Some More Tip on Writing Emails

You owe an online business and you know that to make money you need a list of people, a list of passionate buyers who are hungry for your offer and will devour it when you send it out.

How do you create such a list? And even more important how do you maintain your list of prospects? It’s not as easy as you probably thought at first. You must have a squeeze page where people opt in to your list. On that page you should tell your prospects that the information they provide will be kept private and that they will receive only the newsletters they subscribe to but not a whole lot of spam from different sources.

Don’t forget to use the double opt in model because people may not remember that they opted in to your list. Using the double opt-in method you ensure that all people on your list gave you the permission to send them your emails. Your auto-responder email messages should be mini sales letters including a solid content to keep your list subscribed. And finally, you want to send the emails at a regular basis, but not too often, so your subscribers don’t forget who you are, or worse, get overwhelmed by your messages.

It requires much time, testing and measuring to choose the right email marketing strategy and set it up in the right way but it is well worth the efforts in the end.

Let’s talk now about 3 simple but incredibly important rules to set you on the right path with the email newsletter:

1. Keep the lines width up to 65 characters.

Most people read many emails every day. So, your purpose is to compose your email message so that it is not boring or fatiguing to read. The last thing that your recipient wants to do is scrolling his eyes from one side of the screen to the other. No matter how good your content is, if it is fatiguing to read, it risks to be abandoned after a few lines.

The optimum width of the line is around 65 characters.

You just type 65 symbols, for example asterisks or dashes, across the top and then measure your text returns against this. MS Outlook Express, NoteTab and some other email programs allow you set the line wrap to any character width you require. So, you don’t have to hit enter every time you think you need to.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some email programs force line wrapping at 60 to 65 characters on emails received. So if you send an email wrapped at 100 characters your reader will receive an email that is broken down. This makes it look unprofessional.

2. Don’t write in ALL CAPS.

It’s bad email etiquette. It’s like you’re shouting at your reader. Nobody likes to be shouted at and if you are trying to sell something at the same time, you won’t make any sales, and even worse, you may lose some subscribers.

Some caps, underlining and bolding is necessary but don’t abuse it! Too many caps, exclamation points, underlining and bolding work against you. An email all in caps would destroy the reader’s confidence very quickly.

3. Check your spelling and grammar.

Have you ever seen a website, sales page or email with spelling mistakes? What do you think about the professionalism of the owner or email sender?

Some people may not pay attention to the mistakes, but for some people one spelling mistake will completely destroy the credibility of the message.

It is very important to spell check your messages before sending them. And even better if you have someone else to proof read your message before you send it out. A fresh look always helps discover the slips and mistakes that you might miss. Your reputation and sales are in direct proportion with your messages. The better your message is, the higher the credibility of your readers is and, thus, more sales you make. So, take the time to get it absolutely right.

Google Gmail – Marketing Best Practices

Should you be concerned about Gmail’s unique features? Will these features affect your email display and delivery rates? With Gmail’s record-setting popularity, you definitely need to take a few moments to go through this whitepaper – after all, getting your messages to subscribers’ Gmail inboxes is more important today than ever before.

Read the complete whitepaper

Data is Dead long live Data

“Data is Dead long live Data” Adrian Thorne 14/02/2007 09.46

As I’ve said before, Acquisition B2C emails and buying data may well be dead!
It can hurt your reputation, with customers, potential customers and ISPs. Especially nower-days when emails don’t really get in the inbox without you being in their address book. You really have to throw a lot of money at a basic acquisition campaign to get any kind of return ie: Indie Field.

The best way to get in the inbox and to be trusted is have your email sent by a recipient’s friend.
Yes, you know what I’m going to say – Viral – calm down, calm down, I know you can’t deliberately do a viral email blah blah blah!

Once you’re in the inbox, you’ve then got to get that new recipient’s email address.

To harvest emails, you want the List Builder Interface on an account, with the send to a friend subscribe switched on.

Then you have to offer that new recipient something… this is where the flash microsite come in!!!

You want to send an offer to all your current customers offering them something, either a really interesting, interactive, dynamic flash web site that they will want to send to a friend, or something material – bribery – for doing it, eg: send this to 5 friends and get something.

Then you have to convince the friends to subscribe

Well it’s one perspective any way!

