Mailjet Monday: Amir Jirbandey

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This Monday, we sat down to chat with Amir Jirbandey, our Inbound Marketing Lead in the UK. Amir shares some upcoming projects, his favorite coffee and even a tip on bubble football.

1) What do you do for Mailjet?

I’m the Inbound Marketing Lead for Mailjet in UK. As part of the Inbound Marketing team, our mission is to extend our brand reach and invite users to engage with our content and Mailjet’s platform through organic, fun and friendly ways. This ranges from a variety of creative projects from infographics to hosting ‘Growth Hack’ sessions to running educational webinars and creating partnerships with other ecosystems such as co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators up and down the UK. I’m on a mission to help companies send better email!

2) What does a typical day look like for you?

Before all else, there’s the coffee. At the moment I’m drinking Irmas Pereira roasted by Pact. After that I get on with sorting through our Mention dashboard to see any new social posts or websites where people are talking about Mailjet. After responding to a few emails and users getting in touch with us through Twitter and Facebook, I crack on with a few content creation projects I’m working on. Right now that includes the content for our upcoming webinar and a few more secretive projects, which will be due out during this summer.

Most days includes a series of online meetings with some of our Growthpack partners where we discuss current collaborations, calls with some of our ecosystem partners in London and new users who ask for assistance when integrating their products with Mailjet.

3) Favorite Mailjet moment?

There’s definitely a few, including beating the Dev and Marketing team in poker and going laser tagging with the Paris team for Christmas ’14. The winner I think might have to be the surprise bubble football match we had as part of our first marketing summit in January this year.The key to winning bubble football is to stay low to the ground. Keeping in the startup mentality we tend to work quite hard, with regular 6 or 7 day weeks. So when we get a chance, we play hard as well (till someone gets hurt like I did during bubble football)!

4) Your top 3 go-to tools for working with an international/partly remote team?

Slack has been one of the main tools we use internally for instant chat and collaboration on specific projects. Buffer has been a great tool to share social media tasks between our multiple channels and also track everyone’s progress through statistics to see what’s worked for us, where and why. The number one spot goes to Google Apps for Work. From Hangouts to being able to share Google Docs and Spreadsheets, collaborating on each document, tracking changes every person makes and having it available all times in the cloud has really helped us to work efficiently and share seamlessly across the countries.

5) Where do you see email marketing going in the next few years?

The face of email is changing. This is mainly driven by how as users, we consume information. With the rise of mobile and social, lack of time to spend going through inbox and new innovations such as Gmail’s Promotions and Updates tabs, email is becoming more intelligent to stay ahead of the game. We see more and more small and medium size companies adapting methods used by larger organisations when it comes to their marketing emails. This includes more segmentation of contact lists, based on user preferences and information. More personalisation to engage the customer and stand out from competition and more use of reporting and analytics tools to optimise future email campaigns.

Spring is Here! Time to Give Your Inbox a Spring Clean

The sun’s out, the rain has resided… we all know what that means right? Spring time is upon us. With the cold winter months over, you’ve probably considered giving your closet a de-clutter, but have you thought about giving your inbox a clean too?

You’d be amazed how many accounts you’ve signed up to over the years. Night in on the couch, TV on, laptop on lap – browsing through your Facebook feed. A website catches your eye and the “Sign Up” button is just a simple click away. Might as well right?

Before you know it you’re the proud owner of dozens upon dozens of accounts. Not only will this clutter make it difficult for you to find the information you really care about, it’s also a large security risk if your passwords are not up to scratch.

Want to give your inbox the refresh and renew it deserves? Then read on!

Delete unwanted subscriptions

Time to polish your system and be rid of any unwanted spam mail. While ISPs like Gmail and Yahoo work hard to block malicious emails and send them to the spam folder, there are always a few that sneak  into your inbox here and there. Remove any suspect emails which you have not explicitly opted-in for or those that ask you to click on suspicious links or download files. You can divert any such email to your junk mailbox by marking them as spam.

Once you’ve done that, it’s worth going through all the other subscriptions you’ve signed up to over the years and decide which ones are actually of use to you currently. Apps like Unroll.me are really useful for doing this quickly and efficiently. Unroll.me allows you to quickly identify all of your subscriptions and mass unsubscribe from those you no longer find a need for.

Beef Up Your Security

Now it’s time to make sure your security is up to scratch for your remaining accounts and review those all-important passwords that protect your data.

