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30 entries from November 2006

View How ISPs And Filtering Companies See Your Email Campaigns

Return Path has launched SenderScore.org, a database of corporate e-mail reputation data. Companies can access the free database to view how ISPs and filtering companies see their e-mail campaigns. The database assigns a score to the campaign and is fueled by data from ReturnPath’s Sender Score Reputation Monitor, a system that aggregates reputation data from ISPs and filtering companies. Other information available includes data on spam complaints, e-mail volume tracking, bounce rates, black- and white-list inclusions, spam trap hits and authentication status.

Check it out here.

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

Hiring An Email Marketing Manager

Generally, the role of an email marketing manager or coordinator is to create, execute and manage all aspects of outbound email campaigns and be the primary contact for others involved in the process. While the job function of an email marketer has evolved, there are still some core qualifications you can look for. Look for someone who:

  • Is database marketing literate;
  • Has excellent organizational skills;
  • Pays attention to detail;
  • Can handle deadline pressure;
  • Can manage multiple projects at once.

Job candidates with experience in email marketing should:

  • Be able to write and/or recognize good copy;
  • Be familiar with HTML and online design;
  • Be knowledgeable about data mining and customer data segmentation;
  • Have direct marketing experience;
  • Have a good grasp of email and viral marketing concepts;
  • Have knowledge of email industry best practices;
  • Understand spam legislation in the U.S. and abroad.

Above all, understand that the qualifications you identify in a potential candidate boil down to your company's needs.

Source: btobonline.com

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MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Summit

On March 4-6 MarketingSherpa organizes its Email Marketing Summit '07 in Miami. Attendees will discover the latest research and practical, real-world tactics to improve results:

  • How to grow your list faster -- with names that respond
  • How to tweak your creative design for better results (including A/B and multivariate test Case Studies.)
  • How to automate personalized, high-impact campaigns including welcome series, purchase reminders, lead nurturing, loyalty generating, etc.
  • How to avoid filters and improve delivery (for permission mailers only.)
  • How to better measure engagement, test results, true delivery, and value-per-name (far beyond the open and click.)
  • Fresh content ideas to give your email newsletter new life

You can save $300 by reserving your ticket before December 31st.

Click here for more information

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Email Myths: Not Everything You Hear Is True

In this article David Baker, Vice President of Email Solutions at Avenue A/Razorfish, tells us not to believe everything we hear or read about email marketing best practices. He advises us to use best practices, studies, and guidance from the experts as a starting point, but don't consider their advice to be absolute.

You need to adjust your e-mail for your target audience and for what you want to achieve. Most importantly: test, test, and test some more.

The first myth he debunkes is this one: "never create an all-graphic e-mail because no one will see it or it will get flagged as spam. Instead, your e-mails should be in HTML text or even better-text--so none of your graphics are blocked. Just say "no" to graphics".

Wrong. It depends on the situation, your audience, and what you are trying to achieve. Earlier this year the AiMA held an e-mail event where one of the participants talked about an all-graphic versus HTML test they performed for the Olympics. Which e-mail was hands down the more successful campaign? You guessed it, the all-graphic version.

Here are some other favorite myths:

Preview pane

  • What you hear: Ensure your most compelling content is at the top and to the left so it appears in the preview pane.
  • Reality: Test different layouts and designs to see which is most effective for your audience. What may be compelling in your eyes may not be compelling in the eyes of your customers.

Below the fold

  • What you hear: Everything below the fold will not be seen, so the e-mail will not be successful.
  • Reality: You need to define success before you can determine if something is not successful. More often then not, I hear people say an e-mail was not successful because the links below the fold did not receive any clicks. First off, if you are measuring an e-mail's success by the number of clicks it receives, we need to talk. If it is a direct response e-mail, then sales or leads is a better measurement. If it is a reference tool, then measure opens over time. If it is informational, counting the number of clicks makes sense, but you may want to complement this information by tracking time on site and where users go on the site.

Short content

  • What you hear: Make sure your message is short and to the point. No one has time to read a lot of copy.
  • Reality: This is a blanket statement that cannot cover all situations. Especially when it comes to direct response e-mails, the key is to test long versus short and different designs and layouts. The value of some products cannot be conveyed in just a few sentences. The headers tell the story, grab attention and then the copy fills in the blanks for those who need more information.

Thanks for confirming this, David :o)

Source: MediaPost's Email Insider

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ISPs Respond to High Volume and Reputation Plays a Role

It’s depressing but true: there is more spam being sent than ever before.

In fact, ReturnPath's ISP and other receiver contacts report a tripling in the amount of spam coming across their networks in the past six months. This volume, combined with the increased volume of permission-based email typically seen in the fourth quarter means that overtaxed networks may process email slower as the volume backs up the systems.

