Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and promote your business. But if your emails end up in the spam folder, all your hard work is for nothing. So, how do you avoid landing in spam? Here are a few best practices:
1. Set up a dedicated email sending domain
A dedicated email-sending domain is a private domain you use to send and receive emails. It is different from the shared domain that is provided for all users.
Why is a dedicated email-sending domain important? Because if you don’t have one, your emails are more likely to go to spam, even if you follow good email practices. When you have a dedicated email-sending domain, you can control your reputation and email deliverability. This means that you can work to get all of your emails delivered to the inbox instead of the spam folder.
How to set it up: We need access to your domain provider, and we will set it up for you.
2. Enable email validation
Email validation checks if the email address you are sending to is valid. Sending to an invalid email address can negatively impact your email deliverability.
Why is email validation important? Because if you send emails to invalid email addresses, it harms your domain reputation and can lead to your emails going to spam or not being accepted into the mailbox.
How to enable email validation: We can add this upon request.
3. Enable “Mark Email Invalid from Hard Bounce”
An email bounce is when an email is not delivered or rejected by the recipient’s email provider. There are two types of bounces:
Hard bounce: This occurs when an email address does not exist.
Soft bounce: This is a temporary failure caused by the recipient’s servers being down or their mailbox being full.
Why is it important to enable “Mark Email Invalid from Hard Bounce”? Because too many bounced emails will harm your domain reputation, and can lead to your emails going to spam.
How to enable it: Go to your Business Profile and scroll to the “Mark Emails as invalid due to Hard Bounce” checkbox.
4. Add your DMARC record
A DMARC record tells receiving servers how to handle incoming mail. Messages must pass DKIM and SPF alignment checks to be delivered, according to the requirements set in the DMARC policy. Messages that fail DMARC checks can be rejected, reported back to the domain owner, or quarantined.
Why is it important to add a DMARC record? Because not having one can negatively impact your domain reputation and email deliverability. Mailbox providers often count it against you when DMARC records are not set up properly, and your emails may end up in spam.
How to add a DMARC record: We can add this for you on request.
If you want to do this yourself, here are the instructions:
Add a TXT record to your DNS settings for your DMARC policy.
Content: v=DMARC1; p=reject
5. Use the proper “From email”
The “From email” is the email address that the recipient will see when they receive your email. For example, your sending domain might be m.eztransition.com, but you can send your “From email” as [email protected]. It is even better to send from [email protected]. Do not send from a personal email address like [email protected].
Why is it important to use the proper “From email”? Because using a “From email” that does not match the primary domain you are sending from can result in poor email deliverability. Email providers see this as “spoofing” your address.
How to set it up: Whenever you are sending from EZMS, be sure that your “From email” has your primary domain in it. For example, if you set up replies.yourcompany.com, you can send from [email protected].
What is it? An unsubscribe link is like an exit door for your email recipients. It allows them to opt out of receiving further emails from you if they choose to do so.
Why it Matters? Not having an unsubscribe link can severely dent your email deliverability rates. In fact, it’s more than just a best practice – it’s a legal requirement to include an unsubscribe link in every marketing email.
How to Set It Up? There are two user-friendly ways to get an unsubscribe link within EZMS. Your first option is to use the default unsubscribe link that we’ve conveniently set up for you. Alternatively, you can take matters into your own hands and manually add one to the footer of each email you create.
But here’s a pro tip: If you opt for the default list-unsubscribe-header, it’s the preferred method for many email providers. However, it comes with a caveat – it conspicuously marks your email as promotional in Gmail, consigning it to the “promotions” tab. Plus, it features a user-friendly unsubscribe button right at the email’s top. Be prepared for more unsubscribes, but that can be a blessing in disguise – these folks might not have been engaging with your emails anyway, and culling them can improve your long-term deliverability rates.
Now, there’s talk that industry requirements may eventually favor Option 1. But for now, Option 2 is your go-to. This involves manually embedding an unsubscribe link in your email footer. We recommend creating a standard template with this link and duplicating it for every new email. The bonus? It automatically marks users as “Do not disturb” for email only, ensuring they won’t receive further messages. If you need assistance setting up this template, just let us know, and we’ll take care of it for you.
7. Maintain an 80:20 text-to-image ratio
Maintaining an 80:20 text-to-image ratio in your emails is essential for several reasons:
Spam filters: Spam filters often flag emails with heavy images as potential spam. This is because spammers tend to use images to hide their text. To avoid being marked as spam, it’s best to keep your text-to-image ratio balanced.
Image blocking: Many email clients block images by default, requiring users to click to display them. If your email is image-heavy, there’s a risk that recipients may not see your content at all until they take action to display the images.
