Dec 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to all of you

In this period of economic crunch and uncertainty I wish you all beloved readers and your relatives the happiest Christmas.

Can email marketing save Albion?

I'm on my way back to France after a couple of days spent in Cabestan's UK office.
It seems the economic crush REALLY is a big issue in Great Britain, retailers are closing one after the other and discounts and bargains are on all shops' windows.
I guess this is just the exact time to go email marketing.

Email marketing remains in my opinion the best way to quickly get in touch with a LOT of potential clients at a VERY LOW cost.

I don't know if marketing is the only they out of this economic crush but it sure is a good thing to have on your side.

If you are stuck in the middle of this crush, wish to go email marketing and are not exactly sure what to do, you can read my Email Maketing Strategy Guide or contact me if you have questions.

Dec 17, 2008

For French speaking marketers now

After the link for Spanish speaking marketers a couple of days ago, here comes one for French speaking persons:

Cabestan (my company) has participated to a guide (the EBG 2009 Marketing Guide) which is now available to buy.

If you want to have a look, please visit the EBG website

Dec 16, 2008

DMA Reputation Registry is now live

I just receive an announcement from returnpath.
Returnpath partnered with the DMA to launch an Email Reputation Registry.
This registry will help the DMA members to fulfill the authentication requirement and will help the DMA to monitor their members' compliancy.

These features are already available today in the RP monitoring suite.

More information available on the DMA Help center

Dec 15, 2008

For spanish speaking email marketers.

My company (Cabestan) organized two weeks ago a breakfast in Madrid (Spain) featuring Come&Stay, Yves Rocher Spain, Vipventa and Returnpath interventions.

The presentations went on very well and the ppt files are available here.
Please note all of them are in spanish except for the Returnpath presentation.

Dec 11, 2008

You are someone special

Email marketing is always about having your client feel like they are special.
Some say email personalization is the key, that getting in a one2one relationship through personalized content is the one and only key to make your subscribers feel special.

I do believe that sending targeted offers with personalized content is a great way to hook your clients, but I just received a campaign making me believe that you can still send bulk email to people and still trigger a positive reaction through a little bit of humor and wit.

The email campaign I just received (on the left right here - you can click to enlarge) from Eurostar's frequent traveler program is just a great example of all this.

For all you non french speaking people reading these lines, I will translate the funny/interesting things in this email:


The campaign is presented as some kind of undercover/special agent briefing:

The newsletter is not called the December Newsletter but the December briefing
The email starts with a "confidential data" kind of disclaimer.
The offers are introduced by a quick text saying: "do not tell your friends about these dedicated offers or just to piss them off".

The footer is also special:
The traditional unsubscribe link says: To say "no thank you" to our emails, click here
The disclaimer: Our confidentiality agreement is no secret for anyone, you can read it here
I really like the last one as well: If you can't live without our newsletter, please add the_sender@ddress.com to your contact list before some zealous postmaster condemns our newsletter to the endless flames of the spam filter.

At the end of the newsletter, believe it or not, I kind of felt special :)

Dec 9, 2008

Are you kidding me???

Browsing the web, you sometimes find strange things...

Funny for example to find on page 2 of google's results for "email marketing" query the following:

A broadcast software that - believe me - has nothing to do with marketing.

Here are a few "highly impressive" features and services proposed:
Email Extractor - web email addresses harvester
Email Harvester - a program to harvest email addresses from wherever on your computer
Newsgroup Extractor - a usenet newsgroups data harvester
Atomic Whois Explorer (AWE) - a domain owner email address extractor from WHOIS database
IE Contacts Spy - an Internet Explorer plugin to harvest contact information from the Web, even decrypted emails from password protected websites

I really wonder how in 2008 some websites can still propose such sick practices and still appear on page 2 of the email marketing google results (this probably means a looooot of backlinks).

Are we really that far from getting email marketing to a safe and healthy level?

Very good post on Deliverability

Mark Brownlow from No man is an iland made a very good post on email deliverability and how your ESP can help you (or not) with tools and services.

The post is available here

Dec 5, 2008

Freemails

Knowing the type of email addresses you have in your Database is very important.
This is why I just started a list of important freemail providers.

If you see anything missing, please feel free to comment or to contact me.

Dec 4, 2008

When enough is it too much?

All email marketing blogs and websites (including this one) give you plenty of advices and best practices for your email marketing strategy.
This list of best practices usually includes (but not exclusively) getting rid of inactive email addresses, segmenting the database and personalizing your email campaigns.

Recently though, I had some of my clients that took these practices one step too far and the outcome was not as good as expected.

Let's start with the segmentation thing: Segmenting is good, but if you segment too much you will come across several issues:
First, the final volume will probably be inferior to what you usually broadcast.
Secondly, this kind of extremely precise segmentation will only have extended value if you are able to target dedicated emails to each segment, it will therefore also increase your creative budget.
Finally, the statistics will be also more difficult to read and analyze.

Then database cleanup: Having a clean database where you remove inactive profiles is a very good practice, but I had a client who's inactive users exclusion list was too tight and during the summer vacation a bunch of active profiles (especially young students, with several months of vacation) where inactivated (of course we reactivated the accounts afterward).

For the last best practice I have no special example except from my own personal experience. If personalizing emails is very good, whenever I receive an email which personalization is too precise and advanced, it kind of frightens me a bit (although, since I work in email marketing I am kind of used to it).

According to me, best practices are like food: necessary but if you get to the excess it ca damage your balance.

Dec 1, 2008

Are best practices the same for all?

I am currently running some study on email communication habits for several types of sites.
This test will run until the end of the year but one thing struck me already:
The number of weekly emails sent varies from one site type to the other. For example, retail websites seem to send less email than private sales websites but more than online travel agencies.

We there get to my point: One of the best practices recommended by all Email Service Providers is to be careful not to send too many emails to your clients.
Is this true for all website types? - Probably not.
Do people know when they sign up to a Private Sales websites they are likely to receive over a mail a day? - I guess so.
How do I know people expect such frequency? - I work at an ESP and I don't see higher complaint rates on such clients than there are on retailers sending once a week or less.

This would definitely mean that user oriented best practices (as opposed to ISP ones) are highly dependent on your website type and how people expect you to interact with them.

Nov 29, 2008

How to buy new leads.

When you work on your email marketing strategy, it always comes to a point where people decide to buy new leads through several means.

First thing, don't ever buy entire databases, especially in B2C (although it's sometimes legal in B2B, I highly discourage you to do so)

Do not exchange data with other companies!

Now, talking about legal methods, some might be more efficient than others.

I will not talk here about natural leads registering on your website, these profiles are of course of the highest quality.

In the list of ways to buy leads, you can:
- Organize a prize winning competition: with this method you will of course pay the price, but also your competition's advertizing on third party websites or email campaigns you will run on rented lists.
- Co-registration: I'm not a big fan of this lead generation process, but it's probably the cheapest way around to buy leads.
- Pay per lead affiliation program: you can set a CPL campaign on an affiliation platform. The benefit is you will only pay for actual leads.
- Indirect campaigns: Media (banners), SEM (google adwords) or email campaigns on rented lists campaigns, pointing either on your website or directly on the subscribe form.

In either case my advice here is to ALWAYS and WHATEVER method you use keep track of the lead source in your database (at least the type of campaign, although keeping track of the type of campaign AND the partner name is even wiser).

The point here is to be able to track in your email campaign reports what kind of leads generates the highest open rate/click rate/revenue.

