FREE EMAIL MARKETING STRATEGY TIPS AND RESOURCES
I. Introduction to Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach a large audience, even on a shoestring budget. There are over 1 billion Internet users in the world today. According to recent research, more than ninety percent of them use the Internet to send and receive email regularly (see Pew Internet Activities Report)
As a result, most marketing departments consider email marketing to be an essential tool for communicating with customers and prospects. Email marketing is used to promote products and services, provide support, generate traffic to websites, build and improve relationships and improve customer service. Some believe that email marketing is a science – others think of it as an art. Either way, it is the most widely used platform for online marketing today.
Because it works!
Year after year, email yields the best Return on Investment (ROI) of all Internet marketing channels, returning $40.56 for every dollar spent in 2011.
Many people don’t realize that successful email marketing requires skill, patience, time and effort. It is not as easy as sending a few quick emails out to a list of people and watching your sales grow. Traditional and newly developed marketing tactics are required to persuade recipients to respond to a message. Because email is such a popular and effective online marketing tool, most recipient inboxes will be full before your message arrives. Because of this heavy volume of email today, it is not easy to catch the attention of your intended recipient. It is even more difficult to turn that attention into action.
But the payoff is great when you take the time to do it right!
Since the CAN-Spam Act of 2003, getting your email delivered to the inbox of your customrs has become more and more difficult. Interestingly, subsequent antispam legislation seems to have affected legitimate businesses more than it has the major spammers who send the majority of spam that we see in our inbox. In fact, there are only about 300-600 individuals who send 80 percent of the spam that we see in our inbox (read The Spamhaus Project – ROKSO). Together, these 100 spam gangs continue to send heavy volumes of spam while legitimate senders have more and more difficulty getting messages through the growing list of antispam filters. But in a way, these antispam measures are helping email marketers. Out of all of this, Permission Marketing was born.
Permission marketing is a term used in Internet marketing and is especially related to email marketings. According to permission marketing, marketers should always have the permission of each recipient before they send advertisements to them. It is used by some Internet marketers, email marketers, and telephone marketers. It requires that people first opt-in to receive email or other communication from the sender. The term, “permission marketing” was coined by Seth Godin in his book of the same name (read about permission marketing)
So, how is this good for email marketing?
When people request to hear from you by giving you permission to send them information, there is a better chance that they are interested in what you have to say. This concept has proved to yield higher conversion rates than the old batch and blast campaigns of years ago. While the CAN-Spam Act doesn’t technically require you to have initial opt-in permission from a recipient, the antispam movement has many marketers searching for ways to increase trust and improve relationships via email.
And that is a good thing.
Even with all of these new rules and concepts of permission, however, email marketing remains top of the leader board with regard to Return on Investment (ROI) year after year. Even with so many new Internet marketing tools at our disposal, such as social networking, mobile, social media, etc., the killer app from yesterday still reigns today. So let’s take a look at the different elements that make up an effective email marketing campaign.
II. Email Marketing Strategy: The Blueprint
Would you buy a house that was built without a blueprint? Probably not. Well, you shouldn’t engage in an email marketing campaign without a clear strategy either. Every successful business effort is driven by a strategy – an elaborate and systematic plan of action. Without one, you’re shooting in the dark. Sure you might hit something, but you’ll also miss a lot. Developing an effective email marketing strategy isn’t difficult, but it is extremely important if you desire consistent results.
Essential elements of an effective email strategy include audience, content, value, frequency, measurement, resources and budget. Of course, each of these elements should be developed in line with email marketing strategy objectives and in support of your overall business vision. Let’s take a look at each of these elements in more detail.
Your Email Marketing Audience
The golden rule of public speaking is “know your audience”. The same is true for email marketing. The “who” in email marketing will often determine the “what”, and vice versa. If your email list is full of 20-year old men, and you are developing an email marketing campaign to increase the sales for your new range of professional women’s shoes, then you are not off to a great start. When developing your email marketing strategy, define the different elements, or demographics, you want to communicate with. Once your demographics are defined, you will want to give some thought to where you are going to get subscribers who fit these demographics. Even if you already have a customer list, you will want to create opt in email forms to collect more email addresses for your email marketing campaigns.
Subscribers fatigue over time – loyalty fades. Don’t limit your email marketing strategy to just one opt in email subscription form on your website. Consider strategic places online where your intended audience will visit – and don’t forget that you can collect email subscriptions offline too. If you have a retail shop, a restaurant, hotel or realty agency in town, you should collect email addresses in those locations as well.
Email Marketing Content
Depending on the purpose of your email marketing campaign, the style of writing may vary. For company newsletters, you might write with a personal touch. When advertising a new product, you may choose a more persuasive and promotional style.
Regardless of the objective though, you want to keep your content relevant to the recipients on your email list. Email content can be divided into several parts; the subject, the body and the signature. Your email subject line should clearly explain what the email is about. The body should express the value that you are offering and have a clear call-to-action. The signature should, at a minimum, contain relevant contact information and opt-out or unsubscribe instructions. You might also determine how much content to include in your email marketing campaigns. If your objective is to get more people to your website, you might choose to use a teaser format with links to full content on your site. Ideally, you should direct recipients to relevant links rather than attaching files to your email. Let your recipient decide what they want to consume rather than force-feeding them large volumes of content that takes longer to process and digest. In Internet marketing, small is the new big. Less is more.
Email Marketing Value
Each message sent in an email marketing campaign should be valuable to both your recipient and to your own objectives. Value, of course, can be defined in many ways. A good joke can be as valuable to a recipient as a generous promotional offer. Value to you, the sender, might mean increased subscription rates, more forward-to-a-friend actions and of course, higher conversion rates. The question is – what value are you offering in your email marketing campaigns that sets you apart from your competition?
The easiest way to ensure value to your recipients is to focus on only a few things in each campaign. If you are running a promotion, use your email marketing campaign to promote several items rather than your entire stock. Incorporate value into each email marketing campaign and include a value box in your email marketing checklist which we will discuss later. Clearly identifying the value of your email marketing campaigns is an important step in the development of your email marketing strategy.
Email Marketing Campaign Frequency
Think about when and how often you are going to send your email marketing emails to your list. If you send email too often to your list, they may become fatigued or lose interest. Too seldom and the relationship may decay. To find the right balance, consider your content. Do you have regularly updated stock lists that your customers would want to know about each week? If so, consider a weekly update campaign. You will also want to consider how much time you want to invest in managing your email marketing campaigns. Sending a weekly campaign can be a lot of work. Even monthly campaigns require a serious commitment. The important thing is that your frequency remains consistent so that your recipients can expect your message every time that it is sent. Consistency in frequency builds familiarity and trust. Consider this when developing your email marketing strategy. Don’t start off too enthusiastically if you can’t keep the pace up over time.
