Tag Archives: e-mail marketing

The week that was.

Here’s a recap of sweet and not-so-sweet e-mail campaigns I received last week.

[Sweet E-mails]

Although no e-mail campaign is truly perfect (even if it was perfect, all the rules will change in about….a minute), these are STAND OUT message (for one reason or another). As always, I welcome comments and suggestions regarding stellar campaigns worth checking out.

robyns world newsletter on 9/19

RobynsOnlineWorld.com Newsletter on September 19, 2011

+ aside from logo alt tag, completely optimized for images off

+ easy to read and know where to click with use of font size and bolding

+ absolutely no need for pre-header

– social media tags morph together

– as a system generated template w/whitelisting super power, may be impossible to replicate

studentmags newsletter on 9/20

StudentMags e-Commerce Newsletter on September 20,2011

+ layout is very easy to read

+ design and use of color draws eyes to the prize – what I can, what my offer is and how to get it

– top nav is morphed together

– yellow background = spammy, buy hey who cares if you have a good enough reputation I guess

petco e-mail on 9/21

Petco Campaign on September 21, 2011

+ aside from social media links, all copy is very clear and crisp

+ pre-headers has clear, strong offer statement with personalization

+ great use of alt tags with offer statement – not cluttered by other copy, short and sweet

– social media CTAs and overlapping with images off

– low text to image ratio

payscale newsletter on 9/22

PayScale Newsletter on September 22, 2011

+ a lot of personalization in left sidebar

+ whitelist CTA can be very powerful, especially for brands / companies with a lot of room for growth

+ high text to image ratio and intriguing CTAs

– a lot of blue font and background colors can make e-mail look spammy

 

[E-mail Fail]

More often than not, I see e-mail campaigns that fail to deliver value and/or a message of any kind. What a missed opportunity! Here’s YOUR opportunity (and mine) to learn from the past. If you disagree (or wholeheartedly share my opinion), I’d love to hear your feedback.

P.S. I block sender names and domains with boxes to protect “the innocent”. This is not a commentary on brands or companies. I often receive stellar campaigns and epic failures from the same source.

e-mail campaign fail 9.20

Subject: Net… / Date: September 20, 2011

– almost the entire section above fold is very hard to read with images off

– random alt tags (“separator”) – just leave them empty if there’s no use or way to optimize

– could use a pre-header, especially with this design

+ layout that starts just above the fold is strong and includes targeting

e-mail campaign fail 9/21

Subject: Pre-order our Exclusive… / Date: September 21, 2011

– almost the entire section above fold is very hard to read with images off

– very low text to image ratio – many e-mails from this brand have gone to spam

– could use a pre-header with offer statement

+ looks like there’s a mobile version, so maybe that’s good….

e-mail campaign fail 9/22 v2

Subject: … Special / Date: September 22, 2011

– without images on, can’t see a thing – a lot of these e-mails are blocked as spam

Tagged , , , , ,

e-mail is going strong.

I have strong beliefs about surveying consumers vs. looking at their behavior. Opinions are important, but opinions alone can send marketers (and politicians and parents and just about everyone) on a wild goose chase. Most people (if not all) lack an enormous about of self-awareness around their habits and preferences, especially when it comes to shopping. I mean, isn’t that part of inherited American culture?

However, I do now believe opinions should be INGORED and I DO believe that teen opinions about the future of e-mail are a strong indication that e-mail communication should remain a strong part of your strategic marketing mix. After all, the medium continues to evolve. And I think e-mail will maintain a stronghold for the following reasons (among others):

  1. E-mail has clout and authority (in some circles). Think about it. Even if you ignore lots of spam, don’t you feel better when a product you use (even a mobile app) has a nice and tidy website and an easy place to sign up for e-mail? Doesn’t that make you feel like it’ll be easy to find any information you might need about the product in the future?
  2. American adults (not teens) still spend A LOT of time online sending e-mail.
  3. A lot of very important institutions in the US use (and often require) e-mail for communication, like colleges and banks.
  4. International e-mail vendors are optimizing for mobile browsers of all kinds. Companies just need to keep up with their designs and segmenting.
  5. Other messaging mediums remain an enigma for many marketers, politicians, parents, etc… This may be part of the appeal for teens, but consumers will put a little effort into getting what they want even if it’s signing up for a future spam trap. It took almost decades for the US to develop regulations (CAN-SPAM) followed by best practices around e-mail marketing…

If you’ve got a powerful mobile strategy, that’s great! My only point is that none of us should forget about e-mail. There’s a lot of opportunity with minimal effort. At least that’s what the kids say.

Data and infographic by AWeber Email Marketing

Tagged , , , , ,

The week that was.

Here’s a recap of sweet and not-so-sweet e-mail campaigns I received last week.

