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30 entries from September 2008

Moving to Lifecycle Based Email Marketing - Take this Survey

Stephanie Miller asked me to post this on my blog:

Our friends over at the Email Marketing Council of the Online Marketing Summit, led by active industry advocate Stephanie Miller of Return Path, are hosting a survey that should reveal some interesting data for us all. 

Check out this 10-minute survey about moving from
batch and blast to a lifecycle based email marketing approach.
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=etxIrcvrdQ2CQ5bkdaVMFw_3d_3d

Take the survey now - as it closes next week. I’ll be sure to highlight some of the results as they are published. Questions? Ping Stephanie (stephanie.miller (at) returnpath.net).

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

links for 2008-09-25

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

The Pendulum is Swinging Back....

Not too long ago, Matt Blumberg of Return Path wrote "It's interesting to note that after months (years?) of "email is dead" stories specifically around blogging, RSS feeds, and social media in general, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to email". You can read his full blog post here.

I manage a couple of blogs and it's interesting to note that the percentage of subscribers to these blogs via email is greater than via RSS....I guess this is part of the pendulum swinging back.

Of course, this hasn't always been the way...receiving blog posts via email is relatively new...but it seems to be catching on rapidly. I personally am a huge fan of email, and will choose subscribing to a blog via email over RSS any day....so much so, that if a blog doesn't offer subscriptions via email I most likely won't subscribe to it.

Subscriptions via email is very easy to implement and there are various ways of doing it - from using an Email Service Provider to using something like Feedburner, which has a very easy to use 2 click step when using a blog provider such as Typepad or Blogger or the like.

Anyhow - if you're a blog owner and you don't currently offer subscriptions via email, I would encourage you to consider adding it to your blog - who knows how many subscribers you are potentially missing by not having this available?

And if you're not, I'd love to hear back from you as to which method you use to subscribe to blogs - and why.

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

links for 2008-09-24

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

links for 2008-09-23

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

3 DMA UK events not to be missed

Implications of the Latest Internet and Email Security Measures for Digital Marketing
9am-1pm, 29 October 2008, London

Keynote speaker: Craig Spiezle, Director of Online Security and Safety, Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Learn: what brands can do to win the hearts and minds of the consumers; which delivery tools and tactics are essential for deliverability; and how authentication assists delivery and the steps to achieve it. Ideal for everyone involved in email marketing, internet and email security, email deliverability and web advertising.

http://www.dma.org.uk/content/Evt-Article.asp?id=4374

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A Practical Guide to Email Marketing
9am-4.30pm, 4 November 2008, London

Keynote speakers: Jeanniey Mullen, CMO, Zinio and Founder, Email Experience Council and Dylan Boyd, VP of Sales and Strategy, eROI; plus three further international speakers: Tamara Gielen, OgilvyOne and Founder, Email Marketer’s Club; Stephanie Miller, Return Path; and Will Schnabel, Silverpop.

Learn: where you should be investing; how to integrate email with other channels; and what the key drivers are for higher ROI and revenue contribution.

Breakout sessions on the not-for-profit, B2B and B2C sectors give you the opportunity to focus on, and discuss, issues unique to your business. Ideal for those working with email marketing, including developing and implementing campaigns, growing the customer base and responsible for budget decisions.

http://www.dma.org.uk/content/Evt-Article.asp?id=4361

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Ready, Steady, Email!
8.30am – 1pm, 4 December 2008, London

Jointly run by the DMA and IAB.

At this half day interactive workshop delegates will consider and develop a brief, with the aid of facilitators from leading companies within the industry. Prizes will be given to those who develop the best work. 

Learn about: strategy, creativity, implementation, results, reporting. Ideal for all new staff, marketing managers and account executives planning to introduce email marketing to their marketing mix, or looking to develop a more coherent approach to their email marketing.

http://www.dma.org.uk/content/Evt-Article.asp?id=4362

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

U.S. E-mail Marketing Volume Will Reach 838 Billion Messages in 2013, Forrester Says

E-mail's low cost and high ROI will drive e-mail marketing volumes upward. In fact, in the U.S. alone, volumes will reach 838 billion messages in 2013, according to a Forrester Research report published this summer titled "US Email Marketing Volume Forecast, 2008 To 2013."

