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December 2006

30 entries from November 2006

Unsolicited Email In The US: Where Do You Draw The Line

There's an interesting discussion going on on the MarketingProfs discussion boards after one user posted the following message:

"It seems to be the opinion of many participants in this forum that unsolicited email is not something which "reputable companies" will do. Many have suggested that marketers create content-based web sites and build an opt-in list - and many consultants who participate in this forum can help companies do just that.

Yet many who visit the forum seem to want to send unsolicted emails. Unsolicited emails are legal under certain conditions in the US. Small companies may not have the marketing budget or the time to create and maintain elaborate sites to become "thought leaders".

I'm not interested in hearing your rant about SPAM. What I am interested to know is: where do you personally draw the line, between "acceptable" unsolicted email, and "unacceptable" unsolicited email?

For example, I subscribe to eFax, and can receive FAXes for free - but as a subscriber to the service (which I highly recommend) I occasionally get an unsolicted email, which I'm happy to glance at and delete. I know that the sender must pay eFax to send the message, and I consider the companies reputable and proper for sending these.

Also, if I have my email address posted on a web site, and someone reads my web page, feels we have a reason to communicate, and sends me a short text-only email with a link to their site, I typically appreciate their efforts.

Where do you draw the line - as a sender, and as a receiver of unsolicited email?"

Read the reaction of MarketingProfs' members here.

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Email Marketers Must Get Relevant

The majority of email marketers are failing to use email as a relevant marketing tool, at the same time that consumers are spending less time and attention on email, according to Jupiter Research VP and research director David Daniels. The majority of marketers still use only basic personalization in email campaigns, despite the fact relevant messages can lead to almost as many sales as free or discounted shipping offers.

Some statistics:

  • Untargeted broadcast e-mails, with no personalization or segmentation, have an average open rate of 20 percent, average click-through rate of 9.5 percent, and average conversion rate of 1.1 percent.

  • Campaigns triggered from user actions, such as shopping cart abandonment, have a 27 percent average open rate, 9.3 percent average click-through rate, and 2.3 percent average conversion rate.

  • Lifecycle messaging campaigns, such as product replenishment messages, have an average open rate of 26 percent, average click-through rate of 14 percent, and average conversion rate of 2.8 percent.

  • Campaigns that integrate Web site clickstream data for targeting perform best of all, with a 33 percent average open rate, 14 percent average click-through rate, and 3.9 percent average conversion rate.

Continue reading "Email Marketers Must Get Relevant" »

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E-mail Marketing Buyer's Guide, 2006

JupiterResearch released the 2006 edition of their Email Marketing Buyer's Guide. This e-mail service provider (ESP) evaluation details the offerings of 28 vendors.

JupiterResearch bases their overall value, suitability, and breadth on the distinct needs of three types of marketers (i.e., service-oriented, small-/midsize-business, large-enterprise).

Key Questions:

  • How have ESPs' offerings matured during the past 12 months?
  • What were major product developments among ESPs in 2006?
  • Which changes should marketers and vendors anticipate during the coming year?

More info here.

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

Send to a Friend Benchmark Study

RetailEmail.Blogspot released a new study about the send to a friend (STAF) practices of major retailers. These are the key findings:

Not only are just 44% of retailers using send to a friend (STAF) in their emails, many are using practices that diminish their effectiveness, such as requiring too much information and not paying enough lip service to privacy on both ends of the process.

For instance, 46% required the subscriber’s name—even retailers who already know the subscriber’s name because they required it during the sign up process. Eighteen percent also require the subscriber’s email address, which all the retailers already have. These requirements create unnecessary barriers to usage.

Retailers were also inconsistent in reassuring both the sender and the recipient of the forward that the recipient wasn’t being signed up for the newsletter as a result of the forward. On the upside, during the three weeks following the forwards, none of the retailers had sent any additional emails to the recipients of the forwards.

Many major retailers also squandered the opportunity that STAF gives them to sign up the recipient of the forward, with only 44% of retailers including a newsletter subscribe link at the top of the forwarded email.

Besides prompting email subscribers to forward retailers’ newsletters along, STAF mechanisms allow retailers to track forwarded emails and the reactions of the recipient because those emails are sent through the retailer’s servers. Newsletters forwarded via STAF mechanisms are also sure to render properly.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Only 51% of send-to-a-friend emails contain a privacy statement of some sort at the top of the forwarded email.
  • Eight percent of retailers include a STAF form in their emails, as opposed to a STAF link that leads to a form.
  • Only one retailer, J. Jill, offered the recipients of forwards an incentive to sign up for the newsletter themselves.

The report covers the following topics:

The Forwarding Process

  • Requirements
  • Number of Recipients
  • Personalization
  • Privacy Statements
  • Confirmation

Receipt of the Forward

  • The Sender
  • Subject Lines
  • Toppers
  • The Body

The Innovators

  • Prominent Send-to-a-Friend Links Send-to-a-Friend Forms
  • Sign-Up Incentives
  • Prominent Recipient Sign-Up Links
  • Continuity of Branding

Integrating Send to a Friend Into Campaigns

To read the full report, click here.