Once you display campaign statistics per lead origin (sent volume, open rate, click rate, revenue) then you can take decisions on what campaigns you want to continue with and what campaigns you want to stop.

Don't forget as well to have a look at the hardbounce rate and spam complaints rate on each lead source, it's a very good indicator of poor quality or even dishonest partners

Nov 26, 2008

SPAM me again !

I made a post a while ago to tell everyone I was making a study on how spam was actually getting to my email account.

I posted 2 email addresses on my blog but I'm not getting enough spam in.

So I thought I could post them again :)

Here you go:
anton.webissued@gmail.com & anton.allreg@gmail.com

Nov 21, 2008

Brands: B&S are SPAMMERS and you should know better!


I made a post a while ago, saying Brands should be more cautious about what lists they work with when they RENT email.
I also made a post a couple of days ago about SPAMS I received from some B&S list.

Guess what? I unsubscribed 3 times the day I made the post and I received a new mail for Bwin today.

Of course I reported B&S to Spamcop and Signal-Spam (a french governmental SPAM complaint system) today.

Last time I said that Brands should be more cautious, I now start to believe that they are partly responsible for this...

In another life I was a traffic buyer for a website and believe me when I launched a campaign (affiliate program, banner campaign or email DB rental) I always tried to get some information on who was the partner and how the campaign would be ran.

It seems to me some Brands are not making all these checks prior to running the campaign, since there are soooo many ways to identify B&S as dodgy list just by checking a couple of elements or asking for a test email:
- B&S has no website (at least in no website link in the email)
- The reply-to email is a Gmail address !!!!!!!
- There is no global unsubscribe link most of the time (only a link to unsubscribe from the Brand they are sending)
- There is an advertising banner on the unsubscribe page oO
- There is no unsubscribe confirmation page (it loads google's website!)

So once again: please, please, please check out who you work with, this kind of practices might one day kill the email marketing and will definitely harm your Brand's image.

Returnpath latest news

Returnpath sent an announcement to his resellers.

Here is a selection of important information (italic sentences are quoted from the email):

1 - Returnpath + Habeas

Returnpath recently asquired Habeas (see news), the habeas Safelist is now called Sender Score Safe List and provides significant delivery benefits to more than a million receiving email systems at partner ISPs, message security providers and enterprises in 190 countries worldwide, including SpamAssassin, Road Runner, Cox, Box Sentry and Bizanga.

2 - Yahoo! + Returnpath
Yahoo! Mail performance data will begin showing up in the Daily Performance Reports the first week of December.
During the first week of January, Yahoo! will begin using Sender Score Certified status in their filtering decisions.
IMPORTANT: Yahoo! complaints will then be taken into account in the Certification scoring.

3 - Prices
The prices have changed (increased) due to all these changes:
Sender Score Certified and Sender Score Safe List will now be bundled together as one offering
The price list is available here

4 - Benefits
New senders who apply for our white listing programs will be evaluated for inclusion in both programs simultaneously.

5.1 - What with Existing members?
Existing Sender Score Certified members don't need to do anything to benefit from the Yahoo! white list enhancements.

5.2 - Concerning the new Sender Score Safe List:
Return Path will deploy a special communication that includes reduced pricing for those who wish to add the power of the Sender Score Safe List to their email marketing programs before renewal.


A second announcement, made on the Returpath website, is related to the Blue Tie blacklist (see my post). It announces the official release of the FBL. You can apply here.
I updated my Feedback loop list.

Nov 20, 2008

Once for all : DO NOT EXCHANGE DATA


I told it once, told it twice, I will tell it for a third time...

Once again I received an email from a list I never heard of (B&S). I expect this is coming from Locafilm, a french company that exchanged data with other list owners, program from which I unsubscribed several times.

What was not my surprise yesterday, when I logged in one of my secondary email addresses to discover I started receiving third party emails from some B&S company... one per day for the last 5 days! Most of these emails (all but one in fact) only proposed an unsubscribe from the partner offers which is I believe the second most annoying thing in receiving the emails (after the fact I never opted in for anything like this).
Finally, there was no word whatsoever about where and how I subscribed to this list (which of course would have been quite embarrassing for them).

This is a plague and I'm pretty much sure this B&S entity will never get any positive reaction from this list they are using, unless one of you have a success story I never heard of :)

Nov 18, 2008

AOL to use DKIM

A very nice post has been made on the wordtothewise blog, stating that AOL will start using the DKIM signature system at the start of 2009 to authenticate incoming emails.

For those not knowing about DKIM, a description is available on the DKIM.org website.

Realtime Black Lists (RBL)

To identify possible SPAM incoming to their email servers, ISPs often use RBL.
These Black Lists, based upon the IP are updated according to user complaints.

These blacklists can be queried on demand to check the listing of a given IP.

I made a list of known Realtime Black Lists.

As always, should anything be missing, please send me an email or comment on the blog.

Nov 17, 2008

Feedback loops (FBL) list

Just as I did for the disposable domains, I am currently making a list (as complete as possible) of available feedback loops.

If you see any missing information, please send me an email or comment on this post, I will be glad to improve this list.

Nov 15, 2008

Open rate vs Click rate

One thing you need to decide when running email campaigns and estimate the success of them is what exact indicator is the most relevant to you.

Only talking about email tracking (post tracking on the website is another level) there are two numbers you might look at : openers and clickers.

Depending on the goal of your campaign, either of these indicators should get your attention.

90% of the time, the click rate will be the most important number to look at. This number will give you the number of site visitors you will get to your website. All campaigns who's goal is to get users to buy online stuff or to register on the website will have to get the most clickers as possible on your creative.

If the goal of the campaign is to make an announcement or to advertise for your brand, then the open rate will be the most important number of your campaign report.

Nov 14, 2008

May the force of email marketing be with you.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I met some M. Yoda, a funny looking email marketing guru, we talked for a while about email marketing and he gave me a list of advices on how to manage your marketing lists.


These advices I already gave but on several posts, that's a good opportunity to aggregate a bit all of this.


And remember, even if it's always tempting, don't ever slip on the dark side of the force.

- The double agreement of your user to send email to them you need to have.
- The unsubscribe process simple needs to be.
- The targeting of your email wise it always has to be.
- Irrelevant or offensive content sending, avoid you have to.
- Always checking your sender reputation you need.
- Analyzing the statistics always you have to.
- Nice and clear your landing page has to be.
- Whatever possible track you must.
- Your Database cleanup you must once in a while.

Even though his grammar is quite poor... I thought his advice was worth sharing with you.

Nov 13, 2008

Report Spam link in your email

I just received a mail - which actually IS a spam since I never, ever subscribed to this list.
But this time, while reading the footer to try and guess how my email address just ended up in this broadcast, I saw a link that did trigger my attention.

It was reading: If you were not supposed to receive this email, please report an abuse

Now, of course I clicked and got to a form where I could select the reason of my complaint (never opted in, offensive content,...), add a comment and post.

This idea seems very interesting to me, I do use a lot of different feedback loops, but in this case you get to know why people complain and probably get to identify bad lead origins and the reason why you should stop using these.

More over, even if few people use this link instead of the complaint button, you can lower your complaint rate which is, at the end of the day, what I believe to be the major benefit.

Did you ever try such a thing? If so, did you lower your complaint rate?

Nov 12, 2008

Updated - Email marketing feeds

I just updated the opml file I created with the list of - what I believe to be - useful Email marketing feeds.

