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86 entries from June 2007

Small Businesses Prefer Email Newsletters over New Media

Email newsletters are one of the two most important sources for business management information and advice for small and medium businesses (SMBs), according to a study released by Bredin Business Information, Inc. (BBI).

In the study, SMB executives were asked to judge the relevant importance of different media for business management information. 83% of respondents indicated that email newsletters were either very important or important sources, putting it in a near statistical tie with print media (84%) and ahead of corporate/media websites (71%). At the bottom of the list were many of the "new" media distribution methods, including webcasts/podcasts (40%), RSS feeds (39%) and blogs/wikis (34%).

SMB executives also knew the kinds of articles they wanted to see in their vendors' email newsletters. By far, practical "how to" information (40%) was the preferred form of content, followed by company product information (26%), management overviews on topics such as strategy or leadership (21%), company news (19%) and case studies (17%).

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CAN-SPAM Compliance is the Bare Minimum: Aim for Permission!

J.F. Sullivan wrote an interesting post on the eec blog today about the resurgence in CAN-SPAM interest in the news recently.

He wants to remind everyone that CAN-SPAM compliance is the most negligible form of email marketing compliance that you can actually do. If you are building a program and infrastructure to effect CAN-SPAM compliance as your only goal, then by all indications you will essentially appear to be a spammer. You may ask yourself why that is, and while there are many reasons, it basically comes down to permission. CAN-SPAM doesn’t require permission from the end user while the industry at large does.

He compares it to going out on a first date. You know you need to perform a set of personal hygiene acts. CAN-SPAM compliance is akin to just brushing your teeth and throwing cold water on your face. If you hope to get a second date or even a phone call, you need to put your best foot forward. The latest threads and a bit of cologne might be in order. Aiming for the bare minimum shouldn’t be your goal and that is what CAN-SPAM is -- the bare minimum. Read the full post here.

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My HTML Buttons Don't Render Correctly in Windows Live Hotmail

For a while now I've been using HTML buttons in my emails rather than image buttons. However, I've noticed that I can't get them to render correctly in Windows Live Hotmail. Does anyone know how to fix this issue?

This is the HTML code I'm using:

<TABLE cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0 width=300 align=left border=0>
  <TR>
  <TD align=right width=10><IMG height=40 src="http://emailpics.ebay.com/226839672/images/070604-btnleft-1.gif" width=11></TD>
  <TD align=center bgcolor=#c70000><A href="#"><FONT face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" color=#ffffff size=2><STRONG><U>Click here to view samples</U></STRONG></FONT></A> </TD>
  <TD width=7><IMG height=40 src="http://emailpics.ebay.com/226839672/images/070604-btnright-1.gif" width=10></TD>
  </TR>
  </TABLE>

This is what it's supposed to look like:

Originalbutton_3

And this is what it looks like in Windows Live Mail:

Windowslivehotmail

See what it does at the bottom of the button? That's what I'm desperately trying to fix. Any ideas? Anyone?

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8 Tips and 5 Strategies for Using Animation in Your Emails

In this article, Chad White offers some great tips for those who want to include animation in their emails:

1.  Use animated gifs instead of Flash because of email client, support and rendering issues.

2.  Animation is a more attractive tool if most of your subscribers have broadband Internet access.

3.  Keep image file sizes small (50K or less) in order to minimize hard bounces.

4.  Send test creative to email accounts at Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, Gmail, etc. to ensure delivery. Or better yet, use a rendering testing tool.

5.  Make sure that the first frame of the animated gif contains useful information in case the subsequent frames are blocked. Avoid fade-ins. [I'd advise you to pay special attention to the first AND the last frame. I've noticed that some email clients only show the last frame, where others only shows the first frame.]

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links for 2007-06-06

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Going Global With Your Email Program

At the last Email Insider Summit I was invited to sit on a panel to discuss what it takes to go global with your email program. The short answer is: it takes a lot of planning, extra time and budget and preferably local resources.

At my previous company, my team was responsible for sending out a newsletter to 12 different European countries -- in the native language. Our corporate headquarters (located in Ottawa, Canada) would come up with the main content for the newsletter, but each country had the chance to add local news. And then the fun began...

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Always Consider the Human Element

In this article, Stefan Pollard tells us to always review our messages to make sure they're immediately recognizable by the recipient:

Use a recognizable sender line.
The sender line or from name can make or break you in the inbox. Readers look for familiar identities; if they don't recognize you, they'll delete and possibly report your messages as spam. Always format your sender line to show the most recognizable name, usually your brand or company name, not the person who hits "send."

Write a clear, concise subject line.
Brand the subject line with your company, newsletter name, or product brand, whichever is more relevant to your readers. Also, consider context. What else is in the reader's inbox? Do your subject lines stand out? Do they look like your competitors or, worse, the spammers who operate in your market niche?

Optimize your presence in the preview pane.
You have about two seconds and maybe 4 square inches of message-body real estate to convey your identity or brand and to describe clearly what the message contains. If you fail this test, the reader may delete your message without opening it or may report it as spam.

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The Eight R's for Email Marketing Success

In this article, Loren McDonald tells us to put the R's of email marketing to work, and you'll make your email marketing program more strategic, results-oriented and effective:

These are his eight R's for e-mail marketing success.

Requested
A successful e-mail program starts with a list of subscribers who ask to hear from you. Make sure you send e-mails that are requested by recipients: always get explicit permission, use a double opt-in process and resist such tactics as pre-checking boxes on registration forms.

