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58 entries from March 2008

links for 2008-03-09

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UK DMA Email Marketing Council's New Look Newsletter

Phew...that's a mouthful! But it's worth checking out (I may be a tad biased as I'm the Editor). The newsletter Infobox, is now open to non DMA members as well as members. Yay!

In this first issue of the newly re-designed Infobox, the delightful Stephanie Miller from ReturnPath talks about Reputation, Simone Barratt of e-Dialog tells us how to make the most of our existing database and I interview Stefan Pollard on non responders. Read it here.

To receive it in your inbox every month, you can subscribe here:

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Blog Redesign and Sponsoring Opportunities on BeRelevant!

BeRelevant! is viewed by thousands of readers every month and is almost exclusively read by email marketers. As a result it represents a unique opportunity for those wanting to promote their product or service to this very targeted audience of email marketing professionals.

That's why I spent most of my evening and this morning redesigning my blog to be able to offer a selected number of premium sponsorship ad units, served in the right sidebar of every blog page, starting today.

Ad unit specifications:

  • Accepted formats: non-animated gif, jpg, or png
  • Banner size: 125 x 125 pixels
  • All ads will be approved by me before they will be posted

Pricing will be on a per month basis only.

Learn more here.

Interested in advertising on this blog? Contact me for more details.

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links for 2008-03-08

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

Can a campaign be too targeted?

Hmmm.. interesting thought!

We all know that a successful campaign needs the following ingredients: relevency, timeliness and permission.

In order to achieve the first item 2 ingredients in our recipe for a successful campaign,  as marketers we use segmentation combined with data which we know about the recipient in order to provide a targeted and relevent campaign.

All good so far. There are numerous industry reports and whitepapers which can be used to support these practices, in fact they are promoted as being Best Practice. However, at one of the presentations at the EEC conference, it was suggested that if a campaign is too targeted, you can actually scare a customer away.

How can that happen? Well, say for example someone subscribed to your newsletter, giving you only their name and email address, and then over a period of time, by being a good email marketer, you have collected significant data on them by tracking their movements, slowly introducing more and more targeted campaigns until one day they realise that you know a bit too much about them! This can then scare them away.

I guess, as with anything we need to use wisdom and commonsense when implementing campaigns. As the old saying goes 'All things in moderation'...

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links for 2008-03-05

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

List Hygiene and Relevance Are Key

In this article Ken Magill reminds us that if enough recipients think our e-mail program is garbage, no e-mail service provider in the world will be able to prevent spam complaints, and the resulting delivery troubles. Likewise, if we refuse to clean dead addresses off our list because one of those addresses just might, maybe, someday make a purchase, there isn’t a single ESP out there who will be able to stop Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft from diverting our messages into recipients’ spam folders or blocking them altogether.

He's dead right! So is this quote:

That we still have marketers—the majority of them, apparently—who believe that the ESP they choose will have a significant effect on their deliverability means some ESP reps are selling marketers on lies, or the marketers are deluding themselves.

Source: Direct

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Every Email You Send Should Be Relevant, Valuable, Welcomed and Wanted

As we move closer to a time when consumer spam complaints will weigh heaviest on a marketers' deliverability and ROI, successful firms will increase their focus on making sure that every e-mail they send is relevant, valuable, welcomed and wanted by its recipients.

To survive and thrive in the next phase of e-mail marketing, keep these two core principles in mind:

  • How you give notice trumps how you get permission. Getting consumers' permission is meaningless unless you are clear about what they are agreeing to when they sign up. At a recent industry conference, AOL's postmaster, Charles Stiles, told attendees, “I don't care if they triple opted-in and gave you their credit card number.” He drew chuckles, but made his point loud and clear: Opt-in is meaningless if consumers subsequently click the “Report Spam” button.
  • Relevancy rules. There are no “throw away” communications in the e-mail world, where consumers provide immediate and constant feedback about what they think of your programs to their ISPs. Before clicking send, always ask yourself, “Is the individual recipient I'm sending this to going to find it valuable?” And while you're at it, “Would I be happy to receive this message.”

Source: DMNews

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links for 2008-03-04

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

Reminder: Background Images Don't Render in Outlook 2007!

I received Casio's newsletter today and I opened it because the subject line referred to the new Exilim EX-S10 which I bought on the airport last week. (It's all about relevance, right?)

