105 posts categorized "Email Tactics" Feed

Lessons From an Unsolicited B2B Email

Very few unsolicited emails ever make it through to Loren McDonalds work inbox - so when one did make it in, he was curious to figure out why it got there. And then what really sparked his interest was all the things that this B2B company did wrong with their email.

In this blog post he lists some general comments and specific observations on this email: wrong timing, lack of permission, no unsubscribe... Read and learn!

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The Greenhouse Effect

In his Mediapost article last week, Loren McDonald yet again provided us with some 'what not to do's' and encouraged we email marketer's to pick up our acts, saying:  "Email is a global village. Marketers who do stupid things mess it up for everyone". 

Additionally, Jordan Ayer posted this blog which is very much along the lines of a DMA blog I wrote awhile back. Jordan ends his blog with: "Irresponsible mailing could easily kill the Golden Goose, and along with it many legitimate mailers who are using the medium responsibly."

This is a song I've been singing for awhile now, however I tend to view it as being like the Greenhouse Effect....the things we do or don't do today, ARE going to affect the future of email marketing.

Now I'm not a pessimist - far from it, and currently email marketing is a very healthy and profitable channel. But if we were to all to implement Best Practices for email marketing within our own email marketing programs, then we will all be doing our best to ensure it stays the wonderful, high ROI channel it is well into the future.

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Persuading Consumers with Preheaders

In their latest episode of BrontoFire, DJ Waldow and Kimberly Snyder explore the effectiveness of the preheader by focusing on four major online retail campaigns: Bed Bath & Beyond, Brooks Brothers, Expedia and Orvis. They review and debate the strength and execution of each Preheader in an effort to find the strongest example to follow. Enjoy!

Next month, they'll analyze how online retail messages render with Images Off and On.

View previous videos here.

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What Often Gets Overlooked In the Email Planning Process

According to Stefan Pollard, these are the steps marketers often overlook as part of the planning process:

1. Align the goals.

  • Define the marketer's/sender's message goals.

  • Define the goals you expect the readers had when they signed up.

Do these match? If not, you aren't meeting your readers' expectations. What happens when readers' expectations get bypassed or violated? They delete without action, unsubscribe or report as spam.

Example: Your message goal is to boost a last-minute cruise sale by offering free airfare. Your subscriber signed up to receive New York and Las Vegas destination news. If you don't have a creative brief that states the list will be segmented so that only members who signed up for cruise news will get it, you could alienate that subscriber.

2. Define the audience.

You, as the marketer overseeing the creative process, need to understand who the message is aimed at, and whether it goes to your whole mailing list or a segment of it. However, your copywriters need this information, too, so that the words they choose speak directly to this group.

Share as much information as you can about this targeted group: its general likes, dislikes, needs and wants, key drivers of previous responses, any data you collected from earlier messages on which links collected the most clicks, any A/B split-testing that yielded dramatic differences in outcomes, and anything else that appears relevant.

3. Decide which features and benefits to promote

Your knowledge of your audience will guide which features and benefits the copy will promote. Having this information clearly spelled out in advance will prevent your copywriter from lavishing hours on one angle, only to discover the customers really don't care about it.

4. A clear call to action

The last thing you want is to have a reader who hits the trifecta – opens the email, views the whole message instead of a portion in the preview pane and downloads images – only to wonder what the heck he's supposed to do with it.

But, that's what happens a lot: messages that blast information at the reader, yet fail to show him how to act.

So how do make sure that your messages are effective?

In this, once again, excellent article Stefan Pollard explains how a two-part process ensures that nothing critical gets overlooked, and also that your marketing team is all on the same page concerning all elements of the message, from the content to the audience to the goal. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and read it now!

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3 Tips to Reactive Your Recipients and Get Them Engaged Again

Despite your hard work and what is in your opinion a well-planned and flawlessly executed email campaign, you may still find yourself with deadwood on your list. Recipients who have been inactive, meaning no opens and no clicks, for six months or more are dragging down your campaign’s performance.

