Previous month:
October 2007
Next month:
December 2007

36 entries from November 2007

HTML email standards: the big interview

esp-logo Mark Brownlow interviewed David Greiner, the brain behind the Email Standards Project. He asked David what the project's goals are and if he thinks he can really influence the big corporate machines behind Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail and other email clients.

Here are some quotes from the interview:

"What really tipped me over the edge was the release of Outlook 2007 earlier this year. This saw one of the most popular email clients in the world go from virtually perfect web standards support to almost none. That one really caught me off guard. The web browser world was making leaps and bounds toward better standards support while the email world took a time warp back to 1998."

"the short-term [goal is] trying to kick-start a conversation with key individuals from Microsoft, Google, IBM and Apple and working with them in any capacity possible to make progress. Once that happens, we'll focus on keeping the design community in the loop and encouraging them to move towards completely standards based HTML emails."

"The web site has been live for less than a day and we've already had more than 100,000 page views and some fantastic plugs all over the web."

"we've already had some contact with a major player in the email client world expressing their interest in the project"

"If those responsible for designing HTML emails could build them knowing they'll display consistently across all major email clients, they can dramatically reduce the development and QA time required."

"Of course, making recommendations is a whole lot easier than implementing them, but we're patient and in this for the long haul."

"We're also looking to enlist the help from anyone who might have a contact within Gmail, The Windows Live Hotmail team, and any other email client currently sitting in our "Improvement Recommended" category."

"Starting a dialog with the right person is the real priority right now, so if that's you, please get in touch."

Read the entire interview here.

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

The Email Standards Project Launched!

If we could have the major email clients all supporting at least a subset of web standards, we would be in a much better situation than we are now. 

The Email Standards Project is an attempt to help move standards in HTML email forward, towards more consistent, reliable support.

The idea is that some time in the future web designers will be able to rely on a solid, consistent level of web standards support when designing and building HTML emails.

To get to that point, the folks behind the Email Standards Project are taking a two pronged approach, modeled on the Web Standards Project:

  1. Education: Help web designers understand why web standards matter for email, so that they are willing to get involved in making it happen.
  2. Provide as much assistance and feedback to the email client developers as possible. They have a lot of competing pressures, and The Email Standards Project wants to be as constructive as possible in making their case, and helping them to see where changes need to be made. You can see the beginnings of this with the email acid test results.

Visit the Email Standards Project's blog here.

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

Survey Reveals Email as Sales & Marketing Cinderella Story

This report reveals the results of the survey of 1,829 sales and marketing executives, with questions relative to their company’s use of email for sales and marketing, as well as campaign results and budgets.

Email is budget's ugly step-child, yet Cinderalla for leads and sales results, with top ROI
In answers pertaining to marketing budgets, allocations for email marketing software and services remained at the very bottom, under 5% for large businesses and under 10% for small and medium businesses. In sharp contrast, email marketing was consistently a top performer in answers rating marketing campaign success (in terms of sales and lead generation) as well as answers rating the importance of marketing mediums. From participants who answered all related questions, a relative value index was derived which clearly illuminates email at the top for ROI.

Email Marketing ROI

Nearly 84% of businesses have plans to increase use of email for sales and marketing
The vast majority of businesses have plans to increase their use of sales and marketing email, despite prevalence of spam. Nearly 84% of businesses indicated they had plans to increase their use of email for sales, marketing and customer service.
Email Marketing Use

1to1 email follow-up and campaigns to small groups outperforms broadcast email.
Another surprise finding revealed the broadcast marketing mentality and most common email marketing approach, is not the best strategy for producing leads and sales results via email marketing. These survey results highlight the value of putting email marketing technology, including 1to1 personalization and email tracking tools, into the field, including divisional offices, field representatives and sales people.

Email Marketing Success 

Additional findings and complete survey results are available by downloading the full report here.

