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47 entries from December 2007

links for 2007-12-26

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Happy holidays!

happyxmas2007cat

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanza, Feliz Navidad, Prettige feestdagen, Καλά Χριστούγεννα and Season's Greetings to all of you!

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Top 4 tips for Image Usage in HTML Email

Another great post on Mike Kleiman's blog. This time he offers some great tips with regards to image formats, size, etc. Here are some of the takeaways:

  • JPG’s are best for larger graphics that consist primarily of images, such as a masthead photograph. GIF’s are perfect for smaller items which contain less colour complexity and/or text – graphical buttons, for example.
  • Avoid saving anything in a format other than JPG or GIF. Though you might be tempted to save an image as a PNG for the sake of maintaining opacity percentages – it’s not a good idea. They work, but your file size will be huge. Instead, try to find a workaround or a different way to lay out the design.
  • the difference between saving a JPG at 80% quality in Photoshop as opposed to 40% is usually negligible. Tinker with it to see how low you can bring down the percentage before the image becomes distorted. A jump from 80 to 40 may only have minimal visual impact but can save you a lot in the file size department.
  • Take a step back and figure out what needs to be an image and what doesn’t. Often using simple HTML and inline CSS can replace the need for an image.

Read more tips here.

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Using DOCTYPE in an Email Makes a Big Difference in Some Major Email Clients

Thindata's Mike Kleiman was wondering what happens when you include or exclude a DOCTYPE from an email code so he decided to test it. He shares the results of his test on his brandnew blog.

Main finding: putting the DOCTYPE in doesn't actually do harm, if anything it helps ensure you're rendering to compliance spec in Outlook and Mac Mail... however the downside is since all web clients seem to disregard it or use their own DOCTYPE standard you have to pretty much code for both.

Coding for email is BIG fun :-)

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The Forrester Wave: Email Marketing Service Providers, Q4 2007

What differentiates the leaders in the highly competitive email marketing industry? Learn how the 8 evaluated vendors stack up across 64 criteria in this latest evaluation from Forrester Research. 

Download this report from the Responsys website. And while you're there, check out the other white papers too :-)

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links for 2007-12-20

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

Silverpop's Email Resolutions for 2008

Silverpop posted their email resolution for 2008 in their newsletter. Here's what they say:

"As we look toward 2008 and what it will bring in terms of email marketing, we pulled together four things that marketers can do to improve their campaigns and drive better results and higher returns in the New Year. 

  1. Focus on the first few inches.
    Think long and hard about the preview pane and what you’re offering to entice recipients to take a look at your entire message. Since recipients don't need to (and probably won't) open the message to see what it contains unless enticed to do so, focusing the power of your brand and call-to-action at the top of the message is critically important. Messages must fit in the two-to-four-inch box that most preview panes present. Make sure that your most important messages are right at the top.

     
  2. Let customer actions guide your campaigns.
    Incorporating Web analytics into your email marketing efforts will quickly take your campaigns to the proverbial next level. Doing so brings together a rich mix of customer preferences, enabling marketers to craft more meaningful messaging. In a crowded marketplace increasingly demanding relevance, such integration is vital to improving customer loyalty, accelerating the conversion process and driving measurable increases in marketing ROI. For example, by creating a new field in your email database such as “Page Most Often Visited” and populating it with the data that flows from your Web analytics application, you can better send relevant messages at a time when your customers are seeking out information from you.

  3. Take a new approach to list growth. Ask!
    There are a surprising number of companies that, for whatever reason, fail to prominently position opt-in requests on their Web site. With the prominence of search driving customers deeper into Web sites and bypassing the home page, companies need to request email addresses more often and in more locations.

  4. Grab ‘em in 60-seconds.
    Email recipients typically give your message a quick minute. Grab them in that amount of time or wave farewell. Take the time to develop email creative that grabs attention and stops customers in their tracks.

The coming year promises to be an interesting one for marketers. New technologies are enabling companies to reach out and engage with customers in unique and very personal ways.  If you take the time to apply a few of these recommendations to your marketing program, 2008 could be a banner year!"

Source: Silverpop

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Email Marketing Benchmark Guide Teleconference: Slides and Recording

I just attended MarketingSherpa's teleconference where they talked about the findings of their 2008 Email Marketing Benchmarketing Guide. They shared some very interesting stuff, so if you missed it, you can find the slides here and my recording of the call here (mp3/7.5MB/starts at slide 2 due to some technical difficulties).

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links for 2007-12-19

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How to Use Sweepstakes to Build an Engaged Email List

Here's some great advice from Stephanie Miller regarding the use of sweepstakes to build your list:

Despite the number of sweepstakes this season - and the predictable traffic boost they create - it's still hard to hear the cash register ring for email marketers trying to use this tactic to build an engaged file of new customers.

No wonder, since our experience suggests sweepstakes-sourced subscribers actually convert less than half as well (40-70% less based on recent client campaigns) than opt-in subscribers. Why? Because entrants are primarily interested in the prize and not necessarily in buying the products or service. That means in order to achieve a positive ROI, you need at least 2x the number of leads, or you need 2x the average order size - just to leave your email file as responsive as it was before you started.

