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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top 6 Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Click-Through Rate

Yesterday we discussed how to improve your email marketing open rates. Today we'll focus on improving click-through rates, because it's one thing for people to read your email but a whole other deal getting them to take action and click the links embedded in your email.

The following six strategies have helped me improve my camp's email marketing click-through rates as much as 51%. I'm hoping these tactics include your email click-through rates, too.


1. The Pictures and Videos in Your Emails Should be "Clickable"

A pure text email (unless it's incredibly short) will never outperform an email that contains images and/or videos. The pictures and videos in your emails should be clickable links to whatever you want your recipient to see next. You probably don't even need to tell people to click the pictures, because half the time their curiosity will get the best of them, and they'll wind up clicking the pictures on their own volition anyway just to see what happens next.

2. Your Pictures and Videos Should Include Captions with Links

I learned this trick by testing my own emails. I recently sent 300 people the same email, with half of them (150) getting a "clickable caption" underneath a photo. The other half of the group got the same photo and caption, except without a link. The group with the link in the caption clicked through at a 51% higher rate than the group that didn't get the linked caption. I'm not sure why this was -- maybe it's because people's eyes are naturally drawn to pictures over text and they are conditioned to seeing clickable pictures online so they clicked the caption by default. Whatever the reason, I've learned to ALWAYS include linked captions in my email marketing photos these days.

3. Short Emails are Better than Long

People are too busy to read long messages. For goodness sake, they might even be reading your email on their cell phones while driving! This means they realize they better read your email FAST, so maybe they'll only skim it. My suggestion is to keep your emails as short as possible with just a handful of links. If you only include 3 links -- compared to, say, 6 or 8 -- your click-through rate will skyrocket.

4. Don't Put Any Links in the First Paragraph

Here's another tip: Even though you may be focusing on keeping your email short, I suggest holding off on including any links until at least the second paragraph. Links in the first paragraph can be ugly and generally won't pull as well.

5. Include Social Sharing Tools in your Emails

Get Response did a study which showed that email marketing improves dramatically when social sharing icons (such as the option to post your email to Facebook) are present. If you include one social sharing tool, you can expect your email click-through rate to improve by more than 30%. If you include at least three social sharing tools, a 55% higher click-through rate can be expected compared to emails without social sharing options.

6. Include a P.S. with Linked Content;

Given the fact people are pressed for time, it's not uncommon for them to read your P.S. first. (You should always include a P.S. in your email messages!) Your P.S. content should briefly summarize the purpose of your email (such as what your offer is, etc.) and include a link. In my experience, including a link in your P.S. is a guaranteed click; I would be surprised if most of your recipients didn't click the link in your P.S. (as long as your message/offer is interesting enough).

I'm crossing my fingers the six points above will help your email marketing click-through rates improve. It's one thing for your recipients to open your email, but getting them to read the whole thing and click your links is a whole different animal.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rates

Tonight I received a 2-part question relative to email marketing. The first part of the question was, "What's the best way to increase email open rates?", and the second part was, "What's the best way to increase email click-through rates?"

This is a VERY timely subject and excellent question because just like snail-mail, email marketing sending rates increase tremendously during the Holiday season, often by as much as 35% compared to the rest of the year. In fact later tonight I'm sending an email to one of my lists of 3,000 people inviting them to sign up for camp next year right now and, if they do, I'll give them a $50 gift card to either Best Buy, Sport Chalet, Starbucks or Burke-Williams, their choice. I hope they open my email!

Concerning open rates, a big factor of whether people open your email depends on if your recipients are familiar with your camp or they are new prospects. If they've been to your camp before, or know about you some other way, they will probably open your email based on that fact. But if you're emailing to a cold list with no previous history or familiarity between you and your recipient, getting them to open your email will be harder.

In any case, two key points to consider when strategizing how to get your email opened relate to your subject line. First, you should always assume your recipient's spam filter is set to "high." If you operate under that assumption, you'll be more careful not to write a subject line that gets trashed automatically. (There's no doubt about it -- your recipient's email system is on the lookout for junk, or anything it even perceives to be junk. If your email message is gonna be trashed, your job is make sure your recipient trashes it on his or her own volition, and not allow the email service to do so automatically.)

Now the best trick I've learned to make sure your email passes the spam filter test is to send it to yourself as a test run through at least three different email services before you send it to everyone else. (You can open email accounts for yourself for free at Gmail, AOL and Yahoo.) If the email you send to yourself arrives safely -- if it passes that test -- then you can be fairly confident your message will arrive safely in the recipient's inbox, too.

Another thing about the subject line, it really needs to smack your recipient right in the face. It needs to stand out among all the other crap people get in their inbox. If your headline doesn't grab your prospect, they'll delete your message and move on. Consider your email subject line the equivalent of an ad you take out in the newspaper or magazine. It's pretty much the same thing: Without a good newspaper headline, your ad will be ignored, and without a good email subject line, your email will be deleted.

