Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

We hone in on the debate surrounding confirmation opt-ins this week: When are they necessary and what percentage of marketers are deploying it in practice? Also on the agenda, tips for successful email personalization and most commonly followed email marketing best practices.

When COI Makes Absolutely No Sense

Andrew Cordek from Trendline Interactive challenges permission purists by questioning whether confirmed opt-in is necessary in certain situations. One such situation is where a user registers to access site information through the following process:

  1. Creating a username and password (with CAPTCHA)
  2. Filling out a long form with information
  3. Managing opt-ins for other email publications through a preference center (with cadence/frequency info)
  4. Confirming choices on another page
  5. Receipt of a welcome email which had all of the email choices listed

In such a scenario, Cordek argues that a closed loop email for subscribers to confirm their choices is unnecessary.

No, COI actually makes sense most of the time

And here’s the rebuttal by David Romerstein from LivingSocial. While Romerstein agrees that COI might not make sense in some scenarios, it certainly isn’t that one outlined by Cordek, for one reason: The detection of typos.

Confirmation emails help to eliminate typos, whether committed on purpose by a competitor trying to affect your reputation, or by accident. Minimizing typos helps in keeping one’s IP reputation clean.

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

In the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, the following question was put to marketers:

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve email deliverability rates? Please select all that apply.

2013_MarketingSherpa_Email_Marketing_Benchmark_Survey_Methodology

The results showed that only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list. Providing an easy unsubscribe process was the tactic that was most widely deployed by marketers at 62%. Of concern was the fact that only 21%of marketers used email authentication like DKIM or SPF to improve email deliverability.

The ultimate email marketing mistake

Here are three tips to make email personalization work for your business:

  • Use a valid reply email: A noreply@ address means you are missing out on opportunities to hear from your customer
  • Make sure you have the data: Skip personalization altogether if you don’t have many member names in your database
  • Avoid generic placeholders: Segment your list and send recipients without a listed name emails without a personalized greeting

73% of businesses carry out basic email segmentation: report

The new econsultancy email marketing census provides some interesting data for email marketers.

Top three email marketing practices are basic email segmentation at 73%, encouraging the sharing of content at 52% and regular list cleaning at 49%.

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The most commonly used email trigger was automated response to website visit/sign-up emails at 35%.

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Abandoned basket automated email programmes provided the greatest return on investment according to 13% of companies surveyed.

econsultancy_automated_roi

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

Facebook is the conversation centerpiece this week as the social networking platform debuts a new experience on Android – Facebook Home. With features like chatheads, Facebook has pitched Home as a people-centric rather than app-centric UI. It’s available through the Android app store on April 12 and on selected phone models like the HTC first, where Facebook Home is pre-loaded.

But lest we forget about email, let’s move on to the news in the industry on 2013 trends, where video is in demand and spam still sparks controversy.

A Look Into Email Marketing Trends for 2013

As we move into the second quarter of the year, it’s always good to recap on what works in the industry.

  • Radicati predicts that email accounts will grow to over 3.8 billion in 2014 from 2.9 billion in 2010.
  • The 2012 Channel Preference Study showed that 66% of consumers made purchases based on a marketing email.
  • The Forrester Email Marketing Forecast predicts that the amount spent on email marketing in 2016 will increase by almost a billion from 2011.

When it comes to email on mobile:

  • Adobe’s 2013 Digital Publishing Report shows 79% of people use smartphones to read email.
  • 40% of email is opened on a mobile device, more than on desktop or webmail.
  • 70% of consumers will immediately delete emails that do not display properly on mobile devices.
  • 2011 eConsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report showed that 14% of companies and 24% of agencies are designing emails specifically for mobile.

Daily Delivery – Adding Video to Email and the Numbers it Creates

Last week, we featured a piece on how social sharing boosts email numbers. This week, we found out how video affects email performance.

