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17 entries from January 2009

Return Path Partners with Yahoo Mail for Feedback Loops

Return Path has partnered with Yahoo Mail to extend its anti-spam feedback loop service to Yahoo Mail.
Under the terms of the agreement, Return Path will monitor Yahoo spam complaints and create anti-spam feedback loops to help track e-mails that have been flagged as spam.

Yahoo will send these spam complaints, via feedback loops at, to legitimate commercial senders to help them address the issues for Yahoo Mail users.

Yahoo also will now consult with Return Path's Sender Score Certified as one part of its e-mail filtering process.

Source: DMNews

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25 Reasons Why I Don't Follow You on Twitter (Loren McDonald)

Loren McDonald just posted 25 reasons on his brandnew blog on why he doesn't follow you on Twitter. These are my favorites:

4. You are following 1,243 people and 47 are following you. (Hmm, have you considered using deodorant?)
7. I scan your last 20 or so Tweets and they all involve phrases like: anyone got any RedBull, I think I might be drunk, can someone Tweet me a cab, whoa I’m really f**ked up, just saw this really hot babe; how did I end up here. (I have nothing against being 24, single and living life to its fullest – well, oh maybe I do, as following you would be just too painful for this card-carrying member of the AARP.)
11. Your Twitter handle is: @bigstick. (OK, well I’m happy for your being rewarded at birth, but remember size isn’t everything.)
14. Your Bio says: Nothing, it is blank. (Sorry, you FAILed Twitter 101.)
19. You are a company I could be interested in, but ALL of your posts are links to press releases or requests to vote for you in the Shorty (or similar) Awards. (Show me you can contribute to the conversation, and I’ll reconsider.)

Read the rest here.

I'll add in a couple as well:

  1. You don't link to your blog or website, so I don't know who you are.
  2. You don't use your real name, so I don't know who you are.
  3. I'm just too busy at the moment I receive the email and I don't recognize your name immediately.

However, even if I don't follow you and you send me an @reply I will do my best to answer it. I will even take the time to check out your profile. Heck, I might even decide to follow you (if you deliver on the above 3 rules) :-)

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How Can You Make Your Emails Stand Out?

In this article, Chip House offers these five tips to make your emails stand out in the inbox this year:

1. Differentiate to survive.
This year, differentiation is a must. Nearly half of those marketers responding to a MarketingSherpa survey last fall said they plan to increase their e-mail marketing efforts in 2009. So this coming year likely will be one of more crowded inboxes rather than less. Thrice weekly e-mails on "saving 10 percent" are what your competitors will send. What unique call to action will you use? How can you add and create value? How's your cardboard sign different?

2. Honor the subscriber.
The most important thing your e-mail program can do is elicit an emotional response. The best way to achieve this is to make an emotional connection with each individual customer. Do this by honoring customers' unique preferences for content, interests and behaviors. These are not new concepts, but in 2009, they become critical. Marketers who forget to honor unique subscriber preferences for communication, content, frequency and channel can kiss the inbox goodbye. 

3. Leverage the 'unmarketing'.
ExactTarget's 2008 Channel Preference Survey showed consumers are more receptive to receiving thank-yous and confirmations via e-mail than any other channel. Using current customer interactions to fuel communication, foster dialog and drive sales is a must. I call it the "unmarketing" because it happens in the background. Whether it's a welcome e-mail, order confirmation, statement, notice or customer service response, each communication holds promise to retain a customer, make a sale and/or improve your standing in how customers see you.

4. Engage or cut bait.
Rohit Bhargava, author of "Personality Not Included," recommends appealing to executives to "reach the right 500 people instead of the wrong 5 million." This is a great message for your e-mail program. Subscribers who aren't opening or clicking are either ignoring you, which is costing you money, or complaining about you, which is destroying your deliverability or your brand. So, start by sending only to people who opt in to your program, but monitor opens, clicks, sales and complaints, and either cut or attempt to get those subscribers to opt in again.