Top 10 Online Marketing Predictions for 2007

Top 10 Online Marketing Predictions for 2007
by Ryan Buchanan
February 13, 2007

With 2007 in full swing, here are our predictions for the rest of the year to come. In prior years we have given you a mix of business and personal lifestyle predictions, but this year we’re sticking to just the online marketing world.

We busted out our omniscient crystal ball, and this is what it told us:

10. Social networking will get more and more niche. Social Networking has blanketed the news for the past 18 months because it works. YouTube and MySpace have built loyal communities through entertaining user-generated content and great tools for communicating with other like-minded people.

However, Social Networking is going NICHE. People use specific tools to connect, recommend, rate, and communicate within their niche groups. For this reason, there are many types of Social Media now and there will be five times this many by the end of next year:

  • B2C: MySpace, Facebook, Gaia, Friendster, Second Life
  • B2B: LinkedIn, Jigsaw
  • Search: Digg, Delicious, Wink, Technorati
  • Shopping: Wists, ThisNext, Woot
  • Expert Communities: Blogs, Wikis
  • Mapping: Geosearch
  • Video: YouTube, TurnHere, Splashcast
  • Images: Flickr

9. Viral campaign Web sites will have a purpose. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been forwarded hundreds of quirky sites that are experimenting with viral marketing and have no further purpose whatsoever. There are no calls to action or indications as to why these sites exist.

A few examples of pointless viral sites: Patron’s SimplyPerfect, eROI’s WearShortShorts, and CareerBuilder’s popular Monk-e-Mail. Next year will feature more substantial viral campaign sites, like Philips’s ShaveEverywhere, PassportToFlavor from Kettle Foods, and Snakes on a Plane.

8. User-generated content will be a component on most new Web sites. Many companies are just starting to realize the great potential of Web sites with user-generated content that enable customers co-create with their brands. Ultimately, allowing users to post their stories through text, images, and video helps to build community and long-term brand loyalty. In short, it works, and companies large (Diesel-U-Music) and small (Dunderdon Workspace) will employ this strategy much more frequently next year.

7. Email marketers will demand more strategy from their marketing agencies. From the client-side email marketer’s perspective, there are only minor differences between the top email marketing software platforms. Email marketers will demand to know more advanced strategies for their email programs by asking questions like these: How does this email render in the default settings of the different email environments (AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)? What content shows up above and below the fold on the email preview? What content and call to action will really resonate with my target audience? How can I be a resource and still convert click-throughs into qualified leads?

6. Great content is king. Quality content is more important now than ever before. Each of us receives dozens of email newsletters daily. There are over 100 million viewings daily on YouTube. One in twenty visits on the Web is to a social networking site where new content is generated every second. There is a glut of content, and it’s only going to get more crowded.

The key point worth noting is that the few companies providing great content are huge winners because of all of the online and offline marketing channels that work together in a sort of crescendo effect, amplifying the messaging of well-positioned brands. Word-of-mouth spreads so much faster than it used to through blogs, iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, Web sites, and online press.

Fans of the TV program “Grey’s Anatomy” can convert nonbelievers because the content of the show is good enough to keep them once they’ve heard about it. The opposite holds true of “Snakes on a Plane,” which had a huge online following but bombed at the box office because the content sucked. Keep this in mind when strategizing and implementing your next viral marketing site or email campaign.

5. Most successful companies will become media companies. Microsoft became a media company when it began its blogging program a couple years ago. The lawyers lost and marketers won; revealing the inside scoop at Microsoft was virtually the only thing that has healed the company’s battered reputation.

More and more companies are starting their own blogs, helping them to become more relevant and newsworthy to a greater audience within their niche. Blogging has essentially forced companies to step into their customers’ shoes and provide them with more industry knowledge and news rather than simply ramming products down their throats.

4. The Democrat majority in Congress swings the tide of online marketing. Marketers will push the envelope far more aggressively in 2007 now that the fear of death by Republican firing squad has been reduced. Moral depravity will run rampant in advertising, and the largely Democratic online marketers will revel in the end-result of their twisted creative brains.

3. Greater integration of video into all Web sites. When I last visited the homepage of CRM juggernaut, I was immediately struck by how quickly the video flash piece engaged me. Video is not just for TV and YouTube anymore. The ShaveEverywhere site proved that the use of video within viral sites is hugely engaging and effective in converting sales.

