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42 entries from July 2007

links for 2007-07-26

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How to Score With Transactional Messages

When leveraged properly, transactional messages can strengthen customer loyalty, provide a complete view of the customer lifecycle and increase sales, says email and database marketing provider e-Dialog in their report, How to Optimize Transactional Email Messages.

Today, email messages serve several purposes, including facilitating, completing or confirming a commercial transaction the recipient previously agreed to enter into with the sender. These messages include warranty, recall and safety or security information; customer service notices; subscription/membership status or account information; information related to employment relationship or benefits; and confirmation of delivery of goods or services, including updates or upgrades.

These transactional messages receive very high open rates and likely are sent from an IT or e-commerce system, not from the same email marketing platform that promotional emails are sent. The logical question then becomes, how do catalogers and multichannel merchants get the most value from their transactional messages? Here are a few tips from e-Dialog’s report.

  • Enhance messages with HTML. This allows you to quickly and easily customize the text, formatting, graphics and links of these messages.
  • Increase acquisition by adding an opt-in field. This way, by encouraging recipients who have given their email address for transactional purposes, you can entice them also to sign up for promotional mailings. List the benefits they gain by doing this.
  • Include dynamic content. Add text and imagery making the message relevant to the recipient. For instance, include an image of the product they’ve just purchased in their order confirmation or warranty recall.
  • Improve deliverability. Add a link at the top of the email encouraging recipients to whitelist the “from” to ensure your messages end up in their inbox.

Above all else, marketers should integrate the strategies and tactics used to optimize promotional messages into all transactional messages, e-Dialog suggests. Find a solution that handles automated composition, delivery, tracking and reporting of transactional and promotional emails. This provides a complete, integrated view of all customer email communications, helping marketers to plan, execute and measure a well-rounded contact strategy.

Source: CatalogSuccess

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Email Best Practices Are Just a Means to an End

In this article, Al DiGuido makes the point that email isn't about best practices, it's about making money.

And you know what? I think he's right. Best practices are just a means to an end. And that end goal for businesses (whether you like it or not) is acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, and building profitable lifetime customer relationships or putting it bluntly: "making more money".

That's why he announces the formation of the EROI Council. Because: "Most of the "direct marketers" I encounter are more concerned about driving incremental sales and profits for their companies. They continue to watch the interactive channel's explosive growth and are in desperate need of real insight, case studies, and organizations that can provide them hands-on assistance to transform strategies and executions into winning efforts".

Al figures that most DMA members are struggling to figure out how to craft strategies that provide them with a competitive edge in acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, and building profitable lifetime customer relationships. "What we really need are workshops where professionals who are knowledgeable and have track records of leveraging new media can examine marketers' specific issues and provide specific, tactical advice and direction about how to improve."

In his former position, Al met client after client who was brimming with excitement over the incredible ROI they generated and he wonders: "Shouldn't the DMA and its member committees be focused on sharing success stories and the specific tactics used to generate such a results?".

Read the full article here.

Al has a point, I think there is definitely some work to be done here and I for one would be very interested this kind of information. However, let's not forget that there is still a HUGE  amount of "basic email marketing eduction" that needs to be done around the topics such as rendering, email list growth, deliverability, targeting & segmentation, relevancy...

I'm sure there is room for Al's EROI council in the market, like there is room for a "beginners" Email Marketing Summit and an "advanced" Email Insider Summit.

What's your opinion on this? Post your comments on the Email Marketer's Club forum!

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Email Still a Vital Component of an Effective Marketing Strategy

Some people are  worrying that email might become irrelevant to young people who communicate via blog posts and text messages within barricaded friend or family networks. Loren McDonald is not too worried about that prospect:

"Email's brain trust has risen to identify and craft solutions to the challenges that could have brought email to its knees in recent years, such as spam, image blocking, rendering challenges and phishing. While not all of these have been solved yet, steps have been taken to keep the channel alive and kicking (or sending and receiving). I'm confident that this natural bent for true innovation will help it meet any challenge shiny new technologies can throw it".

In this excellent article, he provides a list of innovations that keep email a fresh and vital component of an effective marketing strategy:

  • It works even when you don't do it well - and it delivers the highest ROI when done well. If your email results aren't what you want them to be, it's probably because you're not using the medium correctly, more so than an inherent email fault.
  • Email generates almost immediate results, which allows for rapid testing and optimizing in marketing campaigns.
  • Consumers still request and respond to email and have become skilled managers of their own inboxes, confident in their ability to deal with spam.
  • You can easily demonstrate email's bottom-line value to your management through tracking and analytics. After all, your CEO is more interested in what adds value to the organization than in trendy but untested new apps.
  • Email is the first channel to recognize that consumers truly are in control of the medium. It paved the customization trail by giving recipients many options for tailoring content to their own interests.
  • The email industry actively develops new ways to build trust and confidence in the medium. Authentication, strict permission policies, reliable unsubscribing and transparent opt-in policies are four I can name without thinking too hard.
  • Email is still the primary medium that provides a solid two-way connection with your customers, bolstered by the trust-building initiatives listed above.
  • If email is so last-generation and stodgy, why is it a core application in many of the new, supposedly more innovative, technologies? Two examples: aggregated RSS feeds and blog posts, as well as messages, posts and friend requests for networking sites like MySpace, LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Keeping up with the expanding platforms is another way email stays fresh and relevant to your subscribers, whether you read it on your clunky desktop computer, your ultrathin notebook with a 17.5-inch screen, or your iPhone, Treo or BlackBerry.

