email marketing

Every week I share with you the articles and posts from the world of online sales conversion that educate and inspire me. It is offered to you for further study.

How To Build a High Converting Landing Page: Rules, Process and Critique – ConversionXL

Nov 18, 2011 12:02 am
Here’s a good check list for designing a landing page.
Tags: landing page landing pages
read more

Email marketing frequency and cadence defined | DMA Email Marketing Council Blog

Nov 15, 2011 09:54 pm
@tawatson This is a smart way to look at email frequency, or cadence by comparing it to a British telephone ring. I especially like having a “maximum time between emails.”
Tags: email frequency email marketing
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PubCon: Social Media Conversion Optimization with Brian Massey | Search Engine Journal

Nov 15, 2011 02:35 pm
This is a nice summary of my @PubCon Masters Group Training. You can watch the free 14 minute video of my PubCon “Social Moonshine” presentation at http://conversci.com/vuh8
Tags: conversion social media optimization apps landing pages
read more

A New Way to Create Urgency and Social Proof on Product Pages « Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog

Nov 13, 2011 10:43 pm
While this article focuses on urgency and social proof, take a look at the way this Ruby Lane product page is designed.

  1. Price is prominently displayed
  2. Add to Cart button is high on the page
  3. Shipping is handled before entering checkout
  4. The product description is near the hero shot (and well written)
  5. Several high-quality photos are provided.

All are above the fold or close to it. Are you working this hard to help your visitors buy?
Tags: product pages conversion shipping e-commerce abandonment social proof
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“Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” said

Bacn helps convert demo "tryers" into buyers.

Bacn helps convert demo “tryers” into buyers.

Well bacon sizzles, too, and it’s email counterpart “bacn” is the sizzle that sells your online service.

Bacn is the term for notification email, the confirmations we receive from the ever-growing online services that we sign up for.

Many sign up. Few buy.

In my up-coming book, I define the Conversion Signature “Site as a Service” and identify the key conversion strategies that make these sites successful. Service sites have an advantage: you can try the product right there on the Web. They have a disadvantage, though: two conversions to buy.

The first is converting a visitor to a “tryer” by signing them up for a demo.

The second is converting the tryer into a buyer.

Email is the underutilized weapon in this second conversion.

In Online Service Uses Email to Convert Triers Into Buyers I analyze some bacn I received from simple CRM site Pipedrive. I provide some best practices for this overlooked strategy.

Aren’t all of our Web sites really software applications after all?

Photo courtesy arrowp via stock.xchng.

It’s not easy to find search marketing firms that get conversion, the part of the search marketing process that puts money in your pocket.
Globe Runner SEO is one of those firms that gets conversion. Notice the questions they ask and the focus they have on conversion in this brief interview.
Here we dive into the kind of conversion strategy you need if you have a considered (long) sales cycle or a high-repeat business: relevant, frequenty, easy email.

Pardon my loopiness. I had just finished presenting to the amazing DFWSEM group. Check them out.
Join The Conversion Scientist by Email to see how it is done.
 
TheCrowd(by @SarahBoswell
DFWSEM-Packed house for “The Chemistry of Landing Pages”
Photo courtesy @SarahBoswell

Roy H. Williams, benefactor of the enigmatic business school The Wizard Academy has a simple formula that you should study:
Salience
“Salience” is that magical moment when your message enters your prospects’ long-term memory. It means your message will not be swept from the short-term memory that most marketing messages float in.
Relevance is simply how important your message is to a prospect’s current problems. Messages gain relevance when they are helpful, educational, titillating or entertaining.
Frequency is the number of times someone is exposed to your message.
The enemies of Relevance, then are messages exclusively about your promotions, your company or your products, or messages sent to infrequently.
The enemies of frequency are lack of repetition and invisibility. Social media messages have very short lifespans. Thus, for most people, they are invisible. The ubiquitous Leo Laporte complains that, when his posts suddenly stopped appearing on Google Buzz and Twitter, that no one noticed. He didn’t even notice for two weeks.

