Continental understands that its customers leverage different devices to enable a digital lifestyle, and e-mail is much more than copy sent to an inbox. It's an electronic message you receive, regardless of the mode, device, or method you use to read it.
Good news: a passionate Google engineer who has seen the Gmail Appeal video is going to use 20% of his time to explore what the situation is regarding Gmail’s rendering, and how it might be improved. Fingers crossed!
Remember email and social networking can live harmoniously together. Email should be the "announcer" to subscribers when you launch new social network initiatives. How else will you get traffic in this crowded and noisy online environment?
51 entries from April 2008
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!
Stefan Pollard offers a few ideas on how you can let your customers voice their frequency preferences:
- Meaningful choice at sign up. From the time that the users inputs their e-mail addresses, give them the opportunity to let you know what they're interested in. Allow recipients to tell you from the start if they're interested in receiving new product updates, or if coupons and special promotions are really what they're after. List each mail's average frequency so that recipients know what they're getting into.
- Create preference centers. Most professional e-mail programs allow users to login to their preference centers at any time. Preference centers simply allow recipients to change their minds about the frequency and/or types of communication they receive from your company. Remind subscribers in each message that they can use the preference center at any time.
- Ask during the unsubscribe process. The unsubscribe process is literally your last chance to listen to your customers. Instead of assuming that recipients wish to receive no further e-mail communication from your business, instead offer them the choice to opt-out of receiving particular types of e-mails. Just as on the sign-up page, you'll want to indicate how often specific types of e-mails are sent, so that the recipient's expectation matches the reality of the distribution schedule.
In this article, Stefan Pollard looks at four common tactics used in developing a contact strategy.
When you're reaching out to your customers via e-mail, there are many variables you'll want to consider: How long have they been a customer? How long has it been since they've made a purchase? What's the next logical step in the product sequence? Does a particular promotion work within the boundaries of the larger business calendar?
The following four tactics serve as a solid starting point for developing and implementing your contact strategy:
1. Onboarding. If you're dropping new e-mail subscribers smack dab into the middle of your existing e-mail marketing stream, you're missing a great opportunity. Adding a series of onboarding e-mails that follow your initial "welcome" e-mail is a way to provide your new shoppers with valuable information about your brand and their potential shopping experience.
Reinforcing your brand positioning by providing an informational e-mail (a recipe or a tip for exercise, for example) or reiterating a strong area of your customer service offerings (such as free shipping or 24/7 customer support) allows you to ease recipients into your e-mail atmosphere without leaving them gasping for breath.
2. Launching a win-back campaign. It may be tempting to ignore the portion of your e-mail lists that receives your promotion and either chooses not to open it or opens it and does nothing -- after all, they haven't unsubscribed or complained that you're sending spam. However, allowing this dead weight to stay on your list has a big chance of rendering your e-mail metrics meaningless.
So, how do you go about reactivating customers who are no longer responding to your e-mails? Different e-retailers do this in varying ways. Some offer special discounts good for any product on the site. Others provide an additional incentive -- like free shipping or a special gift with purchase -- to recipients they're trying to woo. Most e-retailers mention that the promotion is of a "come back" nature, highlighting to the recipient that the company is aware that he hasn't recently made a purchase. If you're not a retailer, think about what kind of incentives you can use to bring once-interested readers back to life. Look at the original reason they signed up to your program.
3. Evolving with the product life cycle. If the nature of your product justifies it, the product life cycle offers a built-in opportunity for communication with customers. Think about all of the potential touch points -- the welcome e-mail, an e-mail identifying tech support options, additional modules or add-ons that are available, an e-mail describing extended warranty information or even an e-mail with a special upgrade offer. Product life cycle tactics are often some of the most successful, because they're viewed by recipients as highly credible, personalized and relevant.
4. Sticking to the editorial calendar. Many businesses develop a six-month or 12-month editorial calendar that pinpoints promotions and corresponding educational information that they'll be offering in their newsletters throughout the year. Keep this editorial calendar in mind as you're developing additional sales-oriented campaigns to send to recipients. Watch your e-mail metrics to ensure that your sending frequency isn't creeping up to unacceptable levels, and that your brand and product messaging is complimentary from issue to issue.
Anna Billstrom provides some common usages and accepted definitions of these terms
According to the “The State of Online Retailing 2008″ report, email marketing continues to be one of the most successful marketing program for retailers.
E-mail service provider Constant Contact has reported revenue of $18,167,000, with a net income of $338,000, for the first three months of 2008, ending March 31, 2008.
