Blogaramma

The Technical Side of Email Marketing & Other Ramblings

Home » Articles posted by Michael Weisel

Monday Morning Cheer – Goooooooooooo Preference Pages!

B8ADD9aIIAAJ6fC

Preference Page Cheer

Good Monday morning all my #emailmarketing peeps. Get psyched for the week with the latest installment of my Monday Morning Cheer. Thanks to our new Community Manager Sara for all her help in getting this out this morning. Goooooooooooo Preference Pages!

“P” is for Preference Pages. Theyre a necessity to your online presence. Do it right&reap the benefits of better list growth #emailmarketing

 

“R” is for Retention of subscribers. If you aren’t using preference pages correctly or not at all you’re losing subscribers! #emailmarketing

 

“E” is for Elbow grease. Put in the work & you’ll be rewarded with a more quality list which = better opens & clicks #emailmarketing

 

“F” is for Footers. Use custom footers leading to custom Preference Pages to segment your brands. #emailmarketing

 

“E” is for Easy to navigate. K.I.S.S. Don’t make things too hard or subscribers will get frustrated and opt-out #emailmarketing

 

“R” is for Relevancy. Customize your Pref Pages based on your subscribers & use separate pages for different communications #emailmarketing

 

“E” is for Edit. Lists names must be relevant (i.e. don’t use “List 1″ or “Bad Customers”). Test & re-test & test again! #emailmarketing

 

“N” is for Nothing. Nothing on your Pref Pages = no choices for subscribers. Get ready to watch your lists diminish #emailmarketing

 

“C” is for Choices. Give subscribers choices to opt-in&out of lists/communication categories & list attrition will decrease #emailmarketing

 

“E” is for… It’s really hard to find this many E words for this cheer :) #emailmarketing

 

“S” is for Segmentation. Use the data you gather from Preference Pages properly & target subscribers based on their choices #emailmarketing

 

Whats that spell? PREFERENCES! Remember its easy for subscribers to simply opt-out. Give them choices & your lists will grow #emailmarketing

Kidding aside, Preference Pages are so important for your marketing efforts. If you have any comments or questions hit me up! P.S. thx @Sara_C_Stein

Monday Morning Reputation Cheer

Here is my latest Monday morning Reputation cheer to kick the week off with a bang. #emailreputation #emailmarketing Have a great and productive week everyone.

NOTE – These were a series of tweets that started this morning at 9:20am Eastern which is why there are some abbreviations and such throughout the post.

–Enjoy

“R” is for Responsibility – As a marketer it’s ultimately yours. Practice good opt-in list techniques and your #emailreputation will thank you


“E” is for Engagement
– Your most engaged is your cherry list, your VIP’s. If your subscribers aren’t engaged, get em engaged or back burner em.


“P” is for Preference Pages
– If you aren’t making yours easy to use and using the info for personalization, you have some work to do.


“U” is for Understanding
– Follow the greats in our field & read what they post, ask questions, soak up knowledge, it’s a great group of people.


“T” is for Target Marketing
– Target correctly and you will reap the rewards do it wrong and say so hello to list attrition.


“A” is for Automation
– It isn’t easy but if you master it, you’ll have a big leg up on your competition. Put in the time & effort & do it right.


“T” is for Throttling
– If your emails are queueing up to major ISP’s throttle over a few hours and give your IP’s a break they will thank u.


“I” is for IP Reputation
– Keep it off RBL’s, keep your Sender Score up, don’t overwork it, monitor it closely, setup FBL’s & it will <3 you back.


“O” is for Optout
– If you haven’t made opting out as easy as pie, you WILL get complaints and your reputation will suffer.


“N” is for Nurturing
– Find out what your subscribers want, listen, use your preference info and it will grow your engaged subscribers.

 

What does that spell? REPUTATION. What did I say? REPUTATION. Who can have a good REPUTATION? You can #emailreputation #emailmarketing

MacBook Pro Fan & Battery Issue Fixed, I’m a “Genius”

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m not an Apple Genius but I am a Genius Googler which was how I ultimately solved my issue.  However I did recently overhear a genius at the Apple Store asking another genius how to fix an issue that I knew the answer to so maybe I’m a junior genius.

