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13 entries from May 2006

Four Deadly Sins Of E-mail Design

by Melinda Krueger

Is your e-mail design guilty of these 4 sins?

1. Envy. E-mail designers--as well as those who approve and review e-mail--all seem to envy those who do print ads. We act as though readers will look at an e-mail in its entirety, as if it were a page in a magazine. When reviewing them, we print e-mails out, open them to fill our computer screen or pin them up in conference rooms and stand three feet back. As a result, we make decisions based on the overall composition. We KNOW that readers view them in small slices in preview panes, frequently with images blocked, but we somehow refuse to take this into consideration. This is a sin that leads to...

Continue reading "Four Deadly Sins Of E-mail Design" »

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10 Reasons your Agency Should Not Program Your HTML Email Templates

by Lesley Cortright, Account Executive, Premiere Marketing Automation

Unless your three-year old nephew is Picasso, you would probably leave the creation of marketing collateral to a design expert. If that is your line of thinking, then you'd probably also agree that it doesn't make sense to have your marketing, branding or interactive agency program your HTML email templates if they're not experts in the field of email marketing.

In today's world of email, leaving template programming to the email marketing experts is the best way to ensure delivery and action on the part of the recipient. Here is why:

1. Keep cascading style sheets (CSS) out of the header
CSS programming is not recommended for email communications, unless it is done correctly. Agencies are generally trained to program Web sites, not HTML email. Therefore, they tend to follow the same rules for creating HTML email templates as they would a Web site - using header CSS. While using header CSS works fine for Web sites, using the wrong context of CSS in email can be very damaging; when an email message is displayed within a Web-based email client, the header information is typically stripped out, rendering the CSS tags within the message body useless.

Email marketing experts know you should use inline CSS, which allows for the definition of the style sheet within the body of the message. If the header information is stripped out, the definitions remain and your creative renders properly.

Continue reading "10 Reasons your Agency Should Not Program Your HTML Email Templates" »

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Extreme Email Makeovers (webinar)

I can definitely recommend watching this webinar hosted by Responsys.


  • learn how to increase email opens, clicks and conversions by 50% or more.
  • see before/after case studies
  • get tips and tricks from the pros
  • discover best practices for transforming your email programs – from strategy to copy and creative.

And you'll get a bonus white paper that outlines some quick wins.

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

Setting Up Email Authentication Records Correctly

by Tom Bartel, chief privacy officer at Return Path

How can you be sure you are setting up e-mail authentication records correctly?

E-mail authentication stymies forgery of e-mail messages and allows senders to build a positive reputation with receivers based on mailing behavior.

Before setting up authentication records, you must first decide what protocol makes sense for you: SPF, SenderID or DomainKeys. You can find detailed information about each protocol—and the steps to set the records up—by using these free resources:

Once you have decided on a course of action and set your records up, it is imperative to test your authentication records to ensure they are working properly.

SPF, SenderID and DomainKeys all provide options to publish your records in “test mode,” which allows you to test without risking delivery failures for mistakes in your record. Testing will ensure that the mail servers you’ve authorized are being verified by receivers and will determine if you’ve missed identifying any mail servers in your inventory.

Some testing options:

One more piece of advice: Once the records are published and tested, appoint a staff person to make sure they remain current. You must stay vigilant about managing your records if you want them to work for you.

Source: BtoB Email Marketer Insight

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Treat Your Subscribers In A Way That Builds Their Trust In You

Without trust it's impossible to build a relationship. When someone gives you their email address, they are trusting you - but only a little. They are providing you with a small window, a brief opportunity, for you to prove that you are worthy of that trust and possibly even more.

How to build trust?

  • Respect: the number one ingredient in building trust is respect. In the case of email marketing, you can show respect by not bombarding your receivers with messages and by making sure that what you are sending them is well thought out and relevant.
  • Connect: you don't want to over communicate, but it is equally important that you consistently connect with your list in order to get the best results.
  • Listen: ask those on your list what kinds of messages they want to receive from you and survey them to learn more about who they are and what they are looking for from you. The more you can give them what they want, the more effective your email marketing will be.

How to erode trust?

  • Irrelevant messages: every time you send a message that is irrelevant to the sender, you are wasting their time and damaging their confidence in your product, service, or organization.
  • Broken links: when a receiver clicks on a link that is broken, it tells them something about you and your business. Whether it's true or not, you can be perceived as careless. Make sure to check all of your links before sending a campaign.
  • Bad writing: it's very important to proofread and spell check your campaigns before sending. Even better, have someone else (preferably someone with writing skills) read them before they go out. Typos and poor grammar do not build confidence in the professionalism of your business or organization.
  • Too much information: your readers will stop being interested in what you have to say if you overwhelm them with too much information. Always remember the "less is more" rule.

Source: Constant Contact

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How To Deal With Email Replies

After sending out an email campaign you will receive lots of “reply-to” emails (such as unsubscribe or challenge-response requests, bounces and blocks). These are most generated automatically and go back to your sending address and not your bounce-handling address.

Based on analysis of recent distributions of EmailLabs’ newsletter "Intevation Report", these “reply-to” emails account for less than 2% of the total mailing list, but they can affect list integrity if you don't act on them promptly.

There are six types of email replies:

1. Out-of-office replies
2. Auto-acknowledgements
3. Inactive addresses
4. Challenge-response requests
5. Blocks and bounce reports
6. Feedback, rendering problems and unsubscribe requests

In this article you can read how you should act on them.

