Archive for the ‘email marketing’ Category

Take a closer look at your email metrics

July 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

Get a better understanding of what certain email metrics mean with this four-point guide.

You can read just about any email marketing industry newsletter today and find good information from industry experts on a variety of topics. However, in all this goodness there is a growing frequency of comments highlighting the lack of standardized reporting and reduced confidence in certain metrics. Unfortunately, these are the metrics we have to work with, so what do we do?

Relax. While the industry is changing, the baseline metrics we use today are still the foundation for practical campaign analysis. They remain indicators of how your programs are performing. Because reporting varies across ESPs, and because no report is 100 percent complete, you must analyze the numbers by asking yourself a few basic questions and applying fundamental best practices. For example:

What is my database attrition rate?
Manage your opt-outs like any other baseline metric. Knowing your attrition can provide insight into your acquisition strategy. Is it organic? Append or list rental? Third-party co-reg? You then need to drill down to the source of the list attrition. Are you receiving a large number of opt-out requests? Do you receive a lot of spam complaints? Are you losing data to bad data formatting, or do you have old data? Each source tells a different story. It is important to examine the difference. For example, if you have email addresses containing keystroke errors, the loss of data could be remedied by utilizing a validation script at the point of subscription or leveraging a double opt-in message, never allowing the bad address to make it into your database. However, an unsubscribe exhibits a customer that does not want to receive your email because you have not delivered on a promise. Frequency and relevancy issues tend to drive unsubscribes.

What is my database growth rate?
The idea is that you are growing your database more quickly than you are losing data. If your attrition rate is outpacing your data growth, then there may be some issues with your acquisition practices. Identify the sources of your data and determine where you see the most growth. Looking at your acquisition numbers in conjunction with your attrition analysis is going to provide you with the greatest insight and help you drive the strategy of data growth.

What is my open rate?
Your open rates aren’t likely as high as they once were. With the further adoption of image suppression by email clients, more and more email marketers are seeing this metric in a downward spiral. But rather than worry about it, let’s find a positive application for this behavior. First you need to look at open behavior by receiving domain. So let’s look at an audience of AOL recipients for this exercise. You’d first look to see how many of those AOL recipients opened your most recent message. Say you find that 15 percent of your AOL audience opened your message, what does this tell you? It tells you that 15 percent of your AOL audience viewed your email with images on. The AOL email client defaults to images off — so that means that 15 percent of your AOL audience took some action to see your message. I would bet that same audience is more engaged with your brand than the 85 percent that didn’t take the action.

What is my clickthrough rate?
Clickthrough rates don’t lie. Someone had to physically take action for that click to record. But what does it tell you? Looking at unique clickers is a solid indicator of recipient behavior, and drawing trends against that behavior will help to drive success of future campaigns. Is it the location of the link, the creative treatment or the actual words that drove the recipient to click? As you begin trending this information, the drivers behind the behavior become more transparent and can even help you identify new audiences within your customer base. Coupling clickthrough data with web analytics can take that analysis even further — but you have to crawl before you can walk.

While these metrics are basic in nature, there’s always more you can glean. You just need to look a little deeper than you once did — break out the magnifying glass and get to work.

Say goodbye to mass emailing

July 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

Find out what’s making it possible for email marketing to finally deliver on its promise of relevant, one-to-one communications.

Email marketing has become one of the most valuable and best performing marketing channels today. Businesses are getting an incredible return on investment and consumers have benefited from industry best practices, technologies and their own online “street smarts” for managing their inboxes. Spam persists and pesters, but the war is being won as can be seen from a few recent studies that just scratch the surface of all the positive news about email marketing:

  • 88 percent of 2,500 consumers surveyed said they feel mostly or completely in control of their inboxes — up 9 points from 2004. Meanwhile, 58 percent surveyed believe email is a great way for companies to stay in touch with them, up from 45 percent in 2005 (Merkle, Inc.’s “View from the Inbox 2008” study).
  • Online retailers rated email-to-house files as their No. 1 marketing tactic; 93 percent surveyed said they plan to give email even higher priority in 2008 (Shop.org’s “State of Retailing Online 2008” report).
  • For every dollar spent, commercial email has a return on investment of $48 (DMA 2008).
  • Email campaign management is one of the top six investment areas for senior marketers in 2008 (CMO Council’s “Marketing Outlook 2008”).

