Some More Tip on Writing Emails

You owe an online business and you know that to make money you need a list of people, a list of passionate buyers who are hungry for your offer and will devour it when you send it out.

How do you create such a list? And even more important how do you maintain your list of prospects? It’s not as easy as you probably thought at first. You must have a squeeze page where people opt in to your list. On that page you should tell your prospects that the information they provide will be kept private and that they will receive only the newsletters they subscribe to but not a whole lot of spam from different sources.

Don’t forget to use the double opt in model because people may not remember that they opted in to your list. Using the double opt-in method you ensure that all people on your list gave you the permission to send them your emails. Your auto-responder email messages should be mini sales letters including a solid content to keep your list subscribed. And finally, you want to send the emails at a regular basis, but not too often, so your subscribers don't forget who you are, or worse, get overwhelmed by your messages.

It requires much time, testing and measuring to choose the right email marketing strategy and set it up in the right way but it is well worth the efforts in the end.

Let’s talk now about 3 simple but incredibly important rules to set you on the right path with the email newsletter:

1. Keep the lines width up to 65 characters.

Most people read many emails every day. So, your purpose is to compose your email message so that it is not boring or fatiguing to read. The last thing that your recipient wants to do is scrolling his eyes from one side of the screen to the other. No matter how good your content is, if it is fatiguing to read, it risks to be abandoned after a few lines.

The optimum width of the line is around 65 characters.

You just type 65 symbols, for example asterisks or dashes, across the top and then measure your text returns against this. MS Outlook Express, NoteTab and some other email programs allow you set the line wrap to any character width you require. So, you don’t have to hit enter every time you think you need to.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some email programs force line wrapping at 60 to 65 characters on emails received. So if you send an email wrapped at 100 characters your reader will receive an email that is broken down. This makes it look unprofessional.

2. Don’t write in ALL CAPS.

It’s bad email etiquette. It’s like you’re shouting at your reader. Nobody likes to be shouted at and if you are trying to sell something at the same time, you won't make any sales, and even worse, you may lose some subscribers.

Some caps, underlining and bolding is necessary but don’t abuse it! Too many caps, exclamation points, underlining and bolding work against you. An email all in caps would destroy the reader’s confidence very quickly.

3. Check your spelling and grammar.

Have you ever seen a website, sales page or email with spelling mistakes? What do you think about the professionalism of the owner or email sender?

Some people may not pay attention to the mistakes, but for some people one spelling mistake will completely destroy the credibility of the message.

It is very important to spell check your messages before sending them. And even better if you have someone else to proof read your message before you send it out. A fresh look always helps discover the slips and mistakes that you might miss. Your reputation and sales are in direct proportion with your messages. The better your message is, the higher the credibility of your readers is and, thus, more sales you make. So, take the time to get it absolutely right.

Do we need to properly train our Creative Partners?

New MarketingSherpa Study Data: One Out of Four Consumers Use Preview Panes; 59% Block Email Images

If you send email to consumers and/or small businesses, you may want to get with your email designer as soon as you've reviewed Sherpa's new study data. 1,323 online consumers over age 18 just told us how they view their email. Turns out 26.6% use preview panes (instead of look at your whole email) and 59% routinely block images

Have you viewed your own email creative with images blocked recently? Judging from our in-boxes, we know of many, many marketers who are in for a nasty surprise when they finally take a look.

Now, we're not suggesting that you stop using images in consumer emails. MarketingSherpa studies show that images, when used appropriately, can significantly improve responses from consumers who see them.

However, from now on, when your creative team shows you email to approve, we suggest you refuse to OK anything unless you get three versions to approve at the same time:

1. Preview pane version - at least small horizontal.

2. Images blocked version.

3. Regular full-screen glory version.

Advanced Send 2 a Friend

If you want your customers to be able to sign up new recipients through the send 2 a friend function, they will need List Builder Interface switched on, then they can have a sign up box the email they forward and can capture the email addresses of their friends. This sign up button takes them to through usual double opt-in process, I am told.

It is getting more and more important to have the LBI on customers' accounts. As data is getting worse/more expensive and people sending the emails are not capable of sending the honest email to cold addresses; ie: you have recieved this email becasue you signed up for this, if you do not want this email please unsubscribe here!

