Topic: Email Best Practice and Deliverability

MetricsIf seeing a positive ROI and great analytics is required for your company, then it’s critical the following factors are understood and addressed, in order to see genuine improvement, and your email marketing program being developed into a valuable asset.

Here at Jericho we believe that a consistent improvement in all of these areas is required in order to ensure success:

- Ensuring the content and tone is right, along with the design – does it suit your audience? Is the design in line with your branding? Is the tone of your language appropriate? Is the content right for your audience?

- Create more relevance through segmented data.  Subscribers unsubscribe or stop opening emails are that are not relevant, so make sure you segment and appropriately target your subscribers and share really valuable content.

- Conversely, the number one reason people DO keep opening emails is genuine value offers and as mentioned above, valuable content.  What can you offer your readers, that the readers won’t get anywhere else?

- Ensure you work on getting more qualified recipients.  To get qualified recipients you need to make sure that you are offering genuinely valuable content. And then you need to make sure that you are clearly stating the benefits of that eDM.

Want more advice? We are here to help!

 

 

 

It is never to early to prepare for Christmas, especially if you are an elf – they prepare all year long.  So we thought we could help out by sharing our tips for maximising the effectiveness of your Christmas campaign, and help you stand out amongst all the other Christmas mail.

1. The first step is to prepare.

It’s the Christmas season and everyone gets busy, every year, so plan to plan well in advance. After spending all year building rapport with customers and sending great email campaigns, the last thing you want to do is hurriedly put together a last minute Christmas email. This is where it counts! Send something they’ll remember all of next year and keep them coming back for more. So here are our top pointers:

a. Think about who your target audience is.
WHAT are you offering?
WHY you are offering it?
HOW often you will email people?
Will you set up a fun series of Christmas emails, or send just the one super Christmas email?

b. Keep in mind the relevancy of the campaign to the recipients. Those Christmas garden galoshes may be superb, but if you are sending them to someone who would rather hear about your garden cricket set, you have lost a major opportunity to both appeal to your customers and sell them something. And with everyone struggling to be heard at Christmas, relevancy is more important than ever! Mail that is tailored to your recipients and personalised will grab their attention over the emails that are bland and generic. So think about how you can tailor your Christmas campaigns to your recipients.

2. When you lure them in, where are they going to go?

a. If you are on Pinterest and if it’s relevant to your brand, why not make a Christmas board full of gift ideas, with each product image linking back to your website  to drive traffic. Just look at all the Christmas posts on Pinterest! Then once your board is full of pretty pictures, click here to read about how to integrate it into your email campaign.

b. You are getting your seasonal campaigns designed, and the Christmas rush is looming  - but before you send that campaign and drive all that traffic to your site, check what you are doing online first. If you have an eCommerce site then you’ll love these insights we heard from Google and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at a NZRA online retailers seminar this month.

3. The first thing someone sees  is your subject line.

a. If you have done all that planning, and gone to all the effort of making a beautiful Christmas email, but people don’t open it because of the subject line, then it doesn’t matter how great your email is, or how many cute elves are singing in it – getting your subject line right is #1. For more info read this post on creating effective subject lines – and this post on using special characters in your subject line to help you stand out.

b. Make sure your subject line is intriguing, catchy and stands out amongst the rest. Some key things to think about are whether or not personalisation is relevant or suitable. Also you don’t want your email getting picked up by spam filters, so avoid using words like “sale” and “free” too much.

3. Once you have got into their inbox….

a. A creative, well designed email with a Christmas theme that is interactive and fun is great for this time of year. Also, sending your clients an email to thank them for their loyalty over the past year is a great way to encourage loyalty in the coming year and make your clients feel appreciated. So make it a goal of yours this year to have the smartest and most memorable Christmas message of all!

b. If you would like any ideas, our creative team has loads! Get in touch with us now

email-overwhelmLet’s keep this brief, it’s coming up to Christmas and you are busy, sometimes though we can all do with just a little bit of reminding.