But what's even more exciting was the discount code that you needed to use in order to receive the discount. Hmmm - Did this actually mean that this was a special offer only available to email subscribers!...or was it available to everyone who happened to go to www.waterstones.com?
Me, being the sad, email marketing geek that I am, started to get excited and dashed on over to waterstones.com to look for this offer. High and Low I looked - but I was unable to find it on their website...
So, kudos to Waterstones. They have realised that they need to offer subscribers incentives for not only subscribing to, but for staying subscribed to their newsletter - so, they offer emails which have value. You can't get this same offer anywhere else - not on a pamphlet, not on the website, not in the store - only by email.
So many brands are using email to deliver online and offline offers and specials - which is well and good and email certainly an ideal medium for doing so, however, many are forgetting to reward their subscribers by offering deals and specials which can only be gained by being a subscriber.
Waterstones have also carried this onto their Waterstones Card Program. They say when stating the benefits of joining their membership program: "Please note... many of the above benefits are available via email only, so make sure we have your correct email address!"
Wow - impressive! They have obviously discovered that email is an excellent way to communicate with their clients as well as realising the value of an email address.
PS: It worked for me....
The EEC recently revised their Useful Tools and Links page, and added a bunch of new links. Check them out!
April 16, 2008 - 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT - Discover how companies are using email to tie website, direct mail, in-store, and other marketing initiatives together
Behaviorally targeted messages provide better response and can even be credited with shortening sales cycles.
The easiest way to obtain behavioral targeting data is through the reporting capabilities of your e-mail marketing campaign tool: what customers open and what exactly they click on. Targeting messages based on open or click-through activity allows you to communicate with your most engaged audience on topics they’ve already indicated are important.
A more sophisticated way to get behavioral targeting data is to integrate your e-mail program with a Web analytics application. Besides providing revenue data on an e-mail campaign, Web analytics give you postclick data and site abandonment numbers you can tie back to e-mail targeting.
The easiest behavioral targeting technique to implement involves all the data you have at your disposal. Categorize the different article types in your newsletter. Then for recipients who’ve clicked on a particular type, use the dynamic content feature in your e-mail campaign management tool to deliver another article of the same type at the top of the next newsletter. This way, they’ll see the topic of greatest interest to them in the inbox preview pane.
Once you’ve attempted this easy behavioral targeting technique in your b-to-b newsletter, experiment with open and postclick data. And remember, dynamic content isn’t reserved only for text. It can also be images and links.
some advice on dealing with ISPs over a blocking issue
some good examples of how not only to code emails so that they work, but also how to use video in your email marketing campaigns.
Real Networks is making unsubscribing from their newsletters a real pain. Read and learn!
Triggered campaigns center around website behaviors like previous purchases, abandoned carts, browse history, etc. They are becoming more and more popular due to their high subscriber relevancy and response. However, in the whirlwind to implement such high impact programs, it's easy to lose focus on the subscriber experience.
To truly optimize results, and foster your relationship with the subscriber, keep these three tips in mind:
- Be thorough in writing business rules to guide the program.
Although I'm sure the marketer had only the best of intentions, I recently received a Spring-themed email, with "personalized offers" for Christmas ornaments! If they would have considered seasonal goods in their business rules, I never would have received the odd, disjointed message - or better yet, they would have recognized my interest in seasonal holiday products and sent similarly related Spring items. A missed opportunity to wow the subscriber.
- Remember to set frequency limits.
One company recently promoted a sweepstakes through their email program. In one week, I received two regular promotional campaigns, but because I registered for the sweepstakes, also received the exact same sweepstakes email five times. Seven campaigns in seven days were overwhelming and disengaging. They could have tested to determine the ideal mix of promotional and triggered campaigns. Then, set frequency limits and prioritized campaign types to best manage the subscriber experience.
- Don't forget about recency.
The reason behavior-based campaigns work so well is due to their timeliness and relevance. One company makes it "convenient" to reorder by sending a list of every item I ever ordered from them, twice a month, regardless of whether or not I've made a purchase. This type of "shopping list" email could be helpful, if used as a gentle reorder reminder for replenishable goods, due to lapsed buying activity. However, in this case, the static content promoting items that I have often just purchased, has a negative conditioning effect on response.
Like most great email marketing ideas, the best tip of all is to start small and slow. Instead of creating a huge, complicated program that will be difficult to execute and hard to get resources for, start with a tiny piece. Figure out a common behavior that would be easy to trigger a message off of and then create just that message. Follow the tips here, measure the results then lather, rinse, repeat. Soon you'll find that you've created a response-driving, trigger-based email program with seemingly no effort.