Think about every time you have created a new online account. You likely had to provide login details for each one – including a user name, email address and undoubtedly a password. Many of you probably use the same password as the one you used before right? At least then you won’t forget it!

While convenient, this method comes with some pretty serious risks. Think of it this way. With each new account and log-in comes another door to your personal information. And if all of those doors are locked using the same key, someone looking to access your information only has to crack one that one, often simple code, and then they will potentially have access to much of your online information. Make sure you’re using different passwords for each account.

It’s best to use different passwords everywhere and also make sure that these are complicated enough to not be easily hacked. For example it’s best to use a randomly-generated, alphanumeric password to beef up your resilience. An eight character password in this form has a potential 218,340,105,584,896 permutations, which would take a computer 14 years to crack it. Much stronger defence than, say, a 8 digit code, which only has 100,000,000 different permutations.

Admittedly, it would be near impossible to remember a different alphanumeric password for every single website you are registered for. This is where a password manager, like Dashlane, can be invaluable. They can generate random, alphanumeric passwords for each site you are registered with and store them in a hugely secure vault, bolstered by military-grade encryption. When it comes to managing your accounts online, think of a password manager as your personal butler. By following a few simple data protection steps, you can enjoy convenience and simplicity without compromising trust or security.

While the words “cleaning out the inbox” and “mass unsubscribing” can sound pretty terrifying to an email marketer, it doesn’t have to be a negative topic. While your contact list may potentially take a dip, this also results in a more engaged audience who look outs for your email in their inbox and engages with the content. At the end of the day, that’s one factor of your sender reputation, strong opens and clicks. Check out more on re-engagement here and here.

Let’s Be Friends: Integrating Email and Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email … the list goes on. There are so many channels to manage and keep track of these days, how do you do it? The key is to do less.

Treat email and social as one larger integrated marketing channel instead of creating dedicated strategies for each. Work smarter, not harder. Cross-share content and use each channel to drive additional traffic to one another, building one cohesive story. Here’s how:

Making your contact list go the extra mile

Grow your email lists through Twitter

Many marketers don’t know about Twitter cards because they are not heavily promoted. The Lead Generation card drives email sign-ups from your Twitter page. You can also add the card to an ongoing campaign to selectively target a particular demographic.

It looks exactly like a tweet and takes just minutes to create:

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You can either set these email addresses to automatically filter to your CRM or Marketing Automation System or manually download these addresses as a CSV.

Leverage email contacts to build your Twitter following

On the other hand, you can use your existing email contact list to build your Twitter following. Add your most engaged email recipients on Twitter and develop them into brand ambassadors. Or, try to engage less active email recipients on Twitter – perhaps they prefer this channel instead.

To add a list, visit the Discover tab, you’ll find an option to “Find Friends”.

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Go to “manage the contacts” to manually add a CSV of your desired email contacts.

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Dedicated “let’s get social” email campaign

Last but not least, if you haven’t done so already, remind email subscribers of your social media channels. You can build a dedicated email campaign promoting your social media channels and their added value.

The Container Store did a great job in the example below. They kept the design simple and differentiated what each channel offers. Follow them on Twitter for updates and on Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks.

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Listen in on social

Use media monitoring tools like Mention and Buffer to stay up to date on what your users are talking about on social and how they are using your product. Don’t be afraid to go back to the basics and use Facebook’s Audience Insights and Twitter’s Analytics Manager as well.

Facebook’s Audience Insights tells me that our primary Facebook audience is between 25-34 years old.  Consumers ages 25 – 34 are more likely to access the Internet through their phones, so perhaps in their emails we add click-to-share buttons that allow them to easily share blog posts on Facebook.

Let your customers come to you

Not all customers are going to be equally engaged with your email content over time and that’s alright. Give them the freedom to choose how they hear from you and you’ll be rewarded with stronger brand loyalty. Build a preference center that allows customers to choose how often they receive email and what type of content they’ll see.

While you may be initially concerned that you’re missing opportunity to communicate, remember that social media can make up for the gaps of silence. On both Facebook and Twitter, you can set up retargeting campaigns for subscribers that open or click-through.

Facebook

To set up your audience for your retargeting ad on Facebook, first visit your Ads Manager.

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Then, on the right-hand side toolbar, go to Audiences.

 

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Since you want to upload your own list of email contacts, go to “Create a Custom Audience”.

