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22 entries from September 2006

False Positive Filtering Growing Among Major Email Service Providers

According to a study by Lyris, false-positive filtering (emails that are incorrectly identified as unsolicited or "spam" emails) remains high among leading email service providers (ESPs) including Hotmail and Gmail. Gmail did see a dramatic improvement in Q2 '06, with a false-positive filtering rate of only 2.97 percent compared to last quarter's 44 percent. However, Hotmail's false-positive filtering, although improving, remains high (18.2 percent this quarter compared to 23.4 percent the previous quarter).

"While false positives are increasing among some ESPs, the industry as a whole is winning the fight to reduce the amount of spam," says Dave Dabbah, Director of Sales and Marketing, Lyris Technologies. "As ESPs become better and more discerning in identifying spam, the result will be a decrease in filtering of legitimate email as well. However, marketers can do their part too by becoming more aware of what is likely to get their emails incorrectly filtered."

False-positive spam filtering among European ISPs remains lower, achieving an average rate of only .075 percent compared to a U.S. average of 3.29 percent. This is again due to excessive false-positive filtering at two ISPs, (, and As well, U.S. ISPs and ESPs are more stringent in their filtering of unsolicited emails which can result in an increase in legitimate emails also being filtered.

Download a complete (pdf) copy of the study here.

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

The Email Metrics That Really Matter

Do you know how much revenue do you bring in through your email program? Are you earning back what the company spent on you?

In this article Loren McDonald tells us that we need to run some diagnostics on our program and determine the key drivers of our program's successes and failures.

There are lots of these diagnostic-type metrics, but let's take a look at four examples: share of e-mail, list activity, subscriber drop-off and deliverability. They aren't designed to tell you if your e-mail program met its goals. But they will help you uncover problems or weaknesses and develop strategies to improve them:

  • Share of e-mail: do you know which links (products, offers and articles) consistently drove the most traffic or conversions?
  • List activity: do you know how many readers are still opening and clicking six months after they sign up and which ones are basically just valid addresses in your database?
  • Subscriber-interest timeline: when does interest drop off to the point where subscribers don't actively open e-mails or act on them?
  • Deliverability: is delivery going down steadily or does it ebb and flow?

Read the full article here.

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

Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study

Of the 66% of top retailers that sent out welcome emails, many are missing out on the opportunity to use those emails as a selling vehicle. Instead of inspiring subscribers with their product knowledge and impressing them with exclusive deals with the very first email they receive, a great number of the largest etailers simply say hello and leave it at that. The lack of sales mentality that some retailers bring to their welcome emails is demonstrated by the fact that 12% of the welcome emails included in this study didn't even bother to include a link to the retailers' shopping sites. Forty-nine percent didn't include links to their shopping departments and 89% didn't include product images and links.

Many retailers also failed to make their emails CAN-SPAM compliant and generally made it difficult for subscribers to unsubscribe or contact customer service. For instance, only 68% of welcome emails included the retailer's mailing address; only 37% the retailer's phone number; and only 20% a contact email address. Only 65% included an unsubscribe link.

A few retailers had technical problems with their welcome email programs as well. For instance, Dick's Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority sent out welcome emails after having already sent one or more regular emails. Even worse, seven of the retailers that sent out welcome emails never followed up with regular emails within 10 weeks of the subscription date.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • 34% of welcome emails include a discount, reward or incentive.
  • Only two retailers-Lowe's and TigerDirect-used a double opt-in subscription process that required subscribers to confirm that they did indeed sign up for their newsletters.
  • 49% of welcome emails asked the subscriber to add an email address to its address book.
  • 45% of welcome emails included links to the retailer's privacy policy.
  • 69% of retailers sent out HTML welcome emails, while the remaining 31% sent out text-only welcomes.

Read the full report here.

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

Email Marketing in Europe

Bill Nussey just returned from Europe and shares his ideas on the state of email marketing in Europe on his blog.

