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Email List Management

17
Jan

no spam illustrationCanada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) is set to take effect on July 1, 2014. After years of preparation and consultation, Canada will get a modern, but very strict, anti-spam law.

One of the requirements for CASL will impose on any entity doing business in Canada is the proof of consent. Up until now, many Canadian businesses relied on so-called negative consent, or giving subscribers an option to opt-out from future mailings. The new law will force businesses to obtain permission first, and also continue to provide an easy-to-use mechanism for subscribers to remove themselves from a list.

The easiest way to handle consent (or “opt-in”), unsubscribes and other list-management tasks is to open an account with an Email Service Provider or ESP, such as Aweber, MadMimi or GetResponse. These services all provide basic and advanced list-management features, but they differ greatly in additional features, such as auto-responders, RSS-to-email, etc.

Most ESPs also offer Social Media integration, and some offer features that may not necessarily be considered as email-related, such as surveys, GetResponse offers surveys included in the basic package, other ESPs rely on 3rd party integration, such as SurveyMonkey.

In case you’re interested in sending simple email newsletters, MadMimi offers a free option, and you can have up to 2,500 subscribers in your lists. If you need to send more than 6 emails per month, you can upgrade to any of their paid packages.

Even with the added hassle of making sure you’re CASL-compliant, email marketing should still be one of the staples of your overall marketing strategy.

In case you need help in setting up your email marketing system please contact me.

Boris Mahovac RGD
Email Marketing Consultant

Category : Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog
16
Aug

Average open rates for newsletters

A recent Marketing Sherpa article about average open rates published this interesting chart.

The research was compiled based on data from nearly 1,500 marketers. The chart compares the performance of B2B email newsletters to the performance of B2C e-newsletters in open rate, clickthrough rate and conversion rate.

The open rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of registered opens to the number of emails sent. Some email service providers, as well as some marketers, take it to the next step and count only the number of emails delivered in the ratio. (See this post on email bounce rates)

The clickthrough rate (or CTR) is usually defined as the ratio between the number of clicks to the number of emails opened. For example, if an email was opened by 100 subscribers to an ezine, and 30 of those subscribers clicked on a link, then the CTR would be 30%.

The conversion rate is usually defined as the ratio between the number of conversions to the number of clicks. A conversion can be anything, such as a sale, request for more information, additional subscription, or anything that you may ask your subscribers to do. For example, if, of those 30 subscribers that clicked on a link, 3 purchased something, then the conversion rate would be 10%. (Some marketers would say it’s 3%)

Clickthrough and conversion rates are important indicators of email newsletter performance. As newsletter publishers we should track these statistics, making sure we always apply the same metrics.

The research shows that B2C newsletters perform slightly better than B2B. How do your own results compare to these averages? Please comment and share your insights.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Tracking and Split Testing | Tracking Email Opens | Blog
23
Jun

Over the years I’ve tried about a dozen or so Email Service Providers (ESPs), and now I regularly use iContact.

If you’re thinking of switching ESPs, or are considering getting into opt-in email marketing for your small business or solo practice, iContact is making your decision a bit easier with their June 2010 promotion: save 15% when you upgrade your account (you start with a free trial account), and save an additional 15% if you also pre-pay for a year of service, for a total of 30% savings. Use the promo code June2010 to save now!

I recommend iContact to my clients who are looking for a service that provides:

  • 99% deliverability rate
  • unlimited lists
  • unlimited auto-responders
  • unlimited signup forms
  • RSS-to-email (reuse your blog posts as emails)
  • 5 Mb of free image hosting for your email campaigns
  • integrated surveys
  • and more…

In case you’re considering switching, I offer a service that does that for you and is included in my “ESP Account Setup” service. Please see my services page for more information.

Category : Boris Recommends | E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog
29
Apr

If you’ve been in business for 5-10 years, you have a hidden business asset that you may not be utilizing at all: the email list of your existing clients. If you’ve been smart to collect their email addresses then it’s time to start using the marketing channel with the highest return on investment: email marketing.

One of the things you have to keep an eye on before you start sending email marketing campaigns to your existing contacts is to find a suitable Email Service Provider, because not all ESPs will accept old client lists.

Once you’ve found an ESP (also know as web based email marketing systems), make sure you don’t upload all of your contacts into one big list, but rather, segment your contacts into:

  • current clients
  • old clients
  • trade show contacts
  • requests for quote
  • friends

Also, remove all email addresses that begin with info@ sales@ admin@ as these may be flagged by your email marketing service as “suspicious.”