Do you agree or disagree with Loren? Discuss this topic with the other members of the Email Marketer's Club!

Source: Email Insider

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links for 2007-07-25

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How to Drive Webinar Registrations via Email

In this article, Amy Bills answers the following frequently asked questions about driving webinar registrations via email.

  • What's the average rate of registration I should expect?
  • How should we promote our Webinar?
  • Where can we find databases of potential attendees?
  • How much time should we leave before the first invitation and the live event?
  • How many times should we communicate with registrants before the live event?

If this topic is of interest to you, continue reading here.

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Tracking Email Campaigns with Google Analytics?

"Can you use Google Analytics to track email campaigns?"

Today I stumbled upon this question on the Web Analytics Forum. Someone from a Fortune 500 company wanted to know if there is a way that Google Analytics can help in getting information on their email campaigns.

Apparently it's possible as some people point out:

"If you use the URL Builder you could tag your links within the email, going out to your website as being from the medium of email, and the campaign could be the date and you could continue to segment if desired."

"You should just add a few parameters to your outbound links from the newsletter. Tag your links in the following fashion: Then, you can see in your Traffic Source Report the visits coming from links from your email blast and use it as a way to segment your traffic and compare various metrics such as goal conversion (if you have one setup), bounce rate, etc…"

Does anyone have experience with this? What are the pros and the cons? Share your thoughts and comments on the Email Marketer's Club forum!

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6 Key Areas That Affect Deliverability

by Darren Fell

The 6 key areas that affect deliverability are Reputation, Content, Building trust, Timing, Data and Creative:

1. Reputation

The first and most important area in deliverability is the reputation of your sending servers or those of your ESP.

Many think that the reputation or 'sending history' is associated with the sending domain name, but in most cases it isn't. As we know with 'phishing' attacks, sending addresses can be faked so reputation systems look at the root delivery address that can never be altered; the IP addresses of the delivery servers.

So, have you got a good reputation?

There are a number of services out on the internet that allow you to interrogate the IP addresses you are using to deliver your campaigns. If you don't know how to find your IP address that, you'll see it within the first four lines of the email header when you view the 'source' of the email campaign.

Services like Sender Score give a rating of between 1-100. For an incredibly simple rule of thumb, scores above 80 are good and anything below 30 indicates that the reputation of your sending servers could be pretty poor. If it's this bad it will instantly have an effect on your deliverability and it's highly likely your emails will be blocked across numerous ISPs.

So if the score is low, how on earth did it get into this state?

Continue reading "6 Key Areas That Affect Deliverability" »

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Email Deliverability and Reputation Management Webinar

This Thursday at 10AM Pacific Time, WhatCounts will host a webinar on the subject of Email Deliverability and Reputation Management for the new email marketing landscape.

Justin Foster will moderate a panel consisting of Michelle Eichner, Co-Founder & VP Client Services at Pivotal Veracity, and John Karpovich, Founder at Port25 Solutions. He promises to deliver some takeaways you have not seen before and a lot of great educational content that will broaden your understanding of email deliverability and sender reputation.

Topics include:

  • Email deliverability in a nutshell
  • Sender reputation in the deliverability landscape
  • How different ISPs handle reputation
  • How marketers in three different situations can best manage reputation and deliverability:
  • Email marketers sending to a house list in a primarily retention program
  • Email marketers embarking on a new email acquisition strategy
  • Email marketers moving to a new vendor/ESP or IP address
  • How email marketing infrastructure can impact reputation and deliverability
  • Top deliverability myths to look out for.

Register here.

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Holidays Are Popular for Email Marketing

The biggest day of the year in 2006 for US retail e-mail marketers was the day after Christmas, according to Email Experience Council data cited in Marketing Charts. More than 53% of retailers tracked in the study sent email on December 26.

The day is favored for capturing added sales from returns as well as gift card and e-gift card sales as quickly as possible.

Other popular days with email marketers included Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) and days related to holidays they preceded, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, President's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter and Tax Day.

None of the 20 most popular e-mail days fell in July, August, September or October.

