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Like most things in life, email marketing evolves and changes with the times -- what worked for your baby-boomer in the early 90s isn't going to work for you now. People are smarter, more cynical, and ultimately more jaded than in the past because they've seen it all.

Here are some examples of marketing emails that are no longer effective and what you can do to salvage this unfortunate situation.

Irrelevant mail

The problem: If you're starting an email with Dear Sir/Madam, you've already lost us at hello. Personalization has gone from a great addition to an absolute requirement.

These days if your reader is not expecting an email or can't find their name in the email, they'll immediately assume that you obtained it through cloak and dagger methods.

The fix: To fix this is so simple, it should be taught in kindergarten. Include personalization tags in all of your sends. It takes a couple clicks and one or two tags to obtain a 17.36 percent higher click-through rate, and that's just the start.

You can further personalize your email with a little more effort dedicated into the direction of segmentation. Thirty-nine percent of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28 percent experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24 percent experienced greater revenue, according to eMarketer.

Split your contacts into their interests, age groups, and genders, and change your message to appeal to each with different graphics, text or even complete email sequences!

Hypernator mail

The problem: There seems to be a trend that started in the early 2000s centred around the idea that "this one little weird fact," "this one pill that'll put all gyms out of business," or "this one exercise that speeds up aging." Or as I like to call it, "this one sales pitch that simply doesn't work anymore."

The only reason these ads still exist on the web is because, much like that guy who takes monopoly way too seriously, you'll always have that one guy. This doesn't mean that you should use it for email marketing, though.

Email marketing's strength lies in building a relationship with your customers. Blowing things out of proportion and under delivering might make you a quick buck, but it won't give you a sustained income.

The fix: Stay relevant and state exactly what's in your email.

An email marketing study on subject lines found that while ambiguous subject lines have a great open rate, they don't lead to as many conversions as shorter, to-the-point subject lines.

Subject lines are your first impression -- so don't mess with them or your client base. State exactly what's in your email, don't rely on cheap tricks and you'll build a client base rather than a scam base.

Pest mail

The problem: Brand communication is no longer a top down affair. Continuously spamming people with email and hoping for the best simply doesn't work anymore. If your recipient does not want to buy your product after the first email, sending 50 in succession won't change their mind, and sometimes even a couple a week could be too much.

The point is email isn't new or exciting anymore. The last time I saw someone get excited about getting an email was when Outlook still had some credibility. Email is more a tool than a novelty these days, so it has to be effective in order to be seen as valuable. And the most effective email is sent at the right time.

The fix: This doesn't mean you should cut down your regular sends to one a month though. It really comes down to consistency. You should aim to send your newsletters and collateral communication such as SMS, social, or blog posts on two different dates and keep them consistent throughout, but this can be tough when you're running a business. Enter scheduled sending and email automation.

If you schedule or automate your sends, you don't have to worry about timing your email and your recipients will be able to expect your mail on time -- every time.

In addition to this, consider adding triggered sends to your email marketing campaign to react on hot leads immediately and with minimal effort on your part.

End mail

Identifying and fixing problematic email is vital to your email marketing success. Keeping up to date with the latest successes and failures will determine whether your business grows or wilts. And luckily, any major email service provider has the tools to solve any problem you come across. The rest is up to you.

Mark Brown is a copywriter at Graphic Mail.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

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When it comes to mobile, businesses are at a tipping point very similar to the one they found themselves in 12-13 years ago with the internet. It was here, a healthy majority of consumers used it, yet businesses found themselves challenged by any and all aspects of the digital revolution: getting online, shifting strategies and business models, designing digital experiences, and generally, with meeting the expectations of digital consumers.

It's déja vu all over again. As a new report from my colleagues at Altimeter Group, "The Inevitability of a Mobile-Only Customer Experience," points out, mobile is no longer delegated to second screen status by many consumers, a trend that will only accelerate. According to comScore, which uses "time spent" to gauge online consumer retail activity, 56 percent of all time spent on U.S. online retail occurs on a mobile device. Yet a mere 16 percent of companies strongly agree they are completely prepared to meet customers' mobile expectations, according to a 2014 study by the CMO Council and SAS. Additionally, some 90 percent of consumers move between devices to accomplish a goal, using an average of three different screen combinations daily.

