The Double Opt-in - I'm a fan, are you?

Double Opt-in is the only sure fire way to ensure that people who fill out your sign-up forms actually own that email address because they then have to go to that inbox and click a link to confirm the sign-up.

If the email address just goes straight onto your list without any confirmation there is nothing to stop email addresses of people who don't want your email getting on your list and subsequently getting spammed. They in turn will mark your emails as spam and your reputation and deliverability will plummet.

However, many brands refuse to do it because they see it as a barrier to entry for people and won't risk people not clicking on that confirmation email.

I've written a blog post for Pure360 guiding through the optimum way of using double opt-in, getting people to happily click to confirm and I explain why the people who don't aren't worth the risk to your deliverability - with a little example of how a brand suffered the on

Free pdf Download: The Marketer's guide to Email Design

Designing and building an email is different to designing and building for a website or online banner. If one of your emails is not looking the same in the inbox as in the designed image you approved, you’ll probably find that the designer is not aware of the difference between the two types of build.

If you already know your HTML stuff and are looking for a more in-depth guide to creating code for email, you can download ‘Creative Guidelines for Emails’.

The guide includes a fifteen step 'Creative Design Checklist', overview to rendering (the way images are loaded) and Jargon busting glossary.

...Download the guide from now

Free pdf Download - Creative Guidelines for Emails

This is one for the coders...

Email and HTML

Emails are not web 2.0 compliant; essentially, email html is like HTML4 but using xhtml tag conventions.

There are many elements to be considered in creating a great HTML email. This guide should greatly help coders to avoid nearly all problems and subsequently speed up the trial and error testing process. But although this guide is intended to cover as much of the requirements as possible, without actually doing it, there is never a replacement for real testing.

This guide includes an overview of:
  • WYSIWYG editors
  • CSS and Styling
  • The HTML page
  • Images
  • Content and Deliverability tips

...Download the guide from Pure360 now

Beating Amazon's Bulk Email Marketing Strategy

Amazon is widely seen as the number one site for relevant, targeted user content on their ecommerce platform. This view seems to have leaked over into their email marketing but is their email marketing as good as we think it is. In short, "nope it ain't". Here is why it ain't, why they get away with it and how you can do it better than on

Email Marketing Trends

It certainly wasn’t the year of major innovation but marketers seem to have their hands full enough with justifying social media – they want some security and consistency and that is what email marketing provides.
Here are some nuggets from 2009, including:
  • Recipient Control and Targeting
  • Preference Centres – Give them a choice
  • Multiple opt-ins
  • Clear strategy on

Trust Earning Text: Earn Recipient Trust with your Preheader

How do you get recipients to open your email marketing campaigns? Are they adding you to their ‘safe’ senders list? The least you can do with your pre-header is add some Trust Earning on

Spammers vs the Spam Filter

Since the beginning of email, as we know it, spam filters and spammers have been battling it out to gain control over our inboxes. For those who are unsure: spammers send out mass unsolicited mailings which flood inboxes and, if sent in the thousands or more, cause a slow down in data flow for ISPs. In an attempt to overcome this spam filters were put in place to restrict spam emails from arriving in users' inboxes. This is the story of the evolution of those filters, showing why they act the way they do on

There's more to sign-up forms

Another bit of gold from Mark Brownlow this week where he talks us through the little know details of optimising your use of the sign-up form in "Subscription forms: list growth and sign-up language" (February 03, 2010).

For some reason the wording used in the form is never really thought of as that important, as long as you have a form and it say subscribe normally you'd think it'll be fine. Mark tells us how we can make it even better and really build on

Finally, having a sign-up form on every page of the site is becoming the must do thing rather than a branding choice.

There have been a few differing opinions over the years about the sign-up form.
1. Just ask for the email address,
2. Ask for email and first name,
3. Link to a giant form to ask for everything,
4. Submitting the tiny form that just asks for your email, takes you to another form which asks you more.

