There are many different kinds of marketing out there, but none are quite as profitable as email. Consider for a moment that there are about 3.7 billion email users, and that number is expected to rise to a staggering 4.3 billion by 2022.
Furthermore, email marketing has the highest return on investment out of all other marketing types. On average, email marketing has an ROI of around 3,800 percent!
One of the problems that many email marketers face is the dreaded spam box. You can send out 10,000 emails, but it probably won't do much good if 9,500 of those emails end up in the spam folder.
Luckily, there are ways you can tip the odds in your favor. Here's how to keep your emails out of the spam box so you can reach a wider audience.
Use body text
There are marketers out there who send out their emails as a flyer. As a result, there is no body text within the email. This will cause most email service providers (ESP) to mark an email as spam.
You should try to use the body text to deliver your main message. It’s okay to add images, but the image to text ratio should be even or favor the text over images. On top of being marked as spam, many ESPs will automatically stop images from downloading within an email.
In other words, even if your email does make it out of the spam box, the user will have to manually download your images to even see your message. In the days of phishers, malware and spyware, the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Much like getting a certificate for your website, you can do the same thing for your emails. Trustworthy companies are available who can review your emails and determine whether you are a trustworthy business/sender.
If you're reaching out to people using mainline email services like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, getting certified is a great way to stay out of the spam box. Your emails will get a check for being reputable and make it past most built-in spam filters.
Don't forget that certification looks good to potential customers too.
Avoid "spammy" phrases
The following rule generally applies to subject lines, but it's a good practice for all of the content in your marketing emails.
When you email people, their ESP will scan it for "spammy" keywords, phrases and symbols. If you trigger one or more of these markers, your promotional email may never see the light of day.
As an example, avoid using exaggerated exclamation points. If you say something like "Open this email now!!!!!!" that email is going to go right to the spam folder. Similarly, if you use all caps, that is also considered a "spam" trigger and should be avoided.
If you check your personal spam folder, you'll notice trends that they all have in common. Look for phrases, icons and patterns that seem to end up in your folder. If those types of emails are going to your spam folder, you better believe that your company emails are going to do the same for other people if they look similar.
When you're setting up your email campaigns, you're going to have to pick a name as the sender. The best thing you can do here is to use your company name. When users see the name of your business, they will recognize and be more likely to open it, and more importantly, won't report it.
If you use a name that the person receiving your email doesn't know, there is a good chance they will mark it as spam and report it to their provider. If enough people report your emails, the result could be that all of your emails end up in the spam folder when you send any email to that ESP.
You can avoid this by simply being recognizable. Avoid using shorthand or abbreviations with your name. Let customers know exactly what business you represent.
We all want to have emails that make it through spam filters. As you can tell from your own spam folder, this can be a challenge. However, due to all of the tools and resources regarding ESP algorithms, you can increase your chances of getting your email into customers' inboxes instead of wasting away in the spam folder.
Like all forms of marketing, you'll need to spend plenty of time tweaking and fixing your emails as your business develops and you do more split tests to discover what gets you more conversions and click-throughs.
As you evolve your business, your promotional emails will shape around your products and services, allowing you to become successful and reaching a majority of your customer base with ease.
When setting team goals, many managers feel that they must maintain a tricky balance between setting targets high enough to achieve impressive results and setting them low enough to keep the troops happy. But the assumption that employees are more likely to welcome lower goals doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, our research indicates that in some situations people perceive higher goals as easier to attain than lower ones—and even when that’s not the case, they still can find those more challenging goals more appealing.
In a series of studies we describe in our latest paper, we tested how people perceive goals by asking participants on Amazon’s crowdsourcing marketplace, known as Mechanical Turk, to rate the difficulty and appeal of targets set at various levels and across spheres from sports performance and GPA to weight loss and personal savings. We asked about both “status quo” goals, in which the target remained set at a baseline level similar to recent performance, and “improvement goals” in which the target was set higher than the baseline by varying degrees.
What makes a goal seem hard to achieve?
In our first study, we recruited a couple of hundred participants on Mechanical Turk and split them into five groups. We showed one group just status quo goals —for example, achieving the same GPA as the previous semester. We showed the other four groups improvement goals that reflected either small, moderate, large or very large gains over the current baseline.
For the various improvement goals, as you would expect, our subjects perceived higher targets as more difficult to achieve and lower targets as less difficult (4.01 versus 2.82 on a scale of difficulty from 1 to 7). But, surprisingly, participants rated the status quo goal as more difficult (3.23) than the small-increase goal — in fact, just a bit less than a moderate one (3.49).
To learn why, in our second study, we asked participants to give reasons for their ratings of modest improvement and status quo goals. The group that evaluated the modest goals tended to write about the gap between the status quo and the goal and how small it was, which led to them to be optimistic about their success. Meanwhile, the group that evaluated the maintenance goals listed more reasons for failure based on context and was more pessimistic.
From this and a subsequent study, we concluded that when people are given a status quo goal, they’re more sensitive to the context for achieving it than when they’re given an improvement goal— and that’s all the more true if the context is already unfavorable. Think about it this way: When we’re judging the difficulty of a goal, the first thing our brains see is the size of the gap that separates the goal from the baseline. The bigger the gap, the more difficult the goal, as logic would suggest. Only later do we begin to consider the context in which we’ll need to achieve that goal. But in the absence of any gap to evaluate — as with a status quo goal — our minds immediately start thinking about that context. Our all-too-human negativity bias then kicks in and our brains start generating reasons why we might fail. Thus setting a steady baseline goal just to make your people more confident is actually likely to do just the opposite.