Consumer needs and expectations have changed, and brands have no choice but to change correspondingly. No longer can they be asked to return to desktop computers to complete tasks there, in a fully functional environment. Mobile experiences must be seamless and stand-alone.

Yet overwhelmingly brands regard mobile as a separate channel, often at a far remove from the customer experience, metrics, brand, and commerce goals or requirements that apply to the rest of digital.

The report (available for download at no cost) provides recommendations for organizations working to overcome the often formidable budgetary, organizational, and most of all, strategic obstacles to becoming not just mobile-first, but eventually mobile-only businesses.

As business shifts digital strategy to mobile strategy, so too will content strategy and content marketing have to realign.

Of the three types of content marketing, utility content, or content that helps consumers achieve a task, is a mobile natural. Sure, we see it on the web (e.g., mortgage calculators, calorie counters), but mobile applications can be stunningly on-brand and creative. From Charmin's on-brand trusty Sit or Squat for finding a nearby and accessible public restroom (with user reviews) to robust real estate apps that not only deliver available inventory but also neighborhood data from pricing to schools to crime rates, mobile is useful, hyper-relevant and contextually meaningful.

The other two content marketing buckets: entertaining content and content that's educational and/or informative, also translate naturally to mobile -- but with major shifts from the desktop environment.

Mobile means providing content in form factors native to mobile devices and intuitive to users; swiping, for example, rather than keyboard inputs.

It also means reimagining brand content for mobile platforms. It's no accident that services like Instagram and Tumblr have been ascendant in the wake of mobile's rise -- they're image-based, and on small screens pictures are worth the proverbial thousand words. It's a real estate issue. Content will continue to become more visual -- and audio-visual -- as screens shrink in size.

Mobile is also a determining factor in converged media; the collapsing of paid, owned, and earned channels into just "media." With mobile real estate at a premium, mobile-first means ad, content and social teams will operate seamlessly and in lock step.

Consumers' shift to mobile necessitates a shift in business, and correspondingly in digital, strategy. Content permeates this entire system.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst, digital advertising/media, for Altimeter Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet

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One of my favorite myths is the demigod Perseus slaying the snake-haired Medusa. Look upon her once and you turned to stone. Event planners and organizers are up against the same kind of monster, except now Medusa's snake-hair is big data; you may not turn to stone but your mind will go numb with all the information available.

3 ways to find the right audience data

The gods gave Perseus some magic tools to find and slay the Medusa. These tools included soothsayers to help him find the right data, a mirrored shield so he could look at the data without going numb and a sword that cut through the data so that it was actionable and not overwhelming.

Event organizers and planners have these same tools today. The best part is you can be a mere mortal to use them and you don't have to go to Olympus to get them.

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BBH New York just announced that as of Feb. 1, they'll name current CCO John Patroulis creative chairman, and will promote ECD Ari Weiss to CCO.

Digital Pulp has announced that veteran engineer and developer, Jason Trobman, has joined the agency as chief technology officer.

Full Circle CRM announced AppDynamics, an application intelligence provider for software-defined businesses, as a customer.

Impact Radius, Inc. announced that the next generation of its Partner Manager Solution is now available to all customers.

INNOCEAN USA has just announced that Mehta Mehta has joined the agency as VP/group digital creative director.

Inuxu announced the launch of Adgebra -- an audience data and inventory marketplace.

MARC USA Chicago announced that Stephane Auriol was joining the agency as account director

OpenX announced the appointment of Andrew Buckman as managing director, EMEA.

PK4 Media announced the availability of an interactive method for consumers to engage with brands before being allowed to skip a pre-roll advertisement or view video content.

Simulmedia, Inc. announced the promotions of Nick Donahue and Lauren Fry from account executives to senior account executives.

Smaato announced the worldwide release of The Smaato Publisher Platform (SPX).

Tagga announced the unveiling of its Tagga Engagement Marketing Platform (TEMP).

Questus has hired Kerry Graeber as marketing director to provide strategic direction for client Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. 

Wizeline announced the availability of Wizeline Starter, a free version of its software platform.

Editor's note: This column publishes twice per month, and we are always looking for industry announcements, so please email them to agata@imediaconnection.com.

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Whether you're amped up for the actual Super Bowl or just the commercials, one thing is certain: NFL teams had some killer marketing this season. Football and marketing go together like beer and wings -- you can't have one without the other. No matter what kind of die-hard fan you are, you have to appreciate the marketing prowess (a few tips compliments of Mashable) that's been on display in the last 12 months.