Accessibility: Emails should be accessible to all users, including those who use voice assistants to read emails. Voice assistants may not recognize alt text, so emails with heavy images may appear blank to these users. Additionally, text within images won’t appear in email search results.
Reader preferences: Some readers disable image visibility in their email clients. Without alt text for imagery, these emails may not convey any message and can appear broken.
Overall, maintaining an 80:20 text-to-image ratio can improve email accessibility, engagement, and deliverability.
8. Use double opt-in
Double opt-in is a process where you ask subscribers to confirm their email address before they start receiving emails from you. This is done by sending them a confirmation email with a link that they need to click on. Only after they have clicked on the link will they be added to your email list.
Why is double opt-in important? Because it helps to ensure that your email list is full of engaged subscribers who actually want to receive your emails. This is important for several reasons:
It improves your email deliverability. Spam filters are less likely to flag your emails as spam if they know that your subscribers have explicitly opted in to receive them.
It reduces the number of unsubscribes. Double opt-in helps to weed out people who are not interested in receiving your emails, which can reduce your unsubscribe rate.
It improves your reputation as a sender. When people know that they can trust you to only send emails to people who want to receive them, it makes them more likely to open and click on your emails.
How to set up double opt-in: Send us an email we can create an automation with a custom double optin flow
9. Stop sending to unengaged emails
Unengaged emails are emails that do not open or click on your links. When you send emails to unengaged subscribers, it can harm your email deliverability. This is because email providers like Gmail and Yahoo see it as a sign that your emails are not relevant or interesting to your subscribers.
There are a few reasons why you should stop sending to unengaged emails:
It improves your email deliverability. Email providers are more likely to deliver your emails to the inbox of subscribers who are engaged with your content.
It reduces the number of spam complaints. If your subscribers are not opening or clicking on your emails, they are more likely to mark them as spam. This can damage your reputation as a sender and make it more difficult for your emails to be delivered to the inbox.
If you have been sending to the same person who has not taken action for weeks, send to them less frequently or not at all.
10. Send regularly… but not too regularly
How often you send emails is a delicate balance. You want to send emails often enough to stay top-of-mind with your subscribers, but not so often that they start to ignore you or mark your emails as spam.
A good rule of thumb is to send emails on a regular schedule, but to vary the frequency depending on your subscribers’ engagement levels. For example, you might send a daily email to subscribers who have opened and clicked on your emails in the past week, but only send a weekly email to subscribers who have not been engaged with your content in the past month.
It’s also important to consider your subscribers’ expectations. If you only send out a monthly newsletter, your subscribers may be surprised and annoyed if you suddenly start sending them daily emails. It’s always a good idea to let your subscribers know how often they can expect to receive emails from you.
11. Email warmup
When you first start sending emails from a new domain, it’s important to warm up your domain reputation. This means gradually increasing the number of emails you send over time. This will help to ensure that your emails are delivered to the inbox and not marked as spam.
Here are some tips for warming up your email domain:
Start by sending a small number of emails to opted-in subscribers.
Gradually increase the number of emails you send each day and week.
Avoid sending too many emails at once.
Send high-quality content that your subscribers will find engaging.
Monitor your email deliverability and make adjustments as needed.
Here is a specific email warmup schedule that you can follow:
Week 1: Send 100 emails per day.
Week 2: Send 300 emails per day.
Week 3: Send 500 emails per day.
Week 4: Send 750 emails per day.
Week 5: Send 1,000 emails per day.
After five weeks, you should be able to send emails at your regular volume without any problems.
Drip mode in EZMS
Drip mode in EZMS allows you to send emails to your subscribers over a period of time. This can be a great way to warm up your email domain or to send a series of emails to your subscribers about a new product or promotion.
To send emails in drip mode, simply create an email automation and select the “Drip” option. You can then specify how often you want to send emails and how long you want the drip campaign to last.
12. Cold Emails: A Cautionary Tale
When we talk about cold emails, we’re referring to emails sent to individuals who haven’t willingly opted in to receive your messages. These lists are often acquired through purchases or scraping.
Why You Shouldn’t Use EZMS for Cold Emails: The short and clear message here is this: Please refrain from sending cold emails using EZMS. It’s not the right tool for this job. In fact, using it for cold outreach may lead to your emails being marked as spam, which could result in providers banning your domain.
Alternative Solutions for Cold Outreach: Cold emailing is its own unique skillset, and this blog post isn’t the place to delve into it. There are dedicated tools and systems designed for cold email campaigns. If you’re considering cold outreach, it’s worth exploring these specialized solutions to ensure your campaigns are both effective and compliant with email best practices.