So here’s the situation, my parents went away on a weeks vacation.  Wait that’s a Will Smith song sorry wrong situation.  About six weeks ago my less than two year old MacBook Pro went from getting between five and six hours of battery time down to around two and a half hours if I was lucky.  I didn’t think much of it at the time because I usually have it plugged in and I wasn’t traveling anywhere so it wasn’t a big deal.  After a few weeks, I realized that I could barely make it through my DVR’d @HistoryChannel Swamp People and Pawn Stars before completely draining the battery.  Now it was getting annoying and I needed to get this issue solved.  Before making a genius appointment and heading over to the Apple Store I figured I would try a few things on my own to see if I could fix it.  I used my mad Google skills to search for things like “MacBook Pro battery draining”, “MacBook Pro eats battery” and finally, “Why the F is my MacBook Pro battery life sucking even though nothing is running” but all the things mentioned didn’t seem to solve the problem.  I tried a few more things on my own like:

* Checking Activity Monitor for rouge apps running
* Removing old applications that I don’t use anymore
* Removing some new applications I had recently installed
* Reduce the size of my Entourage database (I know reducing it to zero and removing it from my Mac would be better but I have been lazy in that aspect.)
* Archive old files
* Run the battery out and charge it back up

During the process of trying out these things it would trick me every once in a while and show me three and a half hours so I felt like I was making progress then it would quickly drop down to under two hours shattering my hopes that I was truly a genius.  None of these things seemed to do it and it was starting to get annoying so I broke down and made a reservation at the Genius bar.  I gave them the long and short of what was going on as my personal genius processed it all.  They ran a diagnostic test on my baby and she came back healthy as a horse.  They then ran a battery test on it and it showed that it was more than 50% used up.  He then suggested that a new battery would probably fix the issue.  I excitedly agreed because the test seemed to verify that the battery was on it’s way out since 50% use seemed logical that I would be getting only about 2.5 hours of use.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the battery in stock so they had to order it.  My luck seemed to continue when I received a call the next morning that my battery was in.  I made another genius appointment so I didn’t have to wait around.  The genius had the new battery in, in about 10 minutes which unfortunately didn’t have a full charge.  When I turned it on I was not very optimistic when I saw that the battery life at around 50% was reading around 1.5 hours.  This was about where I was before.  The genius asked that I go home and charge it up fully and check it again.  I reluctantly left the store and went home to charge it up.  After a full charge, the time had come to pull the plug and test er out.  I pulled out the plug and watched after a few minutes as the battery was being eaten up.  Now here is where most people would call Apple and freak out, not my style, I was determined to get this fixed without freaking out.

I called Apple Support and spent time on multiple calls over a two day period however my brand new battery was no better than my old battery.  After almost giving up I changed my google search criteria a little bit after realizing that my fan was ALWAYS on and my mac was running very hot.  I searched for “macbook pro fan always running” and low and behold, I came across this article http://bit.ly/k6IBsC by Tom Meagher from June 2009.  After reading Tom’s article, I checked my printers under preferences but didn’t see any rouge print jobs.  My hopes of getting this resolves yet again seemed shattered but I read on determined that I was on the right track.  I noticed one of the posts mentioned using the Unix utility lpstat  I wasn’t familiar with this utility but knowing that many unix commands and utilities are built in to the OSX, it seemed logical that this could be my answer.  I typed in “lpstat” and saw a job that was trying to print to my home Canon color printer. I used the “cancel” command to cancel the job and like magic the fan shut off and within a minute or so my battery life shot up to 7 hours.  I literally jumped for joy that my ordeal was finally over. I called my wife to tell her the good news. When I told her the details including the date of the print job she paused for a moment and asked me if I knew the significance of that date.  I thought for a second and then it clicked. The day in question was my daughters birthday and the print job in question were pictures of her and her friends for an art project that kept getting g stuck. I ended up printing it from another computer and forgetting about it because I was in a rush.

So I guess the moral of this story is that if you continue to refine your Google search and don’t get frustrated then you too can feel like a genius.  Oh and some patience, you gotta have some patience.

The Monday Deliverability Cheer

So my Friday fun failed so I moved it to the Monday Deliverability Cheer to rev up your work week.  Enjoy… #deliverability #emailmarketing

D is for – “Delivery” of messages right to the inbox. The right message, to the right person, at the right time, through the right channel.

E is for – “Education” because you can never get enough. Listen to the masters in this industry and you will go far.

L is for – “Labor” because this is not an easy job but someone has to do it. You only get out what you are willing to put in.