Not every team can bring home the ring, but a slew of them executed some of the best NFL marketing tactics in history. Here are the five teams that shined this NFL season.

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When Marissa Mayer told Yahoo telecommuters to show up in the office or else, it set off a wave of concern among the nation's telecommuters. It was clear that quite a few of the Yahoo remote worker contingent were abusing the system, but that didn't mean that all telecommuters were doing the same. Fortunately, rational heads held sway across the multiple industries that had moved portions of their workforces to home-worker status, and eventually the furor died down.

Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages to telecommuting. Not having to shave or put on make-up is just part of the picture. Here's a real portrait of the telecommuter lifestyle in the form of telecommuting myths busted.

Telecommuters are slackers

Telecommuters actually have to work harder to overcome the perception that they are not working as hard. Unfortunately, the perception that telecommuters are slackers is still alive and well with insecure micromanagers.

Solution: Some people do try to game the system, but if true productivity is really the metric instead of something less measurable and more vague, and if people are allowed to be accountable for their own performance, there will be no slacking. The key is to have clear and measurable performance metrics that both managers and telecommuters accept up front.

Telecommuters avoid office politics

Long-term telecommuters do not get promoted as often. Unfortunately, one of the unwritten aspects of the job description that comes with a promotion is that your new boss has unlimited access to you. One of the reasons telecommuters like working out of the office is that they are interrupted less by guess who -- you guessed it. This is just one way that the office political dynamic reaches out and touches you when you are telecommuting.

There are other ways as well. You won't hear about it if people are gossiping about you at work. You will not have an opportunity to defend or deflect criticism. Getting someone on the phone is harder than walking over to their desk.

Solution: If these are real concerns for you, you may want to opt for that commute and cubicle.

Telecommuters make their own schedules

Work still starts regardless of where you are, and deadlines are still real and specific regardless of your time zone. If the office is in the Eastern Time Zone and your home is in the Pacific Time Zone, you will be getting up earlier whether for conference calls or to be part of online collaborations. The office time zone that an immediate manager inhabits will dominate the telecommuter's life.

Solution: Get used to it.

Telecommuters don't have to go to meetings

Meetings still happen, and you still have to be there. You can wear your bunny slippers and show up in your underwear or PJs, but you still have to pay attention and show that you are there, at least in spirit.

Solution: Contribute regularly. Learn how to operate the mute button and don't pretend to be "mute challenged." In most companies, telecommuting is a privilege. Treat it as one and respect your co-workers by interacting in meetings responsibly. With the amount of technology available, the toughest part about communicating is convincing yourself you have to.

Telecommuting is easier

Telecommuting is actually a lot more complex if there are other people in the house. Smaller houses and shared spaces make telecommuting even harder. Sometimes it just isn't worth it. At work everyone knows why they are there, at home there is a conflict of interest. Kids don't understand why you can't stop. If there is only one phone line in the house, sharing the phone can be a problem.

Solution: You may need additional equipment. Phone line, speakerphone, fax, office furniture, etc. Factor these costs into your thinking. Often your company will help defray some of these costs. It never hurts to ask.

There may not be more interruptions, but there will be interruptions. They will just come from a different source. Unfortunately, it is sometimes harder to say no to a family member than to a co-worker. This is something that every telecommuter with a family has to work out for themselves.

If you do telecommute, there are things you can do to make it easier for yourself. Whatever you do, don't make it harder than it already is. Here are some thoughts:

  • Most people are actually more productive if they dress for work instead of trying to work in their pajamas.
  • After you try telecommuting, you will probably discover that your office experience is more of a social experience than you think.
  • Feeling isolated and not in the loop is a major negative consequence of telecommuting for some people.
  • There are serendipitous encounters that happen when you are in the flow of interacting with other people in the office that you will miss.
  • You may not get invited to gatherings or parties unless you stay in touch with the social connectors in the office.
  • Full-time telecommuters have to deal with some distinct disadvantages.

Telecommuting isn't for everyone. Some personalities just are not comfortable with it. Give it a trial before you make a commitment. You may decide it isn't for you.

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

 

 

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The birth of the Royal baby, Prince George

Over a year and half ago, the world welcomed the newest member to the Royal family, Prince George. While England and the world celebrated, many brands were working to capitalize on the event and advance their agendas. Many failed to make much of a marketing impact.

