My favorite reads of the past week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

My favorite reads of the past week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

My favorite reads of the past week (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

Things to Consider When Collecting Data via Social Signup

Dave Hendricks posted an interesting article on ClickZ titled "Owned Data, Paid Succes", in which he talks about the risks associated with using data gathering via social sign-in on your website.

From the article:

Bringing owned data into paid media channels - sometimes referred to as data-onboarding - will revolutionize marketing like nothing seen before the invention of the Internet. But if you do not have rights to use "your" data in third-party channels, you are going to miss out on a big piece of the next big thing in interactive marketing: CRM retargeting.

You might ask, "How is my file not my owned data? I can email it. I can drop cookies on it and retarget it. I can even send terrestrial mail to it. That sounds like it's mine."

The data you collect via social signup is some extent. 

Continue reading here.

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The Upside and Downside of Gmail’s Native Unsubscribe Link

Gmail is making email marketers sweat again. In the last 12 months alone, the introduction of Tabs caused all-out panic, image caching recalibrated open rate baselines, and grid view caused rendering concerns. Now Gmail is following up with a partial rollout in March of a highly visible native unsubscribe link with a wider rollout, which they announced yesterday.

Now any sender that includes the list-unsubscribe header in their emails will have Gmail’s native unsubscribe link show up next to their sender name when an email is opened, whereas previously the only senders who were able to benefit from this offering were those with stellar reputations—which were the ones who needed it the least.

In this article, Chad White looks at the pros and cons of this new functionality and how best to use it.

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My favorite reads of the past few weeks

A couple of articles I enjoyed reading recently:

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Data, Insights & Automation - the Holy Trinity of Effective Online Communications

Yesterday I did a presentation on Data, Insights & Automation - the Holy Trinity of Effective Online Communications at the Conversion Day conference in Brussels. You can view a short snapshot of the presentation below.

Next Tuesday (May 13, 2014) I'm doing a much broader presentation on the same topic at the Email Expo in Frankfurt. It promises to be a great conference with top-notch speakers, so don't miss it! 

I'm driving to Frankfurt on Tuesday morning, so if you want to join me, let me know!



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My favorite reads of the past few weeks

Here's some recommended reading for you:

I share a lot of interesting articles via Twitter and LinkedIn, so make sure to follow me there as well!

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Get ready for the European Email Insider Summit

I remember we were discussing bringing the Email Insider Summit over to Europe already 5 years ago and now it's finally happening! I'm so excited!!

As usual, the Email Insider Summit has a VIP program and they've asked me to be the EU contact person for this.

Insider Summits are complimentary to Brand Marketers who meet our requirements.

Do you qualify as a VIP for this event?

To qualify, you must:

  • Control the Email strategy and budget at your company
  • Currently work at a well-known consumer brand
  • Serve as Senior Level Management or above
  • Agree to attend all sessions and all 3 days of the Summit

Complimentary Brand Marketer pass includes:

  • Summit registration ($2995 value)
  • Accommodations at the Resort for three nights 
  • No Charge Activities
  • Meals, drinks and functions over three days

So if you (think) you qualify for the VIP program, shoot me an email.

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

Email Marketing delivers the highest ROI

In Econsultancy's latest Email Marketing Census marketers claim that Email Marketing delivers the best return on investment.

For the past 8 years Email Marketing has consistantly been cited by marketers as having delivered the highest or second highest ROI compared to other channels such as PPC, Search, Direct Marketing, Social Media, Content Marketing and Mobile Marketing. 


And when asked the same question, the agencies have reported an even better return on investment as shown below.


What continually astounds me every time I see results such as this, is just how little marketers are utilising the strengths of this channel - yet despite this, Email Marketing is still coming on top for ROI.

This begs the question; what if we were to begin to really maximise the strengths of email marketing - or even performed the most basic processes to ensure maximum results from this channel?

To me, this is what makes email marketing very exciting. As marketers we're not yet leveraging all that the email channel has to offer, yet it's delivering the highest ROI - and even that isn't acounting for all the results it delivers.  It also delivers results that aren't attributed to it.  It drives traffic to other channels including offline and in-store and is one of the main drivers of traffic to a website.

As you can see in the below chart, some of the key processes or factors of an email campaign are getting very little attention - especially when compared to a typical campaign in other channels. 29% of marketers aren't optimising their campaigns and the shocking thing to note (as seen in the report) is that his hasn't really changed from the results of the 2008 census. 


 You can access the full Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2014 Report here.

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

3 keys to improving your customers checkout experience

How often have you abandoned a checkout due to a confusing and difficult experience? Unfortunately this is more common than it should be and we lose customer's during the checkout process. In fact you're average abandon rate is around 80%!

