Email marketing is constantly evolving and 2020 has been an exciting year in the email marketing arena with it continuing to be one of the most trusted communication channels available to marketers. It has received a bad rap in the past, but it continues to defy its critics, providing some of the best ROIs in the digital landscape. Here’s a summary of the main email marketing trends that we are seeing in 2020 and that are likely to stick around for the remainder of the year and beyond.
It’s all about the mobile
Mobile browsing has now surpassed desktop browsing in terms of percentage traffic and mobile surpasses other devices for email opens. As a result, emails are being optimized more and more for mobile access, ensuring that copy, images and layout correctly collapse down into a mobile-friendly format.
The majority of purchases and therefore generated revenue is still coming from desktops but crucially, the percentage of revenue from mobiles increased 23% in 2019 and that is set to continue in 2020.
Minimalist email copy and design
Concise copy and a clean design have become paramount for email marketing and with the shift towards mobile access, simplification has become even more important. Long superfluous copy leads to readers switching off and not making it through an email. What works on paper doesn’t necessarily carry well to an email, and companies should have dedicated copywriters that understand the writing requirements for email copy as opposed to direct mail copy.
Attention spans of readers are reducing, and media is being consumed in large quantities. An email should therefore be simple and contain content that is easy to scan and can be quickly digested and understood. Lots of white space, simple images and blocks of colour to draw the eye are being used in emails to keep them easy to read.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in email marketing
AI is increasingly being used in email copy and content selection, dramatically improving personalisation and being able to provide the right message for each person. AI is also being used for segmenting recipients. Efficient and intelligent software is replacing the usual data collection at signup process. Effectively, AI is a tool to be used alongside other marketing tools, but how it is used is arguably more important than whether or not you choose to adopt it.
Personalisation will continue to grow in importance and one area that is picking up interest is the optimisation of send time. This is where emails are optimised to send out to individuals based on their historical open patterns. There will be more segments and more dynamic segmentation with email marketers striving to provide the most relevant communication at the optimum frequency and time.
Trust in email marketing is going nowhere
Email continues to be a consistent platform that allows one-to-one communication to an inbox. The majority of recipients are receiving emails that they have opted in to receive so they are more likely to trust the content. With social media platforms as a comparison, users can follow/unfollow, like/unlike with one click as well as constantly switch between platforms. Email is the single best digital tool to communicate with customers that actually want to hear from you.
Email marketing is here to stay. As technological innovation continues to reshape the email marketing landscape, there is plenty you can do at every level of your email marketing strategy to improve results. Let’s see what the rest of the year and 2021 holds for this trusted, yet rapidly evolving marketing channel!
The global pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in virtual sales, but there seems to be a continuous divide when it comes to developing sales strategies for the future. Can we return to the classic method of face-to-face direct sales as soon as circumstances allow, or joining the revolution of going full virtual. What should we plan for in the “new normal”?
This time last year, I was waking up at the crack of dawn to brace the Johannesburg morning rush to get to my first client meeting in Pretoria. Today, I am working virtually for an American company. My first Zoom meeting is at 3 p.m., which is 8 a.m. Central Time Zone in Tennessee. I have gone from meeting clients in person every day, to calling and emailing them. Building virtual relationships with the time difference has been quite an adjustment, but I am enjoying not having to sit in traffic for hours. As someone with experience on both sides, this is my take on the two strategies.
The way I distinguish virtual from direct sales would be, quality versus quantity.
Direct Sales – Quality
Direct sales would be the quality approach. The focus is on face-to-face interactions. The value of the relationship between business and client is heightened because of the personal bond created. The client’s trust is built on meetings where informal conversations can lead to a higher chance of client retention. Even if the number of clients reached is considerably lower, because of the time taken to build the relationship.
Virtual Sales – Quantity
Virtual sales would be the quantity approach due to the access to a larger spectrum of potential clients from various industries, and the ease of contact via electronic platforms i.e. email. It is a great way to determine which industries to target and eliminate the ones that do not bring in positive metrics or sales. However, maintaining good relationships with clients can be difficult because of not having the face-to-face factor, and managing a concentrated customer base can create a lower chance of client retention.
To further differentiate the two sales strategies, I will use the 4 A’s model: Acceptability, Accessibility, Affordability, Awareness, and the selling of sweaters as an example for each.
4 A’s Model
Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the sales pitch to potential customers.
Accessibility – Ensuring the store is stocked up with sweaters and positioned where customers can easily see and reach them.
Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract our target markets? How are the sweaters priced against competitors at stores nearby?
Awareness – Can customers see that we sell sweaters in our store? Are they visible on mannequins in the display window? Do we have a sign?
Acceptability – Why should customers buy our sweaters? Are they priced according to the quality we are offering? This component can be used in the product title and description on the website.
Accessibility – Having a website that is easy to navigate, and mobile phone optimised, so customers can effortlessly buy sweaters from any device.
Affordability – Are our sweaters priced to attract the desired target markets? How are sweaters on competitors’ websites priced?
Awareness – An email campaign, targeted at a group of potential customers to inform them about our brand of sweaters.
