Four Easy Holiday Content Marketing Tips

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The holidays are here and there’s way too much going on. Shopping, family, parties and trying to squeeze in the things that really matter—getting together with friends and family, taking time for those you love. That’s why we look forward to the holidays every year. But what about the work that keeps piling up on our desks? And you still have a year-end newsletter to publish, along with a blog and social media posts.

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Here are a few ideas to expedite your holiday content marketing efforts:

  1. Share your holiday-specific expertise. Depending on your niche, extend your expertise on how to save money during the holiday frenzy. Or suggest ways to stay healthy or provide legal advice that applies during this time of year.
  2. Curate content. Blogging is a great way to update your website with current content, keep your name in front of your audience and provide relevant content, but let’s face it–it takes time to identify a topic, draft and refine your blog, find an image and post everything to your website and social media sites. Instead, think about content curation–the process of gathering, organizing, and sharing great content pieces that you think will resonate with your audience. Add an intro that explains why you like this article and the author and why it’s relevant.
  3. Invite guest bloggers to post to your site. Reach out to colleagues or friends whose writing you admire and ask them for a guest post—provide a few topics that are relevant. They’ll likely love the exposure and you’re going to love taking a week off. Ask them if they’d reciprocate and provide an opportunity for you to share a blog on their websites.
  4. Support a charitable organization. Use your social media or blog to support a charity. This is the time for reaching into your pockets and giving, and there are plenty of worthy organizations that will love a donation and a little extra promotion. Use hashtags to increase exposure and bring awareness to your cause.

A few more tips . . .

  • Hashtags. Do get in the habit of using hashtags with your social media posts—a great way to foster new followers and generate engagement around your campaigns.
  • Holiday images. Include a holiday-themed background image on your website—this appeals to people’s emotions and feeds into the holiday spirit.
  • Remember to have fun. This might be the time to share a funny story, feature a colleague or member of your team.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Connect with Your Audience on Emotional Level

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We’ve just witnessed the most divisive election our country has ever known. We’ve never seen so much discord, such clear-cut lines of demarcation between liberals and conservatives. There is shockingly little tolerance for other people’s views and a general uneasiness about how a new administration and a dramatic change in policy will affect us. In a time of uncertainty, smart brands will work harder to connect, to create deep emotional bonds with their tribes. How can they do this? By telling stories and connecting with their audiences.

Connecting with good storytelling

Good storytelling has always been an effective way to connect with audiences, and the growing number of social media networks has given us more opportunities to reach them on an emotional level than ever before. This is when trust and relationships begin to form.

This is the time of year when we begin to look for the best holiday ads, and several brands have created ads whose messages are simple and compelling, leaving us deeply touched with the spirit of giving and the importance of spending the holidays with people we love.

Amazon is in the running with an ad about a priest and iman

They’re clearly old friends whom we see visiting with each other in the parish house. We see their sharing a hot drink, laughing and rubbing their knees. The Iman gets up to leave and they warmly embrace. After his friend leaves, the thoughtful priest has an inspiration. He pulls out his phone, goes to his Amazon app and orders something. In the next scene we see both the priest and Iman opening their packages—each had sent the other knee pads. The perfect gift for religious men who spent a considerable amount of time on their knees praying.

A Polish ad may be the best Christmas ad ever

It begins with a nice older man as he orders a book online and receives the delivery of “English for Beginners”. We see his practicing his English aloud as he goes about his daily life—on the bus, during breakfast, in the bathtub. He stares at a rubber duck, “I love you. You are perfect”. He labels his dog, his knife and fork and his toothpaste with post-it notes. He peppers his learning with phrases from action movies. When his suitcase arrives, we begin to understand why he’s learning a new language. We follow him to the airport, across the ocean and into the warm embrace of his son at the front door of his London home. When his little granddaughter emerges from her bedroom, he kneels down and says, “I am your grandpa.” This wonderful ad is by Allegro, the most popular online marketplace in Poland.

According to their spokespeople, “For years, we’ve strived to make Allegro the largest e-commerce platform in the CEE (Central and Eastern European) region, and to our customers, bring joy, touch the heart and cause a smile.”