Personally, I am a fan of option 1 with a twist. Take the email address and send a welcome message straight away with a call to action to go and enter more details and always allow people to manage those details from every email. Some times it could be a call to action, maybe even with an incentive.

I'm loving Pure360's Automations tool that makes it so easy to set-up - but I am biased, make your own decision - feel free to let me know if you agree.

Is Goodmail any Good?

According to Laura for Word to the Wise on Feb 4th 2010 in "Yahoo stops offering preferred delivery to Goodmail certified email" Yahoo will be stopping their priority delivery for Goodmail Certified mail.
Laura states: "The decision was made at some of the higher levels of management and my contact did not participate. I was told that Yahoo was looking to have more control over their incoming mail stream. They did not want to be contractually obligated to deliver email."

So what good is Goodmail?

Last time I checked you'd have to buy a token for your sending server and it was only available if you had 6 months 'good sending' (however that is measured) on dedicated IPs.

However, their web-site is all about Domain Reputation, which is something that is becoming more popular as a measure of reputation but ISPs are still putting IP reputation first. While delivery speeds are throttled by Hotmail and Yahoo based on their own reputation systems, no-one's going to bother with paying for domain tools.

At one point it looked like you had to choose between Return Path and Goodmail with Return Path being Great for Microsoft and Goodmail being great for AOL. Maybe the obvious fact that Hotmail receives more email than any other inbox provider give Return Path the edge and Goodmail's video in AOL was a pointless exercise.

If you're a good sender you don't really have to worry about deliverability unless you send giant volumes. In these cases Hotmail and Yahoo do seem to throttle every IP, to some extent, no matter how small or non-existent the complaint and bounce rate, which is disappointing. At that point the only way in is to get the IP certified with Return Path.
So, is it cheaper to dilute the high volumes of good emails with more sending IPs to stay within the ISP's volume thresholds or pay Return Path to unlock the thresholds on one or a couple of IPs (If you pass their tests).
OR is there another way?

New media, new perception, people buy people

Another bit of absolute gold from Jeff on his post called 10 Key Strategies To Make Your Website an Inbound Online Marketing Machine published Dec 18 2009.

Which agrees with the perception set out by Seth Godin recently.

The Scarcity is not all about the product
There is definitely a trend in new media about how to put the creative back in digital. Information is free, it is not scarce, the ability to do cool and money making things is not scarce either. Companies that try to charge high prices and not sell as much are fading while companies that offer something for less and sell a lot are coming through.

Look at email marketing, 5-10 years ago, email marketing itself was a scarcity. 5 years ago my mates at Pure360 - all 5 of them at the time (now there's 55!), were selling email marketing and not the software, slowly over the years the basics of how to do it and the need for that marketing produced more software, some of it from agencies who had big brands with that need built their own. Now everyone knows what email marketing is and how to do it you're pitch is very different.

Now the market is flooded with ESPs of differing quality and service levels. Now the scarcity is in the features and the service and no-one has the right to demand the large sums of money for the privilege of sending track-able emails.

The experience gets the deal
Much like Seth's Lemonade stand post: "The lesson from two lemonade stands" where one stand give a quick, efficient and unremarkable service and the other takes a bit longer but the product is of better quality and you walk away feeling good about your experience.

Jeff speaks of the same thing but more targeted to digital marketing. People will pay what they believe is a reasonable price for something but there will be many offerings at that price, so how to do you choose? You buy the people!
If you have two products the same or even if product A is slightly better but the person you talk to, to get product A is a complete A-hole you will go with product B. If product B leaves you with a great feeling of confidence and even joy, product A would have to be one spectacular product even with a standard experience.

Socialisation starts the experience
All of this is what socialisation media has emphasized and brought to the forefront of marketing. Everyone is accountable all the time, communication cannot be controlled, information is free, time is short and so are attention spans.

We have to frequently distribute small nuggets of useful and preferably remarkable content. Use your web-site as the store and source of that content and add links and headlines to all of your social networks feeds to ensure you are able to get it to everyone who wants it, they way they want it.