This is what I saw in my Outlook 2007 inbox:


I immediately noticed that something wasn't rendering properly. This is what I was meant to see:


What is the problem here? Simple: the camera picture was included as a background image and background images don't render in Outlook 2007.

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links for 2008-03-02

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

5 Ways to Keep the Conversation Going

In this article Wendy Roth offers five ways to salvage the relationship when readers want to unsubscribe:

1. Let subscribers choose how often they want to get email from you.
Offer a weekly alternative if the links stay active that long. Think of it as a cheap way to repurpose your daily content and keep the clicks coming in.

2. Let subscribers pick the content they really want, not just what you think they like.
You don't even have to have a fancy content-management system that generates dynamic content down to the most granular level. Just create a new list that spins off one segment of your market and could appeal to a lucrative niche in your subscriber base.

3. List all the ways subscribers can receive information from you.
Sure, I love email, but I know it's not the only way people want to receive information. Today, your subscribers have so many communication channels open to them that if one doesn't work anymore, another one surely will. RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, IM deals, even old-fashioned paper catalogs are all ways you can keep the relationship alive if email no longer works.

4. Tell them in each email message how they can change or update their subscription records.
Think of this as a pre-emptive strike. Assuming they still open their email messages from you, you can put this important information where they'll see it quickly, no matter whether they see a truncated version of your email in their preview pane or on their cellphone, or the whole message in all its HTML glory on a 21-inch desktop monitor.

Not everybody who unsubscribes really wants to leave. They might just want to change an email address because they're switching email providers or dumping their current address because of spam from other senders. (Certainly not from you!)

5. Wrap it all up with an easily accessible subscriber page that loads with their data and lets them update with just a few clicks.
This means "no passwords." If their records include sensitive data such as credit-card numbers or bank accounts, save that information on a separate page and restrict access to it there.

Look for other barriers, too. Do you still force confirmation on opt-outs as well (I hope!) as on opt-ins? Drop that barrier too. Instead, put a resubscribe line in a follow-up email or a confirmation page on your site. If they really did screw up and unsubscribe when they just wanted to change, they can resubscribe there.

Source: iMedia Connection

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Testing Techniques for Your Email Marketing Campaign

Creating successful and well-received email campaigns is every marketer's dream. Ensuring your campaign gets the best possible response should involve some measure of testing.

According to a 2005 JupiterResearch report, marketers who used testing were twice as likely to attain conversion rates of 3 percent or better. Despite studies showing that testing yields positive results for marketing campaigns, only about 40 percent of marketers do it, mainly because it’s perceived as difficult.

In this article, Silverpop offers a couple of easy tactics to get your testing efforts underway.

Step 1: What to Test
Testing is completely dependant on what you’re trying to accomplish. Is your goal to improve open rates? Perhaps it’s to improve click-through rates. Whatever your goal is, your testing efforts should center on tactics that will help you in those areas. Factors marketers typically test include:

  • Subject lines
  • Long vs. short copy
  • Message layout
  • Offer
  • Frequency of mailings

Step 2: How to Test
Conducting your test doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Follow these tips to get good, representative results for your efforts.

  • Split your list. A popular option for splitting your list is the 10/10/80 split. Use 10 percent of your list to test one option and 10 percent to test the other. The remaining 80 percent receives the best-performing message. Dividing your list randomly can help with getting an accurate cross-section of your overall recipients.
  • Conduct tests at the same time. Sending your tests at the same time on the same day is important for controlling the response rate. Remember that time is a variable, and sending one test on a Monday afternoon and another on a Friday morning can yield very different results.
  • Make sure the results are statistically relevant. No matter how you decide what percentage to use, make sure you are testing a large enough sample to receive statistically relevant results.
  • Maintain a control group. Exclude a random sample of recipients from your tests so you can compare the results of your tests to a group untouched by your testing efforts. This is especially useful when testing recipient behavior over time.

Whatever factors you test, don't waste your efforts testing small differences, advises Silverpop email communications strategist Stephen Guerra.

“Concentrate on testing big changes—don’t test a blue versus green background color. Instead, focus on things like a four-column format versus a postcard format. Or, test an offer of 30-percent off versus $50 off a purchase,” he said. “Don’t focus on testing a single word change in the subject line, but rather test completely different subject lines for a more statistically relevant result.”

Step 3: How to Understand the Results
The goal of testing is not just to receive high response rates and drive conversions for a single mailing. Your goal is to learn as much as possible about your recipients and use that information in future mailings to improve relevancy for greater long-term success.

