The Savvy Marketer’s Guide to HTML Email Best Practices

Email isn’t just something that you can toss off and do in a minute or two. Today’s robust marketing programs include email that’s thoughtful and creative, that sets specific program goals—and meets them.

But far too many business people and communication experts take too little time with email. They copy and paste, or think that the point is just to send the email—not to send the email well. And to do that, learning how to write the email in HTML, and learning what those best practices are, can give you a leg up from your competitors.

For example, you have to understand that what you’re seeing in front of you on your email may not necessarily be what everyone sees—different platforms equal different formatting. Your job is to remove variances, as much as you can, and create consistency. This graphic detailing those email best practices that you can follow can help.

The Savvy Marketer’s Guide to HTML Email Best Practices

The Marketer’s Guide to Cannibalization

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When marketers and businesses talk about cannibalization, they are talking about taking a bite out of their own sales with new or competing products. A good example of this is the story of Diet Coke.

Diet Coke was the pet project of a senior manager at the Coca Cola Company for many years. At the time, Coca-Cola was far and away the number one soda on the market. And the company already had a diet soda, called Tab, which was moderately successful.

Diet Coke was developed somewhat in secret because of the strong opposition to it within the company. Executives, salespeople, and marketers all believed that launching a diet soda with the Coke name would hurt sales of both Tab and Coca-Cola. They were worried about cannibalization.

Of course, those fears didn’t come to fruition in the case of Diet Coke. When it finally launched it was a huge success, and continues to be the number one diet cola on the market.

Why Fear Cannibalization?

Fears of cannibalization are often legitimate. When a company’s growth strategy involves launching new products, there is a fine line between products that are truly new and products that directly compete.

A truly new product is responding to an unmet need in the marketplace. It either targets a new group of consumers that are not already purchasing your existing product in that category, or it targets an additional need observed in the same group of consumers you already sell to.

If consumers view the new product as an alternative to the old, then cannibalization may occur. Consumers will simply shift from one product to the other.

Is Cannibalization Bad?

Cannibalization sounds bad, but that’s not always the case. It depends on a number of different factors. To illustrate this, let’s look at three different cases where cannibalization can actually be a good thing:

  1. Versioning – if you are replacing an older product with a newer version, something that is truly better, cannibalization might be good. By getting you customers to switch from the old to the new, you are better serving their needs. Although this may not directly increase sales, it does two things. First, it keeps them from switching to your competitor’s product, which is an increase in sales from what would have been. And second, it builds brand strength by creating happier customers.

  2. Upselling – if your new product is more expensive than the old product, then the value of each sale increases. In this case, successfully getting your existing customers to switch from the lower value product to the new, higher value product, will lead directly to an increase in revenue. Therefore, without adding new customers, you can still grow your business.

  3. Growing Overall Market Share – this last case is one where we can, again, look at the case of Diet Coke. Sure, some Tab drinkers switched to Diet Coke. And some Coca-Cola drinkers also switched to Diet Coke. But Diet Coke also brought in new customers that previously may have avoided soda or drank one of the competitor’s drinks. And if the losses to your old products are more than offset by the gains of the new, then the overall business grows.

How to Judge Cannibalization in Your Business

It won’t always be obvious whether a new product will cannibalize the old. But those kinds of questions and decisions may be yours to make. So how do you make them?

First, understand the costs associated with developing the new product. Second, understand the competitive landscape. What else is on offer? Are other companies aiming to steal market share with a new/better product? And third, prepare some realistic expectations of performance.

If the cost of developing and selling the new product is more than the overall gains expected by its release, you probably shouldn’t move forward. If the losses to your existing products are higher than the expected new business generated, also not the smartest decision. But if you risk losing business to a competitor and the only way to keep customers is by releasing a new product, then sometimes it’s worth the added cost.

3 Simple Changes That Will Supercharge Your Content

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Content marketing is an all-encompassing term that has peaked and fallen off in years past. But just because use of the term is on the decline, doesn’t mean that successful content marketing strategies are any less effective.