So here is your reminder that the holiday season is almost here (No surprise there) and more people than ever before are shopping via mobile and tablets (No surprise there either) so you will want to have your responsive-design-mobile-holiday-season-email-marketing-strategy-machine firing up and ready to go.  To help you fire up, here are some important numbers for your consideration.

27% of consumers over the last year found a shopping website thanks to an email from the retailer which drove them to the website. 22% of consumers arrived via organic search the rest were already existing customers and knew where they headed. (Not to say an email didn’t help them on their way) Any way you look at this, consumers are largely driven to your shopping website thanks to email. So this holiday season how are you going to utilise email to attract attention and drive consumers to your site?

And remember 49% of all emails are now opened on a mobile device… and 75% of those who read email on their mobile delete any email that doesn’t render correctly… so I can’t impress upon you enough the importance of having a mobile email strategy in place if you haven’t already.

With the average user receiving an average of 70 emails a day (That’s on average – for some it’s a couple of hundred) you need to look at what is unique and interesting and appealing about your email….  think about what value are you offering? How are you segmenting your database to better target subscribers and offer more personalised shopping options? Are you using your tried and tested friendly from name? Are you using short, catchy subject lines? Do you have the hierarchy of your content sorted appropriately? Is there an obvious call to action? Are the links finger-friendly? Are you offering something your competitor is not?

This is really just about getting you thinking about your holiday marketing; I will be following this post up next week with a more in depth look at specifically how you can create successful holiday email campaigns, so watch this space….

In the meantime, do you need some inspiration and ideas? Start by checking out our Jericho Pinterest board full of beautiful holiday email marketing inspiration and if you need some more expert advice – email us!

I came across this great article while I was researching email testing techniques.  It’s from Clickz and it’s called 6 email tests to try.  They suggest that you test the From line, the Subject line, Mobile versions, Data Security, Opt In processes, and SMS functionality.

Here at Jericho we have the responsibility to oversee some of the most beautiful and effective email campaigns in our ‘hood.  To ensure consistent quality, we have built in our own comprehensive testing procedures and have created check-lists such as this Jericho_Email_Campaign_Checklist which we run through for each and every single campaign we do, which includes the following checks:

- Subject Line
- From Name
- From Email
- Reply Email
- Pre-header copy and links
- URL Links
- Mailto Links
- Text Only Version
- Unsubscribe Link
- Preference Centre
- Links to Forms/Surveys
- Social Sharing Links
- Refer a Friend
- Forward to a Friend
- Data /Segmentation/Audience
- Google Analytics Tracking Codes
- Links to Landing Pages
- Footer information and links

There are some fundamental basics in here and there are some features that only some campaigns will include but all these things need to be checked to ensure they are working before you deploy. There are also a host of other things to check beyond the parts of the email itself, such as:

Internal Testing – Have you tested to yourself? Your colleagues? Have you done a test of the emails with your subscribers data to ensure it all looks right and all the data is pulling through correctly? When you have looked at something 100 times, the best thing you can do is have another set of eyes review it before you push send.

Litmus Testing – Have you tested the email across all devices and email clients? Does it pass all spam filter tests? How does the subject line and pre-header look in the preview pane of the inbox? Doing a litmus test allows you to see how your email displays across all email clients and devices and identify if there is any content likely to cause it to get caught up in spam filters.

Mobile Optimised Version – Do you have a mobile optimised version of your email? Have you tested the mobile optimised version on all different mobile devices?  If you have a responsive design that is great. Hopefully you at least have a  mobile optimised version of your email as about half of all email opens now happen on mobile, and if it doesn’t display correctly, and instantly, most people delete the email.

Subject Line – We find the best subject lines are between 5-12 words long, the best of all being under 35 characters long so it fits on the mobile preview pane. Make it catchy, attention getting, funny even, just make sure it says what the email is about. My favourite subject line? ‘Fresh Daily Visual from Visual News’. (5 words and 35 characters long exactly) Just be sure to check the subject line before you push send!

The key thing is to test what is important or prominent for your campaigns and your communication streams. Some people might be comparing send times, while others are testing subject lines, while another might just want to send out a link to a survey – so that link has to work! If your emphasis is on social sharing, make sure the social networking and sharing functionality is a shiny beacon of enticing fun and technical perfection. Just make sure you make time to test all the basics that we should be getting right by now, and then feel free to freestyle from there.