  • According to email expert, David Daniels, video in email can increase clickthrough by two to three times.
  • A Get Response Study shows customer emails containing video had 5.6% higher open rates and 96.38% higher CTRs.
  • Experian’s 2012 Digital Marketer Benchmark and Trend Report revealed that including the word “video” in an email’s subject line led to a CTR increase of 7-13%. Embedding a video generated a 21% higher conversion rate than a static image.

6 Tips to Avoid Your Subscriber’s Spam Folder

Almost 800 tests are run on your email to determine if it is fit for your recipient’s inbox. Here are some tips to lower your spam score:

  1. Don’t opt-in your email contacts, LinkedIn contacts, etc.
  2. Avoid automatic opt-ins.
  3. Deliver what you promise.
  4. Make unsubscribing easy.
  5. Clean up your HTML.
  6. Lower your link to text ratio.

Path Sued For Sending Text Spam

Permission marketing remains a problem for businesses. Path joins a growing list of companies that have been hit by a lawsuit for sending unwarranted mobile marketing messages. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act states that it is illegal for companies to use automated dialing services to send SMS messages without the recipient’s consent. Violations are punishable by a $500 fine per occurrence.

Global Marketers Still Rate SEO, Email Marketing As Tops for ROI

Email marketing is one of the top two channels getting props for return on investment from marketers. 75% of them rate SEO as “excellent” (32%) or “good” (43%). Email marketing garnered a vote of 22% in “excellent” and 44% in “good” bringing the total to 66%. Paid search and content marketing received decent scores as well.

channel-roi-ratings-april2013

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

DDoS (denial-of-service) attacks have been making headlines in the past few weeks. A number of high profile brands were hit including Spamhaus, CBL, GitHub and Raspberry Pi among others. In other security news, Apple has added two-step authentication for iTunes, App Store and iBookstore consumers.

Moving on to the main event, what’s happening in the email world?

Improving Email Acquisition – Site Registration

A huge email list together with frequency of mailings has been attributed to Obama’s campaign win. However, site registration pages are often not optimized to be fully effective. David Daniels provides a list of tactics to increase the chances of email acquisition:

  • Promote registration and newsletter subscriptions across the site.
  • Keep registration forms short.
  • Collect customer information incrementally.
  • Use standard form-field names.
  • Explain registration benefits.
  • Ask a basic segmentation question.
  • Make opt-in permission clear.
  • Confirm age.
  • Confirm country.

5 Important Spots to Place Your Opt-In Forms

Help customers opt-in with ease when it comes to receiving email communication on content / company updates. Here are 5 places to consider having an opt-in form:

  • Landing Pages
  • Free Download Pages
  • Sidebars
  • At the end of Blog Posts
  • Headers & Footers

Event-Themed Emails & Real-Time Marketing: The Best & Worst

Event emails can be effective in promoting your brand and providing a welcome break from traditional newsletter emails. Here’s one from Universal Music that capitalizes on the Olympics.

universal-rock-music

Terrain, however, wasn’t quite as effective. Their email newsletter had a compelling subject line, “A Sale of Olympic Proportions”, however the content within had no reference to the Olympics at all.

terrain-furniture-sale

Mother’s Day – Email trends and tips

Mother’s Day is coming up in May, and Experian has some interesting charts and recommendations for email marketers on this special occasion.

mothers-day-email-volume

Mothers-day-what-works

Email Inspiration: Six More Great Responsive Email Designs

Purchases made on the mobile in 2012 amounted to $6.7 billion in 2012. Here are 6 brands that have optimized their emails for the mobile:

  •  TOMS
  • Waitrose
  • Size?
  • Top Table
  • Late Rooms
  • John Lewis
top-table-readability

Now that you’re building up your email lists through strategically placed opt-in forms and event-themed emails that have been optimized for conversion, what’s next on the agenda?

How about ensuring that those emails that you do send get into the inbox? Each email that doesn’t make it into the inbox represents a lost opportunity for engagement and ultimately conversion.

Email authentication standard, DMARC, blocked 325 million unauthenticated messages in Nov & Dec 2012. Don’t be that statistic. Watch our recorded webinar on DMARC to ensure that your email gets to the intended recipient!

