Archive for August, 2010

Today’s inbox delivered – Hallensteins and House of Travel

Mens clothing store Hallensteins today used a big image to get their point across about an important day for them – Father’s Day.  Shame we had images set to off.  This is what I saw.  More, and tips on how to avoid this follow below:

Avoid this mistake by:

  1. Balance images and text.  This will help your email to get delivered, and to look good when it arrives.
  2. Use preheader and header text to describe what’s in the email and why I should open it.
  3. Use alt text so your images at least have a name.
  4. See our previous post about images off.

Then, just as this post was going live, in came House of Travel’s new Mix’n'Match campaign with even the UNSUBSCRIBE link an image, and no identifiable contact details – at worst very poor practice and probably illegal. Every single thing is one image, even the top pre-header text.

This is how it looked with images on:

Compare this one from Metservice (sign up – it’s great – at ), with images turned off it’s a pleasure to read, and all of the forecasts that follow are readable, useful, and sharable.

Questions? Comments?  Ask our design experts by commenting below.

This blog was never intended to be full of bad examples of emails.

They just keep on arriving into my inbox. On Friday, VideoEzy sent their boring, non interactive, generic email, with errors due to lack of testing.

Subject line:  New Generic Monthly Template
(clearly an instruction from the design team not a subject line)

Date Sent: 27 August 2010. 
Date as written top right of the email: 19 July 2009.

With downloadable, streamable and info rich alternatives playing in most homes, the DVD hire business has to work hard to show it’s advantages to keep us coming back.

Why are you going to go to VideoEzy?  Because your kids want you to, because they are local…    It’s up to any business to know why your customers come, and play your message squarely to that.

Top ‘Ezy’ Fixes

Personalise - use my name.

Localise – make the email from my local store, use a personal intro (use dynamic content) to have a personal greeting from the store owner/staff with local relevant references that tie in movies and that reminds me they are part of my community and trying to make a living.

Add value - remind me why I come to you not download via my Apple TV. What can I get from you that’s unique?  Fast service?  Good value?  A smile?  A loyalty club or Kids club?  A deal with the local takeaway?  A personal recommendation? A petition against widening my local main street?  An old movie with our suburb in its title?

But at least test and get the basics right. If I wasn’t working in email marketing that subject line would just confuse me.

Errors whittle away your professionalism, goodwill, brand equity, and they cost you all the money you spent on this campaign, and the take money away from you in the time it takes to put the error right,  in the future success of the next campaign, and your past hard work on building trust and goodwill into brand.

The answer is mostly simple – TEST your email!

Use test sends to get copy and layout sign off ready for sign off.
Use live sends to get final sign off.
Use live data tests to make sure the data is merging as you want it to, if you are using personalisation and dynamic content.

And use a checklist everytime; make it compulsory for your staff to have a hard copy of the checklist with ticks in all the boxes BEFORE they send you the first test, and befroe they send the live email out. You can have our checklist if you ask

Those errors:

Mastercard. Mastercard Moments, in fact. Welcome to the Jericho blog.  Your merge link didn’t merge.  And there is an image missing top right. And there isn’t any contact information in the email which is poor practice in NZ and Aussie, and breaches CanSpam in the USA – a contact us link only works if we’re online and we might not be.

You could have seen the merge didn’t work if you’d done live data testing.  Ditto the image.  And if you had some decent advice you would at least have a phone number in the email.

I’m not sure about what makes the credit card companies such consistent blog fodder.  They have the budgets I’m sure, and the agencies, and the great ideas, and I guess the staff, but what’s missing seems to be the TESTING?  The sign off process?  The expert guidance? The care?  This email’s errors turns us off at the get-go and it wastes hours, creative, copy, coding and ultimately the entire budget they spent.  And, poor dad’s less likely to get his treats if we don’t read the email. If you would like a copy of our bullet-proof Jericho Campaign Checklist, just email to ask for it.

Yesterday, bright and early, Rebecca reminded 200 or so ‘Jericho Brainy Breakfast’ attendees that digital was the elephant looming in the rear view mirror. ‘… Look out, it’s behind you’.  You’d better start your engine.
Some of her points:

  • No more whinging about not having any budget for digital.  Just stop doing something else that you are doing now.  Snip.  Chop.  Slice.  Hey presto – there’s some cash.
  • Don’t try to get big permission, take a small bite first – just get enough go-ahead to get something low risk started.
  • Talk it up, set goals, get others excited, and prove your results with hard facts.
  • Package your pitch up for each audience.  You might need to tell your story four different ways when you explain it to IT, sales,  CEO, customer service.  And much more… she’s fantastic.

Here in eDM-land, moving budget from one place to another has been our staple.  For years we’ve been saying things like ‘how about you don’t do a billboard and you can fund your email marketing comms audit and redesigns for the next year’.  Well maybe a couple of billboards, or the entire outdoor budget.  But, the point is we were well aware that many companies didn’t even give email a line item in the budget.