The list is now (updates in red):
Freemail blogs:
Yahoo! Mail Blog
AOL Mail Blog
Windows Live Wire
Gmail Blog
FastMail.FM Weblog
Lycos.com New and Updated Knowledgebase Articles


Email Marketing Blogs:
Blog Cabestan *(FR)
Email Way *(FR)
Pignon sur mail *(FR)
Email Ethics
JDN CRM-Marketing *(FR)
EmailKarma.net
Virtual Target
No man is an iland
Adventures in Email Marketing
denise cox's blog
BeRelevant!
The Retail Email Blog
Return Path Email Marketing Water Cooler
Email Experience Blog
Campaign Monitor Blog
Inbox Ideas
Online Marketing Business Blog
EmailMarketingGuy.com
Ezemail's Blog
Postcards from the Junk Folder
Style Campaign blog
Email Savant
Email Marketing Insight
Vertical Response
Email Sherpa
eINFO
Email Marketing Journal
Chris Baggott's
DMNews Email Marketing

This file can be downloaded here
Also available in a zip file here

Email refused with no bounce

Sometimes, email marketing is just oO
Recently, one of my clients sent an email to his clients list. This list usually performs quite well, but on this broadcast we where surprised to see that the open rate was at 0 on several domains (yes we do have statistics per domain), but surprisingly enough, no bounce of any kind was sent back to our servers.

After a couple of tests we did see that the creative as it was was just trashed by these providers without further notice.

The email contained two offers, one of which was for a "sex toys" online shop, this one had a disclaimer: over 18 yo / under 18 yo. once we removed this part of the email the creative went through to the inbox.

This teaches us two things:
First, don't ever unless 200% obliged to, use this highly porn connoted disclaimer on your emails. They probably trigger almost every alerts in the ISPs SPAM filters

Second, some ISPs do trash emails without bouncing back, this is of course an extreme example, but having no Softbounce or Spam filtered bounce (the famous hotmail "policy reasons") doesn't unfortunately mean you made it.

Nov 10, 2008

Do you wanna Flock?


Another post far, far, far away from email marketing.

I discovered today a new web browser called Flock.

This web browser is highly valuable if you are a network freak like me. You can add all your RSS feeds (like in most browsers one might say) but also all your networking accounts. your home page will then display the latest news from your network. You can also add your media accounts (Youtube, picasaweb, flicker,...) and your digg and/or Delicious accounts. Finally, you can add your webmail accounts.

All of this will then be available on the sidebar and you can of course interact with it.

This post is of course made through the Blog Post module of my freshly set Flock browser ^^.

You can download this tool here:
For mac / For windows

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Nov 6, 2008

Disposable email addresses

More and more internet users, tired of having more and more spam sent to their email address with no other option than opening a new one and give the new email address to all their contacts on a regular basis, use disposable email addresses.

These addresses, valid for a given time or inactivated on demand are used to (generally) forward incoming emails to the primary address. This way when too many spams are going to the primary email, they only have to inactivate the disposable address and create a new one.

These email addresses are of course of very poor quality and should be - in my opinion - removed from your DB as far as possible.

I edited a list of disposable emails providers available here.

If anything's missing, please contact me or post a comment.

Nov 5, 2008

Blue-Tie Feedback loop (FBL)


As a returnpath client, I received an email telling me that a new FBL has been released with Blue-Tie hosted domains (including excite.com, iwon.com and myway.com)

A FBL is a process that gets the user info back to you when someone reports a spam in his webmail on one of your campaigns. On the other side, you commit to never send emails again to this user.
This is very useful to get a clean DB and limit over time the amount of complaints triggered on each of your broadcasts.

The service already is opened for Returnpath clients and will be live in a few weeks time for everyone.

Barack Obama - Palmer


Since the beginning of this presidential race, a question haunts me...

As a French citizen, I remember that everybody agreed to say that Jacques Chirac (our former president) was elected for the first time partly because the "guignols", a political and social puppet show very popular in France, made him look very sympathic and funny.

I really wonder how much of Barack Obama's success is due to the 24 series' president David Palmer.

This is probably impossible to measure, but I would bet my right harm that on all Obama voters, only part of them would have felt like voting for a black candidate only a few years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I am very happy about this situation, and other elements (such as war in Irak and the economic crisis) had their impact as well (maybe even more). The point is just that I wonder where entertainment ends and where politics and marketing start.

Is Barack Obama an example of product advertising inside a series? Just like Apple and Dell fighting on who will equip the nice guys and who will equip the bad guys.

By browsing the web to start finding answers, I found the wikipedia article on President Palmer, mentioning the exact same thing as I just did.
You can of course comment as well :)

Here is a passage:
A poll by Blockbuster named Palmer as respondents' Favourite On-Screen President. TV.com visitors also named him the TV President they would most like to see in the Oval Office.
On an episode of The Daily Show that aired on June 4, 2008, host Jon Stewart pointed out that newly-christened presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama will be the first African-American candidate for President of the United States "since the first season of 24." However, this statement is untrue, as David Palmer's brother, also black, ends up becoming president in a more recent season.
Dennis Haysbert has claimed that his portrayal of David Palmer allowed viewers to become more comfortable with the idea of an African American president, and consequently may have helped Obama's campaign.


Source: Wikipedia

Anyway, I would like now to congratulate Barack Obama and wish him good luck and success for the 4 (8 maybe ;p) upcoming years.
And of course congratulate the American People for this choice that I personally believe to be the right one.

And please excuse me for this post that hardly has anything to do with email Marketing.

Nov 4, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

The last step for a successful emailing campaign is to analyze the campaign results. This will help get the best out of it and improve future activity on the database.

The important goals are:
- Identifying active profiles
- Analyzing performance per ISP
- Deliverability follow up
- Tracking website activity
- Cleaning the DB
- Creating new scenario according to the profiles' activity.

Identifying active profiles :
After several broadcasts it becomes critical to identify active (and inactive) profiles, these profiles are people targeted several times and that opened and/or clicked in at least one email.
In the process you can then rate your users according to how often they react on your campaigns.
Inactive users are people that never react on any campaign. These profiles should be isolated and targeted differently and/or removed from the DB. If the volume of email will be less, the DB performance will be much higher!

Analyzing performance per ISP :
Analyzing the campaign results (openers, clickers) by ISP is important. This way you can often identify deliverability issues on some ISPs. You can also get to a higher analysis level by checking when users of each (important) ISP open emails for the most.
Sometimes, you'll see some domains for the most open the email during working hours whereas some others during the lunch break or in the evening. This will help you adapt your strategy to the ISPs and the type of reaction.

Deliverability follow up :
Deliverability follow-up is a major issue you might come across. If all the requirements listed in the DB management, the broadcasting and creative articles are matched, then you shouldn't have too many deliverability issues, but you really want to check it each time to react quickly to any abnormal results.
These statistics have to be of course shown per ISP.

Tracking website activity :
You really want, if made possible by your ESP, to track your website pages with your broadcasting tool and identify your DB members that actually buy online your products or subscribe to this or that products.
More than just measuring your ROI, the goal is here to match this info with user profiles. You will then to be able to target campaigns to buyers or to created automated campaigns to be sent on the next day on persons that checked their basket but didn't order or that whent through part of the registration process for a product but didn't validate reach the confirmation page.
Once this information is back in your DB, you can get to another level of email activity where you are able to segment your DB according to buying behavior.

