Only Influencers: The Best Network For Digital Marketers

Only Influencers (“OI”) is a private, invite-only network for digital marketers. Founded by entrepreneur, digital marketing maven, and personal friend Bill McCloskey, Only Influencers’ is mostly focused in the email marketing space, yet is starting to include social and mobile as well.

If you are associated in any way with email (or digital) marketing, you need to become a member now.

Why Should You Join?

As McCloskey says, “If you are not passionate about Email Marketing, save your money.” As someone who has been a member since 2008, I could not agree more with that quote. The folks on this list are not only passionate about digital marketing, many of them live and breath it every single day. Current members include people at ever business level – those “in the trenches” all the way up to CEO (basically, anyone who is involved with email marketing in some form). There are members from the brand side as well as vendors (email service providers, deliverability monitoring companies, organizations who provide email change of address services, etc.). Check out the current list of members to see some of the big name companies and brands represented.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, read some of the many testimonials. Also, be sure to look at some of the membership benefits.

I’m In. Now What?

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, I’m interested. Sign me up. Oh wait, what’s the cost of membership? You have 2 payment options:

  1. Monthly: $20 a month and you can cancel at any time
  2. Annual: $200 a year. This is the most popular plan with the Influencers.

As a bonus, if you sign up and put my name – DJ Waldow – in the “I was nominated by” field, you’ll save 10%* ($20) on your annual membership fee. Yeah, I get that it’s *only* $20, but that’s a few beers or cups of coffee. Seems worth it to me!

I promise, you will not regret it.

Full disclosure: While I’m a member of and advocate for Only Influencers, I’m not receiving any form of compensation for this blog post or anything associate with it.

*Bill will send you a $20 rebate after you pay the $200 membership fee.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

 

 

Free Email Marketing Review: Direct Buy

On occasion, I do FREE (yes free) email reviews (click that link to find out how you can get yours). Dylan Murphy sent me a recent email from Direct Buy. One thing I just noticed – unless I’m missing something – is that there does not seem to be a way to subscribe to the Direct Buy weekly emails. It would appear you first have to create an account and become a member. Again, I could be missing this. Also, how do I become a member?

However, I’m not here to critique their website. Instead, the goal of this blog post is to showcase a 5-minute screencast review I did of a recent Direct Buy email. So, as promised, check out the review below.

Having trouble seeing the video? Try watching directly on Screenr.

If you are more of the “I learn by reading” type, below are some of the highlights of the video review:

What I Love About This Direct Buy Email

  • Subject Line: While it’s a bit on the long side, the subject line gives a pretty clear idea of what to expect when it’s opened. Side note: You may want to “break the rules” and test out longer subject lines. Email marketing guru (& solid guy), Dela Quist, would argue that when it comes to subject lines, length is everything
  • Length: I like that this email is short, direct, and to the point. However, that’s just a personal preference due to my short attention span. Wait. What were we talking about again?
  • Look and Feel: This email was very clean – just a few colors, no crazy images, nothing flashing or in your face.
  • Links and Buttons: I really love that this email gives readers the choice of clicking a link or pressing a button to “Learn more” (read the article on its website). Giving subscribers a choice is usually a good thing. Also, it allows them to test which call to action drives the most clicks!
  • Social Connection (Facebook): Direct Buy does something with its “Like Us on Facebook” button that I don’t see too often. They gave a reason – an incentive – to head over to its Facebook pager and click “like.” Nicely done!

What’s Missing From the Direct Buy Email

  • Social Connection (Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube): Considering it did such as nice job with the “Why like us on Facebook” call to action, I thought the reason why to follow on Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube could have been stronger.
  • Social Sharing Options: This content has the potential to be very sharable, yet I don’t see any way to (easily) do this. Now, it could be because the Direct Buy email service provider does not include that option. However, I think it’s a missed opportunity.

As you can tell from the notes above – as well as the screencast review – I loved this email from Direct Buy and would not do a ton to change it. Of course, I’m always interesting in what types of testing its doing as well as the metrics around how this email (and others) performed. Maybe Dylan would be willing to share that information with us?

What do YOU think? Did you love this email? If not, what would you change? Please weigh in below in the comments.

As a reminder, if you want your FREE email review, all you have to do is ask.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

Email Marketing is Far From Dead

There is no arguing that social media is hot. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, [insert new social media app/platform of the day] are getting all the press these days. If you watch Anderson Cooper 360, he goes to nearly every commercial break reminding views to find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Some days it feels like Sportscenter doesn’t interview athletes anymore. Instead, they quote Tweets.

Nobody seems to be talking about email marketing — and that’s a mistake.

ExactTarget, an Email Service Provider based in Indianapolis, just released it’s latest Subscribers, Fans, and Followers report titled, “The 2012 Channel Preference Survey.” I recommend you download it – now (yes, you have to fill out a form in order to grab a copy – well worth the exchange).

This 36-page report is chock full of charts and data – most of it pointing to the fact that consumers overwhelmingly prefer to hear from brands through … email. As they say in download landing page,

Just because an increasing number of consumers are using a particular communication channel—like text messaging, Facebook, or Pinterest—DOESN’T necessarily mean they want to hear from your brand in that way.