To turn on Advanced Viral Reporting, or Send to a Friend Sign up, is just a tick box for admin, should this be enabled by default when they buy LBI?

RP thinks that they were seperate line items with seperate charges? More investigation required!

Google Gmail - Marketing Best Practices

Should you be concerned about Gmail's unique features? Will these features affect your email display and delivery rates? With Gmail's record-setting popularity, you definitely need to take a few moments to go through this whitepaper - after all, getting your messages to subscribers' Gmail inboxes is more important today than ever before.

Read the complete whitepaper

Data is Dead long live Data

"Data is Dead long live Data" Adrian Thorne 14/02/2007 09.46

As I've said before, Acquisition B2C emails and buying data may well be dead!
It can hurt your reputation, with customers, potential customers and ISPs. Especially nower-days when emails don't really get in the inbox without you being in their address book. You really have to throw a lot of money at a basic acquisition campaign to get any kind of return ie: Indie Field.

The best way to get in the inbox and to be trusted is have your email sent by a recipient's friend.
Yes, you know what I'm going to say - Viral - calm down, calm down, I know you can't deliberately do a viral email blah blah blah!

Once you're in the inbox, you've then got to get that new recipient's email address.

To harvest emails, you want the List Builder Interface on an account, with the send to a friend subscribe switched on.

Then you have to offer that new recipient something... this is where the flash microsite come in!!!

You want to send an offer to all your current customers offering them something, either a really interesting, interactive, dynamic flash web site that they will want to send to a friend, or something material - bribery - for doing it, eg: send this to 5 friends and get something.

Then you have to convince the friends to subscribe

Well it's one perspective any way!

Top 10 Online Marketing Predictions for 2007

Top 10 Online Marketing Predictions for 2007
by Ryan Buchanan
February 13, 2007

With 2007 in full swing, here are our predictions for the rest of the year to come. In prior years we have given you a mix of business and personal lifestyle predictions, but this year we're sticking to just the online marketing world.

We busted out our omniscient crystal ball, and this is what it told us:

10. Social networking will get more and more niche. Social Networking has blanketed the news for the past 18 months because it works. YouTube and MySpace have built loyal communities through entertaining user-generated content and great tools for communicating with other like-minded people.

However, Social Networking is going NICHE. People use specific tools to connect, recommend, rate, and communicate within their niche groups. For this reason, there are many types of Social Media now and there will be five times this many by the end of next year:

  • B2C: MySpace, Facebook, Gaia, Friendster, Second Life
  • B2B: LinkedIn, Jigsaw
  • Search: Digg, Delicious, Wink, Technorati
  • Shopping: Wists, ThisNext, Woot
  • Expert Communities: Blogs, Wikis
  • Mapping: Geosearch
  • Video: YouTube, TurnHere, Splashcast
  • Images: Flickr

9. Viral campaign Web sites will have a purpose. Over the past couple of years, I've been forwarded hundreds of quirky sites that are experimenting with viral marketing and have no further purpose whatsoever. There are no calls to action or indications as to why these sites exist.

A few examples of pointless viral sites: Patron's SimplyPerfect, eROI's WearShortShorts, and CareerBuilder's popular Monk-e-Mail. Next year will feature more substantial viral campaign sites, like Philips's ShaveEverywhere, PassportToFlavor from Kettle Foods, and Snakes on a Plane.

8. User-generated content will be a component on most new Web sites. Many companies are just starting to realize the great potential of Web sites with user-generated content that enable customers co-create with their brands. Ultimately, allowing users to post their stories through text, images, and video helps to build community and long-term brand loyalty. In short, it works, and companies large (Diesel-U-Music) and small (Dunderdon Workspace) will employ this strategy much more frequently next year.

7. Email marketers will demand more strategy from their marketing agencies. From the client-side email marketer's perspective, there are only minor differences between the top email marketing software platforms. Email marketers will demand to know more advanced strategies for their email programs by asking questions like these: How does this email render in the default settings of the different email environments (AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)? What content shows up above and below the fold on the email preview? What content and call to action will really resonate with my target audience? How can I be a resource and still convert click-throughs into qualified leads?