When sending to a list that’s never been used, you will have a lot of expired email addresses that will bounce, so try sending your first promotion only to current clients, then a few days later, go through the lists in the order I listed them above.

What is Optin Email Marketing?

When uploading the list to your online email marketing service, you will have the option of sending your contacts a so-called confirmation email message. A confirmation message contains a link your subscribers will have to click in order to be added to your list. If you choose this option, you will only be able to send further messages and email marketing campaigns only to those contacts that have clicked the confirmation link. By sending your contacts a confirmation email you’ll be building a highly-responsive permission-based email marketing list. Be advised, though, that your list may end up being only 1/10th the original size, but that’s OK, because your will have a solid foundation on which to build your future email subscriber base.

Category : Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Service Providers | Blog
24
Aug

Grace AttardI can’t say enough about how much lighter I feel knowing that Boris has my back for my website and my ezine updates. His constant thirst for self learning makes me count on him on a continuous basis because he always has something new to teach me. I have recommended Boris to many of my clients and will confidently and happily do so in the future without hesitation.

Boris’ Top qualities: Great Results, Good Value, High Integrity

Grace Attard
Business Coach and Founder of the e-Spot™

Note: This testimonial was originally published as a recommendation on Linkedin

Please leave your own comment – Thanks!

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Management | Testimonials | Web Site Development | Blog
30
Jul

When looking for a suitable Email Service Provider to provide you with the online system to manage your email marketing campaigns ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Do I need to handle multiple opt-in lists?
  2. Do I need a sequential auto-responder?

This will narrow down your choices significantly. If you’d like to have people sign up on your website/blog/facebook to different lists and offer them different automated sequential messages (aka auto-responders) then my choice would be iContact – I use it myself and recommend it to my clients.

For the ultimate in ease of use, try MadMimi.com, I recommend them to my clients who are just starting out, with zero contacts on the list. MadMimi has the most easy-to-use interface of all the ESPs I’ve tried over the years. Their customer service is the best I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with, plus they keep adding features on a regular basis. MadMimi’s free account is a fully-featured one, but is limited to 100 contacts, and you can send as many messages as you want. Read my blog post MadMimi Brings the Fun Back to Sending Email “Blasts”

Category : Boris Recommends | E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog
13
Jun

An interesting question regarding email subscribers vs. blog subscribers was asked recently on Linkedin. In a nutshell Lisa Bowen was wondering:

Can a blog-subscription email list be used for general company announcements and email newsletter blasts?

I personally separate the two types of subscribers and recommend that my clients do so as well. Although this practice may be perfectly legal under CAN-SPAM, I consider it not very ethical.

However, depending on how you phrase the ad copy in your pop-up, you may get away with it, e.g. if you say: “Sign up for updates from my blog and also receive my ezine.”

Be aware, though, that the spam issue is ultimately in the eyes of the subscriber.

Additionally, problems may arise when somebody opts out. Because these two lists are usually handled by two separate systems, you need to manually update one of them. Ideally, your email service provider would have some sort of RSS Feed plugin or connectivity. Email Service Provider MadMimi recently introduced this upgrade to their very slick email publishing platform. iContact has it, Aweber, too, I think. GetResponse also has a limited feature which allows you to send an automated email to your ezine subscribers announcing the new content is available on your blog, but it doesn’t actually deliver your blog content by email.

I use FeedBurner for handling email subscriptions to my blog and it can only collect the email address, not the name of the subscriber. This is just one of the reasons I wouldn’t use the blog subscribers list the same way I would any of my other confirmed opt-in email marketing lists.

What do you think? How do you let your blog subscibers mingle with the ezine subscribers?

Category : Blogging for Business | E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Building | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Web Site Development | Blog
25
May

I recently purchased a great little add on for MadMimi called BigTie! for MadMimi. It will automatically copy all of your blog’s subscribers to your MadMimi email marketing account.

I am testing it now and will publish a full article soon.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Building | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog
20
Mar

These two Email Service Providers (ESPs) are as different as they can be.

Aweber is primarily an auto-responder service, enewsletter service second. To take advantage of all its features, you really need to be familiar with some Internet technologies, such as HTML, FTP and RSS.