Source: Return Path
After all the fuss with Outlook 2007's treatment of HTML email, you might be forgiven a resigned grimace at the "news" that Outlook does unusual things to your plain text emails, too.
Over two-thirds of B2B emailers regularly read your emails on their mobile device. If you haven't tested how your emails are rendering across multiple handhelds, you might be very surprised, and not in a good way.
The Email Standards Project is trying to get in touch with someone from the Gmail team who they can talk to about the way Gmail handles CSS and HTML. Can you help them?
Stefan Pollard comments on the outcome of the Q Interactive/MarketingSherpa's survey on consumers' e-mail perceptions and says that ISPs, ESPs, marketers, advertisers and publishers must work with industry associations to improve the inbox experience.
From the AOL postmaster blog: "last week, our newest web mail product, Goa, was released. This WebSuite release completes the process by disabling links from unknown senders."
The eec needs your ideas on how they can build an awareness campaign to differentiate between spam and email that’s no longer wanted, and can lobby the ISPs for the adoption of unsubscribe buttons.
faster is better: 8 seconds or more: Too slow, you need to address this - around 4 seconds: Doing good, but it could be better - Under 1 second: You are sitting pretty
Must-Read article by Loren McDonald: "Momma always says there's an awful lot you could tell about a company by the emails it sends. Well, Forrest, I may not be a smart man, but I know what stupid emails look like. And, so do your customers."
In this article, Amy Black talks about the key elements of email design. Here are some of the takeaways:
- a well-designed email campaign is easy to read, it's simply designed, it's scanable, and it's professional looking.
Next to that it should be inviting and professional, represent your company, and show your customers that you value them.
- Use white space as a resting place for your eye. It's a part of the design and it helps the reader. If your email is completely filled, it's just visual noise; the person experiencing the communication doesn't know where to look. You use white space to create pauses between different elements on the page.
- Longer copy can work for a newsletter, because the reader is expecting to learn something new. Shorter, more promotional copy works when you're trying to create action, like making a sale or inviting someone to an event.
- Keep the "1-5-10" rule in mind. The reader will definitely give you one second; if you pass, they may give you five seconds, and then if they're really interested they'll give you ten seconds.
- Limit the number of fonts you use as a means of keeping the communication easy to read. Make sure that the fonts you use are very legible, not fancy or distracting. And limit headline fonts to a single style.
- Use colors for a little bit of flavor.
Use color for emphasis. Use it to call attention to an offer or a call to action. If you use a very different color than what you have in the rest of the email, there is a dissonance that happens in the brain of the reader that says, "Oh, this one's different," and their eye goes there to see what's going on.
- The human eye recognizes color and form more than anything else. Think of your colors and logo as the face of your business. People know my face. If I came into work every day looking like a different person, you wouldn't know it was me.
Your emails can be different, but there has to be something that's consistent in everything that you do, so pick what you're going to keep consistent.
- Make sure the image and the copy complement each other, that they are related and that the image supports your message. Avoid using images that are busy and have many patterns, like cats playing against an oriental rug and a printed couch. The point of the image is for the viewer to look at the cat, but there's so much else to see.
SourceLink: Constant Contact
Yahoo! continues to try to squash spammers by making message-blocking tweaks to its email filters. A quick survey of numerous email service providers shows that the problem is hurting at least half of marketers. Emails are being sent to junk folders or getting held up in the Yahoo! system queue for as long as three hours as they usually wait for a busy server to ease up. Sometimes, emails end up getting coded as a soft bounce.
In this interesting How-To article MarketingSherpa shares 4 steps to cope with Yahoo!’s new filtering tweaks:
Step #1. Evaluate your email system
First, look at your own email system and make sure the problem doesn’t begin and end with your processes. You need to systematically break down what’s happening on your end.
Can you answer these five questions with a quick “Yes.” If not, the culprit may be you and not Yahoo!
- Is your team following best practices with each campaign?
- Do you have a reputation-management manager in your department?
- Are you sending from a dedicated IP address?
- Do you have your sender-authentication lined up?
- Do you have regular teleconferences with your ESP to discuss deliverability?
Step #2. Monitor your email regularly
If you use a full-service ESP, they can help you use their system to do inbox monitoring. Specifically, the program tells you how well your messages are being delivered to Yahoo!, AOL, Gmail, MSN, Comcast, etc.
Typically, this is something your ESP does for you. But it never hurts to audit your service provider. Ask them about inbox monitoring, how to access it regularly and, if possible, actively check it yourself. Or, at least set up a weekly briefing on what the data looks like.
Step #3. Adjust your timing
Right now, delivery to actual Yahoo! inboxes can take up to three hours longer than usual. Part of the problem is that many emailers are sending at the same time – often the favored send time, 10 a.m. Tuesday. That clogs the pipeline.
