improve email marketing

When using e-mail for your business purposes, it can be difficult to understand how to effectively market yourself and portray a professional image. This is especially important in the current market where individuals expect your quality of service to be exceptional, while providing a good price, and remaining on a reasonable schedule. We have outlined some of the steps that you can take in order to ensure that your e-mail is working for you rather than against you.

Stop using bought e-mail lists

When you buy an e-mail list, you will be reaching people who do not necessarily want anything to do with your content. This is also true for rented e-mail lists, with the exception that you cannot see the e-mail addresses that you are mailing. Furthermore, good e-mail lists won't be given up – why would someone want to tarnish their good name with their own customers by handing those customers off to the highest bidder?

Use instead opt-in e-mail lists. The option of opting into your e-mail list ensures that only people who want to receive your marketing will receive it. You have already established a type of working relationship with these people, and they already want to know what you have to say. They are then more likely to read your e-mails, and are even more likely to pass them along to their friends and colleagues. This type of spreading is what your business needs to survive, otherwise you'll just be considered spam, potentially never to reach your target audience.

Start using e-mail marketing tools

The most commonly used tool to measure the “success” of an e-mail list is the number of clicks your e-mails to receive, and many people stop there. However, this is just one component of an effective marketing strategy. Clicks don't actually do anything to prove effectiveness or efficiency; they only provide an estimate of the number of curious readers. There are a number of other tools that will provide more helpful in gauging the success of your marketing e-mails in the long run.

You should be tracking engagement over time. If someone has been on your list for two years and has only clicked ten times, they're not as interested as someone who has been on your list for six months and has clicked ten times – even though the total number of clicks is the same.

You should pay attention to your unsubscribe rate, as well as the reasons why users unsubscribe. If you are noticing that many of your users are unsubscribing, obviously they're not providing any value to you – you should therefore examine why they are unwilling to continue receiving communications from you.

Pay attention to the time your users spend viewing your e-mails. This is important because someone who actively reads the entire content of your e-mails is just as valuable to your business as someone who rarely reads the content, but clicks regularly. These people are your audience – the people who find your e-mails the most beneficial to them.

What device do your readers use to access your content? This is becoming an increasingly important concern as almost everyone is now using smart phones and tablets for business purposes. Ensuring that your content can be viewed on a variety of devices ensures that your readers will actually check your content on their current device – if they have to return to it from their computer, they are statistically unlikely to do so.

What e-mail client are they using? This goes hand-in-hand with the device optimization, as not all of your customers will be using the same e-mail clients. If you understand what clients you need to provide content for (ideally, all of them) you can make sure that your e-mails will show up properly no matter how they choose to receive their e-mail.

Track and Analyze

It's one thing to know the answers to the above questions; being able to determine how you can use it to your advantage is an entirely different subject. You must be able to evaluate the data that these marketing tools have provided you with in order to make sure that you can fix the problems. Sometimes, these problems aren't fixable – in these cases it may be best to start over.

Titles Matter – Keep them Short!

With the vast expansion of e-mail marketing, you need to be sure that your e-mails aren't ignored, or worse, unsubscribed. You need to make sure you're delivering punchy titles that effectively communicate the key points of what the e-mail will hold – typically using your target keywords. Additionally, long titles can be truncated if they don't fit. While the full subject will still be visible if the user knows how to display it, why make them go through that extra work?


There was a time when data was hard to come by. Marketers had to go out, meet and coerce unwilling customers to participate in surveys, focus groups and interviews. Also, such an exercise could cover only a very small sample of people owing to logistical limitations. Then, one day internet happened and changed everything forever. Online data collection and analytics changed the way marketers collected market intelligence and now with the advent of what we call “Big Data”, they are having more than they can possibly handle.

It has been noticed that while most companies invest a lot of resources to collect data, very few actually know how to use them. They generally join the bandwagon following industry experts and conduct market research but it takes a bit more work to actually extract some benefit out of the collected data. While it depends completely on the nature of business as well as the long term objectives, a few best practices always need to be kept in mind.

Learn More About Your Customer:

When we see the amount of traffic flowing into our website, we feel great. We love to explore how people are arriving at the site and how the numbers are growing. However, there is more to analytics than such narcissistic obsessions. The point that eludes a lot of marketers is that the analytics tells you a lot about your customer too. So, such data must be used to understand the habits and behavior of your customers. You can easily figure out the average profile of your buyers by noting their age groups, gender, use of devices (smartphone, PC, tablet), choice of content etc. More personal insights will help you create better strategies for luring your customers and promoting your products.