However, where others faltered, Coca-Cola succeeded tremendously. Why? Because Coca-Cola knew that this event was native to its core brand message: happiness. This iconic company has worked for years to associate its name with that emotion. Everything from the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, to its global "Open Happiness" campaign is designed to establish a strong identity for the company and products. It's the reason why when the little prince was born, Coke's presence felt extremely natural and native among the social media celebrations:

Image source here

In ways other brand voices did not:

Image source here

It's a small, but important lesson in staying relevant to your core brand message when reacting to current events. You don't always have to respond on social media to everything that occurs in the world. Pick and choose your moments for the greatest impact (and to avoid being the butt of a joke).

Doug Busk, director of communications & innovative global connections for The Coca-Cola Company speaks about this event and how the brand used tactical social listening to react appropriately and naturally online.

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"Butler's Hand with Bottle of Milk" image via Shutterstock.

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It's a brand new year. And it's a new opportunity for you to take your email marketing to another level of sophistication and effectiveness. With that in mind, it's important to remember that great email marketing doesn't begin and end with your email service provider (ESP). No doubt about it, having the wrong ESP is like that hangover you woke up with on New Year's day -- it's hard to get rid of, and it makes everything else hurt. But even if you've got the right partner, you still need to pay attention to other companies in the email marketing ecosystem. This is where a lot of the innovation is happening today -- innovation in testing, in content, and in measurement.

You owe it to your email marketing program to pay attention to what's happening in the competitive space, if only because many of these innovations will eventually work their way into the platforms of the major ESPs. So to start your email year off on the right foot, here are three companies that I am paying close attention to in 2015.

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Last October popular Vine user and Snapchat celebrity, Jerome Jarre, turned down a one-year, million-dollar deal from a top New York ad agency. The video Jarre released, explaining the situation, doesn't identify the agency, the brand, or any details of the campaign, but it certainly paints the advertising agency in a bad light.

The only binding term of the deal revealed in the video was that Jarre would have had to stay in New York for one full year. This was ultimately the deal-breaker for him, but there are other hints that Jarre's creativity and overall freedom would have been limited in a way he was not comfortable with.

"Do I really want to sell my freedom, and be told what to do with all my videos?" Jarre asked.

While the details of the deal are unclear, as more and more marketers recruit creators as their sponsors and brand partners, the concerns this video raises for parties on both sides of the table are very real:

  • How can marketers form on-brand partnerships with popular, influential creators while maintaining their campaign messages?
  • How can creators earn money from their content without compromising their artistic freedom?

A perfect harmony can be struck, but it has to be done so in a way that benefits both sides equally. Here's how:

Nobody likes a sellout, so don't create one

Yes, even the interests of the creator should be your priority as a marketer. This is because his fans (your potential customers) have a history with him. They can see right through dishonest brand relationships. Striking a lucky lopsided deal with that big-time YouTuber might win you plenty of earned media, but it comes at a price: The fans' respect for the creator will be diminished, while your brand will be dismissed as the root of all evil. It's a lose-lose situation.

Pick someone who means something for you and your brand, not just someone who has a million fans. Do your homework: Does this person and his audience have shared interests with your brand? Can he speak in the voice of the brand? Is he engaged with his audience?

Your choices should ultimately hinge on whether the creators can influence your key demographic, but the actual content they produce is also of importance. Try to take an objective stance. Put yourself in the viewer's shoes, and see if your brand partnership/sponsorship makes sense. All they want is the creator's content: Does your brand add anything to that, or is it just an impediment to their enjoyment?

Leave them be -- not everything is meant to be branded

There's nothing worse than a brand milking every last ounce of attention from a one-hit web wonder or contributing to the meme-ification of media. Trying to capitalize on a viral hit by recreating it -- but this time with your logo slapped on it -- will very rarely work out in your favor. The same goes for certain content creators: You may be tempted to partner with a creator that's getting a lot of attention at the moment, but just because they're popular doesn't mean they have the ability to enhance your brand.

Leverage your agency as your brand steward

A smart agency will act as the steward between the brand and the influencer, ensuring that the influencer stays on brand while still acting in his own voice. In the case of Jarre, the agency should have never enforced its "you must stay in New York" decree. A wiser play would have been to incorporate Jarre's love of travel and take advantage of it, incorporating the brand into what he's already doing. A goose is laying golden eggs. Don't mess it up.

