‘Wait until…’ Time and Date Options in Automated Series

Yesterday we launched a great new feature, one that had been highly requested since the introduction of our Automated Series — time and date awareness.

With this new feature you can now effectively schedule steps in your automate series to happen only at the appropriate times for your contacts.

This can now be accomplished with a simple “Wait until…” step under the “Date and Time” section.

Best of all, the time we’re referring to here is not your time zone, it is the customer’s. We will now track and utilize each contact’s time zone offset via their IP address to allow you to send to them at the right time for their region.

If you set an automated series to wait until Monday at 9 AM, the next step will not progress until 9AM on the following Monday in their time zone.

No longer will you have to worry about sending messages at strange hours or days when you won’t be available to respond. As you can imagine this opens up a host of other possibilities which we can promise we’re already thinking about for the future.

Much like our enhancements earlier in the week we believe a more personal experience will lead to better results and this is just one of many steps we’re taking to help you provide that.

Got ideas for what we can do with this data next? Let us know on our Feedback Forums.

New Feature: Modify Case When Using Personalization Tags

Personalized marketing is typically successful marketing. The more you know about a person, the better you can target and communicate with them. One small facet of this in ActiveCampaign is the usage of personalization tags.

Personalization tags let you include custom greetings or use any information you have about a contact in your message. We recently decided to take a new look at this handy feature and we’ve now rolled out some new enhancements to it.

You can now add modifiers to personalization tags to control the case of how they appear in your messages. With this new update, gone are the days of:

Hello JOHN,

This type of “greeting” would occur when someone was signed up and in your mailing list with their first name in ALL CAPS. This sort of thing either occurred because they didn’t know how to turn the caps lock off, or some sort of export system, likely from a database exported them as such. Now we’ve made personalization tags that much more personal.

Where you would have previously written:

Hello %FIRSTNAME%,

You can now write:

Hello %FIRSTNAME|TITLECASE%,

And ActiveCampaign will do the work for you to normalize things for human consumption yielding the following instead.

Hello John,

Much better right? You are no longer held down by the oppressive reign of the mighty CAPS LOCK key.

We didn’t stop there though. Maybe you like things all capitalized? all lowercased? We’ve got you covered. Check out our newly revised Personalization Tags help document for more. Happy personalizing!

Taking the “Creepy” Out of Social Data

There’s a lot of talk these days about data. And there should be. We’re dumping more and more of it onto the open Internet every  single day. Each day that dawns, consumers should be more interested in the use of that data than the day before. The “creepy  line” keeps getting nudged forward.

Img: Jeremy Keith via Flickr

But we’re all better off because of it. (more…)

Gmail’s Experimental New Promotions Grid

In August of last year Google rolled out Gmail’s new tabbed inbox interface. This included the introduction of the new Social, and Promotions tabs. While this first gave some email marketers pause, we can say, almost six months later, that this has not significantly hurt open rates.

The way we look at it, anything that makes managing your inbox simpler is a net win for everyone. Email marketers especially. The Promotions tab means that the people who are interested in receiving your messages will have an easier time doing so, while the spammers will be buried further. It’s because of developments like this that Google has been able to start caching images and loading them by default.

Now that people have had some time to get used to Promotions, Google is looking to improve it further in new an exciting ways. Today the company announced a new experimental grid view for promotions.

This new grid view takes advantage of the image heavy nature of email marketing to create beautiful feature tiles for each message. This will make sorting through promotions easier than ever for your contacts, while also giving you a leg up at grabbing their attention beyond just the subject line.

We’re excited about this feature and think you should be too. The feature is currently experimental and those who want to try it out need to opt-into it at this point.

As this feature catches on we will look into how we can make optimizing your messages for the Promotions grid as easy as possible to take advantage of it. Though Google has already released some developer documentation so individual coders can get a head start today!

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

Gmail Promotions Grid

WordPress marketing with Spokal and ActiveCampaign

Every once in a while an integration is built with ActiveCampaign that deserves a special shout out. We found the integration built by Spokal to be pretty interesting. If you use WordPress to manage your site in any way, you need to see for yourself what they have done.

You can always learn more on the Spokal landing page highlighting the integration, but here are a few teasers of how Spokal + ActiveCampaign can be used to improve your current use of the WordPress platform for managing your website.

