Gmail Image Caching

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

On Friday December 6, 2013, it was reported (http://emailexpert.org/gmail-breaks-email-marketing-again/) that Google had made some changes to the Gmail infrastructure.  Apparently, starting on December 3rd, images are being served via a proxy for Gmail users.  This means that Gmail now saves image files from unique URLs temporarily and changes these URLs in emails so that they point to the cached images.  The user’s browser then loads and displays Gmail’s cached images.  This can cause problems for a number of reasons.  When Gmail loads images into the cache, the user’s device and geo information gets lost.  An open will now originate from a Mountain View, California with an IP address similar to 66.249.93.70.  And the user agent, which normally holds the user’s device information, will now look like ‘Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; de; rv:1.9.0.7) Gecko/2009021910 Firefox/3.0.7 (via ggpht.com)’.
This is not affecting Listrak open counts.  Since we do not track multiple opens, this change will not affect open rates for our clients.  The initial open is captured via our tracking pixel and clients can continue to rely on the reported open information they are seeing in the application.  Obviously the geo-location data will be incorrect as Gmail users will now appear to reside in Google’s datacenter.  Furthermore, this will also create an issue with data such as “Activity by Email Client” within Listrak as the reported user agent from Gmail will always be the same.  It should be noted that this does not appear to be affecting POP or IMAP mail clients, only web based Gmail users and perhaps the Gmail phone app (research is ongoing).  Testing was done with Apple’s iPhone email client and no caching was detected.   Changes to images after a send will also be affected.  From our testing, it appears Google will cache the images for 24 hours, however it is still a little early to tell if this will always be the case.
The important points to remember:
•  This is an industry-wide issue which is not isolated to the Listrak platform.
•  This does not affect tracking of the first email open as the cache fetches the image from the sender.
•  This does affect tracking if someone opens an email more than once as the email client is pulling images from the Google cache.
•  This does affect geo-location detection as Google is not providing any information about where the open happened, only their datacenter IP.
•  This does affect user agent detection as Google is not providing any information about the original user agent string.
•  This does affect device detection as most of that is done by detecting the user agent.
Clients sending emails based on device, time or location information, will most likely be impacted by this change when sending to Gmail recipients.  The team at Listrak is aware of the change and is actively testing the impact and looking at all options on our end.  Right now there does not seem to be any way to bypass the image caching.

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Listrak to present Retail Email Marketing Bootcamp at MarketingSherpa Email Summit

Thursday, December 05, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Want to make the most out of your trip to MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014? Join Listrak for a full-day Retail Email Marketing Bootcamp.
In this first-ever, intensive educational forum, you will learn how to build strategic email campaigns that will enhance the customer journey and drive sales and incremental ROI. Listrak CEO Ross Kramer and Listrak email marketing strategists will share valuable insights and provide actionable tactics for email acquisition, remarketing to recoup revenue, connecting with mobile shoppers and lifecycle marketing, as well as answer all of your questions in an interactive open forum. 
Seating is extremely limited, so reserve your spot today. 

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Canada’s Anti-Spam Law Coming Into Force June 2014

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

James Koons
Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, CASL, is now a done deal.

Last Thursday, the Treasury Board of Canada President (and champion of CASL) Tony Clement approved Industry Canada’s regulations in their finalized form. These will be published in The Canada Gazette December 18, 2013.

Today, Canadian Minister of Industry the Honourable James Moore announced CASL will come into force in June, 2014.

Bringing CASL into being has been an arduous, but meticulously thorough consultative process. Beginning in May 2004 with the Federal Task Force on Spam, The Government of Canada, with input from hundreds of stakeholders with an interest in safe and responsible online messaging have worked tirelessly to develop and deploy the world’s most stringent and comprehensive anti-spam law.

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Clever Cyber Monday Email

Monday, December 02, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Travis Buck
Cyber Monday is officially upon us. As I navigated my crowded inbox this morning one email in particular stood out. This email from J.Crew grabbed my attention because of its clever subject line and message. The subject line reads “Even your boss is shopping today”. This message speaks to the taboo activity of shopping while at work. The model in the email is even winking which to me subliminally says “its ok, no one will know”. By some estimates 49% of workers are expected to shop online while in the office this holiday season. This makes the message you communicate as well as the timing of the email even more important during the holiday season.

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Black Friday Email Creative

Monday, December 02, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments


Travis Buck


When I logged into my inbox Friday I expected to see a lot of black and I wasn’t disappointed. Black is naturally the go to color for Black Friday creative. However, when everyone is using black, how do you make your creative stand out in the crowd? Let’s take a look at some examples that did just that.

First let’s look at some examples that get lost in the sea of black. These examples from Staples and Fab are representative of the average Black Friday email creative. Not bad