Archive for the 'Email' Category

Email: Quality is more important than ever before

The average businessperson receives 200 emails per day. He spends  30-40% of his working time just managing that email torrent.  Do you think he needs yet another one of your impersonal emails? It’s little wonder harried people today click ‘Spam’ on perfectly legitimate messages.

Business is increasingly about trust and building relationships. The top email marketing tactic is sending custom content to a targeted group, according to a MarketingSherpa survey (below). Impersonal email blasts rank at the bottom of the list.

What about the email that you send to your business customers and prospects? Email marketing services like iContact and Constant Contact can be useful.  But sending out blasts of hundreds or thousands of emails is increasingly ineffective.

Large businesses have the manpower and budget to customize CRM systems like salesforce.com. Small businesses and consultants don’t.  Check out tools like WeMeUs Contact Management and Lead Generation.  They enable highly personalized emails for messages that have impact … and actually get read.

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You can’t trust nobody

An eMarketer article’s title takes the high road in Room for Improvement in E-Mail Opt-Outs when it should have shamed marketers. Email lists that required 3 or more clicks to unsubscribe zoomed from 7% to 39%.  Single click opt-out lists shrunk from 9% to 3%.

It’s no wonder why businesses can’t be trusted. Industry self-regulation virtually never works.  Spam was so bad the US had to pass the federal CAN SPAM law.

And now companies are back to their old tricks, making it harder to cancel.  That’s a prime reason (from the article) “22% of US Internet users consider messages they once requested but no longer want to be spam.”

Breaking up should not be hard to do. What part of “leave me alone” don’t businesses get?

Group services: Would you like registration with that?

Leading email marketing service Constant Contact announced they’re adding event registration services.  The only surprise is that it’s taken so long.  How many fancy email templates do you have to add before you wonder if there is a better way to leverage your technology, service, and customer base?

There is a natural convergence of group services, people databases, and social networks.  Despite the common tech platform, the rise of converged services has been slow to innovate, save the tidal wave of Facebook and iPhone apps.

Egroups (now Yahoo Groups) set the bar almost 15 years ago for integrated group services.  Yet some of the services there still haven’t made it to email marketing, which has been mostly stagnant the past several years.  While email marketers have added surveys, blogs, and RSS feeds, key group services continue to be weak, including contact management, group management, and CRM.

As a group owner and event organizer, I welcome this integration.  It streamlines my backoffice and operations.

Now if my current email provider (iContact) would just hop on this bandwagon …

Marc

What happens after you send that email?

Metrics are the game for marketers.  We’re supposed to know know exactly what happens where.  We say that  100,000 emails are sent out. And that 10,000 people clicked through, resulting in 1,000 sales.  But what happens in-between is a blackhole.

This is important for multiple reasons

  • People are not homogeneous.  The better we understand users and their actions, the better we can segment them and target message recipients and content.
  • We sell branding as a key benefit of email campaigns.  So we need know not just who buys, but who views our message and how.

A survey by Iconix provides some data on how people actually use email. In general this is similar to social networks. (Indeed email was the first medium for networking.)  The asymptotic curve starts with a few heavy users who have hundreds or thousands of daily emails or network connections, which is more than balanced by an exponentially larger number of light users with a few daily emails or a small, tight network.

Among their findings:

  • Users receive an average of 25 emails a day. 27% are personal. … That’s not a lot of email.  If you have a broad consumer market, this is good news that your emails are likely not getting buried in most recipient mailboxes. Getting them read is another matter.
  • Just 6 percent of users read messages BOTH in preview and fully open views.  … So brevity is still important.  Make sure you identify yourself and your key message at the top of your email.
  • 75% (depending on the email client) of images are viewed. … The article calls that surprisingly high.  However it makes sense in light of the broad usage I suggest above.  Light email users will have  A. a higher percentage of personal messages that come from people in their address book and B. fewer messages and so more time to mark other senders as authorized.  This is supported by Gmail.  Their more business and tech-oriented  user base leads to users with more messages and the lowest image viewing rate among major ISPs.

Email for relationship marketing

I wrote the following for WeMeUs, with whom I consult. Let me know if you run across other tools that do a good job in this area also.

Are you using the right email marketing tool?

Group email companies like Constant Contact and iContact have popularized email marketing. The technology is helpful with automated email management and opt-in and out processing.  But is it working for you?

Review the following checklist.

  • Are your email recipients primarily anonymous … or people who personally know you?
  • Are your group mailings typically to  hundreds or thousands of subscribers … or fewer?
  • Are your messages the same from person to person with the name changing… or highly personalized?
  • Are your mailing groups fixed and general … or ad hoc and topic-based?

If answered by selecting the first choices, then the group email services have the right solution for you. If you chose the latter choices, then you’re likely a consultant or small business that uses email not just for direct sales or branding, but also for relationship marketing.