Email Marketing Measurement
In order to quantify the success of your email marketing campaigns, you must incorporate a process to measure the results of your email marketing efforts. Tracking your open rates and click-through rates will let you know how effective your email marketing strategy is. Services like GroupMetrics can track every email you send and provide detailed reports on open and click-through rates of your campaigns. Measuring your email marketing campaigns is the only way to understand how effective your email marketing strategy is, and what changes could be made to improve it. When developing your strategy, consider what elements you want to measure. Delivery rates, open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates are the most commonly measured actions in an email marketing campaign. Other things to measure include bounce rates, opt in (subscription) rates and opt out (unsubscribe) rates. Consider measurement at the beginning of your strategy rather than dealing with it as an afterthought.
Email Marketing Resources
In your email marketing strategy, you will need to outline the tools necessary to accomplish the task. Email marketing software, an Internet connection, access to an SMTP mail server, a website, an email list database, email tracking tools, HTML templates, time and manpower are all resources that you will want to outline in your email marketing strategy. Make a resource list to keep the necessary resources organized and updated.
Email Marketing Budget
Last, but not at all least is the budget of your email marketing strategy. Determine how much money will be invested in your email campaigns each quarter of the year. How much will be spent on software or services, manpower, time, mail servers and other elements of your campaign? Working with a budget will make it easier for you to measure the success of your email marketing efforts. If you know that you spent “x” dollars on email marketing each quarter and that your profited “y” dollars as a result of those efforts, you will be able to determine whether your efforts were effective.
Now, let’s take a look at the specific elements of an email marketing campaign.
III. Your Email List: Who Are You Sending Email To?
An email list is the cornerstone of your email marketing strategy. Building and maintaining a quality email list takes time and effort. Before implementing an email marketing campaign, marketers must have a list of people to send their message to. Building a quality, in-house email list takes time. Email marketers must first implement an email subscription strategy to collect data from email subscribers. Often, this is done through the use of opt in email subscription forms, incentives and partnerships with other sites that drive similar market traffic. In this chapter, we will discuss email subscription methods, email list management, email list maintenance, email list rental practices and email list segmentation.
Email List Subscription Methods
Building a email list is important for anyone using email to communicate with customers. But acquiring an effective and responsive list is even more important. Online consumers demand relevance, so email list methods must focus on acquiring targeted, highly-relevant email addresses rather than just gathering a bunch of general email addresses. In this section, we will discuss list size, registration methods, data collection and permission requirements.
BIGGER Is Not Always Better
According to Marketing Sherpa’s Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, 18 percent of companies with online sales between 25-50 Million have house email lists of 100,000-500,000 contacts, while 27 percent in the same earnings bracket manage with lists below 50,000. This shows that you can be as successful with fewer names on your list. The importance of quality in your email list might seem obvious; but many email marketers continue to focus on the size of the list rather than the quality of the leads in it. But the big questions still remains: How do you build an email list and what steps can you take to ensure that the people on it will be responsive to your message?
Effective Email Subscription Methods
Regardless of any other tactics used to acquire email addresses for your list, a clear call-to-register, opt in email subscription form should be available on your web site. For some reason, many websites bury their email subscription form on the page, making it difficult for visitors to see. Others don’t even have an email subscription form on their front page. Because Internet users spend very little time making decisions on a website, it is important to make your email subscription form stand out. Here is an example of a good call-to-register as found on the Marketing Sherpa website:
As you can see, the call-to-register is at the top of the front page. It gives visitors options to choose what information they want to receive (relevance). Furthermore, it expresses value by attesting that 173,000 marketing, advertising and PR professionals already subscribe to this FREE, practical information. To top it all off, they promise potential subscribers that they will “not rent your email to anyone”, building trust from the start.
What they don’t do, however, is request any more information than the email address of the visitor. We’ll talk about data collection later. Beyond having an effective email registration presence on your website, there are other ways to increase subscription rates. Co-registration is one of them.
Co-registration is another email list acquisition method used to gather email addresses relevant to your message. Basically, co-registration partners businesses in registration efforts, so that a related product or service provider will ask customers on their site if they would be interested in subscribing to their partners content at the same time. If the content is relevant to their subscribers, there is a good chance that it will be effective. Here is an example of a site that uses co-registration in its subscription form:
As you can see above, when customers are registering for this site’s email newsletter, they can also register simultaneously for other newsletters with related content (their co-registration partners’ newsletters!) Also notice how they have the partner subscriptions pre-checked. This could be seen as manipulative by some potential subscribers – and I wouldn’t recommend pre-checking co-registration suggestions. Let the recipient decide for themselves what they want to sign up for.
There is some concern about the delay in getting co-registered subscription information from partners incorporated in the house list; as delays in sending welcome messages to new subscribers can affect opt in rates. That said, it has proved to be a successful tactic for many email marketers.
According to Marketing Sherpa, over 60 percent of co-registration users use between one to five partners for registration purposes. A much smaller percentage use over fifty partners to gather subscribers. Not dissimilar to affiliate partnerships, some marketers prefer fewer, more targeted partnerships while others choose higher exposure to larger audiences.
While most marketers engage in exchange-based co-registration partnerships, some prefer to pay for co-registration names, eliminating the administrative effort to gather names for others in exchange. The cost of a high quality (relevant) subscription name averages around $1-2 dollars each in paid co-registration services. If building a list quickly is important to you, perhaps the investment will seem reasonable. Just make sure that your co-registrant partners have visitors who would be relevant to your business and that you calculate the ROI of each lead before spending the money.
Here are some other tactics to gather names and email addresses for your list that have proved to be effective for email marketers:
- Offering free trials and downloads
- Free newsletter offers
- Running online contests
- Offering coupons or discount incentives to subscribers
- Recommendations (encouraging existing subscribers to forward your message to friends who might find it useful or relevant.)
- Providing a sample of the content that the subscriber will receive
- Having subscription-only content (articles, reports, white papers) on your site
To encourage visitors to subscribe to your email newsletter or promotional offers, it is important to provide clear information about what they are subscribing to, the frequency of contact to expect and privacy information to ensure them that their data will not be released to others. But how much data do you need from subscribers?
What Data Should You Collect?
If you plan to personalize your email messages, which many email marketers do; then you will obviously need more than just an email address. At the very least, personalization will require a first and last name and email address. Usually, marketers want as much information from each customer as possible. But there is a delicate balance between gathering information and frustrating people to the point that they just won’t bother completing the email subscription form.
At a minimum, email addresses, first name and last name should be required on registration forms. That said, it would be wise to collect as much information as possible. By making other form fields optional, you can gather additional data without dissuading subscribers who might be hesitant to reveal more than their name and email address.
Research shows that online consumers are likely to give the following information without feeling overly suspicious or invaded:
- Work/home/mobile phone
- Address (city, state, country)
- Mother’s maiden name
- Marital status, age and gender
- Industry classification
More sensitive information, like bank details, nationality, income levels and credit card data is perceived as private and is rarely shared online unless a trusted relationship already exists.
To that end, it might be prudent to request basic information when establishing the relationship and following up later with requests for more information to support your desire to personalize the experience for your customers. It’s not dissimilar to intimate personal relationships. It’s never wise to ask very personal questions on the first date. In relationships, we get to know each other over time, and share more information with each other as trust grows. The same is true for professional relationships online.
