Archive | Marketing Better

Embedding/Attaching Images In Email: Why Shouldn’t I Do It?

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

If you are new to sending marketing emails and need advice on how to design html email templates , or if you are currently sending email but aren't satisfied with the click-through or deliverability results, this article explains why embedding/attaching images in email may actually make your email less successful and get it blocked by SPAM filters.

Embedding/Attaching Images In Email: Why Shouldn't I Do It?

Without a doubt, the number one error we see in companies who want to begin an email marketing program is the desire to design an email that looks exactly like a webpage or, worse yet, like a print postal mailer by embedding images in email without any hesitation.

It easy to understand why email designers like images. An email, just like any other piece of marketing material, looks better when it's got appealing images in it. If it displays properly to the end-user, it probably converts better as well. The problem, as you're about to see, is that most end-users won't see the images and graphics you embedded. As an added bonus, embedding images in email will often get your email sent to the spam folder.

Embedding/Attaching Images In Email: Is It the Only Way to Include Images in Email?

Actually, there are two ways to include images in an email. The first way ensures that the user will see the image, even if in some cases it's only as an attachment to the message. This method is exactly what we call as “embedding images in email " in daily life. Essentially, you're attaching the image to the email. The plus side is that, in one way or another, the user is sure to get the image. While the downside is two fold. Firstly, spam filters look for large, embedded images and often give you a higher spam score for embedding images in email (Lots of spammers use images to avoid having the inappropriate content in their emails read by the spam filters.). Secondly, if you pay to send your email by weight or kilobyte, this increases the size of your message. If you're not careful, it can even make your message too big for the parameters of the email provider.

The second way to include images (and the better way) is the same way that you put an image on a web page. Within the email, you insert an image using the url that is the reference to the image's location on your web server. If you don't have access to upload images on your own web server, you can use any number of free image hosting services. This has several benefits. Firstly, you won't get caught for spamming or for your message “weighing” too much because of the image size. Secondly, you can make changes to the images after the email has been sent if you find errors in them. On the flip side, your recipient will need to actively turn on image viewing in their email client to see your images.

Embedding/Attaching Images In Email: What Does “Turn Image Viewing On” Mean?

Unfortunately, image urls and image files can be used to plant viruses on computers and to collect information about people. For this reason, most email service providers, such as Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail, set the default status on delivered messages to block images from being viewed by default.

What a user sees when this happens is a large, white, empty space (with your image alt or title text if you've included it) and often a message to right click to download the images. Most people spend less than a minute scanning an email while they decide whether to read it or delete it. If you're email is full of images, they don't see much that allows them to make a decision. Chances are, unless users are already very loyal to your brand and interested in your content, you are about to get deleted.

Email users can overwrite the “images off” default in their email, but most of them don't. Most studies and surveys reveal that anywhere from 40% to 60% of users read email with the images turned off. Any way you cut it, that's almost half of your recipient base who won't see your email with the images embedded as you intended. And that's not even counting mobile phone users!

Embedding/Attaching Images In Email: How Much Do Mobile Phone Users Impact Image Viewing?

Increasingly, mobile phone users impact your email viewing greatly. Recent studies suggest that up to 20% of your users check their mail on text-only mobile phone applications. If your email is a single image, or is based on a great deal of images, you won't resolve to those users at all.

So, What Should I Do?

Surprisingly, you should use images. You should just use very few of them and be careful where you put them.

Images definitely have a marketing impact. A portion of your viewers will see them and turn them on. If you just follow these basic steps with images, you'll be fine. Also, remember that you can do a lot of things just using html tables and colors that will make your email visually appealing AND deliverable.

The Less Than 25% Rule: No more than 25% of the real estate in your email template should be image-based. You want at least ¾ of the email to be readable without images.

Alt and Title Text: This is the text that is contained within your image url that appears when the image doesn't load (and in some cases appears when your mouse hovers over a graphic). Having this text beneath your graphics is important because you can still convey the message that was in the graphic even if the graphic doesn't load.