We are looking for the best and worst testing success or failure stories ever! Send them through!

 

 

How hard is email marketing really? I mean, you get a list of people, take a blank email and load it up with pictures and words about your products and services, link to your website and send the email out right?

Um…. only if you have the intent to send really terrible emails that will harm your deliverability, and create a bad perception of your brand for your subscribers.  Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels out there and it can do amazing things for conversions, sales, ROI… if you put just a bit of time and effort into it.

However sadly most people take the ‘slap it together’ approach and this only serves to work against you long term. So seeing as I am always writing about best practice techniques and how to do email marketing better…. I thought I would do the complete opposite and list the ways you can do email really terribly to make my point…

aintnobodygottimeforthat

 

Below I list all the ways that are guaranteed to ensure your email marketing program dies a slow painful death:

Purchase lists and upload them and blast your emails out to everyone – they all want what you have, they just don’t know it yet!
Don’t bother having a mobile version of your email or incorporting a responsive design
Don’t bother including alt text on images to tell people what they are about, people should just download the images
Don’t include an unsubscribe link – these people obviously need to be receiving the information you are sending
Sender score? What’s a sender score? If you don’t know about it, it doesn’t exist, therefore don’t worry about it
Include merge fields and don’t check them – people don’t mind if the email says ‘dear first name’
Don’t worry about testing, it’s enough you lay the email up and make it look good, shouldn’t it just work?
Don’t bother doing any analysis – just a lot of numbers and mumbo-jumbo – just watch the unsubscribes
Getting someone’s business card gives permission to email them so collect, collect collect, and send send send!
Send emails without a call to action – the awesome information in your email is enough
Preference centre – what’s a preference centre? Just have one type of email and one list of people and they all get to receive what you send….
Don’t take the time to identify inactive subscribers – just keep sending them emails, they are probably just busy, they’ll open them eventually
Save out a previously sent email to create a new email, which increases your chances of you sending the email out without updating the links
Keep content boring and be sure to avoid anything interactive, engaging, fun or surprising, just stick to sending those limited time offers
Ask for your customers preferences and then disregard the data  - isn’t the point to ask people what they want, you don’t actually have to do anything about it?
Take all that stuff off the footer – it just takes up extra space and people can Google that stuff anyway
Don’t test in Litmus – it’s not important to see how the email displays in different email clients and mobile devices – I’ll just test to my email address and its good to go
Don’t bother checking any of the links in your email campaign, they’ll be fine…
Send a plain text auto responder welcome email with something bland such as ‘thanks for subscribing’ with no branding or important information
Personalise each and every email subject line and greeting with the persons name just because you have it – subscribers love that
Don’t include a pre-header link – just jump straight into the email itself – it just takes up space, why is it there anyway?
It is all about your marketing goals so remain completely centered on promoting your company and don’t worry about what the subscriber wants
Send as many emails as possible – if in doubt of the most appropriate sending frequency, just email away
Don’t bother including dynamic content (Dynamic content, what’s that?) Just send the same information out to everyone, too complicated to figure out  any form of personalisation or targeting
Include important information and links below the fold (The fold? What’s that?) so that people have to scroll down to the bottom…  people love scrolling
Don’t make it easy for your subscriber to click through to your landing pages or website, or find what they want, and don’t include an obvious call to action, and remove any helpful navigation. (Customer journey? What’s that?)
Make links really small and close together and make it really annoying especially for mobile users who are reading your email on the go. People love a challenge.
Use 14 point font, make some font bold, some italic, even comic sans and non web-safe fonts, and use lots of different colours to really make it stand out, the more attention getting the better
Strip out any recognizable logo’s and be very inconsistent in the look, functionality and branding of your emails from one to the next. Better still don’t use a template or use branding at all!
Even better, just stick an image into a blank email and send it out. No alt text, no template, no branding, nothing. Emailing your PDF flier out as one big JPG is a great idea!
Use a from name that you know who it is but is not obvious to your subscribers, like Barbara Smeath @idaily.co.nz, if you keep them guessing they will have to open your email
Best thing ever – to stop people unsubscribing, link them to a login page so they need to login to the account they made 10 years ago and have forgotten about to unsubscribe. It becomes so hard they don’t unsubscribe! Win!
In addition to that, forgo signing up for feedback loops or ignore the unsubscribe requests for as long as possible and send them more emails in the meantime in case they change their mind

