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March 2006

23 entries from February 2006

Email List Building Basics

In this week's issue of MediaPost's EmailInsider, Melinda Krueger provides a list of basic steps to take when building your email lists:

  1. Make sign-up ubiquitous.
  2. Make sign-up easy.
  3. Include a request at check-out.
  4. Include a request in transactional e-mails.
  5. Invite customers in traditional media.
  6. Promote your e-mail in others' e-mails.
  7. Promote your e-mail via search.
  8. Try co-registration.
  9. Enlist your friends.
  10. Build an e-mail program customers value.

Read the full article here.

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

Survey Results On Consumer Perceptions Of Email And Spam

Epsilon Interactive announced the results of its latest annual survey on consumer perceptions of email and spam, highlighting fundamental shifts in ISP market share, gains in the battle against Internet fraud, and early indications of the great promise held by authentication solutions to improve confidence in the channel.

Key findings:

  • Yahoo! appears to have definitively replaced AOL as the nation’s leading email client, with 23 percent market share, up from 19 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, AOL has slipped from owning 20 percent of the market to 15 percent today. Marketers will also be paying closer attention to Gmail in the year ahead – 5 percent of consumers now use the Internet darling’s free service to read their email, up from a mere 1 percent a year ago.

  • 43 percent of MSN/Hotmail and 19 percent of Yahoo! users report having seen an authentication confirmation or warning in the header (Sender ID and DomainKeys, respectively). It also appears that these users have more confidence in the safety of their inboxes and in the legitimacy of verified senders.

  • The rapid acceleration of broadband access continues to have a profound impact on the landscape. In fact, "upgrading to broadband/high-speed" (33 percent) comes second only to price (38 percent) as the primary reason why consumers switched or considered switching their ISP over the last year. In addition, this number is up significantly from 25 percent who cited broadband as their reason last year.

  • Nearly one in five consumers (18 percent) indicated that they use their work email address to receive personal marketing offers, pointing to the growing importance of understanding the BtoB deliverability landscape and implementing corresponding technology solutions and best practices.

  • Too many marketers continue to miss out on deliverability "easy wins." The number of marketers encouraging consumers to add them to their address books, which provides marketers with benefits commensurate to Enhanced Whitelisting, remained unchanged between 2005 and 2006 (43 percent vs. 42 percent).

  • Relevance rises. The majority of consumers (60 percent, up from 57 percent last year), agreed that the email communications they receive from companies they do business with are more targeted/relevant than the communications they received from those same companies last year.

  • Email’s impact on purchasing is felt across channels. Consumers who receive legitimate email offers are more likely to act on them, with 47 percent of respondents saying they would make a purchase online after opening a relevant email and 65 percent indicated they would purchase offline based on the email they received.

  • Reports of false positives are down slightly, with 22 percent indicating that they have recently lost or did not receive an email that they were supposed to receive from a trusted source, compared to 25 percent last year.

  • Consumers appear more confident about identifying fraudulent "phishing" email - 69 percent vs. 64 percent last year and slightly more report receiving a phishing email (37 percent vs. 34 percent), as ISPs, marketers and media outlets intensified the online safety education effort last year. Meanwhile, reports of spyware infections are also down significantly among email account owners (47 percent vs. 55 percent) as consumers take measures to protect themselves online.
The GfK Group conducted the Epsilon Interactive survey among a nationally representative sample of adults 18 years or older who have Internet access at home. The survey was conducted from January 20, 2006 through January 22, 2006 and data was collected by OmniTel, GfK's telephone omnibus. A total of 1005 respondents were interviewed, 584 respondents (295 males; 289 females) qualified for this survey in that they have Internet access at home.

To request a complete copy of the research, please contact Mary Beth Keelty at mkeelty@epsiloninteractive.com

Source: Epsilon Interactive

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

Email Marketing Report Reveals Higher Click Rates

A new marketing report released this week reveals that while open and click rates declined slightly in the last half (H2) of 2005, several industries earned higher click rates than in the first half of the year.

The report details email marketing performance by industry based on over 200 million messages sent by a sampling of over 3,500 MailerMailer customers between July 1 and December 31, 2005. In addition, it shows that bounce rates held steady or continued to fall - signaling improved delivery.

