Email Marketing

Are you Split over Email Testing?

Are you Split over Email Testing?

Did you pass your email test?

Lately, does it seem your email marketing campaigns bring in lower conversion rates than expected, or are the results better than average – do you really know what the average is?.  At times, do you notice a sharp increase in clickthroughs followed by lower conversion rates or do you get another unexpected outcome?  Should you expect consistent results with every email campaign?

How would you know what to expect without running some sort of test before you send.

Did you know, statistically speaking, routine email testing is only used by a little more than half of the total number of all  US based email marketers.  If you are in the group that doesn’t test, how can you optimize email conversions rates without email testing?  Chances are you can’t.

If you’re not getting optimal conversion rates, look at all those marketers who routinely test their emails.  Did you know, by testing, the numbers indicate they have seen noted improvement in all areas of email marketing from an increase in lead generation to elevated ROI percentages.  The conclusion, email testing also known as A/B split testing or just split/testing, is a means to an end: increased ROI.

What is Split testing?

There are different types of A/B split testing tools, from straightforward simplistic CGI scripts to advanced software applications.  A split test is a type of email test that gives the ability to send different versions of a message to random subsets of your mailing list, and then compare the results to see which version is most effective.  This type of testing eliminates any demographic or action-based bias that could alter your results. Use split testing as:

  1. A tool to solve specific problems by pinpointing issues in your test groups.
  2. A means to a greater understanding of web visitor behavior such as buying habits and other priorities that you may not have considered.
  3. A discovery tool that will help you reorganize your website design and content.
  4. A way to resolve particular problems on your landing pages or other website pages: essentially an analytical tool to discover if anything is going wrong and how to correct it.

How does it work?

To start, select a number of email recipients to which you want to send your tests to and split them into groups.  As an example using Lyris ListManager™ hosted by Dundee Internet, the marketer can simply choose either a percentage or an absolute number of recipients in which to send the email test versions, and ListManager™ automatically selects a random subset of the list based on this figure.

Next, using the content from your latest email marketing campaign develop alternatives of the same email by changing the subject line, the content, the offer or the images, etc.  As an example, you might retain the same template, image and links but use a different subject line.  You might keep the same subject line but change the promotion placement in your newsletter or change the promotion itself.

Each run of the email generates valuable feedback as you collect the audience responses from one group who had an email with (for example) a different subject line compared to the other group with the same subject line.

The key to a meaningful split test; is to conduct the test by changing only one thing in each different version.  If you run a test where you change both the subject line and the content, and one version in that test performs better, how do you know if it was the different subject line or different content that made the difference? “

What should you test?

Start with something simple, as mentioned, the subject line.  Consider reworking your subject for optimal length, different stated benefits, first person, call to action etc.   Again, make sure you only change one variable at a time (per test) keeping all other aspects the same, such as the time of day you mail to the color, fonts and image placement in your message

Run your tests and compare your results. Consider the responses:  Did an older list respond better than a newer list to the test?  Which email responded with greater open rates – the blue background or the yellow background?  Which mailing yielded the most referrals and so on?

When should you test?

Email is seasonal.  Be aware that testing a change in your email layout may receive a better response rate one month over another month.  Consider testing all your email versions (for example) simultaneously, so outside influences such as a Holiday will have minimal effect on your results, unless of course you’re testing for Holiday responses.

Did you pass?

You can run tests all day, however, how you read your test results should determine the next steps to take with your email campaigns.  What is the goal of your campaign? Are you seeking higher open rates, more referrals or greater, clickthroughs?  Was your list members asked to fill out a form, send in an email address or visit a particular website?   Consider all these factor when you test and test for success in your future campaigns.

Need help with split testing, contact help@dundee.net for more information.

The Big Bounce

The Big Bounce

Planning an email campaign?  It can be as easy as 1, 2, 3:  write the copy, check the content, test the message and send.  With high expectations, you anticipate that the majority, if not all of your campaign emails, will be delivered without a fuss.  However, you do expect to see a few bounced back addresses from your sender list, among the clickthroughs, purchases and refer-a-friend links, which are typically reported by the live delivery analysis provided by your ESP.