6. Great content is king. Quality content is more important now than ever before. Each of us receives dozens of email newsletters daily. There are over 100 million viewings daily on YouTube. One in twenty visits on the Web is to a social networking site where new content is generated every second. There is a glut of content, and it's only going to get more crowded.

The key point worth noting is that the few companies providing great content are huge winners because of all of the online and offline marketing channels that work together in a sort of crescendo effect, amplifying the messaging of well-positioned brands. Word-of-mouth spreads so much faster than it used to through blogs, iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, Web sites, and online press.

Fans of the TV program "Grey's Anatomy" can convert nonbelievers because the content of the show is good enough to keep them once they've heard about it. The opposite holds true of "Snakes on a Plane," which had a huge online following but bombed at the box office because the content sucked. Keep this in mind when strategizing and implementing your next viral marketing site or email campaign.

5. Most successful companies will become media companies. Microsoft became a media company when it began its blogging program a couple years ago. The lawyers lost and marketers won; revealing the inside scoop at Microsoft was virtually the only thing that has healed the company's battered reputation.

More and more companies are starting their own blogs, helping them to become more relevant and newsworthy to a greater audience within their niche. Blogging has essentially forced companies to step into their customers' shoes and provide them with more industry knowledge and news rather than simply ramming products down their throats.

4. The Democrat majority in Congress swings the tide of online marketing. Marketers will push the envelope far more aggressively in 2007 now that the fear of death by Republican firing squad has been reduced. Moral depravity will run rampant in advertising, and the largely Democratic online marketers will revel in the end-result of their twisted creative brains.

3. Greater integration of video into all Web sites. When I last visited the homepage of CRM juggernaut, I was immediately struck by how quickly the video flash piece engaged me. Video is not just for TV and YouTube anymore. The ShaveEverywhere site proved that the use of video within viral sites is hugely engaging and effective in converting sales.

We will see many more large, medium-sized, and small businesses integrate video into their primary and campaign Web sites in 2007. One trend we will likely see will be an increase in the use of "webisodes," 3-5 minute daily or weekly video clips that entice users to come back to sites for more all-Web programming.

2. Email mantra: list segmentation + relevant content = improved results. eROI published an email study in early 2006 showing a direct correlation between smaller, more relevant lists and higher open and click through rates. Instead of sending all emails to a Main List of all of their contacts, marketers are starting to segment their lists into product categories, service categories, press lists, webinar lists, etc.

Marketers who fail to take the extra hour or two to do this list segmentation every 3-6 months will see continued email list fatigue and a resulting drop in performance. Emailers will learn that content needs to focus less on selling a product and talking at recipients, and more on talking with recipients. Updating email content and starting a conversation will be more important than ever as people move toward seeing their inboxes as sacred places that they don't want violated by one-way advertising messages.

1. Thoughtful, cause-related marketing is the biggest winner in 2007. Pay attention. If you do this right, you will put your company on the map—and make the world a better place. This may just be the best business advice you get all year: Ask your coworker, your department, your entire company what one nonprofit they want to support—and throw a lot of energy behind it. Better yet, co-create a new program or new event with an existing, reputable nonprofit, and you'll see that your employees, customers, and prospects, as well as your kids and your spouse, will help you take this cause, and indirectly your company, to the next level.

The best example of this is a brand we used to take for granted: Dove. Dove launched "The Campaign for Real Beauty" and let the fact be known that the company no longer simply sells soap. Dove is now so much more than a set of commodity products. Dove sells real beauty; natural beauty; non-superficial beauty.

The Campaign for Real Beauty Web site features a one-minute film that shows the transformation of an average-looking woman into a strikingly gorgeous supermodel. Only by seeing this process can we truly comprehend the illusion of what are, essentially, fabricated dream girls.

The beauty of this site is that it doesn't end with just awareness of the problem. It launches immediately into an actionable item for 8-12-year-old girls to sign up for Dove's real beauty workshops. The workshops teach girls about the importance of identifying beauty within themselves in the pre-teen years, before the peer pressure to be like the mythical supermodel drives them to anorexia or bulimia.

