Posts Tagged ‘best practise email’

Good on Australia’s ACMA for issuing this timely and detailed reminder that set and forget for email marketing best practice isn’t enough – you need to plan, set, check, plan, set… Here is there great clear minded advice on ensuring your email program is high quality and effective.  The ACMA blog post is here.

Many businesses use email marketing templates that automatically incorporate their contact details and an unsubscribe facility; information that is required by the Spam Act. But it’s still important to test your campaigns to make sure everything is working properly. All too often, we encounter e-marketers who don’t know that their unsubscribe or contact details have ‘dropped off’ their template.

One of the most effective ways to protect your reputation is to do regular quality assurance checks of your e-marketing campaigns and processes.

Quality versus quantity

How you conduct quality assurance will depend on a number of things:

>       the nature of your business

>       your systems and resources

>       the nature and number of e-marketing campaigns you conduct.

Ideally, every e-marketing campaign would be quality-assured, but in some cases this may not be possible. You need to weigh up the risks to your reputation if you breach the Spam Act and with the number or percentage of messages that you consider appropriate to review.

Quality assurance 101

Having overseen a number of enforceable undertakings and conducted a lot of investigations, we have a pretty good idea of what you might want to include in your quality assurance. Think about including the following steps.

1.    Audit your campaigns

Your business may not have a single department or person handling all of your e-marketing activity, making it a real challenge to keep on top of the e-marketing rules. So we strongly recommend that your quality assurance includes an audit of all campaigns conducted:

>       Record the total number of messages sent in the period.

>       Keep a copy of each campaign (if possible), including the number of messages sent, format, date, sending address, subject and content.

>       Keep records of which messages were sent to specific electronic addresses.

2.    Confirm consent

A fundamental rule of the Spam Act is that your e-marketing messages must be sent with consent. Consider:

>       how you gather consent

>       what information you give to recipients when you collect consent

>       how your system handles and records subscriptions, unsubscriptions and re-subscriptions

>       how long you’ll rely on consent for, blacklisting, the consequence of making a purchase and your account management tools.

You should also review your current records. They should clearly identify if:

>       A person has given consent—and also show that you have proof.

>       A person has requested to be unsubscribed in the period—and if any further messages were sent more than five business days after that date.

>       There are any patterns to be aware of—like someone consistently re-subscribing and then quickly unsubscribing.

>       A person has bought an item from you—and the date of the purchase.

>       A person has contacted your business.

3.    Show your identity

Each e-marketing message must clearly identify who authorised the message and provide a way to contact the authoriser—either through information in the message or a direct web link.

4.    Test your unsubscribe functionality

Defective unsubscribe facilities are one of the most common reasons people complain to the ACMA. It’s always a good idea to check (and check again!) that your unsubscribe facility is working properly:

>       Confirm that each message includes a functional unsubscribe facility.

>       Establish a process and timetable for testing the unsubscribe mechanism (and listen to complaints to identify any corner cases that your testing might not cover).

>       Keep records of when you tested the unsubscribe facility and the outcome of the test.

5.    Review complaints

Complaints can be a great source of information about potential problems and a chance to engage in direct conversation with your customers. Consider how you investigated each complaint and what you have done to fix these issues.

6.    Offer training

Often problems with e-marketing arise because staff are not aware of the Spam Act. Do your policies, procedures and training need updating?

>       Keep a note of any relevant training you or your staff have undertaken in the period.

>       Consider the need for further training in problem areas identified through your quality assurance.

7.    Form conclusions

Writing up the outcomes of your quality assurance gives you an ongoing record of when you got things right—or wrong. It demonstrates to your management—and to regulators like the ACMA—that you take compliance seriously. Follow these steps to make sure that your business’s e-marketing is above board:

>       Record details of any issues identified in the audit and any necessary changes.

>       Draft an overall outcome/conclusion of your quality assurance.

Any questions?  We can help!  Email us or call Jericho today.

When someone receives an email they skim the From Name, and then the Subject Line in quick succession, which makes these two areas the ‘gatekeepers’ for each message.

If you are a marketer relying on email to communicate with your audience you need to get past these ‘gatekeepers’.

Firstly you need a From Name that ticks three boxes: it must be recognised, trusted and relevant to the reader right now.  An email from my mum ticks all three every time.  With a business it’s a little more complex.  Even if I know ‘Air New Zealand’ and I love travelling with them, this year I am on a tight budget and so right now you are not ‘relevant’ to me. I might think ‘I have no intention of being tempted into reading your email offers no matter how good they are, and I will delete every email you send.’

