Wednesday, August 17, 2011

help increase your site response

August 12, 2011 | Marketing | Kristina Palko

3 Easy Email Design Changes That Help Boost Response

(This is a guest blog post from Kristina Palko, Marketing Director at Kristina is responsible for an enormous amount of direct-to-consumer email and has seen first-hand what works and what doesn't.)
I create and analyze results from over 15 million wine marketing emails every year. What I've found is that email response rates vary enormously depending on audience, subject line, email content & design, and timing. It is an area in e-commerce marketing which is constantly evolving but, here are 3 easy, sure-fire ways to help increase your response.

1. Add a Top Navigation Bar to the Top of Your Email

What is it?
A top navigation or "nav" bar is the horizontal bar across the top of your website that enables customers to click through to popular product categories or pages such as home page, shop wines, join a club, visit the winery, award-winning wines, customer top rated, library selections and/or about us. Adding a similar top nav to your email is a fantastic way to improve click through rates and increase sales.
Why do it?
I have seen incremental increases as high as 100% generated from the top navigation bar within an email. It becomes a sales “catch all” in that if your primary offer is not of interest to your customer, the top nav may remind your customer of what else you have to offer.
How to apply it to email.
Implementing a top nav bar is simple and does not necessarily involve a designer. In fact, you can easily add a text based top nav by inserting a table with 1 row and 4-5 columns just under your main header or logo. If you have a designer, you can ask him/her to create a graphic and use hotspots to link the corresponding surface area to the correct landing page however, a text based version will function just as well.

Email Screen Shot
A quick example illustrating how these 3 principles were applied.

2) Design "Above the Fold"

What is it?
The term "above the fold" means the email creative that falls within view without scrolling down. This space generally varies based on email programs and screen size. My advice is to design so that your sales message is fully visible within about 600 pixels or about the size of your hand (fingers together) if turned horizontally.
How to apply it to email.
Simple. When you are designing or writing your email, be sure that your core message is visible "above the fold". Some believe that the fold theory is outdated and that people have learned to scroll. This is certainly true thanks to our interactive phones and tablets, however, whether customers scroll when it comes to your email depends on 1) How engaged the consumer is with your products/brand and 2) How much timethey have. Either way, getting your offer across in a couple of seconds without additional scrolling is never a bad thing.
Why do it?
So that your offer is fully optimized ensuring the highest degree of communication possible.

3) Infuse Your Unique Brand Personality Into Subject Lines, Titles & Buttons.

What is it?
Say the same thing…but differently. If it sounds like an oxymoron, it is. The fact of the matter is that many of us employ the same cookie-cutter methods such as ratings and reviews, tasting room, new releases, etc to drive awareness and increase sales for our brands. But, how often do we really think about what we are saying and how we might say it just a little differently for maximum impact? There are three areas of any campaign where you can maximize your message:
  1. Subject line. If they never open it, they’ll never get your message.
  2. Titles & Subtitles. Think of this area as you would in an advertising campaign – this is where you want to make maximum impact in a few short words.
  3. Call to Action button. The one click that matters. Get them to your product page quickly and directly.
How to apply it.
There are three impactful areas of any email campaign that benefit the most from this principle.  Here are some examples of how I have effectively used them in some of my own campaigns.
Email 1: Valentines Day email featuring wine
Subject line: Share the Bottle-ly Love"
Title: … Wine That Is!
Subtitle: Two sisters reunite as adults to share their passion for winemaking and the environment. A true love story.
Call to Action Button: Share the Love
Email 2: Buoncrstiani Rose’ offer
Subject line: Real Men Drink Pink Wine
Title: Who Said Pink is For Girls?
Subtitle: The Buoncristiani brothers have been hand crafting Rose’ since 1999.
Call to Action Button: Go Pink
Why do it?
Greater engagement. And think of it this way, even if it doesn't result in a sale, it likely resulted in an extra moment of consideration and your customer will be more apt to open your email next time…and that isalways a good thing.
Re-examine your wine email marketing designs, test these strategies and compare your response rates to those of your current campaigns. Infuse your brand's personality into your call-to-actions. These simple changes may lead to more sales and increased engagement that will lead to more sales in the future.
Kristina Palko was born and raised in Napa Valley. She is currently the Marketing Director sending and monitoring over 1 million emails a month. Kristina has over 10 years of experience in wine industry online marketing. She also enjoys photographing dogs and has a beautiful German Shepherd named Kato.
March 30, 2010 | Marketing | Andrew Kamphuis

