The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Email Tries to Undermine Social Networking in Politics

As the 2008 presidential primaries come to a close, the remaining candidates' staffers are making a mad rush to expand their social networking presence.  Any medium to reach voters who were previously an afterthought in the last election has become the mantra amongst Clinton and Obama supporters in a tight Democratic primary.  However no matter how much effort goes into harnessing the power of social networking in the name of politics, email is right around the corner as an opposition's counter-measure to undermine such efforts.

One of the more popular smear campaigns this election has come in the form of an email claiming that Barak Obama is a Muslim.  This viral email attempted to establish a link of faith between Barak Obama and his paternal ancestry.  It was so successful that it garnered mainstream media attention forcing the up and coming presidential candidate to fight back and clarify false accusations.  Another email aimed at African American voters claimed to be from NAACP Chairman Julian Bond entitled "10 Reasons Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton."  The Obama campaign picked up on the hoax's momentum posting the email on the candidate's website only to quickly remove it when alerted to its true origin.

Email smear tactics are nothing new in politics but in this election it sheds light on the staying power email has as a viral tool.  As other Internet mediums such as social networking have gained popularity over the past couple of years, email marketers are failing to recognize email as a viable social medium.  This is not to say that one should ignore the social networking revolution but to find new ways to leverage the two mediums in tandem to create the ultimate viral marketing tool.

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Email Rendering on Mobile Devices Poses New Challenges and Opportunities

The mobile phone continues to rise in popularity as a primary communications device making email rendering on mobile devices a serious issue. According to data from MarketingSherpa, approximately 64 percent of “key decision makers” are reading messages on a BlackBerry or other mobile device. Let’s find out why this issue is finding its way to the top of many a priority list.
 
What is the problem?
 
Right now, mobile devices only display text emails. Basically, they make a mess of a finely-crafted HTML message. They are fussy about font size and the user is often scanning, not reading, the text.  Email marketers will also have a challenging time separating their mobile users in email databases from traditional computer receivers. The segmentation will be necessary, however, to ensure proper rendering of messages to non-HTML friendly email clients. Another snag is that mobile devices also make it more difficult for email marketers to determine the true open rate of their campaigns.  Metrics, we know, are key to evaluating success and implementing positive change.
 
How do email marketers solve this problem?
 
There is no simple answer to this question, yet. But, there are questions to start discussing with your email design and marketing teams. The first step is to make sure you’ve considered your audience demographics. Are they using BlackBerrys? Why? Many mobile-device devotees are checking email for urgent issues and will pass over anything that looks disposable. Another consideration that will play a key role as e-mail marketers update their strategies for this new medium is the nature of the campaign. For example, if the information is time sensitive, can the campaign be targeted to mobile users and not computer receives with only text and short, concise messages?
 
Naturally, we must also consider how we are gathering information in data collection methods such as surveys, landing pages and other tools. Do your sign-up forms include a mobile phone? Do recipients have a way to tell you that they use their mobile device as a primary communications tool?
 
eLoop users already have access to email rendering tools for all the major smart phones.  For more information please contact your account rep.

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Recession, Bad for Marketing - Great for Email Marketing

Waking up Tuesday morning to CNBC’s Becky Quick telling me the Dow Jones Futures were down almost 600 points after a surprise three quarter of a point Fed rate cut really put a damper on my day.  As I watched the real-time chart tick lower, my stomach started to knot, leaving me in a dizzying stupor.

It’s times like these that bring me back to my days as a small cap equities analyst where I would question CFOs about where they planned to cut and by how much.  The first answer out of their mouths was almost always “non-revenue generating jobs” such as customer and administrative support.  The second most common answer is “advertising and marketing.”  The second answer always baffled me especially from companies that aren’t leveraged.

In a time of a recession, companies with access to capital have an unusual opportunity to take market share as they are able to sustain or increase their marketing budgets.  Whenever a CFO with a decent to strong cash position told me that he or she were going to slash their marketing budget going into an economic downturn, I eventually sold the company’s stock and bought the competitor’s with the intention to keep its marketing budget intact.  This strategy worked well – especially in the services sectors.

Although most people do suffer from a recession, the winners do emerge and I’m confident that email marketing could get a gold medal.  During the 2001-2002 recession, email marketing was just on the cusp of becoming widely adopted but had yet to make the necessary penetration to become a formidable part of the promotional mix.  Most notably, the cost per email hovered around $0.05, way below the cost of a direct mail piece yet still prohibitive for most companies to implement two or three times a week on a large scale.  Fast forward to 2008, email marketing is now one of the least expensive marketing channels, and according to the DMA, a very high performer.  Today, most email marketers are paying under a penny per email however email marketing only claims a small part of the average marketing budget.  Even though email marketing has become widespread, email marketers, on a larger scale, are still not leveraging the medium’s true potential such as advanced personalization, delivery monitoring and management and integration with third party systems. 

This gap, coupled with a potential economic downturn, presents a unique opportunity for email marketers to lobby their CEOs/CFOs for a larger slice of their marketing budget.  Email marketers have already proven that email marketing works well now is their opportunity to reclaim it as the most relevant push channel available and the biggest bang for the buck.

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More SPAM Legislation Might Be Around the Corner

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), 15 to 25 new “Do Not Mail” bills will be introduced on the state level that will attempt to replicate the Federal Do Not Call legislation.  Although the federal government does have a legitimate business interest (US Postal Service) in not proposing federal legislation, Congress might be forced into taking action if a patchwork of state laws pass.

What does this mean for email marketers? 

Legislation in one marketing medium usually finds its way to other ones as technology makes compliance easier and enforcement is less of an issue.  It is doubtful that 2008 will see any significant legislation specifically related to email marketing. The “Do Not Mail” bills, however, could be a pre-curser to amending CAN SPAM from opt-out to opt-in. This means that all recipients will need to officially opt-in to receiving your email. Right now, the law requires marketers to have an opt-out option, and while opt-in is preferred, it’s not required. 

Stay ahead of this potential hiccup by strengthening your opt-in methods now. Check out eLoop’s features such as landing pages, surveys, and others to see how you can increase your opt-in savvy.

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A Wake Up Call For Email Marketing Newbies

Last year I predicted that 2007 was going to be "the year of the mailman" for email marketing, meaning that everyone including the mailman would engage in the practice.  This is evident in that Constant Contact now claims 150,000 small business customers.  The word is out that email marketing returns big bucks and the little guys want in.  True, email marketing does level the playing field between large and small online retailers since it's an affordable medium and relatively easy to press the send button.  However the newbies to the game need to understand that any monkey can click send and just as anything good in life, realizing a positive ROI from your email marketing takes time, effort, a little bit of smarts and an education.  Yes, you got to get yourself an email marketing education.  Don't be dumb and buy into unscrupulous pie in the sky marketing that you'll sell millions of dollars of your ill conceived widget by blasting some cockamamie email to a three million person list you bought for $300 from Raj in India.  And don't start crying that you didn't sell anything in the first month of sending your weekly email of skateboarding products because you were too stupid to figure out your customers are parents who purchased from you when their little Johnny was going through his skateboarding phase. 

As 2008 rolls in I welcome all newbies to the email marketing community and encourage them to seek the knowledge that will make them successful.  Before you start "blasting" a hole in your list, please read some books, do some research and talk to other people who have been engaged in the email marketing practice for a while. 
 

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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!