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43 entries from October 2008

DON'T Use 3rd Party Business Contact Databases To Grow Your List

Al Iverson wrote an excellent post on business contact databases and opt-in. Here's a summary:

For email addresses retrieved from services such as Zoominfo and Jigsaw, do opt-in requirements and CAN-SPAM requirements still apply?

Absolutely, yes.

Contacts found on sites like Jigsaw and Zoominfo (and similar services) haven't opted-in to receive emails from you. If you take email addresses obtained from a service like this, and you add them to your list, they're going to report your mail as spam in very high numbers. It's going to get you blocked at ISPs. It's going to cause blacklisting issues.

CAN-SPAM (and opt-in permission requirements) still apply in the B2B realm. Keep in mind that B2B filters like Postini, Barracuda, MessageLabs, and others, they all work in a manner very similar to how ISPs work. They receive spam reports from unhappy recipients, people forwarding spam, or people clicking on a "report spam" button in an Outlook plug-in. They look at reputation measures in much the same way that ISPs do. And they will block you for spamming, just like the ISPs will do.

In the B2B world, it can be harsher on you when this happens. If you're blocked at Yahoo, you know specifically that you're blocked at Yahoo. But, if you're blocked by Postini, you're blocked by the thousands of companies that use Postini as their spam filter. It becomes a much broader issue, one that can be a lot more difficult to investigate and resolve.

The moral of the story is, when you're getting a person's email address from somebody other than the user of that email address, then you shouldn't be emailing them. You don't have permission from the user of that email address, and if you add them to a list, and send them email, you're spamming.

Contact databases are a useful tool, but not for email list building.

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

How to Prioritize When You Are On a Tight Budget

Some tips from Karen Gedney on prioritizing marketing efforts:
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Suddenly, it's a whole new world and every expense is up for examination. So repeat this mantra after me: "Dollars spent should generate revenue." If you follow this mantra, your marketing priorities will arrange themselves.
When considering a number of different actions to take, put dollar signs next to each action based on whether it will generate a lot of revenue, a little revenue, or somewhere in between. Take the actions that generate the most dollars and leave the low-dollar actions for another day.
E-mail is a marketer's best friend when budgets get tight. You can use this time, when you might have to shelve bigger campaigns, to test all the low-hanging fruit. Brainstorm every kind of testing scenario you can think of, then use the dollar-sign approach to prioritize them.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

TakeAways from MarketingProfs' Digital Marketing Mixer Event

Here are some great takeaways from MarketingProfs' Digital Marketing Mixer Event. The full post includes takeaways on social media en search marketing as well. Interesting stuff.
Test, test and test again. It’s critical that marketers always test and try new things before “sticking” with a best practice.
Permission is crucial. Before sending any e-mail, always have permission. Consumers, as a whole, are leveraging their power to receive only what interests them. Respect it.
Be unique. If everyone on your list is getting the same email, you’re doing something wrong.
Track performance. Stop focusing on e-mail list size, instead, focus instead on list performance.
Sticking to a consistent publication schedule is not necessary. only e-mail when you have something important or relevant to share.
Use Twitter to compliment your e-mail marketing. You can even get new e-mail subscriptions with Twitter.
Newsletters should follow the Pareto Principle. 80% content, 20% marketing.
Use transactional e-mails as a clever marketing opportunity. Within your orders and acknowledgments, mix in a bit of marketing.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

links for 2008-10-28

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Dealing With Spam Complaints

Another excellent article by Stefan Pollard - this time he talks about spam complaints and how to deal with them. Read the full article here.
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complainers are the people who hit the spam-complaint button on the messages they actually signed up to receive
once you figure out which segments of your list are most likely to complain, you can work to reduce the problems that spur complaints
The first question I always ask a client when resolving a delivery issue is, "What did you change recently?"
Identify all the ways subscribers can join your e-mail list. Then, see if one source produces more complaints than others.
If you can determine a common complaint pattern, you can develop strategies to reduce frequency before complaints spike.
Sometimes, reducing frequency of messaging alone is enough to bring complain volumes down.
Encourage people who want to get off your list to unsubscribe by making it obvious and easy.
Pull every address associated with a spam complaint. If you keep pounding them, the ISPs will assume you're a spammer.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

IP Reputation, the Whitelist, and Inbox Delivery at AOL

In this article, Christine, Manager of AOL's Postmaster Team explains how AOL calculates IP reputation and what they do with it. Here are some clippings:
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Each IP that delivers mail to AOL has a reputation -- roughly good, bad, or somewhere in between. Your reputation is a holistic view of your IP and takes into account a wide variety of factors including -- but not limited to -- spam complaints, not spam reports, spam folder deliveries, and invalid recipients.
IPs with a good reputation will benefit from better inbox delivery than IPs with a bad reputation. Moreover, IPs with a bad reputation will be subject to more temp deferrals, temp blocks, and permanent IP blocks.
The trick to a good IP reputation is to send mail to people who want it.
The standard AOL whitelist offers protection from certain spam filters. Being on the whitelist is in no way a guarantee of inbox delivery, and IPs on the whitelist can still be spam foldered, temp deferred, temp blocked, or permanently blocked if they have a bad reputation.
If your mail is being temp deferred, temp blocked, or your IP has been permanently blocked, you may not be on the whitelist.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