There are a variety of reasons why recipients stop responding to your messages. Generally speaking, it boils down to the following factors:

  • They were never fully engaged as new subscribers.
  • Their interests have shifted, therefore your mailings are now irrelevant.
  • They signed up for your emails just to get some freebie, download a white paper, etc. They were never engaged, but never unsubscribed after they got what they initially wanted.
  • Weak content, including subject lines. The messages didn’t meet the subscriber’s expectations or opt-in promises.
  • Your emails are getting routed to the junk/spam folder which recipients rarely check, if at all.
  • They’ve abandoned their free email account or rarely check it as they have designated it the “spam” account—the email address they provide when signing up for contests, promotions and the like.

No matter the reason for inactivity, consider these three tips to reactive your recipients and get them engaged again.

1. Define Inactives
First, define inactivity and see how much of your list has gone dormant. You may consider subscribers with no opens or clicks for a particular length of time inactive. You may designate another portion of your list slightly inactive if they have scant activity for an extended period of time and haven’t purchased anything in the past year. Whatever the criteria, make sure you clearly define the parameters and segment these recipients based on their behavior into groups.

2. Try to Re-Engage Them with a Conversation
Once you have segmented your list based on activity level, create an email campaign that appeals to the different groups you identified. For instance, if you divided your list into three basic categories: active, slightly active and inactive, consider sending messages that include the following:

  • A survey asking them how your email program can better meet their needs and what kind of content, products, etc. would be of most interest to them. Then create new profiles for these preferences and personalize their emails accordingly going forward.
  • A “can’t refuse” offer, typically for your most active customers, or package up a “best of” series if you are a content provider.
  • A trigger- or lifecycle-based program for slightly active subscribers using click activity, purchase history or other behavior-based data.
  • A final email to your inactives letting them know that unless they opt-in again, they will no longer receive emails from you. Chances are if a subscriber hasn’t opened or clicked in 12-18 months or more and has ignored your “reactivation” attempts, then the relationship has probably run its course anyway and it’s time to let go.

Additionally, another reason to remove old addresses from your list is that ISPs are increasingly taking old, abandoned addresses and using them as “spam traps.” Send too many emails to these spam trap accounts and it’s likely your messages will get blocked.

3. Evaluate Your Email Program for Inactivity Triggers
Once you have completed your first reactivation campaign, examine your email program for practices that could trigger inactives. For example:

  • Don’t pursue irrelevant subscribers. Be careful when running acquisition campaigns built around incentives, contests, etc., that have little to do with your email program. Avoid participating in co-registration deals with incompatible partners.
  • Mind the frequency. Are you mailing too often or not enough? Both can lead subscribers to disengage without taking the extra step of unsubscribing. If possible, offer recipients a choice of how often they want to hear from you. Migrate away from the “batch and blast” approach towards more triggered, lifecycle and behavior-based messaging.
  • Manage their expectations. Are you delivering what you promised at opt-in? Modify both your opt-in page and email program as necessary to ensure that you are meeting or exceeding subscriber expectations.
  • Know the competition. Are your key competitors delivering a greater experience to mutual subscribers than you are? Take the opportunity to learn what your competition is doing well and not so well. Adjust your program accordingly and win them back.
  • Simplify your unsubscribe process. Is it super easy to unsubscribe from your program, or are you hiding the unsubscribe link? Some readers may either give up or distrust the link enough not to use it. Make your unsubscribe link clearly visible and modify your unsubscribe page to offer alternatives to unsubscribing, like allowing them to change their email address or their preferences for frequency, content, interests and format.

Re-engaging recipients takes an understanding of who they are and what they want. If they are potentially interested in your products or services, a few tweaks to your campaign and using what you know about them could yield great results for your program. By reinvigorating your list and eliminating those who are completely inactive, you’re likely to boost deliverability and improve your metrics.

Source: Silverpop

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6 Strategies to Keep Readers Engaged and to Reduce Unsubscribes

You can help minimize unsubscribes by incorporating basic strategies to encourage customers to remain engaged with your organization.