  • Add the entire top of funnel/inbound marketing automation capabilities from ActiveCampaign, from keyword search, to SEO grading, content creation, social sharing, social curation, and monitoring across all channels (web, email, social)
  • Lead Scoring
  • Sync between ActiveCampaign and contact information gathered on WordPress site
  • Marketing Automations triggered within ActiveCampaign from data gathered through Spokal
  • An enterprise quality collaborative solution at a price affordable to small and medium sized businesses

JustUno and ActiveCampaign’s Panties.com case study

Problem

Going into 2014, Panties.com CEO, Lila Williams, decided that social media marketing would become a major strategy moving forward to grow revenue, and that in particular, she wanted to focus on growing her email subscribers. Their natural fan acquisition rate hovered around 30 emails a month, or, about 1 new email subscriber a day. Our initial analysis showed that, despite tools such as “Follow us on Facebook” or “Submit your email for weekly deals”, the Fan Acquisition Rate (FAR) was lower than desired. A new, faster acquisition would be required to hit Panties.com’s lofty 2014 goals.

Decision

The Panties.com CEO decided that faster social fan base growth would help Panties.com hit their 2014 revenue goals. Ms. Williams decided to work with two providers: one social engagement platform, and one email marketing automation provider (Justuno and Active Campaign, respectively). Panties.com aimed to grow its social audience, while also reducing shopping cart abandonment rates, using Justuno Social Incentives on her website (www.Panties.com). After the email address was acquired, Active Campaign would be used to drip a series of two emails once the email address was obtained. These emails were focused on customer engagement and obtaining more information about the individual contacts. The case study was run over the 30-day period of November 27th – December 27th, 2013.

The three parties drafted up a plan of action: Justuno would provide the social incentives “hook” on the homepage, and active Campaign would manage the email campaign after the email was captured by the Justuno Social Marketing Widget. Panties.com would retain the creative portion of this effort, and came up with a clever Holiday campaign: “PantyClaus has a list, and he’s checking it twice. Have you been naughty or nice?”

Results

As you notice form the graph above, there was as a dramatic spike in volume of new subscribers during the time period involving the case study. During the previous month, which is our comparison time frame, there were 30 new subscribers for an average of .97 subscribers per day. While during the time of the case study (same length as previous months measurement), there were 285 new contacts who signed up which is a 843.33% increase over the previous month. Additionally (not seen in graph), customers who had previously been on other lists were able to re-engage and sign up for the JustUno special discount. The JustUno widget netted 196 contacts who were already in the panties.com data base, providing opportunity for rengagement. In total, 481 contacts signed up to join the new mailing list; an increase of 1483% over the previous month. Again, this includes contacts who have already been other other mailing lists, but it was a viable sales opportunity with both new and existing contacts.

With all of the data being gathered, the high number of new subscribers would be an exceptional month of sign ups for any email marketer, and there are a couple of macro reasons which can be associated with this. The case study was launched just before Black Friday and ran through Christmas, and the Christmas season is obviously a great time to run specials. It should be noted that the highest day of the month for subscriptions was Cyber Monday. Typically the results from JustUno’s sign up widget are expected to be about a 300%-400% increase over the previous results seen through a generic subscription form. With that being said, panties.com has continued to use JustUno and within four weeks they are right on track to be within the 500% range greater than the month prior to the case study.

As a bit of a side note, we saw tremendous results with the automated series ActiveCampaign designed as follow ups to the case study. Our first email went out immediately after subscription with a call to action of requesting more information beyond a simple email address. This campaign had a 65.30% open rate and a 28.13% interaction rate with our call to action. Once the call to action was acted upon, a second email was sent with a reminder of the discount code, and several links back to the panities.com website.

This campaign had an 87.76% open rate. Not only was the overall list building efforts a success, the follow ups were as well.

Summary

ActiveCampaign continuously strives to build the best platform possible. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to partner with companies like JustUno who have a specific area of focus which complements the ActiveCampaign platform. In the short time of a month, an ActiveCampaign customer was able to successfully increase the size of their contact list at a dramatically higher rate than previously possible through the implementations of our JustUno integration which was the entire goal of this case study. The rapid rate of list growth through a the JustUno subscription form far exceeded the initial expectations had and proved to be an incredibly strong indication of what can be accomplished when a powerful 3rd party platform is properly integrated in ActiveCampaign.

 

12 Contest Ideas for 2014 That Can Grow Your Email List

When you offer a downloadable pdf or a redeemable coupon in exchange for subscriber data, you are in effect bribing potential subscribers, in order to grab their attention.

