Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Email Subscription Pop-up – Early Results

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Avoiding the Pop-Up
We have always avoided adding that “subscribe to our email list” pop-up on our website.  Personally I always found those pop-ups annoying and wished it was a practice that websites would just stop doing.  Therefore, I did not endorse the idea of adding an email subscription pop-up to our ecommerce website.  BUT time marches on and now in 2016 website pop-ups are more popular than ever and clearly not going away.  In fact, it’s almost expected that when you visit an online retail website (or most websites) you will be presented with a pop-up.  So instead of digging my heels in further I decided we should succumb to the pressure that one of the best ways to grow our email subscriber base would be to add a pop-up when you first our site.

Goal: Growing our List
Our recent decision to stay with MailChimp as our ESP (for now) (read more about that here) included an initiative to use more of the MailChimp features and they have a pop-up builder on their platform.  It looks very easy to use and I liked the fact that it only needed to be coded into the website once and then could be changed and modified through MailChimp’s interface.  In the end we decided to go with our own pop-up code (using their API) since we mostly had that coded already.

emailfooterBefore the Pop-Up
Before adding the pop-up our invitation to sign-up for our email list was displayed as a button on the bottom right hand side of our website FOOTER.  Pretty hidden and inconspicuous.  In the 12 months before adding the pop-up to our website our average monthly subscription rate was 137 new email addresses per month (so sad).  Now that’s it’s a pop-up you’re presented with the opportunity to sign-up as soon as you enter the site as a new visitor (once per year).  It’s a double opt-in method meaning that people also have to confirm their email address after filling out the initial pop-up form.

After the Pop-Up – Month One
For the first month of having the pop-up on our website (February 2016) our monthly email subscriptions grew by 371% over the last 12-month’s average… Wowza!  We obtained 646 new email addresses to our list in the first month so I guess we’ve proven to ourselves that the pop-up does work.  And who is going to complain about the pop-up when it seems to be standard practice in ecommerce today?  We are happy with the results and excited about future changes to our email marketing strategy.

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MailChimp – Should we stay or should we go?

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We were recently faced with an email marketing challenge.  Did we need to find a new Email Service Provider?  Here is what we learned while evaluating ESPs and the decision we made.

keywords: ESP, email service providers, review, MailChimp, email marketing, list size, automation, The Marketing Cloud, Sales Force, Exact Target, Bronto, InBox Marketing, What Counts, Get Response, Constant Contact, challenge, tips, learning, ecommerce, retail, POS, email collection

Our MailChimp Challenge
We were faced with an email challenge. For starters, we have used MailChimp since beginning our email marketing efforts four years ago. The vast majority of our email subscribers come from contests we run in social media and through website sign-ups (we offer a 10% online coupon when you sign-up for email). The database isn’t huge but it’s respectable.

So the challenge… In order to remain compliant to CASL anti-spam laws we keep track of exactly how we obtained the person’s email address in a group called “Origin.” So the origin might be “Mother’s day Facebook Contest 2015” or “Website Signup.” However, where we ran into problems was when we hit the maximum of 60 fields in the origin group. Uh-oh! How were we going to keep track of how we obtained people’s email addresses? We decided it was probably time to spread our wings and find a new ESP (Email Service Provider). Also in the back of our minds was the hope of collecting email addresses in our 100+ retail locations. It seemed like a good time to shop around.

New ESPs to Consider
We spent the better part of a week researching what we wanted in a new ESP and which vendors offered what solutions. We examined “The Sales Force Marketing Cloud“, formerly known as “Exact Target.” Our sales representative Adrian, at Bronto also gave us a demo of their ESP offer. Also under consideration was “InBox Marketer,” a local to us full-service marketing company with their own email platform. We briefly looked at “What Counts,” “Get Response,” and “Constant Contact,” too. We quickly learned that there are several different “tiers” of ESPs available from full service marketing agencies to the bare minimum.