When running a sweepstakes you pose a risk to your email file health. Having a lot of subscribers who are not interested in your company or products could lead to higher complaints, and hurt your deliverability for all subscribers. Consequently, your response rates will decrease as you flood your file with non-responsive subscribers who will, frankly, never respond. However, there are ways to use sweepstakes effectively to grow a house email file:

  • Choose Your Audience Wisely: Promote your sweepstakes to potential buyers of your product or service. Don't go broad just to bulk up, as you will flood the email file with disinterested consumers who are very likely to complain about your messages to the ISPs.
  • State Your Intentions: At the point of collection make it very clear that they are also being added to the email file. Make it clearer than you do at checkout since a sweepstake entry is not as engaged an action as a purchase.
  • Confirm Your Relationship: Follow up with a sweepstakes entry confirmation followed by a very clear welcome message. You can use the welcome message as a prime opportunity to encourage a first purchase and communicate the value of being on your email file.
  • Don't Rush Into Anything: Minimize risk to your email file by quarantining the sweepstakes data for some time (maybe as long as a quarter, depending on your business) and then add only the active subscribers to your primary email marketing database.
  • Give Them an Easy Way Out: Provide prominent unsubscribe instructions in your email. If they want to opt-out of your list, don't make them jump through hoops.

Always do an ROI analysis and see if you can make a positive business case for your sweepstakes. Factor in the risk to your sender reputation (deliverability), unsubscribe rate and overall file responsiveness.

Source: ReturnPath

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How LiveNation Fixed its Deliverability Problems

According to a new case posted on the MarketingSherpa website, LiveNation, an online tickets marketer, improved their deliverability rate 20.4% and increased email-driven conversions 143% in just two months. Read the case here.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • they applied much stricter rules for bounces
  • they eliminated spam-triggering words from their copy
  • they re-built their reputation by mailing only to the most recent/active subscribers and slowly expanding to older addresses
  • they signed up to the feedback loops or the whitelisting process of their top 10 ISPs

Read the full case here.

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links for 2007-12-18

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

Email Marketing Benchmark Guide: an Interview with Stefan Tornquist

As you might have noticed, I'm a big fan of MarketingSherpa's research. Last week they contacted me to see if I would be interested in talking to Stefan Tornquist about the results of this year's Email Marketing Benchmark Guide. Of course I said yes :)

I spoke with Stefan tonight and he had some really interesting insights to share about:

  • inbox overload
  • lack of trust due to spam
  • deliverability and the importance of reputation and content filtering
  • what do recipients consider to be spam?
  • what should marketers work on in 2008?
  • what do you do with inactive email addresses?
  • the impact of segmentation on campaign results
  • eyetracking results regarding ad placements in emails

Instead of writing a summary, I recorded (part of) the conversation. Unfortunately, the first couple of minutes of the conversation where lost due to problems with Skype so when you listen to the recording you will notice that we're jumping right into the conversation.

Click here to download or listen to the recording [mp3/5MB].

This was my first interview ever, so I was a bit nervous. Please believe me when I say that my English is much better when I'm more relaxed ;-)

MarketingSherpa is hosting a teleconference on Wednesday where they will provide more insights. You can register for the teleconference here.

If you are interested in buying the Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, follow this link.

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links for 2007-12-15

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White-lists: an explanation by Charles Stiles

by Charles Stiles (on the Goodmail blog)

You’ve worked hard to build your distribution lists, you’ve adhered to the best practices in the industry and you’ve done what was asked by mailbox providers but your mail still isn’t reaching the inbox.  This is not an uncommon problem; the typical solution is to be put on a white-list.

Blacklists or block-lists are routinely shared among mailbox providers in an effort to combat spam.  White-lists on the other hand are a guarded secret, holding the identification of those mailers that have received “special permission”.  The special permissions may permit your mail to be delivered, may reduce or eliminate spam filtration on your mail or might simply be providing you with false hope.

Why would mailbox providers provide access to something which was apparently so sacred and so carefully guarded?  Frankly, white-lists are intended to address the shortcomings of spam filtration technology.  Acting in the best interests of their customers, mailbox providers will block spam to enhance the user experience.  Unfortunately, the rules for catching spam also catch some legitimate thus a need for an exemption based system.

Just because you’re on the white-list doesn’t mean your mail is getting delivered

What type of white-lists are you on?

  • Location lists – Used to identify your mail server as a localized to a specific location. Some early spam rules treated mail from outside the continental US as highly suspect and blocked in instances delivered in volume.  White-lists were used to exempt certain foreign IP addresses.

  • General identification – Used to assert an identity and attribute a reputation to it, typically uses IP addresses but could use other authentication technologies such as Sender ID Framework, Domain Keys or cryptographic tokens.

  • URL lists – Used to identify specific URL’s in your message as legitimate and not spoof url’s or otherwise malicious.

  • Domain lists – Used to identify a mailer as a recognized legitimate mailer, widespread use early on but has declined significantly due to bogus DNS records

  • Reputation/Accreditation lists – This list uses some form of authentication (generally the IP address) to identify the mailer and either asserts a reputation for the mailer or an indicator that the mailer has passed some form of accreditation.  Mailbox providers may have an agreement in place with the list provider to provide some privilege.

Clearly, the trend is towards reputation or accreditation lists and the best solutions incorporate both. 

Incorporating an authentication mechanism that is not spoofable with such systems is the best case scenario and forces marketers to be accountable for their online actions not just their brand reputation

What this means for marketers is that the white-lists they once relied upon for getting their email delivered are going to become less effective as mailbox providers transition to reputation based systems.

Source: Goodmail

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links for 2007-12-14

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