Most senders will retain bounced back addresses to resend to them in the future, believing these bounces are likely the result of full mailboxes or misspellings.  The bounce report, depending on the technological sophistication used by your ESP, may divide these returns into categories.  A complete detailed report may allow the sender to distinguish the difference between the real reasons for the bounce from a full mailbox.  You might question the necessity of such detail – Just what are bounce categories and how do they affect your email campaigns?

The Bounce Categories

Email bounces can be either synchronous or asynchronous: the difference between them being the measured length of time for the bounce message to return to the sender.  Synchronous bounces are instantaneous as the failed delivery attempt is bounced back immediately, where an asynchronous bounce comes in awhile after the message was sent out.

The speed in which an email is returned in a bounced state is the result on how the message is intercepted.

  1. An email sent to an invalid address for example, will be terminated when the receiving server identifies the address as invalid, the connection is cut and the email is returned: a synchronous bounce.
  2. An asynchronous email bounce occurs when the receiving server attempts to process the invalid email, acknowledges the message and continues to attempt to deliver it until the delivery fails.

After the email bounce is determined to be synchronous or asynchronous, it is assigned to one of two categories using standard RFC codes, which can be identified in the return email header.

The Soft Bounce

A soft bounce is email that has bounced back to the sender, undelivered after it has been accepted by the recipient’s mail server.  This is usually a short-term condition with an expectation of clearing up in the future.  However, it is good practice to monitor soft bounces and remove them from your list when they bounce a certain number of times in a row.  Advanced email tools automatically handle this process.

Soft Bounces may occur when

  1. An Email is returned undelivered because the receiver’s mailbox is full at that time.
  2. An Email Message Size is too large to be delivered.
  3. Auto responders, such as a vacation out of the office message may be incorrectly reported as a bounce.

The Hard Bounce

All things not being equal a Soft Bounce on one sever maybe interpreted as a Hard Bounce on another server.  A hard bounce normally perceived as a long-term or permanent condition is generally not expected to clear up any time soon.  It is good practice to remove hard bounces when they occur however, you might want to develop an internal policy to remove the address after a few consecutive bounces as hard bounces may clear up when temporary condition occurs such as a temporary system fault or a blacklisted domain.

Hard Bounces may occur when

  1. Recipient address is misspelled.
  2. User doesn’t exist
  3. Your domain is blacklisted

Some ESP’s such as Dundee Internet offers a more granular bounce grouping rather than just a “Hard and Soft Bounce” report, accentuated with a uniquely colorful graph for easy evaluation.

The following nomenclature is used by  ListManager ™

Technical failures: user specific disk space problems.

Uncategorized failures: A failure that doesn’t easily fit into one of the other categories.

Invalid Users: For some reason, the email addresses are not legitimate ones (this is often caused by spelling errors).

 

Content Blocks: Content blocks are responses that indicate that the message is ejected for issues detected by a content filter. The filter may conclude that your message contains spam-like content, non-RFC compliant content, blacklisted URLs in the content,etc

MailStream blocks: You can learn more about MailStream blocks here.

End User complaints: Spam complaints made about the mailing.

Recipients remaining: The number of recipients for a mailing that are current pending in the Active Recipients queue. These users may not have been attempted yet, could be in retry due to transient delivery failures, or could be inactive due to a block by the destination IS

Next Up:  How to actively manage your bounces.

*** invalid addresses being caused by typos…if the addresses were validated in a closed loop confirmation system, invalid addresses because of typos would virtually disappear.

Is Email Deliverability Management possible?

Is Email Deliverability Management possible?

How do you Evaluate your Email Deliverability?

Email marketing is a proven, cost effective, easy to use, powerful marketing tool.  Marketing email newsletters  are more  popular than ever as they can be created quickly  with colorful pictures, embedded with audio and videos,  and  with little effort can be  shared among friends within social network circles:  all this and more  backed by real time results.

For those emails not shared, or read, can you verify they actually reached their intended destination?  Are your emails blocked from reaching your recipients in-box, never to be delivered.  On the other hand, are they lying helpless in a Junk Mailbox, trapped by a SPAM filter waiting their turn for the deletion queue?

Does your ESP (Email Service Provider) work on your behalf to ensure your email is delivered to the intended recipient by offering tracking and evaluation tools to assess your email deliverability?