In fact, the companies that are succeeding with content are using it to drive more sales, more loyalty, more brand awareness, higher levels of community engagement, and more.

But too many companies are still wasting their time doing content for content’s sake. It’s time to take a hard look at the return on investment of your content marketing efforts. What is it doing for you? What value is it adding?

If your content marketing is barely moving the needle, you need to make some changes. And if you are not ready to throw in the towel for good, you need to test some new practices that have potential to improve your results.

Here are three things you can do to get more about of your content marketing efforts:

1) A/B Test Your Headlines

Just like we test different subject lines for our emails, in an effort to get more people to open and read them, we should test different headlines for any piece of content.

A good headline makes all the difference. The right headline grabs attention and leads a user to view the piece of content we publish.

And though there are countless resources for best practices when it comes to headline writing, the only way to know for sure what headline will attract more readers is to test them in the real world. A free tool like Google Optimize will allow you to test multiple headlines for every article and settle on the one that gets the most visits, clicks, reads, conversions, etc.

2) Make It Easy to Share

The sites that succeed with content benefit from engaged readers/users. As a company, there is only so much that you can do to promote your content by yourself. To get real results, you need to leverage the virality of the web.

Content that is easy to share is more likely to get shared.

Making your content easier to share is not hard. There are existing plugins you can add to your website that allow people to publish to their preferred social network with one click. And you can (and should) customize the way your content appears when someone adds them to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.

3) Invest in Media

Too many marketers treat content as a one-size-fits-all process. We write blog posts and articles and hope they get shared. But this outdated vision of the web is bound to fail.

Today, there are so many different formats to experiment with, that if you only write articles, you shouldn’t expect to succeed.

It make take more time and money to create engaging video content, live video, Snaps, images and infographics, but this is exactly the type of content that gets shared. The content and the audience should determine the format, not the team you have or the budget you’re working with.

If budget and people are limiting factors for your company, perhaps you should invest elsewhere and ignore content marketing for now.

4 Actionable Tips to Boost Your Organic Search Traffic – Guest Post

The following is a guest post written by Raul Harman. Raul is editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can reach him on Twitter.

Nowadays, modern businesses compete for both market position and customers. With so many various companies competing for the same thing, it's very difficult to ensure your business can stand out from the others properly. The online world provides many opportunities for companies to make a name for themselves, but not every company is able to do so. The main reason is that businesses oftentimes choose the approach that's not best suited for them.

In that case, you're only wasting valuable time and resources on marketing and promotions without yielding any viable results. If you're uncertain on which approach to take, in order to outrun your competitors, remember that everyone uses a search engine, such as Google to find something online. Therefore, if you want your business to stand out, you need to focus on building your organic search traffic. In other words, you must become more visible and more accessible online. Here are a few easy tips to boost your organic search traffic.

Leverage SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a cost-effective marketing strategy that will boost your online visibility and organic web traffic. The purpose of SEO is to help your website appear on the first page of search results on search engines, such as Google. To achieve that you must rank for the right keywords that your audience most commonly uses in their online search. In addition, those keywords must be relevant to the products or services your business offers.

Appearing first on search results is perceived by consumers as a recommendation from search engines. If Google placed you on the first page it must mean your business is worthy enough to check out. SEO doesn't only make you more visible, but also improves the trustworthiness and credibility of your website. That means that you'll get much more organic traffic by having good ranking, than by investing in paid advertisement.

Optimize your website

SEO requires that you properly optimize your website, in order to rank well on search engines. However, that's not the only reason you should focus on website optimization. Consequently, you're optimizing your website for the customers and the organic search traffic as well. Customer experience on your website plays a major role in determining not only your ranking, but your reputation as well. If your website is fast, secure, easy to navigate, user friendly and responsive enough to meet customer expectations, you'll more likely to favor referrals and recommendations from your website visitors.

