Archive for: June 2011

Email news: bit.ly gets you blocked, Groupon leaks user database

So this week we have the news that ExactTarget has reached a 1000 employees worldwide: congrats on that. Furthermore in the security corner there’s some bit.ly bad news from Spamhaus which notes that more and more bit.ly urls are used for spamming and scamming. Read on:

Email designs / webmail clients / browsers

Adactio: Some general design principles

Deliverability / (anti) spam / security

Word to the wise: Bit.ly gets you blocked
Risky.biz: Groupon leaks entire Indian user database

Mobile

Cio: Why You Should Ditch That “Sent from My Mobile Device” E-Mail Signature

Other email marketing news and posts

Emailexpert: ESP forums, a scarce commodity
ClickZ: The evolution of email marketing and crm
Hubspot: 6 awesome email marketing powers of the P.S.

Social media vs email vs …

SocialEmail: Growing your Email Subscriber List: Seven Tips (and Some Social Media)

 

Bonus: Loren McDonald has posted his Email practices of the top internet retailers on Slideshare.

Also, follow Emailblog on Twitter for more daily email marketing bits and bytes

 

Email insight: how are your basic email marketing skills?

Recently I had the privilege to meet and dine with Loren McDonald: he’s one cool email marketing VP from California USA. During the dinner we discussed many things including timezones, red light districts and modern tech but of course email marketing as well.

We got to the point where we discussed some advanced email marketing tactics, but also both came to the conclusion that quite some marketers are ‘blinded’ by high end features and email marketing tactics but don’t even have their basic stuff set up right.

That is just a waste of good email marketing space and time, I believe. In this case it is time to bring those basics to the attention of the audience: simply because it’s necessary.

So what are the email marketing basics anyway? Let’s get the other parts out of the way after which the basics will be left. What part of email marketing would be advanced or high-end? I’d say that anything involving automation is in the advanced department, as well as dynamic stuff (content, send times, subject lines).

In the high-end we would be talking about seamless total integration of email marketing into both your crm of choice and other marketing channels. Any prospect or client can cross over from one channel to the other without a glitch and you would be able to follow every single move.

For basics in email marketing I would consider the following:

– Email marketing plan
– Content plan
– Signup form(s) + welcome campaign (single primary automation falling under basics, imho)
– List management
– Email design & rendering
– Personalization
– Publishing schedule

Rule number one should be: get permission. Just recently I learned from an email marketing consultant she had a client who bought an email list for several  thousands of euros, with zero as a result. Luckily now they are learning to do it the right way, but they could have started out right straightaway.

Putting the email marketing plan and content plan into action as part of the overall marketing plan will help everyone involved at your company to understand where this is all going before even a single email has been sent.

After that the contacts come into the picture: setting up signup forms and a welcome campaign, and correct list management. Personalization is something that goes wrong so many times, while it should be one of the most simple parts of basic email marketing. Nail it and keep nailing it until it becomes natural like driving a car or swiping your atm card.

Finally the email design and rendering as well as a publishing schedule should be set up and continually monitored and adjusted accordingly. Email clients change, your audience wants (re)fresh designs and you don’t want to lag behind. Stay in the loop on what’s good and bad with Outlook, Hotmail, GMail and the main browsers as well as mobile email clients.

At this point some would say: pah! I know all that. Why no cool funky techniques here? Because these basics get lost (or worse, never learned properly by online marketers) so often that they need and deserve attention. That’s why.

If you got all 7 of the above noted basics perfectly in working order, then you can give yourself 70 points and you’re fine. But if you’re lagging with some of them, or doing a half-assed job and only scoring 35 points or less then it’s time to get down to business and get your email marketing basics right. It is definitely worth doing so before you get to the more advanced email marketing stuff.

Email winner: Fresh pair animated Happy Socks

Some animations work in email, and others do not. It depends on quite some factors, and one of them is very important: whether animating an image improves/helps the email or not. In the example of Freshpair with their Happy Socks I believe it works:

Happy Socks are now at Freshpair

Add freshpair@mail.freshpair.com to your address book. Don’t see images? Click Here.

Freshpair.com - Free Shipping on ALL U.S. Orders
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Everyones lining up for Happy socks!
Get Happy!
Shop Happy Socks for her Shop Happy Socks for him
Did You Know? AT FRESHPAIR WE HAVE MORE THAN JUST UNDERWEAR...
Wigwam Falke Polo Calvin Klein 2(x)ist
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The reasons this email works for me are these:

– Pre-header news: Happy Socks are now at Freshpair
– Direct site-nav in header part
– The animated gif itself which draws great attention (with the yellow background)
– The option to go straightaway to the males or femals part of the store
– Social media: no sharing, but fan/follow options

All in all a nice creative email with an animation that works to show the types of happy socks they have on offer.

Email news: list-rental, email design trends, online communities

Summer started just a few days ago, but we’re not noticing any of it here in The Netherlands sadly: even so, the things that are hot in email marketing in the past few days are below :)

Email designs / webmail clients / browsers

Retailemailblog: Another reason to monitor your emails in a variety of inboxes
Campaign Monitor: Guide to CSS – updated June 2011
MediaPost Email Insider: Critical trends in email design

Deliverability / (anti) spam / security / law

Return Path: The Newest Return Path Study Explains Why I Keep Talking about Reputation
MarketingSherpa: Why renting third-party lists is among the worst tactics

Other email marketing news and posts

Inbox Group: Email Marketing for Internal Communications
ClickZ: Testing: why failure must be an option

Social media vs email vs …

Social Marketing Forum: The marketing power of online communities
Marketing Pilgrim: Why email marketing is better than social media

Email insight: getting to the point, fast

Long emails tend to give the reader a sense of TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read): ‘wasting’ valuable time reading stuff they maybe even don’t want to read. Even though you think and believe your content is important and valuable, that thought might not be shared by the reader. How to get someone then to still read the email and grasp its all-important message? By getting to the point fast, actually.

When your email contains 19 articles and an average of 50 words per article, you’re up at nearly a 1000 words in one email. Even for fast readers it would take a few minutes to get through all that, while the average email read time is 15 to 20 seconds according to the Be Relevant! blog. On top of that, that post is from six years ago and attention spans might have gotten shorter with all the info thrown at us these days.

Devising content in small bits helps, notes Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports: he has made a great visual representation of what works with paragraph sizes here. Next to that, it helps including only the bits you really want to share with your audience: bringing up other content just to fill your email newsletter won’t help in getting it read better.

When testing an email don’t forget to test your reading time. Is it over 2 minutes? Then it might be too long. Make the content more dense and to the point, and/or skip a few of the articles. This is also a great opportunity very often missed by email marketers for A/B testing: send out one long version of a message with reading time of 2+ minutes, and a message with basically the same content but which has a reading time of 1 minute max. Find out what works better for your audience and see how patient (or impatient) they are.

I’m also referring to a post I did just over two months ago: Less is more. There are some tips there too to keep your messages from going down the bloated path, hopefully you’ll find them useful.

The ideal email marketing message would take up the least amount of time to read, still get the message across and make you money. Everybody happy!

Extra tip: Jeff Wright from iContact wrote a blog post this month on short attention spans and how to get your message ready for those.