We will see many more large, medium-sized, and small businesses integrate video into their primary and campaign Web sites in 2007. One trend we will likely see will be an increase in the use of “webisodes,” 3-5 minute daily or weekly video clips that entice users to come back to sites for more all-Web programming.

2. Email mantra: list segmentation + relevant content = improved results. eROI published an email study in early 2006 showing a direct correlation between smaller, more relevant lists and higher open and click through rates. Instead of sending all emails to a Main List of all of their contacts, marketers are starting to segment their lists into product categories, service categories, press lists, webinar lists, etc.

Marketers who fail to take the extra hour or two to do this list segmentation every 3-6 months will see continued email list fatigue and a resulting drop in performance. Emailers will learn that content needs to focus less on selling a product and talking at recipients, and more on talking with recipients. Updating email content and starting a conversation will be more important than ever as people move toward seeing their inboxes as sacred places that they don’t want violated by one-way advertising messages.

1. Thoughtful, cause-related marketing is the biggest winner in 2007. Pay attention. If you do this right, you will put your company on the map—and make the world a better place. This may just be the best business advice you get all year: Ask your coworker, your department, your entire company what one nonprofit they want to support—and throw a lot of energy behind it. Better yet, co-create a new program or new event with an existing, reputable nonprofit, and you’ll see that your employees, customers, and prospects, as well as your kids and your spouse, will help you take this cause, and indirectly your company, to the next level.

The best example of this is a brand we used to take for granted: Dove. Dove launched “The Campaign for Real Beauty” and let the fact be known that the company no longer simply sells soap. Dove is now so much more than a set of commodity products. Dove sells real beauty; natural beauty; non-superficial beauty.

The Campaign for Real Beauty Web site features a one-minute film that shows the transformation of an average-looking woman into a strikingly gorgeous supermodel. Only by seeing this process can we truly comprehend the illusion of what are, essentially, fabricated dream girls.

The beauty of this site is that it doesn’t end with just awareness of the problem. It launches immediately into an actionable item for 8-12-year-old girls to sign up for Dove’s real beauty workshops. The workshops teach girls about the importance of identifying beauty within themselves in the pre-teen years, before the peer pressure to be like the mythical supermodel drives them to anorexia or bulimia.

A couple of years ago, eROI began its own partnership with Portland-based nonprofit, Friends of the Children, by co-creating an event called Friends Art Fair. In just two years, the event has raised $55,000 and has garnered 2.5 million media impressions thru email marketing channels, print media, and media sponsor KPTV Fox 12 News.

Image-Blocking Scorecard, Part 2

Visible Headlines

Headlines can make or break an e-mail. They can engage readers immediately or send them to the next message. Something I’ve been adamant about since mid-2004 is formatting headlines in rich text rather than images. That way, you’re 100 percent certain they’re seen, even if images are suppressed. I’m surprised more folks aren’t in my camp on this.

Only 43 percent of the messages viewed had a headline I could read when images were suppressed. I defined headline pretty broadly. Basically, I was looking for a brief phrase that wasn’t in an alt tag that told me what the e-mail was about. In many cases, there was no text visible at all, just a field of red x’s.

Of the B2B e-mail messages, 64 percent had headlines I could read; only 25 percent of B2C messages met this same standard. If recipients don’t know what the message is about, what’s their incentive to download the images? This is why having a headline that’s visible, even when the images aren’t, is useful.

Call to Action in the Preview Pane

Another best practice I strive to incorporate into all my work is a viable call to action in the preview pane. By viable I mean clickable. If readers skim the reading pane and are sold, they can take the next step without having to scroll.

But if the call to action is an image, readers can’t see it. That big “Order Now” button is nice… until it morphs into a red “x.” Even the “click here” alt tag doesn’t quite do it.

In my study, only 33 percent of the messages had a call to action that was readily recognizable with suppressed images. Either the visual call-to-action image was blocked in the other 67 percent or there wasn’t one that appeared in the preview pane at all. It was hard to tell.

B2B messages again came out on top, with 50 percent including a non-image call to action in the reading pane, compared to just 19 percent of B2C e-mail messages viewed.