Cleaning the DB :
As I mentioned in the "identifying active profiles" paragraph, one important thing about your DB is that you probably have inactive profiles that damage your DB efficiency and might impact your deliverability (Spam traps are by definition inactive profiles).
Cleaning on a regular basis your DB of inactive profiles will probably not harm the number of orders or registrations made when you run a campaign but will for sure increase the campaign statistics and probably will limit the following:
- Number of mail box full softbounces
- Number of hits on Spam Traps.
- Broadcasting costs

Creating new scenario according to the profiles' activity :
Once you have isolated inactive profiles you can of course trash them or imagine a specific (last) campaign to incentive users to open your emails again.
The idea is to send a specially attractive offer to these users and try to get them to open the email.
People that open this campaign can then be considered active again, users with no reaction can then be trashed.


I hope this guide was useful to you, if you want to discuss it, please feel free to comment.

Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page

Email Marketing related feeds

I created an opml file (News reader feed list file) with a lot of email marketing related blog feeds and the blog feeds of some Freemails.

This file can be downloaded here
Also available in a zip file here

The list of feeds is:

Freemail blogs:
Yahoo! Mail Blog
AOL Mail Blog
Windows Live Wire
Gmail Blog
FastMail.FM Weblog
Lycos.com New and Updated Knowledgebase Articles


Email Marketing Blogs:
Blog Cabestan *(FR)
Email Way *(FR)
Email Ethics
JDN CRM-Marketing *(FR)
EmailKarma.net
Virtual Target
No man is an iland
Adventures in Email Marketing
denise cox's blog
BeRelevant!
The Retail Email Blog
Return Path Email Marketing Water Cooler
Campaign Monitor Blog
Inbox Ideas
Online Marketing Business Blog
EmailMarketingGuy.com
Ezemail's Blog
Postcards from the Junk Folder
Style Campaign blog
Email Savant
Email Marketing Insight
Vertical Response
Email Sherpa
eINFO
Email Marketing Journal
Chris Baggott's

I hope it will be as usefull to you as it is for me!
NB: A couple of feeds are in French *(FR).

Nov 3, 2008

Articles

I started hosting web pages with articles I wrote or some features such as a calendar or a news reader.

These pages are accessible at the following url:
http://webpages.email-ethics.com/

Nov 2, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page

Once you have sent a nice creative to a performing segment of a high quality database and you delivered to the inbox, the next step of a successful email campaign is to get the most out of the reactive profiles.

This step also called transformation rate will be determined by the quality of your preliminary work, the way your call to action is placed on the creative and the transformation process on your website.

What you need at this step is to think about what you really want out of your contacts.

Once you know where you want to lead your users to, you need to work on your landing page, a good landing page is one that matches your creative and that's clear enough to guarantee a good understanding of your users.

You also need to have as few steps as possible up to the final action.

This final action might be a subscription to a newsletter, an order, a registration,...

Matching the creative:
The first important thing you need to keep in mind is that the landing page will be the first page of your website that the users will see after the email creative. Hence, you need to match the message on this page with the message you delivered in your email that had the user click.
For example, if you said in your creative : "Up to 50% off on round trips" then you NEED to have 50% off offers displayed on your landing page (and of course very visible).

Simple call to action:
Having a nice looking landing page matching the creative is not all the job, users don’t stay for too long on these pages and you need the transformation process to be as straightforward as possible.
A visible call to action is necessary, do not put a huge list of products on your landing page with a cal to action at the bottom of the page.
I do advise as well to limit the number of transformations attempts on this page along with links "out of your primary goal". If your campaign's target is to increase online sales on round trips, I think it's a loss of time and transformations to put a "subscribe to our newsletter" button or links to other categories of your website on the landing page. These alternate options can be given for example at the last step of the process in case the user doesn't validate it, you can propose alternate options to limit the number of 100% vanishing users.

Number of steps to the final page.
Whatever goal you have, you really want to limit the number of steps/pages the user has to go through before transformation.
Internet users often have limited patience, a simple 2 or 3 steps process will perform far better than a long and complicated one.
In the case of a targeted subscription to a service, you can for example on the first step get a few information (such as email, first name, last name) and the rest of the necessary information gathered on the next step, this way, profiles that abandon on step 2 can still be contacted by email to try and get them to come back and go through the rest of the subscription process.

Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

Oct 31, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting

Today, more than ever, sending emails is just half the job, you now have to make sure your email reaches the inbox of your contacts.
Half of this is choosing the right ESP or broadcasting solution. You really want to check the following before signing with a broadcasting solution:
- Does the platform support configurable retry and bounce time frames?
- What is the level of delivery granularity available (e.g. system sends x messages per second/minute/hour to support specific requirements of domains like Comcast)?
- How can delivery parameters be altered if receiving certain gateway-level SMTP responses?
- How reliable is the abuse desk
- Does the ESP have Complaints Feedback loops with the ISPs
- How complete are the reports (detailed reports per ISP, deliverability statistics, over time statistics,...)
- targeting options
- Online action triggered emails
- Post tracking possibilities
- Behavioral targeting options
All this features will help you manage your DB which is of course the second half of getting to the inbox (see step 1)
Indeed, to get through to the inbox you need a clean (if possible double optin) database, a good technical solution, a good IP reputation (that you will achieve over time if you match the email standards) and a correct HTML creative (you can check your creative quality with the Spam Assassin tool).

When you broadcast emails to a high number of profiles, you need to monitor the following:
Complaints, harbounces, softbounces, spam traps, inactive profiles, unsubscribe rates.
These elements will be, at the end of the day, what will make the difference between ending in the junk mail folder or reaching the inbox.
You also need to keep somewhere in mind that ISP have a good memory (around 60 days), if add a new list of profiles that either trigger a lot of complaints or hardbounces or Spam traps, you will probably impact your delivrability for weeks, even months.
That's why I always advise my clients, when adding a new list of profiles to their DB, to split this new volume and progressively adding it to the existing list.
This way, incidents will be minimized due to the low percentage of unknown profiles in the total volume of the broadcast.

A last advise would be creating a bunch of emails on the main Freemails/Webmails of your list and add them to each and every send out (starting of course with the tests).

Always remember as well to analyze how well your campaigns perform on each ISP (comparing open rates for example), if one or two are lagging behind, then probably, you are not delivering properly on these ISPs.


Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page
Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

Oct 28, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative

Once your target is ready you have to work on your creative (it can be done the other way around but both are very closely linked).

Sender ID and Subject line:
The first elements of your creative to which your target will be exposed to are the following:
The sender name and the subject line!
These elements will trigger (or not) the email's opening. It might on the other hand trigger a negative reaction (Spam complaint for example).
The sender name especially HAS to be recognized by the user, be very explicit on who is sending the communication (You).
One funny thing though: studies prove that having a girl name in your sender name helps a lot, women feel more confident and men ... are men :)
For example nice sender ID could be "Jane - Your_company_name (jane@Your_company_name.com)"

You also have to keep in mind the fact that your users' inbox is probably full of incomming messages, you have to get his attention.
Some ways to do so are:
- A personalized subject line (adressing the user directly by his name might help get his attention).
- A subject line not too long to avoid it to be cut in the middle by some webmails.
- If you advertize on a time limited offer, don't hesitate to mention it!
- Avoid as long as possible CAPS, special chars, and exclamation marks.
For example a nice subject line could be:
Anton, on today's happy hour, get up to 50% off on IT products.


