Florida is about to get a little greener.

Thanks to 393 new customers who chose Emma for email marketing in February, 1,965 new trees will soon take root. If you did the math, that's five trees planted for each new member of the Emma community. Half of those will head to Florida, where *you* voted for them to be planted. The rest will head to the equatorial zone chosen by Plant-It 2020, our tree-planting partner.

Founded by John Denver in 1992, Plant-It 2020 plants an indigenous tree for every dollar it receives. Last year, thanks to our new community members, Emma planted more than 20,000 trees.

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Making the most of surveys and forms (part three)

Part three in a four-part series (read parts one and two)

3. Do some market research
+ Create an opinion poll
+ Conduct a market research survey
+ Discover new segments of your audience

Alas, many of us come from humble email marketing beginnings, starting out with nothing in our databases but email addresses and first names. With surveys & forms, you can expand on that knowledge a bit and ask your audience where they live, what their interests are or where they work.

Use what you learn to refine a product or entice advertisers with better demographics. Or fold that information into your email strategy to create new segments of your audience. Then, send more targeted campaigns down the road based on what you now know. You savvy marketer, you.

Making the most of surveys and forms (part two)

Part two in a four-part series (read part one here)

2. Manage your Events
+ Create an event registration form
+ Follow up with a post-event questionnaire
+ Send an evaluation form for an online class

If you host events of any kind – seminars, conferences, online classes or fundraisers – you're probably coordinating lots of moving parts. Are the parts literally moving? One hopes not, unless you're envisioning some kind of elaborate event showcasing pulleys and levers and such, in which case, good luck with that.

No matter how involved your events are, surveys & forms can simplify how you manage 'em, with pre-event forms to register who's coming and post-event surveys to collect feedback. Pair surveys with date-based trigger emails to simplify things even more, automatically inviting attendees to take your survey one week after the big pulley showcase.

Making the most of surveys and forms

Part one of a four-part series

For the last couple months the Emma community has been gearing up to make the most of our new surveys and forms feature. A lot of ideas for how to use the feature have been tossed around, and we want to share some with you, fair blog reader. We'll post on the topic for four days this week – one big category (and a few examples) for each day. Hope you enjoy the series…

1. Ask for Feedback
+ Send a customer service evaluation form
+ Create a product review
+ Publish a product sampling survey

These days, a lot of organizations are focusing on better service, loyalty and retention, knowing that their current customers (or donors, members or fans) are among their most valuable assets.

Why not send a quick survey asking those folks for feedback on your latest product, your customer service or even your monthly email newsletter? You'll hear great insight from your customers, and your customers will have an easy way to share their thoughts with you. If only there were a punchy phrase to describe this kind of mutually beneficial situation. Oh, well.

Emma and Ellie

Emma recently made a new friend in Ellie. Ellie is a young girl who, five years ago, was inspired to host a family fun day and 5k to raise money to help meet the needs of people on the other side of the world in Africa. She named it Ellie's Run for Africa. Well, her dream became a reality and this year has a goal of raising $100,000 by having 1,000 runners participate.Â

We're proud to be a sponsor, but I'm sure you'll also see some Emma staffers at the event – both as runners and volunteers. If you're close by, or looking for a reason to visit Nashville, please join us

Help Emma help 40 classrooms in 4 days at SXSWi

We at Emma have been working with Donors Choose to help fund teachers' education proposals that fall outside of regular school budgets. Here's your chance to help us, and all you have to give is about 5 seconds.

Emma is trying to help 40 classrooms during 4 days of SXSWi, a festival in Austin, Texas that celebrates all things new media. We've placed a not-so-secret message on their lanyards that shows them where to vote. Care to join them? Vote today for the region and academic subject areas mean the most to you, and we'll use the results to guide where we send our funding. You'll be helping kids in no time at all.

Ode to our green, leafy friend: the tree

Trees. We love 'em.

We love trees so much that each time someone new joins the Emma community for email marketing, we plant five trees. Really.

In January, when we welcomed 462 new customers, we also welcomed 2,310 new trees. You voted for half to go to Colorado; Plant-It 2020 (our tree-planting partners) will choose which equatorial zone to put the rest.

To further convey our love for trees, here's the update on our January effort, expressed in haiku. Because Valentine's day is coming up. And because our love is real.

————-

At Emma, we want
trees to know how much we love
their green leafiness.

Small fragile saplings,
planted 5 per customer
who joins with Emma.

In January,
462 join.
Stylish marketers!

(For the record, that's
2,310
trees, if our math's good.)

