The Only Influencers Blog

The top thought leaders in email marketing share their insights and thoughts.

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Not in the business of hearts, perfume or roses? No biggie, you can still crush it with your V-Day campaign.

Did you know that people are willing to spend on average $130.97 on Valentine’s Day for their significant other (US National Retail Federation)? Heck, 3% of pet owners will even give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets! That’s why you are missing out on some big bucks if you aren’t crafting killer V-Day email campaigns, even if you aren’t a jewelry store or chocolate shop. Here are 7 tips on creating an incredible Valentine’s Day email, for ANY company or product.

Craft a killer subject line.

Valentine’s Day email volume is second only to the Christmas holiday season and your subject line is your first (and perhaps only) chance to make an impression. With buckets of email campaigns landing in your reader’s inbox, you need to ensure your subject line crushes it. 

Experian Marketing Services found that the key features of the highest performing subject lines during V-Day were gift and card ‘ideas,’ personalized greetings, including a heart symbol and using the word ‘sweet.’ So, keep those ideas front of mind when you are looking to catch they eye of your reader.

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Email. It’s “antiquated,” always on the verge of dying and if you ask what the internet thinks of email marketing you will find that 74.9% find it negative. Yet 66% of B2C marketing professionals still maintain that email is the most effective channel to reach and engage customers.  Our job as email marketers is to continually drive engagement and grow this high ROI channel. This Valentine’s Day let’s get back to the basics and take a look at nine great best practices we can follow to fall in love with email again.

Get on a Schedule

Sheesh – wasn’t it just Christmas last week?  Indeed, Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us (especially guys) and before you know it, it’s here.  As marketers, we can use email in strategic and timely ways to get ahead of that curve.  Digital marketer Oneupweb has reported top online sales typically occur February 5-6. That corresponds with other research we’ve seen which reports Valentine e-mails peaking at an average of 2.9 a week for the week ending February 4. That same period also sees the first President's Day and St. Patrick's Day e-mails.  There’s a lot of noise this time of year!

When should you start reminding your subscribers about your various offers and promotions?  Three weeks out isn’t too soon.  A month?  Even better.  One week out? It’s peak time and you’re competing for inbox attention.  A great best practice I’ve seen is creating a drip series with a beginning and ending date, giving subscribers the option in the first message to let you know how often they want your offers.  They’ll thank you for that.

Know Your Reader

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When looking to China, and in excess of a half billion consumer mailboxes , it is no surprise email marketers will identify substantial opportunity, this should be balanced with the understanding the landscape is very different to anywhere else in the world.  It is certainly not a simple matter of transferring your experience gained in North America, Europe or even Asia-Pacific and applying that to the mainland Chinese market.

A number of North American business' that have achieved reasonable success with the channel, and a few have seen great success, however as Groupon learned through expensive trial and error an e-mail marketing strategy that works in other markets will not necessarily succeed in China. To be truly successful it will be important to gain a thorough understanding of the local market. It is worth of course remembering China is not a single unified market, and that it is not even the same language spoken across the country. 

On the most part it is not a matter of geo-location of the sending ESP nor technical issues that will form the basis of the major challenges or obstacles to success, despite the myths that abound. In China email is far less popular than instant messaging services like Tencent’s QQ. This can in part be explained by the younger demographic of internet users vs somewhere like Europe or North America. Another factor to consider, there is weaker customer loyalty here as consumers tend to gravitate to the best deal.

Those that truly succeed have adopted strategies that reflect local realities in addition to maintaining and developing strong local relationships as is the business culture. There are also specific legal considerations that need to be assessed and addressed in China, a good understanding of the legal regulations and policies and what is considered normal practice will be imperative. 

Not least being aware of any licensing requirements for your sector in addition to some of the worlds most complex antispam laws ““Regulations On Internet Email Services”” and  the requirements for ‘Verified Permission’, including AD in the subject line, and the fluid list of proscribed topics as defined by the PRC. Although not heavily policed to date, the risk that enforcement could happen in future is real. Regardless, whilst the laws may not always be adhered to, it is of course important to be aware of what they are, and what the penalties and business risks are if flouting them. 

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Tagged in: China Email Strategy

Posted by on in Email Strategy

Marketing in China offers several opportunities. The overall market huge and wealth is on the rise – two factors that are especially attractive to international companies. That said, marketing in China can differ significantly from marketing in the U.S. as well as many other Western countries. Email marketing, in particular, offers specific challenges not common in the rest of the world.