Creative:
On a general point of view, the creative has to be attractive but of course not a lie.
If you tease the user with a "50% off" subject line, but the creative only shows "30% off" offers, you will probably not transform the opening into a click and maybe lose the user's confidence.

Once the client has opened your email, he will be first exposed to the creative images not displaying (unless whitelisted).
Your creative has to contain sufficient text information to get the user to display pictures. Don't forget as well to add images alts to avoid living the images spots 100% empty and to give some extra information on the image content.
A "view email online" text link at the top of the email is according to me usefull as well.

- Concerning the looks of your email creative, it depends on the kind of target you aim at: the age, gender, job function or any type of information you segment on, might have it's importance on the way your creative must look like.
General advice concerning email creatives are:
. The most important information of your creative has to be placed at the top of the email crative (first thing seen by the user).
. Always use image alts.
. Keep a good image to text ratio.
. Keep it concize, do not drown your user in too much irrelevant information, a NewsLetter has to be attractive, not to list ALL the products available.
. Do not hesitate to test the creative with the default security setings on the main freemails, outlook, outlook 2007, thunderbird,... you might have some bad surprises.


- The creative not only has to be nice, it also has to comply with all the email standards:
. Try not to exceede 600 pixels, this makes it possible to see the message correctly in the preview window of mailboxes such as Outlook without having to scroll horizontally.
. Avoid the use of CSS, this is not read by Gmail and Outlook 2007
. Centering the message is recommended
. Code all the characters with accents or special characters (€ = €) in HTML. In general, it is required to comply with the W3C specifications.
. In order to customize the content of your message, you must forecast text areas, not images. Take care of the size of those text areas in order to prevent any misshaping of the message due to customization fields too long.
. Some webmails delete the body tag : Do not use it to insert an image as background or to define font colors.
If you need to insert images in background, use tables instead
. Do NOT use absolute positions inside those tags : the display will be broken in some webmails.
. Use fixed sizes within the tables instead of percentages.
. Rather use the attibute target=’_blank’ in order to open a new window when the reader clicks.
. Give names your links.
. Cut your images in order, do not send a big, single image.
. Prefer plain text to text in an image.
. Name your images and use alt tags.
. Specify the images size : width and length.
Some extra information on email standards are available (broke down by ISP) on the email-standards website.

Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page
Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

Oct 23, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation

As I wrote in the first step of my "Successful Email Strategics guide", database quality is the first step to success along with knowing your type of database (the way it reacts as a whole).

Then, when you know your database, you can focus on knowing your clients/users.

All means are good to improve the amount of information you have on your profiles:

Declarative :
As much as you can, getting information from your profiles is a good way to know what they "look" like.
Don't hesitate to ask them some questions on the subscription form.
IMOO the minimum required (basically because it's the only way to find out is to ask) is : the first name, the last name, the date of birth, the country and maybe the postcode.
If you are afraid you might lose some profiles in the process, you might not make the fields compulsory but having this kind of information will allow you to target and to personalize your communications.
After these need-haves I guess you probably need further information depending on your industry.
Some will want to have the marital status or the gender or the annual income (always remember financial information and GSM numbers are the harder to get from your profiles).
Once the subscription form is set and leads are coming in you can now start to use your DB for email communications.

Behavioral
While doing so you will probably lose profiles (people unsubscribing, hardbounced emails, mailbox full,...) then your DB will start to lose part of its value. One thing I advise you to do to limit this loss (and maybe even increase your DB overall value) is to track as many things as you can:
Online transformations, clicks on types of links, favorite themes,...
You must then compile all available behavioral information for future use.


Segmenting your DB:
With all this information available, you then need to segment your DB.
Segmenting has to be something planned and thought of.

Step 1: Goals
The first element you have to take into account is to determine your goal. Is it to improve the campaign R.O.I.? Is it to improve your brand's awareness? Is it to increase trafic on your website? Is it to make an announcement?
All these goals (and plenty more) will have to aim at different targets, while R.O.I. increase will have to target medium clients (the high range clients will be hard to push and the low range clients are less receptive), making an announcement will target highly reactive profiles, regardless their usual transformation rate and even the client typology.
Knowing what you want to do is the one and only way to do it.

Step 2: Available targeting options
Second thing you need to think about is what targeting options are available, of cours you will have a hard time trying to segment on a criteria you only have filled in for a few profiles.
If some data is missing, then you can probably try to find a way around.
Want to target French people, but not everyone typed their country in the subscribe form? Then select profiles where country = France and add to the segment people who's email ends by .fr
Even though this is not a 100% sure way to filter, you will probably have a low risk and increase your target.

Step 3: Targeting and adjusting
According to what as been decided in steps 1 and 2 you then have to work on your targeting and get things done.
Once the segmentation is done, count the number of profiles in your target and maybe adjust it by adding or removing targeting options according to the goals you have.
Database scoring is a good way to estimate how well a campaign will perform so you don't over or under estimate your volume and reach your goals each time.

Step 4: Analyzing and action taking
Once everything's set you can broadcast your campaign. Then the most important thing is to analyze your results and improve your database knowledge according to your campaign's results.
Each broadcast gives you information on your DB, you need to take each and every information into account to continue building a successful strategy.
Elements you need to analyze EACH time you broadcast (especially on segments):
- Open rate
- Click rate
- Transformation rate (if available)
- Unsubscribe rate (a very good indication on how this particular communication was accepted by your target)
- Complaint rate (cf. Unsubscribe rate)

With these elements in mind, every campaign will increase your overall efficiency instead of slowly killing your DB.


Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database
Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page
Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

Oct 17, 2008

Wake up !


Something funny just came to my inbox this evening...

Relay.fr a French e-magazine and e-books store just sent me an email to incent me to buy e-books on their website.

Was it humor or just a quite incredible random pick but it turns out that among the e-books they present in the newsletter, 2 of them are just miles off what you would expect to be good choices:
- Psychology of the great traders.
- Earn money in the stock market.

If it's humor, then some might say "not very funny", if it's just random, then OMG...

Spam this !

Hello everyone,

I am currently making an analysis of volumes of spam received according to several elements.
One of these elements is posting an email on a website.
If you want to post these emails on one of your webpages, please feel free to do so.
anton.webissued@gmail.com and anton.allreg@gmail.com

I'll post my results on this blog in a couple of months time.

Oct 16, 2008

Email Strategics - Step 1 - Database

A few months ago I made a post listing the important elements one needs to have an efficient email strategy.
One of the most important (if not THE most important) is the database quality.

When I talk about database quality, I think about email address quality, profiles quality, profile elements available and of course your own knowledge of the database profiles.

Email address quality:
First thing is having a high quality addresses list, if you have too many hardbounces, softbounces, traps or disposable emails (like @spamgourmet for example) you will have a poor open rate and a very hard time getting your email communications to get through to the inbox.
Some checks can be made on the signup form (such as email structure or domain check) but you probably want to add a double optin process just to make sure only active and exact email addresses can be registered.
A double optin process means sending a confirmation email with a link to validate the subscription.
The lead will only become active once the email has been clicked.
One last advice I might give has nothing to do with the registration process but the optout one.
If you want to avoid people complaining on your broadcasts, then please make sure your optout process is as straigtforward as the optin one.

