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February 2006

25 entries from January 2006

My Email Was Sent To The Junk Folder...

This blog is a collection of best practices and tips, so as the author of this blog you'd assume that I would at least manage to stay out of the spam filters, right? Wrong! Let me explain what happened:

Last weekend I spent a couple of hours to create my own personal email template to send blog post updates to my subscribers -- basically because I wanted the email to have the same look and feel as my blog.

I choose a pretty straightforward template containing a table with in the first row a header image, then a 2-column layout with my posts on the left and links to my categories on the right. For those of you who are not subscribed to my mailinglist, you can view a screenshot of the email here.

I use a service called Feedblitz that sends out an email with my blog updates automatically the day after I posted a new message on my blog. So after posting a couple of things yesterday, the email got sent out this morning. And my own provider labeled the email as spam and so did Gmail. Aargh!

So I'm wondering: those of you who received the email, did it also end up in your spam filters? Let me know!

I'm going to do a couple of tests to try and fix this problem. The first thing I'm going to change is my from address. This is now a Gmail address, so that could be trigger number 1.

I'm trying to look on the bright side of things and consider this as an interesting case study. So I promise to keep you posted on my findings and hopefully we'll all learn something from it :)

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Stock Photography Resources for HTML Email Newsletters

For those of you that are looking for creative photos to use in your email newsletters, here's a list of stock photography resources:

  • Good, quality photos starting from $1 for low resolution versions. Handy "color scheme matcher" tool at the top of the page.
  • Getty Images: A little higher in quality, the photos here are around $50 and up.
  • Very high quality photos at Corbis, but a little more pricey. Photos are around $75-$500+ here. Lots of (rights-managed) current events and celebrity photos here, too.
  • Always a reliable source for creative photos. Nice "brainstorming" section, and free research service. Prices are typical, at $80-$500 and up.
  • This website searches across all the major stock photo resources. They're offering $50 off your first purchase for new customers.
Source: MonkeyBrains

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

ALT Text Hack For HTML email

HTML tip: most email clients these days block images in HTML emails, right? Well, apparently Victoria's Secret and Network Solutions have found some great ways to use the ALT tag to their advantage.

Read more here (includes screenshots & HTML code).

I'm definitely going to try this out in my next newsletter :)

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Effective, Creative and Compliant Email Marketing [one day conference, London]

Here's another event that might be interesting for UK readers: "Creative and Compliant Email Marketing". It's a one day conference, organized by the DMA and it takes place in London on March 22nd. The event sold out last year, so you might want to be quick to register.

Click here for more information.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

AOL to Implement Email Certification Program

I just read the following article on Clickz:

In a bid to protect its members from e-mail fraud and phishing, and to offer consistency to commercial e-mail senders, AOL today will begin implementing Goodmail's cryptographic CertifiedEmail program and phasing out its IP-based Enhanced Whitelist.

As part of its e-mail security practices, AOL blocks the display of images and hyperlinks on most high-volume messages, except if senders are on the AOL Enhanced whitelist and maintain very low complaint rates. Beginning today, AOL will also allow senders who have undergone accreditation through Goodmail to display images and hyperlinks by default. Goodmail charges accredited companies a fraction of a cent per message sent.

Read more here.

As Richard Gibson points out in his comment to this post, David Daniels, Research Director with Jupiter Research, also posted on this subject.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Developing Creative For An Email Acquistion Campaign: Some Tips

In Return Path's latest issue of their newsletter "Sign Me Up!", Matt Blumberg explains why you shouldn't use the creative that you've been sending to your house list for an email acquisition campaign. Here's what he says:

Email creative that works well for your in-house list won't be effective in an acquisition campaign. When you are looking to get your message in front of new prospects you need a fundamentally different approach than you would use for recipients who are already familiar with your company.

When developing creative for an acquisition campaign, keep these tips in mind:

  • Introduce yourself first:
    It might be considered strange to walk up to a stranger at a party and start telling them about the funny thing that happened to you on the way over. But, that's what many marketers inadvertently do when they send out a message to a new audience without first saying, "Hello, my name is ..."

  • Don't try to do too much with one message:
    Instead, focus on what the reader needs to know about your company to move them to take a next step.
    Use a clear, prominent, compelling call to action: What is it that you want the reader to do? If the action isn't clear, the email's chance of success is limited. Use strong, unambiguous action words like read, sign up, buy, learn, or download.

  • Lower the hurdle:
    Consider that it's a lot easier to download a whitepaper or checklist, get a coupon or sign up for your email program, than it is to make a decision to buy from an email.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

2006 Holiday Email Survey

The following is an excerpt from an article in MediaPost's latest issue of Email Insider:

A recent Return Path survey analyzing consumer use of e-mail during the holiday shopping season showed that consumers respond to e-mail when they have an ongoing positive experience with the sender and have received value from their e-mail program in the past.