We can see from this, that the mechanisms of the 4 A’s in both approaches often coincide and have similarities.
Adapting to the current climate and adopting a sales process that not only protects your team, but also grows your business, is essential.
A combined approach of both sales strategies based on your company’s goals and objectives, would, in my view, be the most beneficial in these uncertain times.
Healthy body = Healthy mind. Healthy mind = Healthy body.
Seems so simple doesn’t it? And yet keeping a balance between body and mind can be quite challenging. Bring in the third element – soul – and we find ourselves in a whole new ball game. Our mind, bodies and souls are the 3 cornerstones of our existence. One cannot exist without the other and if these are not in harmony, we find ourselves unbalanced. I like to visualize them in a circle, so that I see a rolling, continuous cycle, all interleading into each other. One will always be on the top whilst you give your time and energy to it, and then will move onto the next and the next, picking up the energy and momentum and keeping it flowing, filtering energy and positivity into each one. If positivity is what you choose.
We live in an era where stress is a huge part of our daily routines, especially now in this new world we live in. The pressure of simple daily tasks can seem unsurmountable, leaving us nowhere near a healthy mind, body, or soul, especially if the situation is the same day in and day out, with no definitive end.
Finding your balance
You can change this by completing the mind-body-soul circle. Make a concerted effort to change, starting with one of these three areas. Maybe you only need to work on one. Now is a good time to start and carry through into our lives once we go back to whatever the new normal is going to be.
Be kind to yourself. Remember that you might not get it right every day, that is not the victory. The victory is that you keep trying and don’t give up. This is a journey you will be on for the rest of your life and every small win is a win!
The mind is incredibly powerful! One has to be so careful on what you allow it to do. This all depends what you feed it. As powerful as it is, you are still in control. Unless you are consciously aware of this, it could control you. There have been thousands of case studies and theories on the power of the mind. To uncomplicate things, keep it simple. Don’t consume all your energy on negative thoughts, especially those you are not able to control. If you are consumed by something, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change the situation? If not, let it go. This takes practice. When we practice noticing our thoughts and letting go, we engage in a powerful habit, leading to peace and ultimately a better-balanced life.
I am trying a new technique, which may work for you too. When I find my thoughts racing and out of control, I force my mind to envision a bright ball of energy. (This is used in Qigong Yoga) and nothing else. I imagine this to be my safe zone, my go to place, and I try and feed my mind off this positive space. You could also try a happy place – a special place in your mind that you love being in and sit there quietly. Calming your thoughts and taking back control of your mind.
Taking control of your mind one step at a time can be incredibly liberating! If you do not like what you are thinking you need to change what you are planting.
An old Chinese proverb captures the power of our thinking in shaping our lives:
Sow a thought and reap an act
Sow an act and reap a habit
Sow a habit and reap a character
Sow a character and reap a destiny
Exercise for some may be hard, for others it is easy, and they can’t imagine their lives without it. They may have an advantage here, as the benefits of exercise have been proven time and time again. For those not on their side of the fence, what I am suggesting is that you start off slow, no pressure, don’t even set a target. Just experiment and find what you enjoy. Experiment with Yoga, with Pilates, with Qigong, Zumba, Barre (ballet-inspired fitness class) boxing, the list is endless, or the more traditional running, walking, swimming, or cycling. Due to health reasons I have had to stop running and focus more on strengthening. I miss the runners high but am now enjoying the feeling of being stronger and this has opened my eyes to another world connecting me to focused breathing, control, and the power of the mind, interlinking the mind, body, and soul trinity.
A good diet is essential, I’m sure you can all attest to the fact that over the past few weeks working from home has not helped the diet, this is where having a healthy mind is going to come in – willpower. We really are what we eat. We are all aware of the benefits of healthy food. Try and remember them.
Feed your soul
When I pray for my 4-year-old son, I pray for protection of his mind, body, and soul as I think of his future and what may lie ahead in all 3 of these aspects. Whoever you may or not pray to, believe, or not believe in, guard your heart and soul. Feed it to grow and prosper whatever this may mean to you. There is no one rule fits all here, only you know what your soul needs and what makes it happy. Know your worth. If you need coaching or counselling in areas where you think you need this, reach out and get the help to be the perfect version of you.
A happy version. A healthy version. The best version!
Working remotely is fast becoming the norm. For those of us who have been doing this for several years we have mostly fallen into routine. Though even some veterans of virtual work are still not where they should be when it comes to mastering this dynamic.
Due to the recent COVID-19 lockdowns more and more companies are turning to remote work. For many this involves a massive change in working routine especially because you now need to separate work from home, while in most cases working from your dining room table. There is also the factor of family and other responsibilities we may have.
Pre COVID-19 it was difficult enough but once the children had gone off to school and your spouse had gone to work, we were able to settle down for a good few hours of productive work whilst they were gone.
For many the dream of working virtually has turned into a nightmare. Working in your living space is not as idyllic as it may sound. Many of us are confined to houses or apartments with family members, children, or roommates who have their own work or school demands. You are trying to navigate your way around the different tools that are required to continue a smooth flow of productivity and not having the resources you are accustomed to at your fingertips.
