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86 entries from June 2007

links for 2007-06-21

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Best Practices for Handling Email List Unsubscribes

There are many reasons to make unsubscribing from your email list as easy as possible, including protecting your reputation with both subscribers and Internet service providers, who can blacklist your firm or report you as a violator of the CAN-SPAM act. But if you need one more reason, the law requires it. Failure to have a working “unsub” system is a violation of CAN-SPAM.

Some best practices for handling e-mail list unsubscribes include:

1. Simplify the unsubscribe process. A one-click unsubscribe that is instantaneous is best. Most major ISPs offer this option. If you make it too difficult to unsubscribe, you may be reported as a spammer. A subscriber should have to take no more than two steps to exit your list, and one is better. Never require a subscriber to log in or reply to an email in order to unsubscribe. This may actually violate the law because if they have forgotten their password, they can’t unsubscribe.

2. Provide a link at the bottom of every e-mail that brings subscribers to an unsubscribe page. This page should be different from the Subscriber Profile page, which should have its own link. Test unsubscribe links regularly to ensure they work. You can offer a subscriber profile page allowing them to unsubscribe from one of several email communication options; however, one must be to unsubscribe fromall. Clicking “All” should remove them automatically.

3. Back up your unsubscribe process and make the process secure. In addition to the unsubscribe link, provide an email address that subscribers can use if the Web form fails. Make your system hackproof so others so others cannot unsubscribe someone from your list without their knowledge.

4. Follow the 10-day guideline set by CAN-SPAM laws. Spell out the time line on your unsubscribe page so subscribers know what to expect.

5. Make sure that your unsubscribe list is secured, and that you can not accidentally add the names back to the list. Also, if you move to a new email provider, make sure it can maintain your current unsubscribe list so that unsubs cannot accidentally be added.

Source: btobonline.com

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How and Why to Centralize Your Email Marketing Efforts

According to JupiterResearch, a mere 38% of companies have a single department handling email communication - while a whopping 24% have six or more.

In this article, Loren McDonald explains how and why you should centralize your email marketing efforts:

Why should you centralize your email marketing efforts?

Establishing a core team of email-marketing gurus to service various business units helps you avoid the inevitable erosion of quality that comes from silo email marketing.

You solve today's issues, such as deliverability and rendering, with a team of experts who champion best practices. You also prepare for tomorrow - a dynamic-content future characterized by personalized subject lines, offers, articles, and products.

Your future success depends on having in-house know-it-alls with deep email-marketing expertise!

What is centralization all about?

Centralization is about putting a core team of email-marketing experts in place to handle the complicated and mundane tasks most marketers aren't equipped to handle.

There are two approaches: you can either create a completely centralized group that acts as an internal agency and handles every aspect of every group's email marketing program or you can task a central team with email oversight (business units still produce their own emails, but the centralized function offers advice and oversees execution).

No matter which path you take, you need dedicated gurus who live and breathe email, understand the challenges, apply best practices, and focus strategically on how to use email to drive business results.

So what are the tasks that you should centralize?

The goal of centralization is to free marketers to focus on campaign strategy: better messaging, segmentation approaches, stronger offers, the most effective use of the email channel.

Continue reading "How and Why to Centralize Your Email Marketing Efforts" »

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8 Seconds to Capture Attention: Landing Page Report

50 percent of visitors to landing pages will bail after a cursory 8-second glance. Successful landing pages must grab attention quickly and not require a great deal of effort on the part of prospects.

In their latest study called "8 Seconds to Capture Attention: Silverpop's Landing Page Report," (of which the results were presented at the Email Insider Summit in May) Silverpop found that some landing pages quickly grab attention and keep readers interested, while others are easily dismissed and quickly discarded.

Following are just a few of the key findings from the report.

Matching the look of the email: the confusion of arriving at a Web page that doesn't match the look and tone of the email can lead visitors to abandon the site. Yet 35 percent of the landing pages reviewed by Silverpop didn't have the same look or tone of the email that generated the click. Twenty-nine percent of BtoC companies posted landing pages that didn't match the email, compared to 41 percent of BtoB companies.

Repeating the email's call-to-action: to reinforce the call-to-action that generated the email recipient to click a link in the first place, best practice is to repeat the offer on the landing page. Yet a surprising number of marketers failed to do so. In fact, 45 percent of landing pages didn't repeat the strong promotional copy found in the email.

Jumping to the home page: catapulting a clicker to a Web site's home page generally fails to deliver on the promise inherent in the email's call-to-action. Yet 17 percent of email marketing campaigns dumped recipients there.

Including email opt-in requests: customers and prospects can end up at a landing page via a variety of routes, especially if someone on your email list forwarded the message. To capture the email addresses of those who have arrived at your landing page without being in your database, its essential to ask them to register. Yet 35 percent of the landing pages didn't include an opt-in request.

Download the report here and learn how your landing pages compare with other marketers' attempts to lead customers from clicks to conversions.