A couple of years ago, eROI began its own partnership with Portland-based nonprofit, Friends of the Children, by co-creating an event called Friends Art Fair. In just two years, the event has raised $55,000 and has garnered 2.5 million media impressions thru email marketing channels, print media, and media sponsor KPTV Fox 12 News.

Image-Blocking Scorecard, Part 2

Visible Headlines

Headlines can make or break an e-mail. They can engage readers immediately or send them to the next message. Something I've been adamant about since mid-2004 is formatting headlines in rich text rather than images. That way, you're 100 percent certain they're seen, even if images are suppressed. I'm surprised more folks aren't in my camp on this.

Only 43 percent of the messages viewed had a headline I could read when images were suppressed. I defined headline pretty broadly. Basically, I was looking for a brief phrase that wasn't in an alt tag that told me what the e-mail was about. In many cases, there was no text visible at all, just a field of red x's.

Of the B2B e-mail messages, 64 percent had headlines I could read; only 25 percent of B2C messages met this same standard. If recipients don't know what the message is about, what's their incentive to download the images? This is why having a headline that's visible, even when the images aren't, is useful.

Call to Action in the Preview Pane

Another best practice I strive to incorporate into all my work is a viable call to action in the preview pane. By viable I mean clickable. If readers skim the reading pane and are sold, they can take the next step without having to scroll.

But if the call to action is an image, readers can't see it. That big "Order Now" button is nice... until it morphs into a red "x." Even the "click here" alt tag doesn't quite do it.

In my study, only 33 percent of the messages had a call to action that was readily recognizable with suppressed images. Either the visual call-to-action image was blocked in the other 67 percent or there wasn't one that appeared in the preview pane at all. It was hard to tell.

B2B messages again came out on top, with 50 percent including a non-image call to action in the reading pane, compared to just 19 percent of B2C e-mail messages viewed.

Link to View Online

Back before HTML e-mail (yes, I know I'm showing my age!), we used to send plain-text e-mail and include a link to view the content on the Web. That went out of fashion when HTML came along, but it returned when image suppression became common. Giving the reader a link to view the e-mail online provides a one-click way to view images. It's a quick, if somewhat primitive, way around image blocking.

Again, I was surprised how few e-mail marketers take advantage of this simple idea. Only 27 percent of the e-mail I looked at included a link like this in the reading pane. The B2C group was ahead here with 38 percent, compared to just 14 percent of B2B marketers who included this feature for readers.

The traditional location for this type of message is the very top of the message; it usually appears in plain text in a small font. Placement may be changing (see my column on snippets for why), but for now this is where most marketers include it.

Request for Whitelisting

This is another oft-cited best practice for deliverability, but one few seem to be taking advantage of. In the sample, only 27 percent of e-mail included language at the top of the message (same location as the "view online" link) asking readers to whitelist the sender. No B2B marketers made this request, and only 50 percent of the B2C messages included it.

In addition to keeping the e-mail you send out of the junk folder, Office 2003 and other programs for which image blocking is the default show e-mail images from senders that appear in the recipient's contact list. It's just one more reason to make the request and to make sure you're sending from a single sender address so readers need only add you to their contact lists once, not repeatedly. (Many of these programs work off e-mail addresses, not domains, though Outlook 2003 gives readers the choice. Don't count on recipients knowing the difference.)

Ability to Communicate Without Images

This is the big one. If the images in your e-mail are suppressed (and the recipient doesn't download them), is the message still delivered? If it is, you're good. If not, it's a waste of time, money, and effort on your part.

I used a scale of 0 to 3 to rank each message:

* 3 = Message was delivered loud and clear, even without images.

* 2 = Basic information on offer was visible.

* 1 = Basic information on sender, but not offer, was visible.

* 0 = Without images, the reader has no clue what the e-mail is about.

The average rank for my sample was 1.4. Here's the breakdown:

* 17 percent (all B2B) of the messages earned the top rank of 3.0, an A.

* 34 percent scored a 2.0, a B.

* 20 percent (all B2C) landed at 1.0, a C.

* 30 percent were a big goose egg with a 0.0 rank, an F.