These are his observations:

  • SMS is still an active discussion but, from a purely anecdotal observation, its momentum into the marketing world doesn't seem quite as furious as it was last year. It's clearly way ahead of the U.S., but most of the billboards and ads I saw featured Web URLs and relatively few SMS calls-to-action.
  • It's popular to say Europe is X years behind or ahead of the U.S. in email marketing, but the more time I spend there, the less I think this comparison is appropriate. I saw some brilliant, sophisticated campaigns as well as some very basic stuff. I'm beginning to think that the sheer volume of companies in the U.S. may account for a larger number of emerging cutting-edge case studies, but that the actual percentage of sophisticated marketing within the two markets is probably about the same.
  • We surveyed a few hundred marketers in the U.K. in connection with our conference, and I was pleasantly surprised at how large many of their lists are. Given the relatively smaller population of the U.K. compared to the U.S., many have amassed some impressive lists.
  • Just as in the U.S., the conversations were largely the same wherever I went: deliverability, life-cycle marketing, Web analytics, integration, etc.
  • The competitors are largely the same, but those who are perceived to be leaders and followers varies a lot between the U.S. and the European Union. I won't flatter any of my competitors by naming specific companies here.
  • There are a surprising number of regional competitors in the E.U. -- both country-specific as well as pan-European. It will be interesting to see if they are able to penetrate the U.S. as successfully as the U.S. ESPs appear to have penetrated Europe.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

How Domains Affect Deliverability

In this article Spencer Kollas breaks down email success explaining that domains are the first step.

A domain analysis is the first step to ensuring your email messages are delivered as intended. A few domains dominate the market, but your audience's usage could vary, so it's important to run a report to see exactly which domains are represented in your databases. Consumer lists are likely to be dominated by AOL, Yahoo!, MSN/Hotmail, while business lists may also contain large company domains.

Next, you'll want to assess how your content appears in each domain, and whether or not you have some ISPs where your message is breaking or images are missing. Using one of the many email rendering tools available is an important step to understanding how your brand and your messages are being presented to your customers. Analyzing reports that show previous campaign results by your top domains can allow you to compare metrics such as open rates and clickthrough rates to see if there are any potential issues as well. Once you've identified the domains delivering less-than-satisfactory results, you're ready to tackle each one's specific deliverability barriers.

Read the article and find out what are the main do's and don'ts of domain analysis (according to Spencer Kollas).

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

Guide for Creating HTML Emails: Technical and Design Best Practices

To help marketers optimize results from their email marketing efforts, EmailLabs has created a complete guide to HTML email with best practices in the following areas:

  • HTML design and coding for optimal inbox delivery
  • The impact of Window’s Service Pack 2 on email
  • Making your email preview-panes / disabled-image friendly
  • Use of hyperlinks and optimal navigation
  • Essential content and more

Download the Complete Guide for Creating HTML Emails and discover how you can optimize your email marketing ROI.

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

The State of Deliverability

Only 30 percent of e-mail marketers review their e-mail delivery rates at least once per month as a key performance indicator, signaling many marketers do not sufficiently focus on the still-prevalent e-mail deliverability issue.

The State of Deliverability, 2006 - Assessing Tactics to Improve E-mail Delivery is a new concept report released by Jupiter Research. The report focusses on these key questions:

  • What are typical e-mail delivery rates?
  • Which deliverability improvement tactics are marketers planning to deploy?
  • What is the likely adoption of paid accreditation services?
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Blocking Rates Ease - Your Vigilance Cannot

Return Path's latest Email Blocking and Filtering Report shows that 19.2 percent of email still gets blocked or filtered by the leading ISPs and commercial filtering applications. While that is certainly better than the 20.5 percent during the second half of 2005 -- and much better than the 22 percent peak in 2004 -- don't let the modest improvements to inbox reach fool you. Too much of your email is still not reaching your customers, making email deliverability an area needing continued focus.

Consider this: six leading ISPs still blocked more than a third of commercial e-mail for reputable marketers, with one (Excite) blocking more than 50 percent. And the ISP with the lowest incidence of blocking, CompuServe, still blocked nearly 12 percent.

For more detailed ISP delivery information, check out their full report here.

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

Is E-mail The Same Around The World?

Jeanniey Mullen and Paul Beck recently participated in an e-mail marketing conference in Holland. They were surprised to learn that many of the challenges faced in other countries are the same as those they face in the United States. The impact e-mail has on marketing efforts, funding, appropriate usage, cadence etc. were about similar to the types of questions they receive in the U.S.