  1. Establish loyalty programs that reward and incent current and future customers to remain active in your email messaging programs.
  2. Offer alternatives during the unsubscribe process, which is a very easy method to retain customers. A simple line or two of well-written copy reiterating the advantages of receiving your messages before they click to unsubscribe may prevent a possible opt out.
  3. Use your unsubscribe page to enable email recipients to reduce the frequency of their messaging. Often times, recipients perceive that they are receiving too many messages from your organization. Remember, your email message is competing in an inbox that is most likely full of similar offers from competitors.
  4. Use your unsubscribe page to function as a survey tool to find out why customers are opting out of your messaging. Incorporating a brief exit survey with the following questions can help identify customer-perceived issues with your communications and will help you modify your messaging to avoid common email pitfalls: "Do you feel that you receive too many messages from our company?" "Do you feel that the messages we send to you are relevant?" "Are other companies providing better offers/deals than our organization?"
  5. Test messaging frequency to obtain the optimal number of messages your customers are willing to receive. Monitoring your testing frequency and churn helps to identify the sweet-spot for the appropriate number of messages that you are sending to your customers.
  6. Use a remarketing filter to limit the number of email messages being sent. If you segment your database, you should avoid sending multiple messages to the same recipient on a weekly basis. Pick the most relevant messages based on the consumer's preferences and segmentation of your database.

Source: iMedia Connection

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Tips for Using Email to Send Press Releases

As the saying goes, when all you have is hammer, everything looks like a nail. Such is the case with e-mail. It is pervasive in all corporations and an often preferred method of contact by editors, reporters and analysts. As with any e-mail program, corporate PR e-mail starts with considering the needs of the audience. These same media magnets are inundated with e-mail press releases every day. If you want your important news to get opened—and more important, to get covered—follow these best practices:

  • Stop including the entire press release in the body of the e-mail. Research reports you have less than six seconds to capture attention in the preview pane. Press releases can average five or more paragraphs. Instead, include a teaser of the release and a click-through to a hosted version on your Web site.
  • Don’t include attachments. They can be deliverability killers. Corporate e-mail filtering systems are often more stringent in their rules than even the largest ISPs. Attachments from outside sources are often confused with viruses or attacks. Leave data sheets, photos and other release-related attachments to an expected, person-to-person e-mail so you’ll be ensured they get delivered.
  • Think carefully about “from” and subject lines. Remember the rule: The “from” line tells the recipient whether or not to delete the e-mail and the subject line tells the recipient whether or not to open the e-mail. If an individual at your company has a relationship with the media, test using that person’s name in the “from” line instead of the company name alone. Write an engaging subject line and include first name personalization. Recipient first name personalization has fallen out of widespread favor in the b-to-c e-mail world, but in b-to-b, it’s still another way to catch the recipient’s attention.

Once the e-mail gets opened, the relevance of your message takes over. Just because the media recipient list may be smaller than your customer retention or acquisition lists doesn’t mean relevancy rules don’t apply. If your message isn’t important to the recipient, you’ve lost their attention today and maybe in the future as well.

Source: btobonline.com

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Sneak Preview: Subject Lines - Length Does Matter

Alchemy Worx are about to release their new whitepaper on Subject Lines, in this week's Infobox, and it has some very interesting  (and possibly quite controversial) findings.

The study was conducted on 646 subject lines across 205 million messages earlier this year. By repeating the strategy behind MailerMailer's Email Marketing Metric Report (2008), they were able to achieve the same findings as MailerMailer, however, when analysing the subject lines in more detail, the results became very different.

Some of the findings in this report are:

  • Shorter subject lines optimise open rates
  • Longer subject lines tend to optimise click and click-to open rates.

They also analysed not just the number of characters, but also the relationship between the number of words within a subject line and its open and click rates and found there to be similiar results.

The report also then goes onto look at why this would be so and discusses what I think to be the most interesting finding in this study - that the longer the subject/the more words which are used, result in the 'right' type of people opening the email i.e the subscriber is given enough information to be able to determine whether the email is relevant to them and hence is more likely to take action and click through.

