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41 entries from April 2007

The Use of Video in Retail Emails

According to this reportlet by Chad White, video is increasingly finding its way into the email campaigns of the largest online retailers.

The reportlet takes an extensive look at how major online retailers including Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, Bluefly, Gap, Neiman Marcus, Old Navy, Polo, REI and many others use video in their emails, discussing both their content strategies as well as the manner in which video links are integrated into their campaigns.

Read more here.

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Sender ID Framework Reaches Tipping Point

Microsoft just published results culminating from a two-year-long study on the effectiveness of Sender ID Framework e-mail authentication in helping counter deceptive e-mail.

Key results from the study:

  • Every day, 20 million forged messages are detected by Sender ID-enabled domains.
  • Reputable marketers that have adopted Sender ID have realized improved deliverability, with up to 85 percent fewer messages mistakenly marked as spam in Windows Live Hotmail.
  • With spam increasing 40 percent in the past 12 months, spam in Hotmail users' inboxes has actually been reduced by 50 percent; Sender ID contributed 8 percent of that reduction.

Source: technologyrelease.com

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A Guide to CSS Support in Email

David Greiner just published the 2007 edition of his "Guide to CSS Support in Email" because quite a bit has changed since he posted the last version 12 months ago. The most significant of these changes was in the wrong direction, with Microsoft's recent decision to use the Word rendering engine instead of Internet Explorer in Outlook 2007.

But, he states, it hasn't all been doom and gloom: a number of vendors have maintained or improved their support for CSS, especially in the web-based email environment. The new Yahoo! Mail looks very promising and the old Hotmail will be making way for the new Windows Live Mail in the coming months.

Desktop based apps tend to move a little slower and not a great deal has changed on that front, but traditionally they've been the best performers anyway. This year he added Outlook 2007, the new Yahoo! Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird for the Mac to the test suite, and also noticed some subtle changes in others.

Read more here.

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Great Resource for Email Stats

Fewer than 50 percent of marketers create emails that render appropriately.

53% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to open an email if it had a symbol identifying it as having been certified by a trusted third party.

20 percent of respondents admit to using the "report spam" button to unsubscribe.

70 percent or respondents said they apply basic or no analysis to any of their email campaigns.

The average deliverability rate for the all emails is 96.3%.

59% of online customers routinely block images.

Consumers are getting an average of 35 emails a day.

Business recipients get nearly 100 per day.

These and hundreds more statistics can be found on www.emailstatcenter.com. Check it out!

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Notes From the Authentication and Online Trust Summit

James O'Brien posted his notes from day 1 of the Authentication and Online Summit on his blog. This is what he says:

The Big News is the coming launch of the unsubscribe button in the new Windows Live Hotmail User Interface. For Microsoft to recognize unsubscribe as a powerful way to give consumers more control over their inbox is a giant step forward for the industry. The button will appear if a user has flagged an email sender as “known”. There are three classifications in the new UI topped by a color-coded bar.

Known Sender- white bar

  • User added sender to personal “safelist” or “contacts:
  • Images & links enabled
  • Allows unsubscribe option
Unknown Sender - yellow bar
  • Sender not in user safelist or contacts
  • User can choose: “junk”, “delete” or “mark as safe” or “unsafe”
Potentially Dangerous- red bar
  • Could be phishing or sender ID failure (spoofed)
  • User options same as unknown sender
There are some great benefits for marketers that go out of their way to achieve “known sender” status. It’s a great example of how following best practices can reward marketers. And how important it is to understand the sometimes nuanced requirements of compliance needed for greater deliverability.

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Email List Rental Toolkit: How to Read a Data Card + Sample Contracts

Renting a permission list for the first (or even third) time can be a bit confusing. What's normal for transmission fees? How speedy is the turnaround? Should you pay extra for brand endorsement? Should you rent more names than the minimum to run a test? Etc.

Here's a handy toolkit from MarketingSherpa to help you (also useful for training staff). Includes two sample contracts with key legalese noted, as well as a How to Read a Data Card PDF.

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Email Authentication Help Center

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) announced the launch of its Email Authentication Help Center, which is designed to help email marketers to comply with the DMA Board of Directors’ mandate requiring DMA members to authenticate all outbound email.

It includes definitions, how-tos, test-tools, and a checklist to help marketers make sense of the information requirements.  The online resource center also includes a directory of DMA member companies that have agreed to offer technical assistance at reasonable prices.

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Email Marketers Need to Focus More on Dynamic Content and Personalization

Email marketers need to focus more dynamic content and personalization as volumes increase reports the latest National Email Benchmarking Survey from the British Direct Marketing Association.

According to the DMA Email Marketing Council the number of emails sent in Quarter three 2006 stands at over one billion – a year on year increase of 37 per cent.

The report demonstrates that marketers are increasingly looking to individualization – dynamic content and personalization - to generate better open, click-through and conversion rates.

Richard Gibson, chair of the DMA Email Marketing Council’s Benchmarking Hub, said, “Email marketing is without a doubt becoming more sophisticated.

“The increased focus on dynamic content moves email marketing away from simple messaging without segmentation into messages which can vary depending on data held at an individual level.”

