Making Good On Your Mistake

DMA Email Marketing Council Blog

Making Good On Your Mistake

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 11:14 AM CDT

Here's what I found in just one day's worth of email messages recently:

1. Wrong landing page
2. Spelling mistake in the subject line
3. Test subject line not removed
4. Email sent to the wrong company division list
5. Personalisation code showing instead of name
6. 2007 copyright date
7. Broken link to Web version
8. Images failed to load even when enabled
9. Brand name misspelled

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But how you recover from them will either save your reputation and business or make readers think you're unprofessional and untrustworthy.

A good recovery isn't enough, though. Know where your greatest vulnerabilities are in your email program and what you have to do to make sure errors either don't happen or get caught before you click "send."

First Rule: Don't rush out an immediate email correction!

Your first instinct probably is to send out a second email immediately, before readers can act on the wrong one, but this can make the effects of your mistake much worse. Sending a second email to your entire list right after the first one can make you look like a spammer to ISPs if your list has too undeliverable email addresses. You look like you're pounding on addresses that don't exist, belong to closed accounts, have become inactive or are temporarily unavailable.

If the mistake doesn't involve an email function – broken or wrong links, wrong price, incorrect image, wrong copy -- or won't mislead your readers, don't send out a follow-up to the whole list. Instead, include a short apology in your next regular email.

Second Rule: Fix the Mistake

You must correct the mistake if it could mislead readers or if it breaks the email's functionality. Also, if you are sending the email on an advertiser's or partner's behalf, you have to make good. However, it's still not time to rush out a correction email to your entire list.

If the mistake involves your Web site –- the landing-page link is broken, or you published the wrong link or the wrong offer –- post a note on the page with an apology and a link to the correct page. Post a similar note on your front page, again with a link to the correct page.

How to send follow-up emails:

1. Send a follow-up email only to those who either opened or clicked within 24 hours. This is a typical watch period for most ISPs and spares you from hitting all those inactive or undeliverable addresses again.

Note: Don't send just to addresses that opened the message. If the reader views your email in the preview pane or doesn't download images, the open won't show up - so include those who click.

2. Send a follow-up email after 24 hours to your list if you can't segment out your openers and clickers. If you email more often than weekly, wait until your next regular email, then including an apology and the correct information.

Yes, you could lose some sales, but that will motivate you to make sure your emails are correct before they go out,

Third Rule: Apologise the Right Way

What not to say: "Ooops! We goofed!" or "Did you ever have one of those days when nothing goes right?" if you mail to a business list. It looks unprofessional.

Better: "We apologise for the mistake and the inconvenience. Here is the correct link/information/price." Imagine what your typical reader would say, and match your apology to that.

Fourth Rule: Look for List Churn

Scrutinise your list metrics for higher unsubscribes and changes in open or click rates. Also, watch for more spam complaints and act on those immediately.

Fifth Rule: Step Up Your Quality Control

These steps can help you spot mistakes better without adding too much time to your publishing schedule:

1. Create a checklist that includes all relevant information for the email, including deadlines, who's responsible for it and who signs off that the information is correct. Include the offer, price, images, graphics/design, lists/sublists/segments the email will go to and any other relevant information.

2. Create a fresh email message every time, using an error-proofed template. You won't forget to change the subject line or placeholder copy or images.

3. Create a test message before it goes live. Spelling and format mistakes will stand out. Unlike the test you use to try out subject lines and offers, this test goes only to a few people inside your company.

4. Have others review this message in different Web browsers, on different platforms (Mac, PC, smartphone and not just iPhone) and in different email clients (desktop, Web client and smartphone).

5. View message without images and in preview pane. Then, turn on images and open message, view content and click all links.

6. Watch all mailboxes to spot bounces or customer complaints about mistakes as soon as the message goes out.

Sixth Rule: Know the Traps

1. Content:

  • Old/placeholder subject line left in final mailing
  • Wrong/placeholder pictures
  • Old content retained in reused message (headlines, head shots, graphics)
  • Spelling/grammar/punctuation errors
  • Wrong offer in mailing (old, not approved by client or sales team, etc.)
  • Outdated contact information

2. Format:

  • Errors in links
  • Coding incompatibility resulting in unreadable or broken formats in different browsers or on different platforms

3. Landing page:

  • Page not updated to reflect offer or before articles are uploaded
  • Link error redirects to homepage or an interior page
  • Page taken down too soon

4. Mailing list:

  • Mailed to the wrong list
  • Mailed test message to entire list
  • Mailed general message to single segment
  • Wrong segments identified for targeted mailing
  • Mailed live message to do-not-email database or to unsubscribe database

Mobile Email Marketing Tips

Mobile Email Marketing Tips

Posted by kim on Sep 17, 2008 in Mobile Marketing

Is he reading your email? This week I came across two excellent resources about email marketing specifically as it relates to mobile. Because so many people are now checking email on their mobile devices this advice is particularly timely. Any smart marketer would be wise to pay attention to this phenomenon and take appropriate action. read on...