Making Email Lists More Effective
So, now we have methods to grow our email list, but how do we make them effective? Pushing content to recipients who aren’t interested in your message will be ineffective and even counterproductive over time. The days of batch and blast email marketing campaigns are gone. If you blindly send your messages to large, untargeted groups of people, you are wasting your time and more than likely frustrating your recipients – which isn’t a good thing to do now that it’s so easy to report a message as spam. That’s why permission marketing is so important. You should only send email to recipients who request you to do so. There are different levels of permission email marketing, and each type of permission results in different response and conversion rates from recipients.
Standard Opt in email list
When somebody gives their email address to a website, without confirming that they are interested in receiving email messages from the site. No confirmation email is sent to the recipient. Acquiring standard opt in email addresses might result in a larger list, but response and conversion rates from standard opt in email lists are low, and can generate significant numbers of complaints (or even accusations of spam!)
Confirmed opt in email list
With confirmed opt-in subscriptions, the recipient will receive an email notification after subscribing to confirm that they supplied their email address to a site. They aren’t required to respond or take any action to stay on the email list. Confirmed opt in subscriptions receive slightly higher response from recipients, but are still met with complaints and can lead to frustration of recipients.
Double opt in email list
Double opt in email subscriptions require that the subscriber responds to the confirmation email sent to them if they desire to continue receiving messages from the sender. If the recipient doesn’t reply to the confirmation, their name will be taken off the list. Because double opt in email subscriptions requires effort on the recipient to respond, and because some won’t, the resulting list will be reduced in size. That said, the remaining list is comprised of recipients who confirmed interest in your message and are much more likely to be active subscribers. Double opt in email lists have proved to result in fewer bounces, unsubscribe requests and spam complaints as well. Double opt in lists also result in open rates and click-through rates that are substantially higher than the average; with one in five double opt in email lists yielding open rates of 60 percent, more than double the industry average.
For any email list to be effective, it needs to be comprised of people who are interested in your message and contain enough detail to support segmentation and personalization. The more details that you have in your list database, the more creative you can be with the personalization of your messages and segmentation of your lists. Personal details can be collected over time, as your relationship with your audience grows. One way to ensure that trust is maintained in your relationship with customers is to be upfront about their ability to unsubscribe from your list, and to make the unsubscribe process easy for them. If someone wants to stop receiving your messages, there really is no point to keep them on the list. All it will do is frustrate them and damage your brand reputation.
The effectiveness of any email list is related entirely to the relevance that your message has to it. If your message isn’t relevant to the people on your list, you are wasting your time and testing their patience.
Email List Management
It simply isn’t possible to communicate effectively with your email list unless you have a database with details of your email contacts on it. Regardless of what database you use to store contact information, it is important to think of its functionality when populating it with content. Simply having a database full of email addresses is useless if you want to personalize your messages to groups of recipients or segment your campaigns into targeted groups. To use your database effectively for personalized email messages, there are two main issues to consider; namely, field separation and data style.
THINK PERSONALIZATION AND SEGMENTATION!!
When adding data to your email list database, it is important to think how that data will be used when communicating via email. The most common field used in email personalization is the name field. But there are many other ways to personalize effectively beyond using someone’s name in your message. To most effectively personalize email messages, it is important to separate fields and input data strategically with email communication in mind. It is also important to think about the style of data that you put into each field.
Separating Database Fields
When building your database, it is important to break down the data to the greatest extent possible in order to maximize flexibility when using it to personalize emails. For example, rather than one Name field, split the data into two separate fields so that you can personalize using either the First Name, Last Name or both. Consider also using a separate field for prefixes (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr.) The same is true with any content that can be separated (i.e. addresses can be split into house name or number, street 1, street 2, city, county, state, country, zip code, etc.)
Obviously, the more fields that you have in your database per contact, the more flexible your email personalization strategy will be. Consider the following uses of personalization in an email message:
When separating database fields with email personalization in mind, it is important to think about how each field might be used in your messages. To that end, it is important to think about what data style to use in each field.
Note: I already see that the screen shot that I put together for this article is not truly optimized for personalization. Can you see why? In the address field, I should have split the house name/number from the street name. That way, you could use the street name for personalization in an email (i.e. !*Street Name*! is abuzz with the news of lower mortgage rates!)
The Importance of Data Style within Fields
When populating fields in a database, it is important to understand how those fields might be used when personalizing emails later. First and foremost, the style used should be consistent throughout. When sending a message to a database list of contacts, consistency is crucial. For example, if you abbreviate some State fields (i.e. AL instead of Alabama) and spell others out entirely (i.e. New York), recipients will have different experiences with your message. While the New York recipient will be chuffed to see: New York is a great place! The Alabama recipient will be less impressed with: AL is a great place!, for example.
When using fields like “Hobbies”, ensure that the data style can be used successfully in a group message. Using the above examples, Swimming, Tennis and Surfing, it would be safe to use:
!*Hobbies*! is a great activity.
It might not be so clear if we used that statement if our data style for the Hobbies field was swim, tennis and surf. Not only would “swim is a great activity” sound odd, but we didn’t think of the use of capitalization when adding our data to the field. Ensure that names, streets, cities, states, counties, and countries are capitalized correctly in your database. Be consistent with other fields. In the example database above, the Hobbies field is capitalized. That’s fine, but make sure that you use the data in that field at the beginning of a sentence or in a bullet list; and not in the middle of a sentence.
Spell out all database field entries in their entirety so that they can be used in grammatically correct sentences within your message. Also, to successfully use fields like Hobbies when capturing the data automatically from an email subscription form, consider using a complete sentence in your form:<
I like to [ fill in the blank ] when I’m on holidays.
That way, the word supplied is in relation to a verb that can be used later in a grammatically correct context.
What happens when fields are blank?
Rarely is every field in a database filled in, especially if the fields are generated automatically by online forms. Some visitors might not want to include their street name, or you might not have someone’s city listed. What do you do to prevent a blank space showing up in some messages?
Well, you can’t.
Good email marketing software, like GroupMail, has IF/THEN/ELSE functions available. If you were sending an email to a group from your customer database for example, and wanted to personalize the message using your customers’ first names, you would merge the name field from your database into the subject or body of your email (i.e. Dear !*First Name*!) But what if some customers didn’t supply a first name? What if you only have a prefix and last name for some customers? With IF/THEN functions, you can select a term to replace those empty fields. So recipients without a first name in your database would receive, for example, Dear Customer (or whatever term you decide to replace empty fields with, i.e. Friend, etc.)
Dear IF(!*FIRSTNAME*! = Nothing THEN Customer ELSE !*FIRSTNAME*!)ENDIF
GroupMail’s Tweaker Add-on can correct problems with name fields and capitalization in databases. Read List Management: Name Splitting, Capitalization and More for more information.
Keeping email personalization in mind when building a database might require additional time upfront, but it is well worth the additional effort. A robust database will help communicators to be more effective with personalization and segmentation and ultimately strengthen relationships with their audience.