Here are a few tips to help you in your transition:
Designate Your Workspace
You may be fortunate enough to have a space that can be created for the sole use of your work or you may not.
The most important thing is to separate your “home” from “work”. So by this it means, don’t work from your bed or in a space that is used for family time and relaxation.
Create a separate corner in your home, however small, and set up a workspace from there. Even if it is the dining room table. In your mind this is the space that is used for working and not leisure.
If the space is needed after working hours then make sure that your tools required for work are moved into a separate corner at the end of each work day and set up again the next day. This might sound like a mission but is actually good practice for your routine.
As wonderful as it may sound to have your children and/or spouse all sitting at the same space and working together, this is not realistic. You each need to have your own space to work with no interruption.
Get up at a reasonable time, the same time every week day.
Get dressed, don’t sit and work in your pajamas.
Start and finish work at the same time every day. Do not go back to your work desk after hours and try to catch up. This tends to be unproductive and you will end up burning out. It is imperative to separate your work from leisure and ensure you switch off from your work and have time to relax.
Have a plan for your day. At the end of each work day set aside 30 minutes to create a task list for the following day. Make sure to follow this as best as is reasonably possible. At the same time, don’t be too rigid.
Try not to overschedule yourself – make sure to include breaks. So have your breakfast before you go into your workspace, take a lunch break in the garden away from your work space. Even go for a short walk to clear your mind.
If you have children who need attention or assistance with school work, this can be worked into your schedule. You can also create schedules for them.
Don’t Get Distracted
Save your social media and social calls with family and friends for after work time. It is very easy to get distracted and when you look again you have spent up to an hour, if not more, on this and it is then very difficult to get back into the mind space you require for work.
Try not to worry about how the house needs to be cleaned, washing done, dirty dishes etc. If you are working from an office this normally waits until you get home. Try to keep the same mindset and put all of the housework as part of your after-hours schedule.
Use Your Virtual Tools
There are many tools available to ensure smooth workflow and help to keep you focused while working virtually.
Use a time keeping tool so that you can see exactly what you have been working on each day.
A scheduling tool is essential to ensure that you know exactly what needs to be done each day and mark off when it is complete.
Communication with your colleagues is still imperative. There are many apps out there which enable us to communicate and share our information virtually to ensure that we are still in communication and there is nothing falling through the cracks.
Make time for healthy habits
If you find that you are constantly back and forth to the kitchen for food and snacks, set up a routine for eating.
Have your breakfast before you start work.
Pack a lunch for the next day and only eat that.
Keep a water jug on your desk and make sure to stay hydrated. If you are going back and forth to the kitchen for water you will be tempted to grab a snack while you are there.
Include exercise as part of your daily schedule.
Take a walk after lunch.
Set your exercise hour for straight after work, so say 4pm, shut down your computer, get dressed and do your exercise. If you don’t do this you will get distracted with chores and other responsibilities and you will be too tired to exercise. It also creates a great break between work time and leisure time.
Your mental health is also extremely important.
Try to meditate for 15 minutes in the morning and again in the evening before bed time.
Do not stay up late binge watching TV. Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
If you live alone ensure that you do spend time with others.
Yes the initial transition is difficult that is for certain. But it is possible and can ultimately be incredibly rewarding and freeing if done in the correct way.
Don’t expect perfection in the initial stages but continue to work on your routine and eventually it will be perfected. You need to give yourself time to adjust and figure out your schedule. If you keep up your good habits, you will never look back.
I usually work on Bitrix and Asana and build my own project management tool on Excel. It meant moving out of my comfort zone to research project management tools I have not worked with before. I realised one thing while researching these two tools, they are there to make the SME’s and big corporate operator’s work easy and efficient. Now teams can have easy access to software that is cheap and easily accessible with only the click of a button.
Favro is “Collaboration and planning in the cloud” – thus a cloud based application. This is a planning app which is designed to help a team carrying out their complex business plans with ease and efficiency. This software can especially be used by marketers, production planners and developers because it offers some intuitive and easy to use features for activity planning. Developers also love it because it is fast and modern, staying up to date with current and relative tools.
Favro provides the following key features:
Which tools often used by Virtual Assistants integrate with Favro?
TeamGantt is “An online Gantt Chart Software“. This online project scheduling software lets users manage their projects easily and visibly. It has built-in resource management, so they can see what each person is working on any given day.
TeamGantt provides the following key features:
Drag & Drop Simplicity
Change start and end dates
Which tools often used by Virtual Assistants integrate with TeamGantt?
A free plan is only available for 3 users and 1 project. The varying payment plans starts with 3-50+ users and unlimited projects.
Looking at the above, both tools are great and make life easier with freeing up time when used effectively. Both of these project Management tools work for both small to bigger businesses. TeamGantt provides more integration and a free plan for small businesses. It can also be used more by my virtual industry.
I am however a “work on your mobile” girl and is leaning towards Favro. TeamGantt does not support mobile platforms. Favro can also incorporate spreadsheets………….. It seems I found my next tool to test!