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

E-mail Marketing To Customers And Prospects In China

There are three primary considerations when it comes to e-mail marketing to customers and prospects in China: deployment, design and device. Despite the approximately 110 million Internet users in China, the growth of e-commerce still lags behind the West—thanks in part to the sheer size of the country as well as the lack of an online payment system that can handle credit card transactions safely and efficiently. Retailers, however, continue to establish operations in China and therefore continue to push goods and services through e-mail marketing efforts

1) Deployment. No longer simply about getting “lost in translation,” e-mail marketing campaigns have gotten much more complex. Successful global e-mail campaigns now involve customization at every point in the e-mail from the subject line—certain messages that appear in an e-mail’s subject line don’t resonate globally—to the message that’s contained within the e-mail. Both must take into account the specific cultural awareness of each country, which means that now, more than ever, marketers need to have a very clear understanding of what products and services work in each individual market.

2) Design. On the design side, styles in China are much richer than the clean lines often used in Western e-mail and Web site designs. Asian designers often incorporate many messages and graphics within an e-mail; in the West, however, users prefer much simpler, clearer messages. Even in Asian portal designs, the message will be incorporated into the design much higher up in the e-mail so that the reader receives the message instantly.

3) Device. The number of Chinese consumers who access the Internet via mobile devices trumps access via desktop more than 3 to 1. With this in mind, marketers must consider eCRM programs that connect via mobile devices as well as traditional e-mail.

Source: BtoB Email Marketer Insight

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31 Content Tips And Ideas For Your Email Newsletters

Mark Brownlow wrote yet another great article! This one focusses on how to ensure enough decent content to keep readers interested, engaged and impacted by your emails.

In this article you can find some tips to keep the content flowing and actual content ideas to save yourself some thinking time.

Content management tips:

1. Keep a content folder
2. Develop reserve content
3. Watch your numbers
4. Sign-up to your competitors' newsletters
5. Go where your readers go
6. Talk to sales reps and customer service
7. Partner
8. Recycle
9. Let readers choose
10. Consider reducing length and frequency

Content ideas:

1. Problem / solution
2. How-tos
3. Top tips
4. Opinion / analysis
5. Look into the future
6. Fable
7. Horror/disaster story
8. Case study
9. Seasonality
10. Reviews
11. Educational content
12. "Best of"
13. Surveys / feedback request
14. Event recommendations
15. Resource links
16. Amusing or inspirational anecdotes, stories and quotes
17. Answering feedback
18. Interviews
19. News
20. Statistics and lists
21. Quizzes

Read the full article here

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

Email Insider Summit, December 3-6, Utah

Mark your calendars for the next Email Insider Summit: December 3-6, Utah.

Apparently this is supposed to be a fantastic event for all levels of email marketers where over one hundred brand marketers and agency decision makers will network, discuss and debate, working collaboratively to improve the email channel, as well as their own marketing efforts.

Registration Price: $2,495 -- a bit too expensive for me :o)

More info here.

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

Email Marketers Must Look Beyond CTR And Open Rates

A key takeaway from E-consultancy's most recent Email Marketing Roundtable was the growing need for marketers to look beyond traditional email success metrics when looking at their email strategy. In the world of multi-channel retail it is no longer enough just to examine clickthrough rates (CTR), open rates or even good old Return on Investment to see if your email strategy is paying dividends.

The problem comes when the email channel is viewed in isolation. It is easier said than done but companies and their agencies should strive for a model which enables them to see the effect that the reach and volume of their email communication is having on brand awareness and their sales across all channels.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that email marketing and statistics can no longer be viewed in isolation. For example, as one of the roundtable attendees pointed out, there are plenty of shoppers out there who are printing out their emails and bringing this information to high-street shops.

As in other areas of online marketing, companies need to figure out ways of collecting all this cross-channel information and piecing it all together.

Another related point which came out of the discussion was the need to think about individual customers and users as well as thinking in terms of percentages for metrics such as CTR and open rates. This came up in the context of database degradation and the need to understand whether email recipients have any interest in getting your emails.

You may have a high percentage of open rates but there could well be a certain proportion of people who never look at your emails. As someone pointed out, it may be the case that the same 30% of users are opening your emails every time, with the result that over-communication to a large chunk of the remainder is tarnishing your brand.

So unless you look at data at an individual user level then you have no way of knowing whether you have significant numbers of inactive users. Once an organisation has defined inactivity and how many users are inactive, it is then a case of deciding whether they should be cut from the database or re-engaged with. There is more about this in the roundtable notes.

The Email Marketing Roundtable Briefing, which includes a summary of the roundtable discussion, is free to download and also contains information about the size of the market and market trends, as well as the latest stats and resources. 


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