 

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Have your CSV contact list of choice ready on hand and either upload or copy and paste the list.

 

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Then, you can create the campaign accordingly. Remember that retargeting ads are most effective when keeping frequency in mind. Be sure to rotate out fresh creatives and content to prevent customer fatigue.

Twitter

In Twitter, you can do the same by visiting your Audience Manager.

 

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Select “Create A New Audience” and upload your own email list.

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Then, you’re given the option to name your audience. Be sure to be as descriptive as possible, since you will ideally update and segment your email contact list on a regular basis.

 

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What are some ways you integrate your email and social media marketing strategies?

What It’s Like To Be A Developer Evangelist

API (Application Programming Interface). Developer Experience (DX). You may or may not have heard of these terms before, but they are heavily used in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) industry. Developers use APIs to build off existing products and innovate new ideas. APIs allow companies to easily integrate with apps that bring in expertise where the company themselves may be lacking resources or would be costly to produce in-house.

To help companies better communicate with their developer users, a new role has emerged in the past few years: Developer Evangelists. A hybrid developer-marketer role, DevEvs act as a translator between their company and technical users. They travel the world to meet with awesome developers, catch up on latest trends and better understand how to develop products in a way that can make it easier for them to do their jobs.

The role is still evolving and varies slightly from company to company, but to give you a better idea of what a Developer Evangelist looks like in action, we compiled an infographic of what the Mailjet team did in 2014.


 

At Mailjet, coding is in the backbone of our culture – our co-founder Julien Tartarin is a developer. From day one our platform was built on top of our own API (“eating your own dog food” as developers say) and made public and free for all developers to use.

 

If the image doesn’t load, click here: https://dev.mailjet.com/static/images/developer-evangelists-in-figures.pdf

Spam: A Global Concern

Spam has been around virtually as long as email has – the first spam email dates back to 1978. Since then, spam has become a frequent visitor in inboxes all over the world, making life as an email marketer a constant challenge. Although spam filters have gotten smarter at sorting the good email from the bad, they’re still not perfect. With spam making up almost 70% of all email traffic, spam filters need to be work hard at weeding out spam email, which often affects deliverability. In fact, one in six marketing emails sent doesn’t reach the designated inbox. This means a considerable amount of messages that you send to your customers will never arrive at the intended audience, which could result in lost sales, less engagement or growth.

With spam having a significant effect on the deliverability of email, one would expect that it’s a concern that email marketers all over the world share. Turns out, that’s not entirely the case.

In a recent study, we surveyed 300 marketing decision makers in the U.S., France and Germany. One notable finding was that not everyone sees spam as an equal threat:

 

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According to our findings, U.S. marketers are most concerned email landing in the spam folder (87% of respondents), with France close behind (82%) and German marketers considerably less concerned (71%).

This corresponds well with how familiar marketers are with spam laws: in the U.S., more than half of respondents said they were very or extremely familiar with spam laws (53%). In France and Germany, this number was considerably lower (40% and 36%, respectively).

Familiarity with spam laws per country 
Familiarity with spam laws per country
 

It seems logical that the more you know about your country’s spam laws, the better you understand which challenges you’re facing as an email marketer trying to reach the inbox of your audience. The stronger your knowledge is on spam laws, the higher the concern is for spam.

When it comes to spam, concern is good. It means that marketers are aware of the rules of the email game and understand that if they don’t follow them, the spam folder could be the final destination of their carefully crafted email campaign.

Only by being cautious, knowing your spam regulations and following email best practices can you make sure your email has the highest chance of landing in the inbox and achieving great results.

So what can you do to fight spam and increase deliverability? Get familiar with key emailing terms and follow best practices. And of course, educate yourself about on country’s spam laws to understand which regulations apply to you.

How concerned are you about your campaigns ending up in spam folder? And what do you do to fight spam?

Lighting Up Smiles With Big Brothers Big Sisters

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Back in December, our NYC-based Developer Evangelist Tyler Nappy created the Email Controlled Christmas Tree. To extend the reach and impact of our project, we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and used it as an opportunity to inspire Bigs and Littles about innovating through hardware and email. The tree was set up at corporate headquarters where kids and adults alike were invited to take control of the light display.

We had so much fun with our Email Controlled Christmas Tree that we decided to follow up with a visit to one of these sessions. In addition to being a non-profit that encourages children through one-on-one mentorship, Big Brothers Big Sisters also works with School’s Out NYC (SONYC) to provide programs like Robotics and Computer Science courses. We were so impressed by this initiative and believe that future generations should be exposed to the evolving technology around us. As a result, we donated some Arduinos kits and Tyler scheduled a hands-on-project at one of the schools.