Even more exciting than the state of email today is what is just now beginning to happen, and what is growing into a trend for the near future. Email marketing is evolving toward true relevance as the most savvy marketers move from one-to-many, or broadcast email tactics, to establishing one-to-one relationships with customers and prospects. This means that “less is more” will become the norm for email marketing — soon there will be fewer, more targeted and more relevant email messages — a growing trend that benefits marketers, businesses and consumers.

This trend is due in large part to the emergence of email automation.

Event- or action-triggered email campaigns and integrating email marketing with CRM data to automate the lead process are just two email automation approaches accessible to today’s marketers that can have a tremendous impact on improving email marketing relevance.

Event- or action-triggered automation
Event- or action-triggered automation enables marketers to automatically send relevant emails to customers at exactly the right moment based on a specified time, date, event or action. Marketers today use email segmentation to target specific content at unique list segments. Deploying automated event- or action-triggered email campaigns enables marketers to take email marketing relevance even further by ensuring that every email is not only targeted but is also being delivered at the right time.

Marketers using trigger email automation solutions are able to map out each element of the campaign, including:

  • The event, action or specified time that initiates the sending of an email
  • Filters to include or exclude contacts
  • Timer delays for scheduling and initiating message delivery
  • Select customized email campaigns to send to specific contacts or contact segments
  • Post-condition settings to assign value fields for tracking specific contacts once the campaign series has been executed

Let’s check out how it works.

Trigger campaigns in action
A brief case study illustrates how event- and action-triggered email campaigns can benefit a business.

The challenge
A regional health club chain wanted to reduce membership churn and increase customer loyalty, a challenge for any fitness organization that sees memberships ebb and flow throughout the year. The marketing team decided that an email marketing campaign would be the best way to reach members in every club with an attractive promotion or offer.

The solution
The health club marketing team crafted a promotion that would help it improve the quality of the email database while simultaneously engaging members with an attractive fitness program through a series of highly targeted automated trigger email campaigns tailored to individual member interests and preferences. The promotion began with club managers and directors informing existing members across all of the clubs in the chain about a new eight-week, in-club weight-loss initiative. Interested club members filled out a sign-up form that encouraged them to provide their email addresses along with additional information regarding individual health and fitness preferences and interests.

Members interested in participating in the promotion benefited from giving information because they then could be sent additional support information for the weight-loss program — further strengthening the relationship between club and member. Once the eight-week weight-loss program began, the health club was able to stay in close contact with individual members, not only about the program, but also with other messages and promotions that suited their stated preferences. With targeted follow-up trigger campaigns based on member profile data, the health club provided members with value.

Follow-up campaigns consisted of seven emails developed with highly relevant content tailored to the weekly experience of each member as he or she progressed through the weight-loss program. This meant that at the midpoint in the campaign there could be seven different groups receiving seven different messages. The campaigns also used dynamic segments, which meant a weekly email could be created that had different logos, different club locations and different messaging based on the member’s club location and join date.

All of this could only have been accomplished through an advanced email automation solution, which not only eliminated the physical management of the follow-up campaign processing and execution, but also assured that the emails would go out with the right message at the right time to the right club member.

Get more relevant with email and CRM data
Like event- or action-triggered campaigns, integrating email marketing with lead-generation systems is another email automation tactic that can significantly increase revenue-building opportunities.

Aberdeen Research conducted an extensive study that clearly illustrated the benefits of integrating email with lead generation. According to the report — “Success Strategies in Marketing Automation” (July 2007) — marketers revealed the following business benefits of linking email and CRM systems:

  • 95 percent surveyed reduce the sales cycle by integrating email campaigns with lead-management solution.
  • 66 percent pass leads back and forth between sales and marketing, creating more opportunities for qualifying, following up on and prioritizing prospects that are most likely to make a purchase.
  • 42 percent use automated email follow-ups for lead qualification, improving the overall efficiency of the lead qualification and sales process.