Email for Salience

Email is highly visible. It is the biggest social network on the planet. Most business professionals spend their day in email. It is how they managing their work.
If email is not working for you, it is probably because of low frequency. Email is a personal medium, and we all are afraid of being seen as spammers by sending too much email.
In The Instant Curated E-Newsletter That Your Prospects Will Love I describe how to automatically create a relevant, frequent email from the industry articles that you are reading every day. You are curating the content, but other talented writers are doing the work.
All you have to do is bookmark relevant articles.
Subscribe to “For Further Study” a curated e-newsletter from The Conversion Scientist.
Read the article

It’s out there: the article with the answer to your online marketing question. All you have to do is find it.

For-Further-Study.pngAs it turns out, I’m looking for answers to a lot of questions. It’s my job as the Conversion Scientist.

When I find a good checklist, best practice or how-to, I save it to my personal library. When my clients hit me with a question, this library offers a treasure trove of answers written by some of the smartest people in the business.

“But why wait for a call?” I thought. “Why not share this with my clients every week?”

Thus is born “For Further Study,” a scannable, quickly digested weekly email created exclusively for my clients.

I promise:

  • Quality sources
  • Conversion-enhancing content
  • Scannable emails with a short commentary by me to help you decide if you should read an article.

Here’s a sample of what to expect each week.

Blog SMO Guide: How to Apply Social Media Optimization to Your Blog in 33 Steps – Search Engine Watch (#SEW)
Jul 21, 2011 09:39 am

This is an incredibly comprehensive yet accessible guide to social media best practices.

Tags: social media blog twitter facebook search engine watch
read more

Seth’s Blog: Articulating your preferred use case (what’s it for?)
Jul 17, 2011 03:36 am

What Seth calls a “Use Case” we call Personas in the world of conversion. Otherwise the benefits are the same: understanding your most important visitors, ending bad relationships with poor customers, and getting everyone on the same page.

Tags: seth personas use case
read more

The amazing SXSW conference has kicked into full swing here in Austin. I haven’t been to a single session yet, and I’ve already learned something of great value I can share with you.
It came in the SXSW session catalog.
The session selection process is very competitive. Every summer, SXSW puts out a call for session and panel ideas. People vote on their sessions and then the crew at SXSW passes final judgment.
It’s very competitive. This year, some 2500 ideas were submitted.
If your session gets accepted you will find yourself competing for attendees with some of the most interesting, influential and innovative professionals. Your session title has to really grab attention in a sea of hundreds of choices.
It’s kind of like the competition for your inbox.
All of this competition has created perhaps the most creatively named agenda in conferencedome.
Your commercial email would enjoy significantly greater open rates if you used SXSW subject lines. No one’s going to click through from your email if they don’t open it and read it.

Subject Lines Must Wake Up the Mind at Any Cost

To use these techniques, you must believe that you can use almost any premise in your subject line to engage the reader and entice them to click.
To prove this point, I am going to take the most abstract title from the following list, use it as a subject line, and create an email that will get readers to click through to my site.
First, the list. Yes, these are actual SXSWinteractive 2011 session titles. I’ve grouped them by the strategies the presenters used in naming their sessions, strategies that you can incorporate into your email subject lines.

Sex and Relationships

        

  • The Sexual Survival Guide for Geeks: Healthy sex and relationships
  •     

  • Sausagefest: Getting More Women into New Media & Tech
  •     

  • Fun with the Lights Off: Interactivity Without Graphics
  •     

  • How Social Media Fu@k’d Up My Marriage (Learn how not to have your relationship ruined by the online world)
  •     

  • Subtle Sexuality: NBC.com Adds Spice to Shows

Things that Don’t Fit Together (non sequiturs)

        

  • Block Party Capitalism: Where Analog and Digital Intersect
  •     

  • What Comic Books Can Teach Mobile Application Designers
  •     

  • Your Mom Has an iPad: Designing for Boomers
  •     

  • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better
  •     

  • Why New Authors Should Think Like Indie Bands
  •     

  • Why my phone should turn off the Stove – Mobile monitoring of energy consumption
  •     

  • Building Fences in the Sky: Geo-fencing Has Arrived
  •     

  • I’m so productive, I never get anything done
  •     

  • Your Computer is the Next Wonder Drug (Improving interactions with the medical community)
  •     

