Author: Jill Fanslau

Your Small Business or Nonprofit Could Win $20,000! Here’s How

Small Business Big Impact Award

In your life, there are big, defining moments that you never forget. Weddings. Heartbreaks. Vacations. Graduations. Homeruns. Births. Funerals.

But then there are smaller, defining moments that stay with you, too. The experiences that transcend your everyday “normal,” and bring delight and surprise into your life. They suddenly transform your ordinary into extraordinary. They’re memorable, unexpected, and impactful.

It’s these smaller moments that AWeber has strived to create daily for our customers over the past 20 years.

It’s why we provide an award-winning 24/7 Customer Solutions team at our headquarters in Pennsylvania. They’re here to help you succeed around-the-clock.

It’s why we send socks, T-shirts, stickers, and hand-written notes to a new group of customers every single month.

It’s why our Chief Operating Officer, Sean Cohen (who started as a Customer Solutions Manager at AWeber 17 years ago) still communicates with customers through email or on the phone on a weekly basis.

It’s why every new feature we release on our platform is based on extensive, one-on-one customer feedback.

It’s why our spam-fighting space explorer mascot, Commander AJ, makes impromptu appearances at conferences to meet up with customers. (Heck, it’s why we built a lifesize space explorer mascot to begin with!)

And it’s why, after a customer tweeted us saying, “I love AWeber. If you guys made a cereal, I’d eat it every morning,” we actually made a brand-new cereal and sent it to him.

“Everything we do has an impact on our customers,” says Cohen. “So we shoot for remarkable. Not good. Not great. But remarkable.”

Now, to celebrate 20 years of creating remarkable experiences for more than 1 million small businesses, AWeber wants to reward one small business or nonprofit that goes above and beyond for its customers. That’s why we’re launching the Small Business, Big Impact! Award.

Small Business Big Impact Award

The Small Business, Big Impact! Award contest begins on October 15, 2018, and all entries must be submitted by January 4, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET. To enter, click here. Tell us how you already create remarkable experiences for your customers — and how you’d use the $20,000 to make an even bigger impact.

The post Your Small Business or Nonprofit Could Win $20,000! Here’s How appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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9 FREE Summer GIFs to Add to Your Next Email

We may be blaring “Summertime” by Will Smith right now, but this post is all about “Gettin’ GIF-fy Wit It.”

Below, you’ll find 9 animated summer GIFs for every occasion.

  • Having a celebration? Boom. Check out the festival fireworks GIF.
  • Throwing an outdoor event? Feast your eyes on the barbeque, hot dog, and watermelon GIFs.
  • Writing about something wedding-related? We have a 3-tiered cake GIF for that.
  • Sending an outdoor-themed email? Camping GIF, check. Under the sea GIF, check. Beach with a flamingo float GIF, check.
  • Summer sale? There’s a catchy GIF for that, too.

Your summer emails never looked so good.

Not an AWeber customer yet? Join us! Create your FREE account right now, and see how easy it is to use one of these GIFs in our Drag-and-Drop message editor.

How to Download Your Summer GIFs

Step 1: Find the animated summer GIF below that you want to use in your email.

Step 2: Save it to your computer by either right clicking the image and selecting “Save Image,” or by dragging the image to your desktop.

Step 3: Upload the image into your email template.

… And that’s it!

Related: Want to maximize your GIF’s effect? Follow these 11 GIF best practices in email.

Festival Fireworks GIF

BBQ GIF

Hot Dog GIF

Watermelon GIF

Wedding GIF

Camping GIF

Under the Sea GIF

Beach GIF

Sumer Sale GIF

Make sure your emails hit the inbox — not the spam folder — with AWeber’s industry-leading deliverability. We don’t outsource our sending, which is the most important function of any email marketing platform. We’ll monitor every aspect of how your emails are sent around-the-clock. Try AWeber FREE for 30 days.

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3 Simple Ways to Get Started with Action-Based Email Automation

get started with action-based email automation

A few weeks ago, I polled more than 2,500 of our subscribers to find out if they were using automation tools in their email marketing. Sixty-two percent said, “nope.”

That got me wondering, “Why the heck not?”

After all, automation can increase leads, conversions, and revenue, and it can save you time. The stats prove it:

Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than other marketing messages, according to Epsilon Email Institute.

So I did some digging. Turns out, most people told me email automation is overwhelming and they’re not sure where to get started.

But it’s actually pretty easy to get started with email automation . . .

What is email automation?

Simply put, email automation is when you set up a series of emails to send automatically to subscribers at a specific time.