Email Client Stats

Email Client Statistics - Fingerprint
Quote: "This report shows the current state of the email client market. It serves as the largest ever study of its kind, with data from almost three million email recipients"
No.3: Hotmail, 25%

Email Client Stats

Email Client Statistics - Fingerprint
Quote: "This report shows the current state of the email client market. It serves as the largest ever study of its kind, with data from almost three million email recipients"
No.3: Hotmail, 25%

The Email Marketing Reports Newsletter | Issue 92

Visit Email Marketing Reports"No man is an iland"
The Email Marketing Reports Newsletter | Issue 92

Jump to: Must read | Basics | Deliverability | List growth | Tips and Tactics

No need for 1984 in 2008

Accurate information about your subscribers lets you send more relevant emails. This issue has two articles that show you how to get that info without resorting to Big Brother approaches.

Those (like me) who fondly remember something called "face-to-face conversation" will also enjoy catching up on social networking and how that should change the way you market via email.

And there is, unsurprisingly, "more." So take 2 minutes and dive in for your biweekly dose of email delights...

Enjoy the read,

Email Marketing Reports
P.S. Did you know you can get these articles delivered as they are published through the web feed?

Sponsored by:

EmailReach: Run diagnostics on your email now!
mobileStorm: SMS - the next step for email marketers
Campaigner: 100 tips to grow your business

Must read...

Email marketing and Web 2.0
If you're terrified, confused, concerned or just intrigued by social networks and all the new Web 2.0 talk, take a deep breath and find contentment here.

It's a collection of articles dealing with the interaction between email and new technologies like Facebook. For an immediate overview, see the latest in the New Email Marketing series, entitled Embracing Web 2.0.


Some grounders
Try these recent nuggets from around the Web...

Email marketing for bloggers
A six-part series which covers the basics of list building, testing, tracking and copywriting.

Broken Graphics and the 40/40/20 Rule
Short, but poignant, reminder that email marketing can still learn from the basic understanding of direct response marketing that was developed years before anyone started using the @ symbol.

InformIT OnBizTech
Browse down the page for about 40 minutes across three podcasts, reviewing many of the key principles that go into a successful email marketing strategy and program.

Sweating the details
A collection of advice aimed at retailers on developing winning email marketing campaigns.


B2C problems for B2B email
If you mail to business folk, when was the last time you checked the distribution of domains on your list? You may be surprised to see how many consumer webmail services appear.

This post explains why and offers help on deliverability issues at consumer ISPs.

List building...

How to get accurate subscriber information
The more you know about your subscribers, the more relevant emails you can send. And the better responses you get.

But how do you collect that data?

Part 1 of this article explores what you can do during the sign-up process.

And Part 2 explains six ways to get this information after people join your list.

Tactics and strategy...

5 ways to repeat yourself effectively
We've all had emails that worked particularly well, drawing an unusually high response. Pity, then, we can't use that same email again and again.

Except we are five ideas on how to do it right.

Good can still be better
A lot of marketers shrug at best practices because, hey, we're doing well out of our email why change anything? This article explains why.

That's it for this issue - see you again September 22nd, with more on the new email marketing, copywriting, embedded design, etc...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008
Email Marketing Reports | Paschinggasse 8/28 | 1170 | Vienna | Austria

Pure email marketing

Making Good On Your Mistake

Posted by Kath Pay on Sep 09, 2008 | Permalink | Category: Email Tactics

Here's what I found in just one day's worth of email messages recently:

1. Wrong landing page
2. Spelling mistake in the subject line
3. Test subject line not removed
4. Email sent to the wrong company division list
5. Personalisation code showing instead of name
6. 2007 copyright date
7. Broken link to Web version
8. Images failed to load even when enabled
9. Brand name misspelled

Yes, everyone makes mistakes. But how you recover from them will either save your reputation and business or make readers think you're unprofessional and untrustworthy.

A good recovery isn't enough, though. Know where your greatest vulnerabilities are in your email program and what you have to do to make sure errors either don't happen or get caught before you click "send."

First Rule: Don't Panic!

Don't rush out an immediate email correction. Sending a second email to your entire list right after the first one can make you look like a spammer to ISPs if your list has too many undeliverable email addresses. You look like you're pounding on addresses that don't exist, belong to closed accounts, have become inactive or are temporarily unavailable.

If the mistake doesn't involve an email function – broken or wrong links, wrong price, incorrect image, wrong copy -- or won't mislead your readers, don't send out a follow-up to the whole list. Instead, include a short apology in your next regular email.

Second Rule: Fix the Mistake

You must correct the mistake if it could mislead readers or if it breaks the email's functionality. Also, if you are sending the email on an advertiser's or partner's behalf, you have to make good. However, it's still not time to rush out a correction email to your entire list.

If the mistake involves your Web site –- the landing-page link is broken, or you published the wrong link or the wrong offer –- post a note on the page with an apology and a link to the correct page. Post a similar note on your front page, again with a link to the correct page.

How to send follow-up emails:

1. Send a follow-up email only to those who either opened or clicked within 24 hours. This is a typical watch period for most ISPs and spares you from hitting all those inactive or undeliverable addresses again.

read on...

Tips for Sending a Welcome Message

ClickZ Expert - Derek Harding
Tips for Sending a Welcome Message

By Derek Harding, The ClickZ Network, Sep 4, 2008
Columns | Contact Derek | Biography

As I wrote my last column, "Three Rules for Reconfirming E-mail Lists," I realized that I haven't written about the dos and don'ts for writing and delivering a welcome message to new subscribers. Whether you use, or should be using, confirmed opt-in (COI) depends on many factors. COI is the gold standard. It has many benefits and some disadvantages.