Don't use images for important messages! The basic rule is this: “If it's important that your readers know a piece of information, it cannot be trapped in an image.” All important information, such as price, product title, value proposition and expiration date, must be in html text. This includes “Click to order” buttons. If those are images, you'll have users looking for where they're supposed to click, and possibly not finding it. Those should be html buttons.

Images are an important part of any marketing campaign or collateral. However, email presents challenges in that you can't control how the end product displays to the user in all cases. It's better to have an email that can be delivered and seen by the user than to have one that looks fantastic, but only when it's loaded on your computer screen and not when it's in an inbox!

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Pixlr.com: Easy Online Photo Editing

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

Pixlr is the most widely used free online photo editor on the web and mobile. It transforms any image with a fast, intuitive and robust tool set that is easy to use for the burgeoning photographer with no prior knowledge of photo editing, while also offering fully featured, per-pixel editing complete with layers, adjustment tools and filters for the more advanced user. It is also great for anyone needing to edit/create their own images.

Pixlr Editor

Pixlr Editor is an advanced online service designed for creating, editing, opening and saving images and photos in various formats. In addition to impressive photo editing features such as layers, shapes, airbrushes, scaling, gradients, color adjustments and filters, Pixlr Editor allows users to download and save files to a local computer in several different formats (including Pixlr Editor’s own multi-layer format, .PXD), or send directly to social networking sites and/or photo sharing sites, such as Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa.

Pixlr Express

Pixlr Express is a simple photo editing tool aimed at users seeking quick and easy fixes for their digital images. With this tool, users with little to no experience with desktop photo editors can still do very cool things to their photos. Pixlr Express boasts a clear, intuitive interface and allows anyone with an Internet connection to resize, adjust, and add effects to their photos.

Pixlr-o-matic

Pixlr-o-matic, awarded the 2011 ‘Best App Ever’ award for the Best Photo Editing App on Android by 148apps.com, is a web and mobile (iOS and Android) service that allows users to add fun retro effects to images, transforming photos into unique masterpieces. Editing on Pixlr-o-matic is simple, with more than 2 million possible finishes, including overlays and borders. With more options than any other photo app, users will never run out of new styles. This fun and simple darkroom app makes it easy to add an effect, overlay and border to get that retro, grunge, or clean look –in just three simple steps.

Pixlr Grabber

A browser tool to fetch images and screen grabs from any web page.

Pixlr imm.io

imm.io is a one-click easy image sharer, perfect if you want to upload an image to show your friends or link from other sites.
Platforms: Online service

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Great Tips for Designing Your Own HTML Emails

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

This article is intended for the individual at your organization responsible for designing all your HTML emails.  I would strongly suggest sending this article to them, if you are not that person.  With that out of the way, lets begin.

Building a rock-solid HTML email

There are a whole host of factors that contribute to a successful email marketing campaign. Permission, relevance, timeliness and engaging content are all important. Even so, the BIGGEST challenge for designers is building an email that renders well across all the various email clients.  There are some uncomfortable facts that those new to HTML email should know about. Designing an email is not like designing for the web. While web browsers continue to improve and move towards industry standards, many email clients have not.  Some have even gone backwards. For example, in 2007, Microsoft switched the html email rendering engine in MS Outlook  from Internet Explorer to MS Word.  Add to this the quirks of the major web-based email clients like Gmail and Outlook.com, sprinkle in a little Lotus Notes and you’ll soon realize how different the email game is. So what do we need to do as designers to ensure that our email is going to look good in all the different email clients.

Luckily it can be done, but not without its challenges. Here is a great article from our friends over at Campaign Monitor, that covers all the details.

I'd also recommend checking out these handy field guides that can walk you through the entire process of building effective email campaigns.

 

 

 

 

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5 Things That Influence Your Email Sender Reputation

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

The holiday season is approaching, which means you’re busy crafting the perfect emails in hopes to drive up sales.

