EmailRadio: Gmail Priority Inbox & Social Email

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As I write this I realise, I haven’t written anything since this time last week – I’m turning into the email radio journalist 😐 Not really, I’ve put a few things on Pure360‘s blog and there are more to come, I’ll link to them soon enough, anyway…

This week’s Email Radio was meant to be all about the effects of social media with and on email marketing, unfortunately we couldn’t kick right in because of today’s trending news about Gmail’s Priority Inbox.
The guys briefly discussed it with a short description of what it does; there are plenty of posts about it, mine should be on the Pure360 resource pages tomorrow although I’m not sue if it’ll be a blog or an insight.
The chat room for the first 5 mins or so was busy with it too. How it affects email marketing, if at all:

  • LGlasner: How do clicks factor into that rating system? What if I do reply but often click in the marketing messages?
  • Dylan Boyd: Same note what will happen when Google starts making decisions for you and you start missing emails that you want? Will the JUNK folder be opened more in order to find them? Will inbox scrolling happen more?
  • fourpster: Because Google were trialling that auto-image load on emails that you have replied to twice, I think one reply will carry more than one click.
  • Dylan Boyd: So what % of real estate or concern will we give this new education in gmail? and will smart marketers only tell gmail users or “blast to all” and educate across the board?
  • remybergsma: Dylan: on this new GMail feature – I think it will be gradual, and most email marketers don’t know how to respond to it, yet.
  • Jeff: priority email: marketers and email marketers will need to do more to educate, teach the user and set the expectations as much and as soon as poss.


Then we plugged into DJ Waldow from Blue Sky Factory for his social & email focus which is called SWYN (pr. swinn) which stands for Share With Your Network: sherlock 🙂

Initially we were talked through the share tracking capabilities, which can track individual shares from email recipients; the reporting can then show how many people that were not on your list saw the content and how many potential subscribers you could have. Also his can show the people on your list who share the most and who are the most influential.

I didn’t get to find out if the tracking was able to report on the difference between people who share the most content, ie: frequency of share OR the people who get the most clicks: quality of share. For instance someone might share every email they get but only 3 clicks per share; someone else might only share one in 5 emails but they might get 20 clicks every time; which one’s more influential?

Either way, you do get an idea of who your fans and ambassadors are, however you might qualify them. These are the people who should then retarget with rewards and offers as they can do the most marketing for you.

Essentially, every time someone shares from your email, a new bit.ly link is created and saved against that email campaign and the recipient’s email address – this way you can see who shared what and how many clicks each person’s share got. In a more advanced level you could scour twitter’s live feed for repeats of it to see who retweeted but I believe API access to twitter at that level is expensive and it is how twitter pays the bills, so you’ve have to parse it manually and may not be worth the effort or maybe it is?

DJ suggested offering incentives to follow and like etc.

I’m always wary of incentivised sign-ups because people who want something for nothing are not always valuable and I’d rather reward instead of incentivise. Of course with social, there is less to lose than with email. When there are incentives to sign-up to an email list, people will not always give you their best email address, or their own email address if it stands between them and a freebie – definitely worth watching out for – if you are tempted to do an incentive for newsletter sign-up do make sure you do a double opt-in.

Of course as the host rightly stated, you don’t always have to give away a car to generate a response, you can be slight like a bagel coupon as DJ suggested.

DJ then spoke about how people are only half doing the social thing; asking people to follow them and become fans but when someone clicks through and gets there only to find that the brand hasn’t update their status for two months – what’s the point in all of that effort when it has no follow through?

DJ said that some people can easily get over whelmed by the amount of work they perceive they need to do but it’s not that much work. It’s ok to only update once a day, you don’t need to make it a full time time job.

Our host chipped in with: “If you’re running a bakery, you’d better have fresh bread every day” – fair point!

DJ also felt it important to make the comparison between ‘like this’ and ‘like us’. You can ask people to share your content for what you are offering in each bit of content or to tell people to follow your brand because you are worth staying in touch with.
Jeff was also on the phone and made an interesting point which, he declared may be old school but doubted he was the only person with the same point of view: Some people are of the opinion that there is an exclusivity and a privilege that comes with being on certain lists. The level of trust that they have given to the sender puts them in a kind of exclusive club and SWYN activity takes that away from the list, muddies the water so to speak. Jeff asked if there was anyway to then keep that subscriber list focussed.

DJ countered with the question of what the goal of the email campaign was in the first place? What was the end goal? If it was to sell a product, get people to register for an event or simply sign-up for another newsletter, surely SWYN would get that in front of even more people and make you more money or get more registrations, does it really matter where is comes from?