Email Marketing Metrics:

  • Industries that received the largest increase in click rates from the first half (H1) of the year were: Medical, Religious, and Real Estate.
  • The unique open rate for emails sent by all industries in H2 was 19.81%, compared to 21.77% for those sent in the first half of the year.
  • The average click rate for email messages sent by all industries in H2 2005 was 3.30% - down from 3.59% for ones sent in H1.
  • As in H1, the industries that earned the highest open rates in H2 2005 were Government, Religious, and Banking.
  • Subscribers clicked more often on email campaigns sent by organizations in the Retail, Banking, and Computing industries.
  • Unique open rates peaked one hour after delivery with 10.8% of the recipients who would eventually open an email opening it by then.
  • Average bounce rates for a customer's first five mailings fell from 7.55% in the first half of the year to 5.32% in H2. For subsequent emails, the bounce rate remained virtually unchanged at 1.91% in H2.
The Email Marketing Metrics Report includes open and click rates by industry; bounce/delivery trends; open and click rates by day; and the effect of personalization on open and click rates. These metrics can serve as benchmarks for email marketers.

Download the free Email Marketing Metrics Report.

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

Email Marketing Awards 2006

Become an award winning marketer: nominate yourself for MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Awards 2006 in any of these 12 categories:

  1. Best opt-in campaign
  2. Best Email Newsletter for marketing purposes
  3. Best Sales Alert or Dedicated Offer Broadcast
  4. Best Advertising Campaign in Third Party Email Newsletter(s)
  5. Best SIG (email signature)
  6. Best Welcome letter to new subscribers
  7. Best Automated Series (auto responder)
  8. Best Automated Personalized Email (trigger-driven)
  9. Best viral email campaign
  10. Best postcard-style (short copy/small creative) campaign
  11. Best (or most dramatic) test you learned from
  12. Best email alternative (RSS, SMS/mobile, desktop app)

B-to-B and "to consumers" marketers will get their own separate awards for each category.

Deadline for nominations: March 31st
Cost per campaign entry: $125

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

Use Search Engines To Test Subject Lines

I was reading an article by Matt Blumberg this afternoon on the topic of testing. In this article, Matt suggests that you could also use pay-per-click listings (like Google Adwords) to test subject lines.

Here's how: Create 5-10 subject lines for the same offer and list them all simultaneously on a search engine, using the same search term. Then simply track which one gets the most clicks. Usually, the phrase that wins in a search will be the most effective in an email.

The article offers more tips and tricks for testing and is actually excerpted from the book Sign Me Up! A Marketer's Guide to Creating Email Newsletters That Build Relationships and Boost Sales.

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

HTML Email Design, Coding, and Delivery "Survival Guide"

MailChimp just posted the 2nd edition of their "HTML Email Design Guide." It's a 50-page document that covers the following topics:

  • How HTML email works
  • Designing & Coding
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • Designing around spam filters
  • Testing & troubleshooting your email designs
  • Email marketing basiscs & best practices
  • Measuring Performance
  • Useful resources
  • Email applications & known issues

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

Why you haven't heard from me...

I haven't posted for about a week now and it will stay a bit quiet for a couple of days more I'm afraid. My grandmother had a stroke last Wednesday and she died on Saturday :(

It feels extremely unreal because it happened so suddenly and without any prior notice... I am happy for her that she's finally reunited with my grandfather and I can only hope that she finally found some peace. I'll never forget her :(

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

Another Email Design Best Practices Webcast

On February 23rd at 2pm EST (8pm CET) Bronto will present a free webcast that will cover helpful design "Do's" and "Don'ts", as well as evaluate examples of good and not-so-good email marketing design.

When:  Thursday, February 23, 2PM EST
What:  Best Practices for Email Marketing Design - free webcast.
Duration:  30 minutes

Sign up here.

edgeio-key: 65f768e04d79241a8c7f5f9802b6c86c08385ded
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Free HTML Email Templates & Email Design Guide

MailChimp is offering 3 email templates for download on their website. So is you want to design and code your own HTML email newsletters, but aren't really sure where to begin, you can start by downloading them here. I've checked them out myself and the only thing I can say about them is: well done, guys! :)

The templates have been tested in various mail clients and, apart from the html files, the zip file also contains Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks files. And as a bonus they've added two helpful resources: a free email design guide and an email application QA checklist. Even the sample templates themselves have tips & tricks as content. I love it!