For a sneak preview of the whitepaper, before its release later this week, you can download it here: http://www.alchemyworx.com/subjectlines-lengthiseverything.php

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Use Serialization to Boost Your Readership

OK...so you've heard it before, yeah yeah...serialize articles and it will draw people back again and again. But how many of us actually do it within our newsletters? This week at Inbox/Outbox London in his presentation, my good friend Dela Quist of Alchemy Worx brought this up as a great way to increase readership.

So why does it work? Well think about it... Who saw all the The Matrix movies? Lord of the Rings Trilogy? Spiderman 1, 2 and 3? (hey - I've got teenagers!). People can't help it - they get involved and need to know what happens. I watched the movie Jumper with my 15 year old daughter on the weekend and at the end you could see that they had written the ending perfectly to allow a sequel. Why? Sequals are an easy way to bring in an audience...

Thinking about the popular soaps which are around, the phrase which people use when referring to them is 'hooked on it'. I have a friend (no, it's not me!) who is 'hooked' on the Australian soap, Neighbours. They insist on discussing it with me even though I don't watch it (their logic being because I am Australian I must watch it).  She is 'hooked' and keeps coming back again and again - it's powerful stuff.

Serialization is not only applicable to retention newsletters though. You can also use it with your promotional emails. One way of doing this is by offering tokens or vouchers in each email and the reader having to collect a number of them in order to redeem a special offer or prize. In the UK, Eurostar sometimes offers very cheap fares upon collection of a number of tokens which are published in one of the leading newspapers. This can be very easily applied to marketing emails.

Another very easy drawcard to implement is to promote what the next issue is going to contain. This is what the soaps do. Have you ever noticed that immediately after the show has finished, they start promoting the next show? Again, a very easy, yet powerful marketing tactic.

Anyhow, I'm convinced. I've decided I'm going to take action and start planning for serialized content in both the newsletters which I am Editor of.

After all - if it's so easy, how hard can it be?

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Subscribers Rule!

I was excited to see the Subscribers Rule! presentation given by Chip House at the Email Insiders Summit, as the subject is very dear to my heart. In fact, ExactTarget is so committed to subscribers being in charge that they have launched a website (www.subscribersrule.com) and printed "Subscribers Rule!" t-shirts and stickers. Alas, I failed to pick up a t-shirt for me to wear when speaking on this very subject at the Inbox/Outbox Conference in London later this month - but regardless of not achieving a new item for my wardrobe, Chip made some great points regarding subscribers and the 4 levels of permission:

  1. Opt-in
  2. Content
  3. Frequency
  4. Channel

Morgan Stewart also wrote a great Media Post column this week about subscribers and their preferences and I encourage you to read it.

I think we are all in agreeance that one of the main things which need to be done is education of the marketer (yep -that's us). We, the marketers, need to understand that lists are people. The subscriber already knows that the future of email marketing is in their hands and they're telling us what they want and what they don't want - it's up to us to listen.

I believe we're at the stage in email marketing's evolution where we as marketers actually need to stop and simply change our perspective from being marketer focused to being subscriber focused… which is coincidently the name of the UK DMA's Conference being held this week at the London Zoo - "Customer Focused Emails: Marketing to people not lists."

If you're interested in learning more about this then I encourage you to come to the Conference this Thursday the 5th June. To find out more please go to http://www.dma.org.uk/content/Evt-Article.asp?id=4300 or call Catherine Gibbon on +44 (0) 20 7291 3355.

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Re-activating Bounces

A while back someone raised a question on the Email Marketer's Club: 'Can we re-activate bounced addresses?' and I thought it would be a good thing to share the the numerous reasons why not to do this.