Imagine being able to automatically move individual leads through the sales cycle faster with email campaigns that launch automatically as CRM data changes for individual leads. Automating your email campaigns in this way will enable your sales team to concentrate on leads that require personal attention.

Steps toward an email marketing relevance plan
Email automation is emerging as a strategic approach for businesses of all sizes to dramatically improve the targeting, relevance and the timeliness of their email marketing campaigns.

Marketers still undecided or uncertain about how to begin should follow these best practices to take their email marketing programs to the next level of true relevance:

1. Build more detailed customer profiles: Take advantage of every opportunity to gather additional profile information from your customers. A data-rich email list that includes demographic, behavioral and transactional information can be used for segmentation and trigger campaigns, ensuring that your email messages are tailored to suit each contact.

2. Get to know your customers’ buying habits: Customer sales information holds insights to what your customers want and when they want it. Get to know your customers by their purchasing behavior so you can implement triggered campaigns for cross-sell or up-sell opportunities.

3. Synch email and CRM: In addition to proactively gathering customer data, synchronize your CRM and email marketing systems. Tools and technologies are available today that should make this a simple, painless process without having to involve your IT department or software developer resources. Taking this step will enrich your email list all the more with detailed behavioral and transactional data.

4. Nurture to close: Feed your sales team automated updates on email campaign activity. Sales associates can use information such as opens, links clicked and forwards to help them prioritize leads and nudge prospects toward making a purchase. Sales can also use this information to facilitate initial contact with a prospect and begin a dialogue, helping them begin “warm” instead of taking on the dreaded “cold call.”

5. Keep it personal: Putting a face to a name builds relationships and closes sales, and the same principles apply to email automation. Top email automation systems make it easy for you to give your automated messages personality by sending them “from” a person (on behalf of), including a personal signature and sometimes even a photo to build the relationship.

Email Marketers Fail to ‘Welcome’ New Subscribers, Personalize Emails

July 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

While 70 percent of companies request more than an email address during user registration, 85 percent of them fail to personalize email messages to new subscribers, according to Return Path.

The finding was part of Return Path’s Subscriber Experiences study.

Strategic services director Bonnie Malone-Fry said failing to customize an email “really damages your brand because you’re not living up to the expectations you’ve set.”

“You’ve already stated your intentions of making the program more relevant to the subscriber. By not implementing them, there’s a huge disappointment factor,” she added.

The study also found 60 percent of companies did not send “Welcome” emails to new subscribers. And one-third didn’t send any emails to new subscribers at all in the 30 days the study took place. (For more findings, including charts, see coverage by MarketingCharts.)

“Instead of putting out a welcome mat, marketers are telling their subscribers to go away,” Fry lamented. “This is not how you build a good relationship, either with customers or prospective customers.”

Kristina Knight of BizReport echoed her sentiments in a recent Business Strata article. “[A welcome message] can help to remind consumers about their decision to sign up, as well as inform them about what receiving messages entails,” Business Strata wrote.

“Combined with lack of welcome message, lag in sending email has implications for sender reputation and deliverability,” said Fry.

“Many people sign up for email, but quickly forget about the company if they don’t get email quickly. When marketers finally do send something the risk is high that recipients will complain because they don’t remember they opted in for the message.”

Last month, Q Interactive and MarketingSherpa found that users increasingly interpret “spam” to mean “email they don’t want,” not just email that is unsolicited.

Return Path’s Subscriber Experiences email study was conducted by reviewing the email programs of 61 companies in retail, consumer goods, travel, and media/entertainment.

Email Analytics Reveal Sweet Spots In Subject-Line Length

May 31, 2008

Media Post Publication

 

by David Goetzl, Tuesday, May 27, 2008 7:00 AM ET

 

CAPTIVA ISLAND, Fla. — Email marketing analytics have led Dela Quist, CEO of London shop Alchemy Worx, to discover a sweet spot for how long subject lines should be.  