While that should be a no-brainer, the same survey also showed that most consumers feel that less and less of the e-mail they get is relevant or wanted--so clearly we're all doing something wrong when it comes to executing e-mail campaigns.

More than 60 percent of consumers opened e-mail from senders they knew and trusted. Even more impressive, 47.7 percent actually looked for the e-mails that they liked in the past. Retailers have to expend serious time and energy to end up in that camp.

The following are some basic reminders--as reported by consumers themselves--to help reinforce what you already know about doing e-mail right.

Looks and charm matter. Next time someone tells you not to bother polishing an e-mail campaign, consider these consumer stats:

  • 42.9 percent open based on subject line
  • 25 percent open for discounts
  • 22.9 percent open based on preview window contents
  • 20.9 percent are motivated by free shipping

Substance leads to results. As you pay attention to what your audience wants and needs, you'll see your response rates climb. Return Path's 2006 Holiday Email Survey showed:

  • 50.2 percent took advantage of e-mail offers
  • 40.9 percent comparison shopped with e-mail
  • 30.9 percent used e-mail for gift ideas
  • 29.3 percent used e-mail to get to familiar web sites

It is worth noting that 42.2 percent said e-mail had no influence whatsoever--they must be the ones who receive too much worthless e-mail in their inboxes.

Breakups are painful. When consumers decide they don't like you anymore, it isn't always pretty. Not getting a second chance is the least of your worries.

  • 68 percent delete unwanted e-mail
  • 33.6 percent report senders as spammers to their ISPs
  • 30.5 percent unsubscribe

That middle statistic is worth noting. Once they hit the "this is spam" button, even those who pine for you can't see your offer because the disgruntled have gotten you blocked at key ISPs. Talk about a buzz kill.

Read the full article here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Email Marketing Courses In March (UK)

If you're located in the UK, you might want to check out this email marketing course, organized by E-Consultany.


  • E-mail marketing planning
  • Improving e-mail campaign results
  • Improving e-newsletter results
  • Improving creative and copy

Cost: £395 for non-subscribers

London 1st March (20 places only)
Edinburgh 7th March (15 places only)
Manchester 9th March (15 places only)
Bristol 14th March (12 places only)

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Dynamic E-Mail Messaging: The Four Basic Customization Mechanisms

In a series of articles on Clickz, Derek Harding will look in more detail at what is meant by "dynamic messaging"; what its costs; what the benefits, pitfalls, and advantages are; and where and how to utilize it effectively.

In this article he focusses on the four basic customization mechanisms:

  • Segmentation: Divide the list into segments and send each segment a different message.
  • Variable Substitution: Fields are placed in the message template representing recipient attributes and are substituted for each recipient.
  • Conditional Blocks: A piece of programming code is placed in the message to perform an if-then test. This allows recipient attributes to be used to include or exclude specific content.
  • Content Insertion: A field is placed in the template that is later substituted. Unlike variable substitution, entire sections of content (phrases, paragraphs, etc.) are inserted based on recipient profile. This inserted content may itself contain substitution fields.

Read the full article to find out what the possibilities and limitations of each of these mechanisms are.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Key Metrics To Focus On

You can only achieve solid improvement on campaign elements that you actually take the time to measure. If you're not evaluating past campaign performance, you're missing out on the key insights email marketing reports can provide.

Email marketers should regularly evaluate these core metrics:

  • Delivery rate
  • Open rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Conversion rate

In this article, Bill Nussey takes a look at each of these metrics and examines some ways you can improve your results.

It's important to look at these metrics for each campaign separately but don't forget to also look at them on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis to determine the trends.

This is how I do it:

When a campaign is launched, I monitor all the above-mentioned metrics up to 7 days after the launch of the campaign. Then, before I start creating a new email campaign, I have a look at the report of the previous campaign (that had the same goal as the new one) to check the overall performance of the campaign and to find out which were the links that had the highest click-through rate. On a monthly and quarterly basis I spend some time updating my "campaign dashboard" (basically it's an excel sheet that contains all the key metrics per campaign, campaign type and per month) and I try to figure out what the overall trends are and where I need to make adjustments.

I'm sure you already guessed what the next step is: yes, that's correct: it's testing time! :) Find out what and how to test in my previous posts about testing.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Ten Tips for Growing Your E-mail File

This article offers some tips for making the practice of growing your opt-in list simpler. In short, you should:

  1. Position the database as a critical asset.
  2. Capture data everywhere.
  3. Track and analyze data by source.
  4. Promote the benefits.
  5. Let the customers tell you what they want.
  6. Provide examples.
  7. Have a conspicuous privacy policy.
  8. Send thank-you e-mails.
  9. Leverage highly opened transactional messages.
  10. Gather and enhance profile data.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Planning To Switch Email Marketing Providers? Read This First.