I is for – “IP address” monitor yours, check it’s reputation, take care of it and it will reward you.

V is for – “Victory” that feeling that you get from a great campaign with awesome results.

E is for – “Evolution” because the email space is constantly evolving, what works today may not work tomorrow. Always keep on top of trends.

R is for – “Reputation” – Your online reputation will get you in to the best inboxes where you are free to be a rock star.

A is for – “Avoiding” SPAM filters, Junk mail, and RBL’s at all costs.

B is for – “Best Practices” follow them and you will be successful.

I is for – “images” that display properly across all email clients and browsers but don’t forget the Alt Tags.

L is for – “Learning” something new every day. There is so much to learn, surround yourself and listen to industry leaders and you will go far

I is for – “Indicators” to look out for that can cause poor deliverability, poor reputation, and most of all poor results.

T is for – “Time” Deliverability is not an overnight thing, you need to dedicate the time to be successful.

Y is for – “You” because YOU are ultimately responsible for your online reputation and deliverability.

What’s that spell DELIVERABILITY. Say it again, DELIVERABILITY, Who can get good deliverability? EVERYONE.

What can cause a nick in your online reputation?

I tweeted this information today but thought I would put it all in one place so it’s easier to read. There are many items besides the 8 I listed below, but this was just to get my creative writing juices flowing again. I will be adding on to this list over time.

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #1 – Increased volume outside of your typical sending.

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #2 – SpamTraps.

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #3 – Hitting RBL’s.

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #4 – Not handling SPAM complaints immediately.

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #5 – Not using/monitoring. FBL’s

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #6 – Non working opt-out’s. If it’s broke, fix it damn-it. Plus it’s a violation of the CAN-SPAM Act (Thanks @KentMcGovern for adding that)

* This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #7 – Not Monitoring replies. Not monitoring=not caring.

*This can cause a ding in your reputation tip #8 – Erratic sending practices and inconsistent timing.

Debunking 13 Email Deliverability Myths to Help You Succeed

The below information has been gathered from countless hours of assisting our clients with their day-to-day deliverability needs.  A lot of research and hands-on experience has gone in to debunking these very common deliverability myths.  Unlike when Geraldo uncovered a big goose egg in Al Capone’s vault, I’m hoping that these revelations will help you boost your deliverability and provide necessary information to lead you to success.

Email Deliverability Myth #1 – There is a magic phone number to the ISP’s.

If you are in possession of theses numbers, please tweet them because I’m sure it would get you a million-gazillion followers.  If you partner with the right ESP – they will have the industry knowledge, expertise, and experience and there will be no need to contact the ISP’s.  Even if these magic phone numbers did exist, whose answering the phones? The loch ness monster, bigfoot, maybe a unicorn or a pixie?  And even if they did answer the phone, do you think they can sprinkle pixie dust on the issue and resolve it? That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? But unfortunately, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s all about education, following best practices, and surrounding yourself with the right resources that will make you successful.

Email Deliverability Myth #2 – I dont have to check my feedback loops.

If you are using an ESP, you should know which Feedback Loops (FBL), you are subscribed to.  For a list of available FBLs, check out my blog from last week “ISP Deliverability Information – FBL, Postmaster, and Much More“.

If you aren’t checking your FBL’s then you are doing your valuable lists a huge disservice.  You should be checking your FBL’s at the minimum before every send to ensure that you aren’t sending to these subscribers.  There is absolutely no good reason to keep these subscribers as they have gone the extra mile to report your messages as SPAM.  Check those FBLs and check them often.  If your ESP is not providing access to FBL’s, use the list that I have compiled in the post referenced above and do it yourself.  It may be a lot of work to do on your own but it will pay off ten fold if executed, managed, and monitored correctly.

Email Deliverability Myth #3 – My ESP is responsible for my sending reputation.

A decent ESP will put the tools in place to ensure you can achieve a good sending reputation, and give you the education to use best practices. But it’s you as the marketer who is ultimately responsible for generating a high quality online presence and reputation.  You can have a workshop with the best tools that money can buy, but if you have no idea how to use those tools and don’t spend the time learning, then you’ve wasted your money and wont be able to build or fix anything. The following WILL hurt your sender reputation:

* Purchasing a list
* NOT checking your Feedback Loops
* NOT monitoring your complaints and opt-outs
* NOT keeping up with industry trends and best practices

If you are at fault for any of the above, the problem does not lie with your ESP, it lies with you.