To Colorado
go half of those trees. The rest
are equator-bound.

Equator? Our friends
at Plant-It 2020.
Cool? Yes. Also, hot.

Wanna plant more trees?
Pick a state. Vote. Just do it.
Your planet thanks you.

[poll=13]

A survey invitation that’s, well, inviting

Survey, powered by Emma
When we released surveys to the Emma community last month, we couldn't help but send a Emma-powered survey to our customers, too. And, in the spirit of learning how surveys and email marketing campaigns work best together, I used the survey's email invitation to test which link was more clickable: an invitation to take a brief survey or a more specific offer to take a 5-minute survey.

I did some hypothesizing (thanks, 7th grade science teacher!) that the '5-minute' language would be more effective. After all, five minutes means five minutes, whereas 'brief' may just be marketing-speak for 'the longest survey of your life, sucker.' When you're asking for someone's time, there's little question that it's good to be as specific as possible.

The question was: does being more specific in the invitation really make a difference in how people engage with your survey?

Here's what we found. While the difference wasn't outrageous, the five-minute invitation gave us better click-through rates and survey participation rates. Between the 'brief' campaign and the 'five-minute' campaign, we saw:

* An 8% increase in click-through rates in the email campaign
* A 9% increase in people who started the survey once arriving on the page
* An 11% increase in people who completed the 18-question survey

And yes, there's more. In the email campaign, there were two places folks could click through – the top mention, which is where we tested the different language, and the bottom mention, which stayed the same between the two campaigns. What's interesting? The 8% increase showed up *exclusively* in the difference between the top-mention clicks. The clicks on the bottom-mention were statistically identical between the two versions.

Based on that fun little tidbit, I've been doing some rather unscientific speculating (sorry, 7th grade science teacher) that the boost in engagement doesn't come just from a subscriber *understanding* it's a five-minute survey and appreciating the specificity. Perhaps it's connected to the physical act of seeing (and then clicking) the language that's setting the expectation. If that weren't the case, I'd have expected a little more variation in clicks in the lower mention.

The moral of the story: While setting an expectation with a specific time isn't the silver bullet to boosting your survey participation numbers, the people who appreciate the specificity will be increasing likely to visit, start and complete your survey.

Are you using email marketing to promote your surveys and online forms? If so, tell us what's working for you.

Announcing the Emma 25 honorees!

Emma 25 logo
We're proud to announce the 2008-2009 Emma 25 honorees. For five years now, Emma has donated email marketing startup & service to small non-profits, from more than 150 nominations from our customers.

The idea is that these non-profits could use Emma accounts to stay in touch with donors, coordinate volunteers and spread the word about the great work they do.

These non-profits made the list after nearly 5,000 votes. Thousands of people now are aware of some truly great projects out there, and we're looking forward to helping these organizations do more good work in 2009.

Smarter email marketing in a recession

In an economic downturn, we know how appealing it sounds to send as many emails as possible to everybody on your mailing list. After all, email marketing is champ when it comes to making the most of your marketing dollars, returning $45 on average per dollar you invest.

But like that half-eaten eclair in the break room, you've got to resist temptation. When you email too frequently with generic information, your readers might start to ignore your emails, opt out of them, mark you as spam, or (worst of all) completely dump you as a sender. It doesn't mean you can't send when you have something to say. It just means you want to be smart about how you're sending. Here are three quick tips for staving off email fatigue:

* Target your email campaigns! – With email segmentation, you can make sure that your message is getting in the right hands. Rather than sending another promotion to everybody about the newest Snuggie, send it to the people who are mostly likely to take action. Perhaps that's people who've bought a similar product, clicked but *didn't* buy in your last promotion, or people whose survey results showed that they really love the idea of a blanket with sleeves. Either way, email segmentation allows you to send fewer, more targeted messages.

* Ask how often they want to receive it - Email frequency doesn't have to be a mystery. When new subscribers sign up for your email campaigns, it's easy to find out just how often they want to receive information from you. Give them the option to subscribe to a higher frequency than you would normally send — it might surprise you how many people actually want to receive extra content from you. Just be sure to honor their request.

* Give 'em what they really want – There's no point in sending a message if you've got nothing to say. When people fill out your email signup form, they're expecting a benefit for joining your list. After all, email marketing is a relationship. Reward the time and information your subscribers are giving you with a special coupon, product preview, whitepaper or VIP information.

Are you trying any of these? Has the downturn impacted your email strategy or email marketing budget? Did you actually buy a Snuggie? Leave us a comment and let us know.