Archive for January, 2011

Dove sent their email newsletter to me late last week.  It looked pretty, but on closer inspection, I saw that the email made 5 errors that are each easy to make and easy to avoid.  These include consideration for blocked images, copywriting, calls to action and social media integration.

Mistake 1. The blocked image version.  In this email, everything good is blocked including headlines, sub-heads, and calls to action.  Read earlier posts about this bad example and good example – they are clearly easy to avoid.

Fix: Tell the client/Marketing Manager to chill on the ‘headings as images’ instruction and use normal type in web-friendly fonts for all the heading and sub-heads you can.  Don’t send an email that has all your calls to action as images – they vanish and you’ve just wasted hundreds (or I bet in Dove’s case) many thousands of dollars.  Use pre-header text to describe the content and best deals in the newsletter.

Mistake 2:  The email newsletter itself. This email is confusing and suffers from poor copywriting.  Generic and dull, the biggest error is the copy ‘Sign up for the latest Dove news’ but: no instruction on the process of sign up, and no link to sign up.  No consequence if I don’t.  Invisible call to action.  Lack of direction.  Flat design elements.  AND it’s from ‘noreply@’ again.  See our last post on this and why it’s a terrible idea.

Fix: Use engaging clever copyHyperlink all places you expect an action.   Be clear and describe what you want them to do, when, how, and why.  And describe what will happen if I don’t,  ‘If you don’t register for My Dove, we will never email you again’.  Bring the call to action up from Antarctica and make it clearly part of the pathway through the email.  Have more than one call to action too if you want to get maximum clicks.

Mistake 3:  A truly arduous registration process, and lack of explanation of why I need to go through this.  You already have my email address and permission to use it or I wouldn’t have this email – so what’s ‘My Dove’ and why aren’t I on it?  I had to try three times to get the form to submit…  and THEN I got the second page…!  Although relevance and targeting are great, asking for this much information will lower completion rates and impact on database size just at the wrong time – when you want me to like you.

Fix: I’d suggest you first get me on board, then thrill me for a couple of issues, THEN ask me to fill out your forms to collect preferences once you’ve earned my time.

sign up step one

Sign Up Page One

sign up step two

Sign up step two

Mistake 4:  Where’s your social media?

Fix: For a brand using a digital agency with strong social media preference and nearly 400,000 likes on Facebook, there is a big hole here.  Two way sharing – join us on Facebook and Twitter, and Share this to your own Network, would brighten, modernise and provide more ways to get Dove in front of a wider audience.  See other posts on ways to do this:

SWYN and other ways to share your email

Facebook email marketing sharing

Mistake 5:  The online version has a confusing URL – this is not a Mens Survey! ( and malfunctioning personalisation.

Fix: It’s simple to create a single instance of the campaign that is minus personalisation and link to that.  You can use that one as the archive link on your website too if you need one there.

That’s a wrap, look forward to lots of comments and more examples of campaign you love and loath.  And why.

Need a robust, experienced, trusted email marketing team on your side to help you get this stuff right, no matter where you are in the world?

Thanks to Gretchen Scheiman from Ogilvy in New York who made a great comment on our last post (it’s below – why NOT to use a ‘noreply’ email address in your email marketing), and so inspired this one…

Gretchen said something like  “that’s all very well for a big company with a big team of CSR’s but what about the rest ?”

I remember investing in a ‘letterbox drop’ promotion in one of my first businesses that produced vastly more leads (phone calls) than we expected. It was pandemonium that week as we juggled phones, staff and demand, but what I learned is that if you pick up the call, the money is way more likely to come in than if you let it ring.  I think using ‘noreply’ is a lot like letting the phone ring out. There are different ways we suggest managing replies, based on a number of key factors.

The most important one is probably ‘Is this reply likely to make you money?’, as the ROI is a key factor for all businesses – well it should be anyway!.  If responding to the client is likely to improve the chance that they will buy something from you – including affecting brand, loyalty, word of mouth as well as direct sale – then it should be easier to get buy in from your team that you need to put a good response process in place.

I would suggest some steps to consider are:

1. Know how many emails you expect to get back after each deployment.
Test this.  You might send 100,000 emails and get back just 40 responses, if so what’s the big deal? Your admin staff can manage that!
If the volume is high then there will be delays in your response, so can you use auto-responders?  Note that these can be clever, engaging and helpful not just dull automaton type missives. They can buy you some time til your team can respond in person, or they can offer steps to get satisfaction… offer a range of FAQ answers and direct to your website, live chat, or even ask them to call you if they are not feeling the love – the point is, you haven’t shouted ‘do not reply’.  You can use a lovely polite tone and manner, thank them for their contact and be helpful.

2. Split each communication type or category: transactional, brand, offer, and so on.
Ask what types of replies are we getting, and who is best to manage each?  You can decide who is best to manage responses and set up redirects of the emails to those teams/humans.
For example we have a number of clients who make their Client Account Managers manage replies, simply by using dynamic reply addresses that change out for each customer based on the data fields that show which is their AM.  This is great for B2B especially as any opportunity is noticed and captured.

Love to hear your ideas and learnings too.

Email marketing offers extraordinary ROI because it is personal, direct, and interactive, allowing communication that is timely, relevant and two-way.  And you can use automated email tools to filter, manage and respond to emails that are sent to your service teams (even if that team’s just you).

So why do you use noreply to clearly state that we may not speak with you in the most intuitive way there is – the ‘Reply’ button in an email client.  Ironically most marketers have paid money to experts to optimise their online user interfaces and then ignore the most straightforward UI in email.