The only argument against that is the undeniable popularity of White Papers, but there is a novelty value there and if every other tweet linked to white paper, they wouldn't be popular. In fact often a white paper is an amalgamation of lots of small content into one big 'manual'.

So follow Jeff, follow Seth and make sure you keep your interactors happy!

Have you Gone Phishing without realising

This is a long post with a lot of detail so I'm copying the last paragraph to the top aswell as at the end so you can get what you came for without having to sift through a load of blurb that you're sure you even need.
- - -
Q.How do I avoid mistakenly getting accsued of phishing?

A.This is very easily avoided, don't put www or http:// in the text that you want to make into links.
Email clients identify links by having http:// , www. or http://www. at the start. so all you have to do is leave that prefix off and you're fine!
Obviosuly still leave the http:// and www. in the destintation though!

eg: would become
both links are still linked back to

- -

for all of the details and context on the answer at the top Read on...

Maybe it is because more people are really caring about the quality of their html lately, maybe it's easier, maybe it's because the latest generation of marketing execs are better at using wysiwygs than the previous one, but people are definitely doing more with their creative than ever.
Which is ironic seeing as people like Microsoft are making it more restrictive every year!

Anyway, one thing that has come about is an increase in phishing accusations so I thought I'd best illustrate how this can come about in a normal legit marketing email.

What is phishing

"Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication" wikipedia

If you look in your junk folder you may see emails from various banks telling you that you that you have to update your security information.

These emails are trying to convince you that they are this bank and you need to take action, click through and enter your details which they then steal and rob you blind.

The link in this email says but if you hover over it in your inbox, if the email client has not removed the destintation you will see it actually goes somewher else entirely. So they are putting the text of the right place but the actual link destination goes somewher else - their phising site which is built to look exactly like the real one.

How is it possible that I get accused of this all my links go back to the right place?

When you make your emails you normally use words like "click here to view online" or if you are more creative and up with the times you will be linking more descriptive words like "view in a browser"
But on occasion you might want to put in your website address like
Now when you send your self the email from your client or an ESP's test facility your email client will make it click-able.
When you send it as a tracked campaign through your ESP, they will swap the link destinations with tracked links that actually go back your account, report on the click and seamlessly redirect your recipient to your intended destination. So would look like it was going to but it will actually go to something like
where the domain is where the software is hosted or masked and the rest is the encrypted tracking information to allow the ESP to know who sent the email, which message, list campaign and recipient sent it and where to redirect to. - I know it's genius!

So even though the person clicking will actually end up where the link text says, the what the email client sees is that the link says one thing but actually goes somewhere else, so as far is it is concerned it might say but it actually goes to so it accuses you of phishing!

How do I avoid this, I need to put my web site in my emails - this is madness. Madness I tell you

This is very easily avoided, don't put www or http:// in the text that you want to make into links.
Email clients identify links by having http:// , www. or http://www. at the start. so all you hav to do is leave that prefix off and you're fine!
Obviosuly still leave the http:// and www. in the link destintation though!


With ani-gifs we're like cats with string

I've finally got round to doing some research on what's going on, obviously the first place I go is Mark Brownlow! I had a quick flick through his latest post on Novelty - fair point, it's good to mix it every now and then - and I found my way to a stat saying that 5% more people clicked through on a message using animated gifs, nice!

I think there should be a lot more animated gif in emails, even if it is just snow in the background. If it is moving, surely it's more likely to get clicked?

I recon we're like cats with a bit of string dangling in front of us, we just have to click that animated gif!

To be honest I was hoping for a bigger improvement on the ani-gifs so I went looking around and only found two worth any salt...

Style Campaign claims 25% increase.
Mark Brownlow quotes Blufly's 12% Increase in revenue

I'd like to see something better, like A/B testing of messages - one with ani-gifs and one without and see how well it actually does.

The animation should be subtle and not made to be in your face like a bit of snow, bouncing text, not a giant word saying 'click me' which flashes red then blue then green, that invites rebellion!