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21 entries from June 2006

Tap The Potential of Transactional Emails

Transactional e-mails (purchase confirmations, shipping notifications, monthly statements, service notices, etc.) offer the perfect chance to provide service and sell products at the same time. Recipients are customers by definition and have often just made a purchase -- the best predictor of readiness to purchase again in most industries. They anticipate, open and read transactional e-mail more than any other form of e-mail, sometimes revisiting the same e-mail multiple times. When was the last time your company sent a weekly promotional e-mail with an 80 percent open rate?

Kevin H. Johnson explains in this article why you should take charge of your company’s transactional e-mails and take advantage of the compelling sales opportunity they represent.

Source: DMNews

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Tips on Tackling Email Issues

By Dianna Dilworth

E-mail is a growing space for sales and marketing but consumers and Internet service providers are getting more discriminating.

In a presentation June 21 at the DM Days New York show, Worldata corporate vice president Jay Schwedelson advised attendees on how to navigate the tough, sophisticated e-mail world. One recent Return Path study found that 20 percent of permission-based e-mails were not delivered, he said.

He suggested a few tactics to bolster e-mail campaigns.

First, ensure that content is readable over different channels. Neither Gmail -- the fastest-growing Web-hosted e-mail provider -- nor Microsoft's Outlook 3, mostly used by businesses, allow HTML messages within the body of e-mails. So he urged the use of text-based messaging with links.

Mr. Schwedelson also advised business-to-business firms not to rule out Gmail, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail accounts, as up to 13 percent of e-mail addresses at these domains are businesses.

Finally, he said the trend is for mailing on Fridays, because most e-mails are sent on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and most are opened on Fridays. The word "free" should still be used in titles of e-mail sent to existing customers. Though the word is often filtered, it still drives major results.

"Make e-mail a private event," Mr. Schwedelson said. "Consumers like to feel like they are the only one getting the deal. Exclusivity drives response."

Source: DMNews

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Spam Again On The Rise

Spam is again on the rise, led by a flood of junk images that spammers have crafted over the past few months to trick e-mail filters. Called "image-based" spam, these junk images typically do not contain any text, making it harder for filters that look for known URLs or suspicious words to block them. Instead of a typed message, users will see only an embedded .gif or .jpeg image file urging them to buy pharmaceuticals or invest in penny stocks. Antispam vendor Cloudmark Inc. says that half of the incoming spam is now image-based on the "honeypot" systems it puts out on the Internet to lure spammers.

Read the full story here.

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MarketingSherpa's Blog Awards 2006: the winners

A big thanks to everyone who voted for my blog in MarketingSherpa's Blog Awards! I didn't win, but being nominated was really an honour in itself. It shows that what I'm trying to do with this blog, is being appreciated :o)

These are the blogs and podcasts that were voted "Top 10 Best Blogs and Podcast of 2006" by MarketingSherpa's readers:

Congratulations to the winners!

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The Benefit of Managing Unsubscribes

Marketers should not just view the unsubscribe as a CAN-SPAM mandate, but rather see it as an opportunity to improve marketing campaigns and let go of those recipients that just don't want to be a client. No marketer wants to lose a potential client for any reason, but when a recipient is deleting emails without taking action, or worse yet, marking messages as spam, accept that these recipients are not the best potential clients anymore.

Processing an unsubscribe correctly and quickly builds brand reputation and improves email delivery. From a branding standpoint, if you continue to send emails to customers that no longer wish to receive them they will, at the very least, view your brand poorly. From a delivery point-of-view, processing an unsubscribe helps you ensure that you do not get blocked by various ISPs.

In this article, Spencer Kollas explains how to properly manage the unsubscribe process to improve your marketing campaigns.

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Deliverability Rates for European ISPs and ESPs Outstrips U.S. Counterparts in Q1 2006

Press release: Lyris Technologies today announced that although the combined average rate of gross and inbox email deliverability of permission-based email marketing messages for U.S. and European ISPs and ESPs stayed constant from Q4 2005 to Q1 2006 (achieving a rate of 89 percent and 86 percent respectively), gross (i.e. overall) deliverability rates for European providers outstripped their U.S. counterparts. European ISPs achieved an impressive 94 percent, while U.S. ISPs' average gross deliverability went down 6 percent from the previous quarter, to 86 percent deliverability.

U.S. ISPs and ESPs fared even worse in terms of inbox delivery -- their rate went down to 82 percent compared to European inbox delivery rates of 94 percent. The incidence of false-positive spam filtering is also higher in the U.S., with 7.7 percent of valid messages getting blocked, compared to 3.5 percent in Europe.