Since the recession it is the reality that budgets are likely to be cut, so money has to be moved, as you can see from this chart.  In this study of 1500 marketers, only two tactics showed increases in budget – email and social media.  The reason is clear  – they make money per dollar spent.  Here is the email chart.  Plan to spend less somewhere to make more everywhere, and have more fun doing it.  Get better reporting that proves your point, and then ask for more budget to do it all over again.  How to spend your money:

  1. Audit every email that leaves your company and stop making excuses – if it’s ugly get it redesigned.  It costs the same to send an ugly email as it does a beautiful one, and it’s far less effective guranteeing less pass-along, lower responses and even less deliverability.   See great emails here and scroll and tick to choose to download a whole look-book here.
  2. Automate where you can – life cycle, lead massaging, date and event triggers, tranactional.  Some cost up front in planning and set up, for ultra cheap perfectly timed ongoing communications.
  3. Outsource. If you dont have the resourcing you need, get it from a supplier (like us) who can collaborate letting you either hand the lot over, or just the bits that are in the to-do list but are not getting done.
  4. Audit and improve data capture process and the forms themselves.  I’m going to post on this process again soon.
  5. Review activity, benchmarks and trends at least quarterly and make sure they, and your goals align with eveything else you are doing.
  6. Test and measure – sometimes best outsourced if it’s in your too hard basket.
  7. Get the best software tools. I know I’m biased as heck but if you don’t have the right toolkit a lot of the stuff that can be automated isn’t and it costs you dearly in time and money.

I received this a while ago and it’s just a stand out winner, so to balance the ‘bad’s’ in the Hall of Shame/Fame I thought I’d pop it in here.  These guys are a little shop in Orewa, Auckland, and are using basic design (so basic it’s not worth a screen shot so I’ve just copied the copy), basic tools, but they get the copy SO right that it doesn’t matter.  Since I’ve been on the list I have also seen an INCREDIBLE acquisition campaign by this guy too, he played it so well, and I’m going to post that campaign next.  But first – the welcome.  For more about the importance of Welcome’s see the Welcome category.


Company: Underground Skate (Us)
Subject Line: There’s alot of them but this is Us. Welcome to the crew

Hey roanne,

This is more than just a confirmation that you’ve successfully subscribed, its a WELCOME TO THE Us CREW.

Underground Skate (Us) is more than just a store and you are about to find that out.  We are just like you.  We’re the board riders shredding the the pow pow of winter, we’re out the back charging the long peeling waves of summer, we’re the guys and girls having fun with our mates at the local skatepark on a warm summers night and we are the crew who love to party, travel and meet new friends.

Since you have already signed up on our website I would assume your just like Us.  (Or maybe you’re our competition just trying to keep up with Us ;)

Like you, we like the best quality brands, latest fashion and best deals.  We also like to give you the BEST experience possible when you enter our store or shop online.  We run a tight ship and idiots don’t last long in our staff, we can’t afford it, we’re not a mall store we are a core store and we expect our staff to be 100% on their game and ready to help you with any need.

Established in 1997 we have been around long enough to know what YOU want and bring you the best deals on skate, surf and snow equipment plus the latest street / skate inspired fashion.  We are based right next to the Beach in Sunny Orewa beach so make sure you come by next time your in the area.

Please take some time to look over our online store but remember this is only a sample of our stock, so please contact me with your enquiry. I would love your feedback on everything we do so please don’t hesitate to give me a call or email.


Thanks again, Nick Humphreys, Owner.


What’s right about this? Just about everything.  The tone, the collegiality, the inclusiveness, the exclusiveness, it sets some expectations, it’s genuine, it offers a personal promise.  The website delivers to the message too with great content, tone and even a Girls stuff section..

What could improve? Well, for a start, preferences. Us does surf, skate and snow.  I’m not that cool, so I’d like to be able to tell him I only want snowboarding stuff. Secondly, an idea of frequency, content and value of what he’s going to deliver me now.  I already like him, and now  want to know how often he’s coming into my inbox and what he’s going to bring with him.

I know you’re busy but I’d love to hear your comments… what do you think?

The loveliest thing about the email below is that it’s from the Customer Prevention Unit.  Most days I see businesses send emails that might as well have come from the CPU.  Most are STILL not talking to customers and prospects as though they are the best source of revenue for you.  Most  are STILL not making sure they feel known, appreciated and on the ‘inside’.   I talked about that in the post about the email where the AMEX marketer told me that he’d been a member since 2004 but got my name wrong and didn’t acknowledge that I’ve been a member since 1999!  At least this kiwi bank-wannabe has come right out with it.

Those spammers are sending more engaging copy than ever with their diseases and lotteries and so on.  I’ve been getting a few bank ones lately like this one of this morning.  And I get genuine Kiwibank ones too as I’m a client.  I have to figure which is which when they arrive.

The most important daily challenge for us is ensuring that the emails are delivered.  And spam kings work to make sure their emails look as much like the genuine article as they can.

It’s our job to work with you to make sure your emails are delivered.  But the thing that will get your revenue up is stop being the CPU and use email to drive closer relationships.

Three numbers: 90; 10; 0.