He says open rates climb when the subject lines are in the 50-character range or 80-character range. But, perhaps counterintuitively, they fall in the middle when the length is 60 or 70.

The magnetic Quist gave the keynote address Saturday at MediaPost’s Email Insiders Summit conference: “Emailing People Not Lists: Using Customer Based Metrics to Drive Performance Improvement.”

Research culled from 250 million messages sent over the past two years, with 660 different subject lines, has led him to believe that a 50-character subject line touting a “powerful” offer is appealing (30% off Spring Getaway flights to Florida on Delta).

And a longer 80-character-plus line describing a newsletter in enticing fashion works (Find out Secrets to Spice up your Barbecue this weekend and all Summer Long and enter to win a New Weber Grill.)

Somehow, in the 60- to-70-character middle, he says, the subject line is either too long or not long enough.

Quist has various theories, but one is that the longer the subject line, the better chance a marketer has of presenting different concepts that may appeal to different consumers and boosting open rates. So in the above example, some may be interested in the ways to improve their grilling, while others would seek the new grill, leading to higher open rates.

Quist’s research–his clients include PayPal and Intercontinental Hotels in the U.S.–showing that “long subject lines work better” goes against conventional wisdom, he said.

“Our experience tended towards the belief that long subject lines work better,” he said. (The longer the better goes against conventional wisdom.) A more descriptive subject line can also build goodwill with consumers, since it can provide enough info to easily either turn them on or turn them off.

Email is not digital direct mail

May 31, 2008

iMedia Connection

Email is not a viable acquisition tool in the way direct mail is. Find out why, and what direct mail’s digital equivalent is.

 

If you’re in the business of sending direct mail to acquire new customers and business, you might want to check out this site. It reflects a growing sentiment in the UK that combines two groups of individuals with merging interests — those people who are tired of receiving numerous unsolicited offers on a daily basis in their mailboxes, and the environmentalists who lament the tremendous waste of paper involved when sending millions of pieces of mail that end up in landfills.

The possibility of banning “junk mail” in England, Scotland and Wales is being discussed by serious people in and out of government. The Royal Mail is obviously greatly troubled by any possible loss of revenue, and direct marketers are aghast at the thought of losing this channel.

Whether or not there is ever an outright ban on “junk” mail in the UK or the U.S., there is nevertheless a growing trend among marketers to rely less on direct mail and more on digital channels on both sides of the Atlantic. They relish the obvious cost savings, as well as burnished “green” credentials, in reducing direct mail volume. But you can’t stop looking for new customers. And if you’ve been relying on direct mail, how do you “go digital” for demand generation?

Surprise: It isn’t email.

Why? The biggest reason is, of course, CAN-SPAM. Today, banks can flood your mailbox with all the credit card offers they want, but they can’t flood your email box with the same offers. First, it’s not as easy to get your email address as it is your postal address. Second, even if a business has your email address, you can opt-out of that first prospecting email and be free forever from further offers. For these very important reasons, there is no direct linear progression from mail to email in the marketing world. Email is the most cost-effective retention, cross-sell and loyalty tactic in the universe, but it is not a viable acquisition tool in the way that direct mail is (though some would argue both are equally bad due to the sheer amount of wasted impressions).

So what’s a direct marketer to do? Paid search has been broadly touted as a great acquisition tool in the digital world, and it is. The problem is that it works best when a prospect is actually in the purchase cycle, meaning the person has already decided to explore a purchase in a particular product or service category. In other words, paid search encourages preference rather than generates demand. That’s the reason for searching!

The value of direct mail is that, when it works well, it can generate “impulse” purchases for any number of categories: from credit cards to caskets. A particularly successful direct mail piece can handle a complete sales cycle (awareness right through purchase) with one touch. Direct mail is the offline demand generation workhorse.

So how do you generate demand through digital channels, and at the same time incorporate the targeting of direct mail? In the offline world, demographic targeting based on age, gender, zip code, credit rating etc. has been the key driver of effective direct mail. Applying those data in demand generation online has proved a bit of a challenge. Of course, if you’ve registered at a site, and opted into email, there’s a good opportunity to use self-reported data to create targeted offers for you.