General challenges:

  • Several Chinese cities have populations larger than entire countries in the rest of the world. Shanghai alone, for example, has over 24MM people. So when marketers choose to enter China and spend money, they need to consider entering a specific city and concentrate on building a business in a specific area first. Cities are defined roughly by “tier” designations. The largest cities by both population and gross product are tier 1, the next largest, tier 2, and so on. Tier 1 cities tend to have the best infrastructure, both for Internet and, just as importantly, transportation. For this reason, companies that need logistics (warehousing, fulfillment, and so on), choose to start in tier 1 cities, then later expand to tier 2. Even experienced Chinese companies in industries like property and casualty insurance, wealth management, and even automotive have traditionally followed this pattern.
  • For most U.S. or Western marketers, the Chinese online media world is completely different. There is no Twitter, Facebook, or Google. You will instead see Sina Weibo, QQ, Weixin (WeChat), and many more. Talking about Google, Facebook, or Twitter gets you a nice giggle about your ignorance of the marketplace.
  • In larger cities, same-day delivery from web order to delivery is quite common. Commercial sites (including Alibaba’s Taobao) allow you to select a warehouse location to see if the item you want is in stock in the local warehouse for same-day delivery. Company offices have racks for deliveries of goods ordered online by employees.  You order what you need from a website in the morning, and it is delivered by the time you leave for the day. This is starting up in the U.S., but it is real on a large scale in China. You need to consider how you as a marketer can deliver on that expectation for many things.
  • There is a lot of growth in China just because of the basic market trends – lots of people with rising wealth. To show growth, marketers don’t need to do a lot of segmentation and analytics around their best customers. Reach and frequency is still the rule. Marketing (and labor) costs are still at a point where optimization of marketing is interesting, but only if the price doesn’t outstrip the low cost of less sophisticated styles of marketing.
  • Mobile payment is heavily promoted, and adoption is on the rise with companies like Alibaba, Tencent, etc. Several restaurant, convenience store, and cinema companies are helping increase that adoption by offering discounts when people use mobile pay. Marketers need to understand this landscape and determine how they will provide mobile payment and whether or not they will offer incentives for doing so.

In email specifically, there are some fundamental challenges to marketing in China, especially from outside of the country. While email is used, it is not as common a messaging platform for marketers. Part of this is because “CRM marketing” is fairly new in China. Second is the reality that social (WeChat) dominates these days for interpersonal communication, so a lot of the energy is spent there and on display. If you are going to email into China, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Email is mobile in China. Look around anywhere and people are on their phones. There are equivalent upload and download speeds. People commonly watch TV on their phones. If the conversion funnel for your site is not optimized for mobile, you will have to address that quickly. That is true all over the world, but the problem is acute in China.
  • Your social links will be useless. Given that many common U.S.-based social sites are not easily accessible from China, your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter links in email don’t work, so that is wasted space if your customer is in China. Either replace them with China-specific social links or use the space in a different manner.
  • Images can take a long time to download. While upload/download speeds are fast, deep packet inspection for traffic originating outside of China is real and it slows things down significantly. Be judicious with heavy images, or better yet, host them inside China.
  • Use a China-based ESP if you have a significant list in China. There is the very real situation of getting mail delivered. The major ISPs in China (Tencent,, QQ) have very low daily delivery thresholds. You may not notice this if you have a small audience in China, but if you have a substantial list in China, you will see a lot of bouncing. Return Path Sender Score Certification can help (Return Path  is very knowledgeable about the email market in China in general as well), but you may want to utilize an ESP inside of China. They will tend to have stronger, more direct and personal relationships with the ISPs which will help.

China offers a lot of opportunities for marketers given its market size. That said, marketers must learn the “Chinese way” and realize that China is a very different market that does not operate like the U.S. Marketers can look to China to see new ways that social is dominating and truly knocking out channels, the adoption of mobile payments, and how e-commerce is evolving to incorporate same-day delivery. There are a lot of great things happening in China today from a marketer’s perspective. Part of the challenge is knowing what is going on so that you can tailor your approach if you aren’t in the country. 

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Tagged in: China Email Strategy
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Your landing page or capture / conversion page, is one of the greatest assets a marketer has. Those single pages that are crafted to capturing permission and get the contact (first step) or get the conversion (last step). Often general site pages don’t cut it. These are the micro-conversions that often don’t get the attention they deserve.

Site owners can build successful landing pages, there are plenty of resources and best practices to help you do it. Still, avoiding the pitfalls plaguing ineffective landing pages continues to be a struggle.

Speed and Landing page creators
In a recent study by Econsultancy called the speed imperative, what we all suspected was confirmed, the speed of getting things done in email marketing is important, if not fast and easy enough, functions and tactics will not be employed.


(Source: Econsultancy, the speed imperative)

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