  • It can negatively affect your brand. If the recipients haven't received any communications from you in a couple of years, then they can question why you are sending emails to them and report it as spam - this can affect not only your IP's reputation (which your ESP won't be happy about) but also it can get your domain listed.
  • This in turn will reduce your deliverability so that you no longer are able to be delivered into the inboxes of your active database (thereby actually damaging your existing active database).
  • Also, the fact that most of these addresses will be likely be inactive (and some may possibly be spam traps), will also raise the red flag to the ISP's, which in turn will reduce your reputation and possibly cause you to be blocked.
  • Legally, resending to bounced addresses is not an issue (assuming you originally had permission to send to them) - it's more the age of the addresses and the problems this can cause.
  • Adam Covati from Bronto also recommended that if you must restore addresses, don't restore anything that hasn't been sent to in the last 6 months. For those you do restore, you should send them a re-subscription notice so they understand why they have experienced a gap in sending.
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How To Make Your Email Marketing Campaign Stand Out From the Rest

1) Simplicity.
It's the old KISS metaphor (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Email has an attention-capturing window of opportunity that is greatly diminishing. Some say three seconds, some five, but either way, it isn't a lot of time. Nielson Norman Group produced a newsletter usability report in June of 2006 ("Email Newsletter Usability") which indicated an average newsletter has the reader for up to 40-50 seconds, while a marketing or promotional email retains the reader for less than 5 seconds.

The fact is we read less, scan more, and make decisions based on where we are drawn into the message--some through a contextual hero image, some through flow of images, typography and layout, and some by modularity. You should understand the basic principles: a simple call to action, buttons, text links and image roll-overs make quick comprehension easier. If it doesn't pass the scan test, then it won't be compelling.

I recommend you test your design on an internal focus group. Flash the email in front of them for five seconds and have them tell you what it said and what the call to action was. If they can't tell you, then you should consider revising.

2) Color.
Go back to the principles of design and use contrasting colors, but do so for the right reasons: to draw the eye, reinforce a value statement, and amplify the call to action. In addition, you have another consideration - how your colors appear within the email inbox interface. Do your light blue borders get muted out in AOLs predominately blue interface? Cool design can get blurred when there is an animated image of an eBay IT campaign flashing at the bottom. Is there a competition of cohesive?

3) Proportion.
While the email industry has migrated to a concept of design in which the top 200-300 pixels are a virtual banner, too many designs have disproportionate layouts (almost like an hourglass).  Your email should flow smoothly and be evenly distributed if your intent is for the reader to flow through content.  Eye tracking studies show how most users scan e-mail and apply those logics (if you want more information on this, check out http://www.eyetools.com.)  If the intent is to design a singular message, then design it to a five-second preview. That way the eye is conditioned to the flow and not tempted to roam. 

4) Message focus.
Email is direct response, not a website. Infuse what you know about good media and banner design into your creative by minimizing your real estate. This will cause you to be more concise in your messaging and creative treatments. Just because you have a never-ending scroll doesn't mean you need to use it all. Use imagery to quickly communicate a message, not merely for beautification. While I love the retail industry, the cataloger view of delivering email messages (with the large postcard-like image) has shown diminishing response. Catalogers are continually amazed when simple SALE messages, without that large postcard image, result in a boost in sales. Never forget that because this is a sales message, a response is required.

Source: Topica's Online Marketers Newsletter

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How To Write a Powerful Call-to-Action

In this article Constant Contact's Amy Black provides these tips on how to get your readers to take action when they receive your emails:

Know exactly what you want them to do. If you don’t know what you want the reader to do, they certainly won’t know. Do you want them to:

  • Buy something? 
  • Sign up for a service?
  • Read an article or get more information?
  • Visit your website or store?
  • Make an appointment?
Make your call-to-action:
  • Visible – If your CTA is buried in the middle of a lot of copy or only found at the very bottom of your email, your reader may not see it. Your best bet is to include your CTA in a number of places in your email—right up top, somewhere in the middle, and at the end.
  • Clear – If your reader is unclear about what you are asking them to do, they aren’t going to do it. Have a friend or colleague read over the offer to make sure it’s easy to understand.
  • Compelling – Put the benefits right up front and show and tell why this is an offer they can’t refuse! Also, use action-oriented phrases like "buy now" and "call today."
  • Urgent – Give your readers a certain time period in which they have to respond. Setting a deadline is a proven way to boost response.
  • Repeat the offer on the webpage you link to. This tip is mostly for people who want a reader to purchase, or sign up for, something. For starters, link directly to the page where the reader can take the action you’ve asked them to take. When they get to the page, make it easy for them to remember what you are asking them to do by repeating your call to action.

