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34 entries from September 2007

Centralizing All Company Email is Key to Keeping the Channel Efficient and Effective

Email is being used increasingly to address multiple needs and opportunities, such as customer service communications, promotional marketing, public relations and order confirmations. In many companies, all of these types of communications are handled by different departments, which may or may not follow the same rules and branding guidelines.

Email can play a significant role in building or destroying your brand, so it's critical to know how it's being affected by every email sent by your organization.

According to Spencer Kollas, centralizing all customer email (marketing, transactional, customer service) on one platform gives companies the power to better coordinate their efforts for improved delivery, more effective marketing programs and enhanced customer service. Plus, as the volume of marketing email that consumers receive increases, companies are turning to centralization to better manage their brand and sender reputation.

Read more about why you should centralize all company email.

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

Five Holiday Email Marketing Do's and Don'ts

As Stefan Pollard points out in this ClickZ article, the holiday shopping season is less than 2 months away from its official U.S. launch on Black Friday on November 23rd. This time of year can make or break your e-mail marketing program. Tune it up now to avoid mistakes once the season is in full swing.

He offers 5 do's and don'ts to help you avoid some common traps:

1. Consider Your Marketing Program as a Fourth-Quarter Event
Even if your company doesn't do holiday marketing, you're affected by what everyone else in the e-mail-marketing space is doing. Your highly targeted, permission-based, scheduled mailing will be lost in the maelstrom if you don't optimize every aspect of the campaign, from subject line to the message copy to the delivery protocols.

2. Don't Use Greater Frequency to Rescue a Below-Average Quarter or Capitalize on a Good One
Just because one message generates a terrific response doesn't mean sending more of the same will lead to increased returns. You'll burn out your list through over-mailing and tarnish your brand or company name, long after the season is over.

3. Remember Spam Is Any Unrecognized, Unexpected, or Unwanted E-mail, Even Targeted Permission E-mail
Consumers have broadened their definition of spam to the point where it's essentially "any e-mail I don't want." If your message doesn't interest them, it comes too often, or you don't honor an unsubscribe fast enough, you're lumped in with "genuine" spam.

4. Find Creative Ways to Expand Your Reach to Customers and Prospect
Create a holiday-focused list, perhaps a limited-term one geared to last-minute deals and discounts, new merchandise, and other one-off topics, one you can e-mail whenever you have a deal subscribers would like.

5. Monitor Campaigns Closely, Test All Aspects Now
If you increase frequency too much, you'll very likely see more complaints, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and gripes. Jump on problems as they occur to minimize any damage to your sender reputation, which is the number one factor ISPs consider when deciding whether to block, reroute, or deliver your e-mail.

Also, test offers, subject lines, and content now. Correct problems before you and your staff get too busy. Review messages in different browsers and platforms. Clean up bad or broken HTML code. Test all links and e-mail addresses.

Read more here.

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

Tips to Set Up a Successful Preference Center

In this article, Jeanne Jennings provides some tips for setting up a successful preference center:

  1. Organize your newsletter choices. If your company has more than five e-mail newsletters listed, arrange them into logical groups so readers can figure out which ones might interest them.
  2. Ask for additional information. When visitors return to update their preferences, take that opportunity to grow your database of knowledge about them. Never ask for more than three new pieces of data at a time. In addition, prioritize and ask only for useful data. For example, ask for a ZIP code if your company offers regional workshops, so recipients can be informed of upcoming events in their areas.
  3. Offer incentives in exchange for more data. Some companies offer a small incentive for visitors to update their information, for example, every three to six months. Also, ask for another bit of data when they update for that incentive.
  4. Always send an e-mail confirmation. When visitors alter or add information, send an e-mail confirming changes made to the user profile. Provide a link to the updated page if the change wasn't anticipated.
  5. Think hard about requiring a password for preference centers. If that part of your Web site doesn't contain sensitive data about the visitor, such as credit card information or salary details, you run the risk of turning off people who don't have the time or inclination to remember user names or passwords.

Source: BtoB

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Design Your Emails so that They Are Easy to Navigate

In his latest Email Insider column, Loren MacDonald tells us that subscribers don’t always read your messages just to see your sales offer or newsletter copy. They might want to unsubscribe or change their preferences, comment on something you wrote or ask a question. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to do what they want to do with your email, not just read the content or take the action you want them to.