How do you Avoid Email Deliverability Problems?

Statistics show that there is a growing trend to block or discard permission-based opt-in email, typically without warning to you or your recipients.  Legitimate emails may produce false- positive results, where a false positive is a legitimate email incorrectly identified as spam.  Steps to take to alleviate the false-positive situation –

The sender can minimize false positives by adhering to all the ‘best practices’ for sending email:

1.     Confirmed Opt-In
2.     Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
3.     Domain Keys
4.     Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)
5.     Don’t send ‘spammy’ content
6.     Remove old addresses that are not engaged (no opens, no clickthroughs, etc)
7.     Participate in feedback loops (FBL) and remove complainers
8.     Etc, etc…

False-positives are only one issue facing the Email Marketer.  The bigger task include how to avoid and correct email deliverability problems where you are confident that the messages you send will actually arrive in the inbox and display as designed.

Is Email Deliverability Management possible?

‘Good’ email management tools provide some insight about your  email delivery.

‘Great’ email management tools will:

1.     Show you the percentage of your email marketing pieces delivered to the inbox versus the junk folder, and the percentage of those messages that are not arriving at all to anyone’s folder.
2.     Reveal which ISPs are blocking your email.
3.     Inform you if your email format is all wrong because of Bad Email Design.  You should have the capability to view your formatted email in at least 50 email clients. I.e. AOL, Outlook, Yahoo and those in-between.
4.     Alert you if your content looks ‘spammy’ to anti-spam filters by testing your messages against several types of SPAM filters.
5.     Warn you if your sending domain is listed on one of more of the hundreds of realtime blacklists lists (RBLs).
6.     Highlite delivery issues at specific ISPs, such as technical difficulties with a receiving email server.
7.     Help you establish tangible benchmarks that resolve sending issue so you can achieve your email marketing goals.

With the right set of ‘great’ email marketing tools, you can uncover and fix problems, avoid mistakes, find and analyze issues you weren’t even aware of.

Dundee Internet Services offers advanced email list marketing tools, compatible with any list hosting service, to your  improve email deliverability allowing more messages to reach their intended destination–your recipient’s in-box.  Using our advanced email marketing tools, the best deliverability features are considered during the message creation process–fixing deliverability issues before your marketing campaigns go out.

Subscriber Re-engagement

Subscriber Re-engagement

All email marketing lists contain a fair amount of inactive list subscribers to the point where inactive subscribers can make up the majority of an email marketing list.  Inactive subscribers are ones who seemly lost interest in your messages; taking no action on your emails as they have filtered your messages out of their virtual life.  As you know messages when ignored or deleted without being open triggers nothing, so there is no feedback as to why they are inactive.  With some planning, inactive addresses can be rejuvenated and re-engaged to active subscribers again.

To begin the process of subscriber re-engagement you first must identify your inactive recipients.  You can define an inactive email address as one that:

  1. Neglects to respond
  2. Appears to be dormant: email address that are never opened or clicked on
  3. Was active but continues to be unresponsive for a long while

All inactive email addresses are not equal. The causes can be attributed to:

  1. Spam filters
  2. List fatigue
  3. Your new subscriber only signed up to get your free offer.
  4. Your email newsletter/announcement is not what they expected.
  5. They only use a mobile device to read email without images or urls to click on
  6. They like what they are receiving and waiting for the right moment to respond or the right subject line to peek their interest.
  7. Your product or service is something your subscriber seldom needs, like ordering flowers for a special occasion or updating a program.
  8. They receive your email which prompts them to action by phoning in an order or going to a brick and mortar store instead of clicking on your offer.
  9. They are no longer interested in your emails and are too lazy to unsubscribe.
  10. The email address once active is still valid but rarely used by the subscriber.
  11. Your messages are being stopped at the receiving ISP level.
  12. The receiving ISP or your recipient’s email client is employing image filters that typically disable images from being loaded while displaying a warning about inappropriate images. Many recipients delete the message rather than enabling images and opening the message.

Are you the cause of inactivity?

  1. Are you mailing  to often
  2. You’re not mailing often enough
  3. Are you offering information on one subject but emailing information on a different subject?
  4. Did your recipient opted-in to your list?

