The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Yahoo! Resurrects Sender Score Certified / Bonded Sender

Earlier this year it was announced that Yahoo! would be joining Sender Score Certified. Well the time has arrived!

During the first week of January 2009, Yahoo! will begin using Sender Score Certified status in their filtering decisions. This means that Sender Score Certified members will receive preferential treatment in reaching the inbox at Yahoo! Mail. This new benefit comes in addition to the long standing benefits at Hotmail, Cloudmark, IronPort, Road Runner, Cox, SpamAssassin, Barracuda, and dozens of other email networks worldwide. This is extremely exciting news for all Sender Score Certified members and folks that had forgotten it existed.  This has potential to be a weapon in your deliverability arsenal that could increase your email program's ROI almost overnight. 

Details on how this data will be used will be sent to Sender Score Certified members very soon.  In my opinion, I have seen little value in this service for the past couple of years for the individual however this announcement could mean a new dawn for a rebranded and repurposed "Bonded Sender" program.

If you are not currently a Sender Score Certified member now is a great time to apply .  It does cost a small licensing fee from Return Path to be SenderScore certified however at the end of the day, if delivery to the Yahoo! inbox is important to your program, it is strongly advised that you at least apply to see if you qualify for the program.

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Creating Subject Lines that Capture Attention

Too many marketers forget one of the most important elements of their e-mail marketing campaign—the subject line. With spam filters furiously searching for reasons to dump your email in a junk email folder instead of the inbox, your choice of subject line is increasingly important. Consider these tips.

  • Strive for accuracy and don’t exaggerate the content just to attract readers.
  • Test the subject line with different segments of your group using eLoop’s A/B…Z Split option for campaigns.
  • Personalize your subject line and give readers a reason to open it.
  • Write the subject line like a headline and read newspapers for some ideas. 
  • Associate a deadline to increase a sense of urgency.
  • Use a spam filter to check the copy of the subject line too and avoid phrases that will tip them off.


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Building Lists Organically Part 3 - Referral Pages

Relying on friends and colleagues for references is one of the most effective ways to find new vendors. Whether it’s a new healthcare provider for your family or a marketing consultant for your company, referrals are the backbone of a growing business.

If you use email as the primary form of communication with current clients, adding referral pages can help build distribution lists and expand your client base.

A referral page is used to entice readers to recommend or refer friends and colleagues to your products or services. They’re useful because potential leads receive the referral email from a trusted source increasing the likelihood that they’ll open the message and read the content. Referral pages differ from the “forward to a friend” feature available in many email marketing systems because they capture data and automatically add the new contact to a database of active contacts. 

Referral pages are easy to incorporate into your email campaigns by adding a link in the body of the message that allows users to invite others to visit your Web site and sign up to receive your regular communications. The process is completely CAN SPAM compliant since it requires the “friend” to confirm their opt-in.  

eLoop has a wizard to walk you through the process of creating a referral page under the Data Collection section. However, you need to do a little work before starting.  

  • Create the email message new recipients will receive when a colleague chooses to refer them to your company.  You create it the same way you create other emails in the Outbound Messaging section.  The referral message is what new recipients will receive so you should brand it to the look and feel of your other email communication.  The body of the message should include who referred them and why.  
  • The person who referred the new recipient will also receive a thank you message.  Set this up in the Outbound Messaging module before you start the wizard to create the referral page.  

Once you have created the referral and thank you messages, mouse over Data Collection, select referral pages, and follow the wizard. Be sure to test your message before sending it out to ensure the referral page is active.  Here are some other tips:

  • If you don’t have a custom template in your eLoop system, select the Gold Lasso “default” template.
  • In step five of the wizard you can select how many referrals each recipient can send by using the drop-down menu. 
  • Be sure to create any questions you want to include on the referral page, such as email address, name, company, title, etc, before you start the wizard so you can add them in step six.
  • In the final step of the wizard, be sure to enter the status of the page. If you want to test it, it needs to be “active.”
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Building Lists Organically Part 2 of 3: eLoop Tools at your Fingertips

We all want to grow our distribution lists. The logic is simple. If more people see our messages then more people also have the opportunity to respond to them.  One of the most overlooked methods of increasing the number of recipients in a database is organic growth.