Testing can allow you to better understand individual preferences within your recipient database and directly improve relevancy. With testing, you’re able to determine which groups of customers prefer specific offers and, using that information, further your campaign goals.

Source: Silverpop

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Your 10-Point Quality-Control Checklist

It's every email sender's nightmare to launch a bug-filled campaign where everyone will see your mistakes. But, if you exercise strict quality control all along the production line, you'll reduce your potential exposure and send campaigns with confidence, even the last-minute ones.

Stefan Pollard shares this 10-Point Checklist:

  1. I am sending to the correct list.
  2. I proofread all the text in Notepad before having it coded for my HTML messages.
  3. I verified that the offer or other purpose for sending the message is the correct one.
  4. I included an unsubscribe link and street address as required by CAN-SPAM. (Or, I included all the elements my country's commercial-email regulations require.)
  5. These identifying elements are present and accounted for:
    • The subject line is filled in with text that accurately represents the email message content. --
    • The "from" line shows my company or brand name, not an email address. 
    • Any dates, especially copyright, reflect the correct year. 
    • My company contact information, including name, street address, telephone numbers, Web site and email address for questions or concerns.
  6. I clicked every link and link-connected image to make they all work and checked to make sure each image has an alt tag describing the content.
  7. I previewed the message in my preview pane and with images disabled, in different browsers and on different computer platforms.
  8. I proofread my text message and included the link to my message on the Web.
  9. I had one other person look it over before I hit "send."
  10. I tested my body copy and HTML coding with a delivery monitoring tool to make sure it doesn't trigger spam filters.

Source: EmailLabs

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6 Tips for Creating Effective Welcome Messages

The welcome message should be used to build off the initial engagement you created with the recipients when they first signed up to receive future campaigns. Many senders just send a text welcome message or a simple opt-in confirmation. There is so much more you can do with a welcome message, and the opportunity should not be wasted.

In this article on iMedia Connection, Spencer Kollas shares these six tips for creating an effective welcome message template:

1. Don't be afraid to send an HTML message.
A welcome message that looks like future mailings will let users know what to expect.

2. Give recipients a sneak peak of the type of content they will be receiving.
If you have a weekly newsletter, put one article in your welcome message from the week before to show the benefits of the information they will be receiving from you.

3. Ask those who have opted in to add you to their address books.
The welcome message provides the best opportunity for interested people to add your sending address to their address books, since you know they are currently engaged with your company.

4. Thank the recipient for subscribing.
Recipients have just done you a favor by signing up for your campaigns -- remember that and tell them you appreciate their trust in you and their future business. People get a lot of email in their inboxes, and you want them to know they are special and a vital part of your business.

5. Give those receiving your email an easy way to unsubscribe.
By giving them an example of what the messages will contain, they might realize that it was not what they expected. Let them go now before sending multiple messages to them and eventually having them mark your message as SPAM. It is better to have them formally unsubscribe from your list right away then have them mark you as SPAM later.

6. Give people an incentive to take further action now.
If you want them to buy something, offer them a discount on their first purchase with a coupon code in their welcome message. They might have been thinking about eventually purchasing something from you, which is why they signed up for your messages in the first place. By giving them a little nudge, they might make the purchase sooner rather then later.

Source: iMedia Connection

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Email Address Updates: Best Practices

In his latest Email Insider column, Loren McDonald recommends these best practices to get more subscribers to change their addresses instead of letting the relationship wither away:

  • Call out the change of address explicitly. Label a text link high up in your message body as “Update Preferences/Email Address” or “Change Email Address.” If subscribers can change their addresses only by unsubscribing and then resubscribing, explain that clearly.
  • Link directly to the profile or preference page.
  • If your email technology enables it, pre-populate the Web site form with the current email address.
  • Remove as many barriers as possible. Subscribers often either forget or don’t want to take the time to look up their log-ins or passwords, so make sure your password-recovery system delivers the info fast to their email.
  • At minimum, put the change-of-address/preference-update link in an administrative or footer area in the message.
  • Send a confirmation email to the new address to make sure it was entered correctly, and to confirm any other details the subscriber might have changed.
  • Acknowledge the change immediately. Post a thank-you page or send a confirmation email. If you can, include a link to a discount, whitepaper download or other relevant incentive.

Source: Email Insider

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