A few weeks ago, Tyler visited MS447 to teach students how to light up LEDs with their very own Arduino kits. It turns out many of these kids were pros already! They were familiar with terms like “hackathon”, “hardware”, and when we took out the kits, a few of them shouted out “Arduino!”

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The students were paired into groups of three and four, and like surgeons, adeptly matched wires up to their corresponding parts of the board. It was a race against the clock for them, to set up the single LED to light up, and have the potentiometer (control button) control the light and sound of the buzzer before the end of class.

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All throughout there was a lot of laughs, collaboration and intrigue about how all the parts worked together. The one hour session was definitely not enough, the students were reluctant to stop exploring ways of working the potentiometer when class came to an end.

It was certainly a blast to see the level of enthusiasm these students had towards tech and hardware. We are so grateful to have been a part of the learning experience.

Thanks again for having us, Big Brothers Big Sisters and MS447! Keep up the good work!

 

HackIllinois: A Battle for the Top

A bead of sweat trickled down my forehead as I ejected an empty magazine from my rifle and loaded a fresh one back in its place. We were far from the target and had already lost five out of the eight soldiers in our squad, who knew what the rest of the platoon was up to. I could feel my body pump adrenaline as my last two brothers and I entered the elevator. I pushed the third floor button and the door closed ever so slowly as it proceeded to accelerate us skyward.

Clearing buildings, close quarters combat, and guerrilla combatants are what Austin, John, and I were expecting as soon as the elevator doors opened.  We got into our positions and were ready to go as the doors began to open.  Our fates would soon be revealed.

12 targets. We began firing in unison as if three soldiers were one for that brief moment. In the midst of the chaos and bullets whizzing by my ears, I could hear the sounds of Austin and John getting hit and going down.

The firefight ceased and dust lingered in the air. I made out a vague figure approximately 20 yards ahead of me. I missed one! I could see him, but could he see me? As if that particular thought had triggered some unlucky divinity, the dust settled just enough. We made eye contact.

Out of nowhere the buzzer sounded.  Dinner is being served.  It’s Panda Express.  Nerf war, over.

During Hacking

 

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This past weekend, I was able to attend HackIllinois, University of Illinois’s official hackathon in partnership with Major League Hacking.  For those of you who have never been to University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, it is quite the trek from Chicago; so, after flying into O’Hare, I began my journey south, passing countless open areas and corn fields.  After the two and half hour drive, I arrived on campus where I set up, unpacked my goodies, and greeted the excited hackers who would shortly begin their 36 hour hacking marathon. After opening ceremonies concluded, dinner was served, and the countdown clock began ticking as hacking commenced at 10pm Friday night.

There was so much to do throughout the event!  Hackers could take breaks from coding to attend talks, chat with sponsors, participate in cup stacking competitions, and even get involved in a full out capture the flag-ish Nerf war that took place in an entire building on campus (see recap at beginning of this post)! After all was said and done, hacking ended promptly at 10am on Sunday.  Lunch was served and eaten, and the hackers hastily went to the expo hall to set up their tables to display the projects they worked so diligently on over the weekend.

 

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Mailjet’s API Winner

This time around, Mailjet offered 4 Fitbit Charges to the team that best used Mailjet’s API in their hack.  It was a tough decision, but team CloudScout took the gold for us.

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Their hack was a very insightful and innovative approach to aiding disaster victims stranded without connection to internet or mobile reception when cell phone towers go down.  The team built a quadcopter with an attached Arduino Yun.  After disaster strikes and renders cell phone towers unusable, the quadcopter flies to the disaster zone, hovers about, and uses the Arduino Yun as a WiFi beacon for the victims to connect to.  Once connected the quadcopter’s WiFi, a web page is automatically brought up that allows inputs for writing emails – through Mailjet’s Send API and text messages – through Twilio’s API – that are then saved and eventually sent to friends and loved ones informing them of their current status.  Once the quadcopter’s missions is complete, it returns to it’s docking station where it connects to the internet and sends the saved emails and texts it received during flight (through Mailjet’s Send API and Twilio’s APIs respectively).

Great job, Team CloudScout.  Awesome hack that will potentially pave the way to transforming disaster relief.