With all the available reports facts and figures, including advance reporting tools as offered with Dundee Internet List Hosting services, analyzing when an email address becomes inactive can be nothing more than a swag.  In most cases the cause of inactivity may never be known, therefore classifying an email address as an inactive one becomes an exercise in intuitive science rather than factual science.  This classification is  based on assorted variables such as how many email campaigns your organization implements, the structure of each subject lines, how many images in the message and so forth.   And if you consider using the typical industry standard of six months of inactivity to classify an email address as inactive consider your mailing habits: for example if you only mail twice a year the 6 month rule wouldn’t work for you.  Most industries aren’t typical, so you should create your own formula based on your mailing habits.   Once you decide how to indentify your viable inactive email address follow-up with an re-engagement campaign.

A re-engagement campaign should be simple and clear-cut with the purpose of regaining your recipient’s interest in your email messages.  You do not need to spruce up your email message with fancy fonts and pictures, be direct and to the point.  Keep in mind your goal, asking your subscribers if they would like to continue receiving email from you.   Consider offering a sale, coupon or other enticement if you think it would help.

A re-engagement campaign should be timed to reach your inactive subscribers early on.  When tracking your recipients, those who recently became inactive (based on your formula) are the easiest ones to recapture, by peeking their interests again.  Plan your re-engagement campaign to mail to half or a third of your inactive list at a time, over the course of a few weeks.  Monitor the response rates and activity in each mailing:  you’ll be able to update your membership accordingly.  Email a final message emphasizing the value of re joining (re-opting into) your mailing list, with the caveat that they will be removed from future mailings unless they take action now.

After your re-engagement campaign, maintain a good engagement record by identifying those addresses you could not re-engage and remove them from your active mailing lists.

Email and Engagement – Is your email engaged?

Email and Engagement – Is your email engaged?

Is your email engaged?

The definition of email engagement has been debated for the past several years.  Simply put, anytime an email is touched it is engaged.  This includes Clicks, Opens and the movement of an email out of the Spam Folder.  Engagement is used by some major ISP’s to measure positive feedback that is based on the engaged action an email recipient performs on email they receive, for example from your email campaign .  How engagement feedback is perceived by an ISP may become an internal benchmark that affects your email deliverability to that ISP.

Deliverability is affected by many factors, some controllable, some out of your control.  You may think email engagement is one of those factors out of your control, but is it?  By definition, when an email is engaged there is a positive action taken on it by the recipient.  It is believed that some ISP’s utilize the user engagement stats to determine if your sent email messages are actually wanted by your subscribers, compared to those messages that aren’t wanted or acted upon (engaged).  With this information in hand the ISP may take adverse action on your mailings, which may include slowing down your email delivery to blocking your email altogether.  Logically, then, the less engaged your email recipients are the more undesirable effect on your reputation.

If you think about it, an inactive subscriber can not engage your email messages.  If you have a habit of keeping and mailing to inactive subscriber addresses, your engagement score will be low and consequentially a lower sender reputation will follow.  Maintain a good engagement record by identifying inactive addresses and remove them from your active mailing lists.

Inactive addresses are bad for business!  Consider the following:

1.      Most ESP’s charge by the messages emailed.  You will never benefit mailing to an inactive address,  only  the ESP will.

2.      Many savvy advertisers, considering the bottom line, now regard and value list activity, not list size.  A smaller list with high engagement will always outshine a bigger member list with little activity.

3.      When your inactive addresses have received enough email from you they may report you as a Spammer; or several reports later you’ll find you’re blacklisted.

4.      The receiver ISP may label all your email as SPAM, so nothing gets delivered.

As email list marketing advances in technology and strategy, engagement will play a major role in assessing the position of your email.  Inactive addresses, which commonly comprise the bulk of most email marketing lists, will remain an issue.  As part of your mailing campaign strategy employ a re-engagement campaign, which will be covered in my next Blog.  If you have questions on Engagement or other email  issues please drop us an email at info@dundee.net

Triggered Mailings for Success

Triggered Mailings for Success

As an email marketer, how can you increase your bottom line and strengthen customer relationships without costing too much time and money?  Automated email programs like trigger mailings can be the solution that you may be looking for.  Studies show that triggered mailings are responsible for an increase in consumer interest and response (buying), as these automated messages allow you to reach the right customers with the right messages at the right time. .

