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Email Service Providers

27
Aug

images onSome statistics say that as many as half of your email recipients have image display turned off. Are you sure your email campaigns still present useful information even if your ezine subscribers don’t see the images?

images OFFWhen designing HTML email campaigns with images it’s imperative to test your emails in different email clients, such as Apple Mail, Entourage, Eudora, Thunderbird, and online email services, such as Yahoo!, Google Mail and Hotmail, to make sure they look good with images turned off.

Sending and email composed of just images may lower the deliverability of your campaigns. Some ISPs still employ email spam filters which flag any emails with high image-to-text ratios. So talk to your designers to make sure they design your email campaigns in such a way that the message still gets across, even if the images are not displayed.

Here’s a sample from my email production portfolio: A client of mine sends me a TIFF image of their promotion, as designed by their graphic designer. I then slice and dice the image to compose a well-behaved HTML email. This second image shows you how this same email looks without images. As you can see it still shows most of the information, as well as links.

Here are some tips on how to design a good HTML email:

  • use text whenever possible, instead of “text as image”
  • if the background is a solid colour, code is as such without using an image background
  • when you have to use an image, in places where there’s lots of text, make sure you also put all of that text into the ALT tag of the image used.
  • pay attention to how you name the files used in your email campaign, e.g. ezine_masthead.gif is much better than image1.gif
  • when using tables for layout try to do without spanning columns and especially spanning rows
  • sometimes it’s impossible to “translate” what the designer has envisioned into a working HTML email, go ahead and use an image instead, but make sure you use the ALT tag to describe the image.

If you can use most of these tips, you should be OK. Final tip: test, test and test again, and don’t forget your best friend: your email service provider!. Some ESPs may have tools to assist you in testing your emails, so be sure to check them out.

Here’s a related articleEmail Design: 3 Easy Steps to Perfect Email Display

Category : Email Delivery Best Practices | Email Design | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | 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
30
Mar

In times of recession, most small business owners tend to do the wrong thing: trying to save money by cutting back on their marketing spending. I hope you’re not one of them, and that you know that we must promote our businesses all the time, even when times are great, but even more so in tough times.

Well, I can say I’ve never been busier, and I’d like to share some of the secrets of how I got myself booked solid for the next several months!

Join me for a 3-hour training seminar in Oakville and learn how to

► Build an Email List
► Create Effective Email Campaigns
► Get More Clients

Did you know that Email Marketing has the highest ROI over all other marketing channels?

In my seminar I will teach you:

How to Build an Email List of Contacts and Subscribers

  • How to use your web site or blog as a lead generator
  • What you need to sign up visitors to your email list
  • Secrets to generating traffic to your web site, or other online presence
  • How to entice visitors to sign up to receive more information from you

How to Easily Create Effective Email Newsletters and eFlyers

  • Follow up with automated and semi-automated messages
  • Learn about auto-responders, e-newsletters and email flyers
  • Find out about the technology needed to deliver email marketing messages
  • Learn how to prepare email campaigns yourself

How to Make More Money with Email

  • You don’t need an e-commerce site to make money with email
  • How to take credit cards, e-cheques and money transfers online
  • Find out the hidden potential in your business – any business
  • Learn how to create products or services to sell online
  • Finally reach your business goals in 2009 – regardless of the state of the economy

What Do You Get?

  • 3 hours of coaching, tips, strategies you can use immediately
  • You will create your 1st email newsletter – bring your laptop!
  • Ask any questions you might have in Q&A sessions throughout the seminar

Bonuses:

  • bonus CD audio+PDF presentation of my Email Marketing Tips and Strategies for Solopreneurs a value of $27 on its own
  • Chance to win 50 Tips on Growing your Business Online 2 hours+ videos and eBook package valued at $47
  • Free online Email Publishing Account – use it as long as you want to grow and manage your list
  • Enjoy complimentary refreshments: hot coffee, tea and muffins!

For more information and to register now visit: iBizAcademy.com/Oakville-Apr-2/

Want proof?

See what other small business owners have said about my training courses!