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

How Two FTC Actions Affect Email Marketing

The FTC recently took action against two companies because of bad email practices. Here's what you can learn from their mistakes:

1. Marketers should ensure that their subject lines accurately inform recipients of the content of the e-mail.

2. CAN-SPAM requires that marketers clearly and conspicuously identify a commercial e-mail as an ad if the marketer lacks the affirmative consent of the recipient.

3. Provide clear and conspicuous notice of the opportunity to decline to receive further e-mail messages from your company.

4. Honor opt-out requests with CAN-SPAM's 10 business-day window.

5. The FTC’s assertion that the placement of the friend’s e-mail address in the "from" line constituted the initiation of a commercial e-mail with deceptive header information suggests that the FTC does not believe the referring friend is an "initiator," as defined under CAN-SPAM. Marketers that send "refer-a-friend" e-mails from their own mail solution and under the referring friend’s e-mail address need to reconsider this practice.

Read the full article here.

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

Subject Line Research: Response Goes Down As the Characters Go Up

By Ed Taussig, Director of Software Development & Eunhee Lee, Senior Database Developer, ReturnPath

The issue of subject line length is something that gets debated endlessly around the marketing water cooler. Most people know that anything longer than 55 characters (and, just a reminder, the spaces do count!) will get cut off. And many have heard the maxim that 35 is really a better number to aim for. But, does anyone know how the length of the subject line actually affects response?

Well, yes, in fact. We did an analysis on all acquisition campaigns sent through our Postmaster Direct Network over the last two years. We found that response rate (as measured by clicks) goes down dramatically when the subject line is longer than 50 characters. How dramatic is this difference? Click-through rates for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more.

Yowza. That's real money that marketers are leaving on the table when they get too verbose.

What about open rates? While the difference wasn't as dramatic, we found that subject lines with 49 or fewer characters had open rates 12.5 percent higher than for those with 50 or more. Would you be pleased if your next campaign improved its open rate by 12.5%? Yeah, we thought so.

Of course, it's important to remember that there is more to the subject line than character count. There are plenty of 30-character subject lines that bomb. And, admittedly, some longer subject lines that perform above expectations. Testing your subject lines on your list is the only way to know what will work and what won't. But, this research clearly shows that, in fact, brevity is the better part of valor.

Source: ReturnPath

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

Microsoft Turns Abandoned Hotmail Accounts Into Spam Traps

For those of you who don't know what a spam trap is, here are the basics:

A spam trap (or a honey pot address) is an email address that is created for the sole purpose of catching senders of unsolicited email. Any email sent to these addresses is by definition spam. And if you're caught doing so you will immediately be put on the ISP's blacklist.

How do spam traps work? ISPs typically post honey pot email addresses on different websites waiting for them to be "scraped" or "harvested" by spammers or not-so-honest list brokers.

How to avoid emailing honey pot addresses? You should be very careful mailing to lists of which you are not sure how permission was obtained (eg. rented or bought lists, lists from marketing partners...). Make sure you always know if and how they obtained permission for these addresses before using these lists.

It gets more complicated now that Microsoft has decided  to turn abandoned Hotmail accounts into spam traps. Microsoft doesn't say how long the account must be abandoned before they turn it into a spam trap, but they are a bit more forgiving when companies send email to abandoned accounts than they are for companies emailing a honey pot address.

The best way to avoid emailing abandoned Hotmail accounts is list hygiene. Make sure to remove bounced addresses from your mailinglists, be careful with sending email campaigns to a list that you haven't used for more than six months and be extra careful when using 3rd party email lists.

What to do if spam traps appear on your list? Joshua Baer, chief executive of email service provider Skylist, recommends this: try to isolate the problem by halving the list and testing mailings to it until the source of the bad data becomes apparent. How? By dividing the list by source (the website they signed up at, the partner that supplied the email address, the date the addresses were acquired, who signed up before the problem appeared and who signed up afterwards...). Once you've found the culprit, take the necessary action to avoid this from happening again.

Tip: Microsoft offer emailer campaign data (including how many spam traps they're hitting) at


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Email Marketing Best Practices (teleconference)

This teleconference will be a replay of a similar  teleconference from last year. It will cover strategies for creating relevant email marketing programs with specific drilldown into today's hot issues: email deliverability, dynamic content, and email vendor management.


  • How tired of email are consumers, really?
  • How can you create relevant email marketing programs?
  • What vendors/technologies can help you enable your desired email marketing strategy?

Vendors mentioned: Cheetahmail, Digital Impact, DoubleClick, Epsilon Interactive, Premiere Global Services, Responsys, Right Now Technologies, and Yesmail.

Date & Time: May 12, 2006, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EST (7pm CET)

Cost: $240

Register here

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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 10 tips as a guideline:

1. 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.

2. Create a single path to your offer. You want to prevent visitors from wandering away from the path you want them to take. Therefore, eliminate unneeded elements, 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Lead the eye. Make good use of copy, graphics and white space to lead the reader along the path to your offer. Place images next to the most important text, as readers are more likely to read this text. Use varying font sizes to convey importance. Readers will read larger text first. Use a font color to highlight specific text, but keep the number of colors used to two or three at most (including black). Anything more will be confusing for readers. Resist the temptation to use sidebars that aren't relevant or other distracting elements.

7. If your desired action is to have the visitor fill out a form, keep it 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.

8. 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.

9. 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. These programs alternate the version of your landing page that visitors see, and track the results of each.

10. 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.

Source: SubscriberMail

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