The real workhorse of demand generation on the web is targeted display advertising. For the time being, this is the digital successor to targeted direct mail. And in today’s world there are many different approaches being applied to targeted display ads — behavioral and contextual being the two with the most promise. In both instances, marketers deliver ads based on knowledge gleaned from either the actions of the user — a visit to one website can be the basis for serving ads to that person on another site — or the content consumed at that particular moment — an article on the latest tech gadgets brings up an ad for a new smart phone.

There’s lots more to say about the many improvements in display ad targeting, but the point I’m making is that the next time you hear someone at your company suggest replacing direct mail demand generation with an email program, make sure he or she understands that targeted display advertising is the better road to travel for demand generation on the web. Once your display ads have hooked that new customer, and you get him or her into your email database, then enjoy the universe-dominating cost-effectiveness of email for retention, loyalty and cross-sell. And if you work with a digital agency that is proficient in both email and targeted display advertising, you’re already off to a great start in “going green!”

Chris Marriott is general manager, NY and London, for Acxiom Digital.

Email Opt-in, Opt-out Processes Not Quite There Yet

May 30, 2008

Marketing VOX News

When obtaining permission to send emails, 31 percent of marketers use a confirmed opt-in method (double opt-in), said eROI’s “The Cradle & The Grave” survey.

The study covers marketers’ email subscribe and unsubscribe processes, MarketingCharts reports.

These processes are improving but have yet to reach “exceptional” levels, eROI said.

Key findings of the survey of 500 email marketers:

Opt-in

  • Only about 31 percent of respondents say they use confirmed opt-in.

 

eroi-email-opt-in-method.jpg

  • Of those that do, only 4 percent provide more than 10 ways for someone to opt in, whereas three-quarters provide just 1-3 ways.
  • As incentives for opting in, marketers tend to provide offers with perceived high value and low cost to them:
    • 88 percent offer newsletter subscription
    • 29 percent offer access to preferred content
    • 24 percent offer discounts/coupons
    • 22 percent offer some kind of contest
    • One-third of marketers do no segmenting at opt-in.

    Opt-out

    • 30 percent of marketers don’t pass along opt-in names to other systems (e.g., CRM)
    • 65 percent don’t pass along subscribers opt-outs to other systems.
    • Among third-party apps, CRM systems lead the way in receiving opt-in/out information:

     

    eroi-email-unsubscribes-passed-to-other-systems.jpg

    • After an opt-out occurs, over one-third of email marketers send a confirmation email.
    • Almost 90 percent of email marketers do not survey unsubscribers at the time of opt-out, whereas such surveys can provide invaluable insight about the reasons for opting out.

    Feedback Loop

    • Nearly one-quarter of email marketers don’t know what’s done with abuse complaints received via their email service provider or internet service providers (feedback loop).
    • Only about half of email marketers monitor feedback loops.

Email best practices: from 2005 to today

May 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/19074.asp

Our resident email guru looks back at email best practices from 2005 and finds that many still hold — with some tweaks.

The other day I was working on some slides for a seminar, and I happened to come across a presentation on deliverability that I gave to several clients back in 2005. Just for laughs, I opened it up to see how far we have come in the last three years.

Much to my surprise, we are still talking about many of the same issues that were relevant back then. So it got me thinking: How is it that an entire industry has sprung up to counsel marketers on deliverability and still not much has changed? Are people actually listening to the advice that those in my profession are offering up?

Actually, the 10 deliverability tips that I covered in that 2005 presentation provide a good context for discussing how deliverability factors have changed — if at all. So, I have provided them here, along with my thoughts on whether they are still relevant, and if so, how we’re doing with adopting them.

Tip 1: Ensure you are not operating an open relay.
Update: This item is still a hot button for many ISPs as they try to get the upper hand in the fight against spam. The real spammers use these open relays for their bot-nets. The good news is that this isn’t an issue for most of my clients; however, it’s still a good point to remember and check on a regular basis.