 

Continue reading "Email Marketers Need to Focus More on Dynamic Content and Personalization" »

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Reputation Systems Gaining Credibility in Fight Against Spam

I just found this article on reputation from the spam fighter's point of view:

Spam has undergone a radical evolution during the past few years, and reputation systems are now a key technology in dealing with the ever-increasing volume of unwanted messages. Reputation systems have been in use for the past three years, but are only now becoming "table stakes" for any vendor offering email security solutions. That is, it's hard for any vendor to substantiate a high spam detection rate without relying on reputation.

The general concept behind a reputation system is that you can, with some precision, figure out the likelihood of a message being spam, based on who is sending it. IP addresses cannot be spoofed; they identify the sender and receiver of an email message and are essential to ensuring a message gets to its destination. You can fake pretty much everything else about a message, but not the originating IP address.

So how does a reputation system actually help your organization?  

Continue reading "Reputation Systems Gaining Credibility in Fight Against Spam" »

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Email Measurement Accuracy Coalition

I just read on David Daniels' blog that he will be leading a new cross industry coalition, called the Email Measurement Accuracy Coalition. The mission of the EMAC is to establish a consistent methodology and framework for the accurate calculation of email delivery, in order to inform the computation of critical email marketing metrics such as open, click-through-rate and conversion.

Visit the EMAC web-site to learn more about the coalition and its work.

From the press release:

There is a fundamental lack of consensus across the e-mail marketing industry on how email performance is measured, which ultimately undermines the effectiveness of the medium and renders cross industry benchmarks useless, said Daniels.

This issue has been well documented by JupiterResearch, The Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC), and most recently by the Email Experience Council (eec) in its State of Email Metrics and Bounce Management report.        

The Email Experience Council applauds David Daniels for taking ownership of this significant gap in the email marketplace. The efforts of the EMAC will enable us to continue to push our efforts forward, said Jeanniey Mullen, Founder of Email Experience Council and Executive Director of Worldwide Email Marketing at OgilvyOne.    

The group will be comprised of industry thought leaders and marketing professionals, including principals from email and delivery service providers. The complete and impressive list of charter supporters can be found at www.emacoalition.org/members.

Big round of applause for this initiative everyone!!

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Email Marketing is Shifting Position in a Web 2.0 World

Dax Hamman posted an interesting article on the e-consultancy blog in which he talks about how email marketing fits in a Web 2.0 world. This is what he concludes:

"Email was crucial in the Web 1.0 value chain. For example, the marketer would decide what product was "on offer" that week and push out email offers to the opt-in email list. Or, the marketer would use the website navigation hierarchy to drive purchase (e.g. promotions on the home page). Product relevance to the target email list was not necessarily high, it was simply what was being promoted that week.

In the Web 2.0 value chain, the consumer decides which products are most interesting to them through keyword searches or blog recommendations. The purchase is then initiated from deep inside a website - where the search navigation drops the user - and hierarchical web site navigation (i.e. starting on the home page) is ignored. If the shopping process is abandoned, remarketing emails can push a consumer over the finish line. Therefore email closes the "search loop." Other places a marketer can use email is to encourage a customer to retrieve forgotten shopping bags, or share wish lists with family and friends.

So it's not that email is no longer relevant in a Web 2.0 world, quite the contrary. It's simply shifted position… which might be interpreted by some as a demotion. However, the better way to look at it is that email now completes the conversation, or prolongs the marketer/consumer dialogue, rather than starting it."

Read the full article here.

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Renting Email Lists - Costs, Deliverability & Targeting

There are plenty of email lists to choose from, and they cover just about every niche imaginable. From talking to several list brokers, the size of the industry is anywhere from 5,000 lists to 20,000. The B-to-B list rental business is healthy and centered on reputable publishers who still command value and trust. The B-to-C list industry is less organized, and many lists aren't worth a dime. But if done properly, you can succeed.

Read this article by MarketingSherpa to learn:

  • What's a list rental and what should you ask your list broker
  • Which lists work best, plus costs to rent them
  • Deliverability and CAN-SPAM considerations
  • Creative that works best
  • Measurement and considerations when conducting a list rental test

This article is the first of 2.

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Basics of Email Certification

The guys at MailChimp put together a short Email Certification Guide in which they explain the basics of email certification:

  • How Does Certification Work?
  • What is Email Deliverability?
  • How Certification Helps Deliverability
  • How Can I Get Certified?
  • How Much They Cost
  • How Do I Pick A Vendor?
  • Which ISPs and Spam Filters Accept Which Certification Programs?

Check it out here.

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

The Road to Relevance: The Evolution of E-mail Marketing

On April 19th and 30th, Alterian and JupiterResearch are hosting a web seminar called "The Road to Relevance: The Evolution of E-mail Marketing".

David Daniels, Vice President and Research Director of JupiterResearch will present how email marketing is continually evolving as a marketing media, along with consumer attitudes and behaviors.

