The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Email Marketing Best Practices

Did you know that 93 percent of U.S. Internet users count email as their top online activity? *At a time when many people seem concerned about the volume of email reaching their inboxes, legitimate marketers are relying more and more on email communications to reach their target audience.

Does this make sense? The answer is a resounding YES. Email is a fast, inexpensive and extremely effective way to target and address disparate audiences. Does this mean you should just go ahead and email to your hearts delight? The answer is a resounding NO. We have compiled a list of some email marketing best practices both from our own experiences, and those of other industry experts to help you make the most of your in-house email marketing strategy.

Grow your opt in list
When it comes to lists, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Targeted, permission-based lists will serve you best in the long run. There are many ways to build a permission-based list. You can gather email addresses from your website, trade show booths, customer service departments, sales representatives, event registrations, and sweepstakes. Show your customers and prospects the value of what they are signing up for by offering them samples of your newsletter, white papers and other communications. Offer targeted subscriptions by tailoring your opt-outs by category of communication. By doing this, you offer your subscribers a choice of communications that most interests them.

Test, test, test
You don’t want to display a ‘less-than-professional’ image by sending email messages that display with broken code or missing graphics. You can avoid this by testing. Remember, your layout may look great displayed on your computer, but not so perfect on another email client. You may choose to set up several free email accounts to view your message on various readers.

Smart marketers understand that everything from delivery date, time, call to action, pricing and content may effect response rates. So, don’t stop your testing at format. Test all aspects of your message from your offer, subject line, and content to the delivery dates/times. Email campaigns (unlike their snail mail counterparts), with their automatic reporting capabilities, provide the perfect vehicle for trying different offers, in order to best optimize response rates.

HTML/Text
HTML emails are more interesting to read. The graphics, images, colors and format, when done correctly, increase the reader’s ability to process the content of the message, and make a better brand impression. However, if not executed properly, too much visual stimulation can backfire, and obscure the reader’s ability to process the content of the message. In addition, some corporate email servers withhold graphics, and many people on their home computers still have dial up connections which could make the load times on large HTML messages frustrating. The answer is to keep your messages simple and relevant. And, when creating your messages, create a text only and HTML version, and give your audience the choice of which they would rather receive.

Relevancy
Getting rid of ‘unwanted’ postal mail requires you to expend some energy – a trip to the mailbox, opening the communication, walking to the trash can, and finally, discarding the envelope and it’s contents. Discarding unwanted email, on the other hand, requires almost no effort. At the click of a button, someone can unsubscribe from your communications. The trick is to make your communications so valuable, that they won’t want to. Try to personalize your communication, whenever possible. Use your Web site’s registration page, or include a subscription management link in your email communications to ask subscribers what they want to see. Also, track which links are clicked to determine what interests your readers, and target your future communications accordingly.

Frequency
Sometimes too much is enough to make someone unsubscribe. How often have you signed up for a newsletter or special store promotion by email, only to be inundated by offers from that vendor on a daily basis. It’s difficult to answer the question, ‘how often should I communicate with my customers and prospects’. It varies by industry and type of offer. A newsletter should come on a regular basis. But, keep in mind that a special offer is no longer ‘special’ if you’re offering it constantly. As you build your email communications program, ask your subscribers how often they would like to hear from you, and then listen to what they have to say.

Technology and the Internet have opened new doors for direct marketers, allowing for cost effective communication, targeting and information gathering on customers and prospects. By following some simple, commonsense rules, you can reap the benefits that email marketing technology has to offer.

* Source: Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corporation.

Continue reading
  9518 Hits

Get Creative: A Checklist for E-mail Development

There are many components of an effective e-mail message. You’ve got your graphic design, you’ve got your copywriting, and of course, your targeted list. It isn’t an easy task to create a message that ‘speaks’ clearly to everyone. But here are some tips to help you along.