Think about all the ways subscribers can interact with you via email, and then review your messages to see how easy or hard it is to accomplish those in your standard email design. Following are some of the more common functions your email should be providing in addition to your core content:

  • Unsubscribe link
  • Link to email preferences/update profile page
  • Ask about a purchase, company policy or content in the message
  • Comment on a story/provide feedback
  • Listing of your email address to be added to subscribers’ safe senders list
  • Link to back issues or other offers, as appropriate
  • Link to Web version
  • Phone, email or mail contact information for newsletter staff or relate departments, such as ad sales or customer service
  • Privacy policy or link to it
  • Forward to a friend instructions
  • Link to related information or offers, products or services at your Web site
  • Description or link to shipping and return policies

Want to rate your email message’s usability? Try this free test.

Source: Email Insider

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DNSBL Resource Blacklist Statistics Center

Al Iverson's created a new DNSBL Resource Blacklist Statistics Center. It provides week-by-week graphs for twenty different blacklists. At a glance, one can easily see the accuracy rates and false positive rates for the past thirteen weeks for any blacklist in the system. This data will be refreshed weekly, automatically, and new blacklists can be added easily.

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

Where to Put Your Links to Maximize Click-Throughs?

Nick Usborne recently wrote an article called "Where and how to place your links in a 2-column HTML email".

These are the tips he offers:

  1. Links in the side columns will not perform as well as those in the center column, even if they are accompanied by nice product photos.
  2. In the main column a simple best practice is to place a text link early on in the text as well as at the end.
  3. When writing the text links, a descriptive link will usually out-perform a shorter, instructional link. In other words, “save 20% on our end-of-season Sea Kayaks” will likely do better than “buy now” or even “check out our low prices”.
  4. If you are selling more than one product in your email, you will probably get a higher click-through on the first product mentioned, and the lowest click-through on the last. (This is generally true, but definitely not true all of the time.)

He does add that "the best practices I describe are true of what I have seen overall. That said, I also see metrics on emails that fly in the face of all these suggestions."

So you should still test what works best for your audience.

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

links for 2007-09-29

I finally caught up on my reading after my holidays. After reading the 150+ articles on email marketing that have been written in the last couple of days, here are the ones I think are most interesting:

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

3 Rules for Applying Personas to Email Marketing

Ian Lurie, author of the Conversation Marketing blog, explains how you can create personas for your email marketing campaigns by following these three rules:

  1. Design for convenience, for that persona. 'Convenience' means different things to different people. For me, it means messages I can easily scan and delete or act on. For someone else, it might mean all the information they need, right in the e-mail.
  2. Tailor every offer to that persona. Sending a 10% off deal to a persona who wants luxury at any cost won't get you much.
  3. Refresh your memory. Every time you launch an e-mail campaign, review your personas. Otherwise you're going to drift into what I call 'coupon land', where every e-mail starts with '20% Limited Time offer!!!!' or some such. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad offer. Just make sure it'll work for your audience.

I'm not sure I follow the example that he gives. Check it out here.

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

State of Retailing Online 2007

E-mail marketing to house files is delivering higher response rates and lower costs per order than other channels, according to a study released last week.

Yet, the average company’s spending on the channel wouldn’t be enough to cover many companies’ coffee expenses.

E-mail is delivering sales at an average cost per order of less than $7, according to two surveys conducted by Forrester Research on’s behalf to create the State of Retailing Online 2007 report. This is compared to $71.89 for banner ads, $26.75 for paid search and $17.47 for affiliate programs.

Ninety one percent of those surveyed said they use e-mail to a house list as a marketing tactic while 88% of them said it has increased as a priority in 2007, according to

Moreover, the average click-through and order-conversion rates of e-mail are an astounding 11% and 6%, respectively, according to the study.

Yet, average spending on e-mail marketing to house files was $311,196, or 10% of companies’ online marketing budgets.

The lack of spending is no doubt due in part to the role that spam plays in the marketplace. Retailers must be careful not to mail their files too frequently, or people will report them to their Internet service providers as spammers and opt out of future mailings.

As a result, most marketers send e-mail to their customers once a week, with the average marketer saying they send 64 messages to their customers a year, according to the survey.

While spending and frequency of mailings are relatively low, marketers have apparently made serious progress building their e-mail house files.