In the report, Julie Katz points out the growth in e-mail messages will occur because of several factors, including:

  • Small and medium-sized businesses are ramping up e-mail marketing. Small companies have been slower to adopt e-mail marketing, but they're now beginning to embrace it with gusto, according to the report.
  • E-mail marketers are adopting more aggressive tactics. A battle for online dollars, especially in the retail sector, will spur e-mail marketers to increase the frequency with which they contact their subscribers, according to the report. Some high-end retailers have gone from sending two to three messages a week to e-mailing their subscriber bases daily.
  • E-mail is getting cheaper. Although e-mail has been a historically inexpensive channel, it continues to get cheaper as marketers push e-mail service providers for volume discounts, the report points out. As a result, e-mail is an attractive option in rough economic times. During a slowing economy, marketers can succeed by focusing on retention rather than awareness — a perfect application for e-mail.
  • Electronic messages are greener than paper mail. The report says pressure from consumers will drive direct marketers to substitute e-mail for regular mail because catalog and direct mail printing and delivery are so energy-intensive.

Consumer behavior will prompt shifts to new e-mail formats, the report adds. Promotional e-mail, for example, is building to a saturation point, the report notes. What's more, 77 percent of online consumers said they were annoyed with e-mail volume and have begun to lessen their use of e-mail in favor of other communication channels, such as social networks and text messages.

As a result, marketers will embrace other types of e-mail communication — such as triggered and transactional e-mails, which are more likely to be opened and read than other message types, according to the report.

Source: eM+C

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

IAB Issues Best Practices for E-mail Data Management

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has issued Email Data Management Best Practices, a position statement recommending privacy and data security guidelines for publishers, marketers and service providers.

Key best practices include:

  • Senders should only send commercial email to individuals who have provided informed consent

  • For all third-party licensed data, a global unsubscribe mechanism should be implemented

  • Consumer permission to receive commercial email from a List Owner cannot be replicated or transferred without reference to the original point of collection

  • Clear, conspicuous and repeated notice of data collection and use are required

  • Advertisers and marketers should authenticate their email by publicly registering the domains from which they send email

  • Anyone using email for marketing purposes should adopt and use authentication protocols for both their email and corporate domains

  • All parties should use a one-way encrypted hash to encrypt suppression files

The complete document is available at www.iab.net/emaildata.

Source: btobonline

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

links for 2008-09-19

  • November 6, 2008: this is a one day conference organized by Return Path and focuses solely on REPUTATION being the key to the inbox. The agenda looks very interesting!
    (tags: events)
  • It’s okay to start small with personalization, and you should. First decide what impact you want programs to have, then build back from there. Ultimately, you want each customer to feel like you really know and care about her as an individual, and this can be accomplished—more easily than you may think—by personalizing e-mail content based on what’s of interest and greatest relevance to her.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Building Effective Landing Pages

Whether you're sending a promotional email or an email newsletter, your message has specific sales or marketing goals. Most commonly the main goal of your message is to get readers to register for an event or make a purchase, or to build a relationship with readers, which hopefully leads to them making a purchase. Since readers can't take the desired action within their email, you send them to a page where they can take that action, your landing page.

Too often marketers send readers to a generic, existing page on their website instead of designing a page that is specific to the audience and the goal of their email message. Worse yet, links go to a page that doesn't house the information readers are looking for, forcing them to click further to find what they're looking for and ultimately complete a transaction. Conversion rates suffer as a result. However, a properly designed landing page can greatly increase your conversion rates.

To maximize the performance of your email messages, consider creating effective landing pages following these tips as a guideline:

Define your conversion. Before you start to design your landing page, define that page’s conversion activity. For a newsletter landing page, the conversion activity is entering an email address into a form and clicking “Accept.”

Do a little research. A little research goes a long way. Figure out what your visitor is looking for and what offers work. Build a profile of your ideal visitor. Keep this person in mind when creating your landing page. Do not construct the page for anyone else—generic and broad pages are proven to fail—and keep everything “on target.” Your email message already funnels traffic to your landing page, so visitors are expecting a very targeted message. Tailor the pages to them.

Align your landing page with the main goal of your email message. A common mistake is to design a landing page that is not specific to the goal in order to appeal to a generic visitor or prospect. Just the opposite, your landing page should be highly focused. Think about your prospect and what you want him or her to do. Then design your landing page around that one goal.

Eliminate unneeded elements. Distractions kill conversions. Strip any unneeded elements from the page, such as links to other resources, or other pages on your website. The consistent navigation bar that makes sense on a website doesn't necessarily make sense on a landing page. You don't want visitors to surf your site. You want them to complete the one action on which your landing page is focused.  So if you can, remove the navigation bar. Of course, don’t remove it if it is essential to the conversion process.  Remember your message, and if a link has nothing to with it—chuck it! 