After you have done all of this, be sure to include links to your social profiles so people can connect with you on there and share their terrible experience – just be sure to ignore them and bury those comments…

OK now we have had a walk down bad-practice lane, it’s honesty time folks – do any of the above points sound anything like your email marketing practices? Are you ready to step it up? Email the experts to see how you can dramatically improve your email program, improve your deliverability and make all your subscribers really happy!

inactivesubscribersShould you re-engage inactive subscribers or remove them?

There is much discussion around about re-engaging inactive subscribers, but I wonder should it be more about keeping your subscribers engaged in the first place? As I have been taught many times in the past, work to keep you current customers first and look after them instead of always hunting for new ones and forgetting about the old ones – that only creates churn and a huge list attrition rate.

In a world where everyone is always talking about list growth, it’s not a pleasant concept to have to think about removing people off your list. Most of the time marketers just leave old emails and unengaged subscribers on their list and keep emailing them even if they have never opened the last 63 emails they received or clicked any links.

After that amount of time I think it would be fair to say that they would be considered an ‘inactive subscriber’ don’t you. So what’s the best way to deal with these unengaged subscribers?

The thing is engaged subscribers mean higher engagement rates and better reputation and better deliverability.  But the flow on effect runs much deeper than just ensuring you are capturing everyone, as engagement is one of the factors that influence your reputation, and therefore your deliverability.

The ISP’s do watch engagement levels, however the effects vary depending on your list size and how often you email. If just a few subscribers aren’t engaging and you have a large list and send frequently it’s unlikely that would affect your reputation. However if you have a smaller list you will probably want to look a bit closer.

The best course of action is to analyse your reporting, identify the inactive subscribers, and send a re-engagement campaign – and we have some good advice on how to do that.

One great example of a client who is doing that is Muchmore, who send re-engagement emails to individuals who have been inactive for just three emails. For many of you it may be fair to say you analyse inactive subscribers once a month or perhaps every six months. Have you ever analysed the reports for inactive or unengaged subscribers after just 3 sends? Perhaps it’s time you started.

Want to take an even more proactive approach? Send such effective emails you keep your subscribers engaged before they start wandering down that inactive cul-de-sac in the first place.

It has been said that ‘email is the Swiss Army knife of marketing’ and is one of the most widely used digital channels in your marketing arsenal. For most marketers, email costs the least but gives the greatest returns. Here are the top few reasons why email is still king.

blogImg_emailWinning

Email is the workhorse of your digital marketing program
One of the greatest things about email is its versatility; that ability for it to reach your customers and drive traffic to your other channels such as your website and social network profiles. It really integrates your channels together. It also wins terms of increasing ROI by utilising it for triggered emails such as welcoming new customers, processing purchases, and all those other good things. I don’t know of any other channel that does that.

Email is like Madonna – it keeps reinventing itself
You can’t beat email for its ability to reinvent itself, to be a platform that can constantly be updated, upgraded, re-designed, re-coded, optimised, and inte­grate with other technologies and channels as they appear.  Look at how email is adapting to HTML and video in email for example, and how already people are seeing an increase in engagement and higher ROI as a result.

Email can actually prove it’s worth to you
For all those data and analysis nerds, you will appreciate one of the best things about the email channel is that you can easily see exactly how your emails are performing, and you can prove your email marketing ROI to management through all the reporting and analytics that are available. After all shiny new apps are neat but at the end of the day what will be appreciated by the keepers of the budget is what really provides returns and value.

Email is still leagues ahead of social media
The report by Custora sheds some light on what is really shaping e-Commerce and Digital Marketing. And the results are quite clear - email still has a massive lead beyond the other channels and is still providing the highest value.