Regardless of what kind of opt-in you use, you'll send a first message to each new subscriber. The what, when, and how of that first message is key. It sets the tone for the relationship. As with any relationship, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Explain Why

This takes on added importance if there's a time lag between subscription and first message. Remind recipients when, where, and how they registered. Otherwise, they may not remember having subscribed or they may not connect your e-mail with the Web site they visited a few days earlier.

Sometimes an e-mail address is shared by two or more family members. Providing the details can avoid a situation where an angry spouse complains of spam. Whatever the reasons, the more you tell recipients about why they're receiving your message, the fewer complaints and issues you'll have.

The number one way to reduce complaints among new subscribers is to provide a clear and accurate explanation of why someone is receiving a message.

For example, something like this doesn't count and won't help: "You are receiving this message because you signed up on our Web site, or that of one of our affiliates, or contacted our customer support, or in some other way indicated a desire to receive e-mail from us."

However, this will: "You are receiving this e-mail because on Saturday, August 24 at you signed up for our product updates newsletter."

Don't Delay

Your confirmation message should be sent quickly. Ideally, that means immediately upon receipt of the subscription. There can be reasons why a message takes time to work its way through your internal systems, but it's vital to make this happen as quickly as possible.

The greater the delay, the greater the disconnect among subscribers between their subscription behavior and the received e-mail. This leads directly to an increased complaint and opt-out rate.

Offer an Opt-Out

If you aren't using confirmed (double) opt-in, at the very least ensure there's a clear and easy opt-out mechanism in your confirmation message. Sure, it can be argued that this isn't legally required because the message is transactional in nature, but this is when recipients are most likely to change their mind.

When someone wants off your mailing list, making it hard -- or even fighting with that person -- does more harm than good. If you don't let them easily unsubscribe, many will use the TIS (this is spam) button instead, which harms your reputation, may result in delivery issues, and -- most importantly -- irritates your customers and prospects.

Explain What

This is your opportunity to set expectations. Even if your signup process discloses what someone signs up for, it's worth repeating. If you send daily offers, yet subscribers don't expect them, subscribers will find out pretty soon and may be upset. Tell them up front what they're going to get, and how often, so they can choose to join or not.

If you offer a profile management center, this is also a great place to get new subscribers to ensure their profile is accurate and that their subscription preferences are what they really want. If you send a variety of communications, your subscribers may or may not realize just how many of them they agreed to when they first signed up. This is especially true for off-line subscription processes.

The first e-mail you send to a new subscriber is where you set and manage expectations. Your efforts will be rewarded if you do this successfully and then meet those expectations.

Until next time,


Join us for ClickZ Presents: Online Marketing Summit, September 25 at the Sheraton San Diego.

» Print this article » E-mail a colleague » Send feedback » Read feedback

Learning From the Presidential Race in Your Inbox

Learning From the Presidential Race in Your Inbox

By Karen Gedney, The ClickZ Network, Sep 3, 2008
Columns | Contact Karen | Biography

I'm not a political pundit and I haven't worked in a professional capacity on any political campaign. However, for the past few months, I've been viewing and collecting a steady stream of e-mail messages from most of the presidential candidates.

With so much at stake, the most innovative use of e-mail in 2008 will likely come out of the political arena. I'm watching these e-mail messages closely; you might want to sign up for a few candidates' e-mail to follow along.

Here are a couple things I've noticed that you should consider trying in your B2B (define) campaigns:

Short Subject Lines

Across the board, all the candidates are employing short, intriguing subject lines.

How short is short? Many subject lines are only one or two words long. The longest seems to be four words. Recent subject lines I've seen are:

  • Appalling

  • Imagine

  • Running Track

  • Last Night

  • Flying Fur

This "less is more" trend seems to be in keeping with e-mail metrics I wrote about from MailerMailer, which revealed how open rates are 5.1 percent higher for subject lines under 35 characters and that the CTR (define) for e-mail with shorter subject lines are 1.7 points better.

Will this work for your B2B e-mail? Try an A/B subject line test and see -- it's the only way to know.

I recently tested a 35-character subject line against the traditional 45-character line, and there was no real difference in response rates for this slightly shorter message. However, next time, we'll try something in the range of 10 characters (one or two words).

Letter-Type E-mail Messages

While subject lines are short in political e-mails, the messages inside are typically long.

Following the typical fundraising formula, almost all the candidates' e-mails are written in a letter format -- and come in at about 250 to 350 words.

For visual interest, a sidebar is usually included on the right with a photo, video clip, and always an action button, which typically says "Donate."

These letter formats routinely outperform shorter ad-like formats. I strongly suggest testing this format to see if you can ratchet up your B2B results with longer, more personal copy.

Staying on Message

While longer messages seem to be the norm, it's important that the reader take away a sound bite that encapsulates your brand.

Typically, candidates have a tagline in their banner that summarizes their positions. They also reiterate their stance in the copy itself.