Email Deliverability Myth #4 – If you have a deliverability issue just get a new IP address.

It’s much more advantageous to try and fix issues with sender reputation than to get a new IP address. Getting a new IP is like starting over from scratch.  It’s better to add an additional IP and start warming that up and then use both once the IP has been cleaned up.  It may take some work to mend your IP, but it’s well worth it since you have already spent time building up that reputation.  Being blocked by one or two groups does not mean it’s the end of the world, it just means you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get to the bottom of the issue. Once it’s identified, there are ways to rectify it and put the proper pieces in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again in the future.  In most cases (there are some very bad apples out there) the people that monitor the RBL’s will work with you if you are honest, upfront and don’t become a multi time offender.

Email Deliverability Myth #5 – I’m getting through to one ISP, I can get through to them all.

All ISP’s are NOT created equally.  Just because you are getting through to AOL with high deliverability, doesn’t mean that you will have the same success with Yahoo!.  They each have their own algorithms, filtering techniques, authentication, etc..  This is where education comes in.  You must keep up with the changing trends.  Read the blogs, follow the right people on twitter, hire the right people and consultants, and adjust your campaigns, content, and sending strategies based on your findings.  What might be right for AOL may not be right for Yahoo!.  For some organizations, you may need to create and maintain different strategies for different ISP’s to be successful.

Email Deliverability Myth #6 – I don’t need to monitor my replies.

This myth is very similar to myth #2 with only one major difference.  If you think that the people who reported you as SPAM went out of their way, then the people that send you a personal reply have REALLY gone out of their way.  This can’t be automated as you could receive a plethora of different types of replies each requiring a different response.  Responding to these requests  needs human intervention.  Replies can really run the gamut from extremely postive to extremely negative and borderline threatening.  Each scenario takes a different type of response.  I’m a firm believer that if someone takes the time to reply, that they deserve a tactical response.  If it’s a positive response, take a second to respond back with a simple “thank you” letting them know you care, that thank you could go a long way. If it’s negative, send them a simple response stating that you understand the situation and have personally taken the steps to remove them from your list, that reassurance can also go along way.  There are companies out there like Bamboo Cricket (http://www.bamboocricketemail.com/) that specialize in inbound mail and take the pressure off you by offering that human intervention for a reasonable price.  Regardless of the scenario, monitor your replies. You can really learn a lot by listening to them.

Email Deliverability Myth #7 – I should send transactional email through our own system.

Marketers often believe it’s beneficial to keep transactional emails separate from their marketing messages. This is a misnomer. It actually helps your deliverability to add transactional emails to the mix.  Think about it, if someone comes to your website and purchases something, that’s a guaranteed email address, especially if there was a credit card (or other payment) method involved.  That’s a guaranteed successful delivery.  If it’s not difficult to implement, I highly suggest that you at the very least test to see if it will work for you.  In most cases the implementation is easy and can pay big dividends depending on your volume.

Email Deliverability Myth #8 – No action, keep sending.

What do all of these statements have in common?

* Trying to sell Girl Scout cookies to an abandoned house
* Trick-or-treeting at a house with the lights off
* Trying to kill a T-rex with a pea shooter
* Dont tug on superman’s cape
* Don’t spit into the wind
* Don’t pull the mask off an ‘ole Lone Ranger
* And don’t keep sending to people that don’t interact, open, click, respond, etc. to your messages

You just don’t do it.

Email Deliverability Myth #9 – I can wait to mark my hard bounces as inactive.

Why wait, set your hard bounces to 1 and forget about them.  If you haven’t already, you should institute a no tolerance (mark as inactive after the first hard bounce) rule for hard bounces immediately.  The longer you wait, the higher chance that this bad email address will receive an additional message from you.  The other side to this is that if that email address has been turned in to a spam trap then you are a multi-time offender and that can get you blacklisted.  Don’t pass go, don’t collect 200 dollars, mark these subscribers with an opt-out status immediately.  On a side note to this myth with regards to status, don’t remove these subscribers from your database, mark them as opt-out in case these people get inadvertently added back to a list.  This will ensure that they don’t get another message from you.

Email Deliverability Myth #10 – I share an IP address, but it’s refreshed all the time so I don’t need to worry about any deliverability issues.