Email List Management
Over time, changes take place to your email list: some recipients opt out from your email offers and new subscribers join. Email addresses and other details change. It is important to spend time maintaining your email list. Leaving it unattended will only make things difficult over time. There are three important email list management duties that can be automated with email marketing software to make your life a lot easier:
- Adding new subscribers to your list,
- deleting existing subscribers who opt out, and
- removing email addresses after a determined number of bounces is reached
Even if email list management is automated, however, it is important to keep an eye on things yourself to ensure that everything is well maintained. Removing unsubscribe requests and email addresses that bounce is very important. If you don’t do this in a timely fashion, you will irritate recipients who have requested to stop receiving emails from you and overburden your mail server with repeated bounces of invalid email addresses. A senders reputation is affected most by spam complaints by recipients and high bounce rates. Read How ISPs Measure Your Sender Reputation.
Email List Rental Practices
To rent or not to rent? That is the question. Research consistently shows that organically grown lists result in better conversion rates. But it takes time to build an email list of any significant size, and it is tempting for some to spread the news of their latest offer today, not tomorrow. Marketing Sherpa published a guide to renting email lists earlier this year:
“There are plenty of email lists to choose from, and they cover just about every niche imaginable. From talking to several list brokers, the size of the industry is anywhere from 5,000 lists to 20,000. The B-to-B list rental business is healthy and centered on reputable publishers who still command value and trust. The B-to-C list industry is less organized, and many lists aren’t worth a dime. But if done properly, you can succeed.”
So before you jump into the pool of email list rentals, make sure that you take the time to read Marketing Sherpa’s Special Report: Renting Email Lists; Cost, Deliverability and Targeting (Part I)
If you do choose to rent an email list, keep in mind that average rental list prices are $170/thousand (B2C) and $277/thousand (B2B). Read Is it okay to use an email list I rented or purchased with GroupMail?. If someone is offering you a list of 1 million email addresses for $49.99, then you can be very confident that it is going to have many bad email addresses on it – and potentially many spam trap addresses as well!
Email List Segmentation
More and more, email marketers are offering multiple email offers to segmented portions of their market. A MarketingSherpa study this year underscored the usefulness of segmentation. Marketers who used advanced email tactics such as dynamic content, A/B offer testing and segmentation by user details had higher click-through rates than those who did not (read Uncut Email Lists Can Hurt
Internet marketing practitioners regularly applaud email’s ability to support limitless segmentation of messages. Segmentation in traditional marketing required that multiple, high-cost ads were prepared and implemented in different markets. With email, multiple market segments can be reached and managed with a click, and at no additional cost. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 67% of women, 70% of English-speaking Hispanics, 93% of people earning more than $75,000 per year and 67% of men and women aged between 50-64 use the Internet. To optimize the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy, think about your email campaign in terms of each demographic category in your market. Is one message good enough for all of them, or would it be better to segment your message in a relevant way to each demographic?
Micro-targeting is getting hotter now simply because it’s so much easier to do it with the email marketing software that’s available today. With GroupMail, for example, email marketers can create or import large email lists defined by any variety of demographic fields and filter campaigns to subsets of a list using powerful filters. With a click, marketers today can target messages effectively to segmented markets.
When considering the segmentation of your market, think of all of the attributes of your product or service. What attributes would be attractive to baby boomers? Which elements would be attractive to women? Which features would catch the eye of the large 18-29 age group (84% who use the Internet!)? Structure your messages so that you are effectively communicating the relevant attributes with each segment of your market. But be ready to be busy in your order fulfillment center!
IV. Email Marketing Campaign Development: What Are You Sending?
So now we have a few thousand people who have requested to receive our email offers. Great! But what the heck are we going to send ‘em? Let’s take some time to look at different styles, formats, structures and content of email campaigns.
Email Marketing Campaign Style
There are many different types of email marketing campaigns. Some marketers send monthly email newsletters to keep their customers informed with company and products news and updates. Others use email solely to announce weekly promotions on products or services. Some use email to link to website content such as articles or whitepapers so that they will increase traffic to their site.
Selecting an effective campaign style is important. What would your particular customers respond to most effectively? More and more, online customers are looking for authentic and open relationships with their product and service providers. To that end, many marketers are starting to communicate in a more personal, transparent manner with their customers.
According to Forrester Research, email marketers structure their campaigns around the following:
– Promotion or discount – 66%
– Newsletter – 48%
– Product announcement – 34%
– Advertising/Marketing – 28%
– Alerts/Reminders – 24%
– Market Research – 8%
– Other – 4%
But, regardless of what style you use, there are certain elements that are critical for all possible styles.
Email Marketing Campaign Format
There are several things to consider about the format of your email messages. Most importantly you need to determine whether you will send your campaigns in HTML, Text or both. Email marketers have been debating Text vs. HTML methods of email delivery for years. The text camp believes that text-based emails ensure compatibility with all recipients, even those who can receive HTML but disable images in their email client. HTML advocates feel that their message falls flat without some HTML design incorporated in the campaign.
Obviously, the most effective way to optimize compatibility, and thus deliverability and click-through rates, is to send an email in both HTML and Text format, allowing each recipient’s email client to launch the appropriate version based on the their unique settings.
In a recent split test to 30,000 recipients, Infacta tracked click-through rates, comparing recipient response to messages sent in the following formats; HTML only (10,000), Text-only (10,000), and HTML and Text (10,000).
- HTML Only: 1,436 Unique Clicks
- Text Only: 1,353 Unique Clicks
- HTML and Text: 1,518 Unique Clicks
Regardless of which format you choose, it is best to avoid sending emails of a large file size. It delays the process on both ends. It is always better to link to information if possible.
If you are going to send an HTML email campaign, keep in mind that there is no standard for HTML email and HTML that looks good in one email client might not be formatted properly in another. To that end, it is important that you test your HTML email against multiple email clients to ensure that it looks good in all of them. For more information about HTML Email, read HTML Email Design and Rendering Standards
Email Marketing Campaign Structure
An email marketing campaign’s content structure can be broken down into three areas; the From Field, the Subject and the Body. Each of these elements is important in email marketing.
The From Field determines who is sending the email and it generally the first thing that recipients look at when scanning their inbox. Some marketers use their company name, others use their own name and still others use a particular brand name that is associated with their company. Regardless of which approach you take, you should be consistent with your From field so that, over time, your recipients will build trust in the name used. Unless your personal name is your brand or is recognized by your recipients, it is usually recommended to use your Company or Brand name in the From field.