B2B messages fared far better than B2C messages, garnering an average rank of 1.8 (C+) compared to just 1.0 (let's call it a solid C). No B2C e-mail earned a 3.0; 31 percent rated a 0.0, with the same percentage garnering a 2.0. On the B2B side, the 3.0 ranking went to 36 percent of the sample; 29 percent were in the 0 zone.

Study Finds Consumers Consistently Deceived by Phishing Messages

Study conducted by ICONIX finds that users opened one of every six spoofed messages linked to phishing scams.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., — February 5, 2007 — ICONIX, Inc., the leading provider of visual email identification solutions, today announced results from an end-user study which found that on average, email users opened one in six phishing messages — fake email messages created to defraud consumers. The study also found that consumers' tendency to open spoof messages varied widely according to the type of message. Open rates ranged from a high of one in four fake messages claiming to be from social networks to a low of one in ten fake messages purportedly from dating services.

The study included 10,557 participants, and was conducted during a six month time period from May-October 2006. Results of the study, which recorded actual email behavior, were categorized into eight segments based on the type of message received. The open rate of spoofed messages breaks down as follows:

  • Social networks - 24.9%
  • E-cards - 17.1%
  • Payment - 16.2%
  • Financial - 15.5%
  • Auction - 14.7%
  • Info - 12.9%
  • Retail - 12.1%
  • Dating - 9.5%

"It's no secret that phishing attacks have significantly increased during the past few months," said Jeff Wilbur, vice president of marketing for ICONIX. "What is surprising is how effective the phishers are at motivating users to open spoofed messages. Based on the industry estimates that 59 million phishing messages are sent per day, our study indicates that as many as 10 million fake messages may be opened per day, creating huge risk for people receiving the messages. It's also interesting to see that social networks and e-cards top the list of open rates for spoof messages, indicating to us that users need to be cautious, regardless of the type of messages they receive. As phishing becomes more sophisticated and pervasive, it's easy for even the most discriminating email users to fall victim to such attacks."

Find the survey here

Majority of adults welcome marketing emails from familiar sources

Find the survey here

SAN MATEO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Acxiom® Digital, a leading provider of integrated digital marketing solutions for Global 2000 enterprises, today announced the results of a nationwide poll measuring attitudes and responses of online adults toward e-mail marketing communications.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive®, found that about three in four online adults (74 percent) view e-mail communications from a company they frequently patronize to be valuable or very valuable. In addition, 30 percent of online adults have purchased a particular good or service as a result of receiving such e-mails, and of these, 85 percent have done so within the past year. The poll surveyed 2,541 online adults throughout the United States.

In the group surveyed, the results concluded that:

94 percent have received an email solicitation.
30 percent reported that the solicitation prompted them to respond.
30 percent reported that the solicitation prompted them to purchase.
74 percent viewed email from companies they do business with as valuable.
17 percent viewed emails from companies they do not do business with as valuable.
61 percent identified timing of the email as an important factor in their desire to respond.
60 percent reported that compelling offers and discounts were an important factor in their desire to respond.
55 percent reported that email targeted to their specific interests, lifestyle or preference was important to them.
On average, 23 percent reported that personalization and graphic design were important to them.

"Savvy consumers have come to rely on e-mail marketing communications as a resource to help them get the best deals possible," said Kevin Johnson, president of Acxiom Digital. "Likewise, retailers have established e-mail marketing as an efficient and productive way to build and retain a loyal customer base and increase revenue by communicating with consumers in a meaningful way. This poll demonstrates that e-mail marketing has evolved over the years to bring more value to consumers while proving to be a more effective medium for retailers than ever before."

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Acxiom between September 25 and 27, 2006, among 2,541 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older. Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Data were also weighted to be representative of the population of online adults on the basis of Internet usage (hours per week) and connection type.

With a pure probability sample of 2,541, one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of 3 percentage points. The sampling error for the sub-samples of online adults who have received e-mail communications from companies (n=2,430) and online adults who have purchased a good or service as a result of an e-mail communication from a company (n=909) is higher and varies. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Responsys Shares Ten Tips for Improving Valentine's Day Email Marketing Campaigns

REDWOOD CITY, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 07, 2007 -- As Valentine's Day approaches, email inboxes will once again begin overflowing with promotional emails. And since consumers usually decide whether to open and click on an email in less than five seconds, it's crucial for marketers to cut through the clutter with emails that get noticed.