With it, you can connect with a person at every stage of their buyer journey (a.k.a. the marketing funnel) — from lead to customer to brand advocate. You can build a relationship with an individual over the long term.

And the best part? It runs on autopilot, creating connections and increasing revenue while you work on other aspects of your business.

You can set up a single series automation — where a person subscribes to your list and is automatically sent email 1, then email 2, then email 3, etc. in a sequence.

Or you can set up a series with action-based automation.

What is action-based automation?

I like to think of action-based automation as letting your subscribers “choose their own adventure” as they’re taken through your email sequence. Instead of automatically sending everyone on your list email the same series (email 1, email 2, email 3, etc.), each individual subscriber gets to pick which emails they’re sent through various actions they take.

While it’s more advanced than a single automation series, action-based automation can skyrocket engagement and sales. That’s because you are able to target segments of our audience with the exact content they needed. It’s an amazing feeling when you can put a solution right in the hands of your subscribers.

So how do you implement action-based automation?

3 ways to get started with action-based automation

when subscribers sign up for your list

Subscribers can receive different automation series based off the selections they make on your sign up form. For instance, you could let the subscriber choose if they want to hear from you weekly, monthly, or bimonthly.

We did frequency-based preferences for our most recent action-based automation campaign, and we saw a 47% increase in open rates and a 150% increase in click-through rates. Check it out below.

email sign up form

Here’s another example: A personal trainer asks his subscriber to choose her level of strength training — beginner, intermediate, or advanced — on his sign up form.

Once the subscriber makes her selection, she’s instantly dropped into an automated series that aligns with her training experience. The language and work out tips in each message are tailored to her personal workout level.

For instance, a beginner subscriber who is new to strength training may receive fundamental tips like how many reps are best for building muscle, how much they should rest between sets, or which shoes they should wear while lifting.

Whereas an intermediate may get an email series that focuses on variations of standard strength exercises to challenge their muscles in an all-new way or mobility movements to keep their joints healthy between lifting sessions.

And an advanced subscriber may learn the ins-and-outs of a cutting-edge technique called Blood Flow Restriction training to shock the muscles into new growth.

If each flow is tailored to a person’s level, you can send them more personalized messaging to promote your product as opposed to a one-size-fits-all plan like a single automated series that’s sent to everyone on your list.

After all, it’s tough to write to an entire crowd. By accommodating everyone, you’re not catering to anyone. Think about it: an advanced strength trainer would be bored to death with beginner content. And a beginner would be overwhelmed with advanced techniques. That’s why action-based automation can help you send content appropriate for each group.

Pro tip: Your email marketing platform will launch your automated campaign based off tages or custom fields determined by your sign up form. That means you should stay away from fill-in-the-blank responses. Instead, go with pre-populated field that your subscribers can choose from.

(It’s easy to create a sign up dropdown menu in an ESP like AWeber, or there are many signup form platforms that integrate with your ESP. Some options are OptinMonster or Privy. No website? Here’s how to create a hosted sign up form in less than 5 minutes.)

when a subscriber clicks a link in your email

Action is often an indicator of interest. That’s why we recommend sending segmented, highly-targeted content to subscribers who open your message and/or clicked on a link within that message. ESPs have different names for these features, but within AWeber’s platform, we call them Open and Click Automations.

Here’s how Click Automations work: Let’s say you have a food blog and your primary source of revenue is your digital meal plan. With Click Automations, you can tag subscribers with “gluten-free” or “vegetarian,” based on the links they click in the first email you send — your Welcome email . You can then use these tagged segments to deliver one-time, targeted broadcast emails or even launch contextual automation series by these tags.

So what happens after a subscriber clicks? If the subscriber clicks “gluten-free,” your ESP will “tag” or label them as such. This will redirect them to a relevant landing page. (For example, it could be a page that explains you’ve updated their subscription preferences or a page that contains content about gluten-free restaurants.)

Now that the subscriber is tagged in your ESP, you can automatically deliver an email series just about gluten-free foods to only that tagged segment, and pitch them relevant gluten-free meal plans.

Many times, you’ll plan to send all of your subscribers the same welcome series. By sending the same content, you can educate your prospects on a specific topic or the value of your services and products. Not all subscribers are ready to be segmented from the first email.

If you do that, you can implement Click Automations at the end of the course or sequence of emails. Rather than present your audience with a dead-end, use Click Automations to let subscribers self-select their next step in their customer journey. By presenting options, your audience can choose their own adventure, and enter into a new campaign that meets their needs. 

when subscribers open (or don't open) your email

Tracking who opens your emails can help you optimize your campaign. You can send your subscribers reminders to check certain messages if they still haven’t opened it. Or you can remind them that they should take advantage of specific offers within a message. Or you can use the data to see where people fall off from one email to the next.