Interview with Email Marketing Rock Star - Kristina Palko

Kristina Palko, is a Napa Valley native with deep experience in wine industry sales, operations and marketing.  She is currently the Direct Marketing Manager at Wine Tasting Network, a  1-800-Flowers company that has several direct to consumer e-commerce websites include Geerlings & WadeAmbrosia, and Wine Tasting Network. (WTN is a client of Vin65.)
Kristina is responsible for an enormous amount of direct-to-consumer email and has seen first-hand what works and what doesn't. It was great to have the opportunity to ask her a few questions about email marketing specific to the wine industry.
What are some of the common goals of your campaigns?
  1. Acquire new customers and activate older customers
  2. Retain current customers
  3. Engage customers on a deeper level through social networking, product reviews, blogging and more
With such a large mailing list, what are some of your strategies for segmenting and engaging your mailing list members to increase effectiveness?
  • By Order Recency or Frequency. For example, customers who have not ordered in over 12 months or, customers who have only purchased one time.
  • By Wine Club Status. Cancelled, expired, former wine club gift recipients and potential prospects.
  • By Previous Purchase History. We follow up with new customers with product review emails which encourage feedback and increase brand awareness. We also offer special pre-release notification emails.
What types of promotions get the best results?
In terms of overall response rates free shipping and aggressive discounting with short offer expiration dates and, holiday related gift sets at attractive price points. In terms of engagement, follow up product reviews and surveys.
Have you seen any emerging trends or changes in email marketing?
There has been a lot of emphasis on deliverability in which creative design & sender reputation play a big role. There is also a big movement towards the incorporation of animation and video within emails. I suggest signing up for The Retail Email Blog which reports the top retail emails of the day. Fun read called the “Oopsy Hall of Fame” as well...everyone make mistakes!
How often should a winery/wine business measure and evaluate results of their email marketing campaigns?
Unlike direct mail, you can get a good read within 5-7 days of the email deployment date. I suggest both a weekly and monthly evaluation. Create a layout that allows you to compare results at a glance so you can see significant differences in open rates, click through rates, click to transaction rates and unsubscribe rates.
When you are ready to take metrics to the next level, Google Analytics can serve as a fantastic means to track not only sales associated to each of your email campaigns (and from which exact click of the mouse) but also provide valuable insight into how your customers are reacting once they get to your landing page such as cart abandonment rates, time spent on site, number of page views and more. Best yet, it’s free.
What advice would you give to a new winery or wine business about list building and email marketing?
  1. Train your staff to collect email addresses at every touch point. It is much harder to obtain them later.
  2. Make sure that every email you receive is tied to the customer purchase history for future segmenting (i.e., don’t start a new massive excel spreadsheet which only contains email addresses).
  3. If you have a website, add an email opt in field on the homepage.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the Can Spam law and email creative design best practices.
  5. Opt in to competitor emails.
  6. Start slow with one really great email per month to gage response. Include personalization, short yet concise copy, a compelling image, a great discount and a sense of urgency (short expiration date).
  7. Resist the urge to overload your customers with multiple products within the same email and/or long winded copy. Remember, the point of an email is to get the customer to click through to the landing page where you can close the deal.
  8. Monitor results. The beauty of email marketing is because an email has such a short shelf life, results are available quickly. Use those results to your advantage in judging what you are doing correct and what you can improve upon.
Kristina I want to thank you for taking some time out to answer my questions. There is a lot of great content here.  "Train your staff to collect email addresses at every touch point".

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