because they are usually one day only you feel special if you can take advantage of one. The limited time offer is the exclusivity.

The fact that the offer will only happen if enough people buy-in, i.e. want to take advantage of the offer and commit to being there is the power of the group. You see the business can only offer the special if they have enough people. With a critical mass, they are willing to make a special offer. If not enough people sign up, the deal is off.

So it’s one of those win-win propositions. The business uses Groupon to promote business and the customers receive a special deal because they are Groupon members.

Group (rock) on!

Facebook or Twitter?

For the past three days I have been talking about why I am not convinced that Facebook is better for business than twitter. This is the fourth in five posts I am writing in response to 5 Reasons why Facebook is better than Twitter for your business.

While I am a Twitter fan, I believe there is a lot of value in participation on Facebook as well, however, to provide reasons why Facebook is better than Twitter without describing what Twitter has to offer is leaving out half of the story.

4. Advertising Platform
While Facebook’s advertising platform within the Facebook interface offers very good targeting opportunities for advertisers and I agree with everything Mr. Smith is saying in his description of advertising on Facebook, there are ways to advertise using Twitter as well. Take a look at Magpie. As a twitter user, you get to share ad tweets with your followers if you approve of the ad that Magpie offers you.

Do I like the fact that I am receiving ads on Twitter? No, but the point is that there are ways to advertise with Twitter click through rates with Twitter still seem to be pretty high. With Facebook you can pay per click or per impression. I like to think of Facebook ads more like banners and Twitter ads more like Google AdWords. Twitter ads tend to be more editorial in nature and if the tweeter is respectful of their followers they will only allow ads that will add value to their followers.  I know that this won’t always be the case, because there will be people that allow all ads, but I’ve seen many ads served to me on Facebook that haven’t been correctly targeted either.  Recently though, this is infrequent, so either Facebook or the advertisers are doing a better job with their targeting.

The problem with leaving the targeting in the hands of the advertiser, is that not all advertisers are created equal.  I.e. some have better knowledge about targeting than others and some just don’t get it at all.

On Facebook at least you know it’s an ad though.  Sometimes on Twitter you’re not given the disclaimer information although what I have seen from Magpie does.

The option to vote on advertising that a Facebook user sees is helpful as well.  I.e. the Facebook user gets to tell Facebook what kinds of ads they are interested in, thus allowing Facebook to personalize the ad content to each user.  And that’s value to the user, and value is good.

Bottom line up front:  If you are an advertiser on Facebook or a publisher of ads on your twitter feed, the more value you ad for your customer and/or follower, the more respect you will receive, the better the ad will do and the more return you will see.

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