8 Keys to Making Your Emails Go Viral

Direct Marketing News“It’s the scatter shot of social versus that sniper bullet of the forward.” That’s how I described the difference between the reach-maximizing social share and the conversion-maximizing email forward in an interview with Elyse Dupré of Direct Marketing News about the findings of our Viral Email report.

We spoke at length about the report, which analyzed 400,000+ emails to uncover the secrets of email virality, and today Elyse shared her eight key takeaways for how to make your emails go viral:

  1. Start by taking a look at your email editorial calendar.
  2. Concentrate on subscribers’ hierarchy of needs.
  3. Know what kind of virality you’re hoping to achieve.
  4. Make it clear that you’re doing something special.
  5. Include a SWYN call-to-action button.
  6. Narrow down your audience.
  7. Keep your content simple.
  8. Know what types of email are most virality-prone.

>> Read the full article on DMNews.com

Read the full post on Litmus.comTriggered emails have a reputation for being ‘set it and forget it” programs. Unfortunately, that’s just not true, and it’s becoming less and less true every day.

As we discuss in our recent “Designed for Success” webinar, there are two compelling reasons to regularly update your triggered emails: (1) quality assurance and (2) optimization.

Because email operates in a dynamic environment of email clients, browsers, and devices and because business goals and assets routinely change, you need to regularly review your emails to avoid:

  • Broken links/redirects and old navigation links
  • Out-of-date logo and branding
  • Out-of-date messaging (benefits, options, etc.)
  • Faulty trigger logic
  • Broken rendering and functionality because of code support changes at ISPs

Optimization is always important, but it is particularly so right now with triggered emails because of the explosive trend of expanding single triggered emails into a series of emails. That means there’s now much more to test, optimize, and update, such as…

  • The number of emails in the series
  • The conditions in which the next email in the series is sent (or not sent)
  • The timing of not only the first email in the series, but of all the subsequent ones
  • The messaging in each email in the series and how they interact with each other

>> Read the entire post on Litmus.com

>> Watch our “Designed for Success” webinar now

Download The Viral Email reportWe tend to associate “going viral” with social media—in part because it’s relatively easy to see and measure the very public noise of social sharing in terms of likes, favorites, and retweets. However, the much quieter email forward is often a much more powerful influencer.

In our latest research report, The Viral Email, we used Litmus’ Email Analytics to better understand the quiet, often invisible influence of email forwards by analyzing the forwards generated by more than 400,000 email sends. Once we had a good view of the full spectrum of email forwarding and had constructed benchmarks around forward-to-open rates, we analyzed more than 200 emails from among the top 1% of viral emails and another 200-plus emails from around the 50th percentile.

We looked at the tactics and topics of these two groups of emails and compared them—identifying those elements that increase forward-to-open rates. The findings—some of which were truly surprising—highlight a number of opportunities that email marketers have to increase how much their emails are passed along.

>> Download The Viral Email report

The Last Word on May 2015

The Last WordA roundup of email marketing articles, posts, tweets, and examples you might have missed last month…

Must-read articles, posts & whitepapers

Which Digital Channels Are Marketers Best Able to Measure for ROI? (Marketing Charts)

Top Ten Tips to Improved Email Deliverability (Inbox Marketer)

How To Send a Hidden Version of Your Email That Only Apple Watch Will See (Litmus)

Nine Years, 200 Columns – And More to Come (MediaPost)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

@KentMcGovern: “I will sue you if you don’t remove this blacklist” – Things NOT to say to a blacklist operator in the hopes of being delisted.

@bjlgroup: We love creating fun, effective digital work. Here’s our #StarWars email for Asda with a craftily hidden #DarthVader: pic.twitter.com/1cxKVHNYiF

@iamelliot: I like that the anti-email lobby goes from “email is dead” to “there’s far too much email” seemingly without irony http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/technology/internet/article4433004.ece

Noteworthy subject lines

The Container Store, 5/18 — 10% off Click & Pickup OR Free Shipping
Vera Bradley, 5/11 — For the Grad who’s going places …
Express, 5/11 — Party season is here!
MoMA Store, 5/29 — Make it Pop! Staff Picks for Father’s Day
NFLshop, 5/27 — #1 Dad? We have a tee for that…PLUS Free Shipping over $50
Under Armour, 5/24 — What Athletes Wear Off The Field
ModCloth, 5/23 — What your closet NEEDS this season…
Garnet Hill, 5/13 — Maxi Dresses (may transform sidewalks into catwalks)
Anthropologie, 5/24 — The place: outdoors. The hour: twilight.
Barneys New York, 5/27 — The Perfect Summer Accessory? A Statement Necklace
ModCloth, 5/27 — Everybody in the pool!
Lululemon, 5/19 — out of office
Clinique, 5/20 — For beach & beyond: swim shirt with sun protection.
Sephora, 5/22 — In Stores now: the 16-piece Sun Safety Kit is here
Gap, 5/24 — 10 vacation-ready looks
MoMA Store, 5/13 —Vacation Beckons! Indispensable Travel Items for Your Summer Jaunts
Express, 5/19 — Tickets booked? Here’s your packing list
Barneys New York, 5/13 — Your Memorial Day Weekend Packing List
AutoAnything, 5/13— Are We There Yet?
J.Crew, 5/29 — All under $100: this month’s 60-second shopping guide
Brooks Brothers, 5/26 — Receive 15% off (for your thoughts).
Pier 1 Imports, 5/19 — Get 20% off headboards that make the bed.
Harley-Davidson, 5/11 — #RollYourOwn. Street Art.
Clinique, 5/30 — Pin your #StartBetter goal for a chance to win.