When I think about the point of view where there is that level of exclusivity of being on that list, that exclusivity is made by the recipients; unless there is some kind of check the list manager does on the people who sign-up to allow them on or unless there is no sign-up form and it’s invitation only.

The perspective I was left with was a level of pretentiousness about being on that list. People who would be on a list with that kind of exclusivity like this would be on it to know things that others don’t so they can be in the know, get an advantage, tell others and appear knowledgeable etc. These kinds of people would not share anyway. The kind of people who would pay for content because it is exclusive.

To be honest, I can see no in between: either you let anyone who wants on the list or you close it – much like Dylan Boyd protecting his tweets and wanting to approve anyone who he shares his tweets with. That is a closed list, Dylan chooses who to allow on and I doubt he kicked Mark Brownlow off for retweeting him the other day and I do know he has approved me getintheinbox and he hasn’t approved my application as fourpster but that is his prerogative. I won’t let list owners friend captain inbox on facebook. I’m only friends with people I’ve know or have know socially in facebook, there’s nothing wrong with that but I believe you have cannot have your cake and eat it – or kick the gift horse in the teeth.
Jeff also put forward the suggestion that SWYN may not build a quality list. It is a fair point, you can spend a lot of time making sure you have a list of people who stay emotionally subscribed to your content and a share would grow your list from one good recommendation but because of the reasons why they got to the list, these new people will not give the engagement you want or are used to. What should you do? Change your style of writing, change the way you deliver you product to suit the new ‘fickle masses’? I say No you shouldn’t. Don’t change a thing, if your sign-up and welcome process is worth any salt you’ll rid yourself of the chaff on the way through and then by doing your usual check for emotional unsubscribes and taking them out for different targeting, you should be able to find the people who are dragging down your open and click rates.

Peter chirped in to add “people know their own network, it’s the exposure that you would not normally to people who might not always want it”.
Now this is the point of it all: Content aggregation! Thank you Peter.

Content aggregation is one of the strengths of social media, each person tends to know their network – they are connected because they are alike somehow. People rely on their network to aggregate content for them.

I follow the Mark Brownlow on twitter, not because he consistently amuses me with his flippant yet insightful remarks on life but because he does a load of research on email marketing, reads everything that everyone else writes, does his own testing and only publishes what he think is relevant. Mark aggregates content for me so I follow him because I know it’ll always be interesting – including the occasional flippant yet insightful remarks on life 🙂

I also don’t think that you will lose out on the exclusivity from the list through SWYN. Yes, you may get more people jumping on the incentives shared through SWYN and not signing up for your emails but If you content is consistently good they will of course sign-up because they will want to get the good stuff directly and not wait for a retweet or FB-like.

DJ made the point, very well that there is a chance that the subscriber list’s privileges are not as special as they used to be but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Our Host added support by stating that lines are blurry now in on-line media; people don’t always remember the source just the content and the source crosses over between their morning commuter paper, their social network feed and their inbox.

It’s been this way between TV and print for a long time now, only lately with the same content being available on the internet and viewed through mobile devices are these old and new lines crossing over as one – just content.


Dylan Boyd asked in the chat room: Has anyone been thinking about what impact or no impact SWYN has on people on mobild device inboxes?
Does it work there? Are people using the social sharing or engagement tools when they read on mobile devces? Where does sharing content happen most?

DJ answered that they don’t know if it is mobile or desktop at the moment. It probably is too inconvenient to SWYN on a mobile compared to a PC, maybe because of the multiple logins.

Most people agreed that due to the inability to move between apps on iphones, the level of SWYN possible for iphone users is not possible at the level we’d like. Although there was a consensus that Android can handle it.
Finally DJ made reference to his wife in a very important point that so many marketers can miss due to their focussed perspective: His wife was constantly hitting spam on emails from a brand she did not like, even though she had signed up to them a while back. On asking why she informed him that it is because she hates them and they will never have her business, she does not want them in her inbox and consequently always marks them as spam.
In relation to email and brand trust and experience: even if it is not spam, people can mark email as spam because of their dislike of the brand not because the sender has permission to send.