As a B2B marketer, you must stake out your own claim. People need to know how you stand out from your competitors, so highlight your company's unique value proposition in every e-mail message.

I can't tell you how many of my clients leave this out -- as if everyone knows their company and products as intimately as they do! If a new contender comes along and upsets your own competitive product race, you need a loyal base of customers who know your company and will stay with you.

Online Video

All the candidates send along their latest YouTube videos on a regular basis.

While some candidates have been on the political scene for a long time, others are relative unknowns, so it's good to be able to get acquainted through video, watching their facial expressions and getting a feeling for their personalities.

However, an advertising agency that deals with progressive causes recently told me that online videos don't attract significantly higher open rates and CTRs, even from die-hard activists, so I wouldn't invest a lot in multiple online videos without testing.

Yet it might be worth a test to see if you can attract new clients based on your brand personality by using one video that captures your brand experience in an interesting way.

An easier, less expensive alternative is to create a slideshow of photos organized into a story with text captions. These low-tech slideshows perform extremely well for a significantly lower investment.

Multiple Senders, Celebrity Endorsers

While a consistent sender line can be a good branding tool, try mixing things up from time to time by sending messages from different senders.

In political campaigns, not only do e-mail messages come from the candidates themselves but also from their campaign directors, family members, and colleagues. Different senders can highlight different perspectives.

In the B2B world, besides having your company president write a message, have your salespeople, customer service reps, satisfied customers, and strategic partners send messages.

And of course, any endorsement should be played up to the hilt -- in both the political arena and in the B2B world. People want to know what other people think, and they don't always have time to fully research every decision they need to make. Likewise, celebrities add luster to political and advertising campaigns and keep things interesting, so be sure to keep your own "marquee name" clients in the spotlight.

In the months ahead, as the campaigns heat up, it'll be interesting to see what new e-mail techniques are developed on the political front that we all can try in our own B2B campaigns. So stay tuned.

What new directions are you taking with your B2B e-mail marketing in 2008? Let Karen know.

Karen is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on ClickZ.

Email Marketing Reports 25/08/2008

Plain need not be boring

Every self-respecting HTML email comes with a plain text version attached. And this issue has some help on making them look good, too.

It's a real pick'n'mix crop of articles this time. Everything from planning today for the year-end holiday shopping spree, what to copy from Barack Obama's email marketing (and what not to copy) through to scenario planning and (gasp!) a look at ethics...

Enjoy the read,

Email Marketing Reports

Must read...

Dare we mention ethics?
We dare. Part 13 of the New Email Marketing series explains that ethical email marketing is not just an issue of morality. Ethical email marketing is smart and successful email marketing.

Email design...

Plain text tips
Last issue's popular list of top HTML email design resources gets a sibling. See this post for a list of online articles, tools and templates to help with the design of your plain text emails.


Today's open rate... due to last week's email. Do you understand the role of your previous email in determining results from the current one? This short article explains and has three recommendations on how to exploit that knowledge.


Return Path + Habeas = good news?
The coming together of two of the biggest email certification and deliverability services has passed without critical comment. This post asks some necessary questions and Return Path's CEO provides the answers.

List building...

Barack Obama and List Building "Buts"
The Obama campaign won plaudits for their recent list building tactics around the "Be the First to Know" campaign. But it's not a perfect model. Learn what you should copy...and what you shouldn't.

Tactics and strategy...

What would happen if...?
Scenario planning is for textbooks and college courses. Not something we tend to worry about too much in the real world. But are you ready if some of these rather unpleasant email marketing scenarios turn out to be true?

Holiday email marketing 2008
The holiday shopping season starts now, at least in terms of planning. This post is an ongoing collection of all the relevant articles on preparing for (and profiting from) the coming end-of-season spend-fest.

And, yes, these articles do seem to appear earlier and earlier each year.

That's it for this issue - see you again September 8th, with more on the new email marketing, copywriting for email, multichannel overload, etc...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 11/08/2008

So how many email marketers does it take... change a light bulb? (Answers here.)

On a more serious note, this issue has news of coming changes to the delivery landscape, plus a bumper collection of resources for the HTML email designers among you.

We also have two articles on remorse: how do you stop unwelcome addresses landing on your list? And how do you stop new subscribers regretting their decision?

Enjoy the read,

Email Marketing Reports
P.S. I'm traveling until the 21st, so it may take me a day or two extra to get to your feedback...

Must read...

If you were an ISP...
The deliverability world is changing. The webmail services are redefining what they consider "bad" email. This post suggests how they might tag unwanted email in future, and experts confirm that this is already becoming reality.

Expect to be blocked if you don't engage your subscribers, even if you use the highest of permission standards. And if you don't believe me, see what Yahoo! Mail's own staff have to say on the matter.

It's all in the ...timing
Part 12 of the New Email Marketing explores the idea of timing. Before you worry about the best day or time to send, there's another question to ask. One which leads you toward more effective and rewarding email marketing practices. Read more.

Email design...

42 HTML email design resources
If you're stumped for inspiration or information on using HTML and CSS in email design, you want this collection of the world's best online resources.


Email marketing books
This Interweb thing is all very well, but let's not ignore print. Here's the list of book recommendations I send people who ask for my tips.