5. Leverage e-mail marketing technology.
It's come a long way. Want to integrate your e-mail system with your CRM system, track customers' surfing behavior after they leave your e-mail and then send them a relevant message based on their behavior? Many companies in multiple industries use these tactics now to great success. If you don't start doing so, 2009 could be a long year.

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

Retail Email Needs a Little Salesmanship, Says Bill McCloskey

In his recent ClickZ column, Bill McCloskey says email apparently needs a little salesmanship:

"Just look at the lackluster effort most retailers delivered and the poor results they got this holiday season. Retailers suffered some of the worst traffic numbers since the beginning of online shopping, but e-mail could play a significant role in reversing that trend. Yet few did it right and opportunities were lost.

For one thing, people weren't holiday-shopping this year. They were bargain-hunting. The two biggest traffic days for retailer's Web sites for 2008 were Black Friday (November 28) and December 26, when bargain-basement pricing was the norm.

Over the last few years, the Black Friday spike would carry into December, where there would be a gradual traffic decrease until December 25, then a post-holiday spike would raise site traffic rates to mid-December traffic levels. Not this year. Traffic after November 28 dropped off and stayed there.

The first mistake e-mail marketers made was assuming that the term "Cyber Monday" meant anything to the bargain-hunting crowds. The whole concept of Cyber Monday should probably be retired after this year. In pre-high-speed Internet days, there would be a spike in online sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving, as people returned to work where they had high-speed Internet access. With high-speed Internet now ubiquitous at home, the Monday lift just isn't there anymore and probably never will be again.

Competitive intelligence collected and analyzed by my firm shows that e-mail marketers wasted valuable subject line real estate promoting Cyber Monday sales, which fell flat. This is especially unfortunate because the use of the term in e-mail marketing promotions was up over 200 percent from last year. Response was much better to e-mail campaigns that promoted good old-fashioned sales with no mention of Cyber Monday. Neiman Marcus, for instance, generated traffic on Monday to match its Black Friday traffic simply by promoting a one-day sale. It was one of the few success stories on Cyber Monday.

Retailers panicked for the first 10 days of December, increasing their e-mail drops by 40 percent over last year but then dropped backed to 2007 levels for the rest of the month. The big winners? Anything promoting a percentage-off sale. Anything with a percent sign helped boost traffic a bit, but e-mail that backed away from such tactics were rewarded with no traffic to speak of.

As home-based business mailers can tell you, you must ask for the buy. Those who didn't lost big. Even master discount marketer Kmart learned the hard way. Its "Big holiday clearance plus $1 shipping per item" e-mail subject line drove only half of its Black Friday traffic. But those December 26 "70% off" e-mail messages were like manna from heaven to a public desperate for a good sale."

Read the full article here.

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How Much is Too Much?

Steve Woods wrote a great blog post about email frequency management and control. Here's his advice on how to manage email frequency:

One conversation I end up in a lot with clients is the "how many times can I email a person per month?" conversation. Unfortunately, there is not a magic number, and attempting to govern around one can be damaging.

The reason that there's not a magic number is that email is only useful in the context of building a relationship, and in a relationship communication frequency changes dramatically depending on the type of relationship and where that relationship is at the moment.

Think of this question in terms of your communications with your friends and family - how many times per month do you communicate with your spouse? kids? Aunt Hilda? Neighbors? Old friends from school days? The answer is that it depends on the relationship.

It's the same thing in B2B marketing. If you are actively engaging with a prospect, and they are highly interested in what you are offering, they will want, and appreciate, frequent communications. However, if you're only lightly engaged with someone, and they have only displayed minimal interest, you will turn them off with more than a communication per month in many cases.

The answer is that you have to manage this from the bottom up, rather than the top down.

There is not a top-down X emails per month number that you can manage to. Instead, you need to understand your audience in terms of how much you have communicated to them and, more importantly, how engaged they are with you, and use that to guide communication frequency.

Use your understanding of your audience's response to your marketing (their Digital Body Language) to segment them into groups.