New posts on EmailMarketingRules.com

My Time as a MediaPost Email Insider: 8 years, 163 columns

Learn the Secrets of Viral Emails at Salesforce Connections on 6/17

What the Verizon-AOL Deal Might Mean for Email Marketers

Try a Cart Abandonment Email ‘Sandwich’

Buy, Buy, Bye: The Perils of Overly Salesy Emails

The Last Word on April 2015

View all of Chad's MediaPost columnsThis month was my last as MediaPost Email Insider. I’ve decided to move on and explore other opportunities, but I wanted to publicly thank MediaPost for sticking with me for 8 years and 3 months through three job changes and three acquisitions.

During my time as an Email Insider, I wrote 163 columns. I used these columns to highlight the findings of much of the email marketing research I’ve done over the years, to provoke industry conversations, and to share my thoughts about news and the future of email marketing.

As I look back on all the Email Insider columns I’ve written, here are some of the ones I’m most proud of:

Is Email Marketing Cheap — Or Does It Have A High ROI? (Mar. 24, 2015)

This column explains why your answer to this question—or, more importantly, your boss’s answer to this question—will easily predict the future success or failure of your email program.

More Email Marketing Double-Dog Dares (May 20, 2014)

I’m a huge fan of email testing as a path to more relevant emails and this column is the fourth in a series where I challenge marketers to try some more adventurous tests. The other ones were Once Again, I Double-Dog Dare You! (May 20, 2013), I Double-Dog Dare You! (Apr. 13, 2010) and Why Aren’t We More Daring? (Sept. 18, 2008).

Why You Shouldn’t Ask Your Gmail Subscribers To Re-Tab Your Emails (Aug. 13, 2013)

In recent years, Gmail has shaken up the industry with Priority Inbox, “grid view,” image caching, and—its biggest bombshell—Tabs. In this column, I urged calm in the wake of the launch of Gmail Tabs, which ultimately turned out to be a plus for marketers with good permission practices and processes in place to ensure that they send relevant email.

Six Email Marketing Predictions For 2013 (Jan. 2, 2013)

This was my most shared column, with more than 1,170 shares. Predictions 1, 2, 4, and 5 were pretty spot on. 6 was sort of right. And 3 was just wrong—and sadly, still hasn’t come to pass.

‘Best Practices’ Are Dead (Nov. 9, 2010)

This column was the genesis of my book, Email Marketing Rules. The “Ethical Imperatives” and “Recommended Practices” in this column ultimately became the 10 “Fundamental Imperatives” and 98 “Practice Guidelines” of the first edition. And I used my Email Insider columns to debut several of the concepts I discuss in the second edition, including granted media, the subscriber lifecycle, super-engagement, and confirmed opt-in lite.

When Subscribers Use SWYN, You Win (Oct. 30, 2008)

In this column I coined the term “share with your network,” or SWYN, which awesomely became a common industry term. I was an early advocate of the social sharing of email content and continue to be a strong supporter of email and social working together.

Thanks again to MediaPost for allowing me to be an Email Insider and for putting me in the company of so many of the email marketing industry’s greatest minds.

Join Justine Jordan and me at Salesforce Connections on June 17 at 2:45pm where we’ll be sharing insights from our upcoming report on The Viral Email. We’ll be sharing benchmarks on email forwarding behavior, insights into what causes subscribers to forward emails, and real-world examples of emails from the top 1% of viral emails.

We hope to see you in New York City on June 17!

>> Register for Connections

Litmus speaking at Salesforce Connections

View all of Chad's MediaPost columnsWhile all of the buzz around the $4.4 billion Verizon-AOL deal is about adding more content, video, and ad generation to the mobile company’s distribution platform, the acquisition will also likely affect email marketers.

AOL is one of the oldest and most experienced inbox providers and, in terms of webmail rendering, is one of the absolute best. Verizon also operates email inboxes under the Verizon and FiOS brand names. Expect consolidation of these systems.

However, on the mobile email side of the equation, AOL is not very strong. Expect Verizon to fix that by bringing their mobile savvy to the table.

With a little investment and some smart marketing, Verizon could likely double AOL’s current email client market share and start to get into the race with Google and Microsoft.