Perhaps the most important element of any successful email marketing campaign is the Subject line. Your customers inboxes are full every morning, afternoon and night. Because of the amount of email that is sent today, recipients don’t have too much time to analyze each message. In fact, email recipients scan email subjects, deleting those that don’t interest them after the first glance. It is a process of elimination, and the worst-case scenario for an email marketer is if their message doesn’t make the initial cut. For any message to be effective, it has to be opened and read. Your email subject should be directly related to your call-to-action. If the objective of your message is to sell your latest product, mention the product proposal in your subject line. If the objective is to get customers to your site by offering articles relevant to them, then put your best article headline in the subject. Here are two examples:
- Product Proposal Example: Improve Open Rates with GroupMail
- Relevant Article Example: Email Marketing: 3 Lines of Success
Your subject line will be effective only if it is relevant to your recipients. Understanding that legitimate email marketers only send email to customers who are interested in their products or services, the first tier of relevance can be implied. But there is another aspect of relevance that must be illustrated in the subject. What problem is this message going to solve for each recipient? The people on your email list might all have a general interest in your content, but what is it specifically about this particular email that is relevant to your customers today? Relevance responds to a real interest, need or desire.
The body of your message contains the meat of your message. In it, you tell readers what you want them to do and why they should do it.
Don’t bury your call-to-action in your email marketing campaign. State the intent of your message clearly and quickly at the beginning of your message.
Buy GroupMail Today and improve the open rates of your email marketing campaigns.
Link your call-to-action directly to your point-of-purchase if the objective is to sell something. If you expect the recipients of your email to purchase your product or service, don’t make them search for the checkout. If your objective is simply to get customers to your website, link them directly to the page that you want them to see. Calls-to-action should be clear and concise. Remember, you only have a few seconds to hold their attention. To persuade customers, you must communicate why they should follow your recommended action. What makes you different from the others offering similar products in their inbox?
The Unique Proposition
Differentiate yourself from the competition in your message. Why is your product the best? Why is your article or resource of more value than others I could be reading right now? What sets you apart from the crowd? One effective way to do this is to show how your product has already helped customers who use your product or service. Use testimonials from reputable names (if you have any), showing why they think your brand is better than the others. If existing customers recommend your product or service, the confidence of new prospects will increase. Use your market positioning effectively to distinguish yourself. If your price is positioned at the low end of the market, communicate that value. If your product is positioned at the high end, communicate the personal support or extra features that set you apart.
You don’t have to write a thesis explaining all of the features that set you apart. Remember, email readers skim content. Summarize your unique proposition in one sentence, and then expand on it or go into more detail afterward. Highlight the summary of your unique proposition by:
Email Marketing Campaign Content
Where do you get the content for each email message that you send to your audience? It’s not easy coming up with new content week after week after week. One good practice is to write content once in a central point on your website or blog and point all other communication channels to that content. Having a large volume of content on your website or blog will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and give you a pool of ready-to-use material for your email messages.
If you are running a special promotion each month and using your email marketing campaign to communicate that promotion, then you might design a special promotion page on your website that you can point recipients to. This is called a ‘Landing Page’ or that page that recipients land at after clicking a link in your email message.
HTML Email Templates make it easier to structure your content in a consistent fashion. Using HTML templates allows you to send new content each month while maintaining consistency in design. HTML templates ensure that you keep the same format, look and feel to your campaigns. Some marketers argue that creating campaigns which are too similar in format or style over time will fatigue readers. Others suggest that consistency in format and style builds trust and confidence. See what your own audience thinks.
V. Email Marketing Campaign Delivery: How and When Are You Sending It?
Once we know what we are sending to whom, we must figure out how we are going to send it and when.
There are basically two options in the email marketing game. You can buy email marketing software and send campaigns from your computer very reasonably or you can pay a monthly (or per-email) fee for an Email Service Provider (ESP) to send your campaigns out for you.
An Email Service Provider (ESP) solution handles delivery for you. Basically you upload your list and message to them and they send it out for you on a per-email rate. They generally have mail severs that can handle even very large list sizes and will provide the sender reports as to delivery rates.
Email Marketing Software allows people to create, send and manage email marketing campaigns and newsletters from their own computer. With email marketing software, there is no recurring monthly or per-email costs to send your campaigns.
Of course, while email marketing software is designed to process large volumes of messages quickly, the success of your delivery is dependent upon your own mail server’s email policy and mail server capacity.
Most mail servers have policies that limit the amount of emails which can be sent to their mail server 1) at a time, 2) hourly or 3) per day. This is understandable because they have a large base of customers and limitations are necessary to ensure that all customers can get their messages sent out without delay. Many ISPs or web hosting companies have business accounts available which will increase the limits for business users. It is important to check the policy of your own ISP or web hosting company to ensure that their policy is in line with your email list size. Work with your ISP to find a solution that works.
If the current mail server does not support your list size and sending frequency, there are some options. Read SMTP Email Server Limits and Options for more information.
Knowing when to send you message is important too. People react to things differently on different days of the week and different hours of the day. I know I’m ready to start the weekend after lunch on Friday, especially if the sun is shining. So if you send me an important email on Friday afternoon, it may not get the attention that you were hoping it would.
Read The Best Day to Send Email for more information on what the best days to send email are. You might be surprised.
VI. Email Marketing Campaign Measurement: How Successful Were You?
Successful email marketing requires careful analysis of each campaign. Through regular measurement, email marketers can identify strengths and weaknesses and make appropriate adjustments in the next campaign. The most important information that email marketers measure are delivery rates, open rates, clicktru rates, conversion rates, new subscription (opt in) rates, unsubscribe (opt out) rates and bounce rates. This information is monitored by using special email tracking services
Delivery rates measure how many recipients received the email that you sent. This measurement is important to analyze how successful your delivery was and how it might be improved next time. Your delivery rate might be impacted by the quality or accuracy of your email list, difficulty with content filters or other issues. Measuring delivery rates can help email marketers fine tune their delivery and subject strategies.
Open rates measure how many recipients opened the email that you sent. This percentage is important to analyze how successful your delivery was and how it might be improved next time. It also might be impacted by the quality or relevance of the subject line. Measuring open rates can help email marketers fine tune their delivery and subject strategies.
Click-through rates are very important. It is one thing to get recipients to open your email. What you really want is for those same recipients to click on one of your calls-to-action within the message. Click-through rates identify how many people clicked on a link within your message. Email marketers can learn a lot by analyzing click-through rates. Perhaps a link at the top of the message was clicked more than those in the middle? Maybe links with red buttons were clicked more than standard text links? Was the text used in one link more persuasive than another?
Without a doubt, ultimately, the most important element of your email marketing campaigns is your conversion rate. Conversion rates identify how many of your recipients took the action that you wanted them to. If you were promoting a special offer on a product, how many click-throughs resulted in the purchase of that product? Conversion rates are the most difficult to ascertain, as there might be delays in action, skewing report results. Measuring conversion rates can help email marketers to determine the effectiveness of their landing page and call-to-action. Was the copy persuasive enough? Did the landing page make it easy for the conversion to take place?
A subscription rate is determined by how many people signed up to receive your email offer(s) during each period of measurement. This rate can be helpful in determining the effectiveness of your website subscription forms, co-registration partnerships and other online and offline subscription efforts.
Conversely, your unsubscribe rates tells you how many people opt out of your email list during each measurement period. This figure can reflect how changes in content might affect relevance to your audience. This is a key measurement indicator that alerts you to possible problems with your content or frequency.
