Gate Customer Newsletter
Issue: May 2014

Three Tips to Build Conversion Rates and ROI from Email Marketing Campaigns

When measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign, the true test of success is whether your recipients heed your call to action, providing a chance at revenue. So are low-single digit numbers really the best you can do? Or can you set the bar higher?

The answer is: It depends. Like email open rates, conversion rates can vary significantly between industries and companies, and even between different types of offers from the same company. Whether you’re offering something for free or trying to sell it can also impact conversion rates, as can price points. Rates can also vary based on how you define a conversion, as a click-through, a download or a purchase – or something else entirely.

What’s Realistic?

Most experts agree that 1 to 5 percent is a realistic conversion range, and that number has remained pretty steady over the past few years, according to recent research from the Epsilon Email Marketing Research Center. Customer benchmark data from email service provider MailChimp shows that open and click-through rates vary sharply by industry, with click-throughs ranging from 1.3 percent (gambling industry) to 5.5 percent (photo and video industry).

Based on how you define a conversion, some click-throughs have higher ROI than others. For example, if you have two email offers, with one converting at 2.5 percent and the other at one percent, you might assume that the 2.5 percent conversion is the better performer. But examining the average order value for the offers, you may see that the one converting at 2.5 percent is only $50, while the one converting at one percent is $250. In the end, ROI is the principal measure of campaign success.

Of course, it’s harder to measure the ROI for free information. For example, campaigns that offer free downloads are more about getting noticed and establishing thought leadership around your brand. To derive a measure of effectiveness from these, you may need to investigate whether there was increased interest in the product or topic of the campaign in the weeks immediately following it.


Here are three simple tips to generate strong ROI from your email marketing campaigns:

    1. Know your goal. Make sure your call to action reflects that goal. Whether it’s getting people to sign up for a free webinar or buy your product, your email needs to tell the recipient what you want them to do and incite that specific behavior.

    2. Make that subject line sing, but don’t oversell. Tell, don’t sell, is a pretty common email marketing mantra. The first step in conversions is opening the email in the first place.

    3. Work that list regularly with different types of offers. If you are always “selling,” without providing a value-add, you may see a growing rate of unsubscribes, bounces or spam reports. Remind recipients who you are and why they opted in.

Like open rates, conversion metrics are most valuable when compared with your own data over time. If a particular type of offer does not convert well for you, either drop it or test a variation to see if you can improve conversions. If your conversion numbers for similar types of offers begin to drop, find out what has changed, either with the product or in your customers’ minds.

Although a lot of buzz surrounds the “rates,” the most important metric is not the absolute numbers, but rather how those numbers translate into profitability for your business. Statistics like conversion rates just help you to evaluate the overall ROI on your email marketing efforts.

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In This Issue
Three Tips to Build Conversion Rates and ROI from Email Marketing Campaigns
How to Get Nine Easy Backlinks from Social Media Profiles
Five Upselling Techniques to Increase Your Website Sales
Connect with Us on Social Media
Win $250. Connect With Us on Social Media to Enter Drawing
Do-It-Yourself Web Presence

April 28, 2014
Is Your Mobile Site Your Enemy?

Columbus Dispatch
April 14, 2014
Common Errors Can Plague Small Businesses’ Websites

April 14, 2014
7 Essential Elements for Your Small Business Website

How to Get Nine Easy Backlinks from Social Media Profiles

Link-building is one of the most important activities you can do to maximize search engine optimization (SEO) for your website; it’s also one of the most daunting. Luckily, there are dozens of sites you’re likely already familiar with that can get you started. These sites provide dofollow links – also called backlinks – which incorporate HTML markup that informs the search engines to follow the destination inside the link. With the ability to influence the target page’s PageRank, dofollow links require minimal effort and, for the most part, are under your control.

Dofollow links offer a wealth of benefits:

  • They help improve indexing when good quality links are created
  • They increase credibility and ranking in search engines
  • They boost traffic to your website

Many sites alternatively use nofollow links, so it’s imperative to understand the difference between the two. Every URL on a webpage is either a nofollow or dofollow link. A nofollow link means that the HTML code instructs search engines to ignore the link, meaning the link’s target page will get no benefit.

Because the vast majority of social media sites only provide nofollow links, it’s important to concentrate only on those sites that allow dofollow links. Here’s a guide to getting those backlinks:

    1. Google+: On Google+, not all links are created equal. For example, the links you get when sharing text content are nofollow, as are the ones in the comments section of posts.  However, if you specifically go to the “Share what’s new” section and click on the link icon, you will be provided with a dofollow link.