Source: Constant Contact

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What Makes a Relevant Email?

There are several tactics you can take to increasing e-mail relevance, all relying on marketing ingenuity and information contained in your customer database. These tactics can be broken down into six key elements that characterize relevant e-mail, and are guaranteed to increase customer engagement and e-mail productivity.

  1. Segmentation - Why broadcast an e-mail campaign if you have the ability to target specific audiences? Use the data you have on customer demographics, preferences, location and behavior to segment individual groups who share the same attributes. Your audiences will be smaller but far more qualified and responsive.
  2. Personalization - You would be surprised how many companies are not even marketing to customers on a first-name basis. Use the customer data you have to personalize the content based on profile, attributes, location, status, preferences and behavior.
  3. Lifecycle management - Is the customer new to your business, a loyal shopper or no longer active? Being able to key your messages to a person's place in the customer lifecycle will help you refine your programs and optimize retention efforts.
  4. Triggers - Whenever possible, your e-mail marketing should include programs that are driven by customer status and behavior. There are applications that enable you to automate these programs, ensuring consistency in the way you handle welcoming new customers, up-selling certain products or following up with those who abandon their shopping cart.
  5. Interactivity - Indulge your customer's curiosity and feed her need to be entertained. Include a clear call to action as well as interactive elements that engage customers, such as a preference center, survey or information links. Always leave the customer wanting more.
  6. Testing and measurement - Understand the impact your e-mail program has and how to improve it by employing valid control groups, A/B testing and any available metrics.

Relevance isn't easy. It requires a confluence of customer data, targeting tactics, marketing expertise, process, and technology. But as an email marketing strategy, the impact relevance can have on both customer engagement and profitability makes it worth the effort.

Source: DMNews

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Happy Earth Day! Retailers go green with email...

We often see emails tied around holidays--especially the ones that mean big bucks for retailers. However, I was delighted to see a few emails in my inbox talking about Earth Day. Two were even completely dedicated to it!

Environmental issues are hot right now (and thank goodness - it's about time we start looking after the earth), so it makes great sense to promote your eco-friendly products via email or even your brand's earth-loving attitude. After all, email is the ultimate "green" marketing tool.

Banana_email_3My favorite of these emails was one by Banana Republic--who promote a cause-related marketing campaign in conjunction with earth day.
View full size...

The chic retailer is promising to donate 1% of its sales--up to $100,000 to Trust for Public Land, a non-profit dedicated to protecting green space. At the bottom it even calls for volunteers in New York and San Francisco to come out and help the cause in person.

While it's still all about the bottom line, this campaign just seems a lot more caring than the 'buy our eco-friendly products' by some of the other emails.

A great way to do something good for the world, and an awesome use of email.

Happy Earth Day!

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Subscriber Only Rewards

Waterstones_offerYesterday I received an email from Waterstones, a major UK bookstore chain. They were offering  10% off all books when bought from waterstones.com....nice.

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....

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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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Things to Check Before You Launch Your Email Campaign

I just added the following checklist to the Email Marketer's Club Wiki. It contains the things you should check before you send out your email campaigns. I'm sure I've missed stuff, so feel free to help build a thorough checklist here.

The list

  • Are you sending it to the correct list? Particularly important if you're an agency sending on behalf of multiple clients. Or, if you just want to send to your test list, make sure that it's selected here (and not your "real" list).
  • Do you have permission to send emails to the people on your list?

