The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Gold Lasso Joins The Industry Leaders of the Email Experience Council (EEC)

Gold Lasso announced last week that we joined the Email Experience Council, http://www.emailexperience.org/.  Red More Here! 

The group meets every so often via teleconference then splits into various round table discussions.  I'm currently participating in the email experience round table which is tasked with formulating standards for different types of email communications such as newsletters, transactional, promotional and charitable.  So far most of the group seems to be pretty engaged and has come up with some good ideas and formats to test.  My overall experience with the "Experience" has been good.   Allison Swerdlow of Ogilvy has done a great job organizing everything, especially since everything is virtual.  I don't know how she does it and work full time.

Next post should be about my round table's findings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

E

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Yes Mail Gets $50K FTC Smack Down!

The Federal Trade Commission in a 5 to 0 vote decided to smack Yes Mail with a $50K fine for violating the CAN SPAM Act all due to a technical oversight.  I really feel bad for Yes Mail because no software company is without technical glitches.  Unfortunately, in this industry, technical mishaps comes with confrontation from the federal government.  The next step for the FTC is to chase after clients of email service providers.  Just make sure your email service provider dots their i's and crosses their t's because you'll be the next one to enter the ring.

Read more here:
http://www.dmnews.com/cms/dm-news/legal-privacy/38892.html

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Spamhaus vs. e360. Which Side Should A Legitimate Email Marketer Take?

Every email marketer has heard by now about e360insight.com's whopping $11.6 million judgment against the notorious and often feared blacklist The Spamhaus Project.  As an email marketer, I wince at the mere idea at one of Spamhaus' "volunteers" reading my blog that criticizes the organization and as a result point their loaded guns at my business.  However, I do live in the United Stats and last time I checked the First Amendment is still alive and I think it's about time someone from my industry poke a few holes in Spamhaus' model even if it means that I will have to dodge a few rotten from the far left of spam vigilantism.

According to many members of the Email Senders and Providers Coalition (http://www.espcoalition.org/), of which Gold Lasso is still debating about becoming a member, legislated lists of email addresses or any legislative lists of anything related to email marketing is a bad thing.  I find it ironic however that these same people never openly criticize black lists and how they wreak havoc on legitimate email marketers.  By this statement I'm not suggesting that Spamhaus' labeling of e360 as a spammer is right or wrong. I am not familiar with e360's business or anyone related to the company.  However, I have dealt with Spamhaus on behalf of a client, and it wasn't fun to say the least.  Gold Lasso's main client base is trade associations and nonprofits.  As a member of these groups, you expressly give them permission to send you email yet a very prestigious client of mine with over 300,000 members in the academic community ended up on Spamhaus' list.  Just as e360 claimed in its complaint against Spamhaus, I found myself frantically searching for a non-existing phone number.  After a week of email exchange with an unidentified representative, I finally convinced the individual that my internationally recognized client was not a spammer nor were any of Gold Lasso's servers compromised by a spammer.  The net result was missed opportunities of my client's abilities to share vital academic research, sell books and other items that help augment its budget and most important, deliver information to their members of which they expressly asked to receive.

Some analyst estimate the direct mail industry to be $27 billion stretched across postal fees, printing, envelopes and the hundreds of thousands of people that make it all work. What would happen to the direct mail industry if some rouge group decided to take over local post offices chucking various piece of mail they thought to be unwanted by its recipients?  Worse, what if the post office opened the doors and feely let them do this? As the email industry grows, so too is its economic impact on this country.  Right now this nascent industry is fast becoming the most relied on medium for retailers, publishers, associations, educators, manufacturers, etc. to sell their wears, exchange ideas, and provide much needed information.  Having a group that can not be reached via the telephone determine who is a spammer and who is not could have a catastrophic economic impact on this industry in the next five years.

Given my criticisms of Spamhaus, overall they do a good job of catching the crooks, hucksters and pornographers.  Their technological methods are effective however just as a tuna fisherman they tend to catch a lot of untargeted dolphins.  Since most anti-spam efforts are a result of IP address and domain filtering, would it be such a bad thing if ICANN incorporated Spamhaus into its organization?  This maybe a pie in the sky thought, but it's better than the Legit Email Marketing Industry vs. Spamhaus nightmare that will likely unfold.

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Return Path's Bonded Sender Program Has a New Dress

I just finished reading Return Path's Sender Score Certified: Standards for Reputation-Based Email Accreditation; July 2006 white paper by George Bilbrey, General Manager of Delivery Assurance.  From what I can tell by reading this five page white paper, Return Path's new Sender Score Certified is a program to replace their not so popular Bonded Sender Program. Instead of putting the cost on bulk email senders, ISPs will pay to use Return Path's scoring system to determine if a bulk email sender has a decent enough reputation to send email to their customers.    

Return Path's scoring system seems sophisticated and in theory could work however I have yet to see a white list that prevents spam.  Spammers are usually a few steps ahead of the industry and I'm sure they are studying Return Path's white paper too.  