  • What Digital Tribes Can Learn from Native Americans

Left Field

        

  • Help! A Giant Meteor is Headed Our Way! Cause Shift, Things that need to change
  •     

  • OMG – My Pancreas Just Texted

Pop Culture References

        

  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Babelfish: Automated Translation
  •     

  • U.S. Military’s Mad Science Revealed: DARPA Projects predict the future
  •     

  • Dear Miss Manners: the Social Web, WTF?
  •     

  • Social Media and the NBA
  •     

  • Zombies Must Eat: How Genre Communities Make Money
  •     

  • Minority Report: Social Media for Decreasing Health Disparities
  •     

  • My Prototype Beat Up Your Business Plan
  •     

  • Geppetto’s Army: Creating International Incidents with Twitter Bots
  •     

  • #FAIL: Infamous social Media PR Disasters

Contrarian

        

  • Stop Listening to Your Customers: Researching customer needs without asking them.
  •     

  • I’ve Never Met My Coworkers: Running International Teams
  •     

  • Who Are You and Why Should I Care? Personal branding
  •     

  • When Facebook Falls: Future-proofing Your Social Media Efforts
  •     

  • 27 (Fun!) Ways to Kill Your Online Community
  •     

  • HTML5? The Web’s Dead, Baby.
  •     

  • A World without SXSW
  •     

  • Fail big, Fail Often: How Fear Limits Creativity
  •     

  • Congratulations! Your Brand is About to Become Obsolete
  •     

  • The End of Reading in the USA

Science or Science Fiction References

        

  • The Next Rocket Scientist: You
  •     

  • Do Tablets Dream of Electric News?
  •     

  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Pure Shock

        

  • Bordering Incest: Turning Your Company into a Family
  •     

  • Baby’s Gotta face For Radio: Web Based Radio?
  •     

  • Grow some balls: Build Business Relationships
  •     

  • Social Media and Comedy: F**k Yeah!
  •     

  • Kill Your Call Center! Bring Your Support Home
  •     

  • Bend Over? Surprise! Agencies Are Screwing You
  •     

  • How Blogs with Balls are Saving Sports Media
  •     

  • How to Personalize Without Being Creepy

Conflict

        

  • Bloggers vs. Journalists: It’s a psychological Thing
  •     

  • Seven Reasons Your Employees Hate You
  •     

  • Influencer Throwdown: Proving Influence Once and For All

Invented Words

        

  • Radically Onymous: How Ending Privacy is Awesome!
  •     

  • Old Spice Resurrected: How Aging Icon Pwned Internet
  •     

  • The Future Enernet: a Conversion with Bob Metcalfe (Internet founder)
  •     

  • Technomadism: Becoming a Technology Enabled Nomad

Alliteration

        

  • Defining the Diaspora: Global Collaboration and Social Change
  •     

  • The Man in the Van needs Geo Location
  •     

  • Chatter Matters: Using Twitter to Predict Sales
  •     

  • People as Peripherals: The Future of Gesture Interface
  •     

  • Of Fanboys & Fidelity: Adopting Comics for Broad Audiences

Twisted Euphemisms

        

  • Cure for the Common Font – Secrets of selecting type
  •     

  • Influencers Will Inherit the Earth. Quick, Market to Them!

Any Subject Line Will Do

Even the most abstract subject line can be used to make a point. Here’s how I would tie one from the list to an offer for my business:

From: Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist
Subject: OMG! My Pancreas Just Texted
OMG, my pancreas just texted.
My Liver just phoned.
My stomach just tweeted.
My brain is sending smoke signals.
Every cell of my body is dying to tell you about a new video I’ve just released.
Why am I (and all of my bodily parts) excited? Because online video marketing is rocking conversion rates.
Search engines love it.
Visitors love it.
Businesses like yours are getting more leads and sales from it.
And I think I’ve made it easy for anyone to understand how to use video on their Web site.
In just 11 minutes, I’m going to show you how to present a video on your site that will significantly increase the number of leads you’re getting from the traffic you already have.
Skeptical? Maybe I’m crazy.
I challenge you to take a look and see. If you don’t come away with a better understanding of how to increase conversion rates with video, I’ll get my spleen to cut down the chatter and leave you alone.
If you DO get it, I invite you to join a very special mailing list in which you’ll start to understand how to make all of your marketing convert visitors to leads and sales.
Watch Getting a Reaction from Online Video, and let me know what you think.
My heart will thank you for it.
Best regards,
Brian Massey