Had the agency approached this project the right way, they wouldn't have been on the receiving end of a man who can reach 8 million people in six seconds or less.

Dan Toth is social content creator at Beeby Clark+Meyler.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaConnection.

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While retailers usually dominate the holiday season, it is online services and electronics brands that dominated December on the iMedia Brands in Video chart. Five of the top 10 brands in December were online services and electronics makers, while Nike -- which didn't release any holiday themed content -- was the only retailer.

Online service providers YouTube and its parent company, Google, came in at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, thanks to the success of their year-in-review campaigns.

Google's "Year in Search 2014" looks at the biggest events in entertainment, sports, politics, and world events in 2014. While the events depicted, in some cases, are tragic, the message is one of optimism. It generated a total of 16.5 million views in December and 32.2 million views to date.

YouTube's "Turn Down for 2014," which was released in early December, generated an astonishing 82.5 million views during the month and more than 92 million views to date. The campaign brings together the platform's most popular celebrities (along with other folks like Stephen Colbert) to pay homage to the memes and trending videos of 2014.

Both of these campaigns show the power of campaigns that look backward -- even if it's only to the events that happened a year ago or two weeks ago. These stories play on viewers' love of nostalgia, one of the most powerful and unifying emotions available to marketers.

Rivals Samsung and Apple took the No. 2 and No. 4 spots on the December chart, bolstered by campaigns that played on traditional holiday themes of family that make viewers smile and tug at the heartstrings.

Samsung's top performing campaign of the month was "Home for the Holidays." In this second installment of Samsung ads featuring celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd, the two prepare their house for the holiday season. Bell decorates a gingerbread house while Shepard gets decorations out of the attic. Shepard stencils snowflakes onto the windows while a pregnant Bell munches on popcorn meant for a garland. The video ends with them turning on the holiday lights, then going inside to watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." The campaign generated 28.4 million views in December.

Apple's most viewed campaign in December was "The Song," a 90-second short film that tells the story of a young woman who finds an old vinyl recording of "Love is Here to Stay" that her grandmother made for her grandfather. Using Apple products, the woman adds her voice and guitar to the recording. She gives the duet to her grandmother for Christmas. Cue tears. The spot garnered 24.1 million views during the month, most of which came from the brand's placement of the video on Facebook.

It seems odd that retail doesn't have more of a presence in December, when the holiday season is peak sales time for the industry. So why aren't there more retail brands in this month's top 10?

Year-to-year, the top holiday retail campaigns come from the U.K. This year, John Lewis and Sainsbury's had two of the most memorable campaigns with "Monty the Penguin" and "Christmas 2014." Because the U.K. doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving like the U.S., its holiday season starts in early November. It is the biggest advertising event of their year, and thus, holiday campaigns are almost all released in the first part of the month, and viewership wanes in December.

For U.S. retailers, holiday campaigns tend to get released closer to Thanksgiving. But, unlike their U.K. counterparts, U.S. retailers are missing from our December list because of timing.

U.K. retailers share something with these electronics and online service providers that dominated the chart this month. They all create content for the holidays that draws on holiday traditions and themes -- especially family -- and play into those emotions that the holiday season brings out in us. U.S. retailers tend to focus on humor or specific products and promotions in their holiday campaigns, neither of which has quite the shareability and newsworthiness of these more emotional, story-driven campaigns.

It speaks to the savviness of Google, YouTube, Apple, and Samsung -- all of which are regulars on the Brands in Video chart -- that they have stolen focus during the holidays, a time that traditionally belongs to other industries such as retail and travel.

Mallory Russell is content editor at Visible Measures.

iMedia's Top 10 Brands in Video chart, powered by Visible Measures, focuses on aggregated brand view counts across related social video ad campaigns. Each brand and campaign is measured on a True Reach basis, which includes viewership of both brand-syndicated and audience-driven video clips. The data are compiled using the patented Visible Measures platform, a constantly growing repository of analytic data on close to 400 million videos tracked across more than 300 online video destinations.

Note: This analysis does not include Visible Measures' paid-placement (e.g., overlays; pre-, mid-, and post-roll) performance data or video views on private sites. This chart does not include movie trailers, video game campaigns, TV show, or media network promotions. View counts are incremental by month.

Learn more here.

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