Design
An effective design needs to do more than just simply look nice. For maximum impact, it must support the goals and objectives of the message. It’s no joke, a picture really can be worth a thousand words if it is done properly. For HTML message design, follow these simple guidelines:

Make sure your designer understands your objectives. Communication is the key. Let them know what you’re looking for – your vision is key.

Choose a design team that understands email marketing. Traditional print ads are very different than online and email marketing. What works offline does not necessarily work online.

Focus on areas of design that are sure to ‘brand’ your messages. Headers featuring your logo or organization brand, colors that stand out and identify your organization, a signature graphic to make the email appear more personal.

Stay away from graphics that do not assist in getting your message across. These are costly additions and can actually hinder the success of your campaign. For example, colored wallpaper or background behind text often triggers spam filters. ‘Cutesy’ icons instead of straightforward bullet points can sidetrack viewers. Using graphics that directly encourage the goals of your message keeps recipients interested and focused.

Copywriting
Writing for an online medium is a completely different animal. As mentioned above, a designer that understands email marketing is crucial –so is a copywriter that understands email marketing. Copy always yields a different effect once integrated into design. For a powerful email campaign, it is extremely important to mesh the copywriting and design components so they build off one another. Below are some tips for powerful copywriting:

  • Write a compelling subject line
  • Short, concise paragraphs
  • Focus on ONE specific subject
  • Bullet point wherever possible
  • Include at least one call to action (More Information, Conference Registration, Product Demonstration)

It is important to remember that the average person is inundated with email messages every single day, most of which are completely irrelevant to them. The key is to target the right people and make your message stand out. With an efficient email marketing strategy, using the guidelines in this article, email can really put you closer in touch with your market and strengthen your communication efforts.

Danielle Ashery is VP, Client Services at Gold Lasso, Inc. She can be reached by telephone at 301-990-9857 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit Gold Lasso at http://www.goldlasso.com.

Continue reading
  10568 Hits

Spam Filters - Don't Be the Catch of the Day

For those of us who receive way too many solicitations for Viagra and pornography, Spam filters are a blessing. Switch to the legitimate marketers’ side and Spam filters can become the enemy. These days, it is very important to differentiate your email campaigns – containing valuable and relevant content – from dreaded ‘Spam.’

Before you can keep your opt-in email out of the Spam filter's reach, you have to learn a little about the kinds of Spam filters available. Currently, options range from those installed by an ISP, to those that run with another program, like Microsoft's Outlook. Some filters use a point system to determine whether or not a piece of email is Spam. Points are based on pre-determined definitions of Spam. The more points a particular email collects, the more likely it is to be Spam. Others not only filter based on key words, but also allow users to submit Spam to then be blocked for other users.

The other component you'll need to be aware of is the ‘blacklist.’ Most Spam filters use some sort of blacklist of known Spammers to block emails. Blacklists are primarily compiled by volunteers. In other words, you mail them the Spam you receive in your inbox, they take a look at it and then decide whether or not to add the sender to their list.

Because Spam filters have both a computer component (such as the points system), and a human component (such as the blacklists), you'll need to make sure your email communication doesn't raise flags in either group.

Gold Lasso has some simple guidelines to alleviate the possibility of being labeled as spammers – or even worse – losing interested prospects.

From Line:
Always use a legitimate contact or organization name.

Subject Lines:
Do not use quotation marks, numbers, symbols or exclamation points.
Keep it simple and relevant to content.
Do not use all CAPS.
ALWAYS have a subject line!
Do not use FREE, WIN, MORTGAGE, NOW – ‘sales’ words like this will almost ALWAYS be blocked.
Do not use “G.a.p.p.y T.e.x.t” or whitespace between words.

Email Body Copy:
Be straightforward – short and sweet gets the best results.
Do not use “Click Here” excessively.
Do not use the word “Free.”

Opt-Out:
ALWAYS have an opt-out link
Make it clear, concise and simple.
Unfortunately, in the quest to clobber the abundance of Spam, legitimate email marketing gets caught in these filters.

Take the time to follow the guidelines above. You'll have much better success in reaching your target audience and continuing effective communication.