Does your blog squirt or erupt?
How is a Blog Like a Volcano?
I got some inspiration from an unlikely place for my column on content marketing: the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
I was drawn there because I thought they were having an exhibit all about me. It turns out that the exhibit was called “Introducing the Brain,” not “Introducing Brian.” The exhibit did not have anything to say on what part of the brain causes dyslexia.
But, scientists love museums, and so I looked around. There was an entire room dedicated to the earth, from it’s heat-formed rocks to it’s carbon-choked atmosphere.
My next thought was “this is just like content marketing.” I’m sure you would have had the same thought. If you didn’t, you’ll soon understand.
Read my complete thoughts on the matter over at ClickZ to understand how a blog-cano can generate copious amounts of search, social media and email goodness for your business.

What does a geologist know about online marketing? Probably not much, but a geologist can give us a handy model for a content marketing strategy that is easy to implement and potentially explosive.

How a Blog Is Like a Volcano

At the most basic level, a blog spews content like a volcano spews lava. The content typically emerges in pyroclastic flows fed from a content magma chamber deep inside.
It is the release of this magma – the content – that determines the pace at which the mountain grows. A mountain with a large magma chamber can be expected to erupt more frequently and more violently.
Like a blog, our volcanic mountain becomes more visible as it rises higher and higher into the top levels of the atmosphere. It can become visible very quickly to nearby villages, executive offices in neighboring cities…and to search engines.
Clearly, we can learn a few lessons from our geological friends. My question is, “How can we get our blog-cano to erupt more frequently and spread our content as far as possible?”

Have a Big Magma Chamber

You’ve got to have a plan for a steady flow of content. Your blog-cano is the heart of your content marketing strategy and can power your social marketing strategy, lead generation strategy, and search engine optimization.
The beauty of blogging is that it’s a more casual medium. Your blog content doesn’t have to be bibliographed articles. It doesn’t require your subject matter experts to be writing constantly. In fact, blog content can come from many sources: presentations, case studies, and even geology textbooks. Much blogging is simply commenting on others’ writing, which we call “curating content” for your audience.
I’m not saying that your posts don’t have to be valuable. Lava must be hot to flow. But, it must flow constantly or your blog-cano won’t grow fast enough and you won’t be able to implement some of the more explosive strategies I discuss here.

Bringing Tourists to the Slope of Mount Blogitubo

All a blog is really going to get you is an RSS feed. While your RSS feed is going to power some very helpful strategies, there aren’t going to be a lot of people reading your posts via feed reader.
Search engines, however, love blogs.
With a little geologic surveying, we can help the search engines find our naturally keyword-rich content. They will, in turn, send us tourists.
Choose a blogging platform that is search-engine friendly. Don’t just use the content management system that your corporate site is built on. Definitely put your blog on the same domain as your corporate website so both benefit from the search engine “juice” you create.
If you have the resources, you can identify your most valuable keywords and purposefully incorporate them into your blog posts and titles. Search ClickZ for search engine optimization best practices.

Eruptions Are Worth Spreading

With a little technology, you can rain content down on people far and wide. Your Mount Blogsuveous is capable of powering engaging social media outreach, drawing qualified traffic, and growing your social networks. This can be largely automated with services like Ping.fm and Twitterfeed. Tools like HootSuite and Spredfast will help you share your content on the most popular social networks. (Disclosure: Spredfast provides its service to the author at no charge.)
Because these posts, tweets, and status updates contain a link back to your content, you can actually measure the clicks and conversions generated by your social media outreach, and this can justify production of more magma.