It’s important to keep this reality in mind. If it’s imperative that your emails arrive in the inboxes at 10 a.m. Tuesday, for instance, you might want to schedule the Yahoo! file a few hours earlier than the rest of the list. This way, even if your message doesn’t land exactly when you want it to in Yahoo! inboxes, you might still be able to beat the mid-morning rush. Test by using a Yahoo! email account of your own.
Step #4. Talk to Yahoo!
OK, you have evaluated your system, monitored your emails, and adjusted your timing for Yahoo! addresses. But your messages are still getting blocked or significantly slowed. Now what? Start pinging the heck out of the ISP’s postmaster team.
MarketingProfs provides a few basic formatting rules for mobile devices:
- Coding fonts may or may not work on the user's device. Most mobile devices allow the user to select a preferred default font. Although the link to the mobile communication is actually a web link, simple (default) font coding or basic fonts are best. Font size consideration: Keep it small. Work with your messaging provider on the appropriate size.
- Screen size is limited. Design for easy word wrap. The list should be kept short (in regards to width), as odd wrapping will occur on the smallest of screens.
- Keep the message short and keep your call to action in the top area of the communication. Being "front of mind" for users, even if they do not view the entire message, may prompt them to save the message and view the full HTML version when they get to their computer.
- Simple black text with color action links work best on smaller screens and make it easy to view and navigate.
- Images should be small and few. Depending on the connection speed of the device, images may take some time to render. Small logos for brand recognition or small but viewable images that support content should be used, if at all, sparingly.
- Do not replicate your website navigation in email. Place it at the bottom of the message if at all.
- Use full images, not sliced. Sliced images will wrap and appear jumbled.
- Design in columns and plan for content to wrap after a couple of hundred pixels.
- Include a click-to-view-online link and take users to a mobile-optimized landing page.
- To test rendering across different handhelds, download a free tool at Opera.
Confectioner Jelly Belly Candy Co. says an overhaul of its e-mail marketing program spurred a 46% increase in conversions and a rise in both deliverability and open rates. And the retailer saved money.
This white paper provides background on authentication as a foundation for understanding current efforts to protect Internet mail. It then looks at the most popular mechanisms currently in use.
Laura lists some useful websites about laws in different countries
They are getting better ROI than other industries.
2 tips: don't rely on English and don't use an American translation firm
There are many ways to encourage readers to interact with an e-mail newsletter or Web site and just as many ways to use the resulting content. Here are a few tips for getting started.
Forms are always something that are debated over and over again. Should we ask for 3 fields, 5, 7, 10? Are we creating roadblocks to completion or reasons for someone NOT to complete a registration or sign up for a newsletter or account?
Get a free year of eec platinum membership if you can provide these 3 pieces of information:
- What is the name of the photographer of the pictures above?
- What is the location where these photos were taken?
- A new photo of these army men somewhere other than these locations.
April 16th @ 2pm ET/11am PT/8pm CET - Whether you’re a fully functioning web merchant, a cataloger moving online or a traditional brick and mortar retailer with an exciting website, email marketing provides a direct means to interact with your audience.
Called "Melon Stork" - the tool analyses the email and based on an ever evolving algorithm determines the likelihood of the email getting caught in a junk mail filter in error.
AOL warns us "that high numbers of invalid recipients is a Bad Thing and will result in poor delivery and removal from the whitelist."
You want the unsubscribe link to be just as easy to find as the "this is spam" button." If it's there in the preview pane, then more people are likely to use it instead of reporting you as spam -- read the comments too!
Findings from a MarketingSherpa survey of over 400 marketing professionals find that in this recession economy spending on television and radio ads is going down and spending on Web 2.0 and other online tactics is going up.
Denise Cox lists these 10 ten elements she thinks are essential for your opt-in forms:
- The ability to sign up should be on every page of your website and your emails.
- Samples of past issues.
- Give subscribers as many choices as you have available, e.g. frequency, monthly mailings AND event alerts, or just monthly, etc.
- Tell people very specifically what they’re signing up to.
- Tell people how often they’ll hear from you. Keep that promise.
- Easy to sign up / sign off.
- Test the form to make sure it works!
- Let people choose between html and text and maybe even a mobile version.
- Once they’ve signed up, send a note acknowledging that they are now on the list.
Source: Denise Cox's blog
Blue Sky Factory redesigned their newsletter and explains the purpose behind the different elements of design.
CMA has been advised by both federal Ministers and their staff that the federal government plans to introduce anti-spam legislation in the House of Commons this year.