Plan to Engage recently  hosted a webinar with conversion expert James Critchley of cloud.IQ and provided 3 keys to leverage in order to prevent abandonment of the shopping cart process. 

 The 3 Keys discussed are based on BJ Fogg's Behavioural Model which shows that 3 elements must converge at the same moment for a behaviour to occur: MotivationAbility, and Trigger.

Fogg Theory


In this webinar we detailed each of these elements and look to see how we can apply this model to our customer's checkout process  in order to refine and optimise the experience, resulting in increased conversions. 

Interested in seeing more? The please view the slides of the presentation below, alternatively you can watch the actual webinar here. 

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

A cool tool to help you design for the new Gmail Grid View

So - Gmail has in beta mode a new feature in the Gmail Promotions tab, which picks out images from your emails and presents them in a visual tile layout. This is the next step from having recently made images visible by default (and now we can begin to see why they did so).


If you haven't yet received this feature - you can apply for it here and be part of the trial.

The good news is that our friend Justin Khoo over at Freshinbox has created a cool new tool to be able to test what your emails may look like to ensure you're now leveraging this fresh and potentially valuable way of presenting your email. So - if you're wanting to tweak your emails so they benefit from this - then shoot over there now!


A comprehensive coverage of all blogs and related information about this new feature was very kindly putting together by our good friend Jordie van Rijn over at emailMonday - so check we recommend that you check this out.


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Join us for some insightful and inspirational training

We have some great offline and online courses lined up for you in the coming months - so why not check them out and see if one (or more!) is suitable for you?

The Art of Persuasion: Leveraging Psychology within your Email Programme - April 30th 2014, London

Email Marketing Masterclass - London; May 22nd 2014Brussels; 2nd June 2014

Getting Started with Email Marketing - Online course, starting 27th May 2014


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State of Email Marketing Strategy in the UK

A recent Plan to Engage & Pure360 survey (The current state of email strategy) of over 500 UK marketers revealed a lack of strategy and an over reliance on open rates as a metric in email marketing programmes:

  • 39% of marketers do not currently have an email strategy in place
  • 64% of marketers don’t currently offer any alternatives to the traditional unsubscribe process
  • 32% of marketers do not currently report on their email marketing
  • Almost half (44%) of marketers don’t segment their email list
  • 54% of marketers reporting that they do not currently use automated campaigns

I thought today I’d address three of these findings:

Strategy: objective setting seen as a luxury not a necessity
I teach hundreds of email marketers every year and in every class I am amazed at the percentage of email marketers who do not have a solid strategy in place. 

Email is a channel where setting objectives seems to be a luxury rather than a necessity. There are very few other channels where setting objectives and KPIs are not mandatory – in fact I’m struggling to think of any – other than email.

Setting objectives is where we must start – as it affects everything we subsequently do – from creating the strategy and identifying the tactics, to designing, copywriting and creating the landing pages to testing and optimising. Everything, maps back to our objectives – business objectives, email programme objectives and of course campaign objectives.

Personally I believe the lack of objective setting and strategy creation is down to the channel historically being seen as ‘cheap’. Happily this is changing year by year but we still are suffering the effects of this way of thinking. I believe a simple mindset change can be very effective in remedying this situation. 

If we were all to swap the phrase ‘cheap channel’ with ‘cost-effective channel’ then suddenly we’re taking into consideration the ROI, the traffic, the branding exposure, the customer retention and strengthening of customer relationships we gain from this channel – all for a small amount of investment. Words are very powerful and the word ‘cheap’ has a lot of negative connotations associated with it. The word ‘cheap’ indicates something we probably won’t value, invest into it or treat it well. ‘Cost-effective’ however brings it to light as being the valuable, essential channel that should be prioritised and invested into. A good start to the investment is by implementing a holistic strategy for your email marketing programme.

Reporting: an over reliance on open rates
This ties in with the lack of objective setting. Basically, if you don’t know what you want to achieve and have a strategy in place – how do you determine what to measure? Email Marketing is one of the most accountable and trackable channels – let’s take advantage of this! 

Even if reporting is undertaken, too many email marketers seem to be too much value on the open rate and use it as their main measure of success. But in reality, does the open rate map back to your objective and actually signify success? I truly doubt it.

Personally I think that the days of viewing the open rate as a valuable metric are dated. To me it has always been a messy metric, not at all reliable and generally not a good indication of success. It does not report how many people have read your email, rather it reports how many people have downloaded images on your email. So, because of this, many email marketers have been using it to gauge reader engagement, assuming that a reader is engaged with your email because they have downloaded images. To this extent, this was a fairly safe assumption – until recently.

In 2013, became and with that change, came also the automated downloading of images; recently Gmail has followed suit and is no longer blocking images but downloading them by default. Now, while this is wonderful news for our beautifully designed emails, it has made the open rate even more of a messy metric. No longer can we rely on it as being a measurement of engagement.