Spreading the Explosive Energy of Your Blogatoa

Tourists coming from social media and search are nice, but they always go back home. What if they could take a piece of the mountain home with them?
It turns out that well-qualified tourists will want to continue to receive your blava (blog-lava) and you can easily deliver that with e-mail. Ask visitors to give you an e-mail address and you can automatically power an e-mail newsletter with remarkable frequency.
Here is where your RSS feed really comes in handy. There are services that will monitor your blog for the new posts arising from your blogma (blog-magma) chamber. On a set schedule, these services will pull the content from the feed, wrap it in a nice template, and send it to your list by e-mail.
Ask your e-mail service provider (ESP) if they have an RSS-to-e-mail service. MailChimp andAWeber provide such a service. Consider FeedBurner or FeedBlitz if your ESP can’t help.
This strategy is great for considered purchases or any product or service in which the need is unpredictable. It keeps you front-and-center when it’s time for the tourists to pick their next destination.

Flow Over to Your Corporate Website

The final place on which you can rain your explosive content is on the corporate website. These sites are typically designed like a brochure, written in a “me,” “we,” and “us” style.
Blava content is generally more educational, informational, and entertaining. It’s created for the reader, and will really grab the attention of someone who is early in their decision-making process.

There are a variety of widgets available to display blog titles on your corporate site, and visitors will find this content more compelling than your recent press releases. Make sure that your blog gives them an obvious way to get back to the corporate site.

The Center of a Hub

Once these parts are in place, our blog-cano has become the center of a powerful, largely automated hub of influence. However, the system is only as powerful as our blog content. Post frequency is the best predictor of blog readership growth that I’ve seen. You should post at least once per week, in my opinion.
Remember that your editorial calendar is your magma chamber, the source of all blog-cano power. Find the resources to post helpful content frequently and you will empower search, social media, and e-mail to drive more business to your door.

Brian Volcano

Can you send a daily email to a business-to-business email list?

One of my favorite conversion strategies is the second chance. The second chance only comes when I have a way to continue the conversation; to get someone to come back again and let me make my case again.

There is no better second chance channel than email.

When entrusted with an email address, and permission to continue the conversation, I have one, two, three or more chances to persuade a prospect to reconsider.

In a business-to-business situation — the considered purchase — in which a decision will be made over a period of weeks or months, email is a true friend. And if it is executed with respect, it is a friend to those struggling with a purchase decision.

The question is, how many second chances am I going to take?

Five Emails an Hour

I tell companies that they can send email as often as their content allows them.

I once got five emails from American Airlines within the space of an hour. Did I unsubscribe? Did I feel spammed? The emails were telling me the status of a flight I was booked on as its departure time and gate changed. The emails were completely relevant to my situation, and were welcome.

If we were to stand by our statement that businesses can send as often as their emails’ relevance allows, we needed to understand the dynamics of a high-frequency email campaign.

An Email a Day Experiment

The goal of this experiment was to examine the following hypotheses:

  1. Sending email would outperform social media marketing.
  2. Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.
  3. Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.
  4. Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.

 

The List

We chose a selection of 2000 names from my house list. This list consists of contacts made through personal interactions, meetings and consultations. It is primarily a business-to-business list.

I would call the list a “semi-warm” list having received email from me only quarterly. This list had received emails on January 11 and April 30. The experiment began September 7.

Your list could easily be generated from social media traffic or search engine traffic.

The Content

Because of the frequent nature of these emails, it was important that they provide some value and be entertaining. This proved to be a significant challenge.

Each email followed the following formula:

  • A non-promotional subject line
  • Relevant copy
  • Link to relevant content online or registration for a live event
  • Offers varied, including an invitation to subscribe to my mailing list, registration for a live workshop and an invitation to a Webinar on writing for landing pages.

Subject lines included “Are you the victim of the Email Invisibility Ray?,” “Social Media: Marketing from my La-Z-Boy,” and “Why eight-year-olds beat me at Chess.”

Download the content of the emails sent at The Conversion Scientist.

The Frequency

Emails were sent daily, Tuesday through Friday for two consecutive weeks. Eight emails we sent in all.

Test Results

 

Email Performance vs. Social Media

We’ve had relatively good luck using social media to drive traffic to my site. However, in Figure 1, you can see that the email resulted in significant increases in traffic, even outperforming our summer social media experiment.

Figure 1: Emails’ Effect on Site Traffic

Hypothesis: “Sending email would outperform social media marketing.” True

One interesting note is the rise in search engine traffic at the time of the email. This underscores that click-through rate is only a partial measurement of email effectiveness.