Demographic triggers and actions, such as an event (i.e. a certain date) or behavior (clicking on a link) can be set to automatically prompt an email response to your customer.  These email responses; after the event is “triggered” by the recipient can contain changeable content or static content, sent to the recipient immediately or over a period of weeks.  Once configured and automated, your email campaigns are executed without effort.

Triggered mailings cater to the immediate interests and needs of your email recipient; as your email responses become more effective because they are timely and more relevant to the receiver.  You can match your knowledge of customer behavior with this triggered based technology, at a low cost and little effort. Dundee Internet Services, Inc has been offering triggered mailing technology for quite sometime and our customers have discovered their triggered mailings complement newsletters and special offers campaigns with significant results.

What to consider for triggered email.

1. Strategic planning is essential; define what will be sent, to whom, how often and when.
2. Set realistic goals for you and your customer.
3. Consider your audience and the timing and relevancy of your mailings.
4. Review your customer demographics for personalized content; verify you have the correct information to set up usable trigges, such as a birthdate.
5. Define behavioral triggers, such as shopping cart abandonment for retail purchases or a PDF download for a service.
6. Create an email flow chart so you can visualize the response path your recipient need to follow before a trigger is set.
7. Test your trigger email programs to fine tune and eliminate non-responses.
8. Regularly audit your triggered emails for outdated links or information.

Select a vigorous email platform that allows you to configure trigger email using high level personalization so you can craft emails that are individualized and relevant to your recipient.  With a technology rich email system you can include behavioral tracking across numerous fields such as subscriber preference or purchase frequency.  Send with success using triggered mailings.

Social Networking – Real Opportunities

Social Networking – Real Opportunities

Social Networking in its simplest terms is a group of people with common interests coming together online to discuss and share their ideas and thoughts. Social Networking is part of the Web 2.0 movement which facilitates collaboration on the World Wide Web with hosted services, web applications, video sharing, blogs, folksonomy and marshups. A Web 2.0 site such as Facebook, allows interaction between its members; they can change and add content to the website, blog about issues and share videos and pictures with other members of the same Social Network.

Social Networking is versatile, available world wide, open 24/7 with open membership. Just as there are no time zone restrictions, there are no special tests, or requirements to be a member of the Social Network movement. Communication within a Social Network is easy and because of the ease of use, groups and even some members develop a following of their own, regardless of location, State or Country. Businesses who harness the versatility of Social Networking by creating their own Social Network identity are definitely one step ahead of the competition.

Current marketing strategies for a typical on line business, in addition to their own company web site, may now include Social Network pages on different Social Network communities. These pages may be developed for specific purposes such as generating feedback on user experience to strengthen brand loyalty within a member group. Social Networks can and do increase your company exposure in the marketplace, and should be considered as an additional marketing tool along with your email marketing campaigns.

Aside from a company Social Network page, your customers and prospects most likely have their own Social Network channels where they read and blog their opinions and suggestions to others in their interest groups – ideally wouldn’t it be great if they were sharing positive comments about your products and services? You can take advantage of the power of Social Network media by integrating Social Network Links into your email marketing campaigns. By leveraging these two powerful channels, email marketing and Social Networks, you can create a cohesive bond between your marketing communications for both your list recipients and future list subscribers.

Social Network Links integrated in your email campaigns can simply allow your list recipients to share your newsletters and brand with their friends and social network contacts, which in turn can be shared again. With the right set of email tools, these Social Network links can identify new prospects and markets with click-though tracking, allowing you to discover what offers and brands motivated your email recipients to share this information with their Social Network associations.

Using the duality of Social Networking and email lists you can discover and reinforce new markets that you may not have identified in the past. With Dundee Internet Services, and the power of ListMangerTM , realize new market opportunities, increase sales potential and your bottom line. New opportunities in turn allow you to re-market your goods and services to a new group of prospects and grow your existing list of newsletter subscribers, reinforcing brand loyalty among your readers.

