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How to Recover from Email Marketing Mistakes

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How to Recover from Email Marketing Mistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes Email marketing mistakes are not a matter of if, but when. Email is too dynamic, too complex, and too quick of a medium to avoid mistakes completely.


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes The best you can hope for is to keep mistakes infrequent and small, and then to manage them quickly and recover with a degree of grace when they do happen.


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes To that end, we created a decision framework to help guide you to the appropriate response to any error, one that minimizes the impact and prevents overreactions.


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? Has the send completed? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? Has the send completed? Can you fix the error or eliminate most of the resulting confusion post-send? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? Has the send completed? Can you fix the error or eliminate most of the resulting confusion post-send? Does the error only affect subscribers who click or try to convert? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? Has the send completed? Can you fix the error or eliminate most of the resulting confusion post-send? Does the error only affect subscribers who click or try to convert? Does the mistake warrant wider damage control? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Pivotal Questions: Is the error minor or easily understood as an error? Has the send completed? Can you fix the error or eliminate most of the resulting confusion post-send? Does the error only affect subscribers who click or try to convert? Does the mistake warrant wider damage control? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes Plus one more critical question…that we’ll address at the end.


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Chad White @chadswhite Research Director at Litmus Author of Email Marketing Rules Written thousands of posts and articles on email marketing Quoted in over 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today


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You’ll receive a copy of How to Recover from Email Marketing Mistakes, which contains the decision tree, along with these slides and the recording following the webinar. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Over the next half-hour, we’ll discuss 10 real-world email marketing mistakes and use the decision framework to guide us to the appropriate response. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #1 Subject Line Typo


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes Linens-N-Things Nov. 28, 2011 (Cyber Monday) Subject line of the 1st email of day: Cyber Monday Deals + Free Shipping Sitewide Subject line of the 2nd email of day: Last Chance: Cyber Monday Deals End in 60 Minutes Subject line of the 3rd email of day, which arrived 4 hours after the 2nd: Last Chance: Cyber Monday Deals End in 60 Miutes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes Subject line of the 4th email of day, which arrived 2 hours after the 3rd and 5 hours after the sale was supposed to end: Oops! Sorry for the Typo: Cyber Monday Deals End in Minutes!?


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Ignoring the credibility issues around the end of the sale, apologizing for an easily understood typo isn’t necessary—even when it’s in the subject line. Plus, sending a 4th email on Cyber Monday that gives subscribers just minutes to respond will irritate some at a time when opt-outs and complaints are costly. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some brands have seen such a positive response to their correction emails that they regularly manufacture mistakes for the sole purpose of issuing an apology. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Since it’s difficult to measure the long-term brand damage done by routine apologies, our advice is to save your goodwill for when you actually make a mistake. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #2 Image Loading Issue


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B&H Photo Video Mar. 8, 2011


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Thanks in part to B&H’s smart use of defensive design, consisting of extensive HTML text and ALT text, their email was able to convey its message adequately while their image server was offline. Although situations like this are rare, they are another reason to design your email with images off in mind. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #3 Early Deployment


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Drs. Foster & Smith Nov. 14, 2007 (a full week before Thanksgiving Day) @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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While this email was clearly sent a week earlier than intended, it was close enough. More importantly, the early send didn’t impair subscribers’ ability to act. The silver lining is that it’s possible this email stood out because there were no other season’s greetings emails that week and less email volume in general. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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If you’re unsure if an error is truly minor, check your email metrics. Sometimes things aren’t as bad as you imagine them to be. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #4 Bizarre Content


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Fab Aug. 3, 2014 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Clearly this was a test email that got loose. Especially considering the popularity of cat pictures, this was a low-risk mistake. However, with some clever copywriting and images, Fab turned this non-catastrophe into an oppurrtunity. But if you’re not as clever or fun as Fab, let it go. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #5 Early Deployment


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Amazon.com Jan. 7, 2013 (morning before the BCS Championship game) @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The recipients mostly likely to buy championship gear knew that the game hadn’t taken place yet. Amazon could have used the landing pages to clarify that gear would be available after the game “tonight.” In this case, sending an apology only seemed to draw more attention to the mistake. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #6 Sent an Old Email


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OfficeMax June 15, 2012 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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OfficeMax was able to act quickly and update all of the images in their primary content block to transform this outdated email into an apology email. They also sent a mass apology email the next day. The delay, plus a relatively weak call-to-action, probably made it a low performer. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #7 Broken Interactive Content


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Litmus May 21, 2015 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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#EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Thanks to a heads up by our Twitter followers, we were able to recognize the problem quickly, halt the send, fix the problem, resume the send, and send corrected versions to the 53,000 subscribers who received the broken interactivity. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Action is needed when an email marketing error significantly impairs subscribers’ ability to act on the message or causes significant brand damage by annoying, angering, or offending subscribers. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #8 Emailed without Permission (sort of)


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Alchemy Worx July 15, 2013 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Permission is sacred. So even though there were some signs that this email was just a mistake, it was definitely worth clarifying the issue. Alchemy Worx did that with a simple apology email that they were able to get out quickly, less than a hour and a half after sending the erroneous email. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #9 Broadcasting a Targeted Email


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Sharper Image Oct. 12, 2006 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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#EmailMistakes


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Humor, which The Sharper Image uses well in the subject line of this apology email, can take the edge off a mistake. However, when an error reveals that some people are getting something that others are not, the best way to avoid any hurt feelings is generally to let everyone have the offer, if possible. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Case Study #10 Broadcasting a Targeted Email


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Shutterfly May 14, 2014 @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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This mistake caused genuine pain to some subscribers and sparked lots of media attention. To try to minimize damage to the brand, Shutterfly sent a text-based apology signed by the CMO, broadcasted apologies on social media, and responded to individuals via social and email. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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The Final Question to Ask Yourself after Making an Email Marketing Mistake


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Can I change my email production process to reduce the chance of this mistake recurring in the future? @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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@chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Avoidable failures are common and persistent, not to mention demoralizing and frustrating, across many fields—from medicine to finance, business to government.


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And the reason is increasingly evident: the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.


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Dr. Gawande’s prescription for better outcomes is the checklist—and it’s ours as well. @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting Using an email rendering tool @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting Using an email rendering tool Checking that all links are functional and lead to the correct destinations @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting Using an email rendering tool Checking that all links are functional and lead to the correct destinations Double-checking that the final email matches specs in the brief @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting Using an email rendering tool Checking that all links are functional and lead to the correct destinations Double-checking that the final email matches specs in the brief Running the final email through spam filter tests @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Some process changes and checks to consider: Creating a brief for every email Eliminating production processes that invite errors Restricting access to certain tools or tool functions for some team members Improving copyediting Using an email rendering tool Checking that all links are functional and lead to the correct destinations Double-checking that the final email matches specs in the brief Running the final email through spam filter tests Strengthening the approval process @chadswhite #EmailMistakes


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Try Litmus Free at litmus.com/coupon/EMAILMISTAKES


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