As a result, your campaigns may generate higher-than-usual number of soft bounces including 421 and 451 SMTP error codes, as well as connection time outs. In particular, these system time outs could become more common as we move further into the high-volume holiday season (which kicked off with Halloween and will intensify after Thanksgiving).

What’s more, ISPs are prioritizing email traffic based on complaints, bounces, and other data to allow senders with better reputations to have their email delivered first. Once again, it’s all about reputation.

Minimize the chance that you will experience increased soft bouncing by achieving and keeping a good sender reputation. Be extra vigilant in keeping your unknown users rate low, maintaining low complaint rates, processing feedback loop data, honoring your communicated sending frequency and making sure your unsubscribe process is easy and works.

Also make sure your infrastructure is in full compliance. All your IP addresses should have valid reverse DNS information. Your systems should not be open to abuse from open relays and open proxies. Also double check that your sending domains are being authenticated using SPF and DomainKeys.

How do you know if volume thresholds are causing problems for you? You may see a sudden drop in deliverability at an ISP where you previously had been delivered. If this happens in combination with unusual bounce reporting from that same ISP, then that is a good indication that volume thresholds might be the problem.

If you see this pattern, consider metering your email sending volume and sending at off-peak times during the day (early morning or later in the evening) to lessen the competition your messages face as they pass through the receiver gateways.

We also recommend testing the time intervals in which your system resends the messages that were bounced back. Part of how your incoming email is evaluated by ISPs and other receivers is whether or not a retry is attempted. Traditionally, email senders had been advised to retry sending within 15 minutes of the first attempt. We are now advising our client to schedule retries between 30 and 60 minutes, since shorter time intervals can place an undue burden on already overloaded systems. One other possible solution is to utilize mail server functionality that allows for you to hold back the sending on certain ISPs while allowing the rest of your campaign to move forward. If you’re a large volume mailer, this could result in large retry queues. Make sure your hardware and applications are equipped to handle this.

As they constantly do, receivers will adjust their thresholds to accommodate the additional spam, but the seasonal traffic spikes permission marketers does compound the problem. Knowledge is power! Watch your bounce codes and act swiftly and appropriately to protect your email revenue this season.

Source: ReturnPath

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FTC Slaps Yesmail With $50K Spam Fine

Yesmail’s settlement with the Federal Trade Commission last week sent tremors throughout the industry as other e-mailers scrambled to figure out how the company became ensnared in the FTC’s spam-fighting apparatus and how they could avoid a similar scenario.

Yesmail agreed to pay $50,717 to settle charges that its recently acquired @Once unit violated the Can-Spam Act.

The alleged violations happened in 2004. Yesmail acquired @Once in 2005.

Though the size of the settlement was relatively small, the FTC’s press release and complaint were worded such that it was difficult to tell what happened and whether or not others are in danger of coming into the FTC’s crosshairs under similar circumstances.

According to the FTC, @Once’s spam-filtering software blocked some “reply to” unsubscribe requests from recipients as spam, resulting in @Once failing to honor those opt-out requests and sending thousands of e-mails to recipients more than 10 days after the requests, a violation of the Can-Spam Act.

The announcement raised eyebrows in the industry because it looked as if @Once was the victim of a technical glitch. The Can-Spam Act contains a provision protecting senders whose opt-out mechanism “is unexpectedly and temporarily unable to receive messages or process requests due to a technical problem beyond the control of the sender if the problem is corrected within a reasonable period of time.”

Read more here.

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7 Steps to CAN-SPAM Compliance - A Refresher

In this article eROI's Dylan Boyd summarizes the 7 steps to CAN-SPAM compliance:

1. Include an Unsubscribe Link That Works
2. Don’t Share Customer Addresses
3. Confirm the Subscription
4. Offer an Unsubscribe Link
5: Avoid “Negative Opt-In”
6. Identify Yourself Clearly In Every Message
7. Follow Through

Read the article here.

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Webinar: The State of Email Deliverability

On November 29the GoodmailSystems hosts a webinar featuring JupiterKagan's David Daniels. David will present new research on the state of deliverability.

Time: 11am PST / 2pm EST / 8pm CET / 7pm GMT

What you'll learn:

  • Average delivery rates reported by e-mailers (find out if you're better-or worse-than the competition)
  • Which delivery improvement techniques are commonly used today
  • How do moves by ISPs to block links and images affect email results
  • Are marketers ready to pay to assure delivery of email?

More info here.

