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November 2007

30 entries from October 2007

Stupid HTML Email Design Mistakes

Ben Chestnut wrote a great article aimed at web designers that are making "stupid" mistakes when they try to create HTML emails. "It's one thing if it's some small business owner who goofed on a CSS tag. That's forgivable. But it's astounding how many professional web designers (and programmers!) make silly mistakes in their HTML email campaigns." he says.

Mistake #1: Not designing for preview panes
Mistake #2: Assuming images will work
Mistake #3: Too many images, not enough text
Mistake #4: Not testing in different email programs
Mistake #5: Neglecting your footer
Mistake #6: Too fancy-schmancy

Read the article here and pay special attention to the tips Ben gives to avoid each of these mistakes.

Thanks Jeanniey for spotting this one, I totally missed it! :)

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

Checklist for Behaviorally Targeted Email Campaigns

Due to the low cost of e-mail marketing and deployment relative to revenue generated, e-mail marketing programs should be assessed on the additive value they provide to your overall campaign. Expanding segmentation and personalization opportunities through the use of e-mail series allows marketers to provide readers with real value. This can translate into communications that result in relationship building and increased revenues.

Expanding an email communications program to include more behaviorally driven messaging can pose significant challenges. Topics and questions to consider include:

  • Contact strategy. Do you have a strategy for communication frequency? Does it take into account non-e-mail communication channels? Are these channels coordinated?
  • Message conflict. How do you manage customer messaging to ensure customers don't receive multiple or conflicting messages from your firm within a given time? What processes are in place to determine which messages get priority?
  • Dynamic content. Are systems in place that allow you to tailor e-mail content based on customer preferences or behavior? If not, how can you modify your e-mail strategy to achieve similar results?
  • Database and e-mail system support. Does your firm have systems to support these types of communications? How long does it take to specify and implement changes to e-mail management systems? Are there other systems that may be affected by these campaigns that must be coordinated?
  • Creative approach. Have you assessed how to provide appropriately branded, attention-getting content? Quality must be consistent with other e-mail communications. Targeted communications reach a smaller segment of the house file. As a result, it may be difficult to justify your usual creative resources.
  • ROI justification. Is it necessary to prove an ROI hurdle rate? If so, how do you collect the necessary information?
  • Fulfillment. Do you have sufficient product to meet customer demand? Do you have a high-enough headcount to support promotions, regardless of how customers communicate with you?
  • Must-Have Features

    Ensure e-mailings help customers to achieve their goals. To this end, always include the following in your e-mail:

  • Search box. Customers may use e-mailings as a reminder and want to search for other products on your site.
  • "Buy Now!" button. Let customers purchase a promoted product without going through a complicated purchase process.
  • Link to e-mail registration. Since the communication may be forwarded from another party, allow recipients to click a link to sign up for personal e-mail.
  • Forward-to-a-friend functionality. While this functionality in an e-mail tends to get low response, don't overlook those readers who wish to use it.
  • "Contact Us" link or button. Provide a means to communicate with your firm to overcome objections and close sales.
  • Preference center. Offer readers e-mail options in terms of frequency and targeting. According to Ashley Johnston, senior marketing director at CheetahMail, providing these choices can help retain customers on a house e-mail file.
  • E-mail Series Metrics

    When addressing the effectiveness of an e-mail series, metrics to track include:

  • Customers mailed. Track the number of customers contacted by e-mail type or series. Also, count the number of new registrations generated by various entry points.
  • Opens, clicks, and links. Monitor the number of unique e-mail messages opened as well as which items/content motivated readers to click through. Track the most popular links customers click on to determine which content is most attractive to readers.
  • Unsubscribes/bounces. While every mailing generates unsubscribes and bounces, analyze results to ensure that on a relative basis these newer forms of e-mail messages aren't causing list erosion. Monitor the churn rate or percentage of readers who leave your list as well as hard bounces. This is an important indicator of your list's health.
  • Revenue. While these e-mail series may not generate significant revenues individually, as a group the series should be examined in the context of incremental sales and profitability. They may be a valuable way to avoid price-driven promotions.
  • Lifetime value. Evaluate the lifetime value of an e-mail address or customer. This metric takes into consideration both the acquisition cost as well as ongoing marketing costs matched against revenues over time.
  • Source: ClickZ

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

    Using Contests and Competitions to Build Your List? Read this!

    The folks at Campaign Monitor found that competition entry lists seems to get a disproportionate amount of spam complaints.