Harder goals mean more satisfaction
In the studies we’ve described so far, participants rated the goals we gave them one at a time. The results were different, though, when we asked them to rate status quo and modest improvement goals in tandem.
There the pattern broke: when participants evaluated these goals together, they did judge the modest improvement goal as more difficult than the status quo goal (3.02 vs 2.43). Generalizing from our findings in the earlier study, we deduce that the participants took their cue from the gaps between the goal and the baseline, and logically concluded that it was easier to maintain the status quo than to increase results.
But in the same study, when we asked participants which of the two goals they would choose to pursue, they again chose modest improvement targets over status quo targets. This finding held across all kinds of spheres — whether about achieving a higher GPA, exercising more, completing more tasks, saving more, or working more hours. Despite the fact that they knew these goals were harder, participants anticipated greater satisfaction from achieving modest positive changes as opposed to maintaining the status quo.
As a manager, these findings should encourage you to set your team at least modest improvement goals rather than status quo goals — especially in tough contexts such as a bearish economy, an all-consuming merger, or with a key contract up in the air. Even if the goal is hard to achieve, your team is likely to see the benefits — and to be motivated to reach a target that makes them proud.
Blockchain has the power to change our world for the better in so many ways. It can provide unbanked people with digital wallets, prevent fraud, and replace outdated systems with more efficient ones. But we still need this new and improved world to be one that we want to live in. The largest cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum — require vast amounts of energy consumption to function. Last year, blockchain used more power than 159 individual nations including Uruguay, Nigeria, and Ireland. Unsurprisingly, this is creating a huge environmental problem that poses a threat to the Paris climate-change accord.
It’s a brutal, if unintended, consequence for such a promising technology, and “mining” is at the heart of the problem. When Bitcoin was first conceived nearly a decade ago, it was a niche fascination for a few hundred hobbyists, or “miners.” Because bitcoin has no bank to regulate it, miners used their computers to verify transactions by solving cryptographic problems, similar to complex math problems. Then, they combined the verified transactions into “blocks” and added them to the blockchain (a public record of all the transactions) to document them — all this, in return for a small sum of bitcoin. But where a single Bitcoin once sold for less than a penny on the open market, it now sells for nearly $7,000 and around 200,000 Bitcoin transactions occur every day. With these numbers increasing, so has the incentive to create cryptocurrency “mines” — server farms now spread across the world, often massive. Imagine the amount of energy consumed by 25,000 machines calculating math problems 24 hours a day.
Beyond the environmental concerns, this inefficiency threatens blockchain as a meaningful platform for enterprise. The high energy costs are baked into the system, and, because the cost of running the network is passed on in transaction fees, users of these networks end up paying for them. Initially, companies that use bitcoin may not see the financial consequences, but as they scale, the costs could become fatal.
The good news: there are a variety of alternatives available that can help organizations cut massive energy costs. Right now, they aren’t being adopted quickly enough. Companies who want to keep their head above water — along with everyone else’s — need to educate themselves. Below are two areas that are a good place to start.
Green Energy Blockchain Mining
An immediate fix is mining with solar power and other green energy sources. Each day, Texas alone receives more solar power than we need to replace every non-solar power plant in the world. There are numerous commercial services for powering crypto mining on server farms that only use clean, renewable energy. Genesis Mining, for instance, enables mining for Bitcoin and Ethereum in the cloud. The Iceland-based company uses 100% renewable energy and is now among the largest miners in the world.
We need to incentivize green energy for future blockchains, too. Every company that uses blockchain also defines its own system for miner compensation. New blockchains could easily offer miners better incentives, like more cryptocurrency, for using green energy — eventually forcing out polluting miners. They could also require all miners to prove that they use green energy and deny payment to those who don’t.
Energy Efficient Blockchains Systems
While Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum all depend on energy inefficient cryptographic problem-solving known as “Proof of Work” to operate, many newer blockchains use “Proof of Stake” (PoS) systems that rely on market incentives. Server owners on PoS systems are called “validators” — not “miners.” They put down a deposit, or “stake” a large amount of cryptocurrency, in exchange for the right to add blocks to the blockchain. In Proof of Work systems, miners compete with each other to see who can problem-solve the fastest in exchange for a reward, taking up a large amount of energy. But in PoS systems, validators are chosen by an algorithm that takes their “stake” into account. Removing the element of competition saves energy and allows each machine in a PoS system to work on one problem at a time, as opposed to a Proof of Work system, in which a plethora of machines are rushing to solve the same problem. Additionally, if a validator fails to behave honestly, they may be removed from the network — which helps keep PoS systems accurate.
Particularly promising is the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) system, which operates somewhat like a representative democracy. In DPoS systems, everyone who has cryptocurrency tokens can vote on which servers become block producers and manage the blockchain as a whole. However, there is one downside. DPoS is somewhat less censorship resistant than Proof of Work systems. Because it only has 21 block producers, in theory, the network could be brought to a stop by simultaneous subpoenas or cease and desist orders, making it more vulnerable to the thousands upon thousands of nodes on Ethereum. But DPos has proven to be vastly faster at processing transactions while using less energy, and that’s a tradeoff we in the industry should be willing to make.
Among the largest cryptocurrencies, Ethereum is already working on a transition to Proof of Stake, and we should take more collective action to hasten this movement. Developers need to think long and hard before creating new Proof of Work blockchains because the more successful they become, the worse ecological impact they may have. Imagine if car companies had been wise enough, several decades ago, to come together and set emission standards for themselves. It would have helped cultivate a healthier planet — and pre-empted billions of dollars in costs when those standards were finally imposed on them. The blockchain industry is now at a similar inflection point. The question is whether we’ll be wiser than the world-changing industries that came before us.