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

17 Email Deliverability Tips

Justin gathered some tips for ensuring your email makes it successfully to the inbox:

  1. Join Feedback Loops: Feedback loops allow you to see who is marking your email as spam (so you can remove them). Some ISPs, like AOL, provide an easy way to join the feeback loop. For other ISPs, you may need to contact your email service provider to see if they can provide you with this information.
  2. Remove Inactive Subscribers: Inactive subscribers are most likely to mark your email as junk. Sure, nobody wants to willfully shrink the size of their opt in list, but you have to think long term.
  3. Consistent Timing: ISPs love it when you consistently send email on the same day at near the same time. Since spammers don’t care, consistency is the mark of a responsible email marketer.
  4. Use Consistent From Information: Be sure to always use the same from name and address. Changing the from email will require your subscribers to add each address to their address book in order to ensure deliverability. In addition, a consistent from name helps readers recognize your brand.
  5. Use Double Opt In: Double opt in is a best practice required by many ISPs in order to be considered for white listing. In addition, it protects your database from misspelled email addresses.
  6. Unsubscribe Link at Top: Why at the top? Because if unhappy subscribers can’t find it within a few seconds, they may hit the junk button instead, which damages your rep. Better to lose a subscriber than get a spam complaint.
  7. Static IP Address: If you send marketing emails from your own server, always send from the same IP address. If you use an email service provider, find out if they offer a dedicated IP for an additional charge. If they do, it’s worth it. Like shared webhosts, many ESP’s group many clients under one IP address. In other words, what another company does with their email marketing can affect your deliverability. It’s much easier to manage the reputation of one IP address rather than many.
  8. Reverse DNS: Many ISPs perform a reverse DNS lookup, which checks to make sure the IP you are sending from is authorized to send from your domain.
  9. White List Reminder: Encourage subscribers to add your email address to their address book or white list. Some ISPs look at the number of times you are added to an address book as a sign of trust.
  10. Get Authenticated: Email authentication is confusing as heck. There are a few standards out there that are not necessary competing. The Sender ID Framework uses a simple SPF record with your DNS Zone. Microsoft has a handy Sender ID wizard to help you create this text record for your DNS. In addition to Sender ID, DomainKeys is another popular authentication method. Both methods help to both ensure deliverability and prevent spammers from spoofing with your domain.
  11. Don’t Worry about SPAM Words: Don’t stress about using the word “free” or occasionally putting all caps in the subject. I find these tactics to be successful and have no affect on delivery.
  12. Remove Bounces: Be sure to remove all hard bounces that come back as undeliverable. Repeatedly sending to an invalid email will send off red flags with most internet service providers.
  13. Reply to Challenge Responses: Occasionally, SPAM filtering software will send back a reply to your email asking you to confirm that you are a real person. Invest the 30 seconds or so it takes to do this for each challenge response you receive. Not only will it ensure that this particular recipient receives your message, but it can improve your sender reputation as well.
  14. Be Relevant: Nothing encourages spam complaints more than sending people stuff they didn’t sign up for. If they signed up for a ezine newsletter, and you send them nothing but sales pitches, you’re likely to get complaints.
  15. Send In Spurts: Some ISPs have limits as to how many emails you can send to in a given period of time. If you’re having trouble sending email to a particular ISP such as Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, see if your email service provider gives you the ability to stage the email over a longer period of time.
  16. Get Off Black Lists: MxToolBox offers a great tool to check if your email server is blacklisted. If it is, begin the process of contacting each of the the black list service and find out the process for getting your IP removed.
  17. Get On White Lists: Achieving white list status with the major ISPs is no small feat. If you’re not up for the challenge, consider uses an email deliverability consulting firm such as Return Path that specializes in this area.


Source: Palmer Web Marketing

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

links for 2007-11-28

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

links for 2007-11-27

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

Your Recipient's Inbox Is the Hottest Party in Town

In his latest column on ClickZ, Stefan Pollard says:

"Your recipient's inbox is the hottest party in town. You have a legitimate invitation to be there, and the spammers figure they can crash the party by looking like you. Make sure your hosts recognize you so you don't get stuck on the wrong side of the door with the undesirables."

