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September 2006

14 entries from August 2006

Goodmail Makes Its Case

You might remember the commotion surrounding Goodmail's announcement that its CertifiedE-mail" program had been embraced by AOL and Yahoo. The case put forth by Goodmail at the time was that the increased trust generated by an e-mail that had been certified as legitimate, the guarantee of delivery, and the promise that HTML would render properly without fail, would result in higher click-throughs, increased profits, and improved ROI that would more than make up for the additional cost of delivery.

Today, Goodmail claims it has solid proof in the form of a number of case studies the company shared with Bill McCloskey. Read more here.

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Effective, Creative & Compliant Email Marketing (1-day conference)

On October 3rd, the DMA is organizing a 1-day conference on "Effective, Creative & Compliant Email Marketing" in London (UK). At this event you will:

  • Take away key deliverability tactics, in-depth knowledge of how to maximize response through enhanced use of data, creativity and integration strategies
  • Learn from experience, with presentations from Visit Britain,, AOL, Honda & Carphone Warehouse
  • Gain essential knowledge of legal requirements for all email marketers covered in an easily accessible format

Find out more here.

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How To Increase Conversion Rates With Real And Implied Urgency

In the world of offline direct mail it has long been understood that creating urgency increases conversion rates. Typically a special offer of some kind will expire on a particular date.

  • Is the same true of the web?
  • Do expiry dates or warnings about limited supplies actually work?
  • And if so, is there a best way to express urgency, and are there pitfalls to avoid?

To answer these questions Marketing Experiments recently ran some research tests, and conducted an interview with a senior executive from a low-cost computer parts etailer.

The data they collected provides some important insights into how online marketers should best use urgency as a means to increase conversions.

Listen to a recording here [Windows media, 8.85 MB) or here (Real Player, 9.05 MB).

Read the primary research notes here.

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5 Tips on a How to Write a Better Subject Line

According to Janine Popick there are three things to think about when writing a subject line for your email marketing campaign:

  • You need to write it so that it gets through filters
  • You need to write it so that it's compelling enough to get your email opened
  • You need to keep to the expectations you set - If you are living up to the expectations you set in the beginning of your e-relationship, chances are you've got a good shot at getting your email opened with a good subject line.

These are her five tips on how to write a better subject line:

  1. Avoid too much punctuation - A lot of filters pick this up as spam since it's a spammer technique. Putting an exclamation point after the word FREE! is not advisable. It's ok to use some punctuation, just don't overdo it.
  2. Avoid using the word FREE in all caps - Some say it's ok to use the word "Free", others say it isn't. If you have to use it don't abuse it.
  3. Put the most valuable information up front - Many of your recipients show 40-50 characters as the default unless your recipients widen their subject line area.
  4. Don't repeat your "From" label - You've already told your recipient who you are, tell them why they'd want to open it. You've only got a small amount of space, don't waste it.
  5. Give your recipient a "reason" to open your email - Don't generalize if you can, hit them where it counts. If there is an interesting article in your newsletter call it out. If you've told them you would send them discounts, just do it.

Read more here.

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Tips For Your Unsubscribe Confirmation

MailChimp provides some tips for your unsubscribe confirmation emails:

  1. Make it short and sweet. You don't want this to look like yet another HTML email newsletter. If the recipient just unsubscribed from your list, they'll be furious to receive even more "salesy" emails from you.
  2. Consider a plain-text email, or an HTML email that's "lite" and looks like plain-text. Minimal graphics.
  3. Try to include a link to a feedback survey. Keep the feedback survey brief. All you really need to ask is, "why are you leaving?" By the way, if you don't have a good survey tool, look into
  4. Include a link to re-subscribe to your list, just in case it was a mistake.
  5. Got a blog/website they can bookmark instead? Sometimes, people get inbox fatigue, and just want out. Let them visit your website instead. Who knows, they might opt-in again later.

VerticalResponse, Inc.