    A competition entry list is a list where you have entered your email address to win some kind of prize, and at the same time agreed to receive email in the future from the company running the competition. This is completely legitimate, assuming it is made very clear to people signing up that are giving that permission.

    "However, even when it is clear we still see a lot more complaints from campaigns to these kinds of lists", says Mathew Patterson.

    Why is that?

    • There can be a significant time lapse between entering the competition and the first email campaign.
    • A big chunk of entrants only signed up for the competition and never wanted extra email anyway.
    • It's often easier to hit the spam button than the unsubscribe link.
    • The emails often have no apparent connection the original competition.

    Fortunately, these issues are all quite simple to combat with small changes.

    • On the competition entry page, make it obvious what people are signing up to receive. Don't use vague 'offers from selected partners' language if you can avoid it.
    • Send the first non-competition email soon after signup. The longer you wait the less likely people are to remember giving permission. (My advice: send it within two weeks after signup)
    • Include a clear permission reminder in each email. It should state specifically that the subscriber signed up by entering the competition (link to the site if it is still available), and also let them get off the list easily.
    • Make the competition list double opt-in, so people have a second chance to understand what they are doing, and take a positive action to give permission.

    Thanks Mathew for providing us with these guidelines!

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

    Some B2B Email Stats

    Stephanie Miller posted some subscriber view stats that were shared in a panel she was on at MarketingProf's B2B Forum this month - some are surprising and most are helpful when thinking about ways to engage with subscribers:

    • The increase in purchase value of email subscribers vs. non subscribers is 17%. That means, on average, the email subscriber bought 17% more! (source: Forrester Research)
    • B2B subscribers are twice as likely to consider email "spam" if it comes "too frequently." That means you need to think about the cadence of your messages. What we marketers think is not too frequent might be measured differently by our subscribers. (source: MarketingSherpa)
    • It's wonderful to see that most business professionals (87%) claim email has had some impact on their purchase decisions (source: Forrester Research )
    • 85% of business professionals sign up for email programs. This is not how many sign up for YOUR offer, but how many sign up for ANY offer. Still, that means the opportunity pool is high and the value of email as an information tool still intact. (source: Return Path)
    • The percentage of business people who regularly read business emails on their mobile devices (keyword "regularly") was 37%, up from 30% just a year ago. (source: Exact Target)
    • The percentage of professionals who bother to unsubscribe from email they no longer want was 22%. Consider your unsubscribes to be only one-quarter of the real picture!! (source: Return Path)
    • For one program, only about 3% of email subscribers had read the privacy policy. Does that mean subscribers make assumptions about how you will treat their personal information? How do those assumptions square with your actual policies? It's worth finding out. Start by asking your customer service folks if they've ever heard comments or feedback on this topic. (source: Citrix Online)

    "No stat will give you the complete picture, but if you program is far off these metrics, consider the true relevancy of the subscriber experience you are creating." she says.

    Source: Return Path

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

    Job Posting: Strategic Email Marketing Consultant

    OgilvyOne is looking for a strategic email marketing consultant.

    This candidate will work with our global team to develop and execute world-class consulting and delivery of email marketing and digital dialogue programs for Ogilvy clients while assisting in growth of the email practice.

    Continue reading "Job Posting: Strategic Email Marketing Consultant" »

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

    links for 2007-10-25

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

    What Have I Been Up To Lately?

    My newsletter subscribers already got this message, but since the bulk of my readers are RSS subscribers, I thought I'd post it here as well:

    I've been wanting to move into email marketing consultancy for quite some time now, so when Jeanniey Mullen asked me if I wanted to join OgilvyOne Worldwide it didn't take me long to say yes!

    I started working for OgilvyOne in Brussels about 3 weeks ago and I'm loving every minute of it! Moving from the corporate side to the agency side of things is much like moving to a foreign country. The mentality is different, the way people think is different and yes, sometimes it's like they speak a foreign language as well :)

    The job is also totally different from what I have been doing in the past. Instead of actually being in charge of an email marketing program, I am now consulting with large corporate clients to help them develop an email marketing plan and/or increase the ROI of their email program.

    As I expected though, I haven't had much time to update my blog in the last couple of weeks with "real" blog posts. I'm trying to make up for it by adding the "links for [date]" type of posts via my account, but I know that's not what you expect from me. Bear with me, it's only temporary.

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

    Lack of Trust in Email Continues to Pose a Significant Problem to Businesses and Consumers

    As a holiday swell of online shopping and personal email traffic approaches, a new report released today reveals that consumers are suffering from an "Email Insecurity Factor" that could undermine the effectiveness of email communications and transactions.

