Category Archives: Email Marketing

Long live email!

You may have heard that the use of email is shrinking due to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Add to that the deluge of spam or virus-infected emails floating around the net and the prediction starts to look promising. In addition, other technologies are gaining more and more ground such as skype, texting, and online calendar programs.

There are many reasons for the increased reliance on social media, including increased control over which messages you receive, the one-stop-shopping experience of an outlet which includes businesses, groups, clubs, and your entire social circle, and of course, let’s not underestimate the draw that an ever-changing platform like facebook can have for users simply for the sake of flashy new features.

So I have to ask, is email, once the height of information transfer technology, going the way of the pony express?

Email is by no means a perfect system; between spam (whether virus-infected or not), repetition or boringness of information in emails, and the sheer volume of messages that can accumulate when using a free instant digital medium for communication, lots of problems are likely to arise. Most internet-savvy users are able to control the settings of their email programs and personalize them so that they don’t encounter these issues, but for those who don’t know how or just can’t be bothered to do so, email can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help.

One important thing to remember is that the trend of increasing reliance on social media is not, generally speaking, a trend among businesspeople. While some smaller businesses do exist solely on sites like facebook, the vast majority of businesses that have a facebook page also have a main website and the facebook is simply an extra outlet for users who choose to recieve information primarily that way.

Despite the longevity of these predictions, email is still winning out. A study by iModerate Research Technologies found that 86% of consumers who send information over the Internet do so primarily through email. Facebook and Twitter, however, are dragging behind with 49 and 4 percent respectively. One reason for this high number of emails may lie in the age of the users; consumers over 35 are overwhelmingly favoring email at 93% usage, while even among the most Facebook-savvy age group — 18-24 years — 70% of users are still preferring email.

One reason for the continuing dominance of email may be its usefulness in online marketing. 37 percent of shoppers prefer email as the delivery method of promotional offers with only 9 percent favoring social media, according to eMarketer. In fact, social media is dead last on the list with Mailers in second place at 23 percent followed by text messaging and in-store with 18 and 11 percent respectively.

While the numbers will likely continue to grow in the favor of social media as it continues to grow, the fact that email is still by far the dominant form of online information transfer suggests that it will remain so for a long time to come.

Adobe/Omniture Email Marketing – Sometimes even the big boys get it wrong

Monday morning I came into the office and started filtering through a weekends worth of emails. Typically I am a little rushed to get through the emails, so I can get onto other items. This Monday was no different, I was reading and responding to my emails just as I normally would. Then something changed when I came upon this email. It literally stopped me in my tracks, and I actually read it three times before I moved on.

Adobe Email Number 1

Now I am not sure what your reaction was, but when I first read it I thought I was being called a “doormat”. Which immediately got me off on the wrong foot. Obvious to me was the fact this was a bulk email that was not just sent to me, but was sent to a large group of people. Since Net Solutions is in the email marketing business, we often read bulk emails with a critical eye to see what can be gained/learned. This email was no exception, I knew there was something to be learned. I knew that I needed some time to process my thoughts on this email, so I continued reading other emails. Little did I know, the emails blasts were not over, as I kept reading one or two emails later I received this email.

Adobe Email Number 2

Well, whatever forgiving bones I had left in my body were shattered by this second email. One was certainly enough to get the point across, but the second in under 30 minutes sent shivers of anger down my spine. For anyone who knows me, they know now was my turn to write an email, click here to see the screen shot of the email, but since it is my email I will copy it here.

Travis and anyone else this may concern,

This is probably one of the top 10 most direct bulk emails I have ever received. Being in the email marketing industry only occasionally do I read bulk emails since most of them are garbage. However, your two emails sent to me today got me to read them both. I even printed them out to share them with my staff, so that we could consider the ramifications of sending bulk emails such as yours. If you are interested, all of our immediate responses were identical.

“So now that you are reading this (proof that you do exist), here is a simple way you can help me”

I had to use a few of your choice words as they felt applicable. By the time I was done reading your emails I had moved beyond the point of being offended, and actually found it comical the degree to which you had pushed a potential client. Needless to say, I will no longer consider your product or service for my personal or business use. While some adobe products we cannot live without, I certainly will try to avoid paying for any of your products in the future.

So while you were successful, I read your email, I have now gone in the exact opposite direction from using your service to actually using you as an example of what not to do. You can plan on my account remaining “dormant”, as I will unsubscribe from your mailing list immediately (despite your obvious effort to hide the unsubscribe link).

Thanks for reminding me how not to perform email marketing.

Shane

Now certainly I was a little hot under the collar when I wrote that email, and now even a day later I can see room for improvement in my choice of words. Nonetheless, the general message would still be the same. So while my response may have been a little inappropriate, it was certainly appropriate given the tone of the original emails.