Dig deeper into Social Data:

While website analytics form the core of online data, marketers are gradually waking up to the importance of social data. As everyone is on one social network or the other, there is absolutely no excuse to social data. Earlier it was hard to collect such data but nowadays there are scores of apps and tools available. For instance you can use a tool like Mention to figure out the social buzz around a topic and then formulate your promotional campaign. The key is to dig deep into such data and understand the preferences and needs of your target customer. This data must be used to create specific segments among your social audience and discover new insights about their behavior.

Look at the Trends Within the Trends:

Tools like Google trends offer you a lot of data about the prevailing issues that people are talking about at the moment. You can go deeper and check the search volumes of various keywords in different niches and regions. In order to make the most of it, you can use this tool to gauge the popularity of any topic. For instance, if you are planning to write about something on your official blog, you can do a quick search here to see if people are interested in that particular topic at all or not.

Explore Predictive Analytics:

If you are looking for something more complex and advanced, you must consider predictive modelling. It is a technique that analyses behavioral data of the past consumers and tries to predict the purchase decisions of the consumers in the future. For instance, here is an interesting case study of a certain college that used the preferences of its best students from past batches to create targeted online adverts and it saw a huge jump in enrollments for the next batch as the ad reached more number of potential prospects.

Identify Exact Points of Conversion or Failure:

From discovery to purchase, the sales cycle has a long funnel with a lot of bottlenecks. The kind of detailed website analytics we have nowadays can provide information about exact points of conversion or for that matter the point of exit. For instance, if some people are clicking on adverts and visiting a website but not making a purchase, we can always see at what point they are leaving the website. For instance, if a lot of people are adding items to the cart but not completing the purchase, this little piece of data can tell you that there is probably a problem in your payment system that needs to be corrected.


Finally, with so much data available for every person on earth, there is no reason not to go for a higher level of personalization. In general customers always like when a brand message is personalized as it makes them feel important and enhances their self-worth. Now, with all the personal details available online, marketers can curate messages according to the personal preferences and tastes of every customer to achieve new levels of engagement as well as satisfaction.


Every great business needs a good core message. What this message represents is not just a simple phrase, it is also not simply a string of words; a core message is an idea that is tightly intertwined with the very spirit and values of your way of doing business. Sometimes it is hard to think of a good core message, however once you scratch the surface you will see that the core message is always already there, all you need to do is discover it.

What does a good core message even mean?

Having a good core message is a first step toward a much greater goal, the goal of becoming a brand. Becoming a brand means that every product that you produce or a service you provide contains in itself the very essence of what your business is all about. So a good core message is one that can perfectly transfer this message into the mind of your target demographic, but in order to do so, you first need to know who exactly your target demographic is.

Making a core message

As we already mentioned, a good core message depends of your target demographic and an objective evaluation of your product. Take the product that you sell or the service you provide and envision your perfect client. Now imagine yourself speaking directly to that imaginary person and trying to sway him or her on your side. Devise a way to make them feel special. Since you already know that the thing you provide is an ideal for them all you need to do is make them come to this conclusion on their own.

A single most important thing here is motivation and everyone knows that intrinsic motivation is by far the most effective one. Different demographic groups are looking for different things and by trying to appeal to everyone you may find yourself not reaching anyone. Make a clear statement what you offer and who it is intended for and in this way make your ideal customer feel special. Make you ideal customer feel as if the product or the service that you offer is made exclusively for him or her.


Delivering a message

As one of the most famous The Dark Knight quotes goes, it’s about sending the message. Here again you are highly dependent on the features and properties of your target demographic. Discover the way to deliver this message through a commercial, series of meaningful events or through the use of media in correlation with your demographic. This way, you will already be on your way towards transforming your business into a brand and your core message into commonly used and recognizable motto.

Some successful core messages

One of the greatest, and probably best recognizable core messages is contained in the Nike’s logo, “Just do it!” What this is, is not simply a string of words but a whole philosophy, an idea from a company that sells sports gear that their products are used exclusively by winners. Another two great and shiny examples are that of Apple or Harley Davidson which seemingly have nothing in common, but when you scratch the surface you come to realize that what they are selling are not products but lifestyles. These are the brands that create the kind of loyalty that passes from one generation to another.

