5 Ways to Get Your Email Ready for the Holidays

Yep, it’s soon going to be that time of year when online retailers start flooding your customers’ inboxes with messages of good tidings and special savings. Here are some tips you can implement now, to help your email marketing be more successful in December.

1. Beat the Rush
Do you normally send out a Happy Holidays email? Why not get ahead of the inbox stampede and send a Happy Thanksgiving email instead. You might want to mention that a gift card to your service department makes a great gift by helping the recipient maintain one of their most expensive investments.

2. Re-engage Your List
If you have folks on your email marketing list that haven’t opened an email from you in a year, do you really think that during the busy holiday season they will start? Probably not. How about sending a re-engagement campaign to them now to find out if they still want to receive your emails? Clearing out these inactive emails will really help your deliverability in December. One of the things email providers look at in determining whether or not to deliver your email to the inbox or the spam folder is how engaged your email list is and getting the inactive folks off helps your open rate.

3. Check Your Calendar… Twice
Thursdays in December typically have the highest email volume. Saturdays surprisingly often have great open rates. When you are planning which days to send your emails, keep in mind these events:

Black Friday is November 29
Small Business Saturday is November 30
Cyber Monday is December 2
Green Monday is December 9

4. Reduce Holiday Fatigue
During the holidays it is more important than ever not to fatigue your email database. Take a moment and make sure your sales and service departments are spacing out their email campaigns. Keep your sales force informed as well about which days you’ll be sending out campaigns.

5. Make Sure Your Message is Mobile Friendly
Open rates on mobile devices will likely increase even more in December as people are busy running holiday errands. Make sure your message renders well on mobile devices or you will quickly find that busy customers will hit the delete button. If you want to see what your email looks like on 68 email platforms and mobile devices, take a look at EmailOnAcid.com

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters, Automotive Sales Follow-up, Customer Rentention, Social Media and Newsletters | Comments Off

Yahoo Email Alert for Automotive Newsletter Marketing

If you’re a car dealer sending automotive newsletters (or you do any type of email marketing), here is an update that will impact your email marketing to Yahoo users.

Yahoo recently announced that they will be releasing user IDs that haven’t been accessed in over 12 months and making those user IDs available for someone else to register. Additionally, Yahoo announced a policy that user IDs will be released after 12 months of inactivity moving forward. So Yahoo users who don’t log into their accounts in 12 months will lose their user ID.

What this means for yahoo users:
If your current email is bob5468451651@yahoo.com and you’ve always coveted the address bob@yahoo.com – this may be your lucky chance to get it.

What this may mean for car dealers (and all email marketers):
Once this update goes into effect, a couple of things could happen. Let’s use the example of Bob changing his email from bob5468451651@yahoo.com to to the new bob@yahoo.com which becomes available.

1. If you currently have bob@yahoo.com in your email database:

A. And a new person registers bob@yahoo.com, you’ll be sending your email to the wrong Bob. What do people do that get email they didn’t ask for? They hit the spam button which impacts your deliverability to all yahoo users if your complaint rate gets too high (we like to stay in the range of 1-2 per 1000).

B. And no one registers bob@yahoo.com, you’ll send to a bad email address which will bounce. High bounce rates can impact your deliverability as well.

2. If you currently have bob5468451651@yahoo.com in your email database – you may or may not get notified of the address change. Sending to the old address may or may not forward to the new address. Details aren’t clear yet.

What do we recommend?
1. Clean out your inactive yahoo user accounts (we recommend this for all email accounts) and continue to purge inactive accounts moving forward since this will affect all yahoo accounts that become inactive at 12 months.

2. Work with a newsletter company that will proactively keep your list clean and your emails going to the inbox… our phone number is (800) 879-8870 if you would like more details.

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How to Get More Mobile Emails Opened

Emails opened on mobile devices are now surpassing webmail and desktops. Here are some recent stats from Litmus for March of 2013:

  • 25% of emails were opened through Webmail (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)
  • 32% through Desktop (Outlook, etc.)
  • 43% with Smartphones (iPhone, etc.)

Coding tips for optimizing your emails for mobile are beyond the scope of this post, but there is one easy trick you can implement for all of your emails that will make your mobile opens more effective: take advantage of your preheader!

A preheader is the line or two of text at the very top of your email. When you look at your inbox on your phone, it is the two lines of type that show up right below the email’s subject line. Here are some examples:

When people are triaging their mobile inbox emails and deciding what to open or delete, they often make that determination by looking at: who it is from, what the subject line is, and what the preheader says.