"Although deliverability rates can be affected by a sender's content, mailing history, list hygiene, and other factors, our customers' compliance with ISP policies and the maintenance of positive ISP relations helps to ensure maximum email delivery," states Dave Dabbah, Director of Sales & Marketing at Lyris. "No matter how professional your email marketing efforts are, some things just aren't under your control. Email deliverability at Internet Service Providers is at the top of that list."

Lyris also found the following:

  • Users with addresses with one of the top ten U.S. providers were 38 percent more likely to receive their opt-in email in their inbox than those who used one of the bottom ten providers (97.4 versus 59.4 percent).

  • Two newcomers to the list of top ten U.S. domains in Q4 ( and were outpaced in Q1 '06, which saw three new additions to the list: AOL, CNC, and Netscape, with AOL coming in at fourth. CNC improved their deliverability by 2 percent to reach seventh place on the list, while Netscape joined the list by improving their deliverability by 5 percent.

  • False-positive filtering remains high among Gmail, Hotmail, and CNC. Gmail had reduced their false-positive filtering over the course of 2005, but saw a dramatic increase in Q1 '06, filtering 44 percent of emails. Hotmail's false positive filtering also continues to increase, from 15.7 in Q4 to 23.4 in Q1 '06. CNC's rate actually decreased by 6 percent compared to Q4.

  • At 97.1 percent, inbox deliverability for the top ten European providers was comparable to that of U.S. providers.

For more informaiton, download the Lyris Q1 2006 ISP Deliverability Report Card [pdf].

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5 Quick Tips on How to Grow Your Email List

Janine Popick posted an article on her blog that contains these 5 tips to grow your email list:

1. Include a registration form on your site
2. Got an offline business? Ask for the email!
3. Do you sell online? After your customer has purchased from you, direct them to a page that hosts your sign-up form.
4. Pop-up windows
5. Leverage other websites

Read the article here.

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Testing Dynamic E-Mail Campaigns

Due to the complexity and number of message variants, testing for a dynamic campaign is more akin to testing software than reviewing and approving a traditional campaign. Although this can be challenging, by drawing on the foundations of solid objectives and business rules, dynamic campaigns of enormous complexity can be successfully tested without having to review a thousand separate e-mail messages.

Derek Harding explains how to effectively test dynamic email campaigns in this Clickz article.

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

MarketingSherpa's 3rd Annual Best Blog & Podcasts Awards: Vote Now

Thanks to all of you, it seems that this blog was nominated for the Best Email Marketing Blog Award :o)

Until this Friday midnight you can cast your vote for your favourite marketing blogs & podcasts here. This blog is the first one in the category Email Marketing.

Note: due to technical problems the deadline to vote has been extended to midnight on Monday June 26th. 

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Nielsen Norman Releases Email Newsletter Usability Study

Last week the Nielsen Norman Group released an updated version of their E-mail Newsletter Usability Study. It's a must-have for anyone that is serious about "getting it right". So I purchased it and I'm reading the 544-page pdf as fast as I can. So far it's been pretty interesting.

Here's a short summary that I took from their website:

The positive emotional aspect of newsletters is that they can create much more of a bond between user and company than a website can. The negative aspect is that usability problems have much stronger impact on the customer relationship than they normally do.

Users spend 51 seconds reading the average newsletter. The layout and writing both need superb usability to survive in the high-pressure environment of a crowded inbox.

Averaged across our study, newsletters lost 19% of potential subscribers due to usability difficulties in their subscription processes and designs. People often stay subscribed to newsletters they don't want (cursing the sender with every new issue that clutters their inbox), so the unsubscribe process is also worth improving.

Newsletters need to be smooth and easy: they must be seen to reduce the burdens of modern life. Even if free, the cost in e-mail clutter must be paid for by being helpful and relevant to users - and by communicating these benefits in a few characters in the subject line.

This report shows what happened when real people used a broad set of real newsletters: trying to get on and off the subscription lists, maintaining their subscriptions, and receiving issues in their inboxes (sometimes opening the newsletters and sometimes scanning or reading them).

> executive summary of the report
> sample chapter as thumbnail pages

The 165 design guidelines in the report are based on usability tests of 228 email newsletters. User testing was mainly conducted in the United States (in 12 states across the country) but we also studied users in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 101 newsletters were studied in the users' own environment, focusing on the user experience of receiving and reading newsletters. These newsletters were about equally divided between business newsletters and personal newsletters.