I’ve watched this ad more times than I’ll admit, and I’m not alone. It’s gone totally viral and has now been viewed more than 11.5M times. Allegro is clearly touching a lot of hearts with this delightful ad.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Building Relationships with Great Customer Service

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top-of-mind-marketing_relationshipsThese days we’re all stretched pretty thin. We’re working 12-hour days, commuting another two or three and often taking care of both our kids and parents. We get used to road rage, attitude, anger and rudeness. We lower our expectations when we go into stores or restaurants, so we’re pleasantly surprised when a server or sales associate is helpful and courteous, when really, it’s part of his/her job.

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile

As a business owner, along with our expertise, great service–really exceeding expectations–is what sets us apart. But sometimes it can feel like people have forgotten what this is all about, but I recently had a couple of customer service experiences that knocked my socks off. The result? Two service providers just made a customer for life, and I’ve already referred a few friends to one of them. Their small good-will gestures will reward them many times over, and we can all learn a lesson in relationship-building. And in case you’ve gotten too busy, relationships are how we build our businesses.

JiffyLube had become Joe’s Auto Service

I figured it was about time to take my car in for a tuneup, so I Googled JiffyLube. I’ve recently relocated to St. Helena, so I found one in Napa and drove to Joe’s Auto Service. Hmmmm. A really nice guy came out and I felt pretty stupid asking him if this was JiffyLube, when it clearly wasn’t. His answer: “No, it hasn’t been for about four years.” I was there and needed to have my tires and oil checked so I asked him if he could do that and he could for $64. Great.

He invited me to sit down and have some coffee or water in his sunny waiting area. He returned in about 20 minutes and told me that I only had about a thousand miles since my last oil change and really didn’t need one. I asked him to check the water and tires, etc., and he came back about ten minutes later and handed me my keys. I got out my credit card and he gently pushed my hand away. “There’s no charge.” I was totally floored. This kind of thing never happens anymore, especially when it comes to car stuff—when we all expect to get robbed. I shook his hand and thanked him and told him I’d be back in a few thousand miles. I have also told some friends about this guy and his incredible relationship-building ethic and will continue to share this story with anyone who needs to have his/her car serviced.

A dead battery means a call to AAA

A few weeks later as I got in my car to go home from a friend’s house, I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you turn the ignition and nothing happens. I’d left my lights on. I called AAA in the morning, and they told me they’d be there within an hour. AAA generally calls or texts 15 minutes or so before they arrive, so I was startled when the AAA guy knocked on my door and I wasn’t quite ready to go. “No problem. I’ll just wait.”

I gathered my bag, laptop and jacket and locked up. He held the door for me and because the seat of his truck was a little dirty, he took off his jacket and spread it on the seat so I could sit down. He even waited until I was in, then closed the truck door. I’m totally loving this guy. We drove to my car, he had it running in about two minutes and checked to make sure the battery was strong. He cautioned me not to turn the car off, but to drive for at least an hour to completely recharge the battery. That was it—no paperwork, no hassle. I thanked him for the great service, and he told me it was a family business—they were serious about taking care of their customers.

These two experiences restored my faith in good old-fashioned customer service—the key to building relationships and your business.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

9 Steps to More Compelling Content

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An effective content marketing program requires commitment and creativity

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But you don’t have to be a world class writer or marketing expert to be a good content marketer. Here are 9 steps for generating more compelling content.