Do you really want to waste the valuable preheader area with information such as:

  • An unsubscribe link
  • Edit preferences link
  • Forward to a friend link
  • Permission reminder
  • A request to “whitelist” the sender (add the sender to the recipient’s address book)

When instead you could use this space to give your reader another enticing reason to open your email. Some numbers to consider…  You have about:

  • 25 Characters for your From Name
  • 35 Characters for your Subject Line
  • 85 Characters for your Preheader

Are you making the most of every character in your emails?

Posted in Automotive Email Marketing, Automotive Newsletters | Comments Off

Can Your Email Find Love the 2nd Time Around?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d share some ideas on how you can get a little more love for your email campaign by giving it a second chance. Let’s say you sent off your email and the results aren’t what you expected. Since you’ve already put your time and effort into crafting your message – maybe it has a great offer or it’s a newsletter with helpful info – any additional opens you can get is a bonus without a lot of effort. Here are two situations where this is worth trying and a couple of techniques to help it work.

Scenario #1:
When you look at your open rates broken down by email provider (please tell me you ARE doing this), you notice that one is pretty far off compared to the others. Example: Hotmail opens = 27%, Gmail = 33% and Yahoo = 12%. In this situation, why not try resending your campaign ONLY to Yahoo email addresses that didn’t open the first time?

Scenario #2:
You’re reviewing the open rate and although your content was relevant and helpful to your customers, your open rates are pretty far-off compared to previous campaigns.

First, let’s consider why people who want your information may not have opened your email. Maybe:

  • The subject line didn’t appeal to them so they never opened it.
  • They were on vacation and yours was included in the bulk delete they did upon their return.
  • They saw it come in and intended to open it but it got buried before they remembered.
  • It got delivered to their spam folder and they never saw it.

These are people who may be interested in a second opportunity to see your message so why not try resending to those that didn’t open.

But before you hit the send button for the second time, you first need to make some changes. Begin by changing your subject line. You might try:

  • Adding personalization if you didn’t use it the first time.
  • Use a different hook / highlight a different feature.
  • Take a reminder approach: “In case you missed this – “

Next, target a different time to send your message:

  • Change the time of day
  • Change the day of the week

And finally, select you recipients. Using your analytics from your last email, create a database of people who didn’t open it. To be cautious, I would revise this list to include those people who didn’t open this email, but have opened previous emails from you.

Wait a week or so since your original email (or whatever your analytics define as the drop-off point for your opens) and then resend.

A few words of caution… if you have a bad email reputation or you are filling up your customers’ inboxes with info they don’t want, sending an email a second time around is going to make your spam complaints skyrocket. This technique is best used cautiously and when you have a special message that warrants a second chance or you’ve identified an issue with a specific email provider.

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Nothing Says Christmas Like an Overstuffed Inbox

Your inbox is about to get a whole lot busier. Remember the seasonal golf store in the mall that you bought a gift from last December? Chances are you haven’t heard from them all year but right now they are re-opening and it is just a matter of time before you start getting their weekly emails.

Or what about the big box stores? They’ve been tracking your purchases all year long so they can practically put together your wish list for you – to be arriving in your inbox soon.
So what’s a dealer to do who simply wants to get their newsletter or sales email opened during this busy season? Here are three ideas to keep your email marketing off the naughty list.

Christmas Count Down
What Counts recently published a study of last year’s holiday email marketing (www.WhatCounts.com/holiday2012guide) They noted that holiday email traffic picks up the week before Thanksgiving with the two weeks prior to Christmas being especially busy. So if it all possible, try to get your emails out early in the month, or wait until after Christmas.
They noted that Thursday had the highest open rates last holiday season and also the highest volume. Surprisingly, consumers are opening nearly as much email on Saturdays as they are on Thursdays, but marketers are shipping 60% less email on Saturdays. Consider sending your emails on the weekend if you’re sending close to the holiday.

Less is More
Make sure you are coordinating all of your outgoing email campaigns. While open rates overall decline in December, spam complaints increase. The easiest way to get your customers mad and hitting the spam button is sending too frequently – or sending a fruitcake.
I’ve worked with dealerships where the sales and service managers have no idea what each other is sending out. The last thing you want to do during a busy holiday season is fatigue your database by sending out a sales blast one day and a service offer the very next. An easy solution to this is to simply set up a Google docs calendar and have anyone who does an email campaign post their intended send date on the calendar. Not only does this avoid accidentally hitting your database too frequently, but it gives you a nice visual history of your campaign sends.