Confirmations hurt deliverability
Emails requesting confirmation of a sign up can hit spam traps, too. And hurt your sender reputation. This post suggests tactics you can use to limit any damage.

List building...

Avoid subscriber's remorse
They just handed over that most precious of online jewels: their email address. Now there's that nagging doubt. That uncertainty. That accusing little voice that asks, did you just volunteer to get email you don't really need or want?

Learn eight tactics you can use to stop remorse setting in.

Avoid emailer's remorse
Not every new email address is a welcome one. Learn about permission slaves, trigger chasers, bargain hunters and focus spreaders. And why you want to keep them off your list.

Tactics and strategy...

Strategies, goals, quick wins
The author of a new book on email marketing sits down with us and discusses ways to improve your email marketing approach, where the low-hanging fruit is for rapid improvements, and why we're not doing such a great job of it yet.

That's it for this issue - see you again August 25th, with tips for plain text emails, myths exposed, and all the other great material I'd tell you about if I was able to plan more than two days into the future...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 28/07/2008

Don't mention the P word?

Privacy that is. If you talk about it, does it scare people away from your email list? Find out below, along with other results from sign-up tests.

But that's not all. There's the shocking revelation that subscribers are - gasp! - human (mostly). Plus advice on inactive addresses, the secret of deliverenderbility, and photos from my recent vacation (not really).

Best wishes,

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to colleagues

Must read...

The new subscriber
An email address is just a sequence of numbers and letters. It can't read or click anything.

But people can.

You know that, of course. But do you use that knowledge to improve your email marketing efforts?

Part 11 of the New Email Marketing series explores how the new generation of empowered (email) consumers changes how you should think about email.

Email design...

Most of us see problems with getting emails delivered and problems with getting emails displayed as two different issues.

But the two are connected.

Because some tactics we employ to get more emails to reach the inbox also allow more functionality in those emails (like unblocked images or even video).

So these tactics are worth considering even when you don't have delivery problems. Examples here.


Introduction at Google's Knol
Google's Knol is described by many as an alternative Wikipedia, supporting articles written by named authors to ensure accountability.

I pitched in with an introductory article on email marketing. It's intended as a more balanced view than you typically get from public venues.

You can help by reviewing or commenting on the piece at Knol. Or sign-up and suggest edits and additions. Knol credits contributors by name.

List building...

Sign-up form test results
Everyone knows that minor changes to landing pages and shopping carts can have big effects on conversion rates. Why should sign-up forms be any different?

Might a few tweaks to your wording have big impacts on list growth? These posts report on test results and explore the possibilities:

Form or no form? Does the actual sign-up form need to be on every page? Read more...

Privacy reassurances? Can they actually hurt your sign-up rate? Test results...

Safety in numbers? Does it help to tell people how many others already get the email? Find out...

Tactics and strategy...

Dealing with inactives
Those looking for advice on how to deal with inactive addresses or old lists should head over to the new reactivation category at the main site.

The numerous articles referenced cover topics such as reactivation campaigns, tactics for reconfirming an opt-in, best practices for mailing to old address lists, and similar.

That's it for this issue - see you again August 11th, with thoughts on frequency and targeting from the New Email Marketing, a role for remorse, and more...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 14/07/2008

The subject line is reborn...

Did we mess up with our "shorter is better" approach to subject lines? Research sheds new light on the "right length" and this issue has the details.

If you wonder whether email certification might be a good way to bypass any delivery problems, you'll want to read the special report on the topic.

And if the subject line news doesn't shake your confidence, how about the possibility that too much personalization is bad for your clickthroughs? All the details below.

Hope the weather's better where you are,

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to colleagues

P.S. I'm on vacation all this week, so it may take an extra day for me to respond to your feedback.

Must reads...

Subject lines: we're all wrong
New research suggests our fascination with short subject lines might be entirely misplaced. Long is the new short. Or is it? The research has been widely misreported and misinterpreted. Get the real insight here.

Should you certify your emails?
Can you solve your delivery problems in one swoop by paying to get your emails certified? A special report provides all the answers and background...

How do you decide whether to certify your emails or not? Find out here.

What are your certification options? Get the details on Goodmail, Sender Score Certified, Habeas and SuretyMail.

SuretyMail? Learn more about the accreditation service you don't know (but should) in an exclusive interview with ISIPP's Anne Mitchell.

And what about the future? Experts discuss whether "pay to play" will one day become the only way to market by email.

Email design...

Embedded videos not so bad?
The idea of embedding videos directly in the email receives a general thumbs down from experts. But have we all missed the point? Images often fail to render in email, but nobody suggests we banish them from email design. Should we treat video the same? Read more...


What are personalized emails?
Personalization means different things to different people. You can only make sense of advice on personalization if you know what practice the advice giver is talking about. This post explains the three main meanings.

Tactics and strategies...

Can you over-personalize?
New scientific research suggests that putting too much personal data in an email can lead to lower clickthroughs. Discover the lessons for marketers here.

Personalization data and best practices
A new Aberdeen Group report looks at personalization challenges and highlights the best practices associated with high-performance email marketing programs.

There's also survey data and recommendations on how tactics like segmentation and advanced personalization improve your numbers. Definitely worth a read.