Our Main Considerations:

  1. Could we solve our initial challenge that lead us down this road? Could the ESP handle unlimited numbers of “origins”? We quickly learned that all of the other platforms would include this type of data under the user’s profile vs. by having them added to a group. MailChimp appears to be unique in this vain.
  2. Was the creation of email a drag-and-drop method? While we have the capability to code html who knows what the future will hold and drag-and-drop is more user-friendly for everyone, including interns.
  3. What are the automation capabilities? – We want to get into sending “welcome series” emails so we wanted to ensure that any new ESP would include this function.
  4. Would we be able to scale? In the hopefully near future we hope to collect email addresses from customers in our stores at the point of purchase. Would the ESP be able to handle this extra data (e.g. what store we collected their email address from) and could we segment email campaigns based on their originating store?
  5. Cost considerations

A New ESP?
So the search began! We spent a week listening to sales pitches from the aforementioned companies and watching demos of the software each ESP was peddling. We got quotes and we considered some of them. Quickly we realized that all of the other ESPs could do #1, #2, and #3 on our wish-list; these were very standard. So it did not become a conversation about drag-and-drop, automation, and unique user fields. Rather, it became a conversation about scalability (#4) and cost (#5).   How big did we need to go and how much was it going to cost?

Flat Rate by # of Subs vs. Pay Per Send
I found it really surprising that most of the “big folks” in the ESP game do charge you per send.   For SalesForce (Marketing Cloud/Exact Target), InboxMarketer, and Bronto you had to pay BOTH a “licensing-usage fee” AND pay per send. Double whammy! I guess that’s how they make their money and make a great platform. But do we really need to pay twice for one service? Do we need to go with one of the BIG vendors?

What we Learned
Paying per send really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Why am I being penalized for growing my list? That IS my job to grow the list. But the bigger I grow it the more it’s going to cost me. I don’t like that. However, it did make me re-evaluate the metrics of “list size.” Is list-size really a good measurement? Probably not.   I used the segmentation option in MailChimp to discover that over half of our email list hasn’t opened any of the last 20 campaigns we have sent. A good number of those emails are probably being sent to dead email addresses that no-one even opens any more. So we pruned our list by deleting everyone who hadn’t opened our last 50 emails. Of course, it cut down the list size dramatically and we’re only now seeing the positive impact that’s having on other key (more important) metrics such as open rates and click rates (see here). So through the process of hating the idea of paying an ESP per send, we were actually able to clean our list up and dump the ‘dead weight.’ It was painful to lose a huge chunk of the list but in the end it was the right decision and gives us better measures of our list’s actual success.

The most impressbronto_automationive demo was given to us by Bronto – their visual on how to do automation blew our socks off (Just look at it!) However, it came with a VERY hefty price-tag that was far too high for us to even consider at this point. Sorry Bronto. 🙁

Upon discussions with our IT group the feeling was that we are month (or more) away from being able to collect email addresses at the POS in-store. So maybe that “robustness” we were looking for isn’t necessary yet? Why pay for advanced features NOW when we won’t need them for months down the road?

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Stay with MailChimp?
During this research phase we did start poking around more in MailChimp and although we see the ‘tab’ every time we’re logged in we’ve never explored the “Automation” capabilities of MailChimp. There is also this “eCommerce 360” option that we had never explored. Apparently we can bring our online sales data into MailChimp which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities with personalized email marketing.

So the idea struck me that perhaps instead of changing ESPs we need to better utilize the features that are available to us in the platform that is already working for us.

Challenge Met?
But that pesky challenge, the limit of 60 fields for our origin, still had to be solved. Would we somehow add this data to the user’s profile instead of having it associated with their group? It didn’t seem that possible in the user interface. Could we somehow group more of the origins together (e.g. Mothers Day AND Father’s day contest entries together?) to free up some of the 60 spaces? This was a very short-term solution. But a solution was found! We decided upon exporting the entire list, including all the origin data to save for our reference if we the CASL police ever want to know where we got someone’s email address from. Then we added just one origin to reference the excel file export that contained the actual origin information. Then added everyone from the contests etc. to the excel export reference origin. This way we still have a record for the CASL police AND we can continue to use MailChimp for the time being.