    The study, published by Habeas, found that while the US population is more dependent on email communications than ever before, the growing inconvenience of spam, a variety of online security threats and a lack of confidence in traditional solutions to counter these annoyances has led to significant levels of consumer insecurity around email communications. Habeas will discuss these findings in detail during a November 13, 2007 webinar entitled "Multichannel Revolution: How Web 2.0 and Online Reputation Changes Strategy and Results."

    While 73 percent of study participants use email seven days a week and 61 percent do not believe they can do without email, 62 percent of respondents acknowledged concerns about becoming victims of fraud or other kinds of cyber crimes and nearly 60 percent agree that spam is becoming worse.

    "This email insecurity factor has serious implications for how both consumers and businesses trust email for their respective communications," said Des Cahill, CEO, Habeas. "Despite the popularity, ubiquity, cost-effectiveness and targeted nature of email, online relationships and the interactions that enable them are very fragile. If individuals, marketers, businesses and Web 2.0 communities cannot place their trust in email, the Internet's premier 'killer app' will not reach its full potential as these groups could refrain from using it for higher value interactions."

    More than half of participants indicated that they have responded to this email insecurity factor by using at least two or more personal email addresses on a regular basis. The study suggests this multiple identity phenomenon is a result of a lack of confidence in the measures in place to address consumer concerns.

    Around 83 percent of people reported that their email user interface has a spam button and 23 percent were aware of a fraud mechanism built in to their email service. Yet, 12 percent were unaware of any security measures and 64 percent reported that legitimate emails regularly end up in their spam folders or do not arrive at all.

    According to the study, individuals take their protection into their own hands with multiple email accounts registered to receive emails based on relationship trust levels. Over 80 percent refuse to unify the flow of emails to central addresses, suggesting the sentiment that these compartments of trust must be kept separate to accommodate consumer comfort levels when communicating online and via mobile email clients.

    "Given the ease with which individuals can open email accounts, sending and receiving emails has become an issue of navigating a landscape of inboxes set up on the basis of trust," Cahill continued. "Despite email's advantages of high ROI versus other marketing channels, organizations must implement best practices in order to maintain a dialog with increasingly mistrustful and resourceful individuals. Consumers still want opt-in email offerings from their favorite brands. Businesses need to reach critical customer, partner, investor and other audiences. Online communities must maintain information flows which are the lifeblood of their Web 2.0 value propositions. The right email compliance and reputation standards can minimize consumer insecurity and strengthen online interactions and the commerce they enable."

    Market research firm Ipsos, which conducted the study in September 2007, examined a variety of consumer perceptions on email and email programs, including the use of work email for personal activities, security features, use of multiple email accounts, redirecting email, spam and phishing concerns, unreliable email and the environmental benefits of email usage.

    Habeas will discuss the Email Insecurity Factor, and provide a detailed report available for download, during the webinar entitled "Multichannel Revolution, How Web 2.0 and Online Reputation Changes Strategy and Results;" November 13, 2007 at 11:00 AM PST and 2:00 PM EST.  

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

    links for 2007-10-22

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

    Silver Surfers Shun Email Marketing

    New research has revealed that almost 80 per cent of the over 50 age group does not respond to email marketing, preferring to use email to communicate with friends and family rather than as a ‘commercial channel’.


    New profiling of so-called silver surfers, carried out by Prospect Swetenhams in conjunction with Diamond Life, has found, however, that 36 per cent of this age group are happy to communicate with brands online once initial contact has been made using other media.


    The research also found that those most likely to respond to Internet marketing were also interested in travel, the theatre and arts, and investments, and are also likely to access other services online including holiday sites, online news and home shopping services.


    Alistair Mundy-Castle, sales director at Diamond Life, comments: “Though the numbers don’t look big, it has to be remembered that these are very wealthy individuals, often with high levels of disposable income.


    “It’s critical that they are communicated with in the most appropriate manner - and, provided it’s done well, email marketing can work effectively with this group. You just have to do your homework and use it as part of your communications media.”

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

    links for 2007-10-17

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

    links for 2007-10-15

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

    The Ingredients of a Good Email Report

    In this article Loren McDonald tells us that a good email report shows where you've come from, what you've done along the way, and clearly highlights where you want to go. A good email report is like a map, showing you the specific turns, starts and stops necessary to drive you toward success.

    So what are the ingredients of a good email report?

    1. Benchmarks. First, understand what your specific benchmarks are, and, if applicable, how those compare to others in your industry vertical. What benchmarks do you want to work from and try to improve over time?