>> Read the entire column on MediaPost.com

Read this entire post on the Cloud.IQ blogDespite being highly effective, adoption of shopping cart abandonment emails is still low and growing slowly. Only 23% of major retailers sent a shopping cart abandonment email, as of December 2014, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud research. That’s up from 20% adoption in December 2013.

However, what is growing very quickly is the adoption of cart abandonment email series. Among those retailers using cart abandonment emails in December 2014, 50% sent a series of emails, up from just 19% the previous year.

Sending a series of cart abandonment emails gives brands more opportunities to convert carts into orders. However, many brands are largely sending the same messaging over and over.

In this guest post for Cloud.IQ, I recommend using the additional touches of a cart abandonment email series to try to address different needs and desires that are keeping customers from checking out—and in particular, I encourage you to swap out the middle message in your 3-email cart abandonment series and create what I call the cart abandonment email “sandwich.” To make one of these sandwiches…

>> Read the entire article on the Cloud.IQ blog

Chad White on InternetRetailer.comEmail marketing excels at driving sales. That’s in large part due to consumers’ overwhelmingly preference to receive deals, discounts, and other promotions via email rather than through other channels. However, there are very real dangers to being overly promotional with your email messaging mix.

In this column for Internet Retailer, I discuss what’s driving these risks up and what the consequences are. I also talk about the following soft-sell tactics and share real-world examples of each:

  • Education. For many products, consumers don’t know they need it until they’re educated about the product or about the circumstances that drive its need.
  • How-To. Similar to education, how-to advice is rather critical for suppliers of raw materials, like home improvement stores and art supplies stores.
  • News & Information. News and other updates can keep subscribers engaged with the product category that’s key to your business.
  • Social Interactions. Part of what becomes grating about promotional emails is that it’s always the brand talking at the subscriber. By leveraging social interactions, you can bring the voice of your customers into your messaging.
  • Cause Marketing & Branding Building. What does your company care about besides selling things?

>> Read the entire article on InternetRetailer.com

The Last Word on April 2015

The Last WordA roundup of email marketing articles, posts, tweets and examples you might have missed last month…

Must-read articles, posts & whitepapers

Email Marketers Are Failing to Engage New Subscribers (Direct Marketing News)

Use Email To Overcome The Customer ‘Experience Void’ (MediaPost)

On the dubious merits of email verification services (Spamhaus)

The Ultimate Guide to Preview Text Support (Litmus)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

@emailskinny: .@Intuit @TurboTax playing fast & loose with CAN SPAM prohibition of misleading subject lines. #FAIL http://t.co/d4wNJmabN4

@stylecampaign: Gmail doing a number on Hillary’s welcome… pic.twitter.com/4Xxkyh9YKK

@SalesforceDeliv: Which ISPs have FBLs, postmaster pages, etc? @wise_laura covers that here: sforce.co/1cvOEhS ^Al

@wise_laura: .@hajududat @litmusapp Using any public URL shortener in an email means trusting your delivery reputation to a 3rd party you don’t control

@jvanrijn: Can’t sleep because of something that is too awesome? #Awesomnia.

Noteworthy subject lines

Vera Bradley, 4/29 — Pick a Straw, any Straw…
Blue Nile, 4/22 — Power Couple: Your Love. Our Rings.
Godiva Chocolatier, 4/22 — Redeem Your Rewards Before They Expire!
Horchow, 4/13 — Annie Selke redefines luxury & shares her faves on Pinterest
NFLshop, 4/30 — With the 32nd pick, the New England Patriots select Malcolm Brown!
NFL, 4/22 — Don’t Miss the 2015 NFL Draft. Set Reminders Now!
NFLshop, 4/22 — Patriots 2015 Schedule RELEASED + All Orders over $50 Ship Free!
Golfsmith, 4/13 — Celebrate Jordan Spieth’s Win with 15% Off!
Barneys New York, 4/29 — Mum’s the Word: Shop the Chicest Mother’s Day Gifts
Zulily, 4/22 — Give Earth a hug with Seventh Generation, Burt’s Bees Baby, Green Toys and more!
Lands’ End, 4/22 — Join us in recognizing Earth’s big day
Threadless, 4/22 — Buy a tee, we’ll plant a tree
Banana Republic, 4/13 — Hate taxes? Open this ASAP.
Overstock, 4/1 — Are You the Victim of an April Fools’ Prank?
Zulily, 4/1 — Last-minute 30-second prank inside‏
ModCloth, 4/1 — In the pursuit of cute, we’re changing our name to “ModSloth.”

New posts on EmailMarketingRules.com

#Webinar: Join Me for “Designed for Success” at CloudIQ Summit on 5/28

How Emails Are Evolving into Mailable Microsites

I’ve Joined Litmus as Research Director

How Would An Email Tax Change Email Marketing?

Build Smarter Emails with These 5 Blueprints

April Fools’ Day Emails: Wise or Foolish?

The Last Word on March 2015

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