Source: eMarketer

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How Not to Build Your List

Go to any internet marketing forum and ask the following question: If you had to start your internet company all over again but were allowed to incorporate just one item from your previous business what would it be? Some marketers may say a certain traffic generating technique or advertising method which has made them a lot of money. Others may pick a specific product or service. But you can bet that the overwhelming majority will say if they had to decide on just one thing, it would be their opt in email in list.

According to Direct Marketing Association, revenue generated last year from email marketing was projected at 18.5 billion dollars and that was just in the United States alone. The advent of filters due to spam email makes it tougher to contact your target audience but having your own email marketing system remains essential to online success.

But you can take it to the bank, that anytime a good thing comes along, some people will do everything in their power to shortcut or game the system and ruin it for everyone else. They will then try to convince many people who are just starting out to do the same. If you want to build your email list the wrong way then.

  • Buy the List: there are many distributors online who will sell you an email list. This is a very ineffective way of marketing since these lists are usually to general in nature. You make a list mailing purchase of 10,000 names and addresses but the number of people who are going to be interested in your product or service will be minuscule. Another problem is that many people on the list never asked to be sent a solicitation, which brings up the question of how did the distributors compile the list? Unsolicited emails are a good way to get accused of spamming.

  • Email Harvesting: a few years back many a website offered software to gather emails from online profiles, forum postings, mailing lists and various other places. The software would look for anything that appeared to be an email address and then compile it into a list. While not as prominent as before, this software still exists. You may be able to find a legitimate email distributor to buy a list from but email harvesting is spamming; pure and simple. This method will get you in a lot of trouble.

Opt in email marketing is arguably still the best way to generate a steady stream of customers and revenue. Yes it's been made tougher but that does not mean the system has been rendered useless. Just stay away from the shady practices or quick fixes and you will have no trouble building a responsive opt in email list of people who cannot wait to hear from you.

Source:  Daryl Campbell on

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links for 2007-07-20

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links for 2007-07-17

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DKIM: What is It and Why is It Important?

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) uses digital signatures to authenticate messages. These signatures allow you, or your email service provider, to verify that a message claiming to be from your bank is really from your bank. Without authentication, if I receive an email saying that my account has been compromised and requesting me to verify my personal details, it's a pretty good bet that I should ignore the message. But if I receive the same message and I can prove to my own satisfaction that it came from my bank, then I should probably pay serious attention.

DKIM can offer this proof, and it has just been published by the Internet Engineering Task Force--the group responsible for technical standards on the Internet--as an official Internet standard.

But just as no one wants to buy a radio if no signal is being transmitted, and no one wants to transmit until someone can hear it, DKIM needs cooperation from both senders and receivers. Senders will drive adoption of DKIM because they have money and their brand reputation at risk.

One way phishers profit is by tricking victims into divulging personal bank account details by impersonating the bank behind that account. This is of huge concern to financial institutions, many of which have already started deploying DKIM. And because DKIM runs on the email servers provided by the enterprise or service provider rather than on the desktops of individual users, it doesn't require upgrading every machine on the network.

Still, a digital signature by itself isn't enough to prove that a message is valid. Phishers will undoubtedly sign mail using domains that they own. Sometimes these domains will be chosen to resemble the names of legitimate institutions.

You can compare authentication to a driver's license, which proves who someone is, but tells you nothing about their safety record; for that you need to know something about their driving history. In the email world, we call this "reputation," which is essential to assessing the value of a message. The next big step to restoring trust in email will be the creation of reputation servers so we can see the "driving history" of the multitude of lesser-known sites.

While DKIM by itself is a valuable technology, to really shine it will need to be used in concert with other technologies, some still in development. But we must start with DKIM.

Email senders should start using DKIM as soon as feasible so that they and their customers can reap the benefits. Email receivers should start verifying DKIM signatures so next-generation antispam and antiphishing tools can leverage that information to deliver better results. And end users should ask their email providers what they are doing to deploy email authentication and restore trust in Internet e-mail.

Source: via The Email Wars

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4 Things to Keep in Mind When Testing

1. Be sure to send all e-mail at the same time. You don't want the day or time of the send to influence results (unless that's what you're testing).

2. Make clear notes about what you're testing and which group is getting the "business as usual" version. This makes it easy to quickly determine a winner and implement what you've learned.

3. Wait at least 48 hours before declaring a winner. Early results aren't always accurate. Often, what's ahead after an hour doesn't maintain its momentum.

4. Make sure test groups are of significant quantity. You can do an analysis to determine statistically significant sample size and margin of error. Or you can use these rules of thumb:

  • Have at least 1,000 e-mail addresses per group; 5,000 is better if your list is over 10,000.
  • If your total list is smaller than 2,000, repeat the same test over a few sends until you have aggregate results for 2,000 e-mail addresses (1,000 per each group).

Continue reading here and learn more about the most common things to test in email marketing: sender lines, subject lines, and the body of the email and the landing page.

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