Register for this web seminar and you will understand:

  • the trends in consumer attitudes and behavior towards email marketing
  • the adoption of targeting tactics to improve message relevancy
  • the demographics of those consumers who are highly engaged with email marketing
  • benchmark data on the actions marketers are taking to optimize their campaigns
  • examples of the practical application of dynamic content, segmentation, targeting and data analysis
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Eight Things to Check Before You Hit the Send-button

In this article, Wendy Roth outlines 8 crucial things you should check before you hit the send-button.

Are you sending to the right list?
If the email is an invitation to a select event for your top customers, double check that only they get it. Or, if you're offering a special discount, check that recent purchasers won't get the offer.

Does the "from" address work?
Even if you specify different addresses for the "reply to" address or inform recipients not to reply, it's a good idea to check to see what recipients will get if they do reply to the "from" address.
 

Continue reading "Eight Things to Check Before You Hit the Send-button" »

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Segmentation and Personalization are Key Steps to Improve Email Performance

Segmentation/personalization, inventory assortments and data/analytics were cited as the top three concerns this year for online merchants seeking to improve conversions and return on investment, according to a survey from the E-Tailing Group.

Overall, the survey found that driving the right traffic to the site, increasing sales and fostering retention all require more targeted tactics enabled via more sophisticated analytics and data mining.

Regarding analytics, the survey revealed that marketers need the right data on a timely schedule, formatted for usability and sufficiently skilled staff to interpret the information. But it also showed that 80% of merchants devoted 20 or fewer hours per week to this task.

In terms of merchandising, the survey showed that respondents "are using everything in their arsenal" to meet customer expectations, including rich media and customization.

The survey also found respondents increased the percentage of their online sales budget designated for marketing to 29% from 27% last year.

In addition, the poll found that email continues to play an important role because of its low cost and that segmentation and personalization are at long last emerging as key steps to improve email's performance.

The survey polled 167 online merchants during the first quarter.

Source: directmag.com

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Do Text Emails Have a Better Deliverability Rate than HTML Emails?

In the latest edition of Constant Contact's newsletter "Email Marketing Hints & Tips", Gail Goodman answers the question "I've heard that text emails have a better delivery rate than HTML emails. Is this true?".

The short answer is NO. Here's what Gail has to say about it:

There are two misconceptions about HTML emails:

1) they are more likely to get blocked, and
2) they are less preferred by readers.

These are simply not true. Text emails do not have a higher delivery rate than HTML and many people want the benefits that HTML provides (images, colors, readability, etc.) over text.

The deliverability of your emails is based primarily on the reputation of the sender (if you use a email service provider, they are the sender). What used to be the most important delivery element, the content of the email, is playing much less of a role these days.

And format (HTML or text) has little to no effect. When you use a service to send email, you can offer your subscribers a choice of text or HTML. That way they are getting the kind of email they want. And that is what's most important.

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

W3C HTML Mail Workshop in Paris Next Month

W3C is holding a Workshop to discuss HTML in email on May 24 in Paris, France. As Mathew says on his blog:

"This is a significant event, because it shows that the people involved in formulating and setting web standards recognize that HTML in email is worthy of more time and effort than it has received in the past. It's great news for everyone who has been frustrated by inconsistent support for html in email clients, and is tired of explaining that html can actually improve the experience for people receiving email if done right."


The W3C would like to hear from direct marketers, online retailers and companies using HTML emails
as their default format, to gather requirements, hear triumphs and horror stories, and prioritize plans for future technical work.

Position papers will be the basis for discussions at the Workshop. Accepted papers will be made publicly available.

Candidate Topics for Position Papers are:

  • Why HTML email is mandatory for newsletters and ads
  • Good and bad stories from direct marketers and online retailers
  • Interoperability problems in mail user agents
  • Editing HTML content for email
  • What needs to be done to have JavaScript enabled in email ?
  • Browsing and Authoring "Decorative mail services" on Mobile phone in Japan
  • etc.

Presenters will be asked to make the slides of the presentation available on the workshop home page in HTML, or plain text.

Position papers must be submitted via email to HTML mail public list no later than 21 April 2007. Early submissions are appreciated.

The Workshop is free, and open to both W3C Members and to non-members.

Read more here.

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Understanding Email Metrics and Deliverability

If you haven't watched the archived version of the Email Metrics and Bounce Management webinar, I strongly urge you to do that now.

And then try to understand your email metrics and deliverability:

Ask a lot of questions about how your company or ESP is calculating e-mail metrics.
If the method doesn’t work for you, change it. Not asking such questions can prevent you from making good choices for your email marketing program and result in lost revenue.

Talk to your ESP or ISP about bounce metrics.
An EEC study found that only a third of mailers have good visibility into why their messages are bouncing, while another third have poor visibility—they only know what’s been mailed and the total number of bounces overall. This isn’t surprising because 25% of all ESPs don’t break out hard versus soft bounces. Make sure you know where your provider stands, and ask for better statistics if you’re not seeing the entire picture.

Assume discrepancies exist.
One company may define hard bounces as messages that have been blocked as spam and another may count only those messages that have bad email addresses.

Become an advocate for change.
The EEC has in the past called for a nonpartisan agreement on metrics. The more companies that call for this change the better.

Source: BtoBonline

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