Presentations and Winners

At this particular event, winners were broken down into hardware and software categories.  This was the first time I have encountered this, and it seems fitting to consolidate the two into separate judging standards.

Hardware

Oculus Scooter

Equipped with an Oculus Rift, a scooter, a single roller skate, and few pieces of hardware, this team set out to create a Virtual Reality environment which minimized motion sickness who are sensitive to this in VR applications.  Taking some sound advice from a professor of theirs – users are less likely to get motion sickness if the VR application moves as a direct result of the user’s physical movement – they decided simulating a scooter ride was the way to go.

Users slip on the Oculus, put on the roller skate, jump on the “scooter”, and begin racing on a virtual race track.

Cloud Scout

Mailjet’s API Winner, as mentioned above.

ButtonLight

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Gone are the days of forgetting to feed the dog, doing the dishes.  Enter the days of accountability in the household.  Using a SparkCore and a button, a ButtonLight is placed where the task takes place (aka next to the dogs bowl).  If you feed the dog, press the button and the LED on ButtonLight turns off.  After 8 hours, ButtonLight resets itself and the LED turns back on showing that the dog needs to be fed again. Household members can also check out the Android app which shows each ButtonLight’s statuses.  If for whatever reason Scruffy the dog doesn’t get fed, each household member will receive a text to remind them.

Software

VR Spec

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Ever had that feeling in college where you didn’t want to get up and go to your lecture?  Well, now with VR Spec, you don’t have to!  Simply throw on an Oculus Rift on and attend the lecture remotely.  Users can even take virtual notes using a Wacom Tablet without having to see their physical hand.  You can still get straight A’s but will never have to move from your couch again.

Teleport

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We’ve all been there before. Missing out on an even because we’re sick or it’s simply too far. Now with Teleport, you can experience all the great things you’ve been missing without having to actually be there.  On one end, User 1 wearing a 360-degree panoramic camera video camera that walks about the environment normally.  This video feed is then sent to User 2 on the other end wearing a Google cardboard kit allowing him to see the environment User 1 is experiencing.  User 2 wants to look to the rear?  No problem.  User 2 simply rotates and checks out what’s going on thanks to User 1’s 360 panoramic ability.

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5 Ways to Add A Personal Touch When Communicating with Customers

This post was first published as a lesson on FrontApp’s CommunicateBetter.io course.

Vinyl records, overalls and crop tops. Trends repeat themselves every decade or so, as seen from these three aforementioned items. To borrow from the words of ‘True Detective’, “Time is a flat circle.”

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Business trends don’t escape this phenomenon. The explosion of the online world at the beginning of the 20th century turned once intimate relationships of small businesses into a more scalable one-to-many relationship. Many hours of face time were traded in for a few clicks of the mouse.

Now, a few years later, we’ve realized how much more impactful it is to get to know your customers on a first name basis. Customers are armed with more information than ever and an overwhelming number of digital tools to help inform their purchase decisions. The only way to cut through the noise of the digital space is to deliver, to be relevant and informative.

In this week’s CommunicateBetter.io lesson, I’ll discuss a few reasons why you should hop back on the bandwagon of communicating like a mom-and-pop shop.

Personalization is Everywhere (and more important than ever) 
Technology has made it increasingly easy to track online activity, identify habits and interests, and deliver customized content. Because of this, personalization has become the norm.

Consumers have seen the “first-name-in-the-subject-line” trick in emails many times over and retargeting ads are no longer a surprise.

In this day and age, consumers expect a whole lot more than you knowing their name. They expect a true, gimmick-free, one-to-one, personalized experience at every customer touchpoint.

Every touchpoint customers have with your company should influence their future experiences with you. Track the data along the way, and you can tailor every future interaction specifically for them.

Consumers and leading companies alike have shared some of the many benefits of personalizing user experience:

Now that we understand why personalization is such an important tactic, let’s look at specific ways we can leverage it in communicating with customers.

The Top 5 Ways to Personalize How You Communicate with Customers
 

  • Stop using your homepage as a landing page

The number one rule in personalization is to be relevant. There’s nothing worse than to prompt your customer with one call-to-action but link to a generic homepage promoting an entirely different message.

If you are doing this, you are simply missing out on conversions, and offering a sub-par user experience. Here’s why:

  • It’s a leaky funnel –  The homepage is full of distractions – there are typically a variety of call-to-actions and links that can take visitors down conversion funnels that do not match their intent.
  • Message match –  Visitors land on your homepage expecting one message but are more likely to see a different message.