Here's a quick video on how to write a good subject line:



Your subject line's not the only determining factor as to whether your email gets opened. Time of day, day of the week, your particular offer and many other things come into play. Here's a few links to some blog posts I've written in the past on this subject (each of these posts should help you get your email's opened without too much trouble):
I hope this post is helpful in improving your email open rates. I've given you a lot to chew on, so I'll leave it here for now. Tomorrow I will address the second part of the question, "How to improve your email click through rates."

See you then!

How to Make Your Camp "Talkable"

I'm sure you get a lot (if not most) of your summer camp business from word of mouth (or referrals) from happy camp families. Here's a very good video from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) on how to get more word of mouth referrals, how to measure whether your word of mouth marketing program is successful, how to benefit from word of mouth marketing and how to make your camp brand "talkable." If you're into word of mouth and social media, check this video out.

Marketing Seminar: Live, or Online?

I've heard from a number of camps who'd prefer our upcoming marketing seminar in March to be an online event rather than a live, personal one in Palm Springs so more people can attend. If you'd prefer a marketing "webinar" to a live event, please "LIKE" this post so I can get some idea of how many folks might be interested.

How to Get Prospects to do What You Want Them To

What happens if you've invested a lot of time and money crafting the perfect ad, building the perfect website, writing the ideal article -- but it doesn't work? Well, one thing to consider is, did you include a "Call to Action"?

Nobody should ever see an ad you took out in the newspaper and be left wondering what to do next. You can't expect people to read your mind. You need to tell them exactly what to. That's your "call to action."

Here's how to craft your call to action: Figure out the purpose of your ad (or web page, or blog post, or whatever), then incorporate it, clearly and simply, into your marketing message (whether it's an ad, article, whatever).

If you want someone to call you after they see your ad, your call to action is, "Call Now!" (and you include your phone number.

If you want someone to go to your website after reading your article, your call to action should be, "Visit our website now" (and include your website or landing page address")

...And so on and on

Just remember, your marketing serves no purpose (and will be a complete waste of money) unless your prospects know what to when they see it. Just putting your camp's name out there is not enough - you need to tell people what to do, and if your marketing message or offer's intriguing enough, they will do exactly what you want them to.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Your Camp is Pepsi, and Your Competition's is Coke


There's lots of ways you can show your prospects your camp is better than your competitor's. And you don't always need words to do it. You can use pictures to prove your point just fine. In fact sometimes pictures are better than words.

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of stealing advertising ideas from other industries, then applying those ideas to market my own camp.

So imagine if you switched the Coke can for an image of your competitor's camp, and the Pepsi can for an image of your own camp, and the Coke straw for a picture of an unhappy, homesick or crying camper, and the Pepsi straw for an image of a happy one. Now THAT would be an effective ad!

Top 3 Website Design Tips

Late fall and early winter seems to be the time many camps update their websites for the future summer. The top three things to keep in mind when designing your site are:

1. Make it visually appealing

Nice looking sites are better than ugly ones, right? Fonts, colors, and pictures should match and be nice to look at. You only have a few seconds to grab someone's attention, so don't waste that precious time -- use it to GRAB your website visitor and suck them in to your content immediately.
 
2. Make it easy to navigate

Simplicity is best. If you can tell your camp's story in just a few, easy-to-navigate pages than 50 pages of complicated stuff where people have to jump around to find everything, they will become confused, pissed off and leave your site. Keep in simple!

3. Make it load fast

If people need to wait around for your pages to load, they'll get frustrated and leave. Not only that, search engines reward sites that load faster than others. Also, more and more folks are viewing your website on their cell phones, which don't always load fast anyway -- be sure to keep this in mind.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are Teenage Girls Talking About Online?

If teenage girls are part of your camp's target market, you need to know what's important to them. Here's a blog post that will let you know what teenage girls are talking about online. Now that you have this information, you can create marketing messages (such as blog posts of your own) around these topics.

How to Get More Referrals

Here's a nice article on how to get more referrals. This page links to 12 different resources so you're bound to find a referral generating strategy that works for you.

How to Make More Money Without Increasing Camp Enrollment

I want to show you how to make more money (I'm talking EASY money, pure profit) without increasing your camp enrollment. That means camps that have reached their enrollment capacity or others who have trouble getting new campers are in very good shape.

But first, here's the back story.

Last spring at the Tri-State summer camp conference I led a session called, "How to Triple Your Camp Enrollment in One Year." The concept of tripling your enrollment is not hard to grasp: If each one of your current camper families refers just two others you'll have tripled your enrollment right away.

Now many of the camp directors who attended my session were astounded at the simplicity of this formula. But others would not accept the concept of tripling your camp enrollment in just one year as a viable idea. They did not believe what I discussed would work for them, or they said it was unrealistic.