So that's why your open rate jumped
The last email got a higher open rate, so let's use that subject line approach again. But wait...this post and comments offer 14 other plausible explanations for more opens, illustrating the danger in assuming one cause for an observed change.

That's it for this issue - see you again July 28th, with more from the New Email Marketing series and some sign-up form test results...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 30/06/2008

Do your emails move?

We'll get to the serious stuff later. But if you want a little fun first, enjoy some tongue-in-cheek predictions about email marketing in 2028.

Then come back and read on for insights on using videos in email, HTML design, your sender reputation, a few myths...and more.

All the very best from sunny Vienna,

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to colleagues

P.S. Sherpa are offering readers $200 off their new B2B marketing handbook: $497 instead of $697. Use this link.

Must reads...

More new email marketing
Those eager to push their efforts to new heights should continue reading this series. New since the last issue:

Part 9: The search for synergy (how you get more out of email through other types of marketing - with a special look at social networks)

Part 10: Old email practices (the new toys are exciting, but some of the old ones are still critical to success)

Email design...

Video email design
This tip has some simple, but sensible, advice on how to get more clickthroughs to your online video by choosing the right video player screenshot to put in your email.

An alternative of course is to embed the whole video in the actual email. One case study suggests this can work, despite evidence to the contrary. But is the story that simple? Find out here.

Email design treasure trove
Spam Meltdown is a new blog created to "showcase finely crafted HTML emails." The first few posts already highlight dozens of designs, including a comprehensive look at welcome messages.

Spam Meltdown means we now have a triumvirate of design galleries to draw inspiration from. The other two are the Campaign Monitor Gallery and the new-look Retail Email Blog.


The right "email" software?
Using your email software or webmail account to send marketing emails is like delivering by bicycle. It's not a particularly sensible solution for the vast majority of businesses.

This quick article for newcomers explains why you should use specialist email marketing software or web-based services instead.


Sender reputation: the interview
Sometimes I get confused about email deliverability issues (which happens more than I'd care to admit). The only solution is to call up an expert.

In this interview, Return Path's Ken Takahashi goes over some of the issues surrounding your email sender reputation. ISPs look at this reputation when deciding whether or not to deliver your email to their inboxes.

Among the topics Ken talks about: what determines your reputation? What role is authentication playing in deliverability? What does the future look like? And more...

Tactics and strategies...

Don't fall for those myths
High ROI? Blocked images killing your open rates? Email is recession-proof? Web 2.0 is no threat to email? Maybe. Maybe not. These four topics often lead to misunderstanding, but this article offers a more truthful view of things.

Building a list...

Good and bad examples
Subscription forms, preference centers, unsubscribe processes...what is the good, bad and ugly of the email marketing world? This post has some answers, with links to evaluations of real examples.

That's it for this issue - see you again July 14th...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 16/06/2008

The best Q&A is the one with yourself

If we want to repair a leaky bucket, we need to know where the holes are. This issue's "must reads" explain how to find the holes in your email marketing by asking the right questions.

Elsewhere we have a host of new design resources, plus heated discussion on the value of different email addresses. Would you reject a new lead or subscriber because they have a email address?

Take care,

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to colleagues

Must reads...

The new email marketing
The "new email marketing" series continues to attract attention and accolades. Here the latest tips and tactics to keep ahead of the competition...

Part 6: Ask the right questions (the right thinking and the right response come from asking the right questions first)

Part 7: Use the right words (talk the right language with your team and subscribers)

Part 8: Innovation and opportunity (the three areas where marketers can find "new" ways to benefit from email)

Email design...

CSS and forms
Two great sources of info:

Dylan Boyd reveals the latest data on support for forms in email.

And Campaign Monitor just updated their CSS reference guide. It covers 60+ CSS elements and properties and how they are handled by 21 desktop and web clients.

Help with email images
More design articles that caught my eye...

Campaign Monitor (them again) released their 2008 email design guidelines, which include advice on dealing with image blocking.

Chad White reports on new research on how retailers and marketers have (not?) adapted email design to cope.

Keith Muth discusses a problem (and solution) for image displays in Hotmail.

Pablo Iglesias looks at image formats and dimensions in email, while Adam Covati covers the issue of image file sizes and the email viewing experience.

Tactics and strategies...

Improving B2B email marketing
Anne Holland reveals the two key improvements B2B marketers could make to their use of email.

Tasks you don't do, but should
The email marketing equivalent of the fence that needs a new lick of six important tasks that never seem to get to the top of the to-do list.

Win by being less bad
New surveys reveal that your competitors are making life easier for you by ignoring long-established best practices. One company's failure is another's opportunity. Learn more.

Google Trends and email marketing
It's a free search marketing research tool, but how can email marketers make use of Google's latest experimental lab product? Answers here.

Building a list...

Why reject certain addresses?
Does it make sense to reject free webmail addresses when building your list? Readers argue the case for and against the practice here.

That's it for this issue - see you again June 30th...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 02/06/2008

Self-destructing email addresses?

Lift the lid on your list and you'll find many dead, disposable and dormant email addresses. This issue looks at ways to deal with the addresses that pull down your list quality.

Be sure to check the insights from new studies of consumer email habits and preferences, too. And there are more case studies than you can shake an electronic stick at.


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Must reads...