  1. Passion. Ya gotta feel it. People feel it and know if you’re writing about topics that you love, feel strongly about and are clearly knowledgeable. These are the reasons you first became interested in your industry, the reasons you started your own business. Sure you get frustrated, annoyed and dog-tired, but you rally and are still passionate about what you do.
  2. Preparation. Time to let go of that scattergun approach and one-off efforts. They don’t work and they’re wasting your time and money. Identify your audience—are they babyboomers, Gen-Xers or millennials. It makes a huge difference in the way you design your marketing program. Define your demographic and start building relationships with this group.
  3. Action. If you’ve created a strategy or a marketing plan, you need to implement it. This is where a lot of small business owners fail. It can be overwhelming. Break it up into manageable blocks of time each week. Calendar these and treat them like a meeting. Use these blocks of time to work on your action items–writing blog posts, recording podcasts, preparing your monthly newsletter, writing new web content.
  4. Commitment. To help you stay committed, create an editorial/content calendar. It should include the publish date, topic, your call to action, the format (blog post, image, video, etc.) and which social media platforms you will be posting to. I like to create a larger editorial calendar that identifies important events and topics, anything that’s seasonal, industry celebrations, etc. Keep this handy, add to it and reference it.
  5. Stay flexible. You may have a calendar, but this is a guide to keep you on track. If something better comes along, by all means take advantage of it. I do keep a calendar, but I’ve been taking advantage of some of the articles about the election—looking at these from a marketing perspective. Do stay on top of industry, national and local news and leverage these stories if they’re relevant for your industry.
  6. Listen. If you want to create great content that will be engaged with and shared by your community, find out what they want and need. To do this, spend time on the social media platforms they use and watch what they are sharing and engaging with. People like, comment and share what they feel emotional about, whether these emotions are positive or negative.
  7. Become a good communicator. Once you know what your community wants, you need to communicate in a way that resonates and is easily consumed and shared by your them. Remember that attention spans are short, so you need to quickly get to the point. This is as much about formatting as it is about actual content. Create blog and social media posts that are crisp and can be easily scanned and consumed. Use subheads to break up paragraphs and seduce your audience. Bullet points are a great way to make content more accessible.
  8. Be generous. Share your knowledge with your community and build trust. Remember that there will always be a group of people who’ll see the value in the information you provide, lack the time, skills or desire to do it for themselves. These are the people we call clients—they will happily pay for your expertise!
  9. Become a continuous learner. Never stop learning. Whether it’s in your industry or about content creation itself, take the time to stay up-to-date on what’s new, what’s important and what’s changing. Stay passionate and genuine and you’ll build your community.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

4 Tips for More Compelling Case Studies

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I’m a longtime fan of case studies. They’ve always been an important way to showcase your expertise. These days, when content marketing is all about telling stories, case studies have never been more important or more relevant.

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Here are 4 tips for making case studies more compelling.

1. Dig deep and find the meat of the story

Before diving into your case study, ask yourself: where are visceral parts of this story that will reach my audience on an emotional level? Case studies are often written like instruction manuals, when they’re actually very compelling success stories about real people.

2. One word: edit

An estimated 66% of B2B marketers say case studies are the most effective means of attracting their target audiences. When people go to your website, they’re likely to read your About section and Case Studies. Don’t disappoint them by providing endless details that don’t get to the core: Challenge, your Solution and the Results. Make it easy for your reader to understand what you’ve accomplished.

3. Play to the herd

If you’re not paying attention, people no longer buy things without checking out what their peers have to say on the matter. This is the millennial profile, but it’s not just the kids who are doing this. Who doesn’t read reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp, consult with friends and knowledgeable colleagues before making major purchases. Case studies help validate you. They provide instant credibility:

  • Case studies humanize your brand. They put your solutions into context.
  • Case studies are your customer success stories. They directly influence your prospects, attract high-quality leads, build trust and boost revenue.
  • Case studies provide third party endorsement—motivate potential clients by showing them how you can help and why you are their best choice.

4. Case studies endure

Good case studies retain their value, year after year. Blogs may become irrelevant, depending on the topic, but a case study that highlights business fundamentals–your ability to solve problems, build relationships, meet deadlines and budgets and help your clients grow their businesses—these endure.

Are you ready to outsource your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

Better Bullet Points for Enhanced Content Marketing

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I’ve been preaching for years about the importance of using visual keys to making your blogs,
articles and other messaging more accessible.

You only have a few seconds to seduce your audiencetop-of-mind-marketing_bulletpoints

You need to give then a reason to keep reading. When people look at a paragraph that’s taking
up six inches of their computer screens, there’s little chance of their reading this. But if you break it into smaller, more manageable information bites, make good use of clever, attention-getting subheads that provide a window into what they’re going to learn, it becomes accessible. By using bullet points whenever possible, you’re making your content even more approachable.

Strategic bullet points keep people reading

Something to keep in mind: People scan content to decide if they want to keep reading, but it’s also a way to justify not reading. There are a few different kinds of bullet points; used properly, they can significantly enhance your content.