This is a tough myth for many to understand.  There are two opposite ends of the spectrum here.  On one side you have the people that are sharing their IP with a group of others.  In this scenario you are all responsible for each others reputations.  In some cases, this can be mutually beneficial, especially if you’re paired with other good senders.  This scenario also has a big risk.  If there’s one bad apple in your group, they can ruin all of your reputations with a single bad decision. I’m not going to turn this myth into a shared versus dedicated IP rant, that can be saved for another post. :)

Email Deliverability Myth #11 – Never send over the weekend.

We have found that early morning (just after midnight) sends that land in the inbox by the time people are waking up do very well for B2C retail clients when sent over the weekend.  This myth has really been debunked because different industries have different successes sending campaigns at different times.  The best way to figure out if this works for you is to do an A/B split campaign to see what kind of results you pull.  I’m not sure about any truth with this next statement but I’m going to throw it out there anyway and hope for some comments.  The continued success could be because there are substantially less senders on weekends, making the volume on the ISP’s incoming mail servers much lighter.  There, I said it, talk amongst yourselves.

Email Deliverability Myth #12 – I’m worried about some of my email content words or phrases sounding “spammy” so it’s best to put it all in images. That way, it won’t get flagged as spam by ISPs.

Bad, bad, bad idea.  If you think your content is “spammy”then change your content, don’t mask it behind images.  You need to maintain a good image-to-text ratio to stay out of the junk folder and or blocked by SPAM filters.  There are plenty of free spam tests out there like Spam Assassin to score your message, giving you a good indication as to where your message will end up.  If you want to go the extra step you can run a litmus test using Litmus’s extensive tools which will allow you to see how your message renders across most available email clients, perform spam filter testing, as well as give you a very detailed and organized set of analytics.

Email Deliverability Myth #13 – If I make it difficult for people to opt-out of messages, I will have less opt-outs.

Yes, you hit the nail on the head, you WILL have less opt-outs but MANY more SPAM complaints… FAIL.  You must, must. must, have a clear functioning, and easy to use opt-out.  I have seen some organizations that claim that it takes a few days to a week or so to opt you out of their database.  This should be an instant action and the subscriber should be removed right away.  I’m not sure why this is so difficult for some companies.  If you think the subscriber is going to change their mind, you’re living in a dream world.  People opt-out because they don’t want to hear from you.  Don’t send them a message asking them if they are sure they want to opt-out, it will just frustrate them and then you will be dealing with myth #6.

ISP Deliverability Information – FBL, Postmaster, and Much More

As I’m putting the finishing touches on one of the three blog posts that I have been working on, I took a side step to publish this list.  I have been compiling this list for a while of ISP information and noticed that it would come in handy for my upcoming post regarding email deliverability myths.  This list includes ISP information and links to their feedback loops and who operates them, bulk sender forms, RBL (Real-time Black Lists) lookups and removal forms.

NOTE: This list is a work in progress and if you have any information you would like to see added, please send me a message and I will include it and of course give you credit.

Yahoo!
Feedback Loop Signup – http://feedbackloop.yahoo.net/
Postmaster – http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/postmaster/
Bulk Sender Form – http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/postmaster/bulkv2.html
Yahoo Mail Delivery Form – http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/mail/postmaster/defer.html
Operated By – Return Path

AOL
Feedback Loop Signup – http://postmaster.aol.com/Postmaster.FeedbackLoop.php
Postmaster – http://postmaster.aol.com/
Whitelist Signup – http://postmaster.aol.com/cgi-bin/whitelist/whitelist_guides.pl
DKIM Information – http://postmaster.aol.com/Postmaster.DKIM.php
Operated By – AOL

Comcast
Feedback Loop Signup – http://feedback.comcast.net/
Postmaster – http://postmaster.comcast.net/
RBL Lookup – http://postmaster.comcast.net/IPB-removal.aspx
Operated By – Return Path

BlueTie (Excite, IWon, My Way)
Feedback Loop Signup – http://feedback.bluetie.com/
Postmaster – http://postmaster.bluetie.com/
Operated By – Return Path

Microsoft Smart Data Services – Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, MSN
SNDS Signup – https://postmaster.live.com/snds/data.aspx
Postmaster – http://mail.live.com/mail/postmaster.aspx
Operated By – Microsoft
Note: You must have a Windows Live ID to signup