Increased Conversion Rate

It is probably not surprising that sending email to a targeted list is going to result in more conversions. However, keep in mind that my social media networks are also quite well-targeted.

As expected, both conversions and conversion rates for new subscribers increased. We can also attribute thirteen (13) workshop registrations to this email series, generating almost $1300 in sales.

Just looking at new email subscribers, the conversion rate for our social media experiment were 2.5%. For the period of this email, conversion rates were 7.6%.

Figure 2: Emails’ Effect on Conversion Rate

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would significantly increase my conversion rate.” True

Opt-out Rates

This was the metric I was most interested in examining. How would unsubscribe rates change over the course of the experiment?

Figure 3: Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce Rate for each drop.

I consider an unsubscribe rate of 1% or less acceptable and expected in any email that asks the reader to take action. So, I got pretty nervous as unsubscribe rates rose to 3.2%, and stayed well above 1%. Over the course of the experiment, 15% of the list unsubscribed.

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. We lost 15% of our prospects.
  2. We identified the 85% of list members that are interested and qualified.

If my goal with this list was primarily to sell, I would consider the 15% loss to be acceptable and even desirable. This is called Shaping your list.

However, my goal is to evangelize conversion and to educate, so the opt-outs represents a pretty significant loss of reach.

From a brand perspective, there were very few negative comments, and many positive ones.

Given the opt-out rates, would I do this again. The answer is a resounding yes.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequently would cause an unacceptable number of my subscribers to unsubscribe.” False

The Effect on Deliverability

The other negative effect that frequent emails can have is an increase in spam reports.

For most service providers, deliverability is the inverse of the bounce rate. If my emails are reported as spam, we would see an increase in bounces. Intuitively, when shaping a list, you expect bounce rates to drop quickly as bouncing addresses are removed from the list.

For our experiment, the bounce rate began at 2.5% but quickly dropped, leveling at an imperceptible 0.06%.

One reader was kind enough to let me know that they had “spammed” my email. I used the site MXToolbox.com to see if my domain had been placed on any black lists. However, it would be our Email Service Provider (ESP) that took the hit if spam was reported. This is one big value of an ESP. They keep themselves – and you – off of black lists.

Figure 4: Unsubscribe Rates for the Email Series

Another measure of reader interest is open rates.

Email service providers count the number of times a special image is downloaded to establish open rates. Since many people have images turned off in their email client, the open rate is not an accurate measure of actual opens.

However, I would interpret a steady drop in open rates as a sign that the list is becoming fatigued with my communications. Open rate can also be a good indicator of the quality of your subject line.

Open rates were relatively flat, dropping on Fridays.

Overall, I believe that few of my readers reported these emails as spam.

I attribute this positive outcome to the non-promotional nature of the copy, even though the emails were clearly promoting our email list, workshop and webinar.

Hypothesis: “Sending frequent email would reduce my ability to deliver email due to spam reports.” False

Conclusions

With some simple analytics in place, we can pretty easily establish the ideal frequency of our email campaigns. Based on these results, we should be sending email more frequently. You will probably come to the same result. However, we tested a certain kind of email with this experiment; an email that is informational and entertaining as well as promotional. This style of email requires a bit more work and creativity on our part.

The payoff is quite clear.

Email is a more effective channel in a B2B sale than is social media. It is also a great way to get more out of your search engine and advertising traffic. When you get an email address, you get a second chance at the sale. And a third, fourth and fifth chance.

For the complete content of the emails sent during this experiment, and the results of some split tests conducted, visit

New Tool Makes it Easy to Find Prospects on Social Networks via Social Appending.

In my most recent ClickZ column, I reflect back on my days as a marketing cog in the corporate machine, a time in which the practice of “appending” was considered “black hat.”

Appending is the practice of adding contact information to records in your prospect database. If you have someone’s name and company, you could “append” their email address and mailing address through a number of services that keep that kind of information.

Companies that sell mailing lists often provide this kind of service.

The thinking was that the prospect hadn’t given you permission to contact them through these other channels, and that it violated the “submit button contract” that is implied when they completed an online form.

