The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

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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Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study

Gold Lasso recently sponsored the Retail Email Subscription Benchmark Study produced by the Email Experience Council and written and edited by Chad White.  There are a lot of exciting new things that online retailers are doing with their opt-in subscription process.  Below are some interesting findings in the study:

  • Only 3% of major online retailers use a double opt-in subscription process.
  • Only 92% of retailers have an email sign-up form or link on their homepage.
  • More than 43% of retailers allow customers to sign up for email with one click from their homepage.
  • The subscriber's name (31%) and zip code (18%) were the two most often required pieces of information.

Of these stats I find the first the most interesting and kind of disturbing.  Since savvy email marketers know that double opt-in ensures the cleanest list, which leads to a quality reputation and high deliverability, why do only 3% of the largest online retailers engage in the practice?  Has there been a study that proves consumers are too ignorant for a double opt-in process?  This isn't 1999 and I'm fairly confident that consumers can handle this process.

Get a copy of the full report from the EEC
The full 37-page study presents a range of best practices and emerging best practices for your consideration, as well as a formerly popular practice that appears to be falling out of favor. It also includes numerous examples of creatives to help illustrate each point.

Visit the Whitepaper Room to download the full report, which is free for EEC platinum members, available at a discount to EEC gold and silver members, and available for $179 for non-members. Not a member? Learn more about becoming a member of the Email Experience Council.

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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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New Years Resolutions for Email Marketing - In February

This is the time of year for resolution and improvement.  It includes more than just losing weight or sticking to a budget (two of the most common resolutions).  For e-marketers, it means vowing to check their messages for SPAM before sending them or adding action-based messaging to their marketing plans.

  1. Check all messages with the SPAM analysis tool before sending them to my recipients.
  2. Join Dot Email, post questions and brainstorm ideas with other marketing professionals.
  3. Add a survey to my messages to help me gather more information about my readers.
  4. Add dynamic content to my marketing messages to increase personalization.
  5. Brand landing pages to increase connection with my readers.
  6. Segment my lists and create targeted messages to increase response rates.
  7. Make sure my IP is not blacklisted by checking the black list status in eLoop.
  8. Keep up-to-date on industry news by registering with Dot Email.
  9. Check my message with multiple email providers (such as Yahoo and AOL) to make sure my message is getting through and delivered correctly.
  10. Stay on the white lists of my readers.
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Marketers Not Following Best Practices Getting Desperate

I received three calls this past week from amateur marketers desperately seeking to open an account with my company Gold Lasso.  Each one claimed to be using an email service provider that encourages best practices.  Below is a paraphrased conversation with one of these marketers.

Me: How long have you been practicing email marketing?

Marketer: About three years.

Me: What kind of email content do you send?

Marketer: Offers from third party advertisers.

Me: (red flag goes up) What is your average monthly email volume?

Marketer: Around two million emails a month.

Me: All two million email addresses are double opt-in?

Marketer: Double opt-in, what's that?  These people signed up with my website.

Me: Did you disclose that you would be sending email from third party advertisers during the sign up process?

Marketer: No.  I'm not spamming.  I comply with the CAN SPAM Act.  I provide my address at the bottom and an opt-out link.

Me: Why are you looking to open an account with Gold Lasso?

Marketer: Because my email is not getting through with my current email service provider.

Me: Which email service provider do you use?

Marketer: I use (Censored).

Me: Never heard of them.  Do they over you your own unique IP address?

Marketer: They provide me with three revolving IP addresses.

Me: How much do you pay to send two million emails with your current provider?

Marketer: How much would you charge to send that volume?

Me: Depending on a few things, the cost might run around $(censored) per month. 

Marketer: What? I pay $(censored) per month with (Censored) provider.  You seem expensive.

Me:  Our mail gets through.  You get what you pay for.  Besides, you're not the type of client we would like to have for the simple reason that your email marketing practices are not up to snuff.  It's not an insult.  It's just we like to have all our clients achieve maximum success and deliverability.  I'm going to send you an email with some information to help get your program on the right track.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Once you're able to get your lists cleaned up we can speak further.

Marketer: Click!

Desperation is starting to resonate quickly amongst email marketers who lack best practices.  I'm sure I will be receiving many more calls like this in the not so distant future.  If you're doing everything right and your email is still not getting through, it's probably because you're sharing a network with one of these boneheads who recently called me.

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