Archive for March, 2008

WC Fields once said ‘start each day with a smile, and get it over with’.

Welcome emails have a huge advantage in that they are the most opened of all emails you’ll ever send, and therefore give you a second to none chance to make a real impact in terms of:

* Walking the talk
* Delivering what you said you would
* Cementing the newly-forged and tentative relationship you have with your recipients by driving them to engage with offers or ‘gifts’ from you, right up front
* Etc.

If you want a double opt it then that’s okay too, but less relevant usually unless you have a real reason to use that, you will lower your uptake by asking them to confirm – better to warmly welcome and king hit with something they weren’t expecting like an offer or giveaway.

Did you know that SmartMail can setup a fully automated email for you which will be instantly sent to welcome all new subscribers who sign up for your newsletters via your website form? Nifty huh! Automated emails can be fully branded and personalised so it’s a great way to introduce yourself to new readers and it’s the perfect opportunity to encourage them to invite their friends to join too.

If you are looking to learn more, then I’d suggest you read the article at Media Post: “A welcome email should come immediately after sign-up. It’s important to capitalize on a user’s attention and no better time to do that than the present. The welcome email should thank users for opting in, explain what they can expect from your email program and get them excited to receive the next one. Some advertisers find that asking additional profile questions during this time too is helpful. This is something you should test to determine its viability in your program.”

How are marketers integrating email with the rest of their marketing activities? In a variety of innovative ways:

*always planning your regular email comms with themes that support and emphasise your key business strategic goals

with auto-scheduled lifecycle campaigns,

*with Tutorials and Welcome series that educate, qualify and build loyalty and satisfaction,

*to launch promotional campaigns that extend across media,

*from television to the web to email.

Even those who are wary of doing overt email marketing should understand that all online customer support – such as fulfillment, cross-selling and transactional confirmations – has rudimentary email marketing threaded within the experience. In the smartest organisations email is fully integrated into marketing programs and seen simply as another channel for conveying marketing messages, and in many examples it is unbeatable in ROI.

Make every email count. Decide what you want to achieve before you start to plan. Allocate enough resource – it’ll be more than you think. If you want action, say exactly what, where, when. Use links to everything relevant but keep your key message easy, clear, and obvious.

And think about these truths:

Truth 1. You can’t annoy people into liking you – you have to make yourself useful
Truth 2. Subject lines are important
Truth 3. From address is critical
Truth 4. Best practise at least
Truth 5. Outsourcing makes sense and dollars too
Truth 6. E-Marketing has made the world flat (or at least the playing field!)

Truth 1. You can’t annoy people into liking you – you have to make yourself useful.
I liked that so much I have it scrawled in jericho red across the whiteboard here. You have heard it before, but not as neatly as that. No it’s not about YOU, it’s your job to be as helpful as you can to THEM. That means:

* use targeting if you need to, to make sure everything you include in your e-comms is relevant to each of your client or prospect groups,
* keep to your subject,
* be true to the personality and tone of your business so your recipients get to know you as they go,
if you are not sure, use the phone or a form in your email to ask for feedback from your audience as to what they want/need from you. For example, shall I use this post to tell you about our recent move? Why do you care that we have expanded our office? Well perhaps I should, because that means we are growing. That means we are credible – it means you aren’t the only one to trust us with your crucial projects. It lightens the risk you’ve taken by spreading it around amongst your peers – marketers like you who have decided to use our team for your design and emarketing. So I might tell you that… but will I tell you what we have for lunch? Ah, no. Each time you communicate you get one chance for the attention of the most important people in your world – your clients.

Get your strategy nailed down for 2008 (i.e. why are you sending that email?), and ensure everything you write contributes to your goals. Remember also that your recipients much prefer when your tone is collegial and not patronising. So don’t be teacher – just be generous with yourself, share your discoveries and resources and learn alongside them.