SpamCop (SPAM Reporting Service)
Signup – http://www.spamcop.net/w3m?action=ispsignupform
Operated By – SpamCop
Note: This is the signup page for “ISP features”

Usanet
Feedback Loop Signup – http://fbl.usa.net/
Postmaster – http://postmaster.usa.net/
Operated By – Return Path

RoadRunner
Feedback Loop Signup – http://security.rr.com/fbl
Postmaster – http://security.rr.com/
RBL Lookup – http://security.rr.com/amIBlockedByRR
Operated By – Return Path

Cox
Feedback Loop Signup – http://fbl.cox.net/
Postmaster – http://postmaster.cox.net
RBL Removal – http://postmaster.cox.net/confluence/display/postmaster/Contact+US+Form
Operated By – Return Path

RackSpace
Feedback Loop Signup – http://fbl.apps.rackspace.com/
Postmaster – http://69.20.89.3/apps/aup/
Operated By – Return Path

United Online (Juno Netzero)
Postmaster – http://www.untd.com/postmaster/index.html
Trusted List Signup – http://unitedonline.com/postmaster/whitelisted.html

Gmail
Bulk Sender Form- http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=81126

OpenSRS
Feedback Loop – http://fbl.hostedemail.com/
Operated By – Return Path

AT&T
Postmaster – https://help.attbusiness.net/index.cfm?fuseAction=home.viewContent&content_id=7478&category_id=7223
RBL Removal – http://rbl.att.net/cgi-bin/rbl/block_admin.cgi

Synacor
Feedback Loop Signup – http://fbl.synacor.com/
Operated By – Return Path

FastMail
Feedback Loop Signup – http://fbl.fastmail.fm/
Operated By – Return Path

Verizon
Whitelist Signup – http://my.verizon.com/micro/whitelist/RequestForm.aspx?id=isp

Email marketing made me do it, not social media. The dissection of a one day sale.

Good timing, I needed a few new shirts!… Here is another real-life experience that prompted me to purchase something from an email message.

Over this past weekend, I noticed that I really needed a few new shirts. I NEVER shop for myself, probably because I live in a house full of girls (even my dog is female) and I know that I’ll need to save BIGTIME for the teenage years. I wear jeans to work every day so I don’t need a fancy wardrobe. I received an email from Old Navy on Monday morning. This email hit me when I was getting desperate, almost like they knew I needed those shirts. Maybe this is a new kind of personalization where they have a vision of what’s in my closet and how long it’s been there. The email spoke to me – well, it spoke to my wallet. The subject line was clear “30% off TODAY ONLY! Plus, FREE Shipping Every Day!” I got the message on my iPhone so I clicked on the link for “Men” and I was greeted with a VERY mobile friendly catalog of items. In a matter of seconds I found exactly what I was looking for. My only problem is that I’m a hands on kind of guy so I knew that I needed to go to the store if I wanted to purchase these shirts. Lucky for me it wasn’t an online only sale which was also clearly stated in the email. Plus, I knew that my wardrobe couldn’t wait much longer even if it was free shipping , I needed the instant gratification. I left my office a little early and headed over to the mall. On my way over I called the store to find out which entrance they were closest to. This way, I could minimize my time at the mall and avoid my temptations of going to the Apple store, after all I was on a time limit. I was greeted by the woman on the other end who promptly reiterated the“today only” sale which was a nice reinforcement. When I arrived at the store there was plenty of signage both inside and outside the store also focusing on the sale. I quickly found the shirts that I was looking for, tried them on and proceeded to the checkout. The woman at the checkout was friendly and asked me if I had seen the TV Ad after the Superbowl. I told her that I hadn’t but I did receive the email that morning which was what got me in to the store. She was excited about that and commented that she didn’t have to ask me if I wanted to join their mailing list now.


I got to thinking about the message that I received and how it spoke to me and ultimately got me to purchase from them. Thepart about being “Super Cute for Less” didn’t exactly speak to me, but the main message certainly did: “TAKE 30% OFF ANY OLD NAVY PURCHASE*”. The “Super Cute for Less” tagline prompted me to check my preferences for their email communications. I looked back at the email and it was very clearly marked at the bottom. When I got to the preferences page I was surprised with all of the options. I guess I hadn’t chosen any options when I initially signed up which explains the lack of personalization. I chose the categories that interested me and also gave them my Birthday for a “Special gift on your special day!” which sadly I missed out on by only a few weeks. They also have a section for credit card holders to receive bonuses as well as exclusive offers. Lastly they invite you to opt-in to other Gap brands. The one thing I was surprised about was that after submission, I was taken to a thank you page which stated that my preferences would be updated within the next two weeks. Wow, really? Two weeks to update preferences?