Whilst eventually DJ’s wife’s junk filter on her personal inbox will always send one brand’s email to junk, their sending reputation could be negatively affected but not through bad practice, surely that’s unfair.
We know that, we’re in the game but recipients don’t care to even find out the cause and effect. The brand has done them harm in some way, so people take the negative one click route. Of course hitting unsubscribe would end the emails a lot quicker but it doesn’t feel as good whether you know the consequences or not.
I say just don’t piss people off in any way – try to make everyone a fan if you can!
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To summarise, another awesome Email Radio show, that chat room wasn’t quite as lively as it had been but as usual there was one star – the last few weeks it was Dennis Dayman cracking jokes and this week it was Dylan Boyd asking insightful questions whilst doing client work at the same time.

Net week we have two more heavy weights: (Dr.) Mark Brownlow and Bill McCloskey – who’s Clickz photo makes him look like Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder – that’s not supposed to be an insult by the way, it just does, it might be the black and white, his twitter photo doesn’t? 🙂

EmailRadio: Testing, Testing, Testing


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Really good show this week, especially as I missed most of last week’s due to late call from @profaniti who is awesome by the way and forgiven after buying me beers.

The main gist of this week was purposely improving and growing with what you’ve got.

VeticalResponse’s Kim Stiglitz was well clued up on creative testing:

Here is what I took away:

Have a good idea of what you want to achieve and what you expect to change before you test and then compare the result to what you expected – a hypothesis. I Haven’t used that word since science class at school.

Don’t test too much at once, you can’t measure what works if there are too many variables.

Subject lines, 50/50 split is good. Most decent ESPs will do that for you, some can even chose the best one after an hour.

Peheader text: elaborate on the subject line for the snippet text; about 2 years ago I called it trust earning text: it sometimes appears under or next to the subject line in the inbox to add more weight to it. Also it is the first thing a reader will see of your email and when the images are blocked, it can be vital for getting them loaded or the email loaded in a browser.

When testing different preheaders, monitor the open rate just like you would with the subject line.

You can also experiment with different links in the top, like your call to action- Mark Brownlow has also mentioned this on more than one occasion, hopefully he’ll read this and let us know which of his posts is best.

Also you could try anchor tags and see if that got more clicks from links lower in your email. I my opinion, if your email is so long that you need anchor tags – your email is too long.
Kim also let us know that button links for your call to action get better clicks that text links, that is definitely worth testing!
The guys also pointed out whichtestwon.com for some great ideas and real life examples. It can show how easily our own perceptions can be wrong when tested to the masses.

I also like the Post-Click / Conversion tracking from your call to action. All you need to do is know what you need to achieve: it could be money, sign-ups, downloads. Make sure you know what you want to measure makes is connected to what you want to achieve. Most good ESPs have the capability to track a recipient further into the web-site to a goal.

John Cadwell called in to say: “The best benchmarks to measure against are your own”. Fair point,  There are so many different categories if you spend time looking at what other people are doing you’ll forget to make your self better. Look at how you are doing and then chose what you want to improve.

The Email Guide guys said that if you’re getting less than 10% opens, start there and get that up.

I concur. I say aim for 20% if not already there. From that point onwards need to see why other people are not opening. You may find that there is a massive chunk of that list that has not opened in a long time, take them out straight away. You can target them differently once or twice more to see if you can wake them up.
Measure your clicks as a percentage of your opens. If you get a lower click through than opens not everyone is clicking through. That is a different problem mainly with your content and calls to action. That really depends on what your email is for:
Are you expecting people to click through or is most of your content in the email and any click through is a bonus?
Do you have a single call to action where it all should go through?

Unfortunately I didn’t really hear much from Poppy Thorpe, there didn’t seem to be a lot of call ins for the social side. However as an expert on the name Thorpe I can tell you that it’s Viking for Village. Her ancestors would have been founders or leaders of settlements!

In the chat room it was quite action packed:
With Peter in the chatroom @allwebemail had the sponsorship for the show with a couple of adds popping up. One with what sounded like a banjo in the background, kind of made me think of the theme tune to deliverance. I have since got a tweet to let me know it was apparently a mandolin or violins! Who’d have thunk it!

And I forgive which ever one of you swore.
Or ‘swar’, as I spelled it at the time, unfortunately my spelling guru was Dennis Dayman who wanted a “Bat Signal for every time a marketer did something stuipd” and thus fulfilled his own self fulfilling prophecy 🙂

The next shows also sound awesome, with DJ Waldow
This was said in the voice of a Circus Ring Leader introducing the Magician who’ll cut someone in half: “The Amazing DJ Waldow” – maybe you had to be there? and if you weren’t, why not, you should have been 🙂

Also mention of (Dr) Mark Brownlow soon too. Exiting times

World of War Craft GearScore and Email

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I ran past this from Christopher Penn’s tweet: “The debate is rolling on Klout scores, GearScore, Twiefficiency, and more: http://ar.gy/csp“.