It’s good to bear this in mind when you review your email campaign reporting as there simply will never be 100% of your database read your message – I’m on holiday, the dog died, this report is due – basically life gets in the way.  I suggest a rule of thumb that the ‘top mark’ possible is closer to 75% so if your open rate is 35% then that’s about half of your possible audience – a great result.

From another angle, it’s good to bear this ‘triage’ behaviour pattern in mind when you undertake engagement analysis of your database – Who reads every email? Who has stopped reading?  It’s important to make sure the ‘zombies’ who are effectively dead to your brand are cleaned out on a regular basis for email deliverability, so we do actively encourage this exercise.   But.  Just because I’m not opening your emails right now doesn’t mean I don’t want you to keep sending them.  I may well just be on a tight budget for a few months.  Arrgggh!  Why does email marketing have to be so complicated!

Assuming your email has passed the above gatekeeping/triage process of the From Name, next up your reader is looking to the Subject line for indication of a value exchange that is in his or her favour.  Their time is worth an awful lot to them.  Your email must deliver more value in order for it to be open and read.  And so your subject line needs to hint at that value as clearly and quickly as possible.

To get a Subject Line right, there are many many many possible approaches to take. The subject line is often promoted as a good thing to ‘test’ and see if your readers respond better to a particular set of words, or tone.  The reason testing is good idea is that the answer to the question ‘What works best?’ is almost always ‘It depends’.  I have seen tests show more words work better to get clicks in the email, and I have seen tests show that less words work best.  Similarly I have seen marketers use a set format for every campaign of a similar ‘type’, and I have seen people change the format for every single email they send, to good result.

Focus on clearly describing the value that is within your email, and then make sure you deliver that value in a way that makes sense and is easy and intuitive to action for your reader.  We have written about good subject lines before – read those posts here and an older post about the importance of your From name is here.

Now you are fully equipped to get past the first two hurdles of a successful email campaign, how do you ensure it makes you lots of money?  That’s fodder for the next article or ten.  See you then.

The three pillars of commercial email law in Australia and New Zealand are the same in both countries – have consent, identify yourself, and have a functioning and actioned unsubscribe facility.

This week the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued Tiger Airways (a Singapore Airlines backed operator) with an $110,000 infringement notice — for failing to unsubscribe customers from marketing emails.  Tiger must now launch a program of audits, reviews, training and process to improve their email practices.

This follows similar action and outcome last year when Virgin Blue was fined for having an unsubscribe link that malfunctioned over a relatively short period of time.

‘This is one of a number of investigations in which the ACMA has found businesses have allowed faulty unsubscribe facilities to continue, in spite of repeated customer complaints,’ said ACMA Deputy Chairman Richard Bean.

‘This action is another reminder to businesses that they should pay attention to what their customers are saying, test their email unsubscribe facilities regularly, and not simply set and forget them. Tiger has now committed to ensuring its unsubscribe facilities are functional and effective.

‘Marketing to customers who have unsubscribed is not only against the law, it causes consumer frustration and that ultimately damages a business’s reputation,’ he added.

The ACMA highlights that marketing to recipients who do not want to receive your emails is not a successful business strategy.  If any of your email recipients are in Australia then it’s probably a great idea to sign up for the ACMA’s emarketing blog.

Action for commercial email breaches in New Zealand is detailed on the website of the Department of Internal Affairs, who manage enforcement of NZ’s UEM Act.

If you have any questions regarding the best practice management of your emarketing databases and mobile and email marketing programs, feel free to post them here and we will answer them here too – or if you prefer, email roanne@jericho.co.nz

creating email content is hardWe’ve been talking a lot about content lately (and making tools to help) so we were pleased to find this edgy and actionable resource that deals with a fundamental issue affecting businesses.  How to consistently create high quality content that engages, educates, informs and ideally, entertains?

When we ask clients ‘What’s hard?’ about digital marketing, one consistent pain point comes up:  Creating and curating relevant, sharable, high quality content.  Writing is hard.  When we talk to our peers at other agencies, we hear the same thing.

A way to address this critical issue is a fundamental rethinking, restructuring, and re balancing of company culture, resources, budgets and strategy.

This excellent recent report from Altimeter Group introduces a five-step content maturity model, complete with real-world case examples, to move organisations from zero (“standing”) to hero (“running”) with their content strategy.  It includes a useful Content Marketing Maturity self-audit.  It ends with four actionable recommendations, finishing with ‘Design Recombinant Content’…

The report urges us: “Strive to create content that can be redistributed in multiple formats across numerous platforms and channel to maximise value and minimise the resources dedicated to continually creating content from scratch.  Understand how to redistribute and reuse discrete components of longer form content”.