Match the message and elements of your landing page with your e-mail message. For best results, repeat the headline from your e-mail at the top of your landing page. This gives visitors a feeling of familiarity and comfort. It tells them that they have arrived at the right place.

Keep it short and sweet. If at all possible, keep all content above the fold. If visitors have to scroll to find what they're looking for, chances are they won't find it. And if they don't find it, they won't convert.

Design for scan-ability. Just as prospects won't read every word of your email, they won't read every word of your landing page either. They will quickly scan the page, looking for further information that compels them to take an action. Make sure your headlines, sub-headings and graphics enable visitors to skim your landing page's content to quickly learn what you're offering and how it will benefit them, and most important, make sure it clearly points out how they can easily take the desired action. If your goal is sales, point readers to a page where they can place their order right there.

Provide conversion exits. Make it easy for your visitor to convert. Place conversion exits above the fold and at every scroll-and-a-half of screen space.

Important elements above the "fold"
Pay attention to the virtual fold (the bottom of the screen before scrolling). Place enough content above the fold to allow your visitor to make a decision about continuing on the site. If a visitor has to click or scroll to figure out what your site is about, the only thing they’ll click is the back button.

Lead the eye. Use typography and color to your advantage. Lead the eye along the page towards the conversion exit. Thoughtful use of whitespace, large copy and graphics can make a long page seem much shorter than it really is. Be careful though—a great image will demand a lot of eye time and if misplaced can ruin the flow of your message.
Place the important stuff (whether it’s your copy or your image) close to the middle, and never distract your user from that focal point. Avoid putting interesting material in sidebars. This pulls the eye away from the main body. If it’s interesting and valuable, keep it close to the center and use it to direct the eye.

Optimize your forms. Make the input cursor hop to the next field after a user finishes the current field. Allow the user to tab around fields. Auto-populate any fields you can.

Keep your form brief, and thoroughly pre-test it. Remember, this form may be just the first step of your sales process. You don't want to scare off prospects by asking for too much information. So remove all unneeded fields. Don't ask for city/state/province if you ask for a Zip or postal code. Focus on the essentials. If you’re asking users to register for a newsletter, ask for only an email address. You don’t need their name now. Get rid of the reset button. It’s dangerous for both the user and you.

If you are collecting personal information, provide a link to your privacy policy. Most online users are reluctant (for good reason) to disclose personal information without knowing how that information will be used. Be sure your privacy policy states that you do not rent, sell or share information with any other parties.

Test, test, test. Just like you should test your email creative, we recommend that you test different elements and copy on your landing pages to learn what works best. You may want to consider web analytics software that allows you run A/B tests or use multivariate testing to test multiple items and combinations at the same time.

Go over a checklist with your design team:

  • Is the whole page focused?
  • Does the message match the advertisement?
  • Have you reduced all distractions?
  • Is critical information above the fold?
  • Are there enough conversion exits?
  • Does the page enhance your brand?

Track results. If you don't know how your landing page performed, you can't tell what worked and what didn't work and you can't make necessary improvements to increase performance.

Landing pages are important to maximize the performance of your email marketing campaigns. Your email message and landing page should work together closely for best results.

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

links for 2008-09-18

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

If you send it - they may reply

Today I recieved an email from - no, I won't name and shame - but basically the from address was:  'noreply@nameofcompany.com'.

It recalled to mind Seth's blog post: "If you don't want to get email...Don't send email"

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/07/if-you-dont-wan.html

I love Seth Godin's blog - who doesn't? He has the ability to remind us not to accept the things we sometimes blindly accept.

How long have we all been sitting back and accepting 'donotreply' emails from our service providers, retail vendors, utility providers etc etc?

Worst still - how many of us implement this tactic within our own email campaigns?

The reasons why not to do things are numerous, but 2 significant and obvious reasons are:

1: Using an invalid and not functioning email address may stop your emails from being delivered
2: You cheese off your customer - especially as most of the email I recieve like this are customer service based emails.

One of the wonderous benefits of email marketing is that it is a two-way channel. The more interactivity and the more replies -the (generally) more successful a campaign is considered to be.

So, why limit your success?