90 is the percent of total time spent on an email campaign during which email marketers work on getting that campaign out the door.

10 is the percent of time spent in reporting and analysis.

And zero is the amount of time most marketers spend figuring out how to optimise a program.

I read this a few months back and it’s become a bit of a mantra here.  In fact, it was one of the grains of sand irritating us to produce the ‘pearl’ of the Jericho Email Marketing Metrics Report which you can download from our site now.

Read the original 90; 10; 0 post here.  Or, don’t bother – instead we could just go and get a Sharpie and tattoo those numbers on the wall over your desk.  Then everytime someone asks what they mean,we’ll have to ‘fess up what they stand for and remind ourselves that email is the channel with the ROI, the  trackable results, and the resources to ensure we can get better all the time.

Stoppress today has published a story about the Jericho Email Marketing Report 2010 and in it they reckon that email “may be a relatively unsexy side of the digital marketing world”.

we beg to differ…

email marketers

Thanks to Michael Carney from for telling the story of our Metrics Report better than us.  We did do all the hard work though.   Hundreds of hours of it, to bring this report to you.  Anyway, you should sign up for his email there, it’s great (and not just because he talks about us).  Take it away, Michael:

“Hot off the press from SmartMail providers Jericho: the first NZ Email Marketing Metrics Report, containing nearly everything you wanted to know about email* (*but were afraid to opt in for).

The Report is crammed full of data (head to jericho for your copy), as you’d expect when you slice and dice 100 million pieces of email — kids, don’t try this at home.

These are the key metrics we wanted to know (and you’ll hopefully find interesting as well).

The Render Rate (aka Open Rate)
How many recipients open that email you’ve sweated blood to create? In the US, Open Rates tend to hover around the 20% rate; you’ll be gratified to learn that in NewZild we average a much more flattering 33.85% (with results in some industries as high as 48%). Or perhaps you’re a glass-half-full kind, in which case you’ll be apoplectic to hear that two-thirds of yuor effort is wasted.

  • Highest Open Rates: Wholesale (48.56%), Agriculture (46.01%),Insurance (43.42%)
    Lowest Open Rates: Hospitality (29.04%), Recruitment (29.06%), Not for Profit (29.64%)

In the middle (but we care about them:

  • Media/Publishing 37.13%
  • Advertising/DM/Web Agencies 35.85%

Click Through Rate (CTR)
Do those who receive emails click on the links therein? Overall, the CTR average was 7.59%. Of course, that average includes those 66% of emails that were never opened in the first place. If we confine our gaze to the clicks contained in opened emails, the CTO (Click to Open rate) is a much more useful 21.1%.

Best CTOs:
Trade / Services 32.97%
Construction 32.30%
IT / Telecommunications 30.06%

Our Mates:
Media/Publishing 26.41%
Advertising/DM/Web Agencies 23.32%

Lowest CTOs:
Local Government / Councils 11.73%
Electricity / Gas / Water / Waste Services 10.58%
Distribution / Freight 10.40%

Best Day To Send
As the fine folks at Jericho note, the choice of day depends on your audience. B2B emails work hardest when recipients are at work and able to receive them; conversely, B2C missives should shake down an audience effectively at weekends. The envelope please.

And the winner: a mixed bag. Wednesdays have the most traffic, by a long shot, and enjoy good open and click through rates. On the other hand, Monday and Friday have the highest open rates and Saturday emails get more clicks per email. If you have to choose, Monday is probably the best day to send, with its mix of good open and click rates.

The Jericho Email Metrics Report also contains a wide range of useful tips for improving your email effectiveness. Get it.”

I spend my days at Jericho talking about email marketing and telling people you don’t have to start from scratch or throw the baby out with the bathwater.  (You don’t even have to resort to cliches like I just did!)  Evolving your plans won’t ever be done, so why not pick one of the following 5 simple things and make it a part of your repertoire from today.

1 Data: If it isn’t perfect, testing a few key elements makes a big difference to response. For example you can use A/B split testing on a small portion of your database to find out which subject line works better and send the best one to the remainder of your list.

2 Use technology to your advantage: Automate, personalise, segment and target content. For example, get emails triggered from customer lifecycle events. Have the email look as though it is sent from, and signed off by your client’s Account Manager. Recognise and cater to basic differences like gender and region to make your recipient feel special; dynamic content tools make this simple.

3 Social Media and SMS: Use Social media and SMS to extend the reach of your core programs. Fantastic results come from even very simple multi-channel campaigns

  • e.g. Email1: check your letterbox next week
  • DM1: offer arrives in your letterbox
  • Email2: did you get the offer – hurry it’s finishing soon.

4 Interact: Checking and responding to email will continue to be a favourite online activity for all of us, so give your recipients something to get excited about when they do.

5 Aim high: Setting your own benchmarks, monitoring performance and testing new approaches will ensure that your email marketing has the best chance to keep your organisation top of mind and the best choice for your customers and prospects.  For a start, get the Jericho Email Marketing Metrics Report here now and set some goals.

Add, tweak, measure, remove, add… you can’t stop the music so you might as well keep dancing…