The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Email Trends to Follow Into 2009

As we all know, email marketing is an ever-changing marketing form. It is easily adaptable to market fluctuations, economic hardships, and sudden changes in marketing strategies.

There are so many trends that can impact email marketing, but I’d like to cover four that I feel most affect our clients. It’s important to keep these in mind while devising your email marketing strategy for 2009.

1) Control is in the subscriber’s hands now more than ever.

It used to be that subscribers had little or no control over a sender’s email program. Times have surely changed. With eLoop (as is true with most email tools today), subscribers are able to decide many things for themselves:

• Whether to opt-in to your communications
• When, where and how they will read your messages
• If and when they want to change their preferences for content, format and frequency
• Whether to report your email as spam
• When to end the relationship

2) Emerging channels are creating shifts

Email has begun the shift to allow for the multi-channel approach. There are so many communication channels available to get your message delivered – you’ve got text messaging, email, and voice among the most prominent. These days, it’s easy to combine these mediums and provide a “combo” to your recipients. Preference selection comes into play here – allowing the recipient to decide how they’d like to receive certain messages.

For example, travelers might prefer promotions via email, flight delay notifications via voice, and weather updates via text messages.

3) You find your email list shrinking – your number of inactive records is way up!

This may come as a shock, but you should expect to lose about one third of your list each year due to bounces, opt-outs and spam complaints. To add to the shock, you can pretty much bank on 25-50% of your email list being stagnant, meaning they have not opened or clicked on your messages in 12 or more months.

Now that I’ve got your attention, rest assured…you can reduce these scary numbers! In order to do so, you’ve got to make some improvements to your email program.

• Give more control to your recipients (as discussed above).
• Manage subscriber’s expectations from the start
• Create welcome programs
• Use trigger-based messaging and a relevant target approach

4) Design Emails to Render Across Multiple Environments

There are so many environments out there in which you can read your email. Desktop email reading has taken a backseat to mobile email. The downside of this is that many mobile phones turn your fabulous-looking HTML messages into a mess of URLs and code.

The majority of recipients view emails several times and on different devices. The message may initially come to their Blackberry or iPhone, but later that day, they may view it in Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo.

The importance of designing your email to render properly across the board can’t be stressed enough. In eLoop, we offer enhanced rendering testing which shows you how the message will render on mobile devices and in various email clients. If you are interested in learning more about enhanced testing, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

So there you have it…four trends that are not going anywhere anytime soon. Luckily, email tends to adapt very well to change in trends. If you have any questions regarding the information provided, do not hesitate to contact me directly at 301-990-9857 x213 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Co-registration: The Secret to Growing Your Email Lists

As published in DM News

In the world of email marketing, buying a list is considered a big “faux pas” amongst permission fanatics and professional email marketing pundits alike.  In fact, the practice is so loathed that the mere mention of a purchased list can get you banned by a mainstream email service provider.  So what’s a marketer to do when they want to engage in email marketing but don’t have a year or so to grow a list organically? 

Fortunately, some very creative, yet somewhat desperate marketer came up with the idea of co-registration and the email list industry has run amuck with the concept ever since.  For those you not familiar with the practice, co-registration is where your opt-in offer appears alongside or after the opt-in form of another website.  The idea behind this is that since it’s sometimes difficult and time consuming to get people to come to your website to opt-in, it is easier to syndicate your opt-in offer to other websites.  If done properly, co-registration has proven to be an effective way to grow your email lists. However, just as with anything in the list industry, it has been abused and twisted to meet marketers’ objectives.

You have two choices if you decide to use co-registration, the do it yourself approach or the ad network approach.  The do it yourself approach to co-registration is highly effective if your market is finite with a limited number of websites catering to it.  Here you would simply try to cut deals with website owners to place your opt-in offer alongside theirs with a checkbox next to it.  These types of deals are usually done on a price per lead or barter basis.  With barter you would simply return the favor on your website.  For the time-crunched marketer who is concerned about volume, going the ad network route is probably your only choice.  With an ad network, your opt-in offer is syndicated on a multitude of websites based on demographics, geo location and a host of other variables.  Deals are usually made on a flat price per acquisition (PPA) with minimum orders depending on the type of acquisition sought and quality of data collected.  Some new co-registration ad networks are turning to market forces with an auction style system to determine price and placement.  Whichever method you use for co-registration, below are some best practices that will help to ensure your efforts are successful:

  • Make sure your co-registration offers are accurate.  If you say you will send email once a week make sure these recipients don’t end up on your daily list.
  • If you work with an ad network, insist that you know where your opt-ins are coming from so that you can reference the website in your introductory email.  This will minimize list attrition and remind the person that they opted into your list.  Do not accept an offer from an ad network that is blind.  This might work for banners but not for opt-ins.
  • Send the introductory email as soon as possible.  “Out of site, out of mind” and people forget that they opted-in or will lose interest.
  • Do not have the opt-in checkbox pre-marked and don’t use an ad network with this practice.  If someone doesn’t click a checkbox to say that they want to hear from you then they probably don’t want to hear from you.  It’s simply wasted money.
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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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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!