It's Time To Invest In Email Marketing

According to the below chart from MarketingSherpa's latest Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, it's time to invest in email marketing rather than cut costs:
Marketers Say Email a Good Investment During Downturn
View Chart Online
Those that see the effectiveness of their email programs diminishing are much more likely to have short-sighted organizational attitudes toward the tactic. Nearly 50% of them consider email to be "free" or nearly so, compared to only one quarter of those who see email's impact as increasing.
Organizations with investment-oriented views of email reap the rewards. They have higher open, click and conversion rates. In addition, they are much more likely to have a metrics-based grasp of how email works for them. Those with the "email is free" view, on the other hand, are more likely to fall into the group that doesn't track conversion.
The key takeaway:
Email should be the last place to cut budget and the first place to increase it. Modest investments in testing, best practices, measurement and, most importantly, providing relevant content will generate powerful ROI
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Online Retailers Are Becoming Pushier With Email Deals

Here are some clippings from a USA Today article "E-tailers push e-mail discounts to lure shoppers"
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Online retailers — grappling with a sharp drop in consumer spending from even their most gung-ho Web enthusiasts — are becoming pushier with e-mails that pitch the latest deals.
But such attempts to pump up sales threaten to drive away shoppers, who may already be starting to get bleary-eyed over the bombardment.
Internet Retailer's recent survey of 174 Web retailers, including those that operate stores, found that nearly half have increased the number of monthly e-mails they send compared to a year ago.
Dan de Grandpre, founder of, a site that keeps track of store bargains, said that he's noticed that stores are sending out more reminders and are blasting e-mails that offer discounts across many categories instead of just one item. The bulk of the e-mails are coming from apparel and furnishings chains, which have been hardest hit by the economic slowdown as shoppers cut back on non-essentials.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Borders: A prime example of e-tailing done right

Previously in this blog, I mentioned the UK bookstore chain, Waterstone's and how they were doing a great job offering offers only available via email. Well - it looks like Borders are on par with Waterstone's email marketing strategies.


Now - apart from the From address being [email protected] (please see previous post regarding this), I think Borders are doing a great job with their email marketing and offers. Last week they offered a £5.00 voucher to download and print off and spend in-store. To avail yourself of this offer, you simply had to click the image which then takes you to a printable pdf which has a barcode on it. Simple but effective.

Borders_tvI also love how they use video in emails. I also receive Borders TV Newsletter which I believe deals well with the 'how to use video in email' issue which is so often brought up.

The newsletter shows the screenshots of the various video's within the email, then upon clicking the screenshot you're taken through to Bookzone TV and the video starts to play.


These are great ideas which are simple to achieve...but I don't believe they're ideas which are limited to how about it?....let's really put the email channel to work and accomplish some great results.

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

HTML Email Design: A Specialized Art

A major frustration within the industry is the lack of standards to guide designers when creating HTML email. Though there isn't one email-marketing design bible, there are fundamental design rules that should be applied. This article by Winston Bowden reviews some of the high-level design principles as well as more in-depth rules affecting some of the most common issues and questions. Here are some clippings from the article:
Though there isn't one email-marketing design bible, there are fundamental design rules that should be applied.
designers have several limitations, including the lack of CSS support.
What does this mean for you? Hire a designer who is familiar with email marketing design.
Make sure your designer has access to several client platforms, including Outlook 2007/2003, Entourage, Apple Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Thunderbird, and Yahoo.
Confused about which email clients you should test? Look at your list.
Make sure that your designer uses alt tags.
Finding a good designer requires asking lots of questions and reviewing past work.
Designers should place critical information near the top of the email as text rather than embedding it in the jpeg or gif image.
email marketing design is a specialized art that requires dedication and skill.
good email marketing designers are hard to find.
don't assume excellent Web designers are going to be a natural fit for your email campaigns.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Subject Lines Inspiration

In this article, Chad White provide some tips for testing your subject lines. He also posted some great tips if you're looking for inspiration for your next subject lines:

  • Repeat or tweak successful subject lines from your past campaigns.
  • Pay attention to the searches run on your Web site and the organic searches that bring you traffic from major search engines. Consider using words from the most popular searches in your subject lines.
  • Mine the subject lines of your closest competitors for ideas for words and phrasings.
  • Take note of headline constructions used by newspapers and magazines, especially in their online editions, which some are now optimizing for search.
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Email's ROI in 2008 Was $45.06 for Every Dollar Spent on it