Profiles quality:
Having only website registered profiles or a client list is nice but often it's not enough, you probably want to launch lead generation campaigns, the available means are plenty: affiliate programs, lead generation companies, coregistration, sweepstakes, database rental,...
You have to be very cautious on these profiles you get, they might be of poor quality, I advise you to keep track of the lead's origin so you can analyse your campaigns' results and get rid of poor origins and focus your attention (and cash) on your highest performing origins.
Whatever the origin is you need to analyse the overall performance of your database and purge the old, inactive profiles from time to time.

Profile elements available:
Having a list of emails is nice, having information related to these emails is of course better.
Having information concerning your profiles allows you to segment your database according to geographical information, gender, age, job title,...
The more information you gather concerning your contacts, the more precisely you an aim your emails at clients and prospects.

Database knowledge:
Knowing individuals in your DB is not the only path to success, knowing the DB as a whole is also important.
Depending to the type of profiles you have, the DB will not react in the same way according to the time and day when you send your communications.
Some DBs have higher open rates on week days whereas some DBs have higher open rates on the week-end. Finally you can try and identify groups of people that have different behaviours and split your communications according to these pieces of information (this is of course some kind of segmentation as before but might not be in any way related to any information data contained in your DB).

I hope this post will help some of you to have a better understanding of DB management.

Email Strategics - Step 2 - Segmentation
Email Strategics - Step 3 - Email Creative
Email Strategics - Step 4 - Broadcasting
Email Strategics - Step 5 - Landing Page

Email Strategics - Step 6 - Analyzing statistics

Oct 8, 2008

C.R.E.A.M


As said by the WuTang : Cash Rules Everything Around Me
This includes of course giving money to my employer (Cabestan), ZenithOptimedia estimates that advertising expenses should slow down on 2008 and 2009, the French institute of statistics (INSEE) announced on their side that Firms’ investments have slowed as well and that it should get even worse if the banks just shuts down the robinet.

Fortunately enough, email marketing remains a highly profitable means of communication and especially cheap.

But if the crisis continues, there might be no more point in sending advertising to cashless users or companies.

I think it's more than ever important to have the best communication process as possible and aim correctly at your consumers.

I personally am kind of optimistic that the stock market will bounce and that capitalism will survive, but after all... who knows? :)

Oct 7, 2008

Watch out who you work with !

One thing about third party email is that you associate your name to the list owner (if you rent a list) or with the advertiser (if you broke your DB).
In this kind of case you really need to watch out who you work with (and that becomes a real nightmare if you authorize email campaigns on an affiliation program).

While the ill impact of working with bad list owners (identified by users are spammers) and associating your brand to them is quite obvious, I think people under estimate the risk of sending third party email campaigns on their list for known ill advertisers.

The best example is an insurance comparison site in France that had real bad email practices for several years, now, whenever I receive advertising for this company from another list, I often unsubscribe directly from the third party program or from the entire program sometimes (and I'm that close to click on the report spam button).

Not taking into account the marketing pressure feeling you get concerning a brand even though you receive it from diferent sources.

Sep 25, 2008

New features

I’ve added a few new features on my blog, all of them available on the right hand side of this page.
First, you can now subscribe to my blog through a Feedburner RSS feed or by email alerts (Feedburner managed as well).

I also added an Email Marketing Calendar where I will announce all Marketing Events and tradeshows that I’ll be aware of.
If you organize an event or if anything’s missing, please send an email at events@email-ethics.com and I will add it to the planning.

I will add some new features very soon, keep around !

Sep 24, 2008

All your base are belong to us

One thing funny with e-marketing in general and email marketing in particular is that it just became extremely simple to gather information concerning your users/clients, to process this information and use it to improve the way you comunicate with them.

Today it is possible to target emails to people according to very precise behavioural information, logged through email activity or web analystics.

Matching both just gets your strategy to another level since you can get a global view of your clients' taste or interests.
BUT all experts just get to the same point, being too precise in your communication can freak out your client.

Is George Orwell's 1984 the limit to one2one marketing?

Just to make it clear, you can for example track users visiting a product page without going to the basket page. Then it's kind of easy to send an email with a special offer on this product, presenting alternate products of the same type or cross selling, but what would be the user's reaction to see how you spy on him (and moreover how you spy on him namely - even though you might tell it in your confidentiality section).

Some advise you to explain the user how you got the information (by adding a "you receive this email since you did this or that on our website"), others tell you to just communicate as precisely as possible without getting too deep into details.

Finally another question is: Is one2one marketing a win win situation where YOU improve your R.O.I. and YOUR CLIENT gets relevant information? or is it a negation of your clients' freedom of browsing anonymously your website?

I would say it's a little bit of both...

Sep 19, 2008

Careers at Retrunpath

Hello readers,

Returnpath is currently hiring european workers for ISP relationships management.

If you don't know what Returnpath or ISPs are, then you probably won't fit the job :)

If you want to apply for the job, the entire description is available here.

Good night and good luck

Email marketing and social networks: friends or foes?

I'm subscribed to quite a few social networks among which facebook, linkedin and plaxo.

All these have groups or hubs that can be created by users and in which people can join (invited or not).
I myself am registered to several groups of pure networking, event driven or company/artist "fan" list.

On all those networking websites you then have the possibility to send announcements to group members.

For example, I'm in a facebook group created by a kindergarten friend who's now a famous French rapper and I often receive internal messages announcing his upcoming gigs.

How far this is from email marketing?

Of course some things can be done with an email marketing tool:
Data mining, targeting, statistics, automated emails, alerts,...

But some things are only true in social networking messaging system:
- 100% free (even though email marketing is by far the less expensive direct marketing activity).
- 100% deliverability.

Should this be considered a new way of keeping in touch with friends/relatives or a new marketing tool?

Sep 17, 2008

Is SPAM filtering fair?

I've been around for some time now in the email marketing business and struggling to get my own campaigns and now my clients' campaigns through to the inbox.

One sure thing is that reputation makes a great deal of the job.

First thing is the database quality and freshness; the other is of course the number of complaint. My questioning is on this particular point.

Are complaints reports evenly weighted whatever the sender name is?

Here's my point:
I would like to know if hotmail, aol, yahoo, spamcop,... users report in the same way as spam emails coming from 100% unknown senders (pick whatever you want in the following list: Online pharmacy, Big penis for your wife, Viagra cheap,...) and known online companies.

If I'm right, known companies get potentially more spam complaints of unhappyonce registered users than real full time spammers.

Therefore companies need to be 10x more cautious with their optin and unsubscribe processes or they will probably get a big load of complaints from unsatisfied users.

Sep 16, 2008

Case study

Please excuse me since what will follow will have little to do with email marketing.

I want to take some time and talk a little about what is according to me a great marketing campaign: The Stade-Français Paris Rugby club.

Before proceeding, for my unfortunate American readers not knowing what is Rugby: well it's just like American football for men ;-).

To start with I'll give a quick background, to understand the map of the problem you have to know a few things about Rugby and especially Rugby in France:

Rugby is an English ball game (as all ball games really). That came to France near the end of the 19th century.
At that time a game of students, it came to the Paris universities through student teams.
The Stade-Français was one of them.
Most of the first official championships where won byt he Stade-Français in these old days, but after a while, the north of France got back to Football (Soccer) and Rugby exploded in the south of France.

Progressively the Stade-Français got down the ladder and leagues. Until becomming a small club playing regional leagues.

At the end of the 1990's a man came, his name was Max Guazzini. At that time I was a Stade-Français player (Junior team) and I remember this Jet Set kind of guy standing before us telling how the Stade-Français would recover its status of major French Team.