There you have it. Email remains the most effective way to deliver your message, it’s the #1 activity on all smartphones and tablets, it drives the most conversions and consumer purchases more than any other marketing channel, and it’s the preferred communication stream for consumers.

Here at Jericho we really can’t stress enough how beneficial an effective email marketing program is to your business.

Want 11 more reasons why email is so great?

 

 

 

Sometimes at Jericho we get asked ‘where do you recommend we purchase lists from to increase our database?’ And we say ‘Contact George Adugadugwengo‘.

Seriously though purchasing lists is something we strongly recommend against doing, and here is some evidence why it’s a bad idea.

In accordance with the CAN SPAM act and regulations from the DIA, all subscribers on your database need to be subscribed via either express consent, inferred consent, or deemed consent, which all basically mean that they have explicitly asked to be added to your list or implied they would like to be added to your list. To read all about the types of consent, you can read about this here: http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Anti-Spam-Business-Info?OpenDocument

Part of this act specifies businesses must not use electronic address harvesting software, or lists that have been generated using such software, for the purpose of sending unsolicited commercial electronic messages. Click here to read about this in more detail: http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Anti-Spam-The-dangers-of-using-email-addresses-from-a-purchased-database

Once subscribers are on your list,  there are best practice guidelines to follow such as clearly displaying an unsubscribe link, a privacy policy, and display your business name and contact details, and telling your subscribers how often you will send emails, which is just being transparent and informing people and keeping in line with best practices. To read all about best practices, how to comply with this act, and avoid accidently spamming people, and read other FAQ’s you can read all about this here: http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Services-Anti-Spam-Questions-and-Answers
Also every now and then we blog about different SPAM case studies and best practice advise on our Jericho blog, so keep your eye out on there too, for a start you can read this post here about email law: http://blog.jericho.co.nz/breaking-email-law-is-easy-heres-a-quick-quality-control-guide-so-you-dont/

We can also provide a copy of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act document and answer any questions and provide further advise – contact our expert team.

You know when you move out of home and suddenly the washing piles up and the dishes don’t get done and the rubbish hasn’t gone out in a while? And you wonder how it got done before?

When you live at home you tend to take for granted that these things magically get done when you were not looking (Spoiler alert – your mother does it) and when you move out of home you realise that you now need to take responsibility and do all these things yourself, and by taking charge of these tasks you can improve the health and cleanliness of your environment. (Wow!)

Well I guess it’s safe to say most of you have learnt that one, however I’ve got something else to break to you; YOU control your sender reputation of your email marketing – not your ESP or mailbox providers. (What!?)  That’s right – your mother doesn’t work in your deliverability department. To improve your deliverability and reputation, you need to take some control.

There are five key factors that drive deliverability that you can control:
- Authentication
- List cleansing
- Relevant and valuable content
- Active engagement
- Continuous testing

Now I know deliverability can seem like a very complex system of things that need to be optimised and monitored and analysed and that can seem a bit overwhelming. However there really are a range of simple things you can do to improve your sender reputation, and your deliverability.

spam

What can you do right now?

- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a ‘friendly’ recognisable from name
- Send relevant content
- Set expectations

A poor reputation drives poor inbox delivery, however as you control your reputation, the sooner you recognise that the sooner you can improve it.

What exactly can affect your sender reputation?
- Spam complaints
- List quality
- Content
- Engagement
- IP Permanence

Recipients can complain because the email may not be of interest or relevance to them, perhaps wasn’t what they expected, perhaps they didn’t recognise the sender, or perhaps they are just receiving too much email or couldn’t find the unsubscribe button. Which is why having a recognisable from name, relevant content and a clearly visible unsubscribe link are SO important.

Firstly, spam complaints can be the #1 reason for decline in your reputation, and is the biggest indicator to ESP’s that your subscribers don’t want your email and this can result in your email being filtered or blocked.

inactivesubscribers

So what can you do to reduce complaints?
- Set expectations
- Honour unsubscribe requests
- Use a recognisable from name
- Send relevant and valuable content
- Enrol in feedback loops

One of the best things you can actively do to increase your reputation is provide valuable and relevant content that your subscribers want to read, the flow on effect being they will look forward to your email in their inbox and they will open, read, and clickthrough, increasing your engagement and over time that helps increase your reputation.