    2. YouTube: The video sharing platform allows you to add a description to any uploaded video and to include a website address. However, links in those sections are nofollow. To get a dofollow link, the URL must be placed on the YouTube channel header.

    3. Hub Pages: Hub Pages is picky; to be able to have a dofollow link, you must meet its requirements. Your account either needs to have a certain number of points (75) or the score of a particular hub needs to be at least 40 to create dofollow links in hubs. Dofollow links are not allowed in comments or profiles.

    4. WordPress: When you create a post on a free-hosted WordPress blog, you have a choice of making the links in the entry either dofollow or nofollow via the content management system; however,all comment links and profile links are nofollow.

    5. Blogger (Blogspot): As Google property, Blogger links that you get from posts are dofollow, however links in the comments area are nofollow.

    6. Tumblr: Tumblr is another popular blogging platform whose trackbacks from reblogged posts are nofollow. However, if you share a link to content on Tumblr by clicking the green “Link” button, those links will be dofollow.

    7. Reddit: Reddit links to your post directly (not via a redirect), and all links from it are dofollow.

    8. LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn feed is full of short links to third-party sites that are dofollow. These pass PageRank via a 301 redirect,but many are not searchable on Google and likely not taken into account in determining PageRank. However, those in the “My Publications” section in your public LinkedIn Profile are dofollow and are accessible via 302 redirects.

    9. BizSugar: BizSugar is a great social media platform that allows you to share small business news and tips on topics such as entrepreneurship. The links you add on your content are dofollow.

With the sites above, you will have a great start to your link-building efforts. Don’t have time to post to several different sites? Social media management tools can help you manage many of them. Once you get started and begin to see results, it will become a habit that’s worth continuing.

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Five Upselling Techniques to Increase Your Website Sales

Anyone who has ordered fast food at a drive-thru window has been exposed to upselling and cross-selling: “Would you like fries with that?” and “Would you like to make that a value meal?” It’s a slightly different process for online marketing, but the intent is the same: Get customers who are already engaged in the buying process on your website to increase the amount of money they are spending – not only during that purchase, but on future purchases as well.

One of the most effective ways to increase online sales is to encourage buyers to purchase other items that may be of interest to them based on what they’re viewing on your site. Another proven method is to encourage shoppers to consider the next higher priced item if it in fact could better meet their needs. Done correctly, upselling and cross-selling can help significantly increase online sales, maximize the ROI per customer, and reduce individual cost per acquisition.

Let’s take a look at five ways to upsell customers that can really help increase your sales:

    1. Display complementary offerings on the product’s main page and order confirmation pages. “People who bought this item also bought…” and “if you like this item, you may also like…” are now common on many sites because they work. If you’ve ever been tempted by the accessories shown below your intended purchase on – who pioneered these techniques – you know it’s a strategy that pays dividends. Your web programmer can easily add a section that suggests products based on what the customer is buying. For example, if the customer is buying a book in a series, you might suggest the next book in that series, or a package that includes that book plus others by the same author or in the same series.

    2. Offer free shipping on purchases exceeding a certain value. This technique encourages shoppers to reach a certain dollar amount and works well when your shipping prices would already put them over this amount anyway. A good rule of thumb is to understand the average order value of your sales, and set the minimum spend just above this amount. It encourages customers to purchase an additional item just to reach that free-shipping level.

    3. Offer a bundle of items at checkout for a lower price. If the customer is purchasing a toy at checkout, you can offer the entire series of toys at a discounted rate, but only if they purchase the bundle immediately. This is a good way to entice customers to think about the discount they will receive rather than the overall purchase price.

    4. Offer a small discount for adding something to their order. If the customer’s order totals to $43.22, for example, offer them a 10 percent discount on orders above $50. This will encourage a customer to add another product to take advantage of the discount.

    5. Offer a discount for multiples of an item.  This works incredibly well when you’re selling something that is consumed regularly, such as vitamins, toothpaste or ink cartridges. By discounting multiples of the same item, you’re not only keeping inventory fresh; you’re also increasing your average sale.

When implementing any upsell strategy, be sure to track which items are being sold to better understand what is working best for your company. Discontinue any strategies that are not working after a few months. Remember, you can also cross-sell well after the sale via email based on what the customer purchased.

Upselling, when done well, can be a terrific tool to help you increase your average sales and the overall profitability of your company. It’s also a great way for customers to discover new product lines and the breadth of products your company offers. Following the five tips above is a great way to get started.

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