Use communication frequency and response frequency(email opens, clicks, form submits, web visits, etc) to define three segments:

  • High Engagement: you have sent them many communications, and they have shown great inbound interest
  • Moderate Engagement: you have sent them some communications, but their inbound activity remains occasional
  • Low Engagement: you have communicated with them, but they show little to no inbound activity


From here, you can then use these segments to build a bottom-up frequency management structure. Look at your communications and define what category they fall into. If they are a "required" or "all recipients" category, you may not suppress against any of the groups (eg, registration confirmation for events the recipient just registered for, or the quarterly thought leadership newsletter).

If the messages are in an "active interest" category, you may suppress Low and Moderate Engagement segments from receiving them (up to the minute news, detailed product information, etc), and if the messages are in a "moderate interest" category you may only suppress the Low Engagement segment.

Hat tip: Dennis Dayman

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The Current State of Video in Email

David Greiner was wondering if video in email could actually be done, so he decided to test it and wrote up this report on video support in email which I highly recommend you to read. Here's what he found:

The results are quite conclusive - the only reliable way to embed video in email is an animated GIF. While it does render across almost all environments, there are (unfortunately) considerable downsides:

  • Image blocking in most email clients means that it won’t be displayed by default.
  • No support for sound
  • Much larger file size and poor image quality.
  • High CPU load (especially on Macs), so you can’t have a frame rate much faster than 10/second.
  • Plays on load, user can’t control playback.
  • Doesn’t work on mobile email clients because of significant CPU load.

Because of the large file size, we also had some deliverability issues related to the embedded animated GIF we tested. ISP’s such as AOL and Yahoo wouldn’t load the original animated GIF because of its file size. Externally referenced is certainly the way to go if your animated GIF runs for more than 5-10 seconds.


In the end, it comes down to a simple question. If you desperately need some kind of video in your email, animated GIF is the most reliable way to do it. If you require sound or decent video quality however, a link from your email to the video in question is certainly a better alternative.


image MarketingSherpa recently released a report called "Marketing With Video Report: Online, TV & Mobile" that provides you with practical data and how-to guidance in the rapidly changing video marketing landscape.

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...and the toughest spam filter award goes to....

... your subscriber!

Stefan Pollard in his ClickZ post yesterday summed up why this is so and provides some advice. He says:

The toughest spam filter you face is not found at a major ISP or in a spam-reporting service. It's actually the one in your recipient's mind.

This "mind filter" determines whether an e-mail gets opened, marked as spam, or deleted without opening. No e-mail delivery service can guarantee passage past this most strict filter.

You get a head start, though, when you understand the conditions under which your recipients are looking at your e-mail and removing as many barriers as possible.

Your e-mail has to answer these three "W" questions in the first two to five seconds that a recipient looks at it, whether in the inbox or message body:

        * Who sent this e-mail?

        * What's in it for me?

        * What do you want me to do?

If your e-mail doesn't answer those questions right away, you risk failing the mind filter.

That leads to higher spam complaints, which hurts your sender reputation and drives down your deliverability. Besides increasing your list churn, readers who don't spam-button you might simply stop acting on your e-mails, which increases inactivity.

Read the full post

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Email Evolution Conference Discount Code

As you know, I'll be speaking at the Email Evolution Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona next month and I have a special treat for you!

Sign up now for the event and use priority code JAN09 and pay only 999$ for a full conference pass (that's a 700$ reduction!). 

Some EEC highlights - besides the panel that I will be on of course ;-) - include a keynote presentation by Stan Rapp, Chairman, Engauge; Innovative Pre-Conference workshops, and a program packed with speakers from top companies such as Marriott, ExactTarget, Zinio, Dell, The New York Times, Epsilon, The Knot, Inc., Silverpop, Air Tran and many more. Check out the entire program at

If you're planning to attend, let me know! I'd love to meet up!

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

DMA Releases ‘Future of Direct Marketing’ Report

Marketers facing the current weakened economy remain unclear about what this year and beyond will bring, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s first-ever “Future of Direct Marketing” qualitative report, released Monday. Nevertheless, a common theme of the report is that technology will become increasingly essential to success.