    2. Response Models. How do customers typically respond to your email messages? Do you get 90% of your conversions in the first 48 hours, or is your product/service such that longer-term consumer thought is needed? Defining your response curves and understanding them as being fluid — ever-changing and in need of a watchful eye — will make sure that when you pull data, you're getting a clear and full picture of the true impact of your program(s).

    3. KPIs. Define your key performance indicators, or KPIs. David Baker wrote an article on this a year ago, and I'd suggest you read it for a good representative sampling of typical KPIs. In general, these are the metrics that are important to your specific business. If you are looking to create brand awareness or engagement, your indicator might be opens, clicks or referred friends. If you want to drive sales, then you want to look at conversion rate, revenue and cost per conversion. Whatever these metrics are, they should be actionable and mean something — both to those who manage the programs, and the higher-ups who need to buy into your efforts.

    4. Putting it together. It is important to measure performance campaign over campaign. If you don't have a historical reference of your email campaign performance, please start immediately! This can be as easy as creating an Excel spreadsheet where you can track mailing over mailing. Keeping a record will allow you to see overall performance trending and understand seasonality, list hygiene issues and/or deliverability red flags.

    Once you have your mailing-over-mailing scenario set up, you can start to create pivot tables as a way to sort the data and look at more specific bits of information. Over time you can look at data dimensions like:

    • Segmentation. How do different customer segments do over time? How does their performance change based on the messaging they receive? How do different segments grow or shrink over time? What is your most valuable segment?
    • Messaging. What messages resonate with particular segments? What are your "winning" offers, CTAs, general messages?
    • Creative. Which templates work best, what format? How do particular users interact with emails - where do they click, what behaviors are created?

    Source: Email Insider

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

    How Blair Corp Handled Its Change of Email Address

    When Blair Corp. changed the e-mail address it was sending from this fall it sent three notices to customers about the impending change, asking them to add the new e-mail address to their address books “to keep receiving our e-mail specials.” And when the address did change Blair again highlighted the switch at the top of the e-mail message and reminded customers to update their address books.

    Having Blair in customer’s address books is the best guarantee the retailer’s e-mails will be delivered without scrutiny from an Internet service provider’s spam filter, says Darren Schott, senior director e-commerce. He says the first e-mail blast with the new address went out last month and that he does not yet have a complete report on delivery rates and customer responses.

    Blair, which is No. 118 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, changed its e-mail address because its old address, [email protected], had been provided by a previous e-mail service provider. When it switched providers to Yesmail the company needed a new address and chose one, [email protected], that is a sub-domain of That way it will be able to continue to use the same e-mail address if it changes e-mail service providers in the future, Schott says.

    This kind of advance warning of a changing e-mail address is a new and welcome development, says Chad White, director of retail insights and editor-at-large for the Email Experience Council, a unit of the Direct Marketing Association. “That’s something a year ago we didn’t see at all,” says White, who closely follows the e-mail practices of large online retailers. He notes that Williams-Sonoma, No. 20 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also recently sent out e-mails to its customers with a note about a new e-mail address and a request that it be added to the customer’s contact list.

    “Whitelisting is extremely powerful because it means those permissioned e-mails are going to automatically go to your inbox and have images turned on in most cases,” White says. Many ISPs and e-mail software clients automatically turn off images unless the sender is in the recipient’s address book.

    This kind of communication is easy and essentially free, White says. “You just have to communicate with your subscribers,” he says. “It doesn’t involve going to the ISPs or anything complicated.”

    Source: Internet Retailer

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

    Ten Reasons for Moving Your Newsletter from Print to Email

    Denise Cox published 10 good reasons to move your printed newsletter to an online version on her blog. Here they are:

    10. Email remains extremely popular.
    9. Your publishing costs will be slashed and lead times shortened.
    8. Email newsletters excel at customer retention.
    7. Email newsletters can be a powerful acquisition tool.
    6. You’ll be able to customise the content of each newsletter.
    5. Email newsletters are a top ROI tool for your website.
    4. Email newsletters are easy to pass along (or print off).
    3. You’ll be able to easily and quickly test anything in your newsletter.
    2. Your newsletters will now be measurable.

    And the #1 reason:

    Email allows your newsletters to be Timely, Targeted and Relevant.

    Read her full post here.

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

    links for 2007-10-14

    The first weeks at a new job are always very busy. I haven't had much time to catch up on my reading, but I hope I'll have more time soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of articles I found interesting:

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