[Sweet E-mails]

Although no e-mail campaign is truly perfect (even if it was perfect, all the rules will change in about….a minute), these are STAND OUT message (for one reason or another). As always, I welcome comments and suggestions regarding stellar campaigns worth checking out.

fab.com announcement on 9/14

Fab.com Announces Partnership with Fast Company on Sept 14, 2011

+ great layout. seriously. don’t you want to click on a few links? i bet you clicked on the image.

+ optimized for images off (aside from the annoying “booth” alt tag).

+ good use of “bolding” with font color = clear hierarchy of content.

+ MOST alt tags are used well.

– red font might not be a good idea. it didn’t get spammed, but it could have…

– no value statement above the fold. well, sorta WAY at the bottom.

jp patch newsletter on 9/14

Jamaica Plain Patch Newsletter on September 14, 2011

+ aside from silly alt tags at the top (“View as Webpage”), you wouldn’t even notice images are off.

+ good use of “bolding” with font color = clear hierarchy of content and easy to read.

– if there’s going to be a deal near the top, may as well make it the pre-header.

babeland newsletter on 9/14

Babeland (yes! as in sex toys….) Newsletter on September 14, 2011

+ for a three column (potentially cluttered) e-mail, pretty good layout. still easy to read.

+ optimized for images off (which must be hard to do when marketing sex toys!).

+ clear message (i REALLY want to know what the njoy is….)

+ MOST alt tags are used well.

– no value statement above the fold, but might not be necessary for this e-mail…

kayak newsletter on 9/14

Kayak Newsletter on September 14, 2011

+ layout + image optimization + use of alt tags = rocks!!

+ great use of font sizing without getting TOO spammy.

+ clear top navigation for the “browsing” customer.

+ each message is short, sweet and appealing.

– vast white space at top + no pre-header.

SEOmoz newsletter on 9/14

SEOmoz Newsletter on September 14, 2011

+ decent pre-header with appealing value statement (for those in niche field).

+ use of numbers as bullets to organize key content.

+ high text to image ratio.

– use of white font over colored background.

compendium newsletter on 9/15

Compendium Newsletter on September 15, 2011

+ layout + “bolding” = fairly easy to scan.

+ compelling subject lines and CTAs (for people in the industry).

– could optimize pre-header and eliminate background color for improved deliverability…

vitalicious campaign on 9/15

Vitalicious Campaign on September 15, 2011

+ give the vast amount of white space and images, good use of alt tag with offer statement.

+ inclusion of text bumps up the text to image ratio.

– too image heavy… do the pictures really SELL the muffins in the e-mails themselves?

idealist job fair boston on 9/16

Idealist Job Fair Reminder on September 16, 2011

+ these letter style newsletters have been very effective for me in the past.

+ high text to image ratio.

– not easy to scan (but easy to read without images…).

ticketmaster newsletter on 9/16

Ticketmaster Newsletter on September 16, 2011

+ calendar visual = stellar!

+ great layout that is easy to scan and digest.

+ personalization with “my favorites” is a nice touch.

– heavy use of background color and what looks like a lot of embedded tables (tables w/in tables).

– white font looks spammy and will not show in some inboxes.

 

[E-mail Fail]

More often than not, I see e-mail campaigns that fail to deliver value and/or a message of any kind. What a missed opportunity! Here’s YOUR opportunity (and mine) to learn from the past. If you disagree (or wholeheartedly share my opinion), I’d love to hear your feedback.

P.S. I block sender names and domains with boxes to protect “the innocent”. This is not a commentary on brands or companies. I often receive stellar campaigns and epic failures from the same source.

tweed time on 9/14

Subject: Tweed Time / Date: September 14, 2011

– without displaying images, this message is absolutely meaningless to me.

– DO NOT rely solely on the power of your brand. so much missed opportunity.

rock of ages campaign on 9/14

Subject: Offer Statement + ROCK OF AGES / Date: September 14, 2011

– my eyes hurt!!!

– no meaningful pre-header and WAY too image heavy.

+ offer statement as alt tag (since this is SO image heavy) IF you could actually read it.

+ subject line may be the saving grace of this message.

sparkle campaign on 9/14

Subject: Sparkle this September with… / Date: September 14, 2011

– oh my useless alt tags.

– no meaningful pre-header and WAY too image heavy.

dalmatian campaign on 9/15

Subject: Get set to go Dalmatian-… / Date: September 15, 2011

– this subject line makes no sense to me. maybe i’m not the target demo…?

– oh my useless alt tags.

– no meaningful pre-header and WAY too image heavy.

a jazzy speakeasy on 9/15

Subject: BOS: A Jazzy Speakeasy… / Date: September 15, 2011

– WHY is this e-mail 1200px wide? anyone?

– black background = super harsh on eyes and spammy.

– white font over black background will not display in a lot of inboxes.

+ “women want you. bakers fear you.” sweeeeeet.

free shipping on 9/15

Subject: Free Shipping Today Only / Date: September 15, 2011

– without images, there’s NOT message aside from the offer statement in the subject

– no pre-header.