Truth 2. Subject lines are important

In 2008 you have to get this right or your email will not be opened when it arrives. And if it’s not opened when it arrives its most likely it will be lost in the depths of the inbox. We are all so very busy and you are granted a slim window of attention – grab it or miss it. A recent JupiterResearch report showed 89 percent of people who receive an e-mail will look to the subject or the product’s or service’s name to determine if they’ll open the e-mail.
I subscribe to so many fantastic resources, but many of them get a purple follow up flag (my code for ‘to read’) and go and sit and wait weeks for me to read them until the cows come home or the fat lady sings etc. There is no room for dilly dally – the email needs to get read now. Many newsletters coming from the States have the company name in the subject line now, followed by a three word teaser. If it makes sense and isn’t too cheesy, personalising the subject line is a powerful tool that always strikes a chord on way or another, and often that’s all you have to do to get opened.

The subject line must relate to the content of them email. Clever and enticing never ever means deceptive so keep it easy to understand and straight forward.
Remember that you have just a few words that will be viewable when the email arrives.
If you have a favourite newsletter check and see what protocol they use for subject lines. It’s quite common, and in many ways simpler, to decide on a formula and stick to it. For example company name, and one or two words for each of the topics you cover inside,
e.g:[SmartMail] Email truths, website tweaks, news.

What do you think of that subject line? How would you say it?

Truth 3. From address is critical

A JupiterResearch report showed that 89 percent of people will look to the subject or the name to decide if they’ll open the e-mail. Organisations often hide people behind department names and job titles becuase they fear staff turnover will unsettle clients. A consequence may be customers’ reluctance to communicate as they don’t have a key contact. Who has the customer relationship, and who is actually speaking this communication?

Technology lets you make each email appear to have come from the desk of the customer ‘owner’ – even if you have lists of thousands of customers and twenty account managers. Accept that people like to be treated as people, by people.

Email is an interactive media – if you are doing a good job you will get responses to which you will reply and action as required. From and Reply addresses not only tell your recipient who it is at your organisation that cares enough to send them useful information (see 1. above), they can manage response by funnelling replies to the right place – to their own Account Manager, to Customer Services, to Management etc.

There is often more good than harm in allowing personality into your email and so using a name can be powerful. Why not split your groups and test it? We did some tests on From address – one group was sent an email showing the company name, and another had a persons name first (i.e. Green Door vs. Kate at The Green Door). Adding the Kate made a 30% difference in open rate.

Truth 4. Best practise at least

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act has been released in New Zealand. We swim in a small pond, and love our customers so would never dream of offending them. The law does however give us a great opportunity to ensure we are getting it righter than right. Happily, doing it right is EASY!

• Use your manners.
• Only email people who have asked to be informed and deliver what you’ve promised. Keep the content relevant.
• Make sure you identify your intentions at the beginning of the relationship, and if your intentions change, make it clear how and why they are changing.

Always remember the three most vital ingredients: obtain consent, identify yourself, and offer an unsubscribe feature.

The Act covers all commercial electronic messaging and is aimed at email and SMS/TXT messaging. It excludes facsimiles. It requires that opt-out requests are honoured within 5 days.

The guts: what is ‘consent’? Although there is a lot of talk of opt-in, which is what we insist upon with our clients, the actual definition of consent leaves quite a bit of leeway for ‘inference’. In a nutshell, consent is either expressly given or can be inferred from the position or behaviour of the recipient. ‘Express consent’ obtained in a variety of ways: through a paper form, via a website tick-box, or through a clear conversation where it is understood that commercial electronic messages may subsequently be sent. ‘Consent that can be reasonably inferred’ through the business or other relationships of the people concerned. ‘Consent that is deemed to have been given’ when a) the address is published, b) there is no note to say ‘don’t’ with the published address, and c) the message is relevant to the business role, functions or duties of the address-holder.

Email marketing has a strong future as part of marketing activities. It can keep your customers informed on items that are of relevance to them and it has the power to help you develop direct relationships with your customers. Email is direct marketing on steroids. Done correctly, you become their best friend; done incorrectly you become a public nuisance. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us for guidance.

Truth 5. Outsourcing makes sense and dollars too

Most organizations don’t have the resources in-house to manage the dynamic complexities of email marketing. These marketers will outsource their email to professional email service providers that can deliver an on-demand, easy-to-use email solution to communicate to customers individually with relevant, trackable emails while staying compliant with current regulations.