That means that if you give consumers what they need, they'll boost your organic traffic by recommending you to others. As an example, an easy way to achieve this is to make your website super fast. You can opt for a hosting solution, such as cPanel hosting. That way, you can make immediate improvements to your website speed on your own and without having to procure services from web developers or designers.

Guest post on reputable sources

Guest posting is an activity of sharing your content across various reputable sources, such as websites or blogs. The purpose of this activity is to build your authority and presence online, in order to position yourself as an industry expert. Not only that, but with guest posting you're also improving your exposure, allowing you to reach a broader audience. The more relevant and high-quality your content is, the more engagement you'll drive from different audiences.

What's more, you must target only the reputable sources to share your content with, because that way, you'll gain more relevant and more organic traffic for your website. Building your reputation and domain authority through guest posting allows you to stand out on the market. That way, more people will be willing to visit your website by reading the interesting content you've provided across various media channels.

Build your presence on social media

Social media platforms are the main hub for businesses these days. The main reason is that social media networks put you in direct contact with your target audience. That being said, there's no better way to gain organic search traffic than it is to generate leads on social media. This allows you to lead consumers to your website with little to no cost at all. The main reason is that you can build presence on social media organically, which means you don't really have to leverage paid ads if you don't wish to do so.

Engaging in conversations with your customers and sharing content with them allows you to build more personal relationships with your audience. Not only that, but you can launch social media marketing campaigns to build more awareness about your business. What's more, you can leverage social media influencers to ensure that your content and your promotions are more welcomed by the audience present on social media channels. The better your presence is, the more likelihood of people visiting your website or researching your business online.

When it comes to online exposure for businesses, organic traffic is the best way to get the recognition and attention you need. Organic traffic means that consumers are checking out your business because they want to and because you've managed to pique their interest. The more organic search traffic you have, the more chances your business has for outrunning competitors and ultimately more chances of reaching success.

Why You Should Send Your Next Promotional Email at Midnight

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When a politician changes their position on a policy question, we call them a flip flopper. And we don’t trust them.

But changing your position on an issue based on new evidence is a sign of progress and wisdom. And not just for politicians, for all the rest of us.

For a long time, when it came to email marketing, I was a firm believer in wanting to land in an empty inbox. I believed, and still do to a large extent, than one of the best ways to stand out and grab attention is to avoid the crowded inbox completely.

This led me to guide you all to send on days – and during times of day – that may not be as common for other companies to send their promotional emails. The idea was that if you avoided the “busy times”, you could show up at the top of your prospect’s inbox, the lone unread email waiting to be opened and read.

And when I got some advice that suggested I send emails in the middle of the night instead, I brushed it off for exactly the same reason…at first.

I thought, if I send an email in the middle of the night, it will show up in the flood of new unread emails all screaming for attention when people check their inbox in the morning. As one of many, my email is less likely to be read or carefully considered – more likely to be deleted in a sweeping purge of unwanted pre-caffeine stress.

But when I saw proof of another company who had made this strategy work, I decided the time had come to test it for myself. And lo and behold-

The Midnight Send

I took a popular promotional email and sent 50% of the list at the normal time, which was 11am on Tuesday. The other 50%, the test group, I sent at midnight the night before.

And when I checked the results a few days later, here is what they looked like.

  • Control Group: 23.4% opened, 4.2% clicked.
  • Test Group: 36.7% opened, 7.7% clicked.

That’s a whopping 57% improvement in opens and 83% more clicks. And it was no fluke. I tested it again the following week and got similar results.

The Theory

The hypothesis was this – for some subset of consumers, the morning is when we are most likely to check our emails. And so by ensuring that your email is waiting in the inbox first thing in the morning, you are ensuring it gets the attention that it would not get at any other time of day, when people are too busy to check email with any regularity.

By sending overnight, you are adapting to your customer’s behavior, rather than trying to get them to adjust to yours.

So my message to all the email marketers out there is simple. If you have not done so to this point, test your next promotional email at midnight and see whether or not you see a similar lift in performance.