The new email marketing continued
The latest articles in the "new email marketing" series continue to cover those activities and approaches that put you ahead of your peers...

Part 4: Quality first (why you don't want mass appeal)
Part 5: Know when to fold (dealing with dormant addresses)

Email design...

False assumptions cause problems
New developments and insights raise three design lessons:

Lesson 1: When you check if your unsubscribe function works, test it in all the different web browsers (and versions of these web browsers) you can lay your hands on.

Lesson 2: Don't assume what looked good last week looks good this week.

Lesson 3: Don't assume that your email will always render correctly just because it looks good in the design tool test screenshots.

Examples and explanations here.

Tactics and strategies...

Hidden costs of lazy practices
An unfortunate misconception in email marketing is that there is no downside to bad email practices. Other than the loss of a bit of time and "a few dollars" to send out the email.

Not so. There are a number of hidden costs, many of which fail to get even a whiff of attention when contemplating email marketing design and strategy. Read on for some examples.

Picking the right channel
With consumers using any number of different communication channels, just where do you focus your marketing efforts?

Do you foxtrot with Facebook? Tango with Twitter? Samba with SMS? Or do the paso doble with double opt-in email?

New research reveals the role of email in this context and how you approach the problem. Learn more.

Apologize and make changes
Last issue the links stopped working for about 90 minutes just after the emails went out. That was fun, believe me. My apologies to those who had a frustrating wait. For the record, this post records my crisis action plan, and offers two practical lessons gleaned from the experience.

Building a list...

Dealing with disposable addresses
There are email addresses that can go bad about 30 seconds after you send out a confirmation or welcome email. Ouch!

Learn more about this phenomenon and its implications for marketers. And get tips on how to avoid being a victim.

They want reassurance
Results from a new study of consumer email attitudes suggest skepticism about privacy and email practices is high. What are the implications for your sign-up forms and subscription pages? Find out here.

Case studies...

All you can eat buffet
Sundeep Kapur reviews various approaches to the birthday email.

The experience of Analog Devices with their revamped email program demonstrates why it pays to think harder about the purchase and user habits of your subscribers.

Lisa Harmon picks out the positive design and content elements in a couple of food-oriented emails.

Josh Nason runs over the content in two music emails.

Dylan Boyd sings the praises of putting key offers right up at the top of the email in the space normally reserved for the "see the web version" message.

SEOmoz looks at the successes and failures of various B2B and B2C email newsletters, and ends the article with some design and content tips from the reader perspective.

Anna Billstrom takes her frustration with poor email design out on Avis, and discusses why email design is less Monet and more mundane.

Michael Whitney uses a John McCain email to explain the dangers of over-long copy with no calls to action.

That's it for this issue - see you again June 16th...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 19/05/2008

The new email marketing

The old email marketing sees a leaky bucket and adds more water. The new email marketing sees a leaky bucket and plugs the holes. This issue focuses on hole-plugging tactics.

We also have design tips for creative links, video email best practices and other goodies. Frankly, there isn't enough space in the preview pane to tell you all about them. Just scroll down...


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Must reads...

The new email marketing
What are the tactics and strategies that turn a bulk email marketer into a smart email marketer? An ongoing series of articles has the answers...

Part 1: The leaky bucket (an introduction)
Part 2: Live the R word (on relationships)
Part 3: Accepting accountability (on recognition and responsibility)

New Can-Spam rules
US marketers should take a look at these links on recent clarifications to anti-spam legislation in the USA:

FTC press release and report.
Interpretation of the implications for marketers from: Sherpa, Habeas, Datran Media.

Email design...

Videos in email
There's now agreement on how best to integrate video into email. Discover the best practices here.

Take a design risk
Mediocrity in email marketing is on the march. But careful use of animation and segmentation can free your creativity. Find tips and examples here.

Capture the other 90%
Many subscribers will have no specific interest in your next offer or article. But you can still get them to click on a link and engage with your website. Learn how.

Tactics and strategies...

Simple ways to relevancy
Not everyone has sophisticated databases and advanced email marketing tools. But there are simple ways to make your emails more relevant. Many require just a small change in perspective. Find out more.

Building a list...

Lower your unsubscribes
When you understand why people might want to leave your list, you can take steps to keep them on board and happy.

Here's a new article with 14 tips on how to keep people happily married to your email program (and how to make the most of those that do leave).

Stats, trends, surveys...

Render rate not open rate
It's time for the open rate to take the compensation package and head off to the Bahamas for golf and sun. Its more useful replacement: the render rate.

Are the experts the problem?
By highlighting the frequency of bad email marketing practices, experts might be encouraging these same practices. Learn more.

That's it for this issue - see you again June 2nd...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Marketing Reports 05/05/2008

Timeouts and trade show torment

I have a favor to ask. This newsletter draws from the blog I write, which took a timeout for trade show work. So this issue is the email equivalent of the half pint: looks the same, tastes the same, but lacks volume.

Anyway, could you let me know what content YOU want more/less of by completing the poll here. Your wishes will drive what I write and report on.

Meanwhile, discover the not-so-serious lessons I learnt from my virginal trade show experience. And enjoy the articles posted while on the road (see below.)

Next issue is back to normal (unless the poll tells me otherwise...)