But what if your emails don’t make it to the inbox? Deliverability concerns often get pushed aside, but Return Path reported that 20% of legitimate, non-spam emails will never reach the inbox.  You want to avoid being in that 20%. According to Return Path, you hold a lot of power needed to control that, as most deliverability problems are based on sender reputation. We’ll look at the five main factors that affect reputation and what you can do to help yourself.

1. The Number of  Emails You Send

You won’t be surprised to hear that spammers send emails in large numbers. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) flag large volume sends because of this, making it harder for businesses to get through.  Not only will you be flagged by the subscriber’s ISP, your own ISP may flag you for violating send limits.  Here are the limits listed for a few of them:

  • GoDaddy – 100 emails/day
  • Gmail – 500 emails/day
  • Comcast – 1000 emails/day

The solution around this is to use your own mail server, or an email marketing service provider (ESP). One thing that ESPs do is ensure that you can send all the emails you need to without it hurting your sender reputation. You won’t be able to go from 0 to 50,000 in one day, but you will be able to gradually build your list up to however many subscribers you wish to send to.

2. How Many People Mark Your Email As SPAM

You’ve all probably noticed, and even used, the little button in your outlook inbox that lets you mark an email as “Spam” or “Junk.” It deletes the emails while making sure other emails from that sender don’t end up in your inbox again. But you may not realize all that goes on in the background. The sender’s ESP will note that you have clicked this button and report it, and ISPs keep track of the information for deciding where to place emails from that sender in other people’s inboxes.

If a lot of people are complaining about your emails, that indicates something is wrong. If you use an ESP, you can see how many complaints an email got. Subscribers who complained will also be unsubscribed from your list so they can’t do it again.

But what an ESP can’t fix is WHY the subscriber complained, which is up to you.

So what can you do?

  • Make sure you set proper expectations – you should be upfront about what you’re going to send to subscribers. The sign up form, thank you pages and welcome email are all excellent opportunities to discuss your content and frequency.
  • Send only relevant content – if you tell them you’re going to send them gluten free recipes, don’t throw in an email about your soap products. You may want to mention other aspects of your business in a side box in one of your regular emails, but it should never replace the content subscribers are expecting.
  • Have subscribers confirm to be added to your list- The best way you’ll be able to make sure you have legitimate, interested subscribers is if you have them click a link to confirm they want to be on your list. You won’t get 100% of the email addresses submitted to confirm, but you will eliminate invalid emails and people signing up solely for an incentive or bonus gift.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe – Make sure the option to unsubscribe is easily visible for the subscriber. ESPs will automatically add an unsubscribe link on the bottom of your email, but you can make it even easier by including one at the top as well. If subscribers aren’t sure how to unsubscribe, they’re most likely going to mark your message as spam instead. While this will end your emails to them, it also impairs your emails getting to other subscribers who are still interested.

Taking these steps will reduce the likelihood of complaints.

3. Spam Trap Email Addresses

ISPs often set up decoy email addresses to act as traps for spammers. These email addresses are never published or shared anywhere. Spammers obtain these addresses by data harvesting and selling to others. If you’re emailing to one of these “trap emails,” it indicates you aren’t properly managing your list.

If you have purchased a list, you’re in greater danger. Purchased lists also often contain inactive, useless email addresses that will only slow you down by causing bounces, which we’ll talk about next.

Here are other ways to avoid getting spam trap emails:

  • Only add subscribers who have specifically requested to receive your emails – if you’re not sure how you got an email address, don’t add it to your list.
  • Direct people to sign up on your web form.
  • Monitor your list and remove inactive subscribers. If you're tracking your campaigns open and clicks, you can routinely go through and delete subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked in an email in 3 months, 6 months or whatever you feel comfortable with.
  • Use confirmed opt-in – again, the easiest way to ensure it’s a good email address.

NOTE:  The problem with spam traps is not that you need to learn how to identify and remove them from your list, but rather you should be obtaining email addresses from people who specifically request to be added… and spam traps don’t belong to people. In general purchasing lists is frowned upon and never a great strategy for building lists.