Once the war of words was over, and given some time to reflect on the email, what can we learn about email marketing?

  1. I think it is important to understand the emotional response elicited by the email. Certainly if their goal was to get me to respond, then job well done. However, I think they could have used the same basic message and delivered it with a softer less offensive tone.
  2. Choice of words, I want to address the specific choice of the word ‘dormant’ When selecting certain words, and in particular words that appear in the first few lines of an email, it is important to understand how those words could be perceived. They could easy have said “inactive” or “latent” and had the same message delivered without the risk of being offensive.
  3. Last is the “unsubscribe link” which was pushed way down past the bottom line of Travis’s signature. For those of you new to email marketing, I would refer you to the Can Spam Act which outlines the rules and regulations for email marketing. One of the items in this act, is that every bulk email blast should include an ‘unsubscribe link’ to allow people to opt out of your mailing list. Many companies put the ‘unsubscribe link’ right at the top of their email blast, others include it towards the bottom. Most of the time they actually use the text ‘unsubscribe here’ or ‘click here to unsubscribe for our mailing list.’ However, that is not what Adobe and Travis have done, instead they pushed the link all the way to the very bottom using the text ‘Manage your Subscriptions, click here’ which is really not very intuitive, but the worse part is how far down in the email blast it is located.

So there are certainly lessons to be learned here about email marketing. Omniture has lost me as a client, but certainly they can take this advice and adjust their bulk email practices and move towards a better, more customer first approach.

One last thing about Adobe and Omniture, is they hide their contact information very well. If you want to get emails to their board of directors, or even an upper level VP it is impossible to find on the Internet, or via their online chat, or by calling their corporate office (believe me I tried all of them). However, I am not easily deterred, and was able to figure out a pattern to how they format their emails, and was able to send a fair number of the upper level management a copy of the email.

In order to help others who need to contact Adobe, here is a list of the emails addresses I found to be valid:
support@adobe.com; info@adobe.com; customerservice@adobe.com; snarayen@adobe.com; mgarrett@adobe.com; kcottle@adobe.com; ngupta@adobe.com; rtarkoff@adobe.com; msaviage@adobe.com; dklyuchn@adobe.com; mboothe@adobe.com; iphone-prerelease@adobe.com; dariana@adobe.com; eric@adobe.com; techsuppt@adobe.com; sales@adobe.com; tquinn@adobe.com

The last question to answer is did anyone at Adobe respond? They certainly did, here is a copy of the email they sent back. Is this a big enough apology? I suppose it is sufficient given I am not a client of theirs. Of course, they could have prevented me from making this post had I truly felt they were in fact sorry.
Adobe Email Number 4

2009 List of Spam Keywords

When email marketing it would be nice to know what keywords should be avoided. Below is a list of 300 keywords and phrases that are often restricted by email spam filters. Avoiding these keywords will help your email marketing message to be delivered. We also suggest that you try to follow email marketing best practices.

The ProFusion Mailer has an excellent built in spam filtering tool that reviews your email blast for spam keywords prior to you sending. It also rates each keyword on a scale so you know which words are increasing your spam rating.

Note: We left out most adult spam keywords and phrases to ensure our list is suitable for all audiences.