Don't Deprioritize DMARC webinar

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

Great start to 2013… and the second post of the year for our email marketing news series! From tactics, predictions and new technological email features, there’s a little bit of something for all email marketers.

Email Marketing Basics: 4 tactics of the incredible email marketer 

Good email marketers know that email marketing is great for lead nurturing and stretching your customer lifetime value. Incredible email marketers know the cool tactics that will drive customer engagement and clickthrough. Here’s how:

  • The Reward Delivery – Everyone loves a freebie. Using email marketing to increase customer loyalty through member rewards and promotions is a great way to get that buy-in.
  • The Double Opt-In – Confirmation opts in. Do you really want to risk annoying customers with this? Yes, you do. And a lot of the time, the customer is actually looking for this. For brand loyalists, it gives them peace of mind. It’s also a good way to ensure that you have accurate email addresses to ensure email deliverability. Yahoo.com may seem easy to spell, but Jack Hogan, CTO, LifeScript, found there are more than 500 ways to get that spelling wrong.
  • The Welcome Series – The Welcome Series is a great way to give the customer an overview of what to expect from the newsletter or mailing list they opted into. If your potential customers are opting in, it means they are looking for news about you – and that means higher clicks.
  • The Amazing Email Marketing Integration – Marketing in silos? Not so hot anymore. Integrating your email marketing efforts with social and across other channels brings about a much higher clickthrough rate. It’s all about cross-channel these days – that’s how the conversation’s taking place.

The continuing growth of integrated marketing in 2013

Here’s a list of what the movers and shakers in the online world are saying about integrated marketing. We’re particularly interested in this comment:

“In 2013 we will see social media teams working much closer with e-commerce teams, and ‘integrated digital marketing’ will take shape. The laggards will be email marketers who will still feel comfortable in their established metrics and existing silo’d processes.”

Since this blog is all about email marketing, you’d think we’d take issue with this comment. But we’re going to go out on a limb and agree – email marketers will lag… IF they continue marketing in silo. We’ve been advocating cross-channel marketing for a while and we still stand behind that. Email still drives the highest ROI, – it’s not even an issue for debate anymore. Adding social and mobile tools to your arsenal will only increase the chances of customer conversion.

7 Ways To Improve Your Email Deliverability 

We’ve often featured articles that talk about improving deliverability from a content perspective – this one differs in that it takes a slightly more technical view and lists 7 areas you should look at when it comes to improving the chances of email getting into your customer’s inbox.

Also have a look at the Top 5 Reasons Your Newsletter Will Go To Spam where the issues of cold IPS, unusual bursting, content, improperly setup infrastructure and incomplete list maintenance is covered in greater detail.

Yahoo sued for text spam

Yet another company finds itself in hot water for text spam. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act states that companies cannot use automated dialing systems without the consent of the consumers. Violations result in a $500 fine. Despite the heavy focus on mobile marketing due to its explosive growth, it is an area where companies can easily cross the legal line, despite recent updates to the Act. The answer to avoiding all this legal trouble then, lies again in .

Gmail’s New Compose View Now Gives You The Ability To Add Labels And Stars 

Google’s constantly tweaking Gmail for improved usability. The new Compose Now view gives you the ability to add labels and stars to your email as you are writing it, saving time spent looking for the email and starring or labeling it only after it has been sent.

Learn more about improving your email deliverability and feedback loops in the Proven Tips for High Volume Sending webinar!

Proven Tips For High Volume Sending

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

It’s the weekend before Christmas, and we hope you’re just as excited as we are!

Big news this week with Instagram’s change to their terms of service and resultant uproar in the online sphere. Clearly, corporations need to be mindful of how protective people are of personal privacy as that continues to be an emotional trigger point for online users.  Instagram reverted back to their original terms days later with a blog post announcement by co-founder Kevin Systrom. Not to belabor the point, but here’s another privacy gaffe making the rounds.