4. High Bounce Rate

There are two types of bounces that can occur:

  • Soft bounce: The email can’t be delivered due to a temporary issue such as a full inbox.
  • Hard bounce: The email can’t be delivered due to a permanent issue such as a closed account.

ISPs are most concerned with hard bounces. This is similar to the spam trap problem, only these email addresses aren’t tools the ISPs are using.

Because of the similarity to spam traps, you should follow the same steps to avoid having a high bounce rate. An ESP will unsubscribe bounced email addresses for you, but even having one email come back with a lot of bounces can negatively affect your deliverability.

5. Are You Who You Say You Are?

Email authentication acts like a signature on a credit card receipt – it verifies your identity and allows you to claim responsibility for the mailing. Spammers try to forge the email “signatures” and make it look like the email is coming from someone else. Authentication helps to prevent that and tells the ISP that you really are the sender you’re claiming to be.

You should pay special attention to Sender Policy Framework, or SPF. You can edit your domain’s SPF record via your web host. Sender ID and DomainKeys Identified Mail are also important for authentication.  Some email service providers do the authentication for you.

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Maintain Control of Your Email Reputation

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

Most businesses are not aware that their company has a status on the Internet; let alone what it is or how to check it.  In fact, it is called a Reputation, and this is the grade that is given to either your domain name and/or the IP addresses/systems that you use to send email.

When you send email out (especially to Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo), the receiving servers monitor both the content of your emails as well as the amount of messages you send. They “grade” you according to complaints registered by their own customers (usually about the email being spam), as well as the number of hard bounces created. The more traffic that you generate, the higher the probability that negative feedback will affect your email reputation.

When an email campaign is sent out via mass mailing lists, it immediately creates a large amount of traffic to various receiving providers. If the lists are not properly maintained (i.e., if old or invalid addresses aren’t removed or updated), there is a higher risk of getting a bad score with the receiving provider.

The providers’ actions might include alerting you of a problem by email, which is generally included in the bounce message returned to the sender. Some providers will report your server to various RBLs  (Real Time Blacklists), or just simply block traffic from your server for a certain amount of time while they continue to monitor you. The worst part, is that you won't know anything is wrong, you'll keep on sending emails, but your emails wont ever arrive at their designation. Have you ever had a customer tell you they never received your email? Your servers could be blocked by some providers, or maybe your email just got caught up in a SPAM filter.

When your business relies on sending email, you have to maintain control of this situation.

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Always remove Hard Bounces from your lists. Follow-up with the email owner to verify why the email bounced. It might have bounced because that companies mail server was down during the time you tried sending, or maybe that person no longer works there, or maybe they got remarried and their email address has since changed, what ever the reason it's worth following up on. You've worked hard for your leads, it's easier to follow-up on an existing email address than to aquire new ones.
  • Immediately remove unsubscribes, because if you don't, they could eventually mark your email as SPAM, which can hurt your reputation online as a marketer.
  • If you purchase email lists, get them cleaned up before you send.  Submit the list to a list verification service to remove any bad email addresses.
  • Consider using an online Email Service Provider, such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, or emailcampaigntracker.com to create your email campaigns, manage your unsubscribes/bounces, and send your campaigns.
  • Monitor your mail server logs to make sure that you haven't been hacked and someone else is sending from your mail server.
  • Try to communicate directly with the receiving providers and sign up for their feedback loops as a sign of cooperation.
  • At regular intervals, check out sites like EmailSecurityGrader, MXToolbox.com and even Senderscore.com for a more generalized picture of your reputation. These sites will show you whether your server is blacklisted and if your mail and/or DNS servers are properly configured. They will also give you pointers on securing and adjusting your mail server/DNS settings.

Ultimately, your reputation is based on what leaves and enters your server, so it’s up to you to maintain control: set your rules, abide by your rules, and make sure your employees abide by your rules so that you won’t have to worry about your reputation. It’s much easier to lose a reputation than to try to get it back, so it’s better to be proactive instead of reactive.