The Future
Do we think MailChimp will be able to hold the extra info required when we start to collect email addresses in-store? Probably not. Even setting up “Store” as a group we’ll be limited to 60 stores and we have over 100 locations, so no, that will not work. However, as mentioned, we are months away from being able to add emails at store-level so we don’t need to worry about collecting store emails until we’re ready to actually do it. When that day comes we’ll have to begin at square one again and start researching more robust ESPs to see who can give us the best value for the money.

New Focus
We will now focus on using MailChimp to its fullest potential. We commit to keeping our list “clean” (removing dead weight regularly). The plan is to setup some automation – a series of “welcome emails” to introduce new subscribes to our list.   Hopefully we can change our sign-up button on our website to also include a pop-up when you first enter the site – we learned that that has great success rates – and of course it does, EVERY SITE is doing it now; this will help us grow our list while we wait for in-store email collection. We will start using the “birthday” field to send offers to people on their birthday. AND we will look into getting eCommerce 360 setup so we can feed our web sales data into MailChimp and make a plan for how to better connect with our paying customers. In short, we will use more of the features of MailChimp and work to personalize the experience for our email subscribers before we put on our big boy pants and join the big guys, like Bronto, and the like.

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Last-minute shopping for the holidays

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It’s less than 10 days til Christmas, and you’ve just barely made it through half of your holiday shopping list. The panic may have set in and you might be worrying that you just don’t have enough time to get everything done.

This is a common scenario around the holidays. Shoppers have the best intentions to get their gifts early, but whether because of work obligations or social events, the task seems to get pushed further and further into December. Soon many are staring down the calendar experiencing sweaty palms.

For the scores of shoppers who wait until the last possible minute to shop, there are ways to survive and surprise friends and family with great gifts.

At Things Engraved, you can choose gifts in our stores, and do other shopping or run errands while you wait for the engraving to be done. This is multi-tasking at its finest! How  about these great last minute gift ideas:

Things Engraved

Classic Swiss Army Knife

Things Engraved

Stainless Steel Dog Tag

Things Engraved

ceramic Mug

Here are a few more suggestions:

* Gift cards: They may not have sentimental meaning behind them, but gift cards are fast and easy. Chances are you can run into a store and be out with a handful of gift cards in less than 15 minutes, depending on lines at the checkout counter. Things Engraved offers gift cards that can be used in any of our stores across Canada. Making it the perfect choice for family from near or far.

* Food and beverages: While everyone is heading to the mall in droves, you can be stepping inside of a gourmet food or spirits store. Splurge on fine cheeses or that trendy bottle of liquor that a gift recipient has mentioned but not yet purchased for him- or herself.

* Magazine subscription: A magazine subscription is an easy fix as a last-minute gift. Purchase one copy of the magazine at the newsstand and wrap it up nicely. Put a note that a year’s worth of this periodical is on the way. No one will suspect that the gift was a last-minute thought.

* E-certificates: Retailers like music or book sellers will e-mail a gift certificate code to the person of your choice on a selected date. For those who are never without an e-reader or mp3 player, digital gifts could fit the bill.

* Gas card: It may sound funny and tacky, but a gas card from a brand-name station is a universally acceptable gift for anyone who drives regularly. With fluctuating gas prices, filling up the tank can be an expensive venture. Having a pre-paid gift card can help.

Waiting until the last minute for shopping can induce some anxiety. But knowing about easy gifts for procrastinators can take the stress out of this type of shopping.

 

From your Things Engraved Social Team,

Things Engraved Social

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If you are one of those last minute shoppers, you can find a gift at one of our locations across Canada. A personalized gift is ALWAYS appreciated, and you will be the hit of the season (even if you DID procrastinate the most!)

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