A new seasons product launch for example might turn into a themed landing page, a video, one or more blog entries, tweets and Facebook posts, and an email opt-in incentive in the form a Welcome email reward ‘Join our Inner Circle now and we’ll send you our exclusive How-to-Wear Guide for the 5 must-have pieces for this seasons new looks’.

I strongly recommend that you read this report and consider a content plan for your own business.  Here at Jericho we already have, and it’s a key strategy for working with our clients and in our own business.

Read the report on SlideShare and please share this post with your networks using the icons below. We’d love to see comments below on how you manage, or struggle with, the growing demands for content.

 

The “welcome” email may be the most important email you send. Why?

Because for many of your subscribers, it’s their first email experience with your brand, and for some it might even be their first interaction with your company. 

We all know first impressions count, so this is your best chance to create a good  first impression with your new subscriber. So don’t treat it like a simple confirmation email and fire back something bland and generic. And the worst thing you can do is send no welcome email at all.

If you don’t send one, it means you have lost an opportunity to engage with a potential customer,  and lost an opportunity to send a really great personalized introduction into your company. Beyond the welcome email, you don’t know what a new subscriber’s first email experience with your brand will be. It could be a notification, or a price hike. And what sort of first impression is that.

Here is how not to do it – the image below shows that more than 20% of the UK’s top retailers send no emails in the first 30 days – that is no way to win over new subscribers!

Instead, create a welcome email, or even a series, that gets new subscribers on board and engaged. This enhances the perception of your brand and the value of your email program. It’s also the best time to inform subscribers of what they can do on your website, who to contact for queries, allow them to update their preferences and details via your preference centre, and you can provides immediate value through content such as free white papers or loyalty incentives.

I have an example of one such welcome email that came into my inbox the other day. I was scouting around Marketing Prof’s website and signed up to their regular emails. Within moments of signing up, I had a welcome email in my inbox. It was well laid out, professional looking, reflected their brand, was welcoming, had informative content, and best of all had a list of quick links to more information and valuable resources, and it had their contact details at the bottom.

I couldn’t have asked for more – so below is a screenshot of the email just for you:

Your welcome email really is the best opportunity to engage subscribers, and there is also research that suggests welcome emails generate the best open rates – when done well – and can leave your subscribers and new customers with a lasting good impression of your company or brand, and sets the stage for any future email communications.

 Here are 4 ways that you may waste the golden opportunity presented by sending a welcome email:

1. Not sending a welcome email message at all
2. Taking longer than 24 hours to send your welcome email message
3. Not setting expectations for future email messages
4. Not having a call to action in your email message

Now, here are 5 ways you can immediately enhance your welcome email:

1. Set the stage for future email communication
2. Have a call to action in your welcome email
3. Have links to useful content, your webpage, etc.
4. Provide added value such as video’s or white papers
5. A welcoming and professional email that reflects your brand or company

So go and give your welcome email (Or the whole series) some love. Compare your email to the best practices mentioned above and look for ways to improve the way you communicate your brand, company and your value to subscribers.

For more on email Welcomes – see our most popular post of all time – 8 Outstanding welcome email examples

Sometimes when you are looking at a blank page and trying to create your next fantastic customer communication, it can feel like you are sitting alone in a vacuum.  But it’s worth remembering that there are a number of people on the planet doing really great email marketing.  And you can learn from them… I call it ‘spying‘. (P.S. You never need to stare at a blank page if you have a good plan)

I just sent these two examples to a friend whose large organisation is doing a clean, sterile, well designed, ticks the boxes, boring, wouldn’t-care-if-you-never-saw-it-again, no one really applies what they read, type of a thing.  Their products are HOT.  They have HOT customers, doing incredible things with those products, and sharing what they do everywhere… but inexplicably, it’s nowhere to be seen in their eDM.

Here are the two:

NZ Gardener

Get Growing aims to ‘grow new gardeners’ and in doing so, sell more magazines.  It is a much-loved phenomenon and it’s sent to 25,000 people each week.

What they do really well: It’s so personal.  The heart of this success is it’s heart.  Warm, non-threatening, collegial (gardening isn’t scary, let’s try this together)…  Sharing readers questions and answers makes for great genuine content (bonus – you don’t have to write it!).   Listing current events and prizes keeps the ‘open rates’ consistent.  Timing - sending on Friday afternoon makes it a treat for the weekend. They always encourage opt-ins and pass-along.  Yes, I know you are thinking – it’s so LONG! It is, and the readers LOVE it! (Disclosure - GetGrowing uses SmartMailPro).