The average house list in 2006 was 2.4 million names, compared to 1.6 million the year before, according to

The most popular types of e-mail sent were purchase and shipment confirmations, with 87% and 81% of those surveyed saying they send them, according to

However, the most popular and effective e-mails are those that tout online-only promotions, with 71% of those surveyed saying they use the tactic and 66% rating it as “very effective.”

The type of messaging rated as second most popular and effective by the companies surveyed was segmented e-mail to groups of customers based on stated preferences or purchase data, with 63% saying they use the tactic and 60% rating it as very effective.

However, e-mail customized based on customer behavior or purchase data got relatively low marks with 28% of those surveyed saying they employ the tactic and 24% rating it as very effective.

Not surprisingly, another top e-mail promotion is new-product announcements with 73% of those surveyed saying they use it and 51% rating it as very effective.

One of the lowest-rated types of e-mails were those following shopping cart abandonment, with 17% saying they use it and 13% rating it very effective.

Other messages getting low marks were those promoting partners, with 29% of those surveyed saying they use the tactic and 9% rating the tactic as very effective.

According to, 170 companies responded to the first survey and 100 companies completed responses to the second, and 50 gave partial responses.

Source: DirectMag

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

Successful Remarketing Techniques: How to Implement Abandoned Cart or Abandoned Check Out Email Programs?

In this article, Angel Morales share a couple of questions to answer when implementing a successful remarketing campaign:

Who gets an abandoned basket e-mail?
There are larger decisions to make than simply sending an e-mail to anyone who abandons a basket. Frequent shoppers, first-time visitors, brand champions and charge offs — should they all get an abandoned basket e-mail? By leveraging cross channel marketing and transactional data, marketers can send abandonment e-mails targeted based on the value of the customer.

When should the customer get an abandoned basket e-mail?
It’s not as simple as it sounds. Some marketers send an e-mail 30 minutes after a sale is lost, while others wait three days, or a week or never send an e-mail — not recommended. Tracking response rates will show marketers when their optimal timing is, but marketers should also optimize send times by customer segments.

What is the correct message to send?
Remarketing can walk a fine line between building customer relationships, and being annoying. Using appropriate messaging is critical to abandoned cart success. Individual strategies will vary wildly depending on the merchant’s market, and this is another area where testing can be very helpful. Some popular messaging themes include cutesy with a subject line such as, “Oops, you left something in your basket” or helpful with subject lines such as, “Mike, May we help you.” For a personal subject line, “Mike, you are an MVP,” “Mike, we’ve missed you” or “Mike, a special welcome to” A system message such as, “Mike, Your shopping basket is about to expire,” would work better than just “Your recent order.”

Which product offers get sent?
One of the most important aspects of the remarketing approach is determining which products to feature. Many merchants are very subtle in their product targeting. This may include not putting products that were in the shopping cart, but rather similar items from the category the customer was most engaged with, or related items driven by cross-sell logic.

How do the pieces fit together?
Top tier analytics platforms offer the ability to move data from their solution into an e-mail service provider — allowing remarketing to flourish. But these high-end services also come at a premium price.

The good news is that basic remarketing can be achieved without a significant Web analytics investment. An e-commerce platform can be easily modified to create a file of people who abandon a basket. The system recognizes a customer visiting a Web site, notes a conversion event was started (cart or checkout) and verifies if the sale occurred. Individuals who did not complete a purchase become the targets for remarketing e-mails. The results and flexibility of an integrated analytics solution will be superior to this home grown approach, but this gives you a low-cost starting point.

Source: DMNews

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

links for 2007-09-19

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

On Holidays until September 26th

Last Friday was my last day at eBay. I will start my new job on October 1st (I'll tell you a bit more about this new job very soon).

I think I'm going to be extremely busy in the next couple of months, so I thought now would be a good time to go on holidays :) Until September 26th, I'll be traveling around Tunesia.

To stay updated on what's going on in the email marketing industry while I'm gone, I highly recommend Mark Brownlow's No Man Is an Iland blog.

I'm off to pack my suitcase now! Talk to you soon!