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24 Marketing Tips For Your Business

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

You've probably experienced it before - a promise of something great; however, never got the results you were promised or expecting. It is quite easy to feel at home with not spending money on marketing when this has been your experience.  Small business owners will tell me, "I've tried that before. It doesn't work."

I’d like you to go back and reassess your marketing-failures.  Chances are, you were on to something but simply executed it poorly.  After being in this field for quite a while, I’ve learned that marketing missteps can yield an incredible amount of valuable information. I always say, the keys to a good marketing campaign are: The right message, at the right time, to the right person.  I’d like to bullet-point some things I’ve learned over the years that may revive the hope of creating marketing pieces that work. Who knows, with a few tweaks to your methodology, you may actually see the results you were promised or expecting.

Here’s my list:

  1. Your ads should aim for the heart - not the mind
  2. Watch for silly errors, e.g., don’t loose out on the savings…
  3. Repeated punch-lines are subject to the laws of diminishing returns – update your ads regularly!
  4. Market to the right audience - everyone is not a potential customer
  5. Increase the frequency of your ad placement
  6. Be consistent in your messaging  - a unified front in all places you advertise
  7. Do not place too much content in your marketing
  8. Quantify value, e.g., a $25 dollar savings…
  9. Create a sense of urgency, e.g., this week only
  10. Do not mimic the persona of a competitor
  11. Develop a branding strategy - a consistent mood/theme for all marketing efforts
  12. Do not use self-aware ads, e.g., we’re number one in service…
  13. Present one contact point per ad. A single commercial/ad should not have call, click and stop by…
  14. Update your website and/or web page – preferably to a “responsive” format (mobile friendly)
  15. Don’t be too creative, e.g., Shakespearean word play
  16. Allow consumer preferences to shape your marketing
  17. Don’t use volatile marketing tools, e.g., flyers on car windows
  18. Create a marketing budget
  19. Use a slogan that includes the customer.
  20. If you have no charisma, resign as company spokesperson
  21. Get to the point – Grab my attention in 5-seconds
  22. Use social media to make friends – not dig for customers.  Remember, it’s always easier to ask a friend to become a customer rather than asking a total stranger to do the same
  23. Heed the advice of a marketing professional
  24. Seek objectivity. Get your ads reviewed by an outsider

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Win more sales, by knowing what your customers & prospects need before they know it.

Posted on 17 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

I had a customer who recently did a marketing campaign for a new product they offer.  The "Call To Action" was a link in the email campaign to "BUY" the advertised product. They had sent this nicely formatted HTML email campaign to approx 1000 of their customers/prospects. Unfortunately the results were not as good as expected. The customer did get the average open rate of approx 10% of the list. Anyone who has done marketing for a while, knows that even the best marketing campaigns on average get approx a 15-20% open rate. The problem was that they only got less then a 1% click rate. Meaning, no one purchased.

So after reviewing the results of this campaign, I asked the customer a few questions about the list they sent to:

Q1. How many of the people that they sent this email to, didn't already own the product?
A1. They didn't know.

Q2. How many of the people that they sent this email to, need the product?
A2. They said, everyone in their industry needs this product, as their industry requires it.

Q3. How many of the people that they sent this email to, have purchased from them in the past?
A3. This list was a purchased list, containing email addresses of key contacts in their industry.

So as we can see, knowing a little bit more about the people that they sent to, we can quickly understand why they got such a low response.

This is where I introduced them to IntelliClick for GoldMine. IntelliClick allows you to insert "intelligent" links in your emails. When these links are clicked by your recipients  your GoldMine users can be notified via Email, Scheduled GM Call, or SMS text msg. Another great feature is that you can update GoldMine fields based on the clicks in your campaigns as well. This feature is great for survey type emails, where you want to engage your customers in a proactive conversation to gain information about them. You can ask YES | NO type questions and when customers click on the YES or NO  link in your email, it can update a field in GoldMine to capture their responses to these questions.  IntelliClick has many more great features for tracking your marketing campaign recipients actions. If you are interested in a demo please click here to sign up.