Thanks and have a good day,

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to colleagues

Must reads...

Get out of the numbers rut
Do you evaluate your email campaigns based on the numbers available to you? Or do you decide what you want to evaluate and look for numbers that will support that process? This article explains the crucial difference between the two.

The rest...

Hurrah! More unsubscribes
Last issue I added an unsubscribe link to the top of the email. Discover how this impacted unsubscribe rates, and why the link is staying.

Should you segregate your IPs?
If you put your best customers on a separate sending address, you can keep mailing to them even if you have delivery problems with your main list. Sounds good, but does it work? Read the article and comments to find out.

Don't be fooled by delivery reports
New survey results suggest your delivery rate is far worse than your campaign reports claim. Learn why and what you can do about it.

More surveys: practical lessons
Various surveys of email users and email marketers tell us what we should be doing more (and less). Get the insights here.

That's it for this issue - see you again May 19th...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008

Email Stat Center Stat Share - 05/05/2008

Optimizing to ensure effective messaging even when images are off delivered an 87 percent increase in clicks. - SubscriberMail (2008)
Half of the respondents made an online purchase in the previous year as a result of permission-based marketing - up three percentage points from one year ago.
- Merkle Inc (2008)
50% of respondents reported that a company that does a good job with email influenced their decision to do business, up 6 percentage points from last year. - Merkle Inc (2008)
Just over half of the companies surveyed (51%) said that they had experienced problems reaching recipients inboxes within the last 12 months. - eConsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Census (2008)
Email ranks third behind Direct Mail and Telephone as the primary marketing tactic used in the major US Banks and Credit Insititutions.
- DMA "Direct Markgin Facts and Figures in the Financial Services Industry" (2008)

opt-in e-mail getting junked in US

Dianna Dilworth April 22, 2008
Nearly one out of every five opt-in e-mails sent to US-based ISPs lands in the junk folder, with only about 76% making it to the inbox, according to a new report by e-mail marketing firm Lyris.
read on...

Email Marketing Reports April 21st 2008

Who sabotaged your email?

Was it the software folk, who now manage to mangle plain text email, too?

Was it your competitor, through unethical webmail tricks?

Or was it you, by neglecting your sign-up form or unsubscribe process?

All the answers to these and other questions in this issue's bundle of email marketing fun.

Happy reading,

Another superb contribution to email marketing everywhere

Email Marketing Reports | Forward this to friends or colleagues

Must reads...

Outlook messing up text emails?
Nobody expects text emails to display oddly in different email clients. But they do. Find out how Outlook can mangle your paragraphs and what you can do about it.

Unsubscribe lessons from Ikea
Is your unsubscribe process actually encouraging people to report you as spam? Continue reading for tips on how to stop this happening.


Can competitors sabotage your deliverability?
What's to stop unscrupulous competitors from signing up lots of webmail accounts to your list, then using the "report spam" button to generate a swathe of complaints...potentially getting you blacklisted at that webmail service? Get the answer here.

Your subscribers think like AOL
AOL's rules on acceptable bounce levels offer a wider lesson on winning email marketing. It's not about beating targets, it's about beating the others targeting the same inbox. Continue reading.

Tactics and strategy...

Putting Web 2.0 to your advantage
Nobody says email is dying anymore. In fact, email marketing can profit from exploiting the technologies and approaches used by sites like Facebook. Read on for examples.

Forward to a friend tips
Unimpressed by your send-to-a-friend links? Maybe it's time to reconsider where you put the link and the call to action. Learn more.

Building a list...

Revisit your sign-up form
If you want a relationship to work then you need to make an attractive offer. Take a look at these links and avoid a life of loneliness.

Stats, trends, surveys...

7 tips for interpreting your reports
Campaign reports are like exhibits in a Museum of Modern Art. We're pretty certain they're valuable, but we're not quite sure what they're trying to say. Here some tips to help you get your head around those report metrics...

Case studies...

The good, the bad and the political candidates
Time to drop a hook into the waters of the web and see what fresh case studies bite.

Justin Premick looks at the strategy, design and targeting approach in travel site's emails.

Andrew Seel highlights the good points in consultancy Stanton Marris's newsletter (but still suggests some possible improvements).

DJ Waldow reviews the positives in the opt-in process used by CBS Sports. Then he switches to the other end of the relationship and (together with Kimberly Snyder) discusses how various companies position and present the unsubscribe links in their emails.

InternetRetailer has a brief case study on Jelly Belly's email marketing, which includes some indication of the potential deliverability benefits of email certification.

Lisa Harmon describes some best practices when featuring videos in email (or links to videos), using screenshots and examples to make her case.

Josh Nason wags his finger at California Tortilla, not just for their poor layout, but for failing to live up to their brand image with their messages.

Josh (again) is a little kinder about Barack Obama's choice of subject lines, as the email efforts of would-be US presidents continue to attract interest from marketers.

Anne Holland also visits the topic area, reviewing the sign-up pages, welcome messages, responsiveness, newsletters and "special offers" of the Obama, Clinton and McCain teams. As does Al DiGuido, who's not happy and has his own recommendations on how to use email in political marketing.

That's it for this issue - see you again May 5th...

Copyright Mark Brownlow 2008