Bounce rates are measured in either hard or soft bounces. Hard bounces are emails returned because there was a permanent error with an email address on your list. Hard bounces cannot be resolved over time. Soft bounces, on the other hand, are usually returned for temporary problems with server availability or problems. Hard and soft bounce rates will give you information about the accuracy of the addresses on your list and the capacity of your mail server. Monitoring your bounce rates is extremely important both to keep your sender reputation good and to improve your content.
VII. Email Marketing Campaign Supports: Who Is Helping You?
Because email marketing involves so many different elements; subscription forms, delivery engines, databases, mail servers and ISPs it is important that you have the necessary support resources available to you.
Even if you don’t plan on sending HTML emails, you will need support with some HTML or website design experience to help you with formatting issues, forms and HTML templates.
Your email marketing software or service provider will be able to provide assistance with HTML design and templates as well as with issues relating to the delivery of email or list management features that are included with the software or service.
You should know how to contact your ISP or web hosting company in the event that you need their assistance with any delivery problems or issues on their side that come up. It is always best to work with your ISP and not against them. Some email marketers even call their ISP in advance of a big mailing to give them a heads up.
Sometimes, email doesn’t reach your recipients’ inbox due to antispam filters forwarding it to a spam folder. You know it’s not spam. You have a permission-based, opt in list after all. Unfortunately, antispam filters don’t discriminate and cast their nets over messages with content, formatting or other elements that are considered spammy. To prevent this, it is a good idea to test your message against antispam filters in advance. One way to do this is to send your message with TEST in front of your subject line (I.e. TEST My Newsletter) to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will respond with a spam score (0-10) and outline specific elements of your message that contribute to that score. You can also use their online testing service at http://spamcheck.sitesell.com. This is a free service.
You can even create your own supports to help make each campaign as successful as possible. One important resource that you can create is an email marketing checklist which ensures that you cross all of your t’s and dot all of your I’s. Pilots don’t take off without one. Neither should an email marketer. For more information about email marketing checklists, read The Importance of Email Checklists.
As you can see, email marketing is not simply a matter of sending an email to a bunch of addresses, sitting back and hoping that people respond. The old batch and blast days are gone. Successful email marketing requires good list development and management practices, an effective and persuasive email message, good delivery rates and regular measurement and analysis. But the payoff is great when you invest the time and effort required.
Perhaps the most important quality of a successful email marketer is patience. Just as a high quality in-house email list doesn’t happen overnight, creating meaningful relationships via email doesn’t either. Email is merely the channel that you use to communicate with your audience. How effective you are at that communication is reliant on multiple factors. Don’t rush your email relationships. Resist the urge for the quick sale for the long term benefits that email can facilitate – the lasting relationships.
Most of all, remember the value. Keep asking yourself what value you are providing to your recipients with each email you send. Put yourself in your recipients’ shoes regularly and compare your value to other offers available from others. Is your offer exciting enough to keep in the inbox? Is it attractive enough to forward to friends and colleagues? It better be, because inboxes are getting full today, and only the best will stay above the fold.
IX. Email Marketing Tips (Bonus Chapter)
With so many emails arriving in inboxes around the Internet today, it is important to give yours something extra so that it stands out from the crowd. Here are 12 email marketing tips to help your email marketing campaigns have a greater impact on your audience.
1. Use personalization more effectively. Simply inserting the [FirstName] of your email list contacts into the body of your email message isn’t going to persuade them to take action. Most of the emails that they receive from marketers use their name today. Effective personalization requires contextual references that are relevant to your audience. The more personal information you can collect from your customers, the more effective you can be with personalization. Consider using other fields in the subject and body of your email (State, Country, Industry, etc.). More importantly, study your email lists and think of ways that you can segment it to take real advantage of personalization. If, for example, you find that you have hundreds of New York customers, perhaps you could provide a link to an industry-related news story to that segment of your list. Making email personal isn’t simply about inserting merge fields into the subject and body of your message. It requires understanding the makeup of your list and providing information that is uniquely relevant to each person in it.
2. Write a personal letter. Remember that, in the end, you are sending your email to people – people like you and me. While it is important to be professional in your communication with customers and prospects, you don’t have to bore them with robotic copy. Bring your copy alive by making your pitch softer and more personal in style. Connect with the person rather than the customer. This will strengthen your relationships with the people on your list.
3. Don’t kill me with bullets. Bullet points can be effective sometimes, but like PowerPoint presentations, they have a tendency to be boring. It is very tempting to use bullet points in an email to punch features or benefits. Try to avoid bullets and use other microcontent copy in place of them. Nobody gets excited or persuaded to action when presented with a lost list of bullet points.
4. Offer something incredible every now and then. Surprise your audience with super value every once in a while. As a branding exercise, offer your customers something of value as a sign of appreciation for their loyalty. Doing so will make them keep an eye on future messages that you send. “Are they giving anything else away?” This increase in attention to your brand message and the buzz that will be created when they tell their friends and colleagues about the incredible offer that they just received from you can have long term impact to your brand. Come up with creative ways to offer value without breaking the bank.
5. Give life to your automated response emails. Take the time to review the auto-generated emails that you send to your customers when they visit your website to purchase a product, request support or subscribe to your newsletter. These autoresponse messages are all-too-often as mechanical as the technology used to distribute them. Just because you are not actually composing each response yourself doesn’t mean that it should be void of a personal touch. Consider your newsletter sign-up notifications, product purchase messages, support request confirmations and any other automated emails that you generate. Avoid canned ‘thank you’ messages and use the opportunity to promote your brand in a personal and expressive way. Also take the opportunity to let the recipients of those messages know about other products and services that you offer that might be of interest to them.
6. Use red buttons. Studies show that people click on red buttons more than they do on text hyperlinks. Use them appropriately for those key links in your emails.
7. Test, test, test. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Test different delivery days, times, link placements, formats and styles to see if they affect your results. Don’t lull your audience to sleep by being too predictable. Consistency is important, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
8. Use double opt in subscription methods when possible. Double opt-in email subscriptions require that subscribers must confirm that they want to receive your email. This prevents unnecessary list management effort and ensures that your resulting email list is interested in hearing from you.
9. Make unsubscribing easy for people. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to unsubscribe from an email marketing list without success. Provide a one click opt out link and ensure that each request is removed immediately. There is no benefit to keeping someone on your list who doesn’t want to receive email from you. It will only damage your reputation and business.
10. Make your email interactive. Too often, email marketers talk to their audience without taking the time to listen to them. Effective relationships require an exchange of communication. Enable your audience to respond to your message. Use short polls and surveys to invite your recipients to send you feedback, ask them to contribute to a discussion on your blog or Facebook site and solicit feedback and comments regularly in your email marketing campaigns.
11. Create effective landing pages. Having good click-through rates for your email marketing campaigns is great. But what happens after your audience clicks on the link? The most important element of an email marketing campaign is the bottom line result – the conversion rates. In order to maximize your conversion rates, ensure that your links bring customers and prospects to the right place. Make it easy for them to take the action that you want them to.