This was kind of funny for us since Rugby was not a major Game in Paris anymore (and it hadn't been for years) - although The Racing Club de France won once the first league in the 80's.

To have a big club, you need supporters...
They push your players on the field and - of course - they are granting you a lot of money.

So the problem was then to get Parisians back to the Rugby stadium.

Compared to Football, Rugby is gathering a nice percentage of women to the stadium, the Stade-Français therefore had to bring women back to the stadium as well - this also helps gathering men... (It was the first focus made)

To make it simple I will try (out of memory) to give you a time lined list of actions Max Guazzini took... I'm still amazed :)

- Free entry to the stadium for women
- Calendar of naked Stade-Français players (Dieux du Stade) (this made a HUGE buzz and of course triggered women's interest)
- Launching half time cheerleaders shows (Men where then back in business)
- The stadium is kind of small (holding 12 000 people) and one of the greatest tricks Max Guazzini pulled was to rent the Parc des Princes and then the Stade de France for major games during the season with Superball like shows before and after the game. he did a lot of street advertising across Paris and radio stations. Everyone called him nuts but the stadiums where full each time.

The funny thing with all this is that I sometimes receive email announcements since I have (had in fact) season tickets but it always was announcements, never have I received any third party emails from the Stade-Français nor ever received any Stade-Français advertising from any other list...

Sep 12, 2008

AOL: America for sure is On Line

According to an AOL study made in the United States, Americans are addicted to email.

This survey - which details per city are available here - spots a few funny or just stunning answers.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's some facts available:

27% are so overwhelmed by their email that they’ve either declared “email bankruptcy,” deleting all their email messages to start anew, or they’re seriously thinking about doing so. Maybe it’s because 20% of users said they have over 300 emails in their inboxes!

24% admit they’ve signed up for a new email address.

69% of email users said they have multiple email accounts, up from 52% in 2007.

62% of at-work email users said they check their work email over a typical weekend

19% check email five or more times in a weekend

28% said they feel obligated to check work email while on vacation

19% choose vacation spots with email access.

More than 50% said they check their email while on vacation. It’s even higher among mobile users. 78% of those who have a mobile device check email while on vacation.

23% said as soon as they wake up

11% right when they get home from work

9% right after dinner

16% said they check their email from a mobile device

55% said they upgraded to a new cell phone in the last year so they could get their email while on-the-go. Unfortunately, 30% of mobile email users said that since getting a mobile device with email capabilities they feel “married to the office.”

41% of mobile email users said they keep their cell phones near them when they sleep so they can hear when a new email comes in.

49% of mobile email users said they check their email every single time a new message arrives.

Where do you read your emails?
• In bed in their pajamas: 67%
• From the bathroom: 59% (up from 53% last year)
• While driving: 50% (up from 37% last year)
• In a bar or club: 39%
• In a business meeting: 38%
• During happy hour: 34%
• While on a date: 25%
• From church: 15% (up from 12% last year)

32% have forwarded an email to the wrong person

16% have relied on email as a way to share uncomfortable or bad news with someone.

12% have used email to ask someone on a date

7% have broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend over email

16% said they still keep email notes from ex-boyfriends and girlfriends!

60% said they’ve never gone more than 5 days without checking email

17% can’t go more than one day without email.

11% have even hidden the fact that they’re checking email from a spouse or family member.

The Most Email Addicted Cities in the Nation

1. New York
2. Houston
3. Chicago
4. Detroit
5. San Francisco
6. Sacramento
7. Orlando
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul
9. Denver
10. Phoenix

We Have Issues with Salutations, Sign-Offs & Spelling

When asked about email etiquette, nearly one quarter (24%) of email users said they don’t even use a salutation – they just dive right into their email messages! Meanwhile, 23% write “Hi Bob” and 20% say “Hello Bob” when they start an email to co-worker Bob.

“If you converse regularly – bantering back and forth throughout the course of your workday – it’s okay to leave out a salutation,” said Cherie Kerr, author of The Bliss or “Diss” Connection?: Email Etiquette for the Business Professional, “Otherwise, people can feel as though you didn’t care enough to write out their name. To really get someone’s attention, the best thing you can do is call them by name.”

As for email sign-offs, most people write “Thanks” (44%) or “Sincerely (12%). The most annoying sign-off among email users? It’s “xoxo” according to 25% of respondents. “Cheers” irritated 13% of users the most. Overall, 63% of email users were annoyed by some type of email sign-off.

Most respondents (88%) said that they pay attention to spelling and punctuation when writing emails, and 68% said emails with spelling and punctuation errors annoyed them. Interestingly, 74% said they excuse errors when emails are sent from a mobile device like a BlackBerry or iPhone.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about your image,” added Kerr. “Typos and poor grammar are the equivalent of walking into a room looking unshowered and disheveled. Good writing in an email shows you have both professionalism and class.” For Cherie Kerr’s top-five email etiquette tips, visit http://www.CrazyForEmail.com.

From this analysis, Kerr came out with some tips :

Answer Email Within 24 Hours:
It’s good manners to reply to an email message within 24 hours. To wait three days to reply is disrespectful. In no other form of communication would you wait several hours or days to reply. You’d never do that in a spoken conversation.

Never Make Typos:
Never, ever send an email with misspellings or typos. Email messages are a direct reflection on yourself and your image. Typos make you look sloppy and unprofessional. Take the time to do a quick review of your email before you hit send.

Let Your Personality Shine:
Let your words in an email set a tone and build a rapport with someone. Those who receive email messages from you should be able to “read” you and your personality based on your words alone.

Be Concise, But Not Curt:
It should take the recipient no more than 10-20 seconds to read your email. Any longer than that and you’ll lose the reader’s attention.

Never Share Good or Bad News Over Email:
It means so much more to receive a sincere compliment or to learn of a passing friend or relative in person or over the phone rather than in an email message. So pick up the phone to share these types of messages.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Too bad for those wanting to break up with their girlfriend this week-end by sending some:
"Hey, hits owver CU"

Source:
http://o.aolcdn.com/cdn.webmail.aol.com/survey/aol/en-us/index.htm

Sep 1, 2008

SPAM can be fun :)

Ok, just for once, and believe me I will not say that ever again, SPAM can be funy...

I received just the other day a SPAM on my personal email and I just opened it because the title made me laugh...

The title was :
Doubts on Paris Hilton's virginity after the sex tape scandal.

The mail only contained a rude fake picture of Britney Spears (which was kind of deceptive for someone that might be interested in Paris Hilton) probably pointing to some pay per view porn site.

I must say Spammers all deserve jail, but for this one, I would just ask for indulgence :)

Aug 26, 2008

If you fancy reading a bit :)

I just finished reading a couple of very interesting books about marketing and direct marketing.
These books are available on amazon.com.

I reckon it might be usefull for some of you:
Landing page Optimization
The New Direct Marketing: How to Implement A Profit-Driven Database Marketing Strategy
Optimal Database Marketing: Strategy, Development, and Data Mining
Successful Direct Marketing Methods

Enjoy !

Aug 23, 2008

My own private mailbox monitor

Sometimes, tools are design for a given purpose but can be very useful for other matters.
Pageonce is a good example.
This tool has been created to give a single page access to several accounts (your finance accounts, your webmails, your fidelity rewards accounts,...)
Some of you might know returnpath mailbox monitor, it's a seedlist you use to send a test email to several test email accounts and check the reception status on all these ISPs.
This service is of course not free.
What I did was create several freemail accounts, and entered them in a pageonce account.
I now have a seed list of 15 emails I can monitor at a glance in pageonce for free :)



This is believe me vey handy.