Consisting of interviews with direct marketing leaders and a compilation of their views on a variety of factors affecting the industry, the report found:

  • Consumerism increasingly will drive legislation and self-regulation in the direct marketing arena.
  • The customer will gain more control of choices and transactions, especially concerning marketing communications. Marketers should ask customers their preferences about what marketing messages they want to receive, how often they wish to receive them and through what channels.
  • Multichannel marketing driven by Web. 2.0 technologies will become increasingly important, including capturing and capitalizing on data acquired through digital channels.
  • The movement away from single-channel campaigns will continue, with more integrated multichannel strategies being implemented.

The report, available for download at DMA’s online bookstore via, is priced at $135 for DMA members and $240 for nonmembers.


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Subject Line Research Reveals Content is as Important as Length

Something I've known for years has now been confirmed by this research report by Epsilon. In short, they found that even though shorter email subject lines generally correlate with higher open and click rates, subject-line word order and content may be just as important to email performance.

The analysis (pdf), which involved more than one billion emails over nearly 20,000 separate campaigns sent out by several of Epsilon’s US-based clients in the retail and consumer services industries, found that the relationship between subject-line length and open and click rates is not as strong as previously thought.

Overall, shorter subject lines do correlate with higher open rates and click rates for both industries, Epsilon said. However, the rates vary by company.

For example, the open rates for several consumer services clients show a high negative correlation with subject line length, while one client did have a high correlation of subject line length to clicks:


In contrast, for most other companies in the study, Epsilon found the relationship between subject email performance to be relatively weak.

Moreover, Epsilon also analyzed the content of subject lines and found that word order, word choice, and brand and audience awareness are critical success factors as well.

“Marketers should keep in mind that most recipients will likely decide to open an email based on their relationship with the sender and the first 38 to 47 characters of the subject line,” the report stated. “However, that decision may depend less on a subject line of 38 to 47 characters, and more on the information those 38 to 47 characters contain. campaign, the vital piece of information may be the brand name. For another, it may be the consumer benefit.”

Overall, Epsilon recommends that marketers should rethink how they develop subject lines and place increased emphasis on positioning the most important elements first. This includes front loading subject lines with the most important information, keeping the subject line as short as possible to convey the message and using longer subject lines only when there is a compelling reason to do so.

“Companies are spending little time thinking about and testing subject lines, compared with the resources and time devoted to creative development,” said Thane Stallings, senior analytic consultant, Epsilon Strategic Services. “The reality is that more people will see a subject line than its accompanying creative.”

The full report is available at

Source: Marketing Charts

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More Email Marketing Resolutions for 2009

A couple of weeks ago, Chad White posted some great tips for your email marketing program in 2009. Here's a summary:

1. Each month replace one of your previously planned broadcast emails with a targeted email to a segment of your list. A well-crafted, targeted email can generate as much sales as a broadcast email, while simultaneously increasing engagement and reducing list fatigue. However, a targeted email does take a little extra effort to create.

2. Schedule a review of all your email forms and triggered emails. Sign-up forms, preference centers, welcome emails, triggered emails -- if you haven't done an inventory of these pages and emails and reviewed them to make sure that they're accurate and up to date, do it now. These tend to get set up and then forgotten about - sometimes for years.

3. Speak to the subscriber and not from the point of view of your business. Make sure that your emails and forms address consumers with them in mind. What's in it for them? What's appealing to them? And how does your email program help them?

4. Redesign your email templates with image blocking in mind.

5. Segment out your inactive subscribers. Send them different messaging than your active subscribers and at a lower frequency. Also consider sending them emails with a different template, one that has an unsubscribe link at the top, or offering the choice to opt-down to a lower frequency. After a long period of inactivity, you may also want to send a reactivation campaign, asking them to opt in again in order to continue receiving emails.

Read the entire article here.

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

Upcoming Email Marketing Conferences

There's two great email marketing conferences coming up in the next couple of months that you don't want to miss:

DMA Email Evolution Conference
Feb 9-11, Scottsdale, AZ
Use discount code MKTVIP to receive $150 off the current rate.

MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Summit
March 15-17, Miami, FL
Early Bird Savings $200 – offer ends January 16.

I'll be speaking at the Email Evolution Conference in Scottsdale on a panel. Kath Pay, Skip Fidura, Dela Quist and I will be discussing the do's and don'ts of emailing into Europe. There's also a good chance that I'll be attending MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Summit so let me know if you plan to attend either one of these conferences!

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

PCSMail Domain and Service Discontinued

Michelle Eichner posted the below on the Email Marketer's Club's forum today and since I know that not all of my readers are a member of the Club (yet), I'd like to share this with you as well:

As of Decmber 31st, 2008 Sprint has discontinued the PCSMail domain and service. More info at

Mailers should consider removing the following domains as they fall under the PCSMail umbrella:

Thanks for sharing this with the community Michelle!

If you're not a member of the Email Marketer's Club yet, do sign up today because you are missing out! Over the last year and a half, the Club has grown into a one-stop resource for email marketers. At this point we have almost 2,000 members from all over the world that use the Club to network, learn, share knowledge, ask questions and lots more.

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Renting Email Addresses: Some Tips from Ken Magill

In the article "Signs that an E-mail Deal Smells", Ken Magill shares a couple of warning signs that should make you wary of an e-mail list renting deal. Here they are:

  • The sales person is pitching you from a Gmail account or has an e-mail address that doesn’t contain a version of his or her company’s name. Why would an executive from a legitimate vendor not have a company e-mail address?
  • The vendor will not send messages on your behalf to the list they’re selling/renting. It’s an indication their servers may be blacklisted as sources of spam and they can’t get their e-mail into recipients’ inboxes.
  • The prospecting pitch contains no physical address, or if it does, the address turns out to be a rented mailbox or a mail-forwarding service. A suite number that is too high to be an actual office address is an indication the rep is operating out of a rented mailbox. Also, it’s fairly easy to do a Google search on an address. If it’s a P.O. box, the box-rental company will appear in the results. In larger cities, Google Maps will return a photo of the address. Take a look at the neighborhood. Does it look like a place out of which a major data seller would operate?
  • The company wants full payment up front. Anyone who has ever dealt with a contractor knows never to pay 100% up front. If things go bad you have no recourse. Half down is appropriate.
  • The company’s Web site offers no identifiable details about its executive team, such as where they went to school or where they have worked.

Read the full article here.

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2009 Email Marketing Resolutions

Let me start by wishing all of you (and your families of course) the very best for 2009! May it be the best year ever! :-)

On my end, life has been pretty hectic over the last couple of weeks. Starting my own business certainly took up a LOT of my time. Check out my brandnew website at Advice and feedback are most welcome!

Back to business now.

In Stefan Pollard's latest ClickZ column, he shares 10 resolutions to make to get your e-mail efforts back on track in the coming year.

Here are his top 10 resolutions for e-mail marketers:

  1. I Will Listen to Feedback
  2. I Will Give My Subscribers More Control Over What They Receive
  3. I Will Monitor More Than Open/Click-Through Rates/Revenue
  4. I Will Practice More Segmentation for Increased Relevance
  5. I Will Practice Good List Hygiene and Trim Inactives
  6. I Will Pay Attention to the ISPs
  7. I Will Work to Send Great Content
  8. I Will Make it Easy for Recipients to Know Who I Am
  9. I Will Be More Careful About Whose E-mail Efforts I Emulate
  10. I Will Banish the Word "Blast" From my Vocabulary

Each of these resolutions comes with a number of tips on how to achieve them, so make sure to read the full article here.

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Welcome to my blog!

Hi, my name is Tamara Gielen and I am an independent email marketing consultant based out of Belgium that has been passionately involved with email marketing for close to 10 years now. 

 I read practically every article/blog post that is published about email marketing and I summarize/post the ones that I found especially interesting on this blog. If you have any questions about email marketing, feel free to contact me, I'd be happy to help you. Welcome to my blog! 

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