The report is richly illustrated with 353 color screenshots of newsletters and subscribe/unsubscribe screens that worked well or caused problems in user testing, including eyetracking heatmaps showing where users looked when reading newsletters. The screenshots show examples and best practices from 118 different newsletters and websites.

Price: $398 for the PDF file (544 pages)

You can purchase the report here.

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Get Started with Email Newsletters

Email newsletters are now the preferred online mode of communicating to customers and prospects alike. The key challenge for email marketers is keeping to the job at hand week after week-- driving interest. Whether it's sparking interest in a product that ultimately leads to a sale or piquing the reader's curiosity so they click, go to the website and drive up those precious page views, the email newsletter is the "interest starting point" for your customers. Driving these interest starting points edition after edition is all a matter of staying focused.

In this article you can find five ways to do just that:

Step #1: Do you need a newsletter?
Step #2: Set expectations
Step #3: Consider frequency
Step #4: Message before graphics
Step #5: Reduce unsubscribes
Bonus step!

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How To Apply The 40/40/20 Rule To Email Marketing

iMedia Connections is featuring an interesting article by Tricia Robinson on how to apply the 40/40/20 rule to email marketing.

The 40/40/20 rule says the bulk of response opportunity in any direct marketing campaign comes from the list (40 percent) and the offer (40 percent), with only 20 percent attributed to creative quality.

Read more here.

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

HTML Emails: Design, Coding & Content Tips

Most of us tend to think that if we can design a web page, then an HTML email will be a piece of cake! Well…almost. But before you decide to plunge into HTML email design head first, there are a few guidelines to follow that can ensure the best results for you and your clients.

This article explains how you should design your email, how you should code it and finally the essential content you should include.


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Case Study: National Association of Realtors

Read here how the team behind one of the largest circulation B-to-B newsletters in the world makes sure that their newsletters have consistent open, read & click through rates.

Tip: people only respond to email on an ongoing basis when it's all about themselves. When writing content for your newsletter always ask the "what's in it for me" question. Help your audience solve a paint-point or help them to be more successful in what they do.

Open access until June 18th


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An E-Zine Strategies Tip Sheet

By Matt Blumberg, Tami Monahan Forman & Stephanie A. Miller

It all sounds so complex. But do you really have to hire a think tank when mulling a newsletter program? Here are several strategic pointers to keep in mind when launching an e-zine.

  • People will gladly accept advertising in exchange for information and entertainment, so the creation of a content-filled e-mail newsletter is the best strategy to deliver your advertising messages to your audience with success.
  • You can place sales messages throughout your newsletter, provided you do so tastefully. In fact, relevant content that your audience wants to read may be more effective at driving sales and response than pure promotional copy.
  • A comprehensive program will include other non-newsletter e-mails, including event invitations, shipping and order confirmations and account information.
  • Start with a general newsleter then offer several other, more specific newsletters that target specific segments of your audience.
  • Only write about relevant, interesting subjects. Your audience will stick with you—and digest your sales messages—as long as you keep up your end of the bargain. This means that some marketing and executive “pet peeve” messages need to stay out.
  • Make sure your e-mail looks good on various e-mail programs and monitors, including laptops and handhelds.
  • Create fun or interesting e-mails that your subscribers will want to share with friends. This type of viral marketing is critical to keeping subscribers happy and building your subscriber base.

This article was excerpted from the book, “Sign Me Up! A Marketer’s Guide to Creating E-mail Newsletters That Build Relationships and Boost Sales (iUniverse Inc., 2005)


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Emails Offering Fewer Choices Perform Better

According to study from Marketing Experiments, emails offering one service compared with emails offering a choice of several services bring higher conversions. The study compared an email with one service being promoted, with one that pushed four services. The email that focused on just one free service outperformed the multiple promoter by 464 percent.

Read more here

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Calculating the Cost of Increased E-Mail Frequency

By Kirill Popov and Loren McDonald

The good news: e-mail has emerged as the marketing channel that generates the highest ROI (define) for most companies.

The bad news: as a result, "send more e-mail" is a frequent mandate from the executive suite to the marketing staff when more short-term revenue's needed.

Ah, if life were only so simple: revenue on demand from e-mail, just like turning on a garden hose. Increasing frequency does work, of course. Whether you go from 2 to 4 times per month or 6 to 12, you're likely to see a strong increase in revenue. But you're also likely to pay a high price for the increased revenue.

Continue reading "Calculating the Cost of Increased E-Mail Frequency" »

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