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Building | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Events | Selling Online | Seminars and Live Events | Small Business Marketing | Social Media Marketing | 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
11
Mar

MadMimi LogoIf you’re like me then you love to find a great tool that’s easy to use, inexpensive and performs well. One such tool I discovered recently is Email Service Provider MadMimi.com

If you’ve been in business for some time, and you have a substantial number of clients and contacts and would like to start sending effective but simple-to-create email newsletters and e-flyers to them, MadMimi is a great choice for four reasons:

1. MadMimi allows you to import your contacts and clients without forcing you to “confirm” each and every subscriber. Using Aweber or KickStartCart may decimate your list if you are not very careful and take a systematic approach to confirming your subscribers. With MadMimi you can “confirm” your subscribers over time in a gentle way.

2. MadMimi’s simple-yet-sophisticated email creation wizard is so easy to use, anyone with basic computer skills can be off and running in an hour, so you don’t have to hire someone like me to manage your e-newsletter for you 🙂

3. One of the features some of my clients appreciate the most: it’s free, for as long as your email contact list contains fewer than 100 people. Service plans starts at a very affordable US$8 for up to 500 contacts, and you can send as many emails as you like – the service cost is determined by the number of contacts, not by the number of messages you send. No long-term contracts, pay as you go.

4. On top of that, MadMimi has the most responsive and friendliest support staff of some half dozen Email Service Providers I’ve ever dealt with.

In case you’re looking for a service that offers autoresponders, MadMimi has that very feature in the works as I write this – and knowing the guys behind it, the service is just going to get better and better. Highly recommended.

Sign up with MadMimi today even if you’re not ready to start using email for marketing — their free account offer may not last much longer. If you’re already a MadMimi user, share your experience by commenting on this post.

Category : Boris Recommends | E-newsletter Publishing | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | 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
3
Nov

VerticalResponse, Inc.

One of the world’s most respected email and direct marketing service providers, VerticalResponse, now offers flat-rate unlimited email sending service options by monthly subscription. This was announced on October 28.

Until this announcement, if you wanted to email your list of 6,000 opt-in subscribers it would have cost you $72 per send. Switching to one of VerticalResponse’s new unlimited email plans, you will be paying $72 per month and will be able to send unlimited emails to a list of up to 8,000 contacts. For some email marketers, this could mean a dramatic drop in per-email-cost.

VerticalResponse joins other Email Service Providers who offer unlimited sending options:

  • GetResponse offers unlimited auto-responders and unlimited emails for up to 10,000 contacts for only $17.95 per month
  • MadMimi offers unlimited email newsletters and messages for up to 5,000 subscribers for $12 per month
  • KickStartCart is more than an Email Service Provider, because it offers a shopping cart, digital product delivery, affiliate program and more.

If you’re overwhelmed with all this choice, contact me and we can discuss your email marketing needs. I offer a free 20-min telephone consultation.

Alternatively, read my article: Learn How to Pick the Right Email Publishing System Provider.

Unlimited emails deal really works for email marketers who send either weekly or biweekly email newsletters, or regular email promotional offers.

Are you one of them?

Category : Boris Recommends | E-newsletter Publishing | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Off Line Marketing Strategies | Blog
15
Aug

I Heart AWeber.com
Surfing the blogosphere I run into this cute button. I highly respect Aweber for being one of the top-rated Email Service Providers.

Here’s why I like AWeber:

  • Robust list-management features
  • Absolutely the highest CAN-SPAM compliance
  • Very high deliverability rates
  • Unlimited auto-responders
  • Unlimited follow ups and broadcasts
  • Low monthly fee for up to 10,000 contacts, upgradable to bigger lists for a nominal fee.
  • Online archive of all or selected broadcasts
  • RSS delivery of your e-newsletter
  • Provides several ways for your contacts to subscribe: by email, sign up forms (standard and several un-blockable pop ups), manual add, and list import.

In December 2005 HTML email templates were introduced, however, even after the Fall 2006 upgrades to the graphical HTML editor creating an HTML email is still not as user-friendly as Constant Contact’s mail wizard, for example. However, for those who’d like to use their own custom-designed email templates, AWeber offers much greater flexibility and ease of use.

Category : Boris Recommends | Email Service Providers | Blog