12. Encourage recipients to forward your message. Sometimes, simply asking the recipients of your message to forward it on to their friends or colleagues is enough to make it happen. Providing a “forward this email” link in your email campaigns makes it even easier for them. Either way, the more that people forward your message, the more viral it will be (in a good way!)
X. Email Marketing Glossary
Below are some terms that you might come across when reading about email marketing.
A campaign in which a list is split into two pieces with every other name being sent one specific creative, and vice versa.
Above the fold
The part of an email message or Web page that is visible without scrolling.
The cost to generate one lead, newsletter subscription or customer in an individual email campaign; typically, the total campaign expense divided by the number of leads, subscribers or customers it produced.
An active request by a reader or subscriber to receive advertising or promotional information, newsletters, etc. Generally affirmative consent does not include the following — failing to uncheck a pre-checked box on a Web form, entering a business relationship with an organization without being asked for separate permission to be sent specific types of email, opt-out.
Application Service Provider (ASP)
Company that provides a Web-based service. Clients don’t have to install software on their own computers; all tasks are performed on (hosted on) the ASP’s servers.
Any file that accompanies an email message but is not included in the message itself. Attachments are not a good way to send email newsletters because many ISPs, email clients and individual email recipients do not allow attachments, because hackers use them to deliver viruses and other malicious code.
An automated process that verifies an email sender’s identity.
Automated email message-sending capability, such as a welcome message sent to all new subscribers the minute they join a list. May be triggered by subscribes, unsubscribe or other actions. May be more than a single message — can be a series of date or event-triggered emails.
Business-to-Business (also B2B)
Business-to-consumer (also B2C).
A list developed by anyone receiving email, or processing email on its way to the recipient, or interested third-parties, that includes domains or IP addresses of any emailers suspected of sending spam. Many companies use blacklists to reject inbound email, either at the server level or before it reaches the recipient’s in-box. Also Blocklist and Blackhole list
A denial by an ISP or mail server to forward your email message to recipients. Many ISPs block email from IP addresses or domains that have been reported to send spam or viruses or have content that violates email policy or spam filters.
A private email registration service offered by email vendor Ironport that allows bulk emailers to post a monetary bond to bypass email filters of Bonded Sender clients. The program debits the bond for spam or other complaints from recipients.
A message that doesn’t get delivered to your recipient and is returned is said to have bounced. See hard bounce and soft bounce.
The message sent back to the sender explaining why their message could not be delivered.
The process of dealing with the email that has bounced. Bounce handling is important for list maintenance, list integrity and delivery. Given the lack of consistency in bounce messaging formats, it’s an inexact science at best.
This is the number of hard or soft bounces divided by the number of emails sent.
The process of sending the same email message to multiple recipients.
Bulk folder (also junk folder)
Where emails go when filters determine that they contain spam-like content and thereby are classified as spam by the filter
Call to action
In an email message, the link or copy that asks the recipient to take an action (i.e. click here for more information).
The abbreviation for the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003
An anti-spam program that requires a human being on the sender’s end to respond to an email message before their messages can be delivered to recipients.
How many subscribers leave a mailing list or how many email addresses go bad over a period of time.
Total number of clicks on a link(s) divided by the number of emails sent.
Business email sent to sell, promote or advertise a product
When subscribers confirm a subscription or information request (See Double Opt in)
All the information within an email message, to include copy, images, etc.
A device that evaluates header and content information of email messages to determine the likelihood that it is spam.
A method of collecting email subscribers where businesses partner with other sites to collect registration information from users (email subscription forms, shopping checkout process, etc.) for products and services related (but not in direct competition) to their own.
The act of converting a recipient to a desired action (i.e. a sale, newsletter subscription, etc.)
An abbreviation for click-through rate.
Double opt in
A process that requires new email subscribers to respond to an initial online subscription to confirm that they do, indeed, want to be on the list.
Email content that changes from one recipient to the next according to a set of rules, usually according to preferences the user himself establishes when subscribing to an email offer. Dynamic content can be based on past purchases, content preferences, location, etc.
The software that email recipients use to send and receive email, such as Yahoo!, Outlook Express or others.
An email tool that blocks incoming email based on user preferences or content. Filters may be used at the recipient level, ISP level or a combination.
Another name for an email service provider, a company that sends bulk email on behalf of their clients. (Also known as an Email Service Provider – ESP).
Another name for an email newsletter.
The area at the end of an email message or newsletter that contains information that doesn’t change from one edition to the next, such as contact information, legal information an opt-out link or other information that doesn’t change.
Forward to a Friend (FTAF)
When recipients send your message to other people they know, either because they think their friends will be interested in your message. Email marketers often offer incentives to recipients for forwarding their messages to others, in essence, treating existing recipients as affiliates.
The information that appears in the email recipient’s inbox in the “From” section
An email vendor that also provides cradle-to-grave email support, from design to delivery to measurement.
Email messages that contain HTML formatting rather than just plain text.
Messages returned because the email address is invalid. Hard bounces are permanent errors.
All information at the start of an email message (but not visible to the sender or recipient), including the sender’s name and email address, originating email server IP address, recipient IP address and any transfers in the process.
The list of email addresses an organization procures on its own, organically over time
A unique number assigned to each computer connected to the Internet. An IP address can be dynamic, meaning it changes each time an email message is sent, or it can be static, meaning that it does not change. Static IP addresses are preferable for optimum deliverability.
An abbreviation for Internet Service Provider. Examples: Comcast, Sbcglobal, AOL, EarthLink, MSN, etc.
A web page that email recipients (or search engine users) go to after clicking on a link within an email or search result. Landing pages are also known as micro-sites, splash page, bounce page, or click page. For seasoned email marketers, landing pages are created specifically for email marketing campaigns to increase conversion rates.
The list of email addresses that you send your messages to. Lists are generally organic, in-house lists or third-party lists that are sent your message on your behalf.
What happens to recipients over time as email offers lose relevance and they tire of receiving your messages anymore.
The process of maintaining an email list so it stays up-to-date and relevant to your offer.
The overall management of an email list; to include the process of adding recipients, removing recipients and keeping details of the list accurate and up-to-date.
The person who is in charge of an email list and responsible for its management
The process of procuring available email lists related to your market. Lists are usually rented by the list provider for a one-time delivery in hope of gaining customers/subscribers. While there are reputable list providers, there are also disreputable ones and email publishers should be very cautious when renting any email lists as it could damage their reputation.
An existing list of email addresses that receive mailings or discussion-group messages specific to content areas.
The number of email messages that are actually opened by recipients, usually as a percentage of the total number of emails sent. Open rates can only be measured for HTML email as an open-rate counter must be embedded in the email. Many recipients today do not actually open email messages received as 8 out of 10 recipients make use of Preview Panes (See Preview Pane)
A specific request by an individual to subscribe to a specific mailing list – thereby giving email publishers permission to send them messages related to what they signed up for.