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

links for 2007-09-15

  • Steve Webster explains how the next stage of email metrics involve combining email response with other data streams like purchase behavior to create predictive models that clients can use to shape their promotional strategies.
  • is wrapping up a massive e-mail file cleanup in which it asked its millions of recipients how much—if any—e-mail they wanted from the organization.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

links for 2007-09-14

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

How to Capitalize on the True Power of Email

By Matt Blumberg

A recent Behavioral Insider column had a truly tantalizing quote from iPost's Steve Webster:

"There is the presumption that when someone receives an email message they then click on the email go to the Web site and either make a purchase or not and then they are done interacting with your email. This turned out to be wrong. We discovered very quickly that the power of an email impression lasts for weeks after the customer has actually received the message. The particular interaction they will have with you later really depends more on their personal preferences than on your putting a new email in front of them."

Emails are not perceived by recipients as distinct, one-off promotions.  But many marketers continue to view them that way and make both strategic and tactical errors because of that.  Here are a five things you need to start doing – right now – if you want to capitalize on the true power of email:

1. Stop analyzing each email in a vacuum.  The whole is worth more than the sum of the parts.  The deeper you can dive into your data and analyze the whole program and how recipients interact (or don't) the better decisions you can make.  Be sure to read the entire Behavioral Insider column – some of the tests they describe around segmentation reveal how email does or doesn't influence purchasing and how it can be used more effectively.

2. Sending ever more email isn't the answer.  To the point above, more email seldom makes buyers buy more.  Marketers don't quite believe this because every email blast they deploy results in revenue.  But the point this column makes is that you have to look at what is happening at the individual level.  It soon becomes clear that sending targeted, segmented email – less email per person – is more effective.

3. Look past the click. As a corollary to #1, many marketers believe if a subscriber doesn't click, they haven't interacted.  This clearly isn't the case.  The smartest marketers segment their non-clickers into buckets.  For example, a retailer might look at non-clickers who are openers, online purchasers, site browsers or in-store purchasers.  If you have an email recipient who browses your website every other week and then purchases in store once per quarter, it is nutty to assume that the email isn't influencing that just because they don't click through.

4. Reliance on CPA is going to bite you. Marketers believe that CPA is the best deal for them because they only pay for performance.  The problem is that CPA often requires a very high degree of volume to achieve success for both publisher and marketer.  All those extra emails don't just self-destruct and wipe the memory of the recipient who doesn't take your "action."  They've still made an impression – positive or negative.  Both CPA and CPM can be effective, but you need to work with an expert who understands that email is about more than clicks.

5. Permission + value = ROI. Steve Webster's quote goes on to point out that "We thought the quality of the … creative made all the difference. It turns out that it does – but not nearly as much as the fact that [the email] made an impression on a customer who actually was interested in receiving an email from you." Sending email without permission, as defined by the customer not by you, is a non-starter.  The first step is getting that person to proactively sign up, and then making sure they recognize your emails as desired.  Then the value piece kicks in.  Do you send what you promised?  Do your emails exceed their expectations?  Do you delight them?  The more yeses you rack up there, the more revenue your email will generate.

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

links for 2007-09-13


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

How to Create a Trust-Inducing Unsubscribe Process

It isn't enough to include unsubscribe instructions in the message body copy. Marketers must make the unsubscribe process as trustworthy as possible so subscribers will feel they can use it with confidence and not have to resort to the "spam" button in desperation.

In this article, Stefan Pollard explains how to create a trust-inducing unsubscribe process through these five simple steps:

  1. Use an unsubscribe procedure that takes as few steps as possible. Ideal is a one-click instant removal or a click that leads to a prepopulated form without requiring a password or log-in. More than that, and it looks like you're doing everything possible to prevent unsubscribing.
  2. Tell users exactly where you got their names. If there's more than one source (Web site, referrals or forwards to a friend, points of sale, trade shows, downloads), include the source in database files so you can merge the correct information. If not, maintain a separate list for each source, and use Web links or e-mail addresses unique to each source.
  3. Place the statement where readers can easily see it. If you don't want to use valuable real estate at the message's top, place it in your e-mail admin center, which should appear in the same place in every message.
  4. Test your unsubscribe procedure regularly, either by clicking the links or sending test e-mail. Patrol all e-mail inboxes associated with your program to capture any misdirected unsubscribe requests.
  5. Provide alternate methods for removal, such as a telephone number or dedicated postal address subscribers can use if they can't or choose not to use the online version.

Read the article here.

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

links for 2007-09-12

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