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Email Benchmark Rates

Harte-Hanks, and its e-mail subsidiary Postfuture, compared the aggregate e-mail metrics of 4,300 business and consumer e-mail campaigns. The analysis included both marketing and transaction e-mails.

Among all sectors for all purposes of e-mail combined, the average delivery rate was 91.2% - with an average open rate of 78.8%, click-through rate of 18.4% and opt-out rate of 0.4% of all e-mail delivered.

"These data help provide e-mail marketers with up-to-date benchmarking information," said Richard Merrick of Postfuture. "Particularly as we look at individual industries, we see which vertical markets are doing the best to pique the interest of e-mail recipients - be they consumers or business persons."

Of the 13 industry categories covered, restaurants enjoyed the best open rates (167.7%; open rates exceeding 100% occur by way of pass-alongs and re-opened e-mail) as well as the best click-through rates (57.5%). Retail had the lowest open rate (35.3%), while the automotive sector had the lowest click-through rate (5.7%).

Looking at differences between business and consumer markets, Postfuture found that e-mail sent to consumers did the best, with click-through rates of 19.9% and open rates of 78.9%, while business-to-business e-mail had click-through and open rates of 11.2% and 67.7%, respectively.

In one interesting finding, behavioral targeting raised metrics significantly. "One large retailer achieved a 74.2% open rate, 24.1% click-through rate and 0.1% opt-out rate, just by synchronizing e-mail with in-store activity," said Merrick. "Using transactional e-mail to make dynamic product recommendations produce, on average, a 148.8% open rate and a 20.4% click-through rate."

Source: eMarketer

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Email Open Rates Guide

Mark Brownlow wrote an extensive article on open rates. This is how he describes it himself:

A comprehensive guide to everything to do with email open rates, including how to improve them, interpreting rates, measurement issues, and finding averages.

It's written for both newcomers and those with long experience, taking you through from basic issues to advanced considerations in a 4000 word free guide.

And if that's not enough, it includes many links to other articles on the same topic.

Read it here.

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To Go International, Start Thinking Local

By Ken Takahashi (VP, Corporate Development, Return Path)

Emails cross borders everyday, yet most marketers remain blissfully unaware of this fact. While ignoring your international constituency may not be hurting you (yet! … or maybe it already is), paying more attention could definitely help your response rates and start to open new, exciting markets.

One note of caution: be sure to work with an attorney who is skilled in overseas laws regarding privacy, data collection and email. Many countries have passed legislation that is very different to what you are used to here in the U.S., so you'll need to understand what is and isn't okay when considering exporting your marketing efforts.

We recommend these 7 steps to start exploring the world beyond U.S. inboxes:

Continue reading "To Go International, Start Thinking Local" »

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Managing Email In-House vs Outsourced

In this article Spencer Kollas discusses whether to manage your email in-house or have it outsourced. Cost is a major factor in any in-house versus outsourcing decision, but there are other factors to consider as well.

Here are some of the merits of each approach: 

Advantages of managing in-house

  • You can develop your own expertise.
  • The staff will be focused solely on your issues.
  • You will own the relationships with the ISPs.
  • You will not be dependent on an outside source.
  • You may be able to amortize the cost of software over several years, gain more control over expenses and possibly save money.   

Advantages of outsourcing

  • You and your staff can focus on marketing strategy while the provider takes care of the technical aspects of email delivery.
  • Good ESPs already have strong relationships with the ISPs and understand the evolving delivery landscape. Even large senders don't have the personnel to develop relationships with small mailers, preferring instead to work with ESPs who represent multiple mailers. 
  • You will have access to the latest email best practices.
  • ESPs can share real-life solutions they develop by working with other customers.
  • ESPs must keep up with technology advancements to remain competitive, which offers you added value.
  • You avoid the costs of training and ongoing education to keep up with anti-spam legislation and compliance.
  • You avoid the challenges of choosing technology that meets your needs and is also compatible with existing systems and networks.   
  • Good ESPs provide enterprise-class security and reliability, which may be better than an in-house solution.
  • You will have access to tools developed specifically for email rather than relying on your own ad hoc solutions.
  • You can benefit from the ESP's economies of scale in terms of bandwidth, shared servers and expertise.
  • The money you spend all goes to deliverability solutions rather than to covering employee benefits, space and equipment costs.
  • You will never have downtime due to employee illness or vacations.
  • Providers are often members of trade organizations such as the Email Sender & Provider Coalition and others protecting legitimate email delivery.