Michael Weisel is Chief Technology Officer at Gold Lasso,Inc. He can be reached by telephone at 301-990-9857 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit Gold Lasso at http://www.goldlasso.com.

Continue reading
  10109 Hits
Tags:

Pending Spam Legislation - What's all the Buzz About?

You can barely read two lines in any marketing publication these days without ‘spam’ articles and commentary jumping out at you like a sore thumb. But what’s all the buzz about?

The definition of ‘spam’ is purposely vague because everybody has their own definition. As it currently stands, spam is in the eye of the beholder. Some spammers argue that spam is not any different than traditional junk mail, but there is one undeniable difference... cost. The cost of sending junk mail through conventional means is very high, including postage costs paid by the sender. The cost of sending spam is minimal and most of the costs are paid by people other than the sender.

While the monetary costs of emailing are small, there are other non-monetary costs that junk emailers face; the risk of getting kicked off of their ISP or webhost, plus the risk of tarnishing their name within the legitimate marketing community.

As a result of the increasing volume of spam, fraudulent emails have become a widespread nuisance. According to the Federal Trade Commission and its actions against spam, a fraudulent email is spam containing deceptive content, misused identity or a misleading subject line. It is this fraudulent spam that has created the chaos within the marketing industry. Marketing organizations, are now taking a stand against spam – to protect consumers and participation in online commerce.

With the flooding of news and information on pending spam legislation, it is extremely important to understand the content and implications of the bills pending legislation in 2003-2004.

Anti-Spam Act of 2003

This bill, currently the most popular, would require all commercial e-mail messages to be identified as such (but not with a standard label, except for sexually explicit messages), and to include the sender's physical street address and an opt-out mechanism; messages relating to a specific transaction and consented to by the recipient would be exempt from those requirements. The bill would prohibit commercial e-mail messages with false or misleading message headers or misleading subject lines, and it would be illegal to send commercial e-mail messages to addresses generated by an automated dictionary attack. State laws that restrict the sending of commercial e-mail, regulate opt-out procedures, or require subject-line labels would be pre-empted; laws that merely regulate falsification of message headers would remain in effect.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108hr2515.html

CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act

(CAN-SPAM) would require unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to be labeled (though not necessarily by a standard method) and to include opt-out instructions and the sender's physical address. The law would prohibit the use of deceptive subject lines and false headers in such messages. It would pre-empt any state laws that prohibit unsolicited commercial e-mail outright, but would not affect the majority of state spam laws.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.html

Ban on Deceptive Unsolicited Bulk Electronic Mail Act of 2003

It would prohibit the inclusion of false information in message headers in unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail. It also would require senders of unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail to include opt-out instructions and honor opt-out requests, and would prohibit them from harvesting e-mail addresses of potential recipients from web pages and other sources.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s1052.html

Computer Owners' Bill of Rights

The Computer Owners' Bill of Rights would require the Federal Trade Commission to establish a "do-not-email" registry of addresses of persons and entities who do not wish to receive unsolicited commercial e-mail messages. The FTC would be empowered to impose civil penalties upon those who send unsolicited commercial e-mail to addresses listed on the registry.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s563.html

Criminal Spam Act of 2003

The Criminal Spam Act of 2003 would prohibit unauthorized or deceptive use of a third party's computer for relaying bulk commercial e-mail messages. It also prohibits the use of false header information in bulk commercial messages, and regulates the use of multiple e-mail accounts or domain names for purposes of sending such messages. The law would apply only to quantities of more than 100 messages within 24 hours, or 1000 within 30 days, or 10,000 within one year.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s1293.html

REDUCE Spam Act of 2003

Under The Restrict and Eliminate the Delivery of Unsolicited Commercial Electronic (REDUCE) Mail or Spam Act of 2003, unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail messages would be required to include a valid reply address and opt-out instructions, and a label ("ADV:" or "ADV:ADLT", or other recognized standard identification). These requirements would apply to messages sent in the same or similar form to 1,000 or more e-mail addresses within a two-day period. In addition, false or misleading headers and deceptive subject lines would be prohibited in all unsolicited commercial e-mail messages, whether or not sent in bulk.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108hr1933.html