What makes the difference between the good and the bad core message?

The answer, when posted like this may seem as something terribly complicated when in fact it is a simple one. The answer lies in one Humphrey Bogart’s famous quotes from 1955 masterpiece We’re No Angels, “I don’t sell a product, I sell an idea.” The realization that every product that you sell and advertise is not a piece on its own but one genuine part of a whole, that every single product is your entire company is a notion that, when put to paper, must be a good core message. In turn a bad core message is a motto that is made up simply because of necessity of a company to have any motto.

You need to convince your clients that by buying from you or doing business with you, they become a part of a family that is your company. You need to convince them that you are all on the same page that you are, after all, one team. Building a good core message is not about improving a business, it is building a legacy. In this dog-eat-dog world of modern business anything that can give you a competitive edge is more than welcome and having a great competitive edge is probably just the thing you were looking for.

While Public Relations (PR) has always been a complementary procedure to traditional promotions, digital marketing has come up as the most potent source of leads and sales in recent times. Considering the nature of these two activities, some people wonder if they can be merged into one. Especially in recent years, with the increasing quality orientation of the search engines, we are seeing a gradual shift in digital marketing towards quality rather than quantity, thus taking it all the more closer to PR. Let us have a look at this issue in detail from three major perspectives.


Content Marketing

Content marketing has been the buzzword in digital marketing of late. What does it basically mean? It is all about creating quality content that is useful and informative to the prospective customers so that they perceive you as the authority in the field and purchase your product or services in the long run.

This has become necessary because competition is too high and the internet is saturated with information. The only way for you to stand out is to create exceptional content. Also, search engines are also getting smarter and they value long, in-depth content instead of desperate link-bait articles.

Now, this is where the PR comes in. In fact, this is something they have been doing for ages. PR material naturally needs to get published in the mainstream media. So, the quality of their content must be up to the mark. So, they have the requisite skills to play a major role in content marketing by standardizing the content creation and more importantly by getting published in major publications.

Link Building

As we know already, gone are the days of spammy, bulk link building. You do not have to get thousands of links from random websites to improve your SEO. What the search engines value instead is quality back links. You do not need hundreds or thousands of them. A handful of links from reputable websites such as major newspapers or authority sites in your field are worth their weight in gold.

Progressive companies have seen the need to diversify content in order to attract links. Companies have used Infographics and Instructographics combined with blogger outreach to attract links. Others, like Shopify, use widgets and templates to attract links by providing a free service of value. Brands need to focus on creating something of GENUINE value, something that others are not offering, that solves a pain point for their audience.

Now, again this is something where PR expert excel. PR specializes in leveraging contacts to create publicity in major publications. Where does SEO end and PR begin, or vice versa? Essentially the roles are the same, but PR experts have been building their networks for decades.


Social Media

Just like any other medium, social networking is maturing now after initial turbulent years. Even here we are noticing emerging trends that suggests the importance of quality content as well as influencer endorsements. Authority and reputation matters more now compared to volume and showmanship.

So, yet again this plays perfectly for the PR experts. For instance, getting shared on Facebook or retweeted by a celebrity or an authority figure of your field can do wonders to your business. Generally such people have thousands or even millions of followers. One such share can get you thousands of visitors. But the question is, how do you get such people to endorse you? This is exactly where your PR manager comes in handy. After all, building contacts is what she does for a living. Modern day PR also includes getting approval of influential figures on social media.

The road ahead:

PR must evolve to adopt new technologies and at the same time digital marketing must mature to build media presence and authority. While PR and digital marketing always had overlapping operations, now we can safely say that both are on the verge of becoming synonymous. SEO agencies, in-house digital departments, and others that are involved in this field need to rapidly adapt to use the same techniques as PR agencies, and vice versa. This evolution is inevitable.