For instance, if you have fantastic open rates for emails 1 through 3 of your 5-email automated series, but you get a sudden decrease in email 4, you may want to experiment with your subject line. Make your reader want to open it!

We’ve also seen customers take advantage of open rates when they are emailing a course. If they have 6 lessons in total, they may send reminders to a cohort of customers who haven’t opened a specific lesson.

They may also send a followup email to a cohort who have opened a specific lesson. For instance, a followup email may say: “Hey! Checking in. I see you finished lesson 2. Can I answer any questions? Did you find any portion of the lesson challenging?” It’s a fantastic way to gather feedback throughout the course.

It’s also important to know who is not opening or clicking your emails. A smaller list of engaged subscribers — people who actively read and interact with your content — are more valuable than a larger list of subscribers who never open your content.

In fact, lists with numerous inactive email addresses typically have higher rates of bounces, spam complaints and unsubscribes than ones that don’t.

So delete, delete, delete!

When you continue to send emails to people who don’t open them, internet service providers — like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! — penalize you. Do this often enough, and your emails may consistently end up in their spam folders, which decreases deliverability to people who actually want to read your content.

That’s why we recommend purging your list every 6 months.

In order to do this, you’ll want to search in your ESP for subscribers who have not opened your emails in the last year. Then, you’ll send an email to that segment of subscribers asking them if they’re still interested in hearing from you.

We like to call this a “win back” email. Fourteen percent of subscribers who receive win-back emails open them, according to a survey conducted by ReturnPath, an email deliverability company. That number jumps up to 45 percent for subsequent messages.

If they don’t want to hear from you anymore? That’s OK. Remember, in your pursuit of providing relevant content to your audience, getting an unsubscribe is far less damaging to your deliverability than receiving a spam complaint. So it’s important to purge your list every so often to make sure your subscribers are still interested in your content.

Put action-based automation into action!

Give it a shot. Use one of these 3 techniques to segment your audience so you can send highly-targeted, highly-relevant content to your subscribers. This will help you treat your subscribers as individuals — not a nameless, faceless list. In the long run, you’ll see engagement and sales increase, and you’ll create a base of fans who can’t wait to read your messages.

Need help with one of these techniques, or have a question about email automation? Call AWeber’s Customer Solutions team. They’re the best. Seriously. They won two Stevie Awards in 2017 (a.k.a. the Oscars of the customer service industry). They can help you out with any aspect of your email marketing.

Not an AWeber customer? Join our tribe! We’d love for you to try our easy-to-use automation platform for $0. Start your 30-day FREE trial today!

The post 3 Simple Ways to Get Started with Action-Based Email Automation appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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Why Every Great Marketer Should Send a Personal ‘Story Email’

story email

Humans love stories. We communicate through them. We learn from them. Our personal stories and memories give our lives meaning and order.

In fact, your brain may actually crave stories: Scientists believe we are evolutionarily hardwired for narratives because they helped our ancestors survive.

Quick quiz: Which one is more effective?

Option A: There’s an animal in a cave over there. Don’t go near it.

Option B: My brother was mauled to death by a giant ferocious cat-like beast. The beast’s teeth are as long as your arm and as sharp as the deadliest arrow. The monster lives in that cave with the two twisted trees in front of it. Don’t go near it.

You don’t need to worry about sabre-toothed tigers anymore, but your brain is still much more engaged by the story in option B than by a burst of facts. It makes you fearful. It gives you goosebumps.

You remember a good story. It stays with you.

The Power of Telling Your Personal Story through Email

Good salespeople and marketers understand the importance and power of storytelling — and they use it to their advantage.

It’s why Coca-Cola doesn’t sell you carbonated water, high-fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, and caramel coloring — it sells you a “feeling.”

The company’s most iconic commercial of all time “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” focuses on the drink being a commonality among people all over the world. It brings people together — regardless of their backgrounds, faith, gender, race, or opinions. No one even takes a sip of the soda in the ad.

It’s this emotional connection — this feeling — that makes your business and marketing memorable. It makes your brand stand out among the myriad of marketing messages — email, text messages, social media, TV, voicemail, commercials — that people are bombarded with every single day. 

And it’s one of the main reasons your readers will pick your business over your competitors.

So tell your personal story in an email. You don’t need to become Charles Dickens or Jane Austen to do so. Heck, you don’t even need to be a great writer. You just need to tell an engaging tale about your products and services, and why they matter to your subscribers. 