If your intention is to self-publish a company newsletter, then Constant Contact is a better choice (not the best choice, though, but read on). They have an extensive library of ezine templates which can be customized relatively easily. CC provides hosting space for a small number of images, and more can be purchased. Aweber does not offer image hosting, so images need to be uploaded to your web site or blog – by FTP, for example.

When sending HTML emails, such as newsletters and e-flyers, it is advisable to also send a plain text version along with it, for people who prefer to read text-only emails, or their email programs don’t support HTML, or HTML is blocked by the company firewall. If you’re using one of Constant Contact’s many templates, the system generates the TXT version for you. With Aweber you need to manually create the TXT version which can become tedious quickly. However, a tool such as Premailer can help with that, however your HTML ezine needs to be hosted on your web site for this tool to work.

If you plan to publish several different email newsletters, and collect subscribers online, then Aweber provides an easier way, as you can have separate sign up forms for each list (newsletter). Aweber also offers pop up sign up forms, which have been proved to be very effective. Also, in terms of user experience during the sign up process, Aweber offers more choices as you can direct subscribers to different pages on your site, for example to deliver a sign up bonus or freebie.

Constant Contact would be a better choice if you already have an existing list of subscribers, or clients, which you can import into your account. Ideally you would import only people you know would be interested in receiving your newsletters, and have given you permission (either electronically or in person). When importing any number of contacts into an Awber account they are automatically sent a so-called “confirmation” email. This email contains a link each individual contact must click to give you permission to send them additional messages. This process can sometimes decimate your list, even ones which contain previously confirmed contacts. With Constant Contact, it’s up to you if you want to send your contacts this message, or you can confirm them “softly” over time, by including a “reminder” at the top of each email you send them. When a confirmation message is sent, you can not send your contact ANY more messages until they click on the confirmation link.

If it’s important for you to get detailed reports on opens and click-throughs, CC comes ahead of Aweber again. CC offers a very detailed report on how many people were sent an email, how many (and which ones) were opened, who click on which links, and how many times, who forwarded your email to a friend, etc. Aweber (in its basic package) offers limited reporting capabilities, to get the similar reporting to Constant Contact’s you need to upgrade your account.

If you’re looking for a system to easily create and send email newsletters and e-flyers, consider MadMimi instead of Constant Contact, as it’s much easier to use, at about half the price.

For a full-featured, yet easy to use auto-responder and newsletter publishing system I know use and recommend iContact.

Category : Boris Recommends | E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email Design | Email List Building | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Tracking and Split Testing | Tracking Email Opens | Blog
22
Jan

I know statistics can be a royal bore, but there’s this one piece of statistical information you really should pay attention to — your email campaign bounce rates.

Regardless of which Email Service Provider (ESP) you’re using, you should be able to see bounces. Ideally, you’d like to see them at zero, but realistically, if you try to keep them to a minimum, say 1-2%, you should be OK. If you are 5% or more, and your list is in the thousands and/or you send emails frequently, you may be digging a hole for your email campaigns.

You may think this is not a big deal, but it actually is very much so. Big ISPs such as Yahoo, AOL, Sympatico may label you as a spammer if you repeatedly try sending emails to non-existing (expired, mistyped, etc) addresses. This is because it may appear to them as a typical spammer practice of “dictionary attacks”.

Those bounced email addresses are “dead meat” and should be removed promptly. Sometimes your ESP may give you false positives, so generally you don’t want to remove an address the first time it bounces, but after the second or third time it’s probably safe to assume the address is no longer active and should be removed, or at least moved to a separate list.

If you normally send HTML emails, you may want to try sending a text-only version to see if you can get through to some of those bounced email addresses. Simply move (or segment) all your blocked addresses to a new list then mark all of these as “text-only”. Next time you send a promotion these contacts will only receive a text-only email – this may be enough to bypass their ISP’s spam filters (some block all HTML email). If they still bounce, they are history.

If you have resources available, you can have staff or a VA go over the bounces and check for spelling errors, obvious typos (simpatico vs. sympatico, or aolcom vs. aol.com, yahoo!.com vs. yahoo.com) and other ways of identifying the errors.

If the address appears valid, and you see it belongs to an active client, you may want to contact them by conventional means (postal mail, phone, fax) to check if they’ve moved and changed email addresses. All these can be automated to some extent (e.g. voice mail broadcast).

Your email marketing list is an important business asset and should be tended to on a regular basis.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Managing Email | Tracking Email Opens | Blog