Email for relationship marketing

Most solopreneurs and many small businesses generate revenues through their existing contacts. Their primary asset is their network of contacts, which they leverage for repeat, referral, and new business. This is relationship marketing.

Relationship marketing use of email differs from standard email marketing in several ways.

  • It’s personal. Email contact is not with a anonymous subscriber but a professional contact.
  • Distribution lists are small. Emails may be individuals or small groups.
  • Messages are highly personalized. While groups emails use a common template, each email is often customized with a personal note from the sender to recipient.
  • Email is highly targeted. Some messages may general for your business, such as a new product announcement, special offer, or a regular newsletter.  Other mail is occasional, such as to pass on an article, industry news, or web site of interest.

Consultants and small businesses need a relationship management service that integrates contact management, referral marketing, and email like WeMeUs. A deep contact manager contains a wide range of contact fields make it easy to form small groups by tag, keyword, and other criteria, and facilitates email personalization. Contact reminders allow users to stay in touch with current and important contacts and build relationships. Robust tagging and groups enable contacts to be assigned to ad hoc or permanent groups for group email. A contact log that stores communications, including sent email, gives the user a single glance at personal contact.

Building referrals

When you move to relationship marketing you broaden your email communications.  You still publish product announcements, special offers, surveys, and your regular newsletter.  You can build on that to do much more when you also start targeting and personalizing your email.

  • Periodically reach out to customers and close contacts to say hello and see how their business is doing.
  • Add highly personal messages to emails from asking about the spouse and kids to mentioning a shared experience or interest to congratulating a contact on their latest business launch or other success.
  • Solicit ideas and feedback
  • Cross promote other media such as blog and video postings.
  • Reconnect with contacts you haven’t spoken to recently.
  • Share articles, white papers, industry news, or a web site of interest.
  • Update contacts with a new feature or testimonial
  • Celebrate news that is personal or a shared interest
  • Remind people how you can help them as an industry or business expert

Email marketing for consultants and small businesses goes beyond the direct mail mantra of direct sales and having your email stand out to get noticed. It serves the critical role of high-touch personalization in relationship marketing.

Beat Spam

… or How I Learned to Love Email

I actively use  a dozen different domains for various businesses and have several different email accounts and domain management tools.  I used to get a few thousands emails a day, yep, most of that spam.  I took a few steps to reduce that that all business and web site owners should follow.

  • Encrypt web-based addresses
  • Turn off domain catch-all addresses, i.e. if email isn’t to a known address reject it.
  • Use domain/server-based spamcatchers where available.
  • Use opt-in/out services for group business mail.
  • Pray to the god Charity

That reduced total email by 70-80% to several hundred messages a day … still a whole lotta spam going on.

I use spam software to reduce that further.  But that still left me with a few hundred spam messages a day plus checking the ones that did get caught.

The last step was the easiest – use Google Gmail, which has reduced spam and false positives to about 1-2 a day.

Now I’m a gotta-own need-to-customize kinda guy.  So I use client email software (open source Thunderbird).  No problem.  Not only is Gmail the best spam fighter, it also has other features, all still free, that no one else fully offers:

  • Pick up mail from other POP/IMAP accounts
  • Be accessed via POP/IMAP
  • Forward mail to another address
  • Store several gigabytes, sufficient for all the email 99.99% of people will ever have.

So here is what I do and recommend:

  • Be responsible.  Don’t report as spam real commercial mail, such as stores and services that you patrinize, mailing lists and groups that you signed up for, and contacts that you’ve communicated with (including LinkedIn connections).  Filter such email into folders for later review, change your email settings for those sites and services, unsubscribe from lists, and disconnect with people if deleting email is too much bother.  But don’t report them as spam.  That hurts not just legitimate businesses like them … and yours … but other users who want to receive that email.
  • Get a Gmail account. Set it up:
    • Set all read email to be archived (put in All Mail).  This keeps it an email backup and lets you review report individual messages as spam that Gmail missed.
    • Every few days check the Gmail spam folder.  If you see legitimate mail, mark it as Not Spam.  If you don’t want that mail, delete it from the Inbox. After you review the spam mail, select and delete it all to clear the folder.
  • Develop and implement an email process that allows Gmail to process all your mail.
    • For POP email accounts, set up Gmail to read account mail.   the and forwarding addresses that come to you that puts Gmail in the loop.
  • Set it up to receive mail from your POP/IMAP accounts and forw

Marc Freedman

PS.  Because of aggressive spam flters, DallasBlue and MyLinkDaddy email often go into bulk mail.  Please remember to add marc@dallasblue.com and marc@mylinkdaddy.com to your Address Book and permitted senders list!


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