Use dedicated landing pages

Give visitors the information they are looking for by directing them to dedicated landing pages tailored specifically to them. It will lower your bounce rate, and more importantly boost conversions.

Beyond personalizing to what you are saying in your ads, also personalize by who the audience is.

For instance, when you write a guest blog post for another company, don’t make the link in your author bio be your homepage. Create a landing page with messaging that speaks directly to the audience of that blog and share a link to that.

If your landing pages are focused enough, you may even drive organic search traffic. In other words, targeted visitors looking for exactly what you are offering.

Key Takeaway: People visit your website to learn how your product can help them specifically. Don’t dump them into a generic experience and make them search for it.

  • Get on a “first-name basis”

The effectiveness of using someone’s first name in email subject lines has been widely debated.  According to a MarketingSherpa study, using a customer’s first name in a subject line can result in a 17.36% higher than average click-through rate. While, a study by ReturnPath suggests that this kind of personalization can hurt email deliverability.

My advice? Run an A/B test to see how it performs for your specific business. And, don’t stop there.

Try acknowledging the person you are talking to throughout your customer’s experience with your business. Within the content of the email (not just in the subject), as a greeting when users log in to your site, etc.

To further establish and reinforce a personal relationship with your customers, use your name as well! Instead of your “From” name in your emails being your company, include a real person’s name.

Which are you more likely to hit “Reply” to? A faceless company, or a real person ready to answer your questions?

Geckoboard goes a bit further by including an image of the sender at the bottom of their emails to add even more of a personal touch.

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You can do this on Twitter as well. When you respond to incoming support requests, feedback and other mentions on Twitter, include your initials (like so “^DC”) at the end of the Tweet so that they know they’re being heard by a real person on the other side of the screen.

Key Takeaway: Find opportunities to show customers that they are being heard by real people, and that you want to establish a one-to-one relationship with them. Communicating with names is a good start.

  • Segment, segment, and segment some more

According to a 2014 DMA study, a 760% increase in email revenue came from segmented emails in 2013. Sorting customers into segmented lists makes it easier to personalize communication with a few clicks of the mouse.

There are many ways to send targeted emails to the right people at the right time. You can personalize these emails by:

  • Location –  Send an email about snow shovels to customers living in the Northeast right before a big blizzard.
  • Age –  Consumers ages 25 – 34 are more likely to access the internet through their phone. Email customers ages 25 – 34 with special mobile content.
  • Interest –  Segment out customers interested in running to send them an email promotion on running shoes.
  • Product Usage –  Email a customer who regularly uses your product and invite them to help promote your product on social media by Liking your Facebook page or tweeting about his/her experience.

And it saves time because you will have saved segments that allow you to email individual lists or mix and match to target more niche audiences, instead of pulling new lists each time you create a new campaign.

Key Takeaway: Organize your customer data into segmented lists to send the right content to the right people in half the time.

  • Implement “carried-context”

Aim to create a seamless and continuously relevant customer experience. This again, makes customers feel as if they are interacting with people that listen and care about them, instead of a faceless corporation.

Some ways to execute this:

Auto-save progress

Netflix is a company that has this process locked down. The top of your login screen shows all of the shows you have in progress – simply click to resume.

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Photo taken from TechCrunch
 

Know who you are talking to

In an era where customers make split second buying decisions with the click of a mouse, gimmick-free personalization has to count. The less interruption in the user experience or buying process, the better.

To this point, customers expect companies to know who they are and how they have engaged in the past.

A universally well-executed example of this is pizza shops. If you eat a lot of pizza (like me) you’ll know that as a repeat customer they have your number saved on caller id, and will easily list your preferred pizza toppings and address before you even start your order.

 Gilt is another company that uses “carried-context” well. They remind users of their account credits prominently in their website header, so you’re incentivized to purchase when you see the remaining credits just sitting there in your account.

This is helpful information to Gilt users, but likely also results in increased sales for Gilt.

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Key Takeaway: Don’t make customers feel like a stranger every time they use your service. Customers today expect you to know their habits and preferences and to adapt to them.

  • Always have a “next-step”

Be one step ahead of the customer by always knowing what the next best action is for them to get the most out of your product or service.