Aug 12, 2008

Return Path to Acquire Habeas

Hello,

As a returnpath client, I just received an announcement from Returnpath, they are acquiring Habeas (a whitelist company).

Here is the announcement:

-----

Return Path & Habeas: What It Means For You

Dear Client,

Today Return Path is announcing that it has agreed to acquire Habeas. We think this is an exciting day for anyone who cares about the email universe. The combination of the two leaders in email reputation management and deliverability services means more innovation for both email senders and receivers.

Of course, you are probably wondering what this means for you as a current Return Path client.

Over the next few months we will be working to transition all of the Habeas clients onto the Return Path platform. We will be keeping their client service team and training them on the Return Path tools and services. We are excited about the infusion of deliverability expertise that this acquisition brings us. While we may integrate some of the cool features from the Habeas platform, we don't anticipate a big change for current Return Path clients.

We are planning to operate both the Habeas SafeList and Sender Score Certified as two separate whitelists. If your clients are currently using both lists they may continue to do so. If you have clients who are not currently on the SafeList and would like to be, we can help you get the application process going.

At the end of the day you can expect Return Path provide you with even better service, more innovative products and the absolute best deliverability expertise available.

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to your account person. Or, as always, you should feel free to email me directly. And be on the lookout for our press release and blog posting - both will be published this morning on www.returnpath.net.

Best wishes,
Matt Blumberg

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The Press release is available here:
http://www.returnpath.net/blog/2008/08/return-path-to-acquire-habeas.php

Jul 30, 2008

Tell me how you buy, I'll send you what you want.

I talked earlier about matching your email database information with the activity on your website, but there are other information that you might want to add to your emailing strategy to optimize your email campaigns and maximize your ROI.

One important thing that you probably know about your clients' database but hardly ever use is the buying attitude of your profiles.

Let's imagine you are an online tour operator, then why not match the date of purchase and the type of product bought. You would then be able to send relevant offers at the right time.
For example if you can create a group of clients that usually buy trips to the southern hemisphere in December, then why not send them a great sunshine offer in November?

Other example, let's imagine you are selling time limited goods then by inserting the buy date in your database you can launch an automated campaign when you expect the client to need to buy the product again.

Once again, it's always about gathering as much information as possible about the people in your DB the more you know, the more efficient you can be.

Jul 28, 2008

Send less, earn more

The idea sounds Utopian but think a second about it:
What if you could send less emails and earn more cash out of it... and I'm not telling you as much, I'm talking about MORE earnings.

How?
That's simple, today companies feel like, since the email broadcasting is cheap (compared to offline mailings and advertising), they can afford to broadcast the entire Database each time.
I won't talk right now about the virtues of targeting your communications to segments in your DB that match the type of offer you are sending out (although this is also a very important thing to do, that I will probably talk about soon enough).
The problem I talk about today is that a DB evolves and lives, and after a while, some emails inside your DB, simply die.
Most companies, willing to keep as much fire power as possible continue sending emails to the entire DB over and over again.

Now let's just think as an ISP now for a second, let's imagine one of your users has not been consulting his email during the last 12 running months, but companies continue sending email communications to this address, what credit would you grant these companies?
Wouldn't you block them?
That's just what we call email traps.

So back to my point:
By sending less I talk about excluding from your active DB emails with no reactions for let's say the last 6 months that have received a minimum number of communications (to avoid excluding non targeted emails), you can of course adjust the time period according to your types of communications.
Then, once these emails are removed, what kind of loss of openings do you expect? Slim to none, and you instantly cut your sendout fees. That's benefit one.
But, and that's why I talked about IMPROVING your revenue, your broadcast will trigger less trap emails, hence your campaign will run smoother and have a better overall delivrability (and more chances to end up inside the user's inbox). You should very soon see your open rate and click rate increase and your revenue as well.

Jul 27, 2008

Come again?

What a great WE... 3 posts in a row :)

This post here is a quick analysis of how you should adapt your comunications to the target you aim at.

Today, a lot of companies have lead campaigns running to increase their database volume.
These lead campaigns can be affiliation programs, sweepstakes, co-registration...

One of the most common mistake made by companies that buy third party leads is to consider them as regular clients registered on the website or through forms in shops.

It's very important here to make a distinction between a client that knows your brand an your type of products and someone that (more or less knowingly) registered to receive offers from your company.

When I usually advise people to send special offers to their clients, attractive offers that can get the client to buy instantly, it is - according to me - necessary when you send emailings to prospects to have the following in your creative:

- A quick and general presentation of your brand
People registered through lead campaigns generally have a poor knowledge of your website and activity, it's therefore useful to put things strait.

- A broad selection of attractive products/offers from your catalogue.
Since prospects don't know your offer in general and you hardly have any information concerning their taste it can be useful to start with generic creatives that can give them a good glance at your activity. You also increase the chances that the prospect sees something he might be interested in.

- The marketing pressure.
Until a prospect becomes a client (and you can move him from one DB to the other). It's never too good to harass him. You might get him to unsubscribe quickly from your prospects database.
I would advise to communicate regularly to always remain present in the prospect's mind but not too insistent, I would say once a week is the highest pressure you should apply to your prospects list.

Come to the dark side...


I continue my thinkgeek (www.thinkgeek.com) t-shirts collection by having a quick post concerning cookie tracking.

The main advantage of online campaigns in general (and e-mail campaigns of course) is the exactitude of the statistics, the simplicity with which you can see in an instant if your campaign performed or not.

Just like in online advertising (media campaigns and affiliate campaigns), you can use cookies in your email tracking (along with session trackers in the urls) to track users even after they clicked on the email and landed somewhere on the web.

Fair enough you might say... but being able to track a user from the email broadcast up to the order confirmation page can give you a whole number of information you can then use in your CRM.

Today, these tracking possibilities are taken one step beyond by some ESP (more and more of them) by plugging their tool to the web analytics software used on the website. This has the double benefit of simplifying the web analytics campaign setup to track the broadcast (since the campaign is declared and tracked in the email creative by the ESP itself) but it also strengthens the overall knowledge of the users' habits on your website, especially those coming from your email campaigns. It finally gives a good view of user oriented analytics on both sides (mail and website).

Jul 25, 2008

Obey gravity, it's the LAW !


Hello,

Just as gravity, some laws are unbreakable, in email marketing, legislation can be very different from one country to the other, but overall, in B2C, you need the user's permission to add them to a database.
But my point is not legal, I want to talk a little about best practices concerning your database management.

Obeying local legislation while collecting leads in your database is the guarantee of avoiding legal suits, it's not enough to be efficient.

Some rules are not dicted by legal courts, they are user driven and the ISPs are very keen on not letting you break them.

Having an optin on your subscription form: Good
Having a double optin process (with an email check): Better

Giving the possibility to unsubscribe from your newsletter: Necessary
Having a simple straightforward unsubscribe process: Better

My point is, the user has plenty of ways to harm your sender reputation and believe me, an angry user is not something you want to deal with, even if all your program is legal.

Studies across the world all come to the same conclusion: A user will not try to find a regular way of getting out of your list for too long, the spam report button will be more tempting...


As a colleague of mine always says: Just keep the unsubscribe process as simple as the optin one.