Insider's guide to outsourcing
If you decide outsourcing is right for your company, it is imperative you do your homework before signing a contract. The market is full of email marketing service providers, and merely choosing the biggest or highest profile company isn't always the answer. Ask these questions to get the selection process started:

  • Have I identified the specific deliverability issues my company faces? Does the ESP have experience in this arena?
  • What best practices do they have in place to ensure security of my data and campaigns?
  • Do they provide integrated solutions that allow migration of data between our two systems?
  • Do they have the capability to scale their services as we grow?
  • Which ISPs do they have strong relationships with?
  • Do they offer delivery features and services such as blacklist monitoring, whitelisting, feedback loops, abuse board monitoring and support for authentication standards?
  • What spam filters do they use to check deliverability?
  • How do they check HTML code to ensure messages are delivered as intended? Do they have the expertise to help correct problems?
  • What are their bounce policies? Do they categorize bounces so they can be analyzed and reduced?
  • How do they report results such as open and bounce rates?
  • What other mailers do they provide services for? Could any of them put us at risk of being labeled a spammer by association?
  • Do they provide inbox and spam folder tracking to ensure our messages are being delivered?
  • What industry trade groups do they belong to? How active are they?
  • Is the company financially stable?

After using these questions to help narrow the field, move to your specific needs and priorities. Small business newsletter marketers, for example, may want to ask for more details about deliverability and reputation, while a high volume business-to-consumer newsletter marketer may be more concerned with strategic and tactical services. All are important, but making sure your priorities align with your provider's capabilities is key to a successful match. 

Read more here.

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

5 Minute Guide To Email Testing

In its January 2005 report, “Effective Email Marketing,” JupiterResearch found that marketers using testing were almost twice as likely to attain conversion rates of three percent or better. They also achieved a 68 percent improvement in return over non-testers.

In this article Bill Nussey provides a few simple guidelines to get your testing program started:

  • Sample your list
  • Test at the same time
  • Focus on statistical relevancy
  • Maintain a control group
  • What you can learn
  • Next steps

Source: iMedia Connection

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Microsoft Includes Unsub Button in Windows Live Mail

Microsoft last week became the first e-mail box provider to answer e-mail marketers' calls to include an unsubscribe button in its interface so consumers will be less likely to mistakenly report permission-based commercial e-mail as spam.

According to Microsoft, a consumer hitting the Windows Live unsubscribe button will not register as a spam complaint.

Read more here.

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Email Marketing Conference, Utrecht, 7 September

I just found out about this today (thanks, Richard!):

On September 7th there's an email marketing conference in The Netherlands:

De Nationale E-mail Marketing Conferentie
7 september 2006, Media Plaza, Utrecht (The Netherlands)

Speakers include Jeanniey Mullen (Ogilvy) and Richard Gibson (RSA Direct/The DMA).

More info here (Dutch only).

I will definitely try to attend this event, let me know if you're planning to go as well!

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Spam And Junk Email Buttons Preferred Method To Unsubscribe

In a recent Return Path survey, nearly 79% of consumers admitted that they have hit the "spam" or "junk" email button to get rid of email they don't want. And nearly 37% do it as a way to unsubscribe from things they had asked to receive.

This is not surprising, perhaps, when considering that most consumers get at least 100 emails a week (with 35% getting more than 500) - half of which tends to be commercial. Making your email good enough to avoid the consumer "spam" reflex needs to be a key goal of your marketing department if you want to increase both your delivery and response rates.

Source: Return Path

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