With IntelliClick this customer could have sent a different type of campaign to this purchased list to gain more information about them. They could have asked survey type questions about whether or not they already owned the updated software version,  or if they didn't already own it, if they were looking to purchase it in the near future. Armed with the information gained from this sort of marketing campaign, the customer could have then sent a more targeted campaign with an offer to buy the product to those that didn't already own it or who were thinking about making a purchase soon.

IntelliClick for GoldMine not only keeps your lists clean, by removing hard bounces and by not sending to unsubscribed members, but it offers many other great features for keeping your sales team in the loop with what their prospects/customers are doing in response to your marketing campaigns. This allows your sales team to win more sales, by knowing what your customers/prospects need before they know it.

 

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When to use parentheses when building GoldMine filters

Posted on 14 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

GoldMine filters allow you to segment contact records based on data in the record fields.  When creating a filter with multiple values in the same field in conjunction with other fields you need to use the  OR and AND boolean operaters.  It is important to understand how and when to use the parentheses when creating these more complicated filters.

Lets say you want to create a filter for the following conditions: Where the State is equal to New York or New Jersey and where the Sales Rep (KEY1) field is equal to JAY.

The following is a similar interpretation of the English phrase.

State=NY OR State=NJ AND KEY1=JAY

But something is wrong.  The problem is in the way the expression is read.  GoldMine sees the first Expression as all records where state=NY.  No problem.  The next part of the expression is, "All records where State=NJ and the KEY1=JAY.  This expression does contain just 2 conditions, but without brackets, where does one condition end and the next begin?  In this case the result that was delivered was ALL of  the contacts in NY, and only those contacts in NJ where JAY is the Sales Rep.

The reality is, without parentheses properly placed, the expressions are read on a first come, first served basis.  Brackets create an order within the filter.  Try this instead:

(State='NY' OR State='NJ') AND KEY1='JAY'

With the brackets in place, the order of the expression is clearly defined.  There are just 2 conditions:  Records must be either from NY or NJ, and the Sales Rep field must be equal to JAY.

To create brackets in GoldMine's filter builder, just click on the little left and right parentheses buttons where appropriate in the filter.  They should always start and finish any expression of one or more "OR" operators.

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Insert a Signature “John Hancock” image into your Word templates/documents

Posted on 14 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

It is possible to insert/merge an image of your John Hancock  "signature" into your MS Word documents from a GoldMine Document Template.

You will need to create a bitmap image of your signature by scanning your signature on paper and then converting it to a bitmap using a graphics program.

Then you need to add a SigDir=<drive\path> entry in the GM.ini file under the [GoldMine] section where <drive\path> is the name of the directory containing the signature bitmap. All signature bitmap files must be named <Username>.bmp (example: john.bmp).

[GoldMine]
SysDir=\\fd9\GoldMine\
CommonDir=GoldMine:
GoldDir=GoldMine:
SigDir=\\fd9\GoldMine\signatures\

To insert a Signature bitmap into a template, in Word select GoldMine > Insert GoldMine Field and Select &Signature.

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How To Create & Code Your Own HTML Emails

Posted on 09 October 2013 by Jay Dymond

Want to learn how to create your own HTML email campaigns? This course is great for anyone who wants to create great looking emails. No prior experience necessary. Attendees should have a strong desire to create email campaigns that just work.

We will cover all the basics with examples presented each step of the way. Do not let the word coding scare you, we are not programming, once you understand the basics you will be designing and coding emails like the Pros.

Class Topics:

  • What is HTML?
  • Intro to HTML Coding
  • What is CSS?
  • Intro to CSS Coding
  • Email Design Fundamentals and Best Practices
  • The Tools You Will Need (RESOURCES PROVIDED)
  • Creating Your 1st HTML Email. Let The Fun Begin

REGISTER HERE

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