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

European Email Marketing More Complicated Than US

Email marketing in Britain involves understanding the cultural differences and characteristics throughout Europe, according to e-Dialog executives.

John Rizzi, CEO of e-Dialog, and Simone Barrat, managing director at e-Dialog UK, told this publication in an interview in the London office that relationships with Internet service providers throughout Europe is much more complicated than in the US.

“It is quite hard to find out who the top ISPs in Russia are, so we have to work with our customers to find out who they are trying to target and what ISPs they are using,” Ms. Barrat said.

Mr. Rizzi agreed and said that the market here is much more fragmented. “There are a handful of ISPs in the U.S., whereas over here there are a lot more to keep track of,” he said.
These include the main U.S. players like Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo and Gmail, but also extend to Virgin.net, BT and Wannadoo. To deal with deliverability in all of the varying ISPs, Ms. Barrat said that it is best to test emails across the different providers.

Differences are not just due to the fragmentation with the ISPs. The European market includes a number of countries with different languages, cultural traditions and demographics. HP is one e-Dialog client that sends emails to 18 different countries in various languages.

Mr. Rizzi and Ms. Barrat said that while many languages are used, English is a common marketing language that is found throughout Europe.

Aside from language, design can be culturally reflective.

“There are subtleties in design style between a Latin country like France or Spain and a Nordic country like Sweden or Denmark,” Mr. Rizzi said.

One thing that is for sure throughout is that personalization and segmentation is growing and email marketing is getting bigger budgets for marketers.

“For retail clients, email marketing is becoming very business critical,” Ms. Barrat said. “There is an elevated importance of email because of the fantastic returns that can be seen through tracking.”

Source: DMNews

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UK Email Marketing Survey Highlights Importance Of Reporting

The majority of client companies state that 'reporting' and 'customer service' are the two most important factors when selecting an email service provider (ESP), according to the first Client Email Marketing Survey from the DMA Email Marketing Council. The emphasis placed on 'reporting' indicates an increasing interest from marketers in wanting to understand how customers interact with their email messages and, given how business-critical email has become to so many organisations, their desire to measure the effectiveness of each campaign. In addition, the fact that customer service is more important than functionality and price may demonstrate that cost per thousand for delivery has levelled off.

The report, which surveyed 110 client companies, also highlights the biggest concerns for email marketers as being 'conversion' rates, followed by 'deliverability' rates and 'click rates'.

Richard Gibson, chair of the DMA Email Marketing Council's Benchmarking Hub, comments: "Based on these findings, we could see Email Service Providers enhancing their reporting tools to meet client demands. The report further shows that 87% of companies rely on or work with their ESP to manage deliverability. Whilst there is only a small minority, it is concerning that some organisations either do not monitor or do not consider deliverability to be important."

Previous DMA Email Marketing Council predictions that email marketing will continue to grow are also reinforced by the report. The majority of companies (78%) believe that email marketing budgets will increase with 63% of respondents stating that the increase will not come at the expense of other channels, suggesting a rise in confidence in the effectiveness of the medium and its ability to generate returns.

The report also demonstrates that there is a real opportunity for clients to grow their opt-in email database with less than half of marketers surveyed stating that they had an email address for only between one and 25% of their entire database. Only 18% of companies surveyed have between 78 -100% of customer email addresses.

Offline data capture and websites are the most common places to acquire new email addresses, with over 50% of addresses being collected on a website by 39% of companies and offline by 32% of companies.

In terms of how the email channel is used, 78% of organisations state that the primary use is to drive traffic to a website, while 72% also use the channel to communicate new offers and 48% of respondents acknowledge that email is used to create brand awareness.

Gibson adds: "The Client Email Marketing Survey is a new initiative by the Email Marketing Council and provides a useful insight into the demand side drivers and complementing the National Email Benchmarking Report. As a result, it is likely to be run on an annual basis."

For further information please visit www.dma.org.uk.

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The Best Christmas Emails Of 2005

Looking for inspiration for the design of this year's Christmas email? Have a look at the winners of CampaignMonitor's contest last year.

If you’re looking for some Christmas related supporting images to add to your design, iStockphoto is a great place to start. They offer loads of Christmas related design elements that you can add to your email for only $1.