– background color give to images = looks more like spam.

upcoming events on 9/15

Subject: Upcoming Events with… / Date: September 15, 2011

– IF your e-mail MUST be this image heavy, i suggest alt tags.

– only image optimization is for the footer, which seems to have no real value.

– vanity “from” e-mail domain = soooo easy to setup.

– no pre-header.

+ social media links included (when images display).

+ the footer DOES look nice.

Tagged

Embed the MailChimp Form on Your Facebook Page

I signed up for MailChimps e-mail service on behalf of Black Cat Rescue, which is free for lists of 100 contacts or less. Black Cat Rescue is a small organization (and currently filing for non-profit status) so I knew the mailing list would initially remain under MailChimps threshold and the organization can’t take advantage of free service from VerticalResponse yet.

Once the setup was complete, I took advantage of MailChimps simple one-click option to generate code of embedding a sign up form on your website. Much to my surprise, the code functions within Facebook’s FBML!

We were able to create a tab on the Black Cat Rescue page on Facebook that hosts the MailChimp form!

This was SO easy to create (and surprising since FBML can be so finicky); however, only the e-mail option will display for sign-ups.

  1. Sign-up for MailChimps e-mail service
  2. Build a form
  3. Customize your design (font colors, etc…)
  4. Click on “create embedded code for small form” at the top of the page
  5. Add FBML to your page on Facebook (considered an application)
  6. Drop the code for your form into the FBML field
  7. Add to tab in the FBML application settings
Tagged , , , ,

E-mail Design & Development Guidelines – Part 2

No CSS
Some inline CSS will render more often than not; however, the use of classic HTML formatting will ensure proper rendering and less spam filtering as often as possible. Emails must be designed for inboxes’ lowest common denominator in order to render correctly, which is why it’s still considered a best practice to stick to basic HTML.

Tagged , ,

E-mail Design & Development Guidelines – Part 1

Unified standards, specifications, and best practices have made it possible for web designers to increase the accessibility and usability of the sites they’re designing while ensuring that the sites look the same no matter what browser is used. Unfortunately, no such standards presently exist for email design which is why emails face a number of rendering issues that differ among ISPs.

Throughout the next few months, these posts will act as a guide, not a strict set of design and development rules, to optimize e-mail performance.

Design for the Inbox
Pending guidelines will help you achieve the highest level of compatibility across all of the major email clients, which means that most of your subscribers will be able to view clean copies of your messages with a clear CTA. However, there are some specific challenges with some of the major email clients that you should pay careful attention to, as they threaten the success of your campaigns.

Outlook 2007 –
Approximately 75% of subscribers use Outlook as their primary email client. This client is particularly popular amongst the workforce. Previous versions of Outlook used the IE-based rendering engines but the latest version uses Microsoft Word, which will cause some rendering issues if you aren’t careful. Outlook 2007 has a number of features that it doesn’t support, including:

  • CSS background images
  • Forms
  • Flash, Javascript, or other plugins
  • CSS positioning or CSS floats
  • Animated Gifs
  • Image bullet points

If you use animated GIFs in your message, be sure that the first frame is not blank as this is the only frame that will be seen by your subscribers using Outlook 2007.

Gmail –
Following the HTML best practices outlined above will help you overcome these problems with Gmail. Like Outlook 2007, Gmail has very little support for CSS, including:

  • Background images, colors, and positions
  • Borders, even when using nested table with background color
  • Margins and padding
  • Width and height
  • Font styles, sizes, and weights
  • List styles and images

If you include a “.com” at the end of text, Gmail will automatically link that text to a Google search for the domain. To avoid this, remove the “.com” or add a space between the text and the “.com”.

Gmail isn’t the only email client with these issues as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Lotus Notes all have similar issues. However, it has been slow to make changes to support CSS. For more information on CSS rendering in emails, visit the Email Standards Project.

For users with certain security settings, Gmail will also display a warning message within your e-mail if you include text that refers to a URL, but links to another URL. For example, if text within your e-mail displays as “walmart.com,” but links to hangout.net, the warning message will display. However, this will only occur with major websites as text.

MSN Live Mail and Yahoo! Mail –
It’s important to note that MSN Live Mail (Hotmail) and Yahoo! Mail sell ad space in the area surrounding your message so the preview panes are tiny. This challenges the design process and you must be aware of how much of your message will appear in the preview pane.

Yahoo has begun selling keyword ad space within messages. This means that certain phrases may link to content if you have not established a predetermined link. The issue is new and no best pratice exists to combat the ad placement within your message. In some cases, you may be able to link content to override the use of ad links withing content. The best approach is to test your e-mail with Yahoo to screen for keyword linking.

When using Hotmail and Firefox, stacked images will render with a white line breaking the images. To avoid this, use empty white space around all images when possible. However, you may aslo add style=”display:block” within an img tag to avoid there is only one image within a row. When several images appear within one row, you may need to seek other alternatives for design or coding.

Tagged