Two main cultural differences centered on the use of third-party lists for acquisition purposes and challenges around deliverability. They learned that e-mail list rental is relatively new to Holland. Co-registration, affiliate deals are just in their infancy. In most cases, the e-mail focus is on retention-based and viral efforts. Deliverability/rendering issues are brand new to Dutch marketers as well. In fact, most of the conference attendees were shocked to see the impact that poor rendering can have on a message.

Source: MediaPost's Email Insider Blog

Deliverability and rendering issues are indeed rather unknown in mainland Europe. At the event in Holland, none of the ISP's even participated. But I guess tackling deliverability in Europe in not an easy task.

In general, most European markets aren't as well developed as the US market when it comes to email marketing (especially Belgium is lagging behind quite a bit). The main issue I see in Belgium is that there is (to my knowledge) a real lack of education on even the basics of email marketing. Too many marketers still take an offline approach to online direct marketing or haven't even seen the benefits that email marketing can bring to their business.

When I spoke with the managing director of a major online agency here in Brussels, he was absolutely startled to hear that I am so focussed on email marketing. In his mind, email marketing is just a minor part of the entire online marketing business and it's not really worth specializing in it. I agree that online marketing is broader than just email marketing, but he definitely does not recognize the value email marketing can bring. Of course there are other agencies that do understand the value and together with these agencies we have joined in an email marketing taskforce for the local IAB and are working on a best practices white paper to educate marketers in Belgium. It's a small step in the right direction and it will definitely not be enough, but you have to start somewhere, right?

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

Default Image Suppression Demystified (webinar)

The likelihood that your email messages will arrive in consumers’ inboxes without their images displayed is increasing every day. Major ISP trade groups recently ratified default image suppression as an industry best practice, and Microsoft plans to adopt default image suppression in its soon-to-be released next-generation email service, WindowsLive. Are you ready?

Join Epsilon Interactive for a review of new proprietary research examining consumers’ experiences with – and responses to – growing ISP adoption of default image suppression. Find out what you can do to optimize your email marketing efforts as default image suppression becomes the norm.

Questions that will be answered include:

  • How many consumers are affected by default image suppression?
  • How much education is needed to ensure consumers are aware of how they can unblock images?
  • What impact will image suppression have on your campaign performance?
  • What creative and delivery best practices should marketers employ to optimize the effectiveness of their campaigns in the age of the imageless inbox?

When: Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PDT
Sign up here (space is limited).

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

ClickZ's Email Marketing Conference & Expo will host the first annual ClickZ Specifics: Email Marketing 2006 event in New York City on 24 and 25 October. The two-day forum includes expert-led sessions that will help marketers:

  • Write and design great messages that increase response
  • Build -- and maintain -- a successful list
  • Test and calculate e-mail campaign ROI
  • Nourish customer relationships and generate new leads
  • Understand personalization and dynamic campaigns
  • Deliver: avoid e-mail filters and the dreaded spam folder

For all conference session descriptions and a full list of the speakers, click here.

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

MarketingSherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Guide

Here's a post that is not related to email marketing. But since most people that are into email marketing usually also have an interest in search marketing I figured you might find this interesting:

MarketingSherpa just released a new edition of its Search Marketing Benchmark Guide. This is a 239-page report (PDF + print copy) packed with 18 full-color eyetracking "heatmaps", charts, tables and analysis.

You'll find out how to:

  • Budget more accurately for the coming year.
  • Defend your search marketing plans to the boss (or to clients if you're an agency.)
  • Compare your results to the norm, including clicks, conversions and costs
  • Determine which SEM tests you should try to improve results -- and which tests to avoid
  • Train new staff more easily on what's proven to work in SEM.

Click here for more info.

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

6 Simple Steps to Response-Driving Subject Lines

Tami Monahan Forman is Director of Strategic Services at ReturnPath. In her work with Return Path clients, she gets to help write a lot of subject lines. She's decided to share the method het department has developed for writing subject lines.

Following these 6 steps will make the task of writing subject lines easier and more effective.

1. Quickly write at least 6 potential subject lines. Don’t think too hard about what will work best -- just string together words that are relevant to your message. At this point, they don’t even have to make sense.

