Email Marketing

Beyond the Banner: New Ways to Brand in the Online Channel

Strategic Branding — Auckland, NZ

March 27th, 2006

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Branding campaigns appear in many forms online besides the ubiquitous banner ad. There are blogs, RSS feeds, paid search ads (e.g. Google AdWords), contextual ads, natural (organic) search listings, text link ads, microsites, and podcasts, to name a few.

  • Gain an understanding of each of these channel’s unique benefits and where each fit in your brand strategy
  • Learn best practice techniques applicable to these new channels, with numerous examples

Thought Leaders Commune on Email Marketing – Part 2

August 30th, 2005

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Originally published in MarketingProfs

Spam filters tend to be the bane of the email marketer’s existence. Getting past them is a serious challenge, and it is becoming increasingly harder. How can an email marketer consistently bypass those spam filters?

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Thought Leaders Commune on Email Marketing – Part 1

August 23rd, 2005

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Originally published in MarketingProfs

Left to its own devices, email marketing is unlikely to survive. However, if email marketers take responsibility for developing great strategy and execution, we are likely to bring on its evolution.

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Email Marketing Teleconference

August 22nd, 2005

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Originally published in MarketingProfs

In this teleseminar, Netconcepts’ founder Stephan Spencer moderates a panel of email marketing experts, including Chris Baggot, Rok Hrastnik, Eric Kirby, Jim Sterne, and Shar VanBoskirk. The output of which is an insight into email marketing’s true power and potential. Produced by MarketingProfs.com.

Read the Executive Summary: part 1 and part 2

Download the Transcript: PDF (300 K)

GOOD email marketing is like mastering the 15-second soundbite

May 3rd, 2005

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Here’s a startling bit of research, done by EmailLabs and written up in MarketingSherpa, for all of you folks responsible for crafting email campaigns and newsletters:

This [past] fall tens of millions of emails from permission mailers were tested for a brand new metric: actual read time.
Turns out 15-20 seconds was the average. Consider the last email campaign or newsletter you sent. Could a typical reader skim the entire thing, digest the graphics, and decide to click on the best item for them in just 15-20 seconds?

Yes, people. You read that right. The read time of your precious prose is, on average, a lousy 15 seconds… 20 seconds, tops!

You labor so hard over that e-newsletter: spending countless hours writing it, then perfecting it, then testing it, then further refining it… and to what end? The bloody inconsiderate recipient spends a mere 15 seconds absorbing it! How rude!

So, what to do? Email marketers must become masters of the 15-second soundbite. The conventional wisdom in email marketing of short sentences, short paragraphs, placing the call-to-action so it appears above-the-fold in the preview pane, etc. etc. just won’t come close to cutting it any more.

Based on this study, I’ve been totally rethinking how we’re doing our regular “communiques” to our clients & partners. Perhaps we should ditch our current approach of a roughly-monthly, short-and-sharp 400-word e-newsletter? I think we’ll test another approach: where I strive to deliver a single idea or tip that offers real value to the recipient and coaxes that person into engaging in a dialogue with me — within a mere 80 words! (This paragraph, including this parenthetical note, is 80 words.)

Bite-sized chunks of relevant advice, personalized to that individual client’s situation, sent on more regular intervals than our current “communique”… Sound like a plan? (Actually it sounds like an extranet blog, but done less frequently and delivered via email instead of RSS.)

Audience Development and the Internet

Circulation and the Internet: Co-hosted by American Business Media and National Trade Circulation Foundation, Inc. — New York City

February 8th, 2005

Panelist:

  1. The benefit of the internet to your circulation/audience development efforts, and how important it is to your company
  2. How to use email to renew or acquire new subscribers
  3. E-mail tests – what’s working, what’s not working
  4. Search engine marketing – what are you using and how is it working
  5. Banner ads – are they working, what have you changed, where do you have them
  6. How has can spam effected your subscription efforts? How has it effected your list rental activities? How has it effected your use of outside lists for subscription promotion?
  7. Web agents – are they still working?
  8. Blogs – are they a source of names? How can we get subscription information onto a blog?
  9. Email files – do you have separate files for circulation, web casts, eNL, or a combined database for all? Advantages and disadvantages for each.