Relationship
E-mail marketing is about building long-term relationships. With each e-mail you send, you either build trust or destroy it. Greet new users with a welcome e-mail that sets expectations around frequency and content, encourages feedback and invites them to manage your relationship through preference centers.
 

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Are You Removing Good Addresses From Your List?

I am slowly catching up on my reading and found this interesting article about soft and hard bounces hidden deep down in my to read list.

In this article, Derek Harding tells us to put aside convenient yet misleading concepts like hard/soft bounces and look beyond to the untidy reality that is email delivery. Your marketing metrics and your list hygiene will benefit from the simplification and the complexity this entails.

Why?

Because there's no agreement on hard and soft bounce definitions. The email delivery protocol, SMTP, classifies failures as transient or permanent. Some people consider a soft bounce to be a transient failure and a hard bounce a permanent failure. This is an excellent, accurate definition, but it doesn't address future deliverability for an email address, which is what marketers usually try to determine with the hard/soft distinction. Also, many email systems don't record transient failures unless they persist for several days, then most are pretty much permanent.

Other people suggest that a soft bounce is a condition such as a full mailbox. Yet such situations are often indicated by SMTP permanent failure codes, as ISPs consider these to be permanent. For example, Yahoo's delivery instructions specifically cite "mailbox full" as a permanent condition that should cause removal of an address from a mailing list. Read the full article here.

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How to Get More Email Marketing Resources: Learn to Talk the Bosses' Language

Speaking the language of business, the only language your boss understands, is the key to getting the email-marketing resources you need. So how do you do that?

In this article, Loren McDonald gives us a three-step process for talking business with the boss. In short you need to:

  1. Clarify the one strategic thing email does best for your company.
  2. Document why your current approach is leaving money on the table.
  3. Paint a clear and credible picture of what the new resources make possible.

Read the full article to find out how you do this.

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MAAWG Best Practices: Top Six Areas to Focus On

You and your team should definitely take the time to review the new MAAWG Sender Communication Best Practices document and discuss how you can implement the practices. But because he understands it can be hard to find the time to do this, George Bilbrey listed the below top six areas to focus on in this post.

1. Make your unsubscribe process clear, easy and fast.
If there is any one thing the average marketer could do to reduce complaints and increase deliverability it would be this. I'm constantly stunned at how difficult it can be a get off the list of a Fortune 500 company. MAAWG also recommends allowing email based and offline unsubscribe request. Basically, if someone asks you to stop sending them email – no matter where or how they ask – it is in your best interest to stop.
 

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Animation in Retail Emails Study: Executive Summary

Animation can be deployed for a wide variety of purposes in emails and if properly used can entertain, inform and inspire subscribers in ways that static images and text cannot.

“Animation in emails began more than seven years ago. Initially, it drove attention and traffic because of the unique aspects and novelty. Animation offered something that was completely out of the ordinary,” says Jeanniey Mullen, founder of the Email Experience Council. “With all of the issues surrounding spam, animation fell out of favor. Today, appropriately used, animation has become an optimal way to increase attention and effectiveness of emails.”

Selective use of animation can boost clickthroughs and conversions, which is why 34% of the major online retailers tracked by RetailEmail.Blogspot, have used animation in at least one email over the past seven months or so. Examining those emails, a number of strategies emerged:

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Double or Single Opt-in?

by Kath Pay

In the USA, Double opt-in has been regarded now as Best Practice for many a year. However, many of you may be surprised to know that double opt-in is not a CAN-SPAM requirement, nor is it a requirement of countries which have the tightest legislations.

So why then double opt-in? What are the benefits of double opt-in and why haven't other countries embraced it as Best Practice as heartily as the USA?

In a nutshell, I believe that it is to do with the amount of spamming a country produces. Whilst there are some other benefits of double opt-in, the main benefit is that you have foolproof evidence that a subscriber has signed up.

This is beneficial within the USA for 2 reasons:
1: The USA in general has an Opt out legislation.
2: The USA has the 2nd highest amount of spammers worldwide.

The results of the above is that generally speaking, recipients in the USA tend to hit the 'this is spam' button rather than the 'unsubscribe' link, due to the more lax legislation, which requires recipients to unsubscribe rather than subscribe . Therefore, if you use double opt-in and are accused with spamming, you can, armed with your irrefutable double opt-in information for the complainant, approach the ISP when you're blacklisted and refute the charge.

However, this is not the case with countries which have 'opt-in' legislation such as UK, Australia, France, Italy, Germany and the likes….As their legislation is based on opt-in, rather than opt-out, the practice of reporting as spam instead of unsubscribing has not been as big an issue, which in turn generally reduces the chances of being blacklisted.
 

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DomainKeys Identified Email Becomes Standard

The Internet Engineering Task Force has approved DomainKeys Identified Email (commonly known as DKIM) as a technical standard for email. This clears the way for emailers to implement DKIM and for ISPs to potentially use it to either block or allow email through its system.

This means that DKIM will eventually become the replacement to DomainKeys (DK) as the primary cryptographic-based authentication standard. DKIM has some great advantages over DK, but the biggest one is "third party signing," meaning it allows a domain other than the "From:" domain to sign the messages. There are many cases where the person sending the mail doesn't control the "From:" domain. Third party signing solves that problem, and as a result makes it much more likely that large companies can sign all their mail, even when outsourced to an ESP.

So what's a mailer to do?
 

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