Responsys, a leading provider of on-demand marketing solutions, offers ten practical tips for marketers looking to get more out of their email campaigns this Valentine's Day.

"Holiday email campaigns typically deliver superior results, especially for retailers," said Barry Stamos, Senior Director, Strategy for Responsys. "Every business should leverage this special time of year to 'share the love.' Whether it's a simple thank you e-card or a customer reward like twenty-percent off -- don't miss this timely opportunity to engage your prospect and customers in a 'sweet' email experience."

"Regardless of how businesses reach out to their audience this Valentine's Day, there is always room to improve on the basics," said Julian Scott, Creative Director for Responsys. "By following a few simple tips and best practices, marketers can make over even the most simple email campaigns to build brand consistency, improve ROI, increase customer loyalty, and significantly boost conversions."

"Falling in Love is our romantic, sensual fragrance and it seemed like the perfect promotion for Valentine's Day," said Karolyn Stayer, Director of Brand Marketing and PR at philosophy. "We worked closely with Responsys to create a Falling in Love email campaign with the fun, whimsical look that characterizes the philosophy brand. From the subject line -- 'fall in love with two free gifts' -- through a sweet and subtle heart animation that tied together the email, we achieved the right combination of elements to get noticed."

Below are proven strategies and tactics for delivering your difference:

1. The "from" address is the first thing people see. Make sure your company's name prominently appears in the "from" address. And never use a generic "from" address that includes vague alias like Instead, try

2. The subject line is the most important element of your campaign -- because it either gets people to open your email or delete it. Always feature your company's name in the subject line -- this can increase open rates by 5% or more -- and make sure subject line text is catchy, specific, and actionable. But keep it short: six words or less (or less than 50 characters).

3. Now that your customer has opened your email, the next thing to think about is what they see above the fold. Make sure your image begins 300-500 pixels from the top of the view to grab the viewer's attention and put your logo in the upper left. Keep email width to 500-600 pixels, or it will run off the page. You also want to make sure your email recipients can instantly understand the following: who the email is from; what's in it for me; and how do I take action.

4. Put your dominant call to action above the fold, such as "Order online within the next 48-hours for Free Shipping." If the action is a button, make sure to offer a text link as well. When a customer opens an email they need to be able to immediately answer: Who is this from? What's in it for me? And, what action is requested?

5. Repeat a call to action multiple times including at the end of each content section, offering buttons and text links throughout the email. Not doing so is one of the biggest mistakes you can make -- because 50% of your customers read to the end of the email and often times there is nowhere to go from there. Don't let this happen.

6. Give your viewers options. The primary offer may not interest them, no matter how well you've segmented the campaign. Offer them links for more information and related content, not just the current promotion. The inclusion of a simple call-to-action like: "Don't see what you want? Visit us online at" might just be the safety net you need to entice them to click.

7. Go easy on the pictures. Colorful graphic content is great, but remember some people's email programs block graphics, so make sure there is text above the fold with a call to action, and related text actions sprinkled throughout. Use animations sparingly.

8. When it comes to the text, avoid abstract ideas or long sentences. Be brief and direct. Make sure you spend as much time on the creative text of your email campaigns as you do for all marketing campaigns. Remember, you're using email to communicate your brand, not just a special offer.

9. Design text-only emails for AOL users and other subscribers that can't view HTML emails. Even if only 5% of your users are in this category, don't neglect them.

10. Always include a footer with your company contact information, a button to update their personal information, a link to your privacy policy, and a clear opt-out mechanism (don't try to hide it and always honor opt outs within 10 days).

We are Getting in the Box more than everyone else

The latest stats we have say that the industry average of open rates is 26% and Pure's is 33%.
How much of this is down to the emails actually getting into the inbox rather than redirected to the spam.junk/bulk folders?
Could this be down to our whitelisting and Spam checking?

This is an interesting point,

Could it be a good handler on whitelisting?
Could it be a good selling point?