Reduction in Distribution of Spam Act of 2003

This bill would require all commercial e-mail messages to be identified as such (but not with a standard label, except for unsolicited sexually explicit messages), and to include the sender's physical address and an opt-out mechanism. It would prohibit the use of false or misleading headers in commercial messages. State laws that prohibit unsolicited commercial e-mail, regulate opt-out procedures, or require subject-line labels would be pre-empted; laws that merely regulate falsification of message headers would remain in effect.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108hr2214.html

Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing Act

This bill would establish a national "no-spam" registry, and make it unlawful to send unsolicited commercial messages to addresses on that list. The list would be administered by the FTC, using fees paid by marketers for access to the list. The FTC would be empowered to prohibit explicit commercial messages to minors even if they were not on the list. All unsolicited commercial messages would be required to use a label ("ADV:") at the beginning of the subject line, except those sent in compliance with an FTC-approved self-regulatory program. It would be illegal to send any commercial e-mail in violation of an Internet service provider's policies, or with a false or misleading subject line or message header, or to harvested addresses; all commercial messages would be required to include the sender's physical address.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s1231.html

Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act

The Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act would prohibit the use of wireless messaging systems to send unsolicited advertisements.

Click here to review the bill http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108hr122.html

For a detailed list of spam laws by state, visit www.spamlaws.com. Do not hesitate to voice your concerns or opinions to your state representative. To contact your state representative, go to www.house.gov and search by zip code.

Danielle Ashery is Marketing Director at Gold Lasso,Inc. She can be reached by telephone at 301-990-9857 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit Gold Lasso at http://www.goldlasso.com.

Continue reading
  12998 Hits

My Prediction for Commercial Email If Sender ID is Accepted – A Windfall for Email Marketers And Price Descrimination For Consumers

For those of you who define spam as a commercial email sent from a legitimate company help is on the way. Large ISPs such as AOL, Microsoft and Earthlink have been pushing the adoption of Sender ID technology which authenticates that email sent to your mail server is from a legitimate Internet domain and one that has not been forged in the mail's header. This is the most promising technology to date for stopping all the solicitations for diet pills, mortgages and body enhancement drugs since these are the types email solicitations that usually contain false domain information. Sender ID technology can also give an ISP, corporate network admin or even an individual an easier way to block all information from a particular company.

As an email marketing executive, I applaud Sender ID technology and can't wait for it to be accepted and implemented. My reason for being pro Sender ID is simple LONG TERM economics. Sender ID technology should eliminate most of the hucksters and fly by night companies and decrease the volume of email sent in general. In addition, many consumers will opt not to receive any type of commercial email easily taking advantage of the technology's power. With a decrease in the supply of email that makes it to a recipient's inbox, the more apt consumers will be to review and respond to legitimate commercial email. When the medium starts experiencing better response rates, the more valuable my products and services will become, allowing me to charge higher prices for volume being sent through my system.

At first glance this seems like a great for people who consider all commercial email to be spam. But in the end consumers who opt not to receive any commercial email will become the biggest losers in the spam game. My rationale for this is based on the fact that companies and marketers will reward consumers who have a lower cost per acquisition or a lower cost to market to and punish consumers who make them jump through hoops to communicate with them. Lower prices will come in the same format as they do offline; coupons, rewards programs and preferred pricing. The simple fact is that the incredible efficiencies email and other Internet technologies affords are too great for companies to ignore even if it means ticking a few consumers off by sending unsolicited commercial email.

Just keep this in mind. In five years from now long after Sender ID has been accepted and implemented, if you have turned a blind eye to the commercial email world don't get upset when your neighbor has 100% of his vacation paid for because his frequent flier's miles program decided to give him some extra points for receiving some spam.

Continue reading
  13119 Hits