Social Appending: How Far We Have Come

Social Appending: How Far We Have Come. Source: Unbounce.

We’ve come a long way

Oli Gardner has an interesting info graphic on the Unbounce blog. The graphic highlights a tool called FlowTown. This is a social appending tool. Marketers can use it to find the social media accounts of their prospect list, and begin marketing to them through those social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn.

This is where those of us who have been around the block groan, and then secretly cheer.

Why this is different

While appending has not been considered a best practice, it happens. In fact, the best way to do this is to send ask your prospects for permission after appending the data; sending them an email asking if they want email messages, for example.

Many social media platforms allow us to easily “unfriend” or block unsavory marketers. This puts the opt-out capability in our hands. So asking for permission ahead of time is less of a problem.

But there is a right way to inject yourself into someone else’s conversations. It’s called a Content-oriented Social Media Strategy.

  • Only “append” people who have expressed an interest in your industry or products. This is how you know your content will be relevant.
  • Begin with non-promotional content. “How-to” and “10 Ways” style articles test well.
  • Use social landing pages, such as a blog or Facebook page to “keep it social”
  • Measure what you send. Stop sending content that doesn’t generate clicks, shares or comments.

If you’re going to jump into the social conversations, do it right, or it will backfire in a very public, viral way.

New technology renders emails invisible. Customer Chaos Labs suspected.

Everyone who seeks to do good in the world will inevitably be challenged by an arch-nemesis; someone who’s view of the world is diametrically opposed to yours.

At Conversion Sciences we have Customer Chaos Labs, whose motto is:

If we’re not working for you, we’re working against you.

They are an organization who seeks to lift their clients’ online Web success by simply bringing everyone else down. We see them as basically evil.

This week, one of our clients became the victim of a new Customer Chaos technology: an email invisibility ray.

The results are devastating.

Proof of the Invisibility Ray’s Existence

The folks at J’Tote Bags crafted a beautiful email, with professional photography, strong reasons to buy, and clear calls to action.

Then, J’Tote sent the email to eager prospects and customers. Somewhere in transit, many of these emails entered the range of the invisibility ray.

The invisibility technology rendered the email almost completely invisible to the human eye. Clearly, an invisible email is going to be read less, depressing open rates and clicks.

Conversion Sciences Defense Technology

Conversion Sciences has worked with the major email clients to develop a “de-cloaking” technology. For example, recipients can restore the email by clicking “Display Images below” in Gmail, or “Click here to download pictures” in Outlook.

Most email clients have implemented something similar.

The problem is that many recipients of your emails may not find a good reason to click on the de-cloaking links if they can’t see the email.

Clearly, this is not an ideal solution.

Defending Yourself Against the Invisibility Ray

A detailed analysis by Conversion Sciences has exposed some weaknesses in the invisibility ray.

It only works on images

Apparently, the invisibility ray doesn’t affect text, but only images. Thus a proper defense against this kind of attack is to use images more sparingly in your email and place text strategically around the email.

This will allow readers to understand the point of the email if the images have been inviso-rayed.

Image “Alt” Text is Sometimes Impervious

If you look closely at Exhibit B, you will see some text appearing in places where the images would have appeared. This is the images’ “alt” text and is created using the “alt” parameters in the HTML <img> tag.

Here’s an example:

<img src=”picture.jpg” alt=”Text that describes the image” />

Use the “alt” text to tell the reader what they will see if they click “Display images below” and invoke the de-cloaking technology.

This does not work in all email clients. Microsoft Outlook won’t show these cues, for example.

However, some email clients will actually allow you to format your “alt” text, making it different sizes and colors.

Don’t Fall Victim to Invisible Emails

Email remains one of the most effective online marketing tools available. No wonder the foes of good marketing have targeted it for disruption.

Let a Conversion Scientist review your email strategy. This will ensure that

  1. You are using best practices to maximize deliverability, open rates, clicks and conversions.
  2. You are sending content that is relevant and interesting. This gives you permission to continue sending email to desirable prospects.
  3. You are sending with the right frequency. Sending too often or too rarely can render an email strategy impotent.
  4. You are defended against the invisibility ray and other weapons of chaos. Enough said on this one.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
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