The next level of bribing is running contests and sweepstakes! As co-founder of Antavo, a lead-generation platform I have seen a lot of good examples.Consider these the Big Bribing Brothers of pdf-s and coupons. (more…)

Boost your email list with viral Facebook contests

As a marketer, you rely on email. And it works! But how can you reach more people with your  campaigns? Grow your list (which is exactly what Antavo means)!

According to the recent research published on Marketing Sherpa 4 out of the 7 possible ways to grow email lists are about giving incentives to your customers: a coupon, a sweepstakes or a gift.

ActiveCampaign has made it easy for you to boost your email list by partnering up with Antavo, a simple to use social lead generation tool.

With Antavo you can easily put together viral sweepstakes (draws, quizzes, polls), contests (photos, videos, essays) and deals (group offers, coupons, giveaways) without the help of a developer. In a campaign spanning 2 to 3 weeks, you can collect thousands of new email subscribers (and new Facebook Page Likes) and also collect quality data about those subscribers. (See case studies on Antavo’s page.)

Learn more about how this integration can grow your lists in the ActiveCampaign app store.

Once you have signed up to Antavo, you should connect it with your ActiveCampaign account. In case of any difficulties, we’ve prepared a great help article to help you .

How to Collect Contact Data and Use It to Improve Your Email Marketing

This was a guest post provided by Bradford Shimp, the content manager at Batchbook

 Please join ActiveCampaign and Batchbook for our upcoming joint webinar

Email is a simple and effective way to communicate with your contacts. But, is it doing the job well enough for you? On your end, email is quick, easy, and cost effective. But what about your readers? Are you sending them the emails that they want to read? Do you even know anything about them, other than their email address?

It used to be that businesses knew a lot about customers and leads just by interacting with them. My dad, a classic salesman, could always remember the names of a contact’s spouse and children. Everyone in sales knows that learning this kind of personal information can help build rapport and make interactions much more friendly and meaningful.

But does this kind of rapport building have any place in modern email sales and marketing? Of course it does! When you have details about your email contacts, you can craft more personal messages to them. This will increase your success rate while helping your contacts feel more connected to you.

So, how do you collect the contact data that will help you do this?

Ask for more information

If you want to build out better profiles for your contacts, ask them to tell you a bit more about themselves. Maybe right now you only collect email addresses. If so, try adding a few more fields to your form. Name, of course, is essential. But what other information can you find out that will help you be more personal in your approach?

At Batchbook, we recently sent out a survey to get more details on customers, like their job title and the primary use they have for a CRM. This data helps us craft emails that will be relevant to them. A sales manager has different needs than a customer support manager.

You don’t need to collect all of your data up front. In fact, a long form on your website may just turn away potential leads. But once you have a little back and forth with a contact, don’t be afraid to ask for more details about who they are.

Take notes from your conversations

Not every piece of contact data can be (or should be) collected in a web form. A lot of tidbits can be picked up as you converse with a contact.

If you are on the phone with a lead, they might mention all kinds of interesting things about themselves that will help you email them more effectively later on. People will share information about their kids, their favorite sports teams, as well as nuanced details about their specific customer needs.

You can let these little details go in one ear and out the other and continue to just send generic emails. Or, if you’re smart, you can start to write this information down so you can use it later for more effective emails.

Aggregate contact data from multiple sources

Besides asking for information directly and picking it up from conversations, you can get a lot of data on your contacts on this beautiful thing we call the world wide web. Your contacts may be sharing info on social networks, blogs, and their business websites.

Doing a quick Google search for a person should turn up some interesting information. In a business to business setting, be sure to search LinkedIn, which will often reward you with a bunch of useful details on your contact.

There are also two great tools that can help you aggregate social data. Rapportive, which lives right in your Gmail inbox, shows you social details for your email contact. And Batchbook (shameless plug!) is a social CRM that lets you look up your contacts’ Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles and bring that social information right into their contact profile.

Where to Store and How to Use All That Data

Getting all that contact data is great, if you have a place where you can store it and use it. This is where CRM software comes in handy. With a tool like Batchbook, you can build out full contact profiles with every bit of information you collect on your contacts.

It’s important to choose a CRM that not only helps you store the info, but makes it easy for you to use it. In the case of email marketing, you want to be able to pull together groups of people who match certain criteria. For instance, “every lead who is living in LA who likes ice cream sandwiches.”

This is where the data you collect on your contacts becomes useful. By creating smaller groups of people who share similarities, you can move away from generic emails toward relevant emails that connect more personally with your readers.