Tip 2: Check to make sure that reverse DNS is working.
Update: It amazes me that this is still needed — if your reverse DNS is not set up and working correctly, you are bound to run into some serious delivery issues. Today, clients are picking up on this, but it’s still an issue that comes up on a regular basis.

Tip 3: Inventory all “From” names and addresses used by your organization for outbound email.
Update: This issue has not gone away, and it’s particularly problematic for companies with numerous divisions that do their own thing in regards to email. They often aren’t talking to each other, so no one really knows what the other divisions are doing. Regardless of your size, you need to put this inventory process into your routine system checks.

Tip 4: Perform an assessment of all your domains AND sub-domains.
Update: This item is closely related to the previous tip on “From” addresses. It’s still very important to know everything that is going out from your company — whether it’s from a different division or class of mail — such as transactional, event-triggered or other service-based message.

Tip 5: Determine your organization’s top 10 domains.
Update: This tip remains evergreen. Without knowing who is getting your emails, how can you know where to focus your time if deliverability issues arise? Fortunately, I’m encountering fewer clients who haven’t done their homework in that department. That might be because people are actually taking the time to look at this information, or because they are just assuming who their top 10 are based on published ISP ranking statistics.

Tip 6: If you don’t already publish authentication methods — start.
Update: Authentication is a way for the ISPs to know who you are and verify that the mail coming from you is valid. The number of companies that are still not authenticating their mail surprises me. There is no excuse not to. Authentication is easy and has a big impact on deliverability.

Tip 7: Begin preparing to implement Domain Keys/DKIM.
Update: This is in direct relation to tip 6. When I first wrote these tips, Domain Keys were just starting to make headway in the industry, and the DKIM specs were not yet complete. Today, senders should be publishing both Domain Keys and DKIM, as the number of ISPs that are checking for these authentication methods continues to increase.

Tip 8: Implement deliverability monitoring tools.
Update: Those of you who know me know how strongly I believe in testing. There are so many good tools out there, why wouldn’t you use them? Even so, on a regular basis, I hear from senders who claim that the cost of these tools is too high. Well if that is the case, I have to wonder what tools they are looking at, because the tools that I know are fairly priced across the board. Additionally, once you look at the potential ROI from using these tools, the cost is extremely low.

Tip 9: Determine if you need to establish message-throttling rules.
Update: Many ISPs use throttling rates to help reduce the amount of spam that comes through their system, so understanding these are very important. Fortunately, this is another area where senders have made progress, thanks to ESPs who have embraced it, technology solutions that have it built in, and ambitious marketers who regularly monitor this information and make adjustments accordingly.

Tip 10: Regularly monitor most common real-time blacklists.
Update: Many smaller ISPs and corporations still use blacklists as a way to fight spam. While this has become less important than sender reputation, making sure to check the major blacklists is still a smart move for senders.

In summary, this little exercise shows that, for the most part, the best practices we were talking about three years ago still apply. If you make sure to follow through with them, you should continue to improve your deliverability.

Good luck and good sending.

‘Permission Email’ Appreciated, but a Good Chunk Ends up Junked

May 2, 2008

58 percent of consumers say email is a great way for companies to stay in touch (up from 45 percent a year ago), but only 77 percent of invited email successfully make it to the inbox, according to (pdf) an email study by Harris Interactive (with Merkle) and another by Lyris, Inc (via MarketingCharts).

Permission-based email marketing (PEM — and sometimes dubbed ‘bacn‘) refers to updates, offers and information that consumers volunteer to receive.

Among the findings of the study:

  • Consumers spend 21 percent of email time with PEM emails, third behind work emails (23 percent) and emails from friends and family (43 percent):

merkle-lyris-email-marketing-percent-of-time-spent-with-email-by-category.jpg

  • Email effectiveness has improved three percentage points from last year – half of respondents made an online purchase in the previous year as a result of PEM.
  • Some 88 percent of consumers feel mostly or completely in control of their inboxes, compared with 79 percent who said so in 2004.
  • Companies that do a good job with email can influence consumer decisions to do business with them – half of respondents said so, up 6 percent points from last year. (Poor email practices, however, caused about one-third (32 percent) of respondents to stop doing business with at least one company.)
  • Transaction emails (e.g., purchase receipts, shipping notices) are the most relevant (“worth reading”), followed by account summary emails – 41 percent and 18 percent, respectively, consider them “worth reading”).