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Powering up: What to look for in software to drive your local marketing efforts

As Published In Chiropractic Economics
 
Next year estimates show that companies will spend approximately $950 million on e-mail marketing.  Typically we think of e-marketing as the messages we receive in our inboxes from retailers or online vendors, such as Amazon.com, encouraging us to spend more money.  More and more non-traditional marketers such as healthcare administrators, however, are using email to drive their business and build relationships and loyalty with their patients.

If patients receive any electronic communication from their health-care provider it is usually an invoice or, more often, to notify them about a problem with their insurance company or their payment.  That doesn’t create the warm, fuzzy and personalized feeling that we get from Amazon, does it? Amazon makes recommendations on books or movies we might enjoy based on our previous purchases and they address us by our name.  They even remember our birthdays.    
While Amazon is marketing different messages to consumers than a chiropractor would, the underlying principle is the same. E-mail works, so why aren’t more health-care providers jumping on board the e-marketing train?  
It is simply that they don’t know how to use e-mail marketing, understand the technology or how to take advantage of it to build loyalty with their patients.  Integrating the right e-marketing tool into your overall communications plan can increase your patient referral base, turn your current patients into promoters of your business and easily provide both current and potential patients with the information and resources they desperately want.  
Back to basics…how can I use e-mail to market locally?  
Successful marketing goes well beyond an ad in the yellow pages.  The best marketers use a combination of different communication vehicles to distribute their message and grow their business.  They use their own patients, who are customers in this case, as advocates for their business encouraging them to spread the word to their network of friends and families.  This type of marketing has been coined “viral marketing.”   
Your patients will not just spread positive “buzz” about your practice on their own, they need a reason.  The reason might be that you provide quality care, have a great rapport with patients, or that your staff is experienced and knowledgeable.  These reasons are given—you must have them to be successful. Today’s patients and consumers want more.   
Technology has advanced to a point where the general public wants to feel a personal connection and know that they are receiving service that goes beyond the norm.  E-mail marketing helps you to provide that feeling.  Like Amazon.com, it allows you to personalize the message to the consumer building a connection and forging a relationship.   
But, what is your message? What can you send your patients that are not electronic invoices or a question about payment? Surprisingly, you have a lot of options.   
One common, and easily implemented, practice is to develop and send a monthly e-newsletter or e-zine to all current patients with a link for them to forward it to their friends, colleagues and family members.  The e-publication might feature updates on insurance laws that may impact patients, information about new treatments, or news about your practice.  They are cost effective, easy to produce, measurable and will keep patients informed.  They can also be personalized to the patient and can include “lighter” information such as introductions to staff members or highlights of charity work your practice does to create a link to the community.
 
Knowing is Half the Battle
 
Being aware of e-mail as a marketing tool and willing to incorporate it into your business development plans is an essential first step to taking advantage it.  Learning how to harness this medium is the next step. It is one that is easily accomplished by knowing your audience and understanding that there are experts out there to help you.   
E-mail Service Providers (ESPs) have unique expertise in building e-mail lists, developing compelling message content that will make your patient want to open and read the email, creating templates to add visual flare to the message, monitoring the results of the campaign, and staying compliant with Federal laws such as the CAN-SPAM act regulating e-marketing.  They are professional marketers that allow you time to do your job, while they do theirs. 

You should look for an ESP that fits your goals and facilitates a seamless transition to e-marketing. Ask potential ESPs these questions to help you make an informed decision.   
Do you have a unique IP address for all your clients? An IP address is the unique identifier for every computer on the Internet.  Many spammers use a single IP address to send mass e-mail messages violating the CAN SPAM Act. Premium ESPs offer their clients a unique IP address because it helps to increase the rate of delivery to the recipients.  Shared IP addresses are common among discount ESPs however you will sacrifice deliverability since you are sharing your reputation with their other clients. 

How can you help me reduce the chance my message will be flagged by a SPAM filter? Filters help protect recipients from receiving SPAM messages in their inbox by using trigger words, phrases or symbols to weed out junk email. An ESP should provide you with a tool to check your message for anything that might trigger a filter. If your message can’t reach the recipient, the marketing campaign fails.  

Does the ESP offer a free trial period? All reputable ESPs offer a penalty-free trial period so customers can review the features before making a decision.   

Are the fees in line with industry standards? Most companies charge based on the number of messages sent by the user or the e-mail volume.  For volumes under 10,000 e-mail transmissions you should not be paying more than $.03 per transmission depending on the features the ESP includes in the cost.  Additional services such as graphic design or Web development are usually billed separately.  

What is the duration of the ESP’s contract?  You should limit your contract to one year or less or have the ability to leave anytime you want to increase your organization’s flexibility and management of your e-marketing program.   
With just a little knowledge, you can “power up” and join the other industries benefiting from e-mail marketing.   
Elie Ashery is President and CEO of Gold Lasso, LLC, an email marketing service provider (ESP) that specializes in serving the association, retail, publishing, healthcare and hospitality industries.

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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!