Build these groups by first collecting useful data on your contacts in your CRM, then by sorting your contacts and moving the information you have on them into ActiveCampaign. Once you have that useful data in ActiveCampaign, you can really get specific with your emails, using things like personalization tags, conditional content, and segments, which will help you be more successful with each campaign.

Check our ActiveCampaign’s continuation of this post on the Batchbook blog called “How to turn your contact data into marketing opportunities

ExecutiveJobspro.com — Email Marketing within the job search industry

This week, I was able to speak with Rob Mason, founder of ExecutiveJobspro.com. He provided several tips for marketers who are entering (or in) saturated markets and explains why email marketing is essential for success.

What is Executive Jobs Pro, where are you located, and how did you get your start.

We are a career matching service (10 different sites for different job categories), helping job seekers take control of their search and shorten the time it takes to finding a great new job or career path. Our HQ is in Newport Beach, CA. However, we have Account Managers throughout the country. I am the only member of our services group that doesn’t come from staffing. I was an out of work producer that decided to do a documentary on the job market. I was so frustrated with my search. What I was doing felt like I was handing control of my future to someone else. I went for it and after meeting a ton of corporate recruiters I realized that what they look for in winning candidates was not information I had as a job seeker. A business was born. I built a team of insiders with connections and knowledge that I believed job seekers didn’t have.

Your business seems to focus on two groups: employers and employees. What are some of the unique ways you approach marketing for each individual group?

The key to a successful job search is an actual job search strategy. Most employ the least effective tools to land a job (job boards, waiting for headhunters to call). Our marketing is designed to spark a conversation, a personal and informed interaction. Once a prospective member has a chat or phone conversation with us there is an “aha” moment. This is typically followed by the realization that they have been using the worst practices to find a job. But, this feeling is tempered by the realization that now they have an effective partner for their search. We drive all marketing to this one-on-one interaction. After all, our service is not a software system. For us, it’s about a deep personal connection with our members.

Has email marketing always been apart of your marketing model or is it something that was added in to the mix over time? What made you decide email marketing was a useful tool for your business?

Email marketing is the most effective marketing for us behind word-of-mouth marketing/referrals. It’s about delivering a message to your audience in a specific moment, when they are ready for us. If we relied on ad marketing we would not be able to deliver messages over an extended period of time with consistency. Email marketing is about being consistent and showing your audience that you have what they need. It’s also an excellent conversation starter. We have been using email marketing for 9 years.

It seems the job website market is fairly saturated. What are some of the things you have done to set yourself apart?

We provide a service that we believe no other company can, actual contact with former Fortune 1000 recruiters. Our Account Managers have corporate recruitment contacts that they leverage to find the right jobs for each of our members, while these jobs are in the all important network and referral phase. Additionally, these talented staffing vets are available to guide our members and non-members with job search strategies, resume help and, most often, a boost of confidence for their search. From the time you arrive on our site and chat with an account manager (again, an actual former Fortune 1000 corporate recruiter) through the sign up process where you are writing to us about your search (we don’t use pull down windows or automation) there is a human being receiving your information and working for you at every step. Again, it’s a very personal and human experience. By the way, you guys provide the same level of personal experience which is unlike the other email services we have worked with. It makes a big difference.

What are 3 tips you can offer to ActiveCampaign users who are either getting ready to or have recently entered into a market which has a lot of competition?

  • Read customer reviews on competitors.
  • Have folks you know sign up with competitors and let you know what they loved and what they loathed.
  • And, the biggest treasure, ask potential customers what they want from a service. Every change we have made that has worked for us came from what the customer told us they needed vs. what we wanted them to experience. My biggest lesson, take my ego out of the equation. The customers make the service.

In regards to email marketing, what are a couple of your favorite features and why?

  • Live stats are huge. I know what we are going to do in a day in terms of revenue within two hours of the launch of our morning campaigns. ActiveCampaign offers a really cool interface that allows me to see what’s happening with the campaigns. This sets up my day and has made us more efficient as a company.
  • My favorite feature is your online chat. When we have questions or hit a snag with campaign performance you guys are ready and I don’t have to sit on hold forever.
  • Lastly, the deliverability of your service has the others we have used beat by at least 20%, that adds up. Thanks!!!

Why do you consider email marketing to be value adding to the job finder industry?

Yes, all of the services out there use it. We know because we are signed up with most of them…gotta know what your competitors are doing.