Header
  • Does your brand appear in the “from” line?
  • Is the subject benefit-oriented instead of "selling"? Make the first 45 characters or so count. Ask yourself, "What will make a reader immediately open this message?" Rewrite the subject line at least 10 to 20 different ways to come up with the best approach. Test subject lines.
  • Are you sending the email at a time when the recipient is most likely to read it?

Top of Email or Preview Pane
  • Did you includes a link to view the email online?
  • Are you featuring your brand or logo prominently?
  • Does the email include the newsletter title or strong headline?

Body Content
  • Is it personalized with the recipient’s name? Do all the merge fields work properly?
  • Did you include an opening paragraph that pulls readers in?
  • Does the copy read like it comes from a person?
  • Does the email includes benefit-oriented information that is also engaging?
  • Are you making it clear to the reader what you want him to do? Make the call-to-action link prominent, not only on top of the message, but in several additional places in the email as well.
  • Do you have multiple calls to action? Both as text links and images? 
  • Can the email be easily skimmed? Did you use short paragraphs and bullet points?
  • Is it a manageable length to read online?
  • Did you not include too many topics in the email? Maybe it would be better to split the content over two emails?
  • Did you check the copy one last time for spelling mistakes?

Design
  • Are you using images sparingly? (only when they advance the goals of the email)
  • Are your all your images loading and do they load quickly?
  • Do all the links work? Don't forget to check the links in the text version!
  • Are all the images linked?
  • Did you check what the email looks like in different email clients such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, Entourage, Lotus Notes...
  • Are you using the correct email template for the campaign?
  • Did you remember to create a plain-text version of the email?

Footer
  • Do you have a working unsubscribe link?
  • Did you include your physical (USPS) address?
  • Are you protecting your content with a copyright notice?

Landing page
  • Is the landing page live?
  • Is the content and the design on the landing page consistent?
  • Is the content not too long?
  • Is the call to action obvious?
  • Is the landing page copy not too long?
  • Is the registration form not too long? Ask only for the basic information you need. Long forms have a higher exit rate. You can always ask more questions later.

Other
  • Are you asking recipient to whitelist the “from” address so future e-mails get delivered to their inbox?
  • Are you including a viral call to action, encouraging the reader to share your email with friends or colleagues?
  • Did you include a subscription mechanism for people it is forwarded to?
  • Are you sending the email in multi-part MIME format?
  • Did you incorporate tracking and reporting?

Do you think something's missing? Add it to the checklist here.

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

Improving Your Newsletter: Some Tips to Get You Started

Looking to revise the look and feel of your layout and improve the content of your newsletters? Melinda Krueger explains how to go about it: To improve your content, find out what is most important to your audience:

  1. Aggregate the data from all your campaigns thus far and sort by response rate (or conversion rate, if that is a better measure).
  2. Capture screen shots of your emails and overlay the link click rate on them: All Clicks on Link A / Total Clicks on the Email.
  3. Survey your readers.
  4. Survey your opt-outs.
  5. Talk to the people closest to the customer.

To improve the layout and look and feel:

  1. Optimize for the Preview Pane.
  2. Make your email scan-able.
  3. Choose an experienced designer who knows how to work within the limitations of email, has learned from testing different approaches, and understands that the role of graphics is to guide the eye through the copy.
  4. Consider investing in an eye tracking study to determine whether your new layout draws readers to the most important elements of the email.
  5. Test your new format in a variety of environments (Web-based email programs, Outlook, Mac, PC, etc.).
  6. Test all theories that arise in the development of your newsletter.

Read the full article here.

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

Eight Things to Check Before You Hit the Send-button

In this article, Wendy Roth outlines 8 crucial things you should check before you hit the send-button.

Are you sending to the right list?
If the email is an invitation to a select event for your top customers, double check that only they get it. Or, if you're offering a special discount, check that recent purchasers won't get the offer.

Does the "from" address work?
Even if you specify different addresses for the "reply to" address or inform recipients not to reply, it's a good idea to check to see what recipients will get if they do reply to the "from" address.
 

Continue reading "Eight Things to Check Before You Hit the Send-button" »

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