This is the same thing that I have been trying to put together for risk assessment for email senders based on their lists.

As you may know, I’ve often compared IP reputation to a credit score and recently I’ve needed to try and predict a sender’s ability to get their IP blocked, or not, before they send anything (hat off to Laura at Word to the Wise) and I have been trying to put together a scoring mechanism that would give something like a ‘Yes’, ‘Spammer’ and ‘Look Deeper’ response so I can get an early look into how I may need to work with a customer or if they cannot be a customer at all?

I wonder if there could be some kind of global scoring system to help people fix them selves like you can with a credit rating? … or is there already?

Amplify’d from www.christopherspenn.com

In the World of Warcraft, there exists one number that can make or break your day, depending on who you’re interacting with: GearScore. GearScore is a mathematical formula that tries to rank players based on what equipment their character has, on the assumption that harder to get equipment means you’re a better player for having it, much in the same way that driving an expensive car might indicate more personal wealth. People looking to organize groups in the game often recruit for their groups solely by advertising GearScore requirements: “Looking for damage dealers, 5K GS minimum!”. Anyone who doesn’t meet this score doesn’t get invited to the group.

So what does a geeky algorithm like GearScore have to do with anything? For years, companies, especially in financial services, have evaluated potential employees based on credit scores. Like GearScore, credit score may have some correlation to a future employee’s abilities to be effective, but given how tumultuous the economy has been in the last 3 years, any company relying on this number may lose perfectly good candidates.

Read more at www.christopherspenn.com

 

Of course you never want to rely on a single number because it is impossible to maintain context two people can have the same score for two very different reasons but it helps to be able to flag a potential problem up as early as possible so an investigation to get more context can be performed.

Charity Email Marketing

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You may or may not know that Pure360 are taking part in the Scally Rally this year, driving two old bangers from the Calais in France to Rimini in Italy.
To go along side that we thought we’d make a little theme of it and write a load of content to help our Charity friends, many of which are happy users of Pure360.

With my nifty new WordPress app I bashed out some thoughts while watching my stories on a Sunday afternoon and hay-presto, 2 posts for the pure360 Blog. The first was quite long so we made it into 2 so we had 3 posts.

Content and control: Key to successful charity email marketing: Part 1:
A quick intro into the necessity of email to non-profit orgs. Then I did a little over view of the types of content that people would want from a charity. Some of it has apparently surprised some who have been only emailing about all of the good everyone can do, which while noble and good, does not always bring in the numbers. For instance, there are glossy magazine style options where they could use the big celebrities who get involved just to grab attention.

It’s also just as important for charities to try and not to sell donations in the same way a profit business should not try to make a sale in an email. It’s all about the content and the involvement.

Then of course there is frequency, which would depend on what you send out and how much you have to say. As usual, typically monthly, which could tie into a monthly payment for donators, but there are also options for weekly, daily on update alters for new content…this ties in nicely to part 2:

Managing subscriptions: Key to successful charity email marketing: Part 2
Because Charities can such a vast range of people on their list who would want different things for different reasons, a charity marketer would do well to try and categorise and normalise the emails they can do.

For instance: different events for a cause, some event might suit some more than others;
Different causes, it is not uncommon for large charities to break their work down into causes all with the same end goal. This also makes it easier to tell a story to donators and bring them closer to the work. I’ve put a couple of examples in the article.

And to bring all of that together, the preference centre! There are so many things that can happen and what people might like and not like as recipients so I’ve listed a few suggestions to help profile people and the many options to keep people involved and maybe even closer to their causes, especially the many events that go on.

Charity Adoption Email Marketing Strategy
The 2nd Piece was from an old rant I had about animal sponsorship where I was getting loads of direct mail that definitely cost more than I was donating and getting an email.
Again, using the preference centre I’ve advised that by giving recipients control over what you send them keeps them their longer and can allow them to step in and out of different content without having to opt-out of all because of one inconvenience.

Have a read an leave a comment on the Pure360 pages

Jenny Quits and becomes whiteboard-photo-message famous

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Many of us will have seen the now quite famous “Girl quits her job on dry erase board, emails entire office” (10/08/2010), a very cool little number when a young lady quits her job by sending her office 33 photos of her holding up a small white board with different messages pulling appropriate faces.
You must see it before you read on other wise the whole thing will be spoilt for you and none of us wants that.

If you haven’t seen it, DO IT NOW and then come back…

Cool, we then heard that Jenny wasn’t really called Jenny (11/08/2010) as she reveals the truth about the previous viral escapade.