1. External fascinations. Usually found in sales copy for information products and membership sites, functioning like headlines that prompt a purchase or other action. Also known as blind bullets, they hint at the content of a product or service and create curiosity without revealing the actual substance. These are generally slick, promotional bullet points about a product

2. Internal fascinations. Pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the content they’re currently reading. These are the teasers. For example: By reading this article you’ll learn:

  • 3 counterintuitive activities that will improve your business
  • How to turn your process into a product you can sell

3. Bullet chunking. Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content. Attention spans are short; make it easy for your readers. Maintain parallel construction for your bullet points. An example:

  • Fascinating bullet points are great for:
  • Drawing people back into the copy they skimmed
  • Prompting the download of a free offer
  • Causing the click of a link

4. Authority bullets. Use these to recite data, providing support for your argument. Authority bullets bolster the credibility of your content and your level of authority as a subject matter expert. Try to turn dry, factual information into interesting reading, if possible. An example:

  • Don’t believe me when I say reading is an uncommon activity? Check these facts:
  • 58% of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book
  • 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year

5. Cliffhanger bullets. Tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future. Entice your readers to read next week’s blog by using a few cliffhanger bullets to let them know what they can expect.

Are you ready to outsource your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

Want to Get Discovered? 6 SEO Rules for 2016

By | SEO, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Like everything else these days, SEO has shifted. You put a lot of thought and effort into developing clever, insightful blogs, landing pages and social media posts. Here are 6 SEO Rules for 2016 to get the most out of your content investment.

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1.Keywords: forget exact matches: think good intentions

You no longer need an exact keyword to offer a relevant search result. Now search engines are seeing how people are interacting with your website. It’s about the post-click activity. Not only do you have to get the clicks, but you have to satisfy user intent.

2. Keywords: they ain’t what they used to be

In the old days, we were told to load our landing page with our keywords. That was so yesterday. Then we were told to frontload them in the first paragraph and in our headlines. Now we learn that including keywords in headlines is becoming less important. Google has gotten smarter about interpreting our meaning. I love that technology is getting so smart. It used to be that if you wanted to rank for best restaurants, you had to say best restaurants three or four times. It’s still helpful to mention best restaurants, but the semantic meaning is becoming much more important. Now you can just talk about great dining experiences, good food and wine and the search engines will pick up on it.

Search engines are getting more intuitive; they’re anticipating

As the search engines get smarter, they start to anticipate, thinking about other words that you expect to be in that article, what will signal that this is an authoritative article on the topic. A good example: If you were writing an article about the Apple watch, you might have the words Apple, iPhone, watch, apps and time. If those are in the body copy, it sends signals to the search engines that this is a pretty good article.

Think really, really brief

Most search queries are between three and five words long, so you should write headlines accordingly. If people search for the word marketing, or any one- or two-word query, they don’t get the results they want. As content creators, if you’re thinking about optimization, you always need to be thinking about brevity and character limits. It’s a huge challenge.

3. Focus on the user experience

Google is making something like 500 algorithm changes a year. Every change is focused on making sure that when people search on Google, if they get the right result on the first few pages, they’ve got a great experience. The more original content that you can produce—whether it’s an image or a video, or long-form content, anything you can put together that’s going to justify someone’s wanting to read it or share it—the better.

Beware Top 5 articles

Those articles with a Top Five or whatever list format often are clickable, but use them sparingly. People like things that they can quickly digest, but it doesn’t necessarily have much weight with search. You have to make sure that whatever comes after the number makes sense and is useful. Don’t deceive your user. If you’re promising them the Top 5, deliver.

4. Size matters

This is a tough sell, but I’ve been preaching this one for years. These days, when everyone seems to be communicating in 140 character bites, it’s difficult to make a case for longer articles, between 1,200 to 1,500 words, but they perform better in search. It’s significantly different than it was two or three years ago, when 300 words was considered a pretty long page—and that was considered long! Longer articles are getting more traffic, and they’re ranking higher in SEO, especially for competitive terms. The changes that Google is making, and the reason they’re making these changes, is to make sure they’re sending traffic to pages that delight people.

Do make those long pages more accessible

Break them up with subheads, bullet points and images to make it easy for readers to quickly scan and digest them. Spend some time making your subheads interesting to seduce your readers, drawing them in to read more. Make them want to read on

5. Optimize for mobile

If you’re a desktop user, it’s time to emerge from Sleepy Hollow. The majority of people are now reading their content on their smartphones, so make your content searchable.