Listen. I'm not too eager to get egg on my face, so I assure you everything I tell you -- the marketing ideas I share with you -- DO work, WILL work and have been proven in action not only by me at my own camp but by many other people, too. I urge you to implement the marketing strategies I put forth so your camp enrollment grows larger than you could imagine.

Now here's another concept to consider: What happens if your marketing works so well that you reach full capacity at camp? What happens when you don't have room for any more kids? Does that mean you've reached your cap on money-making opportunities? No way.

Even if you're running at full capacity (a pretty nice problem to have), there's still many, MANY money-making options available to you. You can make a boatload of money without signing up any more kids. I can show you at least one, if not several, new profit centers you can easily add to your camp beyond basic camp tuition. Basically, all it takes is a new way of thinking -- a shift in your mindset concerning the way you promote your camp.

More on this in the coming weeks. But I can't give away EVERYTHING for free, so I will be having a marketing workshop in early March I hope you will attend. Most likely the workshop will be in Palm Springs. I'll teach you how to add one or more new profit centers to your camp you haven't considered before. Not only will you learn how to get new customers, you'll learn how to get your current camp families to buy more things, more often, and how to reactivate old customers who haven't purchased anything from you in a long time.

You will learn how to penetrate (even create) new markets with ease and make more a LOT more money even if you've reached a cap on camp enrollment. Best of all, the new money you make will be much more profitable the the money you've made before because it won't have the absurdly high costs of running a summer camp operation attached to it.

Don't believe me? Stay tuned...

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Ask Your Fans Questions on Facebook

One of the best ways to engage your fans and get valuable feedback on your camp is by using Facebook's Questions feature. If you ask the right questions, it's usually irresistible for people to sit idly by without responding. This feature works like a poll. You pose your question, then your fans can choose from predetermined (multiple choice) answers you have created. Just click your "Question" icon (you'll find it on the same horizontal line as your status bar) on your Facebook page to get started.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Time To Add or Update Your Camp's Free Coupon on CampCoupons.com

Don't forget to update your existing coupon at CampCoupons.com or add a new one. Either way, please fill out this form so we have your latest information. Although adding a coupon is free, what we do ask is that you LIKE Camp Coupons on Facebook in exchange for being included on the site.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Cutthroat Are You Willing to Be?

Sometimes it's easier to sell the idea of summer camp on kids and families already attending camps than trying to get new kids to sign up who've never been to camp before. So, if I could should you how to steal away as many kids from your main competitor as you want, would you be willing to do it?

(And trust me, there'd be nothing illegal or immoral about this marketing strategy, it's just that you'd need a whole lot of guts to do it...)

So...would you? Could you?....Do you have the you-know-what to try it??? It seems to me like your camp is worth it....So what do you think???

Post your comments and let me know! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Get More Campers from the Same Number of Website Vistors

Chances are you have several pages of your website where visitors spend the most time. Once you determine which pages these are, you can leverage this information to get more campers from the same amount of website traffic you already have.

In my case, I discovered that web pages which include pictures of both counselors and campers seem to keep website visitors on the page at least twice as long as other web pages which include photos of kids, but not staff.

(You might give this a try and see if you get the same results for your own website and associated photos. If you don't know how to get statistics like these for your website, ask your web host who will be able to help you.)

In any event you can be sure you have at least some pages of your website where visitors hang around much longer than others. Once you have identified which web pages are your most popular, your next step is to implement strategies to convert them into paying campers. Two ideas come to mind.

First, add a "Tell a Friend" or "Forward this Web Page to a Friend" tool on these pages. You stand a VERY strong chance of people forwarding your stuff, because obviously this particular page (or pages) is of more interest (and therefore more "sharable") to your prospects than other pages of your site.

The next thing you should do is make a prominant link to your camp registration form along with your offer, because now that you have hot prospects, it's your best chance to capitalize on your website conversion strategies.

It's not easy always increasing website traffic, and it's especially not easy turning website visitors in actual campers. So you might as well work with what you've already got. You can convert more website visitors into paying campers simply by understanding how to convert them better.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Should You Use Video Marketing as a Staff Recruitment Strategy?

If I were gonna start a new summer camp marketing program today, video marketing would be at the top of my list of promotional tools. But video marketing isn't just a great way to get more kids into your camp. Given the way college students watch online videos these days, video marketing is also a great staff recruitment strategy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Single Dads or Single Moms: Which is a Better Target Market?

A while back I mentioned single dads were an untapped target market for you. Single moms may be just as big, if not bigger. Did you know 40% of all kids are now born to single mothers? And 80% of all single mothers work? As you can tell from this article on mediapost.com, it's probably worth your while to send a mailing or something just to single moms and see what you get. The potential is enormous!