Email is far from dead. Check out this chart on how often folks use each channel:

As they point out, email is “the number one direct channel in terms of daily use and consumer preference for both personal and marketing communications.”

I know what you are thinking: Email is not the same as email marketing. Very true. Email tends to be personal (one to one), while email marketing is from an individual or brand to many – those who have opted in to receive their emails.

While the study shows consumers’ preference for email as a personal communication has dropped 21% since 2008 (while their preference for text messaging and social media have grown 20% and 10%, respectively), email is still the preferred channel (45% for email to text’s 36% and social’s 13%).

However, when it comes to email marketing – this is what has me excited and what should get you (re)thinking about where you’re allocating marketing dollars: Consumers’ preference to receive permission-based marketing through email has increased 5% since 2008. What? I thought email marketing was dead? Nope.

A staggering 77% of consumers told us that they prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. This dwarfs both text messaging (5%) and social channels (6%) while further highlighting how email has become the principal channel that consumers use to manage interactions with brands.

The ExactTarget study has a ton more charts, data, and interesting stats – many that will surprise you. Did I mention the report is free? Download your copy now.

Email marketing: Alive and thriving, not dead.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

Scoop Review: A New Tool To Manage Your Inbox

Justine Jordan announced Scoop on the Litmus blog recently. Scoop is a new tool that promises to help manage your inbox. As described in the post,

Scoop grabs all the emails we signed up for and routes them into a single daily digest that we can read each day. We can choose what time we’d like to catch up on the latest from our favorite restaurants and retailers, and skip over the messages we’re not interested in today. Scoop is smart, too. It gets to know our preferences, and pushes our favorites to the top. If we decide we’d like emails delivered right away (or never again!), Scoop can handle that, too.

Justine was kind enough to let me in on the (very) early Beta version of Scoop. I’ve been using it for a few days now and have to say, I’m quite impressed. While it certainly is showing a few false positives, overall it works as promised. One thing to note if you are on the email marketer side (someone who sends emails on behalf of your company): When Litmus “Scoops” your emails, an open is registered. This has the potential to skew some open rate metrics for senders.

Below is my 5-minute review of Scoop. I’d love to hear your thoughts! (apologies for a few “scratchy” moments in the recording)

Can’t see the video, try viewing on Screenr.

Do you want in? Sign up to be alerted when Scoop is live.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

Single Opt-In or Double Opt-In: Which is Better?

Quick. Can you name the most important aspect of a solid email marketing strategy?

If you guessed “building an email list,” give yourself a gold star (or a pat on the back). After all, if you don’t have an email list, it becomes quite challenging to market to your prospects and customers through email.

There are many ways to grow your list, 13 of them discussed here. However, no matter which tactics you choose to implement, a decision you must make is whether to use a single or double opt-in process.

Some definitions:

Single Opt-In: A subscriber provides their email address to a company, usually via a web form. As soon as they hit submit or enter, the user is added to the email database. In some instances, a company will send out a thank you email indicating that you’ve successfully been added to the list. Other times, the thank you will come in the form of a welcome email. Either way, no other action is required by the subscriber.

Double Opt-In: A subscriber provides their email address to a company, usually via a web form. However, before they are added to the email database, they must reply to the email or click on a link to “confirm” their request to opt-in. If they don’t reply or click the link, they are not added to the list.

Why I’m an Advocate for Single Opt-In

Within the email marketing circles, the single vs. double opt-in discussion is often hotly debated. There are certainly pros and cons for each side. Personally, I think using a double opt-in process is a terrible idea. Here’s why:

I have just gone through the effort of raising my virtual hand to say I want to receive emails from you or your company. I’ve said yes. I’ve opt-in. Then, you send me a confirmation email which basically says, “Are you really sure? Do you really want to get emails from us?” I understand the argument that you’re ensuring I’m a real human being and not a bot; however, you’ll learn that after the first (welcome) email is sent. If it doesn’t bounce, it’s likely to be a valid email address.

On top of that, what if that confirmation email never reaches my inbox? According to some new research by Return Pathonly 76.5% of all commercial email reaches the inbox. Are you willing to risk losing nearly 25% of your opt-ins because they never saw the confirmation email?

Finally, what if you send that confirmation email and it never gets opened or clicked? Again, another lost subscriber.

I recently opted in to receive emails from Staples. The next day, I received an email with the subject line, “Please confirm your email subscription.” When I opened the email, this is what I saw:

Staples confirmation email - images off

With images off, the only indication I have that I need to take an action (confirm) is a small link in the preheader. What if I simply ignored this email? What if I opened it, but never enabled images to see the call to action? What if I deleted it before reading? The answer: I would not be subscribed to the Staples email marketing program – even though I asked to be!

Just to be fair, let’s look at that same confirmation email from Staples with images on:

Staples confirmation email - images on

Now we can clearly see the call to action as well as what to expect from Staples emails. The email is actually quite inviting and very well done. However, I stil stick by my point: Requiring me to double opt-in before I receive your first “real” email makes me – the subscriber – do more work then necessary. Why make it harder than it has to be?

That being said, I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. Once. (Don’t tell my wife). Have you found success using a double opt-in approach? Have you tested single vs. double? I’d love to hear more. Please use the comments below.

Cheers.
DJ Waldow