2009 Spam Keywords & Phrases

4u
mlm
xxx
! and $
! and free
$$
,000 and !! and $
///////////////
@mlm
@public
@savvy
100% satisfied
18+
absolute
accept credit cards
act now! don’t hesitate!
additional income
addresses on cd
adult s
adult web
adults only
advertisement
all natural
amazing
apply online
as seen on
auto email removal
avoid bankruptcy
be 18
be amazed
be your own boss
being a member
big bucks
bill 1618
billing address
billion dollars
brand new pager
bulk email
buy direct
buying judgments
cable converter
call free
call now
calling creditors
cancel at any time
cannot be combined with any other offer
can’t live without
cards accepted
cash bonus
cashcashcash
casino
cell phone cancer scam
cents on the dollar
check or money order
claims not to be selling anything
claims to be in accordance with some spam law
claims to be legal
claims you are a winner
claims you registered with some kind of partner
click below
click here link
click to remove
click to remove mailto
compare rates
compete for your business
confidentially on all orders
congratulations
consolidate debt and credit
copy accurately
copy dvds
credit bureaus
credit card offers
cures baldness
dear email
dear friend
dear somebody
different reply to
dig up dirt on friends
direct email
direct marketing
discusses search engine listings
do it today
don’t delete
drastically reduced
earn per week
easy terms
eliminate bad credit
email harvest
email marketing
expect to earn
extra income
fantastic deal
fast viagra delivery
financial freedom
find out anything
for free
for free!
for free?
for instant access
for just $ (some amt)
free access
free cell phone
free consultation
free dvd
free grant money
free hosting
free installation
free investment
free leads
free membership
free money
free offer
free preview
free priority mail
free quote
free sample
free trial
free website
friend@
full refund
get it now
get paid
get started now
gift certificate
great offer
guarantee
guarantee and
have you been turned down?
hello@
hidden assets
home employment
human growth hormone
if only it were that easy
in accordance with laws
increase sales
increase traffic
insurance
investment decision
it’s effective
join millions of americans
laser printer
limited time only
long distance phone offer
lose weight spam
lower interest rates
lower monthly payment
lowest price
luxury car
mail in order form
mail@
marketing solutions
mass email
meet singles
member stuff
message contains disclaimer
mlm
money back
money back
money making
money-back guarantee
month trial offer
more info and visit and $
more internet traffic
mortgage rates
multi level marketing
must be 18
must be 21
name brand
new customers only
new domain extensions
nigerian
no age restrictions
no catch
no claim forms
no cost
no credit check
no disappointment
no experience
no fees
no gimmick
no inventory
no investment
no medical exams
no middleman
no obligation
no purchase necessary
no questions asked
no selling
no strings attached
not intended
off shore
offer expires
offers coupon
offers extra cash
offers free (often stolen) passwords
once in lifetime
one hundred percent free
one hundred percent guaranteed
one time mailing
one-time mail
online biz opportunity
online pharmacy
only $
opportunity
opt in
order now
order now!
order status
order today
orders shipped by priority mail
outstanding values
over 18
over 21
pennies a day
people just leave money laying around
please read
potential earnings
print form signature
print out and fax
produced and sent out
profits
profits@
promise you …!
public@
pure profit
real thing
refinance home
removal instructions
remove in quotes
remove subject
removes wrinkles
reply remove subject
requires initial investment
reserves the right
reverses aging
risk free
round the world
s 1618
safeguard notice
sales@
satisfaction
satisfaction guaranteed
save $
save big money
save up to
score with babes
section 301
see for yourself
sent in compliance
serious cash
serious only
shopping spree
sign up free today
social security number
special promotion
stainless steel
stock alert
stock disclaimer statement
stock pick
stop snoring
strong buy
stuff on sale
subject to credit
success.
success@
supplies are limited
take action now
talks about hidden charges
talks about prizes
tells you it’s an ad
terms and conditions
the best rates
the following form
they keep your money — no refund!
they’re just giving it away
this isn’t junk
this isn’t spam
university diplomas
unlimited
unsecured credit/debt
urgent
us dollars
vacation offers
viagra and other drugs
wants credit card
we hate spam
we honor all
weekend getaway
what are you waiting for?
while supplies last
while you sleep
who really wins?
why pay more?
will not believe your eyes
winner
winning
work at home
you have been selected
your income

Best Practices for Email Marketing

With the New Year comes new marketing strategies. If you are considering starting up an email marketing campaign, you’ll want to follow the 7 rules below to make sure that you are CAN-SPAM compliant.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

ProFusion Mailer

Using a newsletter management tool, like the ProFusion Mailer, makes these 7 items very simple as they are handled automatically. Having used the ProFusion Mailer to send out thousands of emails for hundreds of clients, we have come up with a best practices list of our own.

  1. It’s all relative – while at lunch the other day, we were talking about how inundated our inboxes have been lately with email marketing campaigns. Our CFO questioned if email campaigns were still effective. The short answer is yes, they are if they are done properly. I get 20 – 30 unsolicited emails daily from marketers that purchased my email address off of some list. All of these get filed in the trash can. However, if my veterinarian were to start sending out a monthly newsletter about dog health, I would probably read that one. I have a dog, and this is of interest to me. If the email is about a product or service that I have used in the past or have elected to receive information about, I am 10 times more likely to read, and forward that email on.
  2. Don’t make me hunt for the good information – emails that scroll on for days and days get sent right to the trash file too. I am way more inclined to read the high level points in a newsletter, and if something interests me, I will click on the article to read more. Don’t force me to read it all in my inbox.
  3. Your newsletter should not just be a jpg – we’ve all seen the email newsletters that are just a giant jpg. To me this is lazy. Take the time to recreate the email into a HTML format (using the ProFusion Mailer, makes this easy), with actual links and text.
  4. Don’t have all the links in your newsletter go to your homepage – by all means, have a link to your website homepage in your newsletter. A signature at the bottom is a great place for this. However, if you have a teaser headline and a link to read more, the link should take me directly to the article.
  5. Give me an offer – I am giving you my precious time by even reading your newsletter. The least you can do is give me an offer at the end of the newsletter. It doesn’t have to be a coupon. But give me a reason to want to read them again, to visit your site, to call you, to give you more love.
  6. I’d love to add to this list. So if you have any pet peeves or great ideas for email marketing, feel free to leave a comment here.