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

ENonprofit Benchmarks Study

The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study provides a snapshot of key metrics and benchmarks for nonprofit e-mail communications, online fundraising, and online advocacy, primarily taken from an in-depth review of statistics from 15 nonprofit organizations, six environmental organizations, six civil/legal rights organizations, and three international aid organizations.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Greater Online Advocacy Results: Organizations generating the most online advocacy actions had several key characteristics in common, including larger e-mail lists; longer-lived online advocacy programs; larger online communications budgets; and sending a higher volume of advocacy e-mail messages.
  • Investment Pays Off: Not surprisingly, organizations with larger online communications budgets built larger e-mail lists, generated more advocacy activity, and raised more funds online.
  • E-Mail Open Rates in Decline: E-Mail message open rates among averaged 26 percent between September 2004 and September 2005, a decline from the previous 12-month average of 30 percent. Average response rates to e-mail advocacy appeals were 10 percent, while average response rates to e-mail fundraising appeals were just 0.3 percent.
  • E-Mail Lists Continue to Grow - and Shrink: List churn (where e-mail addresses becoming undeliverable or unsubscribed) is a considerable problem for organizations. Nonprofits studied recruited on average more than twice the size of their existing e-mail lists over a 12-month period, yet their overall list growth was only about 73 percent as some new recruits are offset by heavy email list loss.
  • Online Actions Speak Louder Than Dollars: Not surprisingly, more e-mail subscribers took online action than made an online donation. Between September 2004 and September 2005, an average of 47 percent of all e-mail subscribers took at least one online action, while just 6 percent of subscribers made an online donation. There were significant discrepancies among issue areas; international aid e-mail lists are made up of just 37 percent activists, but 17 percent of their subscribers made an online donation. On the other hand, environmental organizations have lists made up of 61 percent activists, while just 3.6 percent of their subscribers made an online donation.
  • A Rise in Online Fundraising: Despite modest online donation rates, by September 2005, online annual fundraising totals increased by 40 percent on average from the year before, likely driven (in part) by the public's overwhelming response to the Asian tsunami disaster. Participating organizations averaged $2.5 million in online donations last year, with a $97 average gift. International aid organizations led the way, with an average of $9.7 million raised last year and an average gift of $121.

While the size of an organization is not necessarily the prime measure for success on the Internet, a robust and strategic use of funds and other resources to sell a nonprofit's message to legislators, business leaders, potential donors and the general public, using all the online tools at one's disposal-even in conjunction with other communications media, like direct mail-is mandatory. As demonstrated by the case studies illustrating many of the key points of this report, nonprofit organizations of even modest size can meet the challenges of advocacy, public education and fundraising by using innovative and aggressive tactics to spread their word, expand their subscriber base, and market themselves online. What is especially key is being able to measure the successes (and failures) of online initiatives through proper tracking of key metrics, such as e-mail message open and response rates, in order to maximize the benefits of the Internet as a key tool to a nonprofit's communications success.

Download this free study here.

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Essential Guide to Email Marketing

The DM News Essential Guide to Email Marketing is now available for download. Topics discussed in this guide include creative tips for copy and subject headlines, integration with other channels, crafting winning opt-in offers, gaining relevancy and winning trust, growing house lists, deliverability issues and the similarities and differences between online and offline direct marketing.

Also included is content on best practices for associations, health care and nonprofits, tips on optimizing transactional email, post-click analysis, Web analytics with email, using purchase behavior for relevant campaigns, designing emails, landing pages, subscription management and preparing for the holidays. And, of course, there are must-read articles on authentication, accreditation and reputation — the rally cry of the industry.

Several case studies exemplify these best practices and tips. Among them are BabytoBee, RE/MAX of Michigan, Tridel, Balance Spa, Road Runner Sports, Avenue You, Studio Arena Theatre and Overstock.com.

Click here to download it.

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Spam Or Not: Relevancy And Trust Hold The Key

A recent independent survey of consumers has found that two-thirds of people read the marketing e-mails they receive.

When savvy consumers today look at their mailbox, they can quickly determine what is spam and what is not. Over time, consumers have seemingly developed an internal filter to censor which marketing dialogue is important enough to open, and which messaging is not.

The survey reconfirmed that creating a trusting relationship with customers is a critical aspect of a successful email marketing campaign. Sixty-six percent of the people surveyed wanted marketing emails that are personalized to their interests. Seventy-seven percent are opening marketing emails from sources they know and trust.

Read more here.

