Posts Tagged ‘email compliance’

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

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.

I received this campaign today from American Express New Zealand, asking me to register to win.  American Ex-cess usually takes away not gives, so I thought I would take a look.

They called me a warm friendly ‘Cardmember’ – but in fact they had my name, which you can see in the side bar.  That was the first thing that made me feel special.

Then I click through on the link to register and they ask for my credit card number. 
HINT: 1. I think you know it already.  I’ve scratched it out of the email above but you stuck half of it in the side bar under “For Your Security” heading. 
HINT 2. It’s in the big computer next to you, and I’m not typing it into your entry form.

If American Express email marketing want me typing my card number into online forms to enter competitions then they will probably get their wish, as they incite lots of Eastern Blok types to try this campaign themselves.

We’d been talking about how clever spammers and phishers are getting, just this morning.  We’ve had McDonalds, banks of course, but the bank frausters are getting really good…  at phishing.

I had to take this thing apart to work out that it was genuine.

If Peter Newton had his phone number on the email I would have called him straight up, but he’s probably in his office in Sydney signing off campaigns.

Here is the landing page (you can click to enlarge):

What do you think?

UPDATE:  OOps! You did it again. American Express marketing has since sent me 2 other campaigns with a significant error you can see that here.

The landing page

The landing page

We think that the email marketing industry needs standard reporting and metrics.

Right now, it’s impossible to compare and benchmark response and deliverability rates across the industry because marketers get reports with different terms based on different calculations.

Technological barriers (more on this below) mean that some of the numbers are imperfect metrics but we could all make sure that the name of the  imperfect report is accurate.

Inaccurate or inconsistent metrics impact the credibility of email marketers.  If our metrics cannot conform to benchmarks, we lessen our ability to convince our management and our colleagues of our program’s success.  And that makes it harder to negotiate for resources.

The EEC is the US DMA’s email arm, and their metrics round table has produced a set of standardised metrics they want all email marketers to adopt.  The latest definitions are here.

There are lots of people (okay email freaks/geeks like me) who feel strongly about this.  This article and the comments below about Open Rates are the best kind of argument – considered, intelligent, experienced and a little bit argy-bargy… Which reports are most useful to you?  What do you think they should be called?  You can have your say below.

Loren starts off on the OPEN RATE (proposed rename = RENDER RATE)
“Here are some real-world examples of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of email opens:
· The email is “opened” (launched), but images are blocked: not counted as an open
· The email is not opened (launched), but images are enabled and is read in the preview pane: counted as an open
· The text version of a multi-part message is read on a BlackBerry. The HTML version (with images blocked) is later opened in Gmail (or other email service/client). The email has been opened and read twice — but zero opens are recorded.
· A text version is opened and read but not clicked: not counted as an open
· A text version is opened and read, but the user clicks a link: not counted as an open with some email software. Others assign an open because the email was clicked on, which assumes an open.

…I think you get my point. With marketers increasingly being held accountable for their marketing spends and actions, do they really want to base performance reports and marketing decisions on such a flawed and inconsistent metric?
Further, the open rate is a process metric that does not measure return on investment or how well the campaign helped you achieve a strategic initiative for your company. Showing how much email contributes to the bottom line, not how many people opened your email, will help you secure a bigger share of the marketing budget.”

In response, we get comments like this from John Calder:

I have to disagree that clicks are a better open indicator. Subject lines cause a message to be opened and read. Value proposition and call to action cause a link to be clicked. What happens after the click causes conversion.
Therefore, a weak subject line with a good value proposition and strong call to action may get more clicks even though fewer people have ‘read’ the message, than a good subject line where more people have ‘read’ the message with a weak value proposition and call to action. From that, which is the better subject line?
The people who buy from you or read your newsletter and really want what you have to offer will turn images on. They will show open rates along with click rates. These people are a good indicator of what people like them are interested in, and if that’s your target market I’d say that there’s some pretty good intelligence to be had there.”

This is a big subject and we’re doing a lot of work on it now.  What is most important to measure and benchmark, how should it be calculated and what should it be called?

I’d love to hear your thoughts with comments here on the GetSmart blog.  We will take all of these into account when we review our reporting layouts.  Our clients and our teams are pleased with our reporting now, but we’d love to be the first ESP in the world with the new standard names and calculations for all our reports.

As 2009 is winding down, we’re getting ready for the start of a new era – the Decade of Digital Devices. This is Web 3.0 – the promise of a web experience without being tied to a computer and a web experience made up completely of apps that dominate our lives and provide ultimate convenience.

To help you get ready the EEC is going to share a package of best practices, knowledge and tips from 2009. This content was generated by the smartest experts in email: EEC members.  As their gift, download all six reports from their Best of 2009 collection for free (a $935 value!).

At the eec the goal has always been to create and nurture a community where networking and conversation can help you learn and apply what it takes to reach your goals. We succeed when you do and we hope you enjoy this special package of knowledge.  Take a moment to share this gift (email it, tweet it, blog it, or post it to Facebook)  and help the email community grow.

Go to the free download page here.

Free resources include:
List Growth Strategy Evaluation Tool & Benchmarking Guide
Email Checklist Series: Anatomy of an Email Newsletter
Webinar Recording: New FTC, New Rules? Update Your Email & Digital Strategy
New Approaches to Email Marketing; Part 1 of 4: Defining Social Influencers
International Email Compliance Resource Guide
2009 Deliverability Resource Guide

go stock up those brain cells…