I would recommend that the reporting be structured to involve the metrics that truly indicate success according to your objective. That’s not to say that we ignore metrics such as opens or clicks, as there are insights that we can gain – not just on a campaign by campaign basis but on a subscriber reporting basis as well as in comparing year-on-year reports.

Unsubscribe: part of the customer journey
I believe we need to view everything to do related to our email programme as a journey, a journey that the customer takes. And yes, this journey may include them unsubscribing from our email programme. When I perform my email heath checks for my clients. I’ve discovered that many brands forget about optimising this step and just accept the basic process provided to them by their ESP. What they provide to you is just the start – not the end of optimising this process.

Not only is the unsubscribe process an opportunity to gather information about why they’re leaving (and hint – it isn’t always about your email programme! Sometimes it’s about a bad customer experience) or offer them the ability to opt down and stay subscribed.

But most importantly, if they decide that they really do want to leave, then this is your opportunity to let them leave you with a smile on their face, it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. So, our main aim here is to give them a positive experience so that if they want to subscribe at a later stage or follow us on social media, they’re more likely to want to.

Hubspot do a great job at conveying this message with their video – just watch and enjoy.


(article originally published on DMA  UK Email Marketing Councils, Infobox)

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How Animated Video Can Boost Your Marketing Message Delivery

At the Email Evolution Conference in Miami, Kath and I learned that video is a great way to engage an audience - and when featured in an email, they tend to get a lot of clicks!

I'm a big fan of animated videos, that's why I invited guest author Manroop Takhar of of Qudos Animations (turn your volume down before you click!) to write a short blog post on how to create animated videos:


How Animated Video Can Boost Your Marketing Message Delivery

by Manroop Takhar

Welcoming visitors to an inspiring animated video, away from the bustling mayhem that is the internet, can make an invaluable first impression.

Attracting visitors to your animated video is not always easy, though.

Here are my top tips for producing a video that attracts, gets shared and makes an impact.

Tip 1. Simple is attractive

With so much content crowding the web, people can become overwhelmed. 

So making your video simple yet striking can be the best way to retain attention and encourage click-through.

It is best to provide potential customers with the minimal information necessary at first. Don’t push them, but captivate them with an inspiring thought.

Don’t forget, simple can still be original and make you stand out from competitors.

 Tip 2. Educate and explain complex concepts

You can simplify complicated ideas this with the use of various elements in animated video – i.e. imagery, music, voiceover, special effects.

These also stimulate the viewer’s senses.

One minute of video is the equivalent of 1.8 million words of text, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

A personable or authoritative voiceover can help viewers relate to an educational video.

Tip 3. Trigger an emotion

Appealing to the viewer’s visceral emotions can be an effective method for keeping them engaged - whether happiness, excitement or shock.

Viewers are then more likely to hear your message, and these emotion-rendering videos are most likely to be shared with their friends.

Tip 4. Create memories and enhance brand recall

If you look back at the most memorable television adverts you’ve seen, the chances are that many of these will be animated.

The simplicity, imagination, unusual voices and often vibrant colours make these often unforgettable; and these can become synonymous with a brand.

Paired with a positive message and this can be invaluable to brand image and loyalty.

Tip 5. Create appealing characters

Give your story a hero - or several.

Some marketers will make the brand the hero of their story, but this often does not answer the questions that your customers have.

It is more effective to tell stories about the problems your customers have faced, so that they can relate to the hero.

For example, if your prospects are animal-lovers, tell a compassionate animal-rescue story.

With your customer taking the lead role in the story, you as the company or brand might take the role of the sage, providing them with answers.

Tip 6. Include gaps and cliffhangers

To engage with your audience, you need to understand the importance of the disparity that exists between what the hero of your story wants and where he/she is now.

As the hero closes in on his/her goal, viewers follow and expect to see their accomplishment, but an unexpected cliffhanger can add to the story’s lure.

Your audience also have gaps in their lives and goals to reach, which they’ve invested a lot of energy in to. A story that recognises this can have power.

Tip 7. Take time choosing your style

There are many methods and styles of animation to choose from, some with potentially different benefits.

A quirky paper cut-out animation can inspire creative minds, while the most up-to-date motion graphics with special effects can appeal to a different target audience.

Find the best style to put across your message to your audience, adapting it to your creative ideas, and this could give a considerable boost to your brand image.

I wish you all the best in creating your animated masterpiece!

This blog post was written by Manroop Takhar, who is the founder of Qudos Animations, an animation studio that creates engaging advertisements and high impact explainer animations for businesses.

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

Join us for an email marketing training course

Kath and Tamara are planning a couple of live events as well as an online email marketing course in the next couple of weeks. So if you want to learn about email marketing, now is your chance!