It’s hard to interpret that noreply says much other than ‘rack off – we are not interested in you’.  Whether they want to buy something from you, compliment you, comment, unsubscribe, or enquire, you are saying ‘no, you can’t do it this way’.  In a bid to start a conversation with the marketers who use this; here is a quick list of some of the Companies in the inbox with noreply as the reply email address.  If you are on this list please contribute – why?  If you aren’t on the list how do you feel when you see noreply? Let’s discuss.

1st Domains
Air New Zealand
Air Pacific
Four Square
Gareth Morgan Kiwisaver
Genesis Energy
Grabone NZ
Jetstar (Qantas)
NZ Post
NZ Rugby
Rabo Bank – Rabodirect
Techday NZ
Telstra Clear
Virgin Velocity Rewards

A quick check for others who feel this way shows that there are a lot.  Here are what some others are saying:

Why would you use a no reply email address (

Avoid no-reply email addresses in email  (

The dreaded no-reply email  ( (Ed: I like these two points – you are not that big, and even if you are big, don’t be lazy)

FOOTNOTE: Here’s the subsequent post, inspired by comments below which answers the very good question: How DO you manage your replies then?

Comments? Replies?  Need a robust, experienced, trusted email marketing team on your side to help you get this stuff right, no matter where you are in the world?  ;)

The unsubscribe link is a critical part of your relationship with your email reader, and providing one that works is required by law.  Here are 4 things about the unsusbcribe process that you need to keep in mind as you manage your email marketing program:

  1. The Lowdown
  2. The Experience
  3. The Consequence
  4. The Obvious

The Lowdown

Unsubscribing is a nice, simple, clean way for your recipients to control the flow of information into their inbox.  You want people to use your unsubscribe link because the alternatives (delete, ignore, email purgatory, or ‘Mark as Spam’ inbox tools) can affect your bank balance, your sender reputation, and your brand and word of mouth.  To a business, an unsubscribe might cost thousands of dollars or more in loss of the chance to build a relationship with, and extract revenue from that human.  We have written about this before, but the recent six-figure fines at Virgin has prompted another post today. Previous posts include some great stuff, so if you missed them: Unsubscribe don’t send hate mail. Happy to unsubscribe in 30 steps… Subscribe yourself, share with your network (SWYN) and other missed opportunities. Unsubscribe – a quick and painless death?

Legally, the ‘spam law’ in New Zealand, Australia, the EU, Canada, the USA and more, states clearly that your unsubscribe method must work, be free, and be honoured within a few days (5 days in NZ and AU, 10 days for CAN-SPAM).

The Experience – how users see your unsubscribe

People unsubscribe because they can.  How the process works will be important to whether or not they call you next time they are in the market for your services.  A difficult unsubscribe process can be annoying, infuriating, and illegal.   There are three common scenarios.  I’d love your comments, and why.

a) Click to Unsubscribe
Most important – there should be no doubt what you need to do, and whether or not you have done it.  Practising what we preach, we were adamant that our SmartmailPro platform behave in a way that is extremely clear.  One click on the link in the email and you see this message: Success!  Next, it shows the email address you have unsusbcribed, we all have multiple addresses and sometime you’ll surprise even yourself with which you are signed up with, to what.

SmartMailPro Unsubscribe page

Then you can add a reason if you like, resubscribe if it was an error, or change your other subscriptions.

Usually found at the bottom of an email, we believe that the link should also be at the top of the email.  (Sometimes this link is placed in the side bar which is uncommon and therefore bad.)

b) Phone, email to unsubscribe.
It surprises many of our clients to hear that they have to motnior inboxes and instruct CS staff in how to action unsusbcribes – if someone calls to unsusbcribe, can your staff tell them how to, or better yet, do it for them?

c) Log in to your account to ‘update your preferences’.
If you want people to log in then you are providing a barrier to unsusbcribe, something that is anti-customer, if not illegal.  You can easily add the data to the link dynamically so that they are logged in with their details upon clicking the link.  Yes, if you are a bank, then you might not have any option but to require security steps, however it’s important to offer an alternate method of contact so they can change their preferences even if they can’t access their account for any reason.

The Consequence – Virgin Aussie fined six figures for their non-working unsubscribe recently posted news about the fines levied on Virgin three times now, for spamming.  He relays that in March last year Virgin Mobile was fined $22,000 dollars in Australia, and more recently in the UK, Virgin Media came under fire for spamming,  and in this the latest blow Virgin Blue Airlines has been fined AU$110,000 dollars for spamming by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.  Virgin Blue has since committed to overhauling its email marketing in response to alleged contraventions of Spam Act. How did they fall foul? The unsubscribe links in their email simply did not work.

The enforcable conditions for Virgin Blue are available on the ACMA website, download here.

The Obvious – make your emails relevant

Finally, it’s important to remember that when asked why they unsubscribed, a majority of people respond that ‘it just isn’t relevant to me’.  Making email personal and relevant is critical to keeping your recipients engaged in your content, and ultimately in your organisation.

Relevance can be improved dramatically with the following, which should be considerations in every campaign you plan: 
If you still have time you can read more here Six Truths for Email Marketing (one of our most popular posts ever) Evolve your Email Strategy and here Does your site deliver ?(ecommerce focus).   But perhaps the truth is still, as eMarketer reported last year, Email Marketers plan to get smart at some point just not right now!