By following the email best practices and email sending recommendations in this blog post, you can improve your email deliverability, reduce unsubscribes, and protect your domain reputation. This will help you to reach more of your subscribers and achieve your email marketing goals.
Here are some additional tips for successful email marketing:
Create high-quality content. Your email content should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your subscribers’ interests.
Segment your email list. This will allow you to send targeted emails to different groups of subscribers.
Personalize your emails. This will help to make your emails more relevant to your subscribers and less likely to be flagged as spam.
Test and optimize your email campaigns. Track your email deliverability, open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. Use this data to improve your email campaigns over time.
Email marketing is a powerful tool that can help you to reach your target audience and achieve your business goals. By following the tips in this blog post, you can create and send effective email campaigns that will help you to grow your business.
Understanding your local customer journey is critical to building a successful dance studio. As such, we’re proud to offer the fifth article in our blog series that discusses how you can use local marketing tools to succeed in this highly competitive industry.
Awareness is a key phase of any local customer journey. Customers will get a basic idea about your dance studio’s existence in this phase. They may have some of the most basic information about who you are, your location, and what you do. This stage is critical because it means you are essentially planting the seed of your business in a customer’s mind, potentially starting them on a pathway toward doing business with you. Fortunately, there are many ways you can boost awareness.
Standing Out in a Sea of Dance Studios: How Ads and Free Content Can Boost Your Awareness
How Ads Boost Awareness
Boosting awareness means placing ads where your prospective customers may be. Dance studios are visual by nature, so placing ads on visual-oriented mediums makes sense. These mediums include:
You can create brief video ads showing your dance studio in action, then target those ads by different demographics and locations. These targeting tools ensure that YouTube serves your ads to the right people.
TikTok is the fastest-growing social network of all time. Its ad platform is still relatively new, but given its success in reaching younger demographics, it may be very valuable for generating brand awareness for dance studios like yours.
Google Ads integrates with all Google platforms, including Gmail and Google Calendar. This means that any mention of related keywords will allow the right viewers to see your ads. For example, let’s say a user searches for specific content, like “dance shoes” or “dancing in my hometown.” Alternatively, a user could receive emails about dancing or have calendar entries related to dancing. In that case, the user would likely see advertising related to the content already in their email or calendar — like information about a local dance studio.
If you are seeking to build awareness, you can use Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads. These ads can be extremely targeted and help you generate awareness with your target demographic in a place where that user spends a great deal of time, like on Google, their Gmail, or their Google calendar.
How Free Content Helps Dance Studios
Many dance studios don’t have a large advertising budget. Fortunately, social media still allows ample placement of free content. You can use all social media channels to post free content, which can take many forms, including:
Text remains a powerful way you can share information about your dance studio. Examples include inspiring quotes (from teachers, students, or famous dancers), information about your studio, or content about the history of dance. Text or links to other websites can be a great way of breaking up content and providing your social media followers with useful information. Finally, you can post information about your offline activities, like recitals, open houses, free events, etc.
Dance studios can show striking photos, including dancers in action, classes taking place, or the facilities you have to offer.
Have an amazing routine you want to share? A customer testimonial that you want others to see? A recital that went perfectly? A “before and after” that shows your success? Video is the ideal place to show it, and virtually every social network has options to let you post videos.
Ready for More?
EZ Transition is here to help your dance studio grow. Are you looking for more information? Contact us today to book a 30-minute call and learn more about how EZ Transition can help your dance studio master local marketing.
This is the fourth article in our ongoing blog series dedicated to helping dance studios understand the five steps of the local customer journey. In this article, we’ll review findability, SEO, and how to ensure your dance studio’s website can get in front of as many people as possible.
The simple truth is that a local customer journey can only begin if your website is found. As such, you must do everything to enhance your findability and search engine optimization. By deploying the right tools and techniques, you can ensure more customers find your website, learn more about your business, and ultimately enroll in your dance studio.
Findability and SEO: How to Get Your Dance Studio Discovered Online
Enhancing Your SEO
These days, most local customer journeys begin with a customer finding a business or a website. As such, you have to maximize the findability of your website.
The basic components of SEO are the same across multiple industries. First, you should conduct keyword research to ensure that you are using the right search terms when someone is looking for your business, and you should incorporate those keywords in the text and metadata of your business. Next, regularly create content on your social media that links back to your website. If possible, seek links from other reputable businesses and directories. Finally, you must ensure your website loads fast and is mobile-friendly; doing so will boost your SEO.