Still, nearly one out of every five (18 percent) of permission-based email messages sent to US-based ISPs lands in the junk/bulk mail folders, according to an email deliverability study from Lyris, Inc.

Inbox delivery rates among ISPs vary significantly:

  • At 93 percent, AIM.com has the highest inbox delivery rate in the US, closely followed by RoadRunner SoCal (92 percent):

merkle-lyris-email-marketing-top-10-domains-by-inbox-deliverability.jpg

  • Just 57 percent of Hotmail’s delivered messages reach the inbox, making it second from the bottom among all ISPs in the study.

US ISPs most likely to send invited email to the junk/bulk mail folder include…

  • XO Concentric (62 percent of its total delivered permission-based messages were sent to the junk mail folder)
  • SBC Global (23 percent).
  • MSN Network, Hotmail and Yahoo (all around 21 percent).

AOL, on the other hand, has just 1.2 percent of its delivered email landing in the junk mail folder.

Globally, European ISPs had the highest percentage of junk mail delivery at 19.4 percent, compared with the US (17.5 percent) Canada (14.2 percent) and Australia (10.4 percent).

“ISPs base much of their delivery decisions on a sender’s reputation – and that reputation is governed primarily by how often that sender’s recipients click the ‘Report as Spam’ button for its messages,” said Blaine Mathieu, SVP of marketing, Lyris, Inc. “Marketers can improve delivery by better managing their relationships with their subscribers – to reduce those spam button clicks.”

Other ways to avoid being marked as spam are to be aware of what content filters tend to trigger as “red flag” emails. The top three most frequently triggered* were emails that…

  • Contained images with little to no text, garnering the highest measured penalty score of 3.6.
  • Had a “from” name that wasn’t real – a 0.96 penalty.
  • Were 60 percent or more HTML – a 0.29 penalty.

merkle-lyris-email-marketing-top-10-most-common-seen-spam-characteristics.jpg

*Lyris ran 1,716 unique emails from the sample through a content score application using the Spam Assassin rule set to see how they measure against ISP spam filters.

About the studies: Merkle conducted the sixth annual “View From the Inbox” study in conjunction with Harris Interactive, interviewing 2,512 U.S. adults age 18+ who check and/or send email at least once a week.

The Lyris HQ “ISP Deliverability Report Card” for Q4 ’07 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31) is the result of its EmailAdvisor’s monitored full delivery trajectories of 436,558 production level, permission-based email marketing messages sent from 69 businesses and nonprofit organizations to multiple accounts at 59 ISP domains in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

A roadmap to creative success

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Tiffany Young

Part of what makes a campaign work is appropriateness of media and message for each stage of the purchase process. Here’s how to map it out.

I recently judged an online advertising competition and I found a very clear distinction between the great work and the rest of the work. The great online ads were few and far between — even in a competition in which agencies submitted their best efforts — because doing great work is difficult (no surprise).

As I looked at the best ads, here’s what I noticed: The very best ads surprised me. And while they were unexpected, they were not irrelevant or unfocused. Most were inventive without being obtuse. They were approachable and appropriate for their target audience. And finally, the very best ads engaged consumers by putting them in control of interactivity.

So those are some simple tips, right? Easy peasy! Just go out there and invent a campaign that’s surprisingly relevant and approachable while being fun and engaging. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning.

The beauty of online advertising is that it encompasses so much. But this can also be the ugly part. Many media plans are presented with an emphasis on rich media. All the “other stuff” like newsletters, contextual content and keywords are often treated like value-adds, because they cost less or require less time to produce.