Source: DMNews

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Using Email Marketing for the Holidays

In this article Gail Goodman offers some tips for including email in your holiday marketing mix:

Perhaps the most obvious use of holiday-themed email marketing is for retail. You may already have plans to send holiday promotions to your customer list via email. Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your communication mix:

  • Remind them about gift cards - Whether you are a retail store, e-commerce site, restaurant, or spa, you can use email to promote your gift cards. You can also offer a discount or an added bonus to those who purchase them from you. For example, a spa could offer a free manicure to the purchaser of a $100 gift card.
  • Offer gift ideas - Make your customers lives easier by giving them great gift ideas. Everyone is trying to figure out what to buy for their friends and family. You can help your customers out by highlighting gifts that would be great for dad, mom, brother, sister, or the friend who has everything.
  • Offer a range of promotions - Don't just offer one promotion for the holidays. Offer a range that speaks to different customers. For one person, free shipping might get them to buy from you, for another, incremental discounts might work better (spend $100, get 15% off, spend $200, get 20% off, etc).
  • Communicate about holiday hours - If you have a retail shop, you can send an email announcing that you have special holiday hours for your customers' shopping convenience.
  • Invite customers to a special event - A great way to get people to come and shop with you is to hold a special event complete with holiday goodies, enticing discounts, and free wrapping. A little live music is always a great addition. You can send out a holiday email invitation with all the details.

Continue reading "Using Email Marketing for the Holidays" »

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Three Proven Methods To Boost Holiday Revenue Through Email

by Stephanie Miller

Email doesn’t always need a coupon, but it does need to be relevant to get opened and get a response from subscribers. Return Path’s annual Holiday Consumer Survey shows that the fastest growing factor driving consumer response to email is prior value in the email itself.

So your brand and subject line still matter, but what really drives a response is relevancy. The email itself must help the subscriber be smarter, richer and more beautiful. Fortunately, retailers have more relevancy tools at their disposal than they think.

Here’s three fast and simple ways to boost response this holiday season, without relying on discounts or doubling your e-mail frequency.

Continue reading "Three Proven Methods To Boost Holiday Revenue Through Email" »

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Is it OK to Use The Same Subject Line?

There aren't any reliable statistics that show whether a subject line that never varies will draw better or worse than one which changes to reflect the new content in each issue. You can test this on your own audience, however, using a standard A/B split test.

Divide your database in two. Email the newsletter with the standard subject line to one segment, then create a unique subject line for the other segment. Do this for at least three publishing cycles, and always send the same subject-line configuration to the same segment of your database. Then, compare the results. If you see a difference of more than 5 to 10 percentage points in your open statistics, it's probably significant enough to drive your decision.

Why Go Unique?
When you repeat the subject line over and over, you don't give readers a compelling reason to open the email. We believe the best practice is to create a unique and compelling subject line for each issue.

You can create a subject line that's both instantly familiar AND unique each time by incorporating your newsletter name in either the sender line (the "from" line) or by putting it first in the subject line.

Source: EmailLabs

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Why Text Email Is More Important Than Ever

Now that HTML is under attack from image-blocking, platforms that don't properly render it, and aggressive spam filtering that targets non-standard formatting or message size, text e-mail is more important than ever!

But you can't expect good results if you just slap a text email together and ship it out. Text takes careful design and planning, too. Think lean, clean, and obvious.

Lean: normally, the more links you put in a message, the more avenues to your site you provide readers. In a text message, though, too many URLs can overwhelm the text. Show the most important links. Typically, these are:

  • Landing page of the offer or article
  • Home page
  • Opt-out link (required) and email preferences page (if you have one)
  • Contact email address or a link to a contact page

Continue reading "Why Text Email Is More Important Than Ever" »

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How To Create Standout Subject Lines

Even if you don't send email messages that are clearly commercial, your emails could get lost in the crowd if your subject lines don't distinguish you.

According to Stefan Pollard, a good subject line has three essential qualities: branding, urgency and brevity:

  1. Branding: The brand, company name, publication or mailing name figures prominently. Never make readers guess who you are.

  2. Urgency: It sums up the message content with the message's most compelling feature, top story or other information that signals the reader to open it as quickly as possible.

  3. Brevity: It tells the story in 60 characters or fewer so that crucial information doesn't get cut off in the inbox.

In the holiday season, B2C marketers will have to add a fourth quality: distinction. What will distinguish your limited-time free-shipping offer from the 15 to 20 others that are probably poised for delivery right now to your customers' inboxes?

So, you need not only to write a good subject line but also know what your direct competitors are sending out, along with all of the other direct merchants whose emails will compete with yours for the reader's attention. It's a tall order, but this article will outline how to do it.

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

Designing Effective HTML E-mails

Join EmailLabs' Stefan Pollard on November 27 or 28 for a webinar on the topic of "Designing effective HTML emails".

Attend this webinar and learn how to design HTML messages that will render better in your readers' email clients and inspire more action. Other topics include:

  • HTML design and coding for optimal inbox delivery
  • Reducing spam signatures
  • Combining text and images to improve readability
  • Stylesheets and tables
  • Layout tips for preview panes

When you sign up, you'll also receive EmailLab's Complete Guide for Creating HTML E-mails.

The Webinar is free, but space is limited. Sign up here.

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