The term for recipients unsubscribing to an email offer and requesting to be removed from an email list. A requirement of the CAN-Spam Act, all email messages must have an opt-out link in them, giving recipients the chance to unsubscribe
The implicit approval given when a recipient requests to have their email address added to a list. Permission is not permanent and does not give the sender free-range with regard to contact the recipient. Permission is granted by recipients for a specific type of email offer, sent at intervals (frequency) promised by the sender.
The process of personalizing email messages using available fields associated with contacts in an email list. Both Subject lines and the body of a message can be personalized using fields such as First Name, Last Name, City, State or any other details associated with a recipient on a list.
A type of fraudulent email that purports to be from someone else and seeks to trick recipients into giving personal, and often financial, information such as credit-card or bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and other data.
Plain text email
Email messages that include no HTML formatting code.
Specific options a user can set to determine how they want to receive your messages. Often offered in an email subscription form, recipients can select between their email address, HTML or Text format or specific content areas that are offered by the publisher.
The window in an email client that allows recipients to view a portion of the email message without actually opening it. Preview panes range is size but make it extremely important for senders to place their most important information in view of the Preview Pane (See Above the Fold).
Where an email message goes after you send it but before the list owner approves it or before the list server gets around to sending it. Some software allows you to queue a message and then set a time to send it automatically, either during a quiet period on the server or at a time when human approval isn’t available.
The email address recipients will send replies to when they click on “Reply”. It is a requirement of the CAN-Spam Act to have a valid “Reply-to” email address when sending commercial email.
Creative elements of an email message, to include video, animation and other multimedia material.
The ability to slice a list into specific pieces determined by various attributes, such as open history or name source.
An unsubscribe mechanism that allows a recipient to selectively unsubscribe from a selection of email offers provided by a publisher but continue receiving others. This is becoming more and more important today as publishers are providing multiple email offers based on specific products and services.
Combines two existing elements of an email: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and CallerID. SenderID authenticates email senders and blocks email forgeries and faked addresses.
Sender Policy Framework (also SPF)
A protocol used to eliminate email forgeries. A line of code called an SPF record is placed in a sender’s Domain Name Server information. The incoming mail server can verify a sender by reading the SPF record before allowing a message to pass through.
The number of email address transmitted in a single campaign. The number of sent messages does not reflect how many were actually delivered or opened by recipients.
A computer system that processes and distributes email from one mailbox to another through relays from one server to another in a network.
An email server used by more than one company or sender. Using a shared server, while less expensive, risks having your emails blocked by major ISPs if one of the other users on the server does something to get the server’s IP address blacklisted.
The portion of an email where the senders contact information is located. Often, signatures are used to also cross sell or up sell to recipients or provide brand information.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, the most common protocol for sending email messages between email servers.
Email addresses that are returned as undeliverable, often because of a temporary problem with delivery (i.e. the recipient server is temporarily unavailable or the recipient’s mailbox is over quota, etc.)
The popular name for unsolicited commercial email (See CAN-Spam Act). However, some email recipients define spam as any email they no longer want to receive, even if it comes from a mailing list they initially opted-in to receive.
A blacklist database. Many ISPs check the IP addresses of incoming email against Spamcop’s records to determine whether the address has been blacklisted due to spam complaints.
The practice of changing the sender’s name in an email message so that it looks as if it came from another address.
The content that appears in the Subject Line of an email message. The Subject line identifies what an email message is about. The CAN-Spam Act requires that Subject lines are not deceptive and relate specifically to the actual contents of the body of the email.
The process of joining or opting-in to an email offer.
The person who has specifically requested to join a mailing list. Subscriber is also the name of an Add-on to GroupMail, which helps users to automate their opt-in, opt-out and bounce management efforts.
The list of email addresses you have removed from your regular mailing lists, either because they opted out of your lists or because they have notified other mailers that they do not want to receive mailings from your company. Required by CAN-SPAM, it is important to keep a record of your suppression files in the event that you are required to show evidence at a later state that you keep a suppression list.
An important step that should be taken prior to sending an email campaign. Different email clients display email differently, and it is wise to test your message against multiple clients to ensure that the formatting of your message appears well in all clients. You can also test the content of your message by sending it to an online content checker prior to delivery.
The practice of regulating how many email messages a publisher sends to an ISP or mail server at a time. ISPs have email sending policies that set limits as to how many email messages can be sent to their server at a time. Email marketing software, like GroupMail, allows senders to stagger delivery of their message in line with these limitations (i.e. send 50 messages, pause for 30 seconds, etc.)
A creative format where the recipient can perform a transaction right in the body of the email without needing to visit a web page. Transactions may include answering a survey, or purchasing something.
Unsolicited Commercial Email, also called spam or junk mail.
The act of removing yourself from an email list, either via an emailed request to the sender or by filling in a web form.
Any company that provides a service (See email vendors)
A program that determines that an email came from the sender listed in the return path or Internet headers; designed to stop email from forged senders.
An authorized list of email addresses, held by an ISP, recipient or email service provider that specifies which email addresses are permitted to be delivered to them regardless of spam or content filters.
Pew Internet Research
GroupMail – Exceeding the expectations of email marketers in over 160 countries for over over 15 years
But don’t take our word for it…
“I’ve always been impressed with GroupMail and my experience has been nothing but pure joy. GroupMail has been updated countless times, and each version becomes better than the one before, although I’ve never had any complaints. I once had a glitch after installing and the support staff answered my e-mails quickly and got it figured out within a day. I love this product and the updates too!” – Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP, http://www.OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
“I just spent a half hour explaining to one of your competitors why I chose GroupMail over their product. That is not something I will usually take the time to do, but I just like your software so much, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to explain why GroupMail was so much better. Then I realized I should at least take a few more minutes to let you know what a great job you did. I evaluated nearly 30 different mass mail programs and was disappointed with all of them. When I tried group mail it was as if the heavens opened and I knew I had found what I was looking for. The program is clean and concise. Everything is organized in such an intuitive manner that it felt like I already knew how to use everything before I used it. Every feature that I was looking for was there. And maybe this is just because of the drudgery I experienced in reviewing so many other products but every time I open GroupMail now, I get this little thrill, which comes from the knowledge that I’m using a product that is hands down better then any of the others that I tried.” – Joshua Choate, Director of Technology, Healthcare Insights, LLC – http://www.hcillc.com
“GroupMail 5 is everything one could want from an email marketing perspective.” – Julian Ehrhardt, Digital White Ltd, http://www.digital-white.com
“Just a quick note to say that this is one of the most well-designed and smoothest operating software packages I have had the pleasure to own. I wish Microsoft products worked this well.” – David Burch
“Thanks for developing a great product. I purchased GroupMail after spending a great deal of time searching for an email tool to communicate with our customers who buy our signed memorabilia from soccer players in the English Premier League. Importing my customers details was simplicity itself and my first personalized email was out in less than an hour. Inbound orders followed quickly afterwards and the product had paid for itself in 2 or 3 days. This does not even take into account the amount of time I saved over previous methods I had used. GroupMail is so easy to use I communicate more regularly with my customers and our business has benefited significantly from this. Easily the best piece of software I have bought for many years. Well done!” Rob Wylie, http://www.bobbychariot.com