Check Your List Twice
Chances are you have people on your email list who haven’t opened an email from you in year or so, if ever. What are the chances that December will be the first time they open one? Not nearly as good as the chances that they’ll finally hit the spam button and get you out of their inbox for good. Why not take a look at your list of inactives and if you’re not willing to pull them off your list permanently, at least consider taking them off the send list for December. You may actually see your inbox placement improve as you demonstrate to the email providers that a higher percentage of your list is engaged, opening and clicking on your emails.

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Stop Sharing Your Automotive Newsletters in Social Media

As I’ve mentioned before, getting great inbox delivery for your automotive newsletters is all about engagement. The email providers are tracking whether people open, read and click on your newsletter or does it go unopened and deleted. Those messages that aren’t opened may very well start getting delivered straight to your customers’ junk folders in the email providers on-going effort to keep only wanted information in the inbox.

But recently Chris Penn, the Director of Inbound Marketing at WhatCounts, did a study that showed posting a link to your newsletter from your social media is actually cannibalizing your open rates. If people read your newsletter through facebook, why do they need to open it and read it in your inbox? Your open rates go down and then your deliverability suffers.

A much better option is to simply post a social media message asking people to check their inboxes for the latest issue, or to sign up if they aren’t on the list. At 1to1 News, we can automatically generate this post for you as part of sending your newsletter.

To read Chris’s full article, click here

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5 Really, Really Bad Predictions

Not sure which automotive conference to attend this year? We recommend the Driving Sales Executive Summit and here’s why:

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P.S. This Really Works!

Most professional copywriters know that in a sales letter, the most important item after the headline is the postscript (P.S.) at the bottom. Research shows that when people open a letter, they often scan to the bottom and read the P.S. before they actually read the letter itself. A good writer will take advantage of this opportunity to maximize their message with a strong P.S.

Do your salespeople know that including a P.S. in their emails is also incredibly effective?

It is such an easy way to increase the impact of your emails. That simple sentence at the bottom of a two or three paragraph email can help you increase urgency, reinforce your main message and add value.

Here are a couple of ideas on what you might include in your P.S.:

1. Main Theme with a Twist
Restate your main benefit from a different perspective. Whether or not they read the whole email, this gives you another chance to deliver your most important information.

2. The Time is Now
Use the P.S. to add urgency. Are the incentives expiring in a few days? Do you only have two left of the particular model in the color they are looking for? Let them know.

3. Add Social Proof
This can be a great place to add a customer review, especially if the review reinforces your particular offer or deals with a common objection or concern people have.

4. Sweeten the Deal
Is there a bonus offer you can add? Here’s the place to do it. For instance, “P.S. – Since it’s raining today and the showroom is a little quiet, my sales manager is including floor mats with the next vehicle sold.”

The P.S. should appear right below your signature line and should only be a sentence or two. Make sure it includes a call to action at the end as well.

P.S.
If you want to see exactly how adding a P.S. to your email makes a difference, include a unique URL in the P.S. so you can measure the clicks.

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7 Easy Ways To Get More of Your Emails and Automotive Newsletters Opened

If you could improve the performance of each of your email campaigns by 10% – what would that mean to your sales and service revenue in a year’s time?

When your customer receives your email or automotive newsletter, their decision to open it is based on two things: who it is from and what the subject line says.

For this post, let’s look at seven easy things you can do to improve your subject lines so more of your emails and automotive newsletters get opened.

1. Use Personalization

I have to admit that I thought this trick was outdated by now, but a recent Sherpa case study showed that not only did adding personalization to the subject line increase open rates by 5.13% more than regular emails but the personalization in the subject line also contributed to a 17.36% increase in the click through rate. Why would subject line personalization increase the click through rate? Their explanation is that the subject line got subscribers more interested in the email and more willing to click. Read the full case study here: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=32157

2. Watch the News

Cable news shows are great at ending each news segment with a teaser to keep you sticking around through the commercials for the next segment. The teasers are usually short, intriguing and interesting – exactly the format you want for a good subject line.

3. Avoid the spam filter

Did you know that when an email is flagged by a spam filter, 35% of the time it is caused by the subject line? While it is probably safe to say that none of your automotive marketing subject lines begin with “FREE VIAGRA” did you know that starting a subject line with a $ can get you flagged?

Check your subject line in one of the many online spam checkers to make sure you aren’t inadvertently triggering a spam filter.