2. Sit back and examine your list: Are there certain words that keep popping up? Are you struggling over word choices? Have you got at least three compelling options that convey your message? If not, go back to step one. If so, move on to step three ….

3. Hone your list by eliminating or editing any that are clearly unsuitable. If needed, write one or two more. You want to have at least four at this point.

4. Count ’em up! Many of you will be able to eyeball the length, but go ahead and count the characters using Word’s word count function. Put the number next to the line in parentheses. Example: Six Secrets to Sales Success (28). Remember that spaces count! (See their post about how subject line length affects response for guidelines.)

5. Now, sit back and eyeball your list again. Is one really grabbing you? Does another look really flat now? Are they all clearly too long? If you answered yes to the last question, go back to step three. If not, move on to step six. …

6. Time to pick ’em. Always test your subject lines, so pick at least two. Make sure they are truly different. You may need to choose one and then write an alternative version to make the test meaningful. It’s actually easier if you pick an element that you want to test: length, word choice (save vs. discount) or use of your brand name. This will help you isolate variables and carry learning forward.

Use this method on a half dozen messages and soon you’ll be able to do it in 10 minutes or less. You will come up with better subject lines in less time with less effort than ever.

Source: Return Path

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

Busting Out of the Inbox: The New 1to1 Rules of Email Marketing (webinar)

Has email been left behind by snazzy blogs and RSS feeds? Cut short by ISP filters and new regulation? Set aside by prospects and customers numb to new offers?

On September 26th at 11am Eastern, join, Christopher Helm, Executive Editor, Peppers & Rogers Group, Andrew Hull, Marketing Operations Manager, RightNow Technologies, and Hope Neiman, SVP, Marketing and Strategy, RightStart for the live webinar, "Busting Out of the Inbox: The New 1to1 Rules of Email Marketing."

During this one-hour event, you'll hear real advice on how to:

  • Spot the trends and tactics taking email closer to the 1to1 level
  • See where email fits in the online marketing mix, from blogs to search and RSS
  • Understand why a sky-high response rate might actually cost you money
  • Tap new insight from Web inquiries, service interactions, ad responses and sales history to deliver more targeted emails to qualified customers and prospects
  • Use email to automatically respond to any customer contact activity -- purchase, account expiration, event attendance -- and enhance every interaction
  • Track email marketing's impact on other channels, such as the Web and phone
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

DMA E-mail Authentication Resource Directory

DMA has created an E-Mail Authentication Resource Directory to help members employ e-mail identification and authentication systems, which is now a requirement for DMA members that use e-mail for communication and transaction purposes. The directory provides a list of DMA member companies that provide services that will assist in complying with this new DMA requirement.

To access DMA's E-Mail Authentication Resource Directory, click here.

For additional information about the new DMA requirement, visit the antispam section of DMA's Web site by clicking here.

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

Small Investment In Email Marketing Creates Big Return

Despite all the time and resources that retailers are pouring into their paid and natural search programs and the efforts they're making in understanding new alternatives such as social networking, e-mail marketing continues to thrive.

E-mail remains a fundamental and highly productive marketing tool for almost all web retailers. In fact, 73% of chain retailers, catalogers, virtual merchants and consumer brand manufacturers taking part in Internet Retailer's latest monthly survey -- his one on e-mail marketing-- spend 5% of their marketing budget or less on e-mail marketing, yet just over half of respondents, 50.6%, report that 6% or more of their sales come from e-mail marketing, with 25% saying the proportion is over 11%.

Here are some more findings:

  • Virtually all of the merchants taking part in the survey --92.6%-- expect to increase their opt-in lists. Retailers also anticipate conducting more frequent, but segmented, e-mail campaigns while controlling expenses and performing most services in-house.
  • 18.4% expect to grow their opt-in lists by more than 50% within the next year, while another 25.1% will increase their lists by 16% to 50%.
  • Web merchants use e-mail to communicate frequent information updates and product promotions to their best customers-63.8% of retailers conduct up to three e-mail campaigns each month and another 25.2% conduct between four and eight campaigns. 62.8% also indicate that they've increased the frequency of e-mail campaigns in the past year.
  • E-mail marketing consultants consider an open rate of about 20% and a click-through rate of 4% to 5% to be a highly effective e-mail campaign. 26.5% of participants in the survey report open rates of 20% or more (11.2% reported 20% to 25% while 15.3% said more than 25%), while another 11.8% report open rates of 16% to 19%. 14.6% report e-mail open rates of less than 5%, with only 6.2% with open rates of 1% or less.
  • Along with relatively high e-mail open rates, click-through averages are growing. 17% report e-mail click-through rates of 16% or more, while 28.9% report click-through rates of 6% to 15%.
  • Overall 20.2% of companies in the survey report e-mail sales conversion rates of 1% to 2%, compared with 26.5% with conversion averages of between 2.1% and 4%, 14% with conversion rates of between 4.1% and 10%, and 3.2% with sales conversion averages greater than 10%.
  • 20.6% also indicate that sales conversions as a direct result of better e-mail marketing have improved by up to 5% in the past 12 months, with 7.2% reporting conversion increases of more than 10%.
  • In spite of the great measurability of e-mail marketing’s effectiveness and the focus on metrics, nearly one-fifth of respondents reported that they do not know how their e-mail marketing performs.
  • E-mail marketing is seen by most web retailers as an internal operation that can be managed without outside help—55.9% of web retailers do not use a third-party e-mail service provider. Most online merchants also operate their e-mail marketing programs with minimal staff. 46% of companies dedicate only one part-time employee to coordinate and manage their e-mail marketing programs, compared with 29.7% with one full-time employee and 21.9% with 2 to 5 employees. 76.5% of retailers also have no plans to add to their e-mail marketing staffs in the next 12 months.
  • 54.7% of web merchants segment their e-mail marketing lists and break down their opt-in names in various demographic categories.
  • 49.1% of online retailers in the Internet Retailer survey segment their lists by repeat buyers and another 42.1% segment first-time buyers. 33% segment their lists by purchase frequency, followed by 19% that segment recipients by average ticket, 14.7% by age, 12.9% by sex and 12.3% by household income. 78% also list “other,” indicating that there are many ways to break down a customer file.
  • 41.6% of all retailers taking part in the research spend less than 1% of their total annual marketing budgets on e-mail. That compares with 31.3 % that spend between 1% and 5%, 13.8% that commit 6% to 10%, 5.6% that spend from 11% to 15%, 3.8% from 16% to 25% and 4.1% with e-mail budgets that account for 25% of their overall marketing budgets.
  • A full 26.9% of retailer respondents derive 11% or more of their sales from e-mail marketing. And another 23.8% get 6% to 11% of their sales from e-mail, leaving 49.4% who report less than 5% of their total sales comes from e-mail programs.

Read the full article here (includes screenshots of the survey results at the bottom of the pages).

Source: Internet Retailer

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Eight Tips for Enhancing Email Opt-In

In this article on, Linda Schumacher offers these 8 tips to enhance your onsite registration process:

1. Include an abbreviated registration form or prominent sign up graphic on every page of your Web site to increase newsletter visibility.
2. Communicate what you're going to do with the user's personal information.
3. Explain the benefits of becoming an email subscriber.
4. Provide monetary value to encourage registration.
5. Allow subscribers to choose the frequency of email delivery.
6. Require users to type their email address a second time and validate the match.
7. Use double-opt-in to verify new subscribers and build a cleaner list.
8. Thank your customers for their registration.

Read the full article here.

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

How To Segment Your Email Audience

Not all customers are alike. What appeals to one may not interest another. It's important that you connect your customers' different interests and needs to your message. It's about relevance. Relevant emails are opened, irrelevant emails are unopened or deleted, resulting in a lost connection and a lost sale.

Every small business can segment their customer base at some basic level. Think about what makes sense for your business. When you approach new customers, what are the qualifying questions you ask them? For retailers, it may be as simple as which consumer buys what product line. For B2B, it may be more about where that potential business customer goes to get their services. Segments are the things you keep track of when you're qualifying leads and identifying prospects. It's up to you to identify them. Trust your instincts, then divide your list into two major groups.

Segments should be based on your overall email marketing plans and what you want to communicate about your business. By tapping the right customer's passion and need at the right time--with a targeted subject line and targeted content--and you're much more likely to create a sale.

Source: Constant Contact

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