EmailRadio: Shexzy Email Marketing

[tweetmeme source= “getintheinbox” only_single=false]
Arguably the best EmailRadio yet, the chat room was very active and the guests were consistently relevant & interesting. At some points I really struggled to keep up with both of them!

Before I elaborate on the gravy, there was a small technical hitch at the start where we lost Bill and I think Jeff for a bit. Of course both Jim and Jeff, the consummate professionals that they are handled it admirably while the chat room took the piss:

remybergsma: allright, which shark is gnawing on those transatlantic lines?

jordievanrijn: Well, lets change seat rows here on the titanic

MarkatEMR: radio’s dead -email killed radio!

On the show was ‘Mr Influential’ Bill McCloskey: as well as the good stuff on his clickz profile Bill is all about the Monitoring and has the largest email archive in the world collected over the last 7 emails, which is then mined for information and trends. He’s been in the biz for a long time and in fact was one of the first people to coin the phrase “rich media”.

Also on the show was “Dr.” Mark Brownlow of Email-Marketing-Reports: who as well as consistently telling us everything we need to know about email lectures on specialist communication and a bit of email etiquette.

On the show:
Online Copy Writing, Segmentation, Email is not dead – it’s MIA, Upward Management, Shexzy Email, List Exclusivity

On-line Copy Writing

Mark began with a run through of the key mentality to adopt when writing on-line content: Online copy is not like the essays we had to write an university. You need to keep it in short, punchy easily digestible pieces. Also you can start sentences with an ‘and’ and a ‘but’ if it helps break the paragraph up – “you don’t need to go back to grammar school”.

In my opinion Mark is bang on the money, one thing that the success of micro-blogging has shown us is the tiny attention span of the masses. Too much ‘blurb’ and people will switch off.

Of course you still have those who want elaboration and detail – this is where you have the email teaser and the click through to the elaboration, then the web copy while it still needs to have that punch must fit in the detail.

So you end up with each piece having three parts:

  1. a subject line – to grab the attention to help the reader decide it’s relevance;
  2. an intro paragraph or two – this is the punchy bit where you can deliver the juicy bits and hold the attention but keep the time to read down;
  3. then you can elaborate in the final section.  It can also help, depending on how much copy you have, to break the elaboration down into sections with mini versions of a header/subject, into paragraph and details.


Bill then elaborated from the targeting side saying that segmentation definitely works in a big way and everyone should do it.

Even though we have read a lot on segmentation, not enough people do it. I think it’s mainly because people haven’t got enough data to segment with.

  • Initially you don’t collect anything more than the first name and email address from the sign-up form to minimise barriers to entry on the list.
  • You then only have email behaviour to go on: opening times, frequency or infrequency of interaction which is where ESPs come in. I know it is something that we at Pure360 have very high on our dev list to roll out on top of our data-mining FastStats integration
  • Of course you can do little surveys with one or two questions just to help you profile them. You could even stick it at the bottom of a monthly newsletter to allow you to write more relevant content.
  • One thing you may have, is the difference between customers and non-customers. It’s definitely worth give those two their own content.

Worth considering either way!

Email is not dead – it’s MIA

Bill briefly reflected on some of the press stating that email is dead with: “Email is not dead – it’s MIA”. Bill went on to state that this is because it is clearly not being measured properly. No-one is tracking traffic from email properly, some people were even logging email traffic to the web-site as miscellaneous! This kind of attitude is what is holding email back for many brands.

Mark then supported the point by explaining that email is a victim of it’s own success. An easy and cheap channel and that image has lost the industry’s respect. Because you don’t need to invest too much to get a good return, people don’t invest at all!

While we, in the industry try to turn it around – we need to get it to the upper management and get their buy in and let us get it right for them.

Additionally Mark said that a few year ago there was only ppc and email to drive traffic nut now there are so many ways people can be over whelmed with too many options and never achieve any quality – like multi-tasking.

In my experience Email Measurement gets left out because it is not viewed as new business but just an up-sell. Most marketing KPIs revolve around getting new business so that’s PPC and social.

Upward Management

Bill rightly added that it is the upper management’s disconnection from the process that is probably the problem: the chaps upstairs see something fairly cheap and straight forward making them consistent money so they just want to do it more, so that’s what they say and then deliverability becomes a problem.

Bill illustrated this with an example about one store that  was targeted with collecting addresses, but could not hit the target so made them up and then had to stop sending because they had such bad data!

Jim than asked them both what we should be doing to better spread the word: Bill suggested that it is the main stream press that needs to voice it. Many of the upper management bods who make these decisions will read the main stream press and read about Google and Facebook and Twitter because they are latest thing. They won’t read, let a lone search for, email marketing specific content.

Mark continued by explaining that the people deeply into email, like our selves, are probably not sending the right message to upper management. They don’t care about open rates, they just see the money. We need to talk the right talk upwards.

Shexzy Email Marketing (sounds best in a Dutch accent)

Bill also suggested that the trade organisations them selves would be a good voice to bring it back, however they will need motivation to do so, what can we do.

Mark answered by suggesting that the problem could be the lack of sexy factor – email’s been around too long and it’s not sexy and dynamic like Social Media. Also ROI may not be the best metric to use. Email is most used and mentioned and there is so much data about it but not shouted about in the right places – because it is not sexy. When Jim asked Mark how we could make it more sexy Mark said that he might to be too much use, we British don’t really talk about that kind of thing J! Jim suggested that maybe he could take a lead from Benny Hill!

At that point, Bill came forward with the suggestion that the Ipad could be helping due to the improved experience of reading emails.

Mark agreed that if people were able to spend more time on elements other than rendering issues but more on how and what to say.

Bill then went to state that the old beautiful high graphic emails vanished due to images getting blocked due to spammers and virus protection targeted at windows – this apparently “ripped the guts out of email”. Now we have the ipad and iphone in the main stream, there is less of a worry and people are auto-loading these images. This could open the door for better graphics again.

Mark also warned that while bells and whistles can get attention, if there is no relevance once people get there, they won’t hang around!

Mean while in the chat room:

AndyT: Q: can HTML5 help with ‘shexy emails’ (dutch accent)

remybergsma: if supported, HTML5 would give email just the edge it so desperately needs

MHillyer: In what way Remy?

AndyT: pitty outlook is in the way remy

remybergsma: Andy – most definitely 😦

remybergsma: I’d kill off Outlook with a big red button if I could

remybergsma: especially 2007 and 2010

List Exclusivity

Finally Bill mentioned something that was also mentioned last week by Jeff. There is no longer any exclusivity on the list because the content is spread everywhere for maximum exposure. We see people doing twitter only offers but not for email anymore.

While last week I may have been critical about making a list exclusive, I can’t argue with the potential benefits of it and also I may not have been in the game long enough to really appreciate it. Pre-Facebook email marketers may be the key to bringing the exclusivity back to the list. All you have to do is decide if you care.

I like the idea that Bill suggested where and brand – I think it was Harley Davidson? – offered 6 emails in a row, one per day from the sign up.

The complication is while you want the email to be special you still need it on the web-site to click through to – or do you.

To make it exclusive would you put more content in the email and take the click through for the content out of the call to action. Instead, have email only content bringing more than one bit of content together and finish with linking through to each section for further elaboration?

EmailRadio: Gmail Priority Inbox & Social Email

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 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!
– – –

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 monochrome, his twitter photo doesn’t? 🙂