At Mailjet, we use whitepaper downloads as an opportunity to capture email sign-ups for our newsletter. Our bi-weekly newsletter is an additional platform used to drive traffic back to our blog. Both educate current customers on better sending and encourage trial signup (the next step).

Once customers are signed up, what’s the next best thing your customers can do to gain value from your service? Most likely… use it! At this stage, promote content that will help them do that better, based on their behavior so far.

And don’t be limited by online interactions. When you see an opportunity to introduce a customer to the ‘next step’ in the customer lifecycle, pick up the phone and call them! They will value the personal touch and the fact that you are calling to provide true value (and not just upsell them).

Key Takeaway: Always be one step ahead of your customers – keep providing ways for them to get the most out of your product.

Conclusion

In short, always put the customer first when creating content. Collect data at every point of interaction, get to know your customer and focus on how you can help deliver more value. This open feedback loop will create happier customers and ultimately, a better product.

“Get into the habit of collecting data at every customer interaction and use it to learn how to deliver more value.”

So don’t hesitate to hop back onto the trend of communicating like a mom-and-pop shop. Afterall, all the cool brands are doing it.

Why It’s Important To Start Global

Ever play the board game Risk? There was a period in my teens where my friends and I played non-stop. I remember it being a daunting game to pick up because not only could it last for hours (sometimes days) at a time, it required setting the groundwork early, having good foresight, and balancing a controlled expansion.

That’s what starting an email program from scratch reminds me of. When just starting off a business or planting the seeds of your marketing program, much of the same strategies apply. Winning the email game requires building out a sustainable growth strategy that is in tune with your customers’ needs and continues to provide just one step ahead of what is demanded. One of the key ingredients of this growth is being global-minded from the start.

Here’s why it’s a worthwhile investment to dedicate valuable time and resources towards building a global email marketing program from day one.

 

Each country uses the inbox differently

Our recent global marketing survey showed that the mean number of email subscribers in the U.S. (530K) is greater than that of France and Germany (491K and 467K respectively). The U.S. also sends more marketing than transactional email, which is the reverse for Germany. These two findings are just a glimpse at how differently the U.S. consumer interacts with email from their European counterparts.

While it may slow you down from initial execution, conducting research about who your customers are (more specifically which countries they’re based in) and how they engage, will help you direct your focus going forward.

First, you should collect your customers’ location during some point in the sign-up funnel. Depending on your business and how comfortable customers are in giving information, this can either be the full mailing address or just city and country.

Once you have this data, you can optimize the relevance of your content, tailoring it to fit local holidays, time zones and language. Also, don’t forget to combine this with your findings of general local trends. Since we now know that the US inbox receives more marketing email than the German one does.

 

Laws vary in every country

Being global-minded has implications greater than just customer engagement – each country handles privacy, opt-in and spam slightly differently – being unfamiliar with these laws can put you at risk of legal consequences. Even if your business is based in say, the U.S., you are responsible for abiding by the laws of the countries that your recipients reside in.

Perhaps still fresh in your mind is Canada’s new Anti-Spam law (CASL) that came into effect in the summer of 2014. To adapt to the changing digital landscape, the Canadian government rewrote the terms of consent and liability. One of the biggest changes was that senders now needed to collect explicit permission from the recipient before they are allowed to email, much like that of the U.S. CAN-SPAM laws.

“Privacy and opt-in email laws continue to become more stringent, a trend that will only continue as illustrated by Canada’s recent anti-spam legislation (CASL),” said Poole in a recent CMS Wire interview.

There are plenty of resources online (one of our favorites is Cornell’s Legal Information Institute) to read up on global privacy and anti-spam policies, but as your business grows, you will want to think about recruiting the help of counsel.

 

A list that keeps on giving

Last but not least, building these geographically segmented lists of customers earlier, allows you to easily pull more insights as your business grows. Whether you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store in another city or looking to drive brand awareness overseas, you will already have built a relationship with your audience in these respective areas and target them when taking your business to the next level.

The earlier you establish communication with your customers, the stronger your feedback loop will be. Each open, click or share gives insight into what customers respond most to and which parts of your product most excites them. Segmented lists continue to help you help your customers.

To learn more about how to segment your contact lists, hop over to our video tutorial here.

While your email marketing program will take much longer than a game of Risk to properly develop and expand, having a well-built start will make you a strong contender in the inbox game. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring global trends from the past year – from spam, to frequency and testing methods and how to use this to stay ahead of the curve in 2015. Stay tuned for more on the blog!