6. Use unique images

While images aren’t as big of a referral source in Google as they used to be, having unique images on your site is valuable. The same image can show up in hundreds of places around the web, but having unique content around those images is what makes it stand out. If you can create a custom image or use unique photography, it will pay off in the long run.”

The most important SEO tip for 2016 is to focus on your audience. Today it’s about delivering what people actually want to see that will give you an SEO ranking boost.

Are you thinking about outsourcing part or all of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

Hashtags: Grouping Content to Increase Brand Awareness

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We all hear about the power of hashtags, and we’re seeing them all over social media. It turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. The best way to think about hashtags is that they’re a grouping mechanism. Let’s say I post a blog, identify a keyword phrase, content marketing, and include a hashtag, #content marketing. Anyone who keys #contentmarketing into a search field is now more likely to pull up my blog. If you understand the purpose of hashtags and learn how to use them, they become a powerful tool that will help you reach and engage your target audience and increase brand awareness.

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Using hashtags in your social media posts makes them visible to basically anyone who shares your interest. No longer are your posts limited to just your followers; your content now becomes accessible to all other users who are interested in similar topics. Choosing good hashtags can significantly broaden the reach of your social media posts.

Creating an Effective Hashtag

Hashtags can appear anywhere in your posts: front, middle or end. Positioning isn’t as important as their relevance and judicious application. Users are turned off by a post that’s cluttered with excessive or lengthy hashtags, e.g. #thisLongHashtagIsSoPointless. Brevity is critical on social media so a short, declarative post with a few well-chosen hashtags should be your goal.

Limiting the number of hashtags

In general, keep your hashtags to two-three on Twitter; Instagram’s ideal number of hashtags is five. Use hashtags on Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest. An article about hashtags on Facebook showed that engagement fell off significantly as the number of hashtags grew.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • A hashtag must be written as a single word, without any spaces
  • You can include numbers in a hashtag, but punctuation and special characters ($ and %) won’t work
  • Search for a hashtag using the search bar at the top of any browser window–it’s a searchable link
  • Add context. A message, link, message or call to action
  • Stay relevant. Don’t use a trending hashtag to draw users—even though it has nothing to do with your post. It happens.
  • If you’re just getting started, use hashtags that directly relate to your brand, product or service until you’re comfortable with their use. Start noticing how others are using hashtags creatively and effectively.

Are you thinking about outsourcing part or all of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

12 Ways To Dramatically Improve Email Open Rates

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top-of-mind-marketing_subject-linesEmail marketing never gets any easier

The competition is fierce, and your subject line needs to be clever and attention-getting, yet sincere and compelling. Mobile has made it even harder as we struggle to constrain subject lines to 50 characters. I recently drafted up a few potential subject lines for a client and asked for her feedback. Her response? “Does it matter?” Are you kidding? A subject line is everything! 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone, and frankly, I’m surprised that the number isn’t higher.

Here are some subject line tips:

  1. Short and sweet. A whopping 40% of emails are being opened on mobile first, so 50 characters is now the rule. Editing is a skill. Write your blog and subject line, then come back later and you may have new clarity. Take out those words which are nonessential and see if you’ve altered the meaning.
  2. Use a familiar sender name—people are afraid of viruses and they have little interest in spam. If they see an email from info@something.com, they’re less inclined to open it than if it is coming from a real person or someone they recognize.
  3. Personalize. This is a list thing. Include the first name of your contacts so you can address them in your emails. Who doesn’t want to get a personal email rather than Dear Friend?
  4. List segmentation. This may/not be relevant for your audience, but if it is, spend the time to do this. Your clients will thank you for tailoring information just for them.
  5. Be truthful. Do not make a cheesy promise in your subject line to encourage open rates, then not deliver on that promise. When there’s a total disconnect between the subject line and the subject, you have deceived your audience.
  6. If you’re offering something special in your email, use your subject line tell your audience.
  7. There are a gazillion schools of thought on this one. It used to be 10am on Tues or Wed, but now that everyone’s online 24/7, the rules have changed. Some recommend sending when people are likely to have time to read it—Sunday afternoon or evening, for instance, when many of us settle in to do some work to get ready for the week ahead. If you’re sending out an email about a new bar’s happy hour, the best time to send it is might be 4:30 or 5:00.
  8. Concise language. You only have 50 characters. Put them to work. Use action verbs; try to create an image for your audience.
  9. Make them feel special. Who doesn’t want this one? “A special offer just for you”, etc.
  10. Create a sense of urgency. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate. Using deadlines like “today only” or “24-hour giveaway”.
  11. Use a question. Make it compelling—it can be thoughtful and make people think.
  12. NEVER use all caps. Enough on that one. It’s difficult to read and is perceived as shouting.