Additionally, here are three sources of lists with the trigger words you’ll want to avoid:

• Mequoda: http://www.mequoda.com/articles/email-marketing/subject-line-spam-trigger-words/

• Marketing TechBlog: http://www.marketingtechblog.com/subject-line-words-spam/

• SpamAssasin: http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_3_x.html

4. Deadlines are Good

If there is a legitimate urgency to your offer, include it. For instance, “Only 3 Days Left” will outperform “Sale Going On Now.”

5. Less is More

Put your most important info at the beginning of the subject line and try to keep the content to less than 38 to 47 characters. Eliminate unnecessary words and be as concise as possible.

6. What’s in it for me?

How does your subject line benefit your customer? Read your subject line from the viewpoint of your customer – just because you care about the subject doesn’t mean your customers will.

7. Test, test, test.

Think you have the perfect subject line? You might be surprised. Try doing an A/B split test where you send an email with one subject line to a portion of your database, and a different subject line to another portion. See which one performs the best and then use that subject line with the balance of your database.

It’s not just your email campaigns you can improve, but the daily emails your sales team is sending out as well.

 

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How do you fix a bad reputation?

In my last post, we looked at ways to monitor your email reputation. Your email reputation determines whether companies like Hotmail and Yahoo deliver your automotive newsletter and other email messages to your customer’s inbox or spam folder. Email providers are very aggressive at keeping unwanted emails out of inboxes. Yahoo rejects 7 out of 8 emails. Hotmail rejects 1 out of 3 emails.

As I mentioned previously, customers can’t respond to messages they don’t know that they have so inbox delivery is critically important to generating the sales prospects we’re all looking for.

If you’ve discovered that you have a bad email reputation, here are seven steps you can take to fix it:

1) Eliminate spam traps. Spam traps are inactive email accounts that email providers monitor to identify spammers. Their justification is if the accounts aren’t active anymore then they should not be receiving email which means you are emailing to someone who hasn’t requested it.

Repercussions of sending to a spam trap can be severe such as having all of your emails blocked to that provider until you remove these spam traps from your list. Of course the difficulty is that no one will tell you which email address is the spam trap.

One option is to take a break from emailing your whole list and only send to those that have opened your emails. This will help you eliminate the spam traps on your list while dramatically increasing your open rates which the email providers like to see. I know eliminating people from your mailing list is blasphemous to some, but if they haven’t opened an email from you in the last year, how much of a loss is that prospect?

2) Reduce spam complaints. Add an unsubscribe link to the top of your emails to make it easier for people to unsubscribe – rather than just at the bottom. Studies show that a large percentage of people who report email as spam have actually requested the email so you want to make it as easy as possible for people to unsubscribe rather than hitting the “this is spam” button.

3) Analyze your message and frequency to make sure you are not creating database fatigue by over-sending messages that folks don’t want. Practice the email Golden Rule: email unto others as you would email to yourself. Does the customer who just purchased from you need to receive your email about the big sale you have going on?

4) See if your email service will allow you to create a suppression list. This is a list of email addresses that will not be imported/emailed which helps you pre-emptively avoid sending to bad email addresses. For instance, you might add prefixes such as “info@ or noreply@” and domains such as “yahooo.com or yahoo.c0m” If you need ideas for this list, look at your email addresses that are bouncing.

5) Make sure you are automatically removing opt-outs, complaints and bounces.  And then make sure you don’t continue to email unsubscribers after 10 days which not only leads to more spam complaints but can result in up to a $16,000 per incident fine from the FTC. http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

6) Set up feedback loops if you haven’t already.  A feedback loop enables email providers to let you know the identity of people who have complained about your email so you can remove them from your list.

  • AOL http://postmaster.aol.com/Postmaster.FeedbackLoop.php
  • Comcast http://feedback.comcast.net/
  • Cox http://fbl.cox.net/
  • Hotmail https://support.msn.com/eform.aspx?productKey=edfsjmrpp
  • Rackspace http://fbl.apps.rackspace.com/
  • RoadRunner http://feedback.postmaster.rr.com/
  • USA.net http://fbl.usa.net/
  • Yahoo! http://feedbackloop.yahoo.net

7) Getting  blacklisted can also be due to identity issues with your sending domain. The three main causes of identity issues are incorrect records, sender authentication configuration issues, and basic DNS setup problems.

It’s a slow process to rebuild an email reputation but it is definitely worth the effort. Once you are back in the good graces of the email providers then apply for whitelisting status. Once you rebuild your reputation, make sure you regularly monitor it so you don’t find yourself back in the spam folder.

 

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