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

Choosing An Outside List Provider

When it comes to renting an outside list, you do not know whether the list is a finely tuned acquisition machine or the vehicle in which your next nightmare is going to be delivered. For those of you that need help choosing an outside list provider, Michael Mayor provides a guide in his article "Email Marketing Cheat Sheet". These are the email marketing firms he covers:

  • Datran Media
  • Direct Marketing Data Solutions (DM2)
  • Epostdirect
  • IDG Communications List Services
  • Return Path
  • V12 Group
  • Worldata
  • XactMail
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

DMA UK releases National Email Benchmarking Report Q1-Q3 2005

The Direct Marketing Association UK just released their fourth industry wide National Email Benchmarking Report which focuses on results gained from Q1-Q3 2005.

Some of the key findings from the research include:

  • Average email volumes continue to rise.
  • The majority of email clients cannot estimate their monetary loss from undelivered emails, while almost 20% of ESPs thought their clients' aggregative loss from this was over 250,000 GBP.
  • Open rates are stabilising, and their fall has not been as dramatic as many predicted.
  • Spam is considered to be the greatest threat to the adoption of email as a marketing channel, with a more unexpected threat selected as second largest hindrance.

You can download the executive summary for free. A full copy of the report is available to DMA members (for free). Non DMA members pay 350 GBP.

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

Little Things Add Up for Spam Filters

If you'd like to find out about what it is that triggers spam filters, you should read this post on MailChimp's blog.

They advise to especially watch out for these things:

  • The phrase "click here" is getting really bad. It was causing problems before, but it seems to be causing more nowadays. Especially be careful of using "click here" in your unsubscribe link. Don't say, "Click here to unsubscribe." Switch it up with something more like, "You may unsubscribe from our list at any time" or simply,  "Unsubscribe from our list"
  • Using the word "test" in your subject line will often get you spam filtered. If you're sending tests for clients, make your subject line look as real as possible.
  • Using "lorem ipsum" dummy text a lot in your message body will get you spam filtered, too.
  • Dollar signs are a big no-no. If you've got an email campaign with tons of dollar signs in it, make sure you've got other text in the email to "balance the equation." If you've got  a dollar sign in your email with a number that's in the millions, you're on thin ice. Be really careful not to do anything else risky, like using red fonts, too many exclamation points, etc.
  • Not enough text. If you only send an HTML email, you look like a spammer. Be sure to always include a plain-text version of your message. Also, don't send an HTML email that's nothing but a bunch of graphics. The spam filters can't read them to determine their content---so what do you think they'll assume it is?
  • Don't go nuts with font formatting. You get spam-points for making fonts huge. Also for making them tiny. And for coloring them red, blue, or green. Or using non-web-safe fonts. This seems to be a problem mostly with marketers who are using Microsoft Word to design their HTML emails. Don't do that. Get a professional to develop a couple email templates for you.

MailChimp's post also contains an Excel spreadsheet of the Spam Assassin criteria list, sorted by "score" so that you can see what kinds of stuff it thinks are really bad

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

HTML Emails & Lotus Notes: Some Guidelines

Another interesting post on the MailChimp blog, this time they talk about the challenges of making your HTML emails display correctly in Lotus Notes.

They encountered the following issues when designing new email templates:

  • Colspans. Keep your tables simple, and do not use too many colspans. Outlook 2003 and all the browser-based email applications can handle complex and embedded tables pretty decently these days. Lotus Notes doesn't, so you need to separate the header, body, and footer into 3 different tables to eliminate colspans as much as possible.
  • Center alignment. Using <TABLE ALIGN="CENTER"> works great in Lotus Notes 6.5.3. But not at all in Lotus Notes 6.5.4. Sticking <CENTER> tags around the tables doesn't work in 6.5.4 either.
  • Bad math. Lotus Notes takes the width of a table cell very literally, whereas every single other email application out there corrects the mistake. So make sure not to make any mistakes when designing for Lotus Notes.