4 Steps to Writing a Powerful “Story Email”

1. Keep it short.

Nowadays, we consume content at lightning speed. It’s rare if a person can dedicate a huge chunk of time to a long-form article. So we need to communicate at a quick clip, too. That means breaking our messaging down into easy-to-read, bite-sized pieces that are super relevant.

The following Story Email is from Jill Angie of Not Your Average Runner, who leveraged the AWeber platform to reach her customers.

Jill’s story is 10 sentences long. That’s it!

 

Keep your writing concise and cut out any words you can. It’ll not only make you a tighter, more effective writer, but it’ll keep your readers’ attention. In a world of information overload, less will be a welcome thing for your subscribers. 

2. Ooze likeability.

We enjoy doing business with people we know, like, and trust — as opposed to a large faceless corporation. Humanize your message to increase connection and engagement with your subscriber.

One easy way to do this: Pretend you’re sending an email to a friend.

When we write emails to our list, we tend to forget that we’re a human communicating with other humans. We suddenly turn very formal, robotic, corporate, and, well, safe. Your readers signed up for your email list to hear from you.  They want to hear from the voice behind the business or brand or company. So write like you talk. Show them that you’re a human being with a pulse. You’ll come off much more conversational and likeable.

Take Jill Angie’s Story Email, shown above in step #1. It may be short, but it’s super easy to read and extremely friendly. It makes Jill relatable. You want to run with her. You want her to be your coach. Eventually, when Jill pitches her books or workout plans to you, you’ll want to scoop them up, too.

3. Hit your reader’s biggest pain point.

Here’s an email from AWeber customer Noah Kagan, who runs OkDork.com. He’s also the founder of the ridiculously popular AppSumo, a site that sends out awesome daily deals for digital products.

 

Noah’s story is just four sentences! It’s short, but super compelling. He shows you how he found massive success — fast.

But the best thing Noah does? He hits his readers’ problem straight on: “Starting a business can be hard.” It can be intimidating.

Noah doesn’t just tell his story for the heck of it. He’s doing it in relation to the reader’s main pain point. In just a few words, he evokes feelings of frustration and worry and stress in his subscribers — while setting himself up as their solution. Starting a business can be hard — but it doesn’t have to be. That’s because Noah can make it easier for them. He can help them start their business and leave those worries behind.

4. Be authentic.

Cheri Alberts of the Watering Mouth has been an AWeber customer since 2012. She’s a wellness coach and recipe developer who offers consultations and meal plans to help her clients eat better, lose weight, find more energy, and look and feel better in their clothes.

Here’s Cheri’s story email:

 

Cheri’s Story Email is a lot different than Noah Kagan’s. She gets much more personal.

The reason: As a wellness coach, Cheri must to get to the bottom of what’s causing her client’s  unhealthy decisions. In order to do that, though, she has to build a deeper relationship with her subscribers first. So Cheri opens up in her Story Email and shares her vulnerabilities — warts and all — because one day she’ll ask her clients to do the same for her.

You may not want to — or have to! — reveal as many personal details as Cheri, but you can be just as authentic. Give a glimpse at where your company started, and how you or your product has drastically improved since then. Tell your struggles. Highlight your lows. Celebrate your highs. Be witty. Be emotional. Tell them what’s on your mind. Or even include a selfie (no photoshopping!) instead of a professional headshot. Most of all, be you. Authenticity is the key to building a foundation of truth and reliability with your subscribers. The stronger that foundation, the easier it’ll be to sustain a long-term, profitable relationship with your email list

When to Send Your “Story Email”

The best time to send your subscribers your personal story is during the awareness stage of your marketing funnel. (Click here to understand the marketing funnel and how it can drastically improve your email marketing strategy.) Your subscriber just joined your list. They’re still getting to know you. This is the perfect time to engage with them on a deeper level by revealing what makes you unique compared to your competitors.

Schedule your Story Email to automatically send a day or two after they receive your Welcome Email. Or, if your personal story is only a few sentences, include it right in your Welcome Email. Either way, the earlier you start to emotionally connect with your readers, the better.

Want more great email writing tips? Check out AWeber’s FREE What to Write course, an email series that helps you craft the perfect emails. Plus, it comes with 45+ content templates so you can just fill in the blanks!

And if you’re ready to start sending phenomenal emails to your subscribers, then you’ll want to join AWeber today. With easy-to-use automation tools, free educational marketing content, and the best Customer Solutions team (seriously, they won TWO Stevie Awards last year, which are basically the Oscars of the service industry), we have everything you need to make your email marketing successful.

The post Why Every Great Marketer Should Send a Personal ‘Story Email’ appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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