Increasingly marketers prefer to work with experts to help turn their brand strategy into an emarketing plan. Email is a peerless tactical tool for marketers with real-life budgets and few options for fast turnaround targeted comms. A great emarketing plan allows for calendar planning, resource and budget allocation, whilst leaving room for opportunities as they present themselves. Quick-witted marketers with an E-marketing Partner can target offers and info using demographic and behavioral info collected from every campaign. Relevant and targeted marketing will put distance between their competititors. JupiterResearch finds targeted e-mail marketing campaigns can generate nine times more revenue than broadcast mailings.

These questions are some of the ones that come from an article published in Clickz: they are a good place to start when considering oursourcing:

Do we have people on staff who can create strategic e-mail programs that drive results, improve customer relationships, and integrate with other marketing/communications efforts?
Can we access industry-specific and vertical-market-specific benchmarks?
Do we have a process to set our own benchmarks?
Do we have e-mail-specific design and copy capabilities?
Do we have strong knowledge of the complexities involved with coding e-mail or how creative renders across ISPs and Web-based e-mail providers?
Do we have project managers and analysts with experience in the e-mail channel who can set up, execute, and analyze our e-mail initiatives, from start to finish?
Can our e-mail platform assemble, deliver, and track high volumes of e-mail in proper formats? Can we tap into our other databases and automate e-mail communications?
Does our reporting tool provide the information we need?
Who supports the e-mail system, and how?
What’s the process for resolving issues arising from our e-mail communication efforts: data quality, bounce backs, delivery, replies, customer questions, and so on?
How easily can the technology adapt to changing delivery requirements from ISPs and Web-based e-mail providers?
How does the current system optimize delivery?
Does the system operate on a proprietary e-mail relay server, or are we reliant on a third party sending software for upgrades?
Is there support for multiple sends for soft bounces?
Can these be controlled by set parameters?

Truth 6. Marketing has made the world flat (or at least the playing field!)

Gone are the days that good marketing requires big budgets! It doesn’t matter if you are a one-person shop, a chain, or a national powerhouse. The playing field has been leveled, thanks to new technology and tools.

In 2008, the advantage in the marketplace will be captured by the company that can drive the better relationship.

Small Companies: Some of the best email marketing done in these parts is done from one-man-bands optimising average sized lists to best advantage. These people are generating their customer base and revenues from email and leveraging that to build real ‘bricks’n'mortar’ businesses: two that spring to mind are Advintage – who built a stunning wine retail warehouse after garning revenues and profits from a back-room style set up; and Itchy feet – who moved from a very average suburban Auckland travel agency to a downtown shaker and mover on the back of an almost home-made but aggressively grown and optimised (and now substantial) web and email marketing database.

Large Companies: The best email marketing that we see from large organisations always has a champion – a marketer or manager who believes that customers need to be kept in the loop with relevant and targeted offers and information. Email is not an after thought, its a core channel. It should have a place in all of your campaigns. The best marketers use email to tell loyal customers about things they deserve to know about – before they shout at stragers to grwo market share they stroke the share they have already. Advise of the billboard aquisition campaign they’ll see soon on their drive to work. Brag of the Award before you send the press release, open your sale one day early and invite your regulars in first.

Email is super smart and fast. Small teams can make magic. And if larger companies adopted the smart agility of the smaller success stories they can get the leg up on competitors that make them untouchable.

If you need any help at all with getting down to your emarketing for 2008, give the Jericho team a call on +64 9 360 6464 or email roanne@jericho.co.nz

Why do I need IP Isolation?

In October 2007, Yahoo and Xtra announced they require authentication to ensure emails will be delivered into the inbox and that a dedicated IP address specific to your company is required for this authentication process to take place.

Yahoo and Xtra’s email delivery policies are especially important as combined these ISP’s represent approximately 60% of New Zealand email addresses.

The authentication process is known as Whitelisting.

What is a Whitelist?

The Whitelist is a list of senders that are known to Yahoo and Xtra as adhering to best practice email marketing, and therefore their messages will be delivered into the inbox.

What happens if I don’t get IP Isolation?
Your messages may have images or attachments blocked, end up in the spam folder due to content filter rules, or even blocked entirely.

What are the costs and how do I go about setting up a dedicated IP Address?

The costs include establishment of a new dedicated IP address specific to your companies SmartMail email sends, registering Domainkeys and SPF authentication and submission of your Whitelisting application and any ongoing management as is required.