I must admit I was quite disappointed when I found out the truth, but I recovered pretty quick and now I’m over it.

I scrolled down the second page to see what people were writing in the comments and it wasn’t as sick and stalky as I had expected – well done people!

I did see what appeared to be a comment from the lady herself from her Facebook page. I thought that was someone pretending to be her, so I clicked through a low and behold her full public Facebook page and a pretty busy wall: Apparently she’s been featured in on ‘Newsweek’.

There was a particularly entertaining link from w00tstock.net called ‘Wil Quits w00tstock!‘ (16/08/2010) where the guys take the whole thing to a rather entertaining new level, definitely worth a look.

My esteemed colleague Maria also sent me this link on boredninja from December 2009 where Andrew McDonald had done a very similar thing on his digital camera as a message for anyone who finds it – was this the first?

It was not a really big effort to put that together but it was delivered very cleverly and with the ease of social shares on-line it was a quick spread and probably still moving around.

I wonder what Elyse will do next, will she be digitised as an web avatar, will she get her own talk show, appear in a US Teen Drama or just go back to the waitress job and keep plugging away at those auditions for Broadway.

Personally I’d love her do very well out of it, it was far more entertaining than Britain and America’s got Talent, not that I’ve ever got through a whole episode.

EmailRadio: The Email Brain Trust all in one place

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Last night (18:00 UK time) I plugged into the first instalment of EmailRadio.

To be honest, the days running up to it, I’d had my reservations about it, but right out of the box it was bang on!
Really well organised, very relaxed & personable presenting and the interviews were all really intriguing.

Email Radio

Obviously both guests, Stephanie Miller and John Caldwell, were well practised at seminars etc. so the radio show was easy and it was great to put a voice to the face.
You know how when you read something written by someone you know, your brain can make it sound like they’re saying it in your head – hopefully not just me :-/
I’ll be reading their tweets a posts a little differently now, in a good way 🙂

The player they were using was Blog Talk Radio.
They had a cheeky little chat box under the player where everyone who was listening could type stuff. I went in as fourpster rather than Captain Inbox due to it being me rather than a comedy blog alias. Stephanie Miller was in and out of there as she was interacting with the call-ins alongside John Caldwell.

Initially Stephanie took the first call-in by taking the standard Return Path question: “What does Return Path actual do for all of that Money”. I’ve seen it asked about four times and I’ve asked it twice, a long time ago once on-line & once in person.
Stephanie must have been asked this hundreds of times and even though they caller was blatantly emotionally connected to their opinion, if you get what I mean, she handled it admirably without even a tiny stutter – nice action!

Then John came on and Stephanie was nice enough to stay on too. Very cool bit of banter between the two actually. John said his bit about permission and that buying lists are bad. The Email Guide chaps added a mention of their EMAPP and all agreed that buying lists is bad for everyone. The chat then ensued with callers playing devil’s advocate to the short term benefits of buying lists and that it’s not illegal and John and Stephanie evenly pointing out the consequences…
…Too right, in my opinion, we’ve got get this ‘no bought lists’ thing to a point so that making it the law won’t make a dent because it’ll already be the done thing!

Mean while in the chat room, loads of people I’ve seen on t’internet & retweeted were appearing, and then The Email Guide Co-host pops in and types “Wow, look at everyone here, it’s the Email Brain Trust“.
I doubt I was the target of that but it was great to be there with those people – even though it was all on-line in chat room.

Got a couple of new fourpster twitter followers too: @allwebemail & @jvanrijn cheers chaps.
And got a little hello from the legend of Mark Brownlow – he’s quite the celebrity but so humble with it 🙂

Additionally Al Iverson was recommended as a good person to follow in Twitter by John.

I think on the basis of it being the first one and providing the guests keep coming, which I don’t doubt, this could make itself the hub of ongoing email discussion and be very cool.

The chat-room tends to fade away once the show stops, unsurprisingly – I wonder if there is a place that could follow on certain things? Maybe I’ve finally thought of a use for Google Wave?

Anyway, it was awesome, the content was really good, the people were great and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

Ideally I could organise a Post Email Radio debrief in a local pub, might take a bit of time for that though, I’m a bit of an email geek, I wonder if 4 people would be enough to make the Brighton Email Brain Trust?

If you missed that last one, you can download it from the EmailRadio page on the TheEmailGuide – just scroll down to the “eMail Radio MP3 Archives” bit. I think it might be on iTunes but I haven’t checked – it would make a decent pod cast set.