Link to View Online

Back before HTML e-mail (yes, I know I’m showing my age!), we used to send plain-text e-mail and include a link to view the content on the Web. That went out of fashion when HTML came along, but it returned when image suppression became common. Giving the reader a link to view the e-mail online provides a one-click way to view images. It’s a quick, if somewhat primitive, way around image blocking.

Again, I was surprised how few e-mail marketers take advantage of this simple idea. Only 27 percent of the e-mail I looked at included a link like this in the reading pane. The B2C group was ahead here with 38 percent, compared to just 14 percent of B2B marketers who included this feature for readers.

The traditional location for this type of message is the very top of the message; it usually appears in plain text in a small font. Placement may be changing (see my column on snippets for why), but for now this is where most marketers include it.

Request for safelisting

This is another oft-cited best practice for deliverability, but one few seem to be taking advantage of. In the sample, only 27 percent of e-mail included language at the top of the message (same location as the “view online” link) asking readers to safelist the sender. No B2B marketers made this request, and only 50 percent of the B2C messages included it.

In addition to keeping the e-mail you send out of the junk folder, Office 2003 and other programs for which image blocking is the default show e-mail images from senders that appear in the recipient’s contact list. It’s just one more reason to make the request and to make sure you’re sending from a single sender address so readers need only add you to their contact lists once, not repeatedly. (Many of these programs work off e-mail addresses, not domains, though Outlook 2003 gives readers the choice. Don’t count on recipients knowing the difference.)

Ability to Communicate Without Images

This is the big one. If the images in your e-mail are suppressed (and the recipient doesn’t download them), is the message still delivered? If it is, you’re good. If not, it’s a waste of time, money, and effort on your part.

I used a scale of 0 to 3 to rank each message:

* 3 = Message was delivered loud and clear, even without images.

* 2 = Basic information on offer was visible.

* 1 = Basic information on sender, but not offer, was visible.

* 0 = Without images, the reader has no clue what the e-mail is about.

The average rank for my sample was 1.4. Here’s the breakdown:

* 17 percent (all B2B) of the messages earned the top rank of 3.0, an A.

* 34 percent scored a 2.0, a B.

* 20 percent (all B2C) landed at 1.0, a C.

* 30 percent were a big goose egg with a 0.0 rank, an F.

B2B messages fared far better than B2C messages, garnering an average rank of 1.8 (C+) compared to just 1.0 (let’s call it a solid C). No B2C e-mail earned a 3.0; 31 percent rated a 0.0, with the same percentage garnering a 2.0. On the B2B side, the 3.0 ranking went to 36 percent of the sample; 29 percent were in the 0 zone.

Study Finds Consumers Consistently Deceived by Phishing Messages

Study conducted by ICONIX finds that users opened one of every six spoofed messages linked to phishing scams.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., — February 5, 2007 — ICONIX, Inc., the leading provider of visual email identification solutions, today announced results from an end-user study which found that on average, email users opened one in six phishing messages — fake email messages created to defraud consumers. The study also found that consumers’ tendency to open spoof messages varied widely according to the type of message. Open rates ranged from a high of one in four fake messages claiming to be from social networks to a low of one in ten fake messages purportedly from dating services.

The study included 10,557 participants, and was conducted during a six month time period from May-October 2006. Results of the study, which recorded actual email behavior, were categorized into eight segments based on the type of message received. The open rate of spoofed messages breaks down as follows:

  • Social networks – 24.9%
  • E-cards – 17.1%
  • Payment – 16.2%
  • Financial – 15.5%
  • Auction – 14.7%
  • Info – 12.9%
  • Retail – 12.1%
  • Dating – 9.5%

“It’s no secret that phishing attacks have significantly increased during the past few months,” said Jeff Wilbur, vice president of marketing for ICONIX. “What is surprising is how effective the phishers are at motivating users to open spoofed messages. Based on the industry estimates that 59 million phishing messages are sent per day, our study indicates that as many as 10 million fake messages may be opened per day, creating huge risk for people receiving the messages. It’s also interesting to see that social networks and e-cards top the list of open rates for spoof messages, indicating to us that users need to be cautious, regardless of the type of messages they receive. As phishing becomes more sophisticated and pervasive, it’s easy for even the most discriminating email users to fall victim to such attacks.”

Find the survey here