I like the way he uses this analogy to make this point:

"Spammers and their malicious counterparts, who want to infect your computer or steal your identity, work just as hard as you, and probably harder, to write action-inviting subject lines.

Many use clever social engineering to get e-mail readers to open and click by taking advantage of major holidays, newsworthy events, or common opening lines a friend, relative, or coworker would send. This time of year, of course, anything relating to Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, holidays, parties, and the like is fair game.

Your problem is you have a legitimate reason to use holiday themes in your e-mail messages. The challenge is walking the fine line between writing clever holiday-themed subject lines and not looking like a spammer or malicious e-mailer while you're doing it.

The answer is to monitor spam outbreaks to avoid using clever holiday-themed subject lines that can make your message look like spam."

Stefan suggests to try the following:

  • Monitor your spam folders. That's your front-row seat to watch the spammer party-crashers as they jostle for an entry to the inbox. Watch both your work and personal e-mail folders, and enlist others in the watch. If you detect a theme that looks similar to the brilliant subject line your boss or client just OK'ed for the next campaign, swallow your pride and rewrite it.

  • Check the Internet news portals. Look out for information on new virus attacks. Yahoo News's technology section often has timely alerts that include not only the virus-related information but often also the actual subject lines.

  • Review expert blogs. Monitor reports about the latest spam, phishing, and virus e-mail: The Internet Patrol / McAfee.

Source: ClickZ

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

Dealing with the Competition in Enewsletter Ads

Placing ads in e-mail newsletters is one of those areas where thinking out of the box pays off. In the b-to-b space, your target is receiving messages from competitors on a daily basis. Knowing how and when those competitors are buying and placing their ads will impact your placement and response rates.

Jeanniey Mullen suggests to start with this rule in mind: to maximize response, you need to compare the potential response rates for newsletters that best match your target audience with newsletters that may not be a perfect match but have less competitive congestion. You final response rate could be up to three times higher.

For example: You are a b-to-b company targeting health care providers—as are seven of your top competitors. Based on analysis, you have identified the top five e-mail newsletters that audience reads frequently. However, your competition has also targeted and advertised in those same newsletters.

In this case, even with the best offer, your message will underperform because of the excess in the category. As a plan B, you have a list of e-newsletters that are not in the top five but that are in the top 20. Your competitors are not advertising—or are advertising only occasionally—in those. Test your ad in those newsletters. The freshness of offer and lack of competition will extend your reach and positively impact results.

In order to build the most effective strategy, start by asking these questions before you place ads in newsletters:

  • Do your competitors advertise in these newsletters? If so, how often? Ask for a sample of the ads.
  • Sign up for the e-newsletter and watch for trends in messages; for example, company X advertises every Monday or the offer is always a white paper.
  • Don't use your standard online offer. Build your offer and content to compete with what is in the newsletter.
  • What are the Tier 2 newsletters that you could test? Targeting is key, but doesn't always drive the best results for newsletter ads: Perform an A/B test to find out for sure.

Source: btobonline

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

7 Steps to Maximize Email's Role in Lead Generation Programs

In this article on iMedia Connection, Brent Rosengren lists seven specific steps to ensure your online lead generation works to its fullest potential:

1. Clearly define the main goals of your lead generation program.
If the goal is to build or grow an email marketing database, make sure that all the strategy is geared toward effectively collecting emails and making it simple for the user to do so. Then ensure you have clearly defined what will happen next for the user and your marketing team.

2. Choose the appropriate method of collecting personal information.  Here are four methods generally used to collect an email address during an online promotion.