Ken Magill shares some numbers from a recent DMA study. Here are some clippings from the article:
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E-mail’s ROI in 2008 was $45.06 for every dollar spent on it
The DMA predicts e-mail’s return on investment will steadily drop to $37.99 for every dollar spent in 2013.
Non-e-mail Internet marketing delivered $19.94 for every dollar spent on it this year and is projected to deliver a slightly higher $19.97 for every dollar in 2009
Catalog marketing delivered $7.28 for every dollar spent in 2008 and is projected to deliver $725 for every dollar spent in 2009
non-catalog direct marketing’s ROI was $15.55 for every dollar in 2008 and will be $15.50 in 2009
The DMA estimated marketers spent $600 million on e-mail in 2008 and will spend $700 million on it in 2009
In comparison, the DMA estimated marketers spent $24.1 billion on non-e-mail Internet marketing in 2008 and will spend $28 billion on it in 2009
e-mail will have driven $28 billion in sales by the end of 2008 and will drive $32.6 billion in sales in 2009
Need help optimizing your email marketing results? Get in touch!

Avoiding Spam Filters

Neil Anuskiewicz wrote a great blog post on avoiding spam filters. Here are some of the tips he shares. Read the rest on his blog:

1. Unless you really have made a breakthrough such as cold fusion or a flying car, avoid claiming you have made an important "breakthrough!" Filters love that.

2. Do not talk too much about cash on the barrel head. Excessive discussion of money is like manna from heaven to many spam filters. If your topic is money, well, you have to talk about it but try to be discreet and not directly mention money too much. You know what the "get rich quick scheme" emails look like. Avoid the "get rich quick" look and feel at all cost.

3. Sorry Mortgage brokers but if the email looks like a mortgage pitch, the spam filters are likely to latch onto it. There are many legitimate mortgage broker marketers out there, of course, but the ones who abused email in the past have hurt your current opportunity to get into the Inbox. Make your pitch in more subtle ways, when possible.

5. A "money back guarantee" is sort of like the "check is in the mail." Nobody believes it in any context including email and the spam filters don't believe it either.

9. Try to avoid sloppy HTML in your emails and never send an email out that is basically one giant image. The spam filters often assume spammers are sloppy with their HTML and legitimate email marketers are likely to be more careful. Second, a legitimate email marketer is very unlikely to send an email that is one giant image.

Source: Streamsend

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Acquisition, Targeting, Personalization, ESP Selection: Some Tips

I had this article by David Baker on my "to read" list for a couple of weeks now. I finally got the chance to sit down, read and digest the contents. Here are some clippings from the article that I especially liked:

Email acquisition
If you think you will have cause-and-effect from an ad to a transaction through a third-party email campaign, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

Email is a great retention and lead fulfillment channel, and the acquisition stage should be looked at through a longer lens.

Phase I: Get readers to opt-in to you, so you can then re-market to them for pennies.

Phase II: Welcome them to your brand, business and promotional strategy.

If you go with a very aggressive sweeps or viral program, you risk growing the file of one-time subscribers that will ultimately degrade the delivery value of your file over time, increasing opt-outs and spam complaints.

There are very discrete times of the year when consumers are in their inbox. You must leverage these times to tie your message and brand to these themes. They could be lifecycle events (life stage: had a baby, purchased a house, started a new job, graduated from college), or they could be seasonal (back to school, holidays).


We know that if you target email based on site behavior and personalize from that data, it drives 30-40 percent increase in response and conversion. We also know that event-triggered messaging drives a 40 percent improvement in response and reach. Leverage these events and this will drive the 20 percent improvement most need to grow their business.

The more personalization, the greater the technical task to implement. One caution: If you are even remotely worried that you can't pull it off technically or process-wise, don't do it. There is nothing worse than misrepresenting your company to a loyal customer.


There are many Email Service Providers (ESPs) at many different cost levels. It's really hard to discern the differences among them. While price shouldn't be the only factor in evaluating vendors, with less variance between what you'll really use in these platforms, look for better financial fits. But remember, service is a value-add, and with lower CPMs come lower expectations for service.

David offers a whole bunch of great tips and advice in this article. Make sure to read it here.

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

Defining Your Welcome Strategy

Andrew Kordek wrote a great post on the importance of having a welcome strategy. Here are the most important points. Read the entire post here.
welcome emails are probably the most important emails your program can have.  They can generate millions of dollars in revenue if you are an eTailer and are the first impression of your email program to new subscribers.

Here are a couple of questions and comments to consider on a welcome strategy.

- Do you just sent them a welcome email and then put them into a promotional stream?  If so, how would that make you feel as a customer?

- Do you have a 1 or 2 touch strategy in truly welcoming folks into your program? What I mean by this is do you send them 1 or 2 or even 3 emails warming the customer up to your regular promotional stream?

- Some of things to consider over those touches are sending them to a preference center for progressive profiling, giving them coupons to purchase or send them examples of your current promotional stream.

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