Love gardening? You can subscribe to NZ Gardener here.


Urban Daddy

I came across Urban Daddy when I was going to Miami a couple of years ago and I wanted to know what was hot there.  The content, tone, and attitude, as well as the execution and consistently has just outperformed anything I’ve seen like it.  It’s one you need to subscribe to and keep an eye on week in and week out until you ‘get’ the gist.

What they do really well: Like NZ Gardener they bring it to you, they don’t make you work for it.  Heart and passion for the subject matter shines through.  Great content that is curated in the right way each time so that you build trust in their opinion and follow their advice (tag line – ‘Only what you need to know’).  Trust is established with footer text in every issue (‘Urban Daddy is purely editorial – you can’t buy love from the Daddy’).  Great voice, tone, manner, meeting expectations, personalising with strong  but virtually invisible use of dynamic content and preferences.  Need more?:

Email issues.  This page is insanely good and I’ve never seen one like it – it links from the bottom of their home page – Email Issues

You can subscribe to Urban Daddy here.  its worth it even if you don’t live in the States just to learn from and enjoy.

Their Welcome Email is great – below: Restates your options and sets expectations; use of red carpet and language evokes exclusivity; specifically invites pass-along; simple.  It’s ‘oh so’ personal.  Also note it doesn’t ask for the double opt-in – if you have registered they assume you want it.  I think this is fine in cases where you are clearly registering for an email newsletter – not entering a competition, asking for a down-load or other ancillary activity.

What do you think?  Love it?  Hate it? Comment below.  Forward me your favourites - Attn Roanne to GetSmart at Jericho.co.nz

There are more good examples of Welcome Emails to be seen at another GetSmart blog post here.


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 campaigns@jericho.co.nz

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 campaigns@smartmailpro.com to ask for it.

Thanks to Michael Carney from marketingweek.co.nz 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.”

No, it’s not my birthday. But if it was?  This morning I was thinking about the new email automation tools we’ve built, which in turn led me to thinking about the simplest ways to use these to build real, closer relationships with customers.

Like you, I spend my money across a range of organisations every day, and not many of them are stand-outs at making me feel special.  I won’t name names now, but it’s clear that most of them are more interested, still, in the next new customer and not very interested in impressing me.  Yes, of course some of them have retention targets and aim to keep these on track, but I don’t see this trickle through as caring, or even pretending to care if I feel special, noticed, acknowledged or valued.

It’s kind of back to front isn’t it. I care a lot about the companies I rely on to make sure my life ticks along smoothly.  I know if they are there or not, and when it suits them best for me to contact them.   I go out of my way to spend money with them, I often notice if things change for them, and some of them even tell me loudly when it’s their birthday.

Maybe you belonged to a club like I did as a little girl, that sent me a postcard for my birthday.   Along with the cards from my family and friends, this one would arrive and I noticed, and now some years later I smile when I think about how much it meant to me .  As each year ticks by most humans find that our birthdays are less and less special.  We’re very mature about it but, on the inside we dont feel like that’s very fair.  So, I’ve decided to start to talk to clients about Birthday Clubs.

It’s my job to notice this stuff, and in addition to the businesses I pay to run my life, I sign up for so much marketing material you’d think I’d be drowning in it.  Nope.   Many opt-in, purchase, and registration forms request a date of birth, but I can’t think of any that use it well.

I’m telling you because I think there is a lot of room in this space – it’s not a one size fits all, and it’s not likely that any one person will be so inundated with birthday love that they’ll have a freak out.

Automated emails can be set and forget, driven and personalised from a simple data file. They are unbelieveably cost effective, and just plain effective both at engendering loyalty and driving revenue. Use your imagination to jump out from behind your desk and stand in the shoes of your customer or prospect, and think up something that is bang on – relevant, good-natured and valuable to them, and have fun with it.

Construct a program that makes you feel good, and chances are you will spread that feel-good to your database.

I hope that some of our clients might see the opportunity to stand out with a genuine birthday offer and acknowledgement, that’s beautifully designed, high quality, and endearing.  I hope that you do too.  If you have questions or comments please leave them here.


P.S. there is an update to this post here – when it actually was my birthday, who told me they cared?

Here is a recent blog post on Great Birthday Email Examples.