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VistaPrint's Email Tactics: Do They Work?

Yesterday I read this post on the Email Marketing Voodoo blog. The author claims he/she has received 4 apology emails from VistaPrint this month and is wondering if it's possible to apologize too much.

I too received 4 apology emails from VistaPrint in the last two months and as from the second one I started to feel that it was more of a marketing stunt rather than a sincere apology.

I must say I'm a bit puzzled with their email marketing tactics overall. Last December I purchased some business cards on their website and have received over 60 promotional emails from them since. I received 5 emails from them in February, 8 in March, 12 in April, 20 in May and so far I've received 15 in June... So I'm wondering: is sending more emails to unresponsive/lapsed customers a good tactic? Do they really think it works?

Personally I don't think so. If it weren't out of professional interest I would have unsubscribed long ago.

Legally it's perfectly okay in Europe to send emails to customers, but in my perception I feel spammed to death by them. One email per month to remind me of their existence and keep the brand awareness up would be more than enough. I would even consider purchasing from them again. But now I'm not so sure: would purchasing more products from them trigger more emails? I'm not willing to give it a try!

What annoys me most is that sending practices like this are giving the industry a bad name.

If anyone at VistaPrint is reading this post: do something about it! Please!

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Automated Messages: How to Improve Response Rates

System-generated emails often fall to the bottom of a marketer's to-do list, but they can have an enormous impact on user loyalty.

In this article, Simms Jenkins looks at several simple ways to properly evaluate and optimize them in order to improve response rates, delivery and overall marketing messaging:

First, these are the types of emails that fall into the automated messaging bucket:

  • Email Subscription Confirmations/Welcome Emails
  • Sweepstakes/Promotional Confirmation
  • Pre-Set Opt In-Site Notifications
  • Order Confirmations
  • Customer Service Automated Replies
  • Subscription or Profile Changes
  • Order Tracking/Shipping Notifications
  • User Name/Password Requests
  • Automated Customer Surveys
  • Email Forward/Friend Confirmations

So, you may be thinking these emails are all non-marketing, boring types of messages that have nothing to do with email marketing campaigns. Au contraire.

Let's move toward what features and best practices should be included in these underrated emails. They can pack more power than you might suspect if you give them the right strategic attention.

Test and send HTML automated emails. Don't always send all automated messages as text only. HTML automated emails can ensure branding across the email board and can deter phishing schemes. Test it if you have doubts about an HTML version of an automated message.

Deliverability matters, everywhere. Some users may receive an automated message as their first email if you send automated welcome emails. Ensure they have clear white list instructions and other relevant information to make sure that this isn’t the last email they receive from you.

Include basic header and footer information. See my previous take on Headers and Footers for elements to include in your automated messaging that mirror your marketing headers and footers.
 

Continue reading "Automated Messages: How to Improve Response Rates" »

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Goodwill Messages Retain Customers, Build Loyalty Increase Sales

Savvy marketers regularly send non-promotional messages as part of a deliberate strategy to retain customers, build loyalty, and, yes, increase sales over the long term.

For the marketer focused completely on immediate promotions, such non-promotional mailings often are not even on their radar screens. Welcome messages, thank-yous, informational updates, reminders and more --what we call goodwill messages-- are simple to send, easy to automate, and once set-up cost next to nothing. Yet they can sail through the mailbox clutter and generate increased revenue for years to come through repeat purchases by now loyal customers.

The key is the phrase for years to come. This is a long-term success strategy. A welcome message or thank you for your purchase won't likely bring customers racing back to buy more that day, but it will reinforce the idea that they made the right decision to shop with you and increase the likelihood they will make that same decision the next time.

Remember every marketer out there has them in their sights, trying to win them away from you. Only by establishing ongoing goodwill with them, even when they are not buying, can you increase the likelihood they will return as customers.

And the beauty of such goodwill messages is that they are quick and easy. These are basic messages. You don't need elaborate, costly creative. You don't have to build a fancy promotion. You can set it up so the messages to go out with no human involvement, triggered automatically by a purchase or an event or simply the change of the calendar. Out of all the promotional shouting your customers are subjected to, these simple, personal messages indeed stand out.

Goodwill messages follow one rule: send communications your customers want to receive at key times in their engagement cycles. When they have made a purchase, when they have joined your mailing list or frequent shoppers club, when seasonal cycles repeat as well as when events merit an announcement.

The hardest part of goodwill messaging is not only abandoning the temptation of what makes money, but without that immediate return, measuring the results. Unlike promotional messages where you can easily count how many widgets move in a given timeframe, with goodwill messaging you will have to take a long view. You will need to test them and track how many become repeat customers, how often they return, for how many years. Ultimately, we're talking about increasing the lifetime value of a customer.

Source: DMNews

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Takeaways from the "Designing for the New Email Landscape" webinar

On June 19th WhatCounts hosted a webinar on “Designing for the New Email Landscape,” which addressed designing and coding email in an environment of disparate email readers, increased image blocking and greater use of preview panes.