Another key component of local marketing is listing your business in as many relevant profiles and directories as possible. As such, you should complete your Google profile to the maximum extent possible. You should also make sure to keep the profile updated and that you encourage customers to leave reviews. Leaving reviews is not only an excellent form of social proof, but regular and constant reviews make it more likely that search engines will pick up your business presence.
Of course, Google isn’t the only directory you need to pay attention to. There are also other major directories, like Yelp or Trustpilot. You should claim your business listing on these websites. Additionally, there may be local directories you can use. These directories are likely concentrated in your hometown area. Given the local component of these directories, filling them out is likely worth your time. Doing so can enhance your local marketing capability and make it easier for customers to find you.
GPS listings are tied to the physical location of your dance studio. Filling out these listings will enhance your local findability. It will also ensure mapping programs can easily find your business. Individuals who try to look up directions can click on your location for more information. In addition, keeping your profile up-to-date will make it easier for others to find your business, and it has the ancillary effect of increasing your SEO.
There are many popular GPS listings, with Google Maps being the most popular. Google Maps also integrates with Waze. Other programs include Bing Maps and Mapquest.
Partner With EZTransitions
At EZTransitions, we get it: Marketing for dance studios is hard. We’re here to make it easier. Book a 30-minute call with us today to learn more about how we can help you master local marketing.
This article is the third in our series about how understanding the key phases of the local customer journey can help your dance studio thrive. This article focuses on how to build your reputation and turn your customers into advocates.
These steps complement each other. After all, you can’t turn customers into advocates unless you create an excellent reputation and service for them to help you sell. Customers are often viewed as more reputable, honest brokers of your brand than advertising, so this is a step you don’t want to skip.
From Good to Great: Building Your Dance Studio’s Reputation and Advocacy
Building Reputation and Advocates
The core building blocks that turn customers into advocates for building a positive brand reputation are the same in every business: You have to crush expectations, immediately remedy any customer service concerns your dancers may have, and ensure your clients are happy. You also have to listen to their concerns and respond appropriately to any challenges.
From there, you can take your most loyal customers and actively encourage them to become your advocates. By creating the right incentives and providing the right encouragement, you can use your customer’s positive experiences to build a positive impression of your brand.
Gaining Actionable Insight and Identifying Advocates
Building your reputation and finding your advocates requires a conscious effort and some in-depth analysis by your marketing team. During this process, you can also determine where your weaknesses are and what you can do to address potential customer landmines. Try these three tools to get started:
Surveys are a great way to find what your customers think about you. You can give quick surveys via a QR code that leads to your website, enabling you to hear what your customers think of your business. Surveys should be brief and focused, so you get actionable data. Surveys can also be excellent marketing tools, since they show your customers that you value their opinion and want to improve.
Online Reviews and Social Proof
Customer reviews are hugely important: Customers are much more likely to give you their business if they see overwhelmingly positive reviews on a network like Google, Yelp, or Trustpilot. Conversely, if you have consistently bad Google reviews, you are much more likely to lose a customer’s business.
Why? Customer reviews are important forms of social proof. The idea behind social proof is that customers are more likely to have a positive impression of your business if they read about others having a good experience. Even better, one positive review is likely to influence the next reviewer.
You should therefore work to amplify positive Google reviews. You can do this in a few ways. First, ask your customers to leave good reviews. You can put reminders in emails to clients, lesson invoices, or any materials your dancers take home. Then post those positive reviews on your social media by sharing them directly and/or making them into attractive graphics. You can also link to review sites on your website, enabling customers to leave reviews easily. Finally, you should always respond to reviews — positive or negative — to show that you value your customer’s opinions.
World of Mouth / Referrals
You can turn your customers into active advocates by getting them to recommend your studio to others. The first step is simply to ask them to recommend you to their network. From there, reward those customers with a discount or other social proof showing you truly value these referrals. This incentive makes it more likely that other customers will make more referrals, creating a positive cycle.
Ready for the Next Steps?
At EZTransition, we want to help your dance studio expand its business, and we’re here to help you improve your local customer journey. Call today to book a 30-minute call.
This blog entry is the second in our series on the various tools and tactics you can use to enhance your reputation and grow your business. This article explains how to properly manage your follow-ups to ensure you succeed at local marketing.
Developing an appropriate follow-up process can be critical to your dance studio’s marketing: A local customer journey cannot begin if your dance studio doesn’t respond to inquiries. Fortunately, with the right tools, your dance studio can minimize the manual work required by follow-ups, creating an automated process that enables you to easily enroll more customers.