My analysis of the message:

It had a lot of images at the top which was balanced with A LOT of filler text mumbo jumbo at the bottom. This probably gave it an equal image to text ratio. It boasted the T.V. spot which was apparently a big deal although I couldn’t find it on the web anywhere. The sale information was very clear with a large button to “shop now.” I wish that they had read my previous article “Highlighting the Promo Codes,” however the promo code for online purchase was also very clearly marked within the message. The colors were bright, vibrant, and appealing. The message also highlighted another ongoing sale in case this sale didn’t appeal to me. Overall, the message was very well done and I didn’tsee room for any major improvements other than to try and use more personalization which again in this case I found out by checking my preferences that I hadn’t provided enough information.

Here is what I learned from my Old Navy experience and about this particular sale:

I wasn’t a fan on Facebook so I missed the post about the sale.
I didn’t follow them on twitter so I missed the tweet about the sale.
I don’t watch Glee so I missed the commercial about the sale.
I am Opt-in to their email list so I did get the email about the sale. DING DING DING!

This shows that they are reaching their audience through all the major channels and doing a good job at promoting the sales and special offers.

Here is what Old Navy accomplished by sending me the email:

I’m now fan on Facebook and I see they have valuable information there.
I’m now following them on twitter (please follow me back @oldnavy) and I see there is valuable information there as well.
No matter what they say or give me, I will NEVER EVER watch Glee!

Overall, my experience from receiving the message, to my phone call, to my visit to the store, to making a purchase and ultimately updating my preferences was excellent. Now that I updated my preferences we will see if they use that information to personalize my upcoming messages. I will include this brand in my research regarding personalization after updating my preferences.

Disclaimer – No Glee fans were injured during the writing or posting of this article! :)


How well will Whole Foods do with their “One Day Deal” for today?

Last night while talking to my Dad about my daughter’s incredible ability to demolish sushi, he asked me about an email that he had sent me earlier today from Whole Foods (@WholeFoods on Twitter).  I hadn’t seen it yet so I looked while we were talking.  It was their “One Day Deals” email that my Mom received earlier in the day.  My Dad forwarded it to me because he knows how much my family loves Vitaminwater (@vitaminwater on twitter) and it looked like a great deal.  After reading the email, I disagreed, it wasn’t a great deal it was a FANTASTIC deal, 50 cents a bottle.  This is one third of the regular price per bottle.  Now I only buy Vitaminwater when it’s on sale for a dollar a bottle (I stopped buying it at Costco because although the price is a little less per bottle, the selection in the big packs were not what my family enjoyed) so this was something I would jump at.

So, I re-arranged my morning a little to get over to my local Whole Foods store as close to 8:00am, when they open.  I was greeted by a chalkboard sign outside of the entrance reiterating the email that I received which was nice to know in case for some reason my store didn’t participate or something.  It also stated while supplies lasted which made me a little nervous.  I got a cart, walked in and went straight to the Vitaminwater section.  This is where I thought I may get disappointed and find that it was just one flavor or they only had five but I was pleasantly surprised to find a large selection and plenty of them.  I quickly filled my cart with 50 bottles of the various kinds my family likes, took a picture from my iPhone for later use and proceeded to the checkout.  Both the cashier and the bag packer knew about the deal (and seemed excited about it) and didn’t bat an eye at the fact that I had 50 bottles in my cart.  They quickly rang me up, gave me my 20 cent discount for my four recycled bags and I was on my way.

When I got to the car I MMS’d a picture of my filled to the brim cart to my Dad and went  to the office.  When I got to the office I tweeted my picture and mentioned both Vitaminwater and Whole Foods in my tweet.

Here is the “Whole” point of my post:

I have since signed up to receive Whole Foods daily emails in hopes of another spectacular offer like this one.  Here are a few notes from my experience in signing up for their emails and my overall experience with my Whole Foods adventure.