FTC Complaint Says SpongeBob App Violates COPPA

Marketing and children. Replace “and” with a “to”, and that line is enough fuel to spark lively debates about the need to protect children’s data from being exploited. The Center for Digital Democracy has filed a complaint that the popular Spongebob Diner Dash mobile app has violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Its crime? Collecting the email addresses of users without first requiring parental consent. The Spongebob Diner Dash app has since been removed from the iTunes store.

Mobile marketing serves as an attractive option for marketers in generating new leads due to its prevalence and effectiveness, but caution is clearly needed. Mobile is one of the most private user experiences. While it exists as a unique opportunity to reach customers, it’s easy to cross the line and become too intrusive. When children are involved, things get even trickier.

Does your company overestimate the value of an email address?

More on the issue of privacy.

We all know how valuable email marketing is to companies. It’s been known as the best tool to nurture a lead, and reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Email guru, David Daniels stated in a recent webinar that social media does not replace email, but rather complements it. Obtaining a potential lead and building up one’s database for email marketing is necessary for marketers, but how this is done matters. Gaining personal data without customers filling up a form and requesting more information or making a purchase, strays too far into the nebulous ethical grey area. It’s like waving a red flag in the face of bulls.

Email Marketing: Factors that influence open rate

A/B testing continues to be one of my favourite reading topics. It’s fascinating to see how simple tweaks to colour and font can influence clickthrough rate.

Designers all over the world despair, but as Obama’s campaign staff discovered, a personal tone and gawdy design is sometimes the key to brand engagement. As far as I am concerned, if I’m getting conversions through ugly design, then I’ll stand behind ugly design!

Aside from design, here is a comprehensive list of elements that continue to affect open rates:

  • Event triggers
  • Sender recognition
  • Subject lines and relevance to content
  • Urgency
  • Word count
  • Forwarded emails
  • Time of day

lp-form-test

The creation of personas allows for subsequent messages to be tailored to customers’ needs and this has seen to be more effective than normal emails in driving clicks.

Email Inspiration: Six Great Responsive Email Designs

Look how well the design below works when it is opened on a mobile phone.  Lyris has highlighted 6 brands that have created some great designs that work across multi-channels. Also check out this cool presentation on responsive design.

british-airways-emails

Email is most important channel for driving Christmas sales: infographic

And finally, to put everyone into a Christmas mood here’s a lovely infographic about driving Christmas sales. Email is seen to be the most effective at 43%, SEO and SEM tie at 33% and social media comes in fourth at 21%.

ecircle-infographic-2012

Capitalize on mobile to increase your open rate in your marketing campaigns with our 10 Steps To Mobile Messaging Guide!

10 Steps To Mobile Messaging

Permission marketing? We’ve all heard of it. This is the story of what happens when businesses decide it’s okay to bend those rules.

It’s also a warning that businesses are still liable for laws their third party vendor breaks.

A national pizza chain is being sued for 250 million for sending out more than 500,000 text messages to customers who did not opt into the service. These customers received up to 16 messages in a row in the middle of the night.  If found in breach, that’s a penalty of $500 to $1500 per text.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 mandates that businesses require opt-in permissions before texting customers. This calls to mind the CAN-SPAM Act that governs email marketing where opt-in/out options are also required.

Confused? While text messages are a powerful marketing tool and enjoy some of the highest open rates at over 90%, it’s really important to avoid being on the wrong side of the law when it comes to . How so? Ensure customers who receive promotional messages actually did opt in for the service. Equally important is providing them with an option to unsubscribe should they change their minds about receiving these messages.  For anyone still struggling to grasp the concept, Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing is a groundbreaking read.

Here’s another case, where the judge ruled that the provision of a mobile phone number was tantamount to an opt-in where promotional messages are concerned.

Marketers could also consider engaging message automation capabilities to reach out to customers via email or text only if a certain customer action triggers it. That ensures customer communications are both customized and personalized which goes a long way to enhancing customer service.

While a penalty of $250 million dollars makes a pretty deep dent in budgets, what is far worse is the loss of customer’s trust, goodwill and damage to brand reputation.

Now that’s a pretty steep price to pay.