The concept of organic growth means that your list grows from within. In other words, current recipients might opt-in to receive additional communications or emails from you or they might refer other members to your list. Another, equally as important, way to look at organic growth is limiting list attrition. You want to keep the recipients that you have.

eLoop has two features that can help you grow your list organically and limit attrition. If you are not already incorporating them into your messages, start now. First is the opt-in form, which allows your readers to subscribe to your emails (thus complying with CAN SPAM requirements) and customize their preferences. For example, they can choose which of your email campaigns are most valuable to them as well as select the delivery form (i.e. HTML or text messages).

eLoop users can create opt-in forms in the Data Collection section of the platform. The forms can be customized in several different ways but the most popular are:

  • Data points – you can add several different data points or information fields to your form so you gather the information most relevant to your needs. Most users use the first name, last name, and email address fields. But, you can ask other questions to help populate your database with information that will help personalize and target your campaigns.
  • Communication categories – if you have different types of emails going out to your database you can set up your opt-in form to allow users to select what type of emails they receive. For example, they might choose to receive your monthly electronic newsletter, but not other announcements about events.
  • Whitelists – readers don’t always understand the idea of the whitelist or how to add your organization to their “approved sender” list so your emails end up in their inbox and not their junk folder (or blocked entirely). Adding simple instructions to the bottom of your opt-in form increases the chance your emails are delivered and read.

The best way to use the opt-in form once it is created is to place it in a prominent section of your Web site where readers, and potential recipients, can easily see it and subscribe. eLoop makes it easy to create the form and copy the HTML source code directly into your Web management tool. How to Create an Opt-in Form in eLoop

Before you can create an Opt-In form a few things must be completed in eLoop.

  1. Communication categories need to be established.  Please see Communication Category info below.
  2. If you decide to link to the Opt-In page in eLoop instead of incorporating it into your website you will need to create an Opt-in page template.
  3. eLoop is a double opt-in system so you will need to create a verification message in the message section of the Out-bound Messaging module.
  4. If you would like to incorporate questions into your opt-in page such as “When is your birthday?” you will need to have them setup in the Q&A Section of the Data Collection module.

Creating an opt-in form for your Web site in eLoop is easy following the directions below.

  1. Mouse over Data Collection
  2. Select Opt-in Forms
  3. Click the new icon (select the category from the tree first. If this is the first opt-in form you have created or you want it in the general folder, select “Top Level)
  4. eLoop will lead you the eight steps to set up your form. You can access more detailed information from the HELP section.

You should also add Communication Categories to your account. Communication categories are just what they sound like—a categorization of the communications that you send out to your database.  For example, your e-newsletter (we’ll call it XYZ E-News) that goes out monthly could be classified as one category. Maybe you also have a weekly news blast called the XYZ E-Update that fits into another category.

Besides keeping your account organized, communication categories are beneficial because they give recipients an alternative to opting out of your list completely (i.e. attrition).  Instead, they can opt-out of receiving one category of communication. Here is an example using the two publications above.

John Smith finds value in XYZ E-Update because it gives him a quick snapshot of industry news. But, he doesn’t have time to read longer features in XYZ E-News and doesn’t want to receive it. He decides to opt out of all XYZ’s email because he sees no other option to keeping his inbox volume under control. When he gets to the opt-out form, he finds that he actually does have another option.  He can select to only receive the weekly E-Update.  So, instead of opting out of ALL of XYZ’s email, he chooses only to receive the email he finds valuable.

How to Set up Communication Categories

Setting up communication categories in eLoop is easy following the directions below. 

  1. Mouse over Account Settings
  2. Select Communication Categories
  3. If you are creating a new Category select Top Level
  4. Click on the New icon
  5. Name the Category and provide a description
  6. Select the folder to save the Category (if this is a new category select Top Level)
  7. Click Save

Don’t forget to incorporate these two easy steps into your campaigns to reduce your list attrition and increase your organic growth.


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Keeping Your List Current

The worst mistake an email marketer can make is to get a reader’s email address and walk away.  Getting the address is difficult enough, but what happens if that contact switches jobs, gets promoted or changes their primary email address.  Prevent your list from getting stale with the following practices.

  • Bounce Removal – make sure bad addresses are removed after a pre-determined number of bounces.  Remember there is a difference between a hard and soft bounce. Hard bounces mean the address is bad; soft bounces mean there was a problem with the transmission, the server or the recipient’s inbox. eLoop automatically removes bounces from your data.
  • Welcome Email – automatically send a welcome email after a new reader has subscribed.  It should explain the features and services available to them and provide them with a connection to your company’s Web site and, ideally, a real-live person.
  • Follow-up emails – follow up with contacts whose addresses continually cause problems.
  •  Managing Opt-Outs – your email service provider should automatically remove contacts that opt out from receiving messages. Make sure anyone choosing to opt out receives a confirmation message before permanently removing them from the list.
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