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

links for 2008-09-16

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

links for 2008-09-15

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

9 Tips for Your Transactional Emails

Transactional e-mails have the highest open rates of any form of e-mail communication. These e-mails let you build lasting relationships with your customers to help improve your bottom line.

To make the most of them, concentrate on their contents and method of delivery by following these important rules:

  1. Use HTML
  2. Personalize
  3. Send them right away
  4. Protect the transactional primary purpose
  5. Link to the correct page of a Web site
  6. Always suggest additional purchases
  7. Periodically send transactional e-mails to yourself
  8. Let them know what is coming
  9. Provide a name, e-mail address and phone number

Read the full article here.

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

Improve Your Results Through Testing

In this article, Aaron Smith explains how to improve the results of your email marketing campaigns through testing.

"Meaningful testing is easier to conduct than you might think, and needn’t be disruptive to your regular production process. Effective testing doesn’t have to involve complex multivariate data analysis, or the creation of multiple versions of disparate designs. In fact, most times, simpler A/B tests will yield more effective results, and just as importantly won’t drive your production team up the walls" he says. 

There are several keys to successful testing:

1. Make tests controlled and easy to understand. Simple A/B tests, comparing just one changed element against another, are the easiest to understand and act upon. If you test five different items within the same email, you may need to hire a rocket scientist to figure out the results — and good luck trying to explain the results to your boss and co-workers.

2. Test frequently and make it a consistent part of the process. Optimally, you should include a simple test in every mail, but at the very least, create a regular schedule for testing (for example, every two weeks or once a month) — and stick to it!

3. Most importantly, use the results to inform the process. Great tests won’t do you any good if you don’t act on the results. After sifting through the results, sit down with your team to review the test, and determine how the information will be used going forward.

4. Archive the results. Post the results of your tests in a document, wiki or spreadsheet that everyone on the team has access to. Not only will it help you remember the results of important tests six months after the fact, but it will also be an invaluable training aid when bringing new members onboard.

5. Don’t get complacent. We live and work in an ever-changing media world, where today’s best practices become tomorrow’s pitfalls overnight. Don’t be hesitant to run the same tests every few months. Effective subject lines, for example, are a constantly moving target, and what works well today may not be very effective in three months.

With the above key elements in mind, here are a few simple ideas for tests you can run within your own email program:

  • Graphical versus HTML text: A frequent topic of debate — best practices say HTML text will generally outperform graphical text. But unless you do a test, you may have a hard time convincing your design team of the efficacy of HTML text.
  • Text links versus button calls-to-action: We all know buttons perform best for calls-to-action, but some designers may be hesitant to place a button in the middle of their lovely design without some good numbers to help back up the decision.
  • Subject lines: This is one of the most important tools to encourage email opens, so testing of subject lines should be an ongoing and regular part of your email program. Need I say more?
  • Best time of day/best day of week to send: The best time of day and best time of week to send messages varies by industry and even by company. There is no magic bullet — or more to the point, the magic bullet is for you to find out, by conducting a series of tests.

These are just a few ideas — the possibilities are truly limitless.

Source: Email Insider

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

Make Your Call-to-Action Stand Out: 4 Tips

In this article on the Email Experience Council's blog, Lisa Harmon explains how to make your call-to-action stand out:

1. Stay focused.
Design the entire message to direct recipients towards the CTA. Don’t distract them with too many equally-weighted links and offers. Select imagery that draws the eye toward the point of conversion. Make the path appealing and clear, and make sure that it extends beyond the email itself to the landing experience.

2. Keep it direct and clear.
It’s fun to write clever copy, but make sure that even the quirkiest wording is to the point. 

3. Make sure it’s above the fold.
Keep the CTA above “the fold,” or in the part of the message that’s visible without any scrolling. While the fold location can be hard to predict with all the varying preview panes and computer monitors out there, put your CTA up top where it gets the attention it deserves.

4. Make the CTA stand out visually!
Keeping it above the fold is a good start, but go further. Make your CTAs stand out visually. Try using HTML buttons as opposed to text links. You’ll grab more eyes that way and generate a higher CTR. For more on buttons, check out Lisa's article on “The Bulletproof Button”.

Read the full article (including examples) here.

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

Fingerprint : Email Client Market Share Report

Fingerprint, the analysis tool which enables you to see which email clients your subscribers use to read your emails with, has just released their first report. The report was compiled this month using data from almost 3,000,000 email recipients.

The report looks at both business recipients and consumer recipients - with, I must add, some surprising results.

You can read the full report here

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