Don’t Let Your Leads Slip Away: The Power of Following Up and Using the Right Tools
Following Up on Leads
If someone expresses an interest in your business, you should get back to them as quickly as possible, using the medium they contacted you on. However, you may face a key question: How often should you follow up?
The challenge is that there is no set answer. Different businesses have different guidelines. Some follow up three times, spacing those follow-ups out by one week. Others say five times a month is more appropriate. As such, you should experiment and determine what frequency works best for you.
However, if you follow up in the wrong medium, you may never connect with the customer. As such, how you follow up is almost more important than the number of times you follow up.
How To Follow Up
Customers may begin their local journey in different ways; some prefer email or texts, while others prefer old-fashioned phone calls or face-to-face conversations. Part of appropriate follow-up is ensuring you contact a customer the way they prefer or attempt to use multiple mediums. For example, on a solicitation to a customer, you can ask them their preferred contact method. This one question can save you time and ensure you respect your customer’s time. You can try using multiple mediums if you don’t have that information.
Keep in mind that there are also certain programs — like email automation — that can automatically reply to a customer. You can customize these emails based on the forms a customer fills out on your website. This question will ensure that a customer moves properly through your sales funnel. In addition, customers can receive different content based on their areas of interest, how long it has been since they contacted you, or what programs they have already signed up for. You can also use these programs as part of a reactivation campaign.
Your business can also pursue a missed text callback functionality. In this circumstance, you could automatically text someone if you miss their call. The text could be relatively simple (“Sorry we missed your call, but we will return it shortly! Please feel free to text here if it is easier to communicate that way!”) and enable your business to show your customers that you care and value their message. Again, this platform is good for brand awareness and ensuring your customers know you appreciate them.
Let EZTransition Help
At EZTransition, we understand the struggles dance studios face regarding local marketing. We have the tools and services to help you market your business and turn it into something more.
Ready to take the next step? Book a 30-minute call today to learn more about how EZTransition can grow your business.
Our opening blog article in our original five-part series explores the first step in optimizing the local customer journey at dance studios. We look at how establishing an effective website engages your prospects by presenting a combination of aesthetics, well-presented information, and clear call-to-actions (CTAs).
An optimized website propels the reputation of dance studios by gaining trust and credibility. Your website can achieve this by displaying studio awards, teaching accolades, industry experience, and facility offerings, giving students a better expectation in their dance journey. Also, it is important to include interactive site elements. Doing so guides visitors seamlessly through a dynamic process, encouraging interest and participation.
Aesthetics and Functionality
Your website’s overall design should provide the most welcoming experience as visitors embark on a local customer journey. While every website has a unique design layout, there are universal elements that contribute to a more fulfilling user experience, which include:
Using white spaces: Spaces between paragraphs provide some breathing room for visitors to process your displayed information. White spaces also help remove distractions so visitors can focus on your site message. On the contrary, long walls of text might overwhelm and turn visitors away from learning more about your offerings.
Display Testimonials: Prospective students can form positive impressions of dance studios by seeing the success of previous cohorts. Online users prefer social proof over polished marketing promotions. Detailed and genuine testimonials could do wonders for your local marketing campaigns.
Apply strategic visuals: A picture speaks a thousand words. Images and videos of happy dance students can help promote a conducive learning environment much better than a long descriptive paragraph.
Most online users (92.3%) browse the internet via mobile devices. As such, it is important to check your dance studio’s website for mobile-friendliness or risk losing their interest! Modern website creation platforms enable convenient toggling between desktop and mobile view for a complete assessment of your site display.
It’s essential to develop trust in your website visitors, so smooth and undisrupted communication is a vital ingredient.
Understandably, keeping up with hundreds of customer queries flooding your site is difficult, especially during peak online traffic. That’s why you should consider automated communication for your website. Applying automated chatbots provides site visitors with 24/7 support that keeps them satisfied while your dance studios maintain a professional image.
Frequent Call to Action
The top-performing websites of dance studios usually feature multiple calls to action throughout their pages. Each CTA should drive a specific action, depending on the different stages of a customer journey.
Populating your websites with persuasive calls to action encourages visitors to take steps toward engaging your studio and starting their dance journey. Also, ensuring that your CTA stands out from the rest of your site content is important so visitors won’t overlook them.
Boost Your Local Customer Journey
Ultimately, a website gives your customers the first impression of your dance studio. Optimized aesthetics and user-friendly elements go a long way in properly introducing your skills, credibility, and expertise to prospective students and having them enroll in your classes.
With that said, there are additional steps that you’ll need to set in place to boost your dance studio business and local marketing strategies. The next article in our blog series explores the delicate process of following up with your prospects and how you can gain their interest and loyalty with a tried-and-tested approach.