SeattleNewYearI'm always a fan of the super human approach to doing business. And who doesn't like to get reminded that someone out there appreciates their business? Here at SBT, our take on this usually involves sparing no expense on card stock (seriously, think American Psycho levels of overthinking it), handwritten obscure literary quotes, and sent just about whenever we darn well please. Sarah Ross from Inwood Greeting Cards thinks if it's work doing, it's worth doing right, so here's her take:


In today’s always-connected world, you have endless opportunities to digitally connect with your customers and business associates. A dashed-off email takes very little time, and is a great way to let a large group of people know about a special sale or promotional event. However, the flip side is that yours is far from the only business doing just that. Every time your contacts open their email, they are bombarded with digital advertising of every description.

To cut through the clutter and make a real impression, try sending out printed holiday cards instead. A handwritten message is unexpected, makes the recipient feel good, and gives you a few uninterrupted moments of that person’s time. What you send and when you send it can make a real difference in how it is interpreted. Follow these 5 tips to make the best impression every time.

1. Choose unexpected holidays

There’s nothing wrong with sending a card on Christmas or New Year’s, but those are busy times for both business and personal card exchanges. Recipients are distracted, their snail mail boxes are overflowing, and they may not have time to truly appreciate what you have to say.

Why not send a card at a more unexpected time instead? The recipient’s birthday is a great time to offer a special promotion. Halloween is perfect for businesses that serve families or deal in costumes or special effects. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July are all-American times to reach out to customers in the U.S., while Memorial Day and Veterans Day provide tremendous opportunities for those who support the military. Bring up a list of holidays online, and figure out which ones work best with your particular line of business and target market.

2. Make it catchy but classy

While emails are quickly deleted, archived, or ignored, many people save printed cards. They might even be shared with friends or displayed in the home or office. To increase the odds of your card being kept, choose an eye-catching design that is aesthetically pleasing. Avoid anything that is too extreme or not family-friendly.

3. Incorporate branding

Your holiday cards are a great way to enhance your brand. The colors and design do not need to match your overall advertising scheme, but they shouldn’t go off in a wildly different direction. For example, a healthcare provider will do best with colors that reflect healing and hope, while a fireworks supplier would do well to stick to bright graphics.

Find a way to incorporate your logo, catch phrase, or other element that solidly supports your overall brand. Be careful with this, though, as you don’t want your card to come off as just another piece of direct mail. Exercise restraint by remembering that less is more.

4. Personalize without getting personal

Make the time to hand write a personalized message that acknowledges your existing relationship and states your reason for making contact. This ensures that your contact feels valuable, which can encourage him to further the relationship by making another purchase or providing a referral.

At the same time, remember that your relationship is a business one. Don’t veer off into personal territory, which could make the recipient feel uncomfortable. Even if your wording is strictly professional, remember that religion is a highly personal matter. Avoid sending religious cards of any sort unless you are positive that your contact shares your religious beliefs.

5. Stay on target

A holiday card gives you the opportunity to further your business by making an individual pitch. Before you start writing, however, think about your reasons for sending the card. Are you hoping for a referral? Do you want the person to make another purchase? Are you trying to open a networking relationship with a business associate?

A holiday card is not the appropriate venue for a hard sell, but there is nothing wrong with clearly stating your request. Keep it short and simple, and close with a call to action that tells the recipient exactly how to follow up. For example, you might ask her to call a direct phone number or enter a discount code online.

If you’re looking for quality greeting cards, Inwood Greeting Cards can help. We offer personalized greeting cards for all events, suitable for business use.

Here's Nate at our last Workshop (in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group) discussing the importance of tempo with your newsletters to keep your customers engaged.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online!

In our latest Workshop (in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group) Nate breaks down how to create a good cold email or newsletter framework. Email is important in how you can connect with new & existing clients, influencers and allies, but it's not a silver bullet solution. Increase your odds of a successful connection/result by relentlessly obsessing over this video.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene ( who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online (!


During our latest Workshop (in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group) Nate discusses the difference between Email versus Social Media as tools and the tactics needed to effectively use them for your business.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online! Check out the clip below:

Here's Nate in action at our latest Workshop (in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group) discussing the brutal importance of being specific with email subject lines, using a vivid description of a rock climbing wall as an example.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online!

Our latest Workshop was in Grass Valley, CA with the Nevada County Online meetup group. You see Nate discussing the brutal importance of being specific, and why it matters, in how to identify, attract (and retain) customers & clients via direct personalized email and recurring newsletters.

HUGE thank you to Doug Greene who handled the video & audio, and our wonderful host Nevada County Online!

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