Read the full post here (includes screenshots of the templates and other useful stuff).

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

Elements of Successful Email Messages

Next week Topica is hosting a webinar where they will discuss the "Elements of Successful Email Messages", it's the second of five free webinars in their new educational series.

They will cover the following topics:

  • Subject lines that get them at “Hello”
  • Do’s and Don’ts for message content and design
  • How to provide offers that convert visitors into customers

Elements of Successful Email Messages
Thursday, February 16th at 10 a.m. PST (7pm CET)
Participation is limited to 30 attendees.
Sign up here.

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

Email-Related Patents: Why Should You Care?

MarketingSherpa just released an article explaining what to do when the patent owners contact you about your email marketing program. Apparently a number of email marketeers have had to deal with this recently.

They've interviewed a bunch of patent lawyers to get practical advice. Plus, the article includes hotlinks to eight sites and blogs that may be helpful for you.

In short, MarketingSherpa's guidance is this: "If your company is contacted regarding a patent, it is unfortunately going to cost you. At the very least, you must consult with a patent attorney. (If you don’t, you will face higher damages if you are sued.)"

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

The Facts Behind AOL Deliverability

Pivotal Veracity is announced that it will be holding an exclusive webinar with AOL to address the many questions that enterprises have regarding how to effectively and successfully communicate with their AOL customers.

"Our goal is to wade through the hype of the last two weeks, to educate the industry on the facts behind AOL deliverability and to foster empathy and team-work between the receiving and mailing community,” said Deirdre Baird, President, Pivotal Veracity. “This is a unique opportunity for mailers to engage first-hand with the experts at AOL and to learn not only what is required to optimize communications with their AOL customers but also how to objectively evaluate whether options like Goodmail CertifiedEmail might lend value to their email programs.”

Webinar February 15th at 2pm Eastern
Originally planned only for Pivotal Veracity clients, this exclusive webinar has now been opened to the general mailing community and will be free of charge. Due to a limited number of seats, non Pivotal Veracity clients will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

If you are interested in attending, please register no later than Monday, February 13th at:  http://www.pivotalveracity.com/ReqInfo/AOL_Webinar.php. Please specify Invite Code: KS0209.

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

Navigating the World of Email Marketing

The DMA is hosting a couple of interesting virtual seminars that will walk you through the latest tools and techniques in the world of email marketing for both B-to-B and B-to-C marketers:

Seminar 1: February 8, 2006 * 12:30 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. EST

  • Latest techniques that drive responses
  • Filters and e-mail clients: Gmail, Outlook, and more
  • Data collection tips
  • Delivery timing and issues
  • Creative samples and test suggestions
  • How to prospect effectively
Seminar 2: April 5, 2006 * 12:30 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. EST
  • Authentication: What does it mean to me?
  • Open rates, CTR, and tracking reports
  • Address correction and hygiene Which offers work and which offers fail
Seminar 3: May 17, 2006 * 12:30 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. EST
  • SPAM/Content checkers
  • HTML or TEXT-hybrid?
  • Deployment services and software
  • Impact of subject lines
  • Vendor reviews
More info here.

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

RSS: Content Ideas

If you're thinking of adding RSS as a marketing communications tool, then you might want to read this:

Newsweaver's "The Business of Email" newsletter provides some ideas for using your content through RSS feeds - right alongside your email marketing:

  • Breaking News
  • Time sensitive items
  • Company information and press releases
  • Notifications
More details here.

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

AOL Reverses Whitelist Decision

A couple of days ago I mentioned that AOL would begin implementing Goodmail's cryptographic CertifiedEmail program and would phase out its IP-based Enhanced Whitelist.

Well, the last couple of days, rumour had it that AOL will not do away with its Enhanced Whitelist after all. Apparently AOL reversed its decision on the whitelist after numerous email senders and providers lashed out against the company in blogs and public statements (Mark Brownlow provides a nice overview of all the comments in this post).

AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham told DM News that "the Enhanced Whitelist is going to remain a useful tool. People who are on today will continue to use [its] privileges and benefits".

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