One thing I did notice on their website is that it was hard to find where to signup for their newsletters.  It was a small text link under the “Welcome” section.  They really should make it more visible on their home page, I almost gave up.

During the initial signup, they ask me for my email address, first name, my local store, which Newsletter I would like to subscribe to, and the format I would like to receive it in.  After that they have a “Step 2” which asks for a bunch of personal information which will hopefully be used to generate personalized emails.  They are using a double opt-in mechanism which is comforting to know.  I used my Yahoo email address to signup and the message came right through to my inbox within a minute or so.  This too was nice to see as a lot of organizations have a difficult time getting through to Yahoo’s inbox in a timely fashion.

The confirmation message I received was personalized with a “Dear Michael” and a link to change my preferences.  It also noted that “We hope you enjoy your bi-weekly newsletters” which was what I signed up for so that was a nice touch as well.  I noticed during signup that they had three options for newsletters although when I clicked through to the preferences, I noticed that there are only two choices to opt-in or out of, I’m not sure what happened to the third choice.

I did notice that the deal of the day email that my Dad forwarded to me was not personalized at all.  I would have thought since the store was a mandatory choice in the signup process it would have at least included some info on our local store.  I’m not sure what info my Mom gave up when she signed up, however I offered a bunch of personal information during my signup and will update this article as I receive more emails.  One more note from the forwarded email was that it was very well done.  It had the right text to image ratio, the design itself was appealing (although it did make me think of Fall and Halloween), and best of all it was short and to the point.

Overall, I think Whole Foods is doing a great job with their communications and I look forward to receiving future correspondences from them.  My entire experience from my Dad forwarding me the email, to shopping at the store, to signing up for their newsletters, to enjoying my Vitaminwater Focus (which honestly helped me sit still and write this post) this morning was pleasant.  I didn’t want to be too greedy this morning (I thought 50 was a good round number) but I may go back after work, see what’s left and clean them out.

BTW, here is a pic of my award winning cart and thanks Dad for the great tip, much better than the time you told me not to smoke in bed.

Highlighting the Promo Code in the Subject Line for Extra Visibility

This article “Highlighting the Promo Code” was featured on the Email Expert: Email Marketing, Reputation, Deliverability & Best Practice Blog

This post is based on an initial article written by Andy Thorpe titled, “The Anatomy of Email: Subject Lines“  and a response that I wrote to his post.

I originally read about using promo codes in the subject line in an article from Jordan Lane over at Email Moxie towards the end of last year. A  few weeks before I read Jordans article, I was speaking with Mike Cayelli, the CEO at Cuff-Daddy about ramping up for the upcoming holiday season.

Cuff-Daddy is one of the leading retail websites specializing in cufflinks.  They have a home grown opt-in list that get’s an incredible deliverability rate.  They have relied on Email marketing to help grow their bottom line and they notice a significant jump in sales during email campaigns.  We were discussing different ideas on how to increase opens and clickthroughs to drive more holiday sales.  We came up with a bunch of ideas that we began executing immediately which seemed to be moving things along in the right direction.

Some of the ideas were content related, time related, adding personalization, and a snazzy new template.  It’s important to note that the above mentioned ideas were implemented before testing the promo code in the subject line.  They had already begun seeing an increase in opens and clicks prior to testing.

I sent Jordan’s article to read and told him that we should give it a try in their next campaign.  He agreed, and the results were very positive.

They saw a 4% increase in open rates, an 8% increase in link clicks and a 12% increase in sales.  These were exciting stats as we weren’t expecting a big bump from something so simple as highlighting the promo code in the subject line.  Because of these results, Cuff-Daddy has taken this simple task and added it to their marketing efforts for 2011.  The best part about this tactic is that it’s easy to implement, takes no integration whatsoever and is very, very low risk.

I think that this test was successful not only because the promo code had extra visibility in the subject line but it was this idea coupled with other ideas outlined in Andy’s initial article that made it work.  Since the subject line is the “first impression”, it’s important to find a good balance that works for your organization.  My best advice is to test, test, test and then test some more.  A good way to test this theory would be to use an A/B split to see if adding the promo code works for you.  Since Cuff-Daddy’s success, we have been talking to our other retail clients about implementing this and they have all been receptive to giving it a try.  If you implement this, please let me know your results for a follow-up post in the near future.

Follow @michaelweisel on Twitter
Follow @GoldLasso on Twitter
Like Gold Lasso on Facebook