email marketing

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Confused-computerI received this email yesterday morning and thought it was worth sharing as an example of missing the mark. I’ll let you read it first before I comment. I changed some of the particulars to protect the originators. So, don’t peek yet.

Hey there -

You are cordially invited to attend a free educational webinar from [company name]! On Tuesday, November 12th we’ll be joined by Jane Doe, whose stories and coaching has already helped organizations generate more than $200 million in business. Jane will share tools and strategies to help you engage your team (yes, you have a team!) to identify and share powerful stories so you retain more customers AND make more money. Registration is free and there will be time for a Q&A session at the end of the presentation.

Register here >>

We hope you’ll join us! 


Team [Company Name]

My turn…

Even before I identify what’s ineffective, the first things I notice are grammatical errors.  Continue reading

Envelope With Arrows and @I prefer longer subject lines when I compose emails to my distribution lists. I always believed that if I explained what was inside, they would appreciate knowing whether they should open them or not.


The same study I mentioned in “Personalize Your Emails for Better Open Results,” also has info on how long our subject lines should be. And, drat, they need to be short.

Email newsletters with short subject lines (4-15 characters) had the highest average open rate (15.8%) last year. Longer subject lines resulted in lower open rates, though the effect on open rates diminished as the lengths increased.

Click rates also peaked when subject lines reached a minimum. At 4 to 15 characters, click rates experienced a maximum of 2.6%. For subject lines over 16 characters, a normal distribution occurred. Very long subject lines, of over 51 characters, yielded the lowest click rate of 1.6%.

It’s also fascinating to see that the most popular words in subject lines indicate special offers (freepartysalecoupon) or time sensitivity (newstonightweekendtoday).

Visit the Mailer Mailer site to see the top 100 words used within subject lines of this study.

How long are your subject lines? What’s your average open rate?

If you’re not personalizing the emails you send, pay attention. Your open rate is going to be lower.

A new study by Mailer Mailer confirms what many marketers have suspected for a while. Personalizing emails works. The only catch is… you can’t over-personalize.

So, here are the goods:

  • If you personalize the subject line only, open rates average 12.9%. But, if you personalize the message only, average open rates jump to 13.2%.
  • Both are still better than not using recipients’ names at all. The average rate for non-personalized email is 9.8%.
  • But, get this. If you want to go overboard and use personalization in both the subject line and the message, forget it! The average open rate drops to 5.3%. Too much of a good thing, I suppose.

Now, for the paradox on click-through rates. (This is where it gets weird.)

  • If you personalize the subject line only, click-through rates average 2.1%. But, if you personalize the message only, average click-through rates rise to 2.4%.
  • Again, both are still better than not using recipients’ names at all. The average click-through rate for non-personalized email is a mere 2%.
  • And now, the paradox. If you personalize both the subject line and the message, the click-through rate jumps to 2.8%!

So, how should you personalize your emails?

Recipients can’t click through on links they haven’t seen IF they haven’t opened your emails. So, stick with personalizing the message only, write engaging content and try to increase click-throughs organically.

Of course, the best way to know what works best for your own lists is to test it!


What’s been your experience? Have you been personalizing your emails? How do your average open and click-through rates compare with the study?

Kicking email symbolAs if keeping up with emails isn’t challenging enough, I find my inbox filled with new promotional messages (SPAM) every day. And, no, I’m not talking about scams from overseas con artists. I’m talking about North American companies and start-ups that believe their products and services will be valuable to me as a blogger/marketer.

Now, it’s possible that when I downloaded the occasional white paper or report, the vendors shared my contact information with partner companies. But, there are still way too many that arrive regularly. It’s not only annoying, it is time consuming to unsubscribe from each one.

It makes me wonder why companies risk ticking people off and damaging their brands. It’s possible that their success rates outweigh the risks, and that’s why they continue to do it, BUT, sending mass commercial messages to people who did not subscribe to them is against the law! 

Here’s what the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says on its site:

Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as ‘any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,’ including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly.”

So, just in case you weren’t aware, here are 7 tips from the FTC.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

If you want to file a complaint to the FTC it can help it “detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide.”

Do you receive unwanted e-mails? What do you do about it?

Are you guilty of sending unwanted emails? Come on, fess up!

Email deliveryChances are your smaller business or nonprofit sends out regular marketing emails. But, how do you know if they’re getting through to recipients?

According to a new report by Return Path, reported in E-consultancy, “Just over one in five (22%) commercial emails sent globally on the first half of 2013 never made it to the subscriber’s inbox.” Now, that may sound like the odds are in your favor until you wonder if your organization is part of that 22%!

Aside from billions of messages clogging up Cyberspace, many end up in spam folders. The report goes on to list the top factors that affect e-mail deliverability.

1. Clean and up-to-date lists have the biggest impact on improving deliverability (58%)

2. Relevance of email to recipients (45%)

3. Reputation of sender (44%)

4. Use of confirmed opt-in data (30%)

7 Tips to Improve Your Email Deliverability:

1. Every time someone sends you an updated email address, ensure you change it in your database.

2. Check the back end of your email service provider account to download those that bounced or unsubscribed. Do some research on LinkedIn or Facebook to find updated information.

3. If you’re buying lists with dud addresses, advise the vendor. You may be entitled to a credit or refund for those that are invalid. If this happens frequently, change vendors.

4. Segment your email lists and send different versions according to their interests, buying patterns, buying/donor history, etc.

5. Make sure the content you send is relevant and helpful to your audiences. Make it about them.

6. If you’re not using an email service provider and sending mass emails using your own email account, stop. Your email address may be getting blackballed by many recipient servers. Improve your deliverability by using an email service provider that provides you with the design and sending tools and, more importantly, the results data.

7. Make sure you aren’t sending emails to people who haven’t subscribed or opted in. This is called SPAM and sending it frequently will negatively impact your sender reputation.

Do you have any more tips to add?

Email Deliverability 7-31

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