You can view the archived webinar here or read Chad White's key takeaways on his RetailEmail.Blogspot blog.

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New Report: 6 Elements of a Content-Rich, Money-Making E-Newsletter

Nick Usborne just published a great new report called "The 6 Elements of a Content-Rich, Money-Making E-Newsletter". In this 16-page report he gives you the information you need to build a content-rich e-newsletter.

Buy the report here for $8.95. I promise you it will be well worth your money!

My key take-aways:

  • Continuity in design and content are major factors in establishing recognition and value in your e-newsletter.
  • Use contests or surveys or questions or subscriber-generated content to involve your audience.
  • Establish a balance between editorial and promotional content in your newsletter, and keep that balance consistent.
  • When you want to make a sale, keep it relevant and useful.
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links for 2007-06-19

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The Email Marketers' Club welcomes its 20th member!

About a month ago I found this tool called Ning which allows you to create your own social network. Of course I couldn't resist trying it out, so I created a community called the The Email Marketers' Club.

The club welcomed its 20th member today and we're looking for more people to come join the fun! Want to be part of this community and network with email marketers across the globe too? Join now!

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Improving Your Newsletter: Some Tips to Get You Started

Looking to revise the look and feel of your layout and improve the content of your newsletters? Melinda Krueger explains how to go about it: To improve your content, find out what is most important to your audience:

  1. Aggregate the data from all your campaigns thus far and sort by response rate (or conversion rate, if that is a better measure).
  2. Capture screen shots of your emails and overlay the link click rate on them: All Clicks on Link A / Total Clicks on the Email.
  3. Survey your readers.
  4. Survey your opt-outs.
  5. Talk to the people closest to the customer.

To improve the layout and look and feel:

  1. Optimize for the Preview Pane.
  2. Make your email scan-able.
  3. Choose an experienced designer who knows how to work within the limitations of email, has learned from testing different approaches, and understands that the role of graphics is to guide the eye through the copy.
  4. Consider investing in an eye tracking study to determine whether your new layout draws readers to the most important elements of the email.
  5. Test your new format in a variety of environments (Web-based email programs, Outlook, Mac, PC, etc.).
  6. Test all theories that arise in the development of your newsletter.

Read the full article here.

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Three Ways To Increase Email Sales

According to Kevin Hillstrom there are at least three key factors that can be managed, to grow email sales:

  • Factor #1 = Incremental List Size, Managed By Contact Frequency
  • Factor #2 = Incremental Demand Per Contact, Managed By Contact Frequency
  • Factor #3 = Demand Per Email, Managed By Number Of Targeted Versions

Incremental list size is ultimately determined by the number of email campaigns sent per week. When a customer is contacted too often, too many customers unsubscribe, driving down the total size of the email list. Strategically, management may choose to execute "x" campaigns per week. Mathematically, the number of email contacts per week can be determined by the number that still cause a healthy increase in the number of valid names available to be emailed. In the table in the original post, you'll see that two emails per week are optimal, as the email list continues to grow.

Incremental demand per contact is also important. As you increase email frequency, you will decrease the performance of any one email contact. Increased frequency will probably cause cannibalization between email campaigns. The table shows that the combination of unsubs and performance dictate two email campaigns per week.

Targeted versions of an email are important as well. Few retailers have the ability to dynamically create unique email campaigns for each customer. As a result, management creates "x" versions of an email campaign, offering different merchandise in each version. The analytics team decide which version of an email campaign the customer receives, on the basis of past purchase behavior, stated customer preferences, clickstream history, and other factors. From a staffing standpoint, it could be a challenge to produce numerous versions.
 
Read the full post here.

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Some Design Tweaks and Other Changes

After upgrading to a Pro account with Typepad, I made some changes to the appearance and the way information is displayed on this blog. Here's an overview:

- I added a discussion board aka forum and hope it will make my blog a bit more interactive.
- I tweaked the category (view sample) and monthly archive pages (view sample) to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for. These pages now only show the title of each post and the first 50 words.
- After blogging for over 2 years, I finally decided to give my blog a real name (see header).
- I updated my About page and created a couple more pages - you can find them in the new horizontal navigation bar.

I'm done changing for the day, but if you have any suggestions for further improvements to this blog, please post them here.

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Just Added a Forum to this Blog. Help Me Test It!

I'm not only a gadget-freak (when is the iPhone being released in Europe???) but you might have noticed that I'm also a widget-freak :)

So when I read this post on typepadhacks.org on how to add a forum to your Typepad blog, I wanted to give it a try.

I created a new page for my brand new forum and would like you to help me test it out. Let me know (by posting a message on the forum) if you like it, if you think it's useful, if you need more categories, if there's anything that could improve it etc. Your help and input is greatly appreciated!

For the time being anyone can post a message, but I might change that to members only if I get too much spam posts on it.

Try it out here: www.b2bemailmarketing.com/forum.html

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