5 keys to increase your email marketing conversions
London, 19th February 

Advanced Email Marketing Masterclass
Antwerp, 24 February 2014

Getting Started with Email Marketing
Online course

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

6 Tips for a Valentine’s Day Email Campaign

Valentine's Day Email Campaign

by Liga Bizune, Mailigen

The day of love rapidly approaches, and for marketers it’s time to think about a perfect Valentine’s Day email campaign.

Follow our tips to develop a smart strategy, build an eye-catching design, create relevant content and make subscribers fall in love with you and your brand.

#1 Kick off at the beginnging of February 

Love is in the air long before Valentine’s Day, so start early with your marketing communication. February 14th or some days before would be okay if you are sending an e-card or promoting ready-to-use products or last minute offers. But if your campaign needs more engagement, kick off before or at the beginning of February:

  • Tease about your upcoming offer in a February or even a January newsletter
  • Send your special offer campaign at the beginning of February. Resend it with a different subject line to those who haven’t opened it, and with a slightly changed call to action to those who haven’t clicked on it
  • Remind about your offer with a last call campaign some days before February 14th. This is the right time to surprise with outstanding email design and wish a happy Valentine’s Day
  • A few days after the celebration, thank those who benefited from your offer and ask for feedback via an online survey.

#2 Let them fall in love with your offer

Offering the right thing is crucial for your email marketing ROI. Think about the most suitable products and services a person would like to receive on that special once-in-a-year day.

If you are in a fashion, food, beauty, travel or a similar industry, you are lucky! For you, Valentine’s Day may be as profitable as Christmas. Use email marketing wisely to get the most out of it.

  • When preparing a Valentine’s Day email campaign, roll out special offers for couples, romantic style gifts and bonuses
  • Include an entertaining video or gif animation in your email campaign to attract and engage more in your offer
  • Add tips and tricks to your email campaign offering where to go, what to do and how to make this day awesome
  • If your business doesn’t offer things that are marketable on Valentine’s Day, send a beautiful e-card. Thus you will remind the customer about your company, show you care and increase loyalty to your brand

#3 Treat your lovers differently

I’m sure your subscribers’ inboxes will be stuffed with Valentine’s Day emails. But to make them pay attention and read your email, send what your subscribers really want. 

Split your target audience into segments by:

  • Gender – different offers to your male and female audience are vital when we talk about Valentine’s Day. Just change the roles this time: ladies would like to receive gift offers for their boyfriends, while guys – how to surprise their ladies
  • Age – young adults would be more interested in news about places and events where they could meet their Valentines, while more mature customers would look for exclusive gifts or travel deals to surprise their loved ones
  • Interests – use all the information you have gathered from online surveys, sign up forms, profile update forms or other resources to produce campaigns that suit your customers’ interests and get better engagement from your email campaigns
  • Activity – send a series of emails to your most active subscribers and a compelling reengagement email campaign to your inactive subscribers.

You can also segment by activity within one campaign. Resend your email with a changed subject or call to action to those who haven’t opened or clicked your Valentine’s Day campaign. Or, if you have several offers within one campaign, check out who has clicked on what but hasn’t proceeded and then send an exclusive offer for the product to each customer who was especially interested. 

#4 Flirt with hot email design

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to fully express your creativity in email designs. Instead of your usual email template design, prepare or order a custom email template design including today’s web design trends.

  • Go beyond traditional cupids and candies, and choose stylized images
  • Apart from the traditional red and pink, shine with pale pink, silvery white and other colors from this season’s top hues
  • Use responsive email designs to make your email campaign easily readable and clickable to mobile users
  • Try today’s flat metro style design in your email campaign
  • Include video or GIF animations in your email campaign to make it more attractive and engaging

#5 Surprise with compelling email content

Content is king, especially in email marketing. It has to persuade the recipient, firstly, to open the email and, secondly, to take an action.

  • Alongside hearts and arrows, include interesting symbols in your subject lines to make your Valentine’s Day email stand out in crowded inboxes
  • Ensure your call to action displays immediately without the necessity to unblock images by using email design with CSS3
  • Keep your email campaign short and straight to the point, highlighting images and other visual elements

#6 Be their Valentine…

Not everyone is in love on Valentine’s Day. So, for the single customers, all the talk of love and other romantic issues may be quite annoying. When creating a Valentine’s Day email campaign, think about offers, activities and gifts that all subscribers can enjoy regardless of their relationship status. Be their Valentine and express your love and care via personal email campaigns.


If you start planning early, prepare the right offer to the right recipient and pack all this in a beautiful design, a Valentine’s Day email campaign may bring you both great business results and customer loyalty. Make use of our tips to share your love and to receive it back. Wishing you a happy and fulfilling Valentine’s Day!



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