  • Opt-in: An unchecked box, which contains language clearly stating what it means by checking the box.
  • Opt-out: A pre-checked box. It also contains language clearly stating what it means by checking the box.
  • Requiring that the user must provide an email address to participate in an online program: If used, the language should clearly state that the user should expect future communication and can opt-out at any time. This is often used when the participant is getting something of value in return.
  • Implied consent: Often the path of least resistance but not a best practice as there is no permission granted and you are not stating how someone's email will be used. You should not assume your participants know that they will receive emails from you in the future by providing their email address during a sweepstakes or promotion. Please note that this method is illegal in Europe.

3. Make sure you cover your legal bases.
If you are collecting any type of personal information online and are intending to use it in any way -- especially email addresses -- you should clearly state this in your privacy policy.

In addition to the Privacy Policy, you should address the future use of any personal information collected in the specific Terms and Conditions of the program or sweepstakes, especially if you are using the above implied consent method.

4. Identify all possible points of communication.
Any time you are driving traffic to your site, make sure to maximize your investment and the participants' time.

  • Use all possible real estate on your content, sign-up and confirmation pages.
  • Make all microsite pages and forms standalone pages; pop-ups often don't work.
  • Make sure the main marketing goal and its messages are well positioned above the fold on your pages and are clear to the visitor. 
  • If collecting email addresses, make sure you email them within an effective timeframe. 

5. Examine the viral capabilities of the program.
What's more valuable than having participants recommend your program to their friends? Again, go through the viral functionality to unsure it maximizes the effect of social marketing rather than hurting your effort. Confirm that the viral messaging is as personalized as possible from the participant to their friends. Clearly state to the "friend" that her information is not going to be used in future emails but do allow her the opportunity to opt-in.

6. Ensure a pleasant user experience.
Test before you launch to ensure every aspect of the user experience is seamless. This will help your team identify what functionalities need to be improved before you go live. A bad user experience can have a negative effect on not only the single program but the brand as a whole.

7. Optimize. 
Do not just assume your program can be turned on and left as is, especially if running inefficiently. Continually analyze and make adjustments as the program matures and the metrics and consumer feedback stream in.

Remember, do not forget the main goal of the program -- to generate leads -- but don't overlook the user experience and the many ways that a poorly executed program can cause more damage and negate the program's ambitions.

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

Best Email Advertising of 2008 to Be Named by Web Marketing Association

The Web Marketing Association judges will select the best email advertising of 2008 in 86 industries as part of their sixth annual Internet Advertising Competition (IAC) Awards.

The IAC Awards are the first and only industry-based advertising award competition dedicated exclusively to online advertising. Companies or agencies wishing to nominate their work for consideration may do so at before the deadline of January 31, 2008.

Read the press release here.

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

How Do Popular Email Clients Handle Image Maps

Campaign Monitor tested how image maps perform in the popular email clients. This is what they found:


The results indicate that it’s not a good idea to use image maps. Specifically because of the following issues:

  • The frequency in which images are disabled
  • Image maps and their respective images don’t marry well and therefore pose accessibility issues for those visually impaired
  • Gmail—a very popular email client—doesn’t support them consistently

Source: Campaign Monitor

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

Email Experience Council Launches Email Performance Award

The Email Experience Council (eec), the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) email marketing arm, today announced its call for entries for the eec’s first award competition recognizing email marketing excellence. Chosen directly by eec members, the Email Performance Award will be presented to an individual or organization that has created an email marketing campaign that demonstrates the full power of the channel.

Entries will be evaluated for their marketing strategy, creative components, and, most importantly, results. Permission-based email marketing campaigns from any industry vertical — including B-to-B, B-to-C, nonprofit, education, etc.— are eligible for entry into the award competition as long as results described have been achieved within the last 12 months.

Nominations close on Monday, December 10, 2007. For more details about submission guidelines and entry forms, click here.

The members of the eec will select the winner from among the Email Performance Award finalists, which will be determined by the eec’s leadership and announced in mid-January. The winner will receive free admission to the Email Evolution Conference at the Sheraton Hotel & Marina in San Diego, where the Email Performance Award will be officially presented on February 13, 2008.