The Perfect Subject Line does not exist

The Perfect Subject Line does not exist

The Perfect Subject Line does not exist.There is no special formatting involved and no magical formula for the most single important line in your entire newsletter. Your newsletter may never be opened and read if the Subject line doesn’t grab the interest of email recipient: even though they subscribe to your newsletter.

How do you write an inviting Subject Line, one where your reader wants to open and read your email every time you send them a message? Some emails “experts” recommend using a personalized Subject Line to grab the reader’s attention.  The other “experts” suggest personalization, such as using your reader’s first name in the Subject line is a Spammer’s tactic.  So who is right and who is wrong?

Unfortunately there are no guarantees your email will be read regardless of which “expert” advice you follow. However you should know most experts do agree there are things to avoid when composing your Subject Line:

1. Do not use a one word Subject Line: Hi! Or Hello Pat”
2. Do not be over wordy: “Open this for the best time in your life totally guaranteed only today.”
3. Do not use a “come on” such as the email you been waiting for
4. Do not be vague or general: The information you requested
5. Do not write your Subject Line like an ad.
6. Do not be misleading.

What you can do is compose your Subject Line with these goals and guidelines.

1. Include the point of your email: Healthy breakfast in 5 minutes
2. Summarize the message – why and what you are writing – instead of describing it.
3. Be specific: Include detail to promptly and clearly identify what you are talking about
4. If the email requires action: Say action is required
5. Leave out redundant words: Be direct and to the point.
6. Manage expectations:  Don’t promise the Moon if you only have a piece of cheese.
7. Manage your Progress: As you send out more newsletters gather information on what campaigns
elicit responses.  Always take note of your campaign success or failure and what the Subject Line read.
8. Content matching: Make sure your newsletter content fits the Subject Line.
9. Avoid Industry Specific words and abbreviations: You may know what an ESP is, doesn’t everyone?
10. Review Subject Lines in your own inbox: What do you consider to be SPAM, why? Run your copy through a SPAM checker or content checker to pinpoint spammy phrases.
11. Test Your Subject Line:  Mail to a small number of recipients, same content different Subject Line.
Who opened it, who didn’t.
12. Put your organization’s name in the Subject Line when possible.
13. Review examples such as Newspaper headlines.
14. Check your spelling.

Remember some of your readers may only have time to read your Subject Line when the receive your newsletter and may set it aside to read later: an explicit Subject Line makes it easy to locate in an in box. And here is a little tool that may help you with your next campaign.  http://www.localnews.biz/subjectline/validatesubjectline.asp

Subject Line Science

Subject Line Science

There is an abundance of research on the Internet discussing the importance of Subject Line etiquette, covering a cornucopia of what you must do to what you shouldn’t do when composing your newsletter Subject Line. You can find studies on Subject Line structure, the use of capital letters, character set utilization, informal or formal wording, long or short Subject Lines and whatever else is deemed to have an impact on the open rate statistics. With all this time and emphasis placed on Subject Line Science, you can only conclude it is important enough to write it correctly; after all you probably based your email reading decisions on it too.

Your decision to open email when it’s delivered to you is based on the Subject Line. Let’s say you receive an email with the Subject You Won the Russian Lottery; you may think, more SPAM, and in the trash it goes. Or you may have a SPAM filter that automatically tosses any email in the trash with the word Lottery in the Subject Line, so you never see the message. On the other hand if you had subscribed to a Russian Lottery newsletter, it might not be SPAM, in fact you were probably expecting such an email so the subject causes you to open the email instead of deleting it. You can then conclude from your own experience, one factor leading to reading or deleting email is the Subject Line.

There’s more to the Subject Line than most people imagine and crafting the perfect one takes time, and thought, and testing. Subject Lines are a major part of your delivery rates, opens and click-throughs. A good Subject Line should be an integral part of your email campaign strategy driving your subscriber to take action whether your goal is to distribute coupons or share a written article. The bottom line, a Subject Line should describe the subject of the newsletter or promotion, nothing different from the expectations you set by your Welcome or Hello letter when your subscribers first opted-in. Consider these points regardless of your campaign intent:

Compose your Subject Line with a goal in mind: you want your subscribers to open your email message and take some action.