Gloria Adams, Pennwell – Moderator
Laura Wilson, NEJM – Panelist
Sean Fulton, GCN Publishing – Panelist
Brian Klais, Netconcepts – Panelist

Email address harvesting and opt-out: Do the crime, do the time

January 21st, 2005

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Most email marketers agree that ethically, email address harvesting and sending unsolicited opt-out messages are taboo and should be avoided. I of course agree. It’s always fun to talk ethics, but let’s bring the discussion to a practical level. I contend that harvesting and opt-out are both impractical for legitimate email marketers.

Let’s look at why…

Harvesting of email addresses from the Web will inevitably pick up “honeypot addresses” that will end up in your opt-out database. A honeypot is an email address hidden in the page somewhere where no one will click on it, but email harvesters will still capture it. Any emails received at the honeypot address will then get the IP address of the sending mail server “blackholed” for a period of time, so that emails to other addresses on the receiving email server will not get delivered.

Frequently the ethical question is posed as to whether the opt-out email is spam if the content is squeaky clean. The answer is an unequivocal YES. It’s still spam because you do not have a prior business relationship with the recipient, you were not granted permission by the recipient in advance, and your email is unsolicited. It doesn’t have to be “bulk” to be spam. Spam is spam to the recipient regardless of whether you sent 100 or a million; it’s immaterial to the recipient what is going on outside of their inbox. And spam does not need to be a sleazy message to be considered spam. A church could “spam” people with donation requests by email if they are unsolicited.

So back to the practicality and repercussions for a moment… Imagine this: you send out unsolicited emails requesting people to opt-in and you have no prior business relationship with them. Some of them inevitably will report you to SpamCop. Your ISP will be notified by SpamCop, and they will need to either give you the boot or justify in a response to SpamCop why you don’t deserve the boot. ISPs take SpamCop very seriously, as they don’t want their SMTP servers blacklisted. More than a couple SpamCop complaints and your ISP is going to be very grumpy with you.

So in all, this whole approach is quite an impractical one. Spammers must be very good at hiding their tracks (e.g. by sending spam out through “zombies” which are PCs compromised by viruses/trojans) or must ‘move house’ constantly. Unless you’re willing to live like that too, you’ll find that the email harvesting and opt-out approaches will burn you.

Google Desktop security holes?

December 16th, 2004

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It seems a small tick-box is causing a few ructions in the world of Google Desktop. Which tick box you may ask? The one where Google Desktop, by default, indexes secure web pages.

This ‘feature’ of Google Desktop results in GD indexing and caching secure files such as internet banking pages and web-based email pages that are viewed by the user. The index isn’t providing the passwords to access these, but the pages viewed by the user once the password prompt is passed.

These cached files have previously been somewhat buried in windows, but with them easily available to GD there are obvious security concerns. For example, try a search for ‘compose’ on Google Desktop if you have used web-based email recently and you may be surprised at what GD indexes and caches.

While the tech news sites argue over whether this is or isn’t a security threat, it’s clear Google overlooked an obvious user concern when they left that GD option on by default.

It makes one wonder what secrets may be buried deep in the Google web index, just waiting for some intrepid searcher to discover!

Watch Your Language!

November 1st, 2004

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Originally published in Catalog Age

When it comes to breaking through to your customers’ email inbox, it’s getting to be less about what you say and more about how you say it. The spam net that i.merchants must circumvent is getting ever more sophisticated and, dare we say, overzealous. In fact, recent surveys indicate that more than one-third of permission emails that consumers want to receive from trusted sources are being blocked by email filters and corporate firewalls.

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E-Mail Marketing: Beating the Deliverability Crisis

DMA Annual Conference — New Orleans, LA

October 17th, 2004

Seminar by

As consumers rely more heavily on spam filters, the e-mail marketer’s dilemma is nearing a breaking point. Soon only 50% of your consumers will receive your e-mails! What are the major factors influencing your own deliverability challenges? This session will reveal ways to assess your vendors’ network reputation, best practices for designing spam filter-friendly e-mails, how to get whitelisted with major ISPs, and where e-mail marketers go from here.

Topics include:

  • Understanding whitelisting criteria for ISPs such as AOL and Yahoo!
  • Secrets to monitoring your own spam record — and your e-mail vendor’s
  • Tactics for making your e-mails filter-friendly while complying with the law