Some of you might need more advanced features, while others might want to improve their delivery rates. Whatever the reason for wanting to switch email marketing providers (ESP), now or in the future, keep this checklist in mind as you make the transition from your old technology to the new one:

  • Verify IPs.
  • Confirm authentication.
  • Define reporting.
  • Establish benchmarks.
  • Apply unsubscribe and bounce lists.
  • Update your content/forms.
  • Slowly ramp up e-mail.
  • Test before going live.
  • Get your staff on board.
  • Talk to your account executive.
  • Use your ESP's resource center.
  • Attend the ESP's best practices sessions.
  • Sign up for the ESP's newsletters.
The full article explains each of the above points in further detail.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Evaluate And Optimize Your Email Marketing Programs: Your Annual Email Audit in a Box

A team of email heavyweights gives you everything you need to evaluate and optimize your email marketing programs:

  • Usability and your Email Program
  • Revisit Text versus HTML
  • Using Footers and Headers
  • CAN-SPAM Compliance
  • Privacy Policy Perfection
  • Slice, Dice & Add to your Portfolio?
  • Do a Creative Audit
  • Integrating Email
  • Test, Test & Test Again
  • Relevance: the Most Important Target
  • Conclusions: Going Further
View the article here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Email Metrics: B2B Data & Tactics to Improve Your Email Results

Here's another interesting webinar about email metrics:

Email Metrics: B2B Data & Tactics to Improve Your Email Results
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
2:00-3:00 pm EST, 11:00 am - noon PST, 8:00-9:00 pm CET

Find out what your colleagues* revealed about their:

  • Email tests - what's really working?
  • Open, click and conversion rates
  • Budget allocation - how are other B2B marketers spending their budgets?
Presented by:
  • Anne Holland, Editor and Publisher, MarketingSherpa
  • Stefan Tornquist, Research Director, MarketingSherpa
  • Laurie Hood, Vice President of Marketing, KnowledgeStorm
Register here

*Over 1,927 marketers contributed to the research for MarketingSherpa's new Report: Email Marketing Benchmark Guide 2006: 310 Charts and Eyetracking Heatmaps

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Can B2B Newsletters Survive the Preview Pane? is featuring an interesting article by Daniel Jung about designing for the preview pane and image-blocking features in email clients.

Here's a high-level summary:

Based on the results of a survey conducted by EmailLabs we know that (besides the sender name & subject line) the top left 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) are the most valuable real estate in an email. Why? Because that is the only area visible in both horizontal and vertical preview panes. Think of this space as the teaser area and use it to grab the readers' attention and to compel them either to scroll or click to stories or fully open the email. Therefore you should redesign the top of your emails so that key content can be viewed in the preview pane even if images are disabled. If you have to use images, at least make sure that you ALWAYS include a descriptive ALT tag.

The full article includes the survey results from the EmailLabs survey and a lot more useful tips, so it's definitely worth reading.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Targeting Users That Clicked But Didn't Convert

The marketing people at Greenbrier resort tested sending a follow-up email (with a stronger call to action and a discount) to all recipients of a previous campaign that did clicked through but didn't convert. The results were pretty good, so you might want to give this a try as well...

You can read the case study on the MarketingSherpa website (open access until Jan 23rd).  

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Opt-in Best Practices [web seminar]

eROI is hosting a web seminar on "Opt-in Best Practices" on February 2nd. They will discuss the difference between single opt in and confirmed opt in (also known as double opt in) including response rate difference, bounce management and spam complaint resolution. They will also briefly touch on the state of authentication including SPF, Sender ID and Domain Keys.

Find out more here.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Educational webinars for B2C and B2B Marketeers

ExactTarget will conduct a series of educational webinars for business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketers and agencies this year:

  • Jan 17: How to Create E-Newsletters that Get Results (B2B webinar track)
  • Jan 24: Effective Email Design - Basics & Best Practices (Agency webinar track)
  • Feb 7: Effective Email Design (B2C webinar track)
  • Feb 16: How EFFIE Award Winners use Permission-based Email to Deliver Results (all audiences)
  • Feb 21: How Permission Email Powers our Constituent Communications Strategy (Enterprise webinar track)
  • Mar 7: How Permission Email Enables our Sales Force to Deliver Customized Information to Clients and Prospects (B2B webinar track)
  • Mar 21: Email Personalization 101 (Agency webinar track)
You can find more information about these seminars here.

You might also want to check out these archived webinars:

  • Permission-based Email Webinar (Dec 1, 2005)
  • 2006 Research for Email Marketers Webinar (Dec 1, 2005)

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

The Truth About Flash in Email

Campaign Monitor ran a series of tests across a range of email environments to find out if they support flash in email. They found out that Flash support across the most popular email environments is practically non-existing.

The full article includes schreenshots and test results for all the email environments.

Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!