Tell them something significant, or valuable, or timely, so your subscriber feels your email is something they don’t want to delete or skip.

Don’t underestimate the competition. Set your email apart from the other newsletters and junk mail your subscriber may be receiving by composing a subject that will prompt them to open your email immediately.

Do not mislead your subscribers. People signed up for your newsletter because they want to hear what you have to say, you don’t have to exaggerate or over promise. They know who you are, and being honest builds your brand loyalty.

Compose with the individual reader in mind. No matter how many subscribers you have remember your newsletter is distributed to individual mailboxes, take advantage of this intimacy and write to the person not the group.

Use the trust you have with your subscribers. Your subscribers should know the From Address of your company or organization. Use this recognition, together with a consistent themed Subject Line so subscribers will quickly identify the source of the newsletter as being someone they want to hear from.

Writing a terrific Subject Line, every time you mail out a campaign can be fun. It may require a bit of creativity and experimentation to get it right each time, but its well worth the time and energy. Easy tips to overcome any Subject Line challenged writer will be the subject of my next Blog.

Thanks for reading!

Test Your Messages!

Test Your Messages!

We are bombarded by advertising to the point we have become the commercial, evident by the clothes we wear, the shampoo we use to the beer we drink. We think it’s normal for talking dogs to promote canned chili, or the mop we clean with, dedicate classic rock songs to us. And the pace of our commercialized society is blurring, as fads come and go as fast as Internet time – a rate so rapid that marketers have a difficult time predicting, no less promoting the next collectable toy craze or the latest fashion obsession.

Our commercialized society may be responsible for the current generation of “must haves’; consumers who want the latest gadgets to the latest fashion but our commercialized society has created a perpetual opportunity for the savvy marketer. The marketer who can understand and capture the “must haves” attention and sales will obtain their loyalty and repeat business. The savvy marketer knows they are competing in a worldwide market therefore they need to use the best marketing medium that yields the best results for their time and budget.

With all this world wide competition for the “must have’s” attention, time and money, you, as an Internet marketer using opt-in newsletters, have a major advantage over those who can afford product placement spots in the movies, or televised commercials and free samples. You have a list of people who signed up to receive your newsletter because your subscribers like what you say, like your products, like your opinion and want to continue hearing from you. The demographics of your newsletter is selective to your industry making your audience a truly “captive audience”. What you send them in email is important to them and to you. What you send them in email should be tested for:

Appearance: The way your newsletter is arranged, the colors you use, the graphics and included links received, all convey a message. Is it the message you want to appear in your subscriber’s in-box with all the right stuff? Does this format work well for all popular browsers and email clients; are there broken links and any empty spaces? Are all your elements correct, such as your charts and tables? And don’t forget to look at a text version of your newsletter, as there maybe some text version tweaking needed.

Subject Lines: Run your spell checker, and make sure your “From” lines have the correct information.

Content: Everyone makes mistakes, and using a spell checker is no exception. Did you mean to write “you’re” instead of “your” or “their” instead of “there”? Always have someone other than the contributors of your newsletter read and review your content. You will eliminate grammatical errors, or sentences that don’t quite make sense. AND always verify your facts.

Links: Test all hyperlinks. Click on each one to verify your internal and external links are working and that they take you to the correct page or website intended. Verify that your hyper links aren’t accidentally tied to local pages on your computer.

Readability: Once in your in-box, is your newsletter a good length to keep your readers interested or too much information in one sitting? Are you writing over your readers’ head or writing down to your audience. Consider running your content through Microsoft readability tool which displays information about the reading level of the document being checked and includes a readability score, which allows you to gauge your writing level.

Correctness: If you are personalizing your newsletters, check your dynamic content elements. Consider sending your newsletter to a sub-set list that uses the fill-ins from real data fields and the actual records that will be used.

In conclusion: Always test your messages. Your newsletters represent you, and with opt-in newsletters the impression you make is delivered to hundreds or hundreds of thousands with a click of a mouse. Make sure the newsletter they see is the one you intended for them to read. Send your completed message to yourself and your staff BEFORE sending it out to your entire subscriber base. This may seem unnecessary and requires a bit extra work but the benefits are immeasurable compared to the time it takes to do it.