One more thing . . . 

Rather than just deleting all those blasts you get from others, start paying attention to them, including the subject lines. I end up reading a fair number of marketing emails because I’m always interested in potential blog topics. You may be surprised what you will learn.

Are you thinking about outsourcing part or all of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

Time to Dump Your HTML Email in Favor of Plain Text?

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When it comes to email marketing, you’ve probably tried a number of applications, from Constant Contact to MailChimp. You kill yourself coming up with snappy, attention-getting subject lines. You add clever graphics, agonize over content, how to making it relevant and accessible. You’re constantly tweaking subject lines, calls-to-action, images, headers, layout, link positioning, copy, length, tone, content. The list is endless. Yet your open and click-through rates remain stagnant. What are you doing wrong?

Probably nothing. There’s one hard truth: nothing boosts opens and clicks as well as an old school, plain-text email. What? Yes. Forget fancy layouts and graphics. Forget the HTML emails you’ve been slaving over for years. Remember that mobile has altered the landscape dramatically. Everything these days calls for simpler and more accessible.

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People say they prefer HTML emails

In a 2014 survey, HubSpot asked more 1,000 professionals whether they preferred HTML-based or text-based emails, and whether they preferred emails that consisted of mostly text or mostly images. Nearly two thirds of the respondents said they preferred HTML and image-based emails.

HubSpot experimented with varying degrees of HTML-richness — plain HTML templates, snazzy and sleek HTML templates, beautiful headers, different sized and positioned images, various call-to-action buttons, and GIFs — to see which would have the best result. The result? They Actually Prefer Plain-Text.

In every single A/B test, the more simply designed email won

The emails with fewer HTML elements won with statistical significance. Go figure. This doesn’t make sense, does it? Every other marketing channel is moving towards incorporating visuals and seemingly getting positive results. Think the overwhelmingly greater response to your Facebook posts that include an image, the trend toward videos, surge of social media sites that are image-centric, including Instagram, Snapchat, etc. People NEED to be entertained these days. Why, then, were emails performing worse when HubSpot attempted to make them more visual appealing?

The results confirmed original assumption: HTML emails decreased open rates

One thing that HubSpot noticed was that HTML and plain-text emails were both receiving the same deliverability rate. So if they were getting delivered at the same rate, how were HTML emails underperforming? To understand the full scope of what happened, HubSpot A/B tested their email sends. They tested various segments of their database in multiple regions to get a better picture of HTML vs. plain-text emails.

What was interesting, however, was that not only were HTML emails receiving lower open rates than their plain-text counterparts, the more HTML-rich an email was, the lower its open rate. Simpler HTML emails had better open rates than HTML-rich emails and plain-text emails performed best of all.

HubSpot’s conclusion: It’s all about deliverability

Just because something says it’s been delivered doesn’t mean it’s actually in a noticeable place of someone’s inbox. Email services are increasingly filtering emails (especially commercial ones) to provide a better experience for the user. We all know about Gmail’s promotions folder–it automatically filters what it deems “commercial” emails out of the main inbox unless the user changes the settings—and no one in his/her right mind does that.

The simple explanation is that image tags and HTML-rich templates seem to be getting flagged by email providers as commercial email, which means they get filtered out of a recipient’s main inbox–and people can’t open them. They’re delivered all right, but they’re not getting opened.

We’ve come full circle . . .

We’ve all spent years and considerable effort making our HTML emails more graphically enhanced, clever and enticing. We’ve come full circle. The message is still important, but it may be time to get back to the basics, focusing on making them simpler and more accessible.

Are you ready to outsource your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts