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9 entries from May 2007

5 Tips for Designing the Ultimate Landing Page

In this post on the Copyblogger blog, Roberta Rosenberg give 5 tips for designing a landing page.

The web is a strongly visual medium, she says. Good design helps support the content, leading the visitor’s eye from here to there and directing them through your message layer by layer, step by step. This is especially so in the formatting of an effective landing page.

Basic guidelines:

  • Scrutinize your competition’s design and organization flow of their landing pages: Go through their conversation process and note the places where you feel a bit stumped or put off. Then go back to your own landing page and compare. Consider what you could revise or eliminate for better effect.
  • Put your most critical landing page elements in the upper 300 pixels of the page: Usability research shows over half of your site visitors will NOT scroll “below the fold.” So forget the warm-up copy, get right to the point, and keep your value proposition at first screen view.
  • Think simple: Use a one-column format with ample margins and white space to increase reading comprehension. Break up big paragraphs into smaller paragraphs — and no more than 5 lines per. You want to encourage visitors to read and engage with your message. Dense-looking copy doesn’t get read, period.
  • Be obvious and use standard usage conventions: Underline your links, be clear. descriptive and specific when describing them. No visitor should have to work to use your page or understand your message.
  • Make sure your page loads quickly: There are still millions of people using dial-up. Depending on your marketing and your product/service mix, strive for an 8-second or less page load. Don’t plump your page with unnecessary graphics. Optimize essential graphics to reduce file size and load time.

Continue reading "5 Tips for Designing the Ultimate Landing Page" »

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MAAWG's New Set of Best Communication Practices for Bulk Senders

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group's (MAAWG) new set of best communication practices for bulk senders is a great resource to help you ratchet up your email message delivery. It covers just about every issue that crops up between senders and ISPs and explains clearly what needs to be done to achieve higher deliverability.

MAAWG, an industry group formed to fight messaging abuse such as spam and fraud email, said its first set of best practices was intended to both help legitimate email from high-volume senders, like email marketers, stand out better from spam and phishing email; and reduce the ISP's burden of sorting good messages from bad.

Although you might bristle at the idea of outsiders telling you how to run your email business, the recommendations have been endorsed by the bipartisan Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC), which seats bulk senders and recipients at the same table.

Also, the best practices closely reflect the standards email senders have developed over the last 10 years or so and explain some technical requirements in fairly plain language. This should help you see the benefits better and be more able to discuss implementing them with your IT department.

In this article, Stefan Pollard provides us with highlights of the five recommendations.

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AOL disables images in AOL.com & AIM.com

On May 22nd AOL officially introduced and rolled-out a new interface for customers who access their email using AOL.com & AIM.com. In addition to a number of other changes to the interface, AOL has decided to disable images in both of these web based email clients.

As a reminder, images have always been OFF by default for AOL 9.0 (AOL's desktop email software) but, prior to today, images were ON by default in AOL.com and AIM.com. The new interfaces for AOL.com and AIM.com now turn images OFF by default exactly like AOL 9.

Turning Images Back ON

Just like AOL 9.0, images will be turned back back ON in AOL.com and AIM.com by any of the following:

  • the recipient enables the images by clicking the SHOW IMAGES link for THIS MESSAGE or THIS SENDER that appears for each email, or
  • the recipient adds the mailer's from-address to their address book, or
  • the mailer's IP address is on AOL's Enhanced Whitelist.

Implications
Expect to see a drop in open rates due to the new interface. Since open-rates are typically tracked via an invisible gif (image), when images are disabled, this method of open-rate tracking will result in no opens recorded when images are disabled.

Be proactive in getting images back on! Encourage your recipients to add your from-address to their address book; if your from-address is in the address book, your images will automatically display. In addition to an explicit add-to-address book campaign, strive to keep your spam complaints and unknown user rates low so you qualify for AOL's Enhanced Whitelist.

Source: Pivotal Veracity via the EEC newsletter

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W3C HTML in Email Workshop: draft agenda

Here's a draft agenda for W3C's HTML in Email Workshop on May 24th in Paris.

09:00am  welcome
09:30am  introduction by Workshop Chair
10:00am  E-mail vs. Web – A Tactical + Technical Design Paradox (Jim Kelley, Sarah Davies, e-Dialog)
10:45am  Web standards: a must for html email (Mark Wyner, Mark Wyner Design)
11:30am  break
11:40am  Email security and client development (Chris Newman, Sun Microsystems)
12:25pm  lunch break
02:00pm  Should e-mail designers/developers ignore standards because of poor rendering in e-mail clients? (Darren Rawlings, Premiere Global Services)
02:45pm  HTML email: accessibility (Stéphane Deschamps, Jean-Marc Bassin, France Telecom Group)
03:30pm  break
03:45pm  Outspring HTML-in-Email (Pierre Saslawsky, Outspring Inc.)
4:30pm   closing note by Workshop Chair

Read more about this workshop here.

PS. My computer crashed last week. As soon as it's fixed (fingers crossed) I will post my notes from the Email Insider Summit!

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Forrester's Email Marketing Review Methodology 3.0

Forrester updated their email marketing review methodology and published it in a new trend report titled "How to Humanize Email Marketing".

The email marketing review methodology helps marketers to evaluate the attributes and content of their email campaigns, and the effectiveness of their email program.

The revisions they made in this new version focus on humanizing the email experience. They added business criteria to test the program's customer-centricity. They also reorganized customer criteria to explicitly encompass all facets of the email conversation and added customer criteria to address market advancements.

Very interesting stuff but you do have to pay to get access to it. You can purchase this trend report here.

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HTML Rendering in Outlook 2007

BlueHornet released a whitepaper that explaines how to code and design your HTML emails so that they render as intended in Outlook 2007 and other email clients such as Outlook 2003, AOL Webmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and Live Hotmail.

The whitepaper identifies 10 key rendering issues that email marketers and designers should be aware of and provides recommendations and best practices for those issues.

Download the pdf here.

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How to Create a Strong Call to Action

In this article, Stefan Pollard explains how to create a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Basically, in an email message, the call to action has three elements: the action you want the reader to take, the words you use to issue the call, and its physical appearance (text, image, location).

Read the full article and discover a couple of strategies to help you cover all your bases:

1. Separate the Click from the Call
2. Express the CTA Clearly
3. Sprinkle Links Generously
4. Use Text to Make CTAs Pop
5. Location, Location, Location

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

Email Insider Summit

Today is day 2 of the Email Insider Summit in Florida. So far it's been absolutely fantastic! The sessions yesterday were extremely interesting, the speakers are well-chosen (well done Stephanie!), the networking is great and the location is fabulous :)

Compared to an email summit I attended last March, this one is a completely different league. Coming back from the one in March, I didn't really feel I learned or heard something new. After day 1 of the Email Insider Summit, I feel so excited about all the stuff that I've been hearing about - not only from the speakers, but also from talking with other attendants.

I'm making lots of notes, and hope to post them soon. In the meanwhile, check out the summit blog to read what's going on.

I'm sitting on a panel on Saturday morning that will talk about how to go international with your email program. It's going to be fun! Talk to you soon!

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