By emphasizing the most expensive online media, it’s easy to mistake the “other stuff” as unimportant. But each component of a comprehensive online media plan is an important piece of a puzzle that can help bring consumers from awareness to purchase. Taking time to map each piece to the purchase continuum can help your creative teams craft messaging that resonates with consumers right where they are, both emotionally and in terms of how much information they have about your brand.

It seems like common sense, but I don’t see it done that often. I imagine media plans as road maps for consumers. If I get each piece of communication right in a comprehensive online media campaign, I give consumers driving directions from where they are to where I want them to be.

So let’s start with the first turn on the map: awareness.

Run-of-site and run-of-network display ads can help build awareness of your brand through multiple impressions. These ads shouldn’t be complicated. If a consumer doesn’t know about you yet, he’s probably not going to drill down into multiple tabs of an expandable rich-media ad unit. Focus on a simple, compelling message that catches the attention of consumers and leaves them with a good impression of your brand.

Now as for relevance, section placements and e-newsletters place your brand in the context of something consumers choose to view. For instance, say they’re reading a home furnishings blog. You could serve a geo-targeted display or text ad for your brand that tells them “hey remember me? You just met me. Guess what, I’m in your area — funny huh? Yeah I’m totally relevant now.” This is also the point at which to share more of your brand with consumers. Splurge on the rich-media ads with more interactivity and information for these types of media placements wherever possible.

Moving along the purchase continuum, consumers eventually get to preference. They know you, they know you’re relevant to them and in their area now, but they have other options. When they search for products like yours, the search results they get should give them a reason to prefer your brand over the others. Are you better, cheaper, faster, more exclusive or more fun? Make sure your search results tell consumers why you’re the best option.

When consumers are interested in you and your brand, you’re in a great position. Unfortunately, many brands drop the ball at this point. A media plan doesn’t normally include what happens after consumers click, so it’s easy to get caught up in planning and forget to fulfill your end of the deal. Give consumers a compelling, relevant landing page to take the next step towards purchase. Make sure they’re glad they met you, and then make it easy for them to get what they want.

Lastly, once you’ve made it easy for consumers to purchase, utilize that success by putting measures in place to analyze your website. Make sure you’re set up to track results so you can garner the most learning for next time. Remember that a consumer’s first purchase can be the beginning of a long-term relationship, or it can also be her last purchase. Strong analysis is key to turning more first-time buyers into lasting, loyal customers.

By mapping creative executions and your media plan to the purchase continuum you can get the most out of every bit of your media budget while giving consumers a great online experience with your brand.

Get higher open rates with the right welcome

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Lindsey Secord

Do unto others
There is an unspoken rule of expectation that when someone greets you with “good morning,” you will cordially respond. It is taught at an early age that being polite and courteous is the only way to interact with those around us.

The business of email marketing thrives on this same principle of polite reciprocation. Whether we are looking to inform customers about a new product or thank them for their business, the majority of our work relies on their ability to respond — as well as our own. Personalization, subscription benefits and offers, setting subscriber expectations, introducing your brand and using viral marketing are all components that help create a successful welcome email.

In fact, the Email Experience Council, part of the DMA, recently released its 2007 Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study, which shows that welcome emails have significantly higher open rates than regular emails, although one quarter of the retailers surveyed do not use this critical tool. Despite the industry that your organization is a part of, sending a welcome email is an overall best practice that also confirms the email without requiring a double opt-in.

Consumers want to feel as though the information they are providing you with is going to be valued and put to good use. Quickly sending a personalized HTML-formatted welcome response is a giant leap in the right direction. Below is an example of an actual welcome email I received that rubbed me the wrong way for many obvious reasons — spelling errors, missing line breaks and technical jargon. Experiencing this type of response from a company that I graciously gave my personal information to made me realize just how important a well-crafted welcome email really is to any new B2C relationship.

Thank you for signing up for the Millsberry community! This message was automatically generated based upon a signup occuring with this email address. If you did not signup for Millsberry, please disregard this email, you will not receive another from us.+—————————————————| Account Details:| Login: xxxxxx| Password: xxxxxx+—————————————————Thank You,-Millsberry Management