How important is relevance? 25% of subscribers said they have unsubscribed because the email wasn’t relevant. Well I think it’s worth listening to quarter of your entire database don’t you?

The implications of not being relevant are declining ROI and reputation and eventual increase in unsubscribes and/or complaints.

How can you increase relevance?
- Segment your data based on active/inactive subscribers, demographic, location, etc
- Implement a preference centre so the subscribers are in charge of what they receive and how often
- Send a survey asking your subscribers what they want – but be sure to deliver it
- Use dynamic content to change out content based on subscribers preferences
- Use personalisation throughout the email such as name, account number, points balance, purchase activity, etc

Now it’s no use having an email people want to read if people don’t receive it, so ensure you make it a priority to manage your list hygiene, and make that list as clean and shiny as possible. A clean list means you will be sending to actual humans – not spam traps or old inactive email addresses. It also means higher accepted rates, lower bouncebacks, and therefore better deliverability.

relevantemail
How can you improve your list hygiene?
- Review bouncebacks and correct invalid addresses
- Remove inactive subscribers
- Review your data collection process and ensure accuracy
- Grow your list organically – never purchase!
- Implement a double opt-in process
Then once you have implemented these strategies TEST, TEST, and TEST some more. Be continually analysing and testing a range of variables to find out what works, what doesn’t and what can be changed to suit your audience.

What are some things you can test?
- Email frequency
- Subject lines
- Email cadence
- Send day and time
- Personalisation in content

It’s important to get the frequency right because 54% of consumers say they unsubscribe when emails from a particular sender arrive too frequently….  How do you find the balance between too much and not enough? This is where asking your subscribers how often they want to hear from you can be the perfect solution.

Want some further advice? We have deliverability experts, design experts and experienced account managers at Jericho who can answer your questions – email us!

Dear {Generic Subscriber}

Thank you for taking the time to read our long email all about our company even though you have 573 emails to read and you are very busy.

All the information contained in this email is generic and fairly bland although very informative. We are sending the same information out to everyone, so don’t worry we haven’t taken much time looking at creepy data analysing your particular preferences or interests. Why spend time doing that when all 15,679 of our subscribers will enjoy reading the same generic news ins our batch and blast email this week, next week, and every week. In saying that, we may get busy and  just send one really long email with out dated news once a month, which we are sure you will want to read because it’s all about us.

Also it is not mobile optimised as we haven’t prioritised mobile optimisation yet but that’s OK, you still read your emails on a desktop computer right? The email also won’t contain any dynamic content or personalisation which would make the email more about you and your preferences, because as we mentioned we haven’t got the time or budget for that.

We didn’t spend too much time thinking about the subject line, so as you can see that says ‘September Newsletter’ which is exactly what this is. Also we don’t tend to put much emphasis on testing  so there might be a broken link in there somewhere. Just email our esp if you find it.

Also we probably won’t notice how many of you clicked on anything or who is engaged or not engaged because we don’t tend to do any reporting or analysis on our campaigns. And we we will be sending the email at 5pm on a Friday as we don’t really prioritise our email marketing or think about what the best send time is, just as long as we get to send our news out to everyone before we leave for the weekend.

We hope you enjoyed reading our generic email (that you care about even less than we do).

Insincerely and apathetically yours,
Batch and Blast Inc.

BrandsTalk
Sadly the above story is not so far from the truth for many companies. If the whole area of personalisation, engagement and analysis seems like a lot to get your head around, take a moment to read these posts that are bulging with best practice advice on everything from how to really your subscribers, how personalisation can make a huge difference to your readers and how engagement has a flow on effect to your reputation and deliverability.

Do much more than just batch and blast

To personalise or not to personalise

- Here’s how to really show your subscribers some email love

- How and why you should treat your subscribers like friends

- Why engagement is important and how to do it

EmailLove

See, that wasn’t so hard. All it takes is for you to implement a few simple best practice initiatives into your email marketing and you can be seeing a remarkable improvement.