The winner of the Email Performance Award will also be placed into the semi-finals of the Direct Marketing Association’s International ECHO Awards. Since 1929, the ECHO Awards, which are presented each October, have recognized the world’s outstanding multichannel direct marketing campaigns based on excellence in strategy, creativity, and results.

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

links for 2007-11-14

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

How Do Your Emails Render on a Mobile Phone?

Return Path has launched the first ever email rendering solution for mobile devices. Their Sender Score Campaign Preview tool will now allow marketers to see exactly what their email campaigns will look like on Windows Mobile 5 and 6 and Blackberry devices.

"As more and more consumers read their email on mobile devices, marketers need the tools to preview their messages on mobile platforms," said George Bilbrey, GM of Delivery Assurance, Return Path. "Return Path recognized this growing need and worked hard to build the first-ever technology to render emails across multiple mobile platforms. We've launched with rendering for three popular devices, and we're already hard at work on expanding our rendering capabilities for other mobile platforms."

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

10 Creative Holiday Email Card Ideas

Here are ten ideas that will help you do more than just say, "Happy Holidays" with your e-card. Instead, you'll send one that makes your subscribers smile.

  1. Show your face - Include a photo of you and your staff (or you and your family, if you're a one person shop) in your e-card. This is a great way to make it more personal. You can take a traditional photo or take a fun one of  your employees decorating for the holidays, you with a set of antlers on your head, or everyone with a glass of eggnog held up, saying "cheers." A more interesting photo will get more attention!

  2. Give a little gift - Say thank you with an exclusive coupon. Ask them to print the e-card and bring it in for 20 percent off their next purchase, or to receive a special gift. You know what kind of "gift" is valuable to your audience. Make it special and make it clear that this offer is only for those on your email list, then it truly is exclusive.

  3. Spread some cheer -Thank your list members by giving them something intended for forwarding. Include a family and friends' discount in your e-card. An enticing offer can make your e-card go a long way and get great results. Also, you can grow your list by adding a sign-up link at the bottom of the cards.

  4. Eat, drink, and be merry - Share a favorite holiday food or drink recipe. Most people have a number of parties that they attend over the holidays, with workmates, friends and family. And many times they need to bring something. Help them be the life of the party by sending them a recipe for a dish or beverage that's guaranteed to hit a homerun. Make it quick, easy, and enticing. Include a photo (if you have a good one).

  5. Ask for some love (nonprofit) - In the spirit of giving, invite list members to donate to or volunteer time to your worthy cause. Do you do something special for those you serve during the holidays? Let your list members know how they can get involved.

  6. Be wise - Instead of the standard holiday greeting, include an uplifting quote, saying, or poem that will enrich one's soul. Look for something unique and inspiring that will resonate with your readers.

  7. Have a little fun - How about using video? It's easy to upload a video of your staff on YouTube. You can then link to it from your e-card. Record your staff singing a holiday song, just saying happy holidays or, if you have some creative bones in your body, write a little two minute script and record a funny skit. Your list members will love that you tried to do something different.

  8. Share the warmth (nonprofit) - Include a short story (and photo) about a person your organization helped. What a great way to end the year and thank your donors and volunteers for their efforts, by giving them an example of how they are making a difference.

  9. Give a tip - Serve up a few helpful tips (relevant to your audience, of course!). You can send some general holiday tips like "5 ways to cope with holiday shopping" or tips that fall within your area of expertise. For example, a financial planner may send "5 Easy Ways to Save Money in 2008." Think about what would be useful to your audience. Be creative. And if that's not your forte, then brainstorm with a creative friend.

  10. Be resolved - Share a resolution for the New Year. What do you want to do better, differently or more for your customers, clients or members in 2008? What have you learned from them that you plan to act on? What promise do you wish to make to them going forward? Include a brief statement about it in your e-card.

Remember to keep your e-card short and simple. That's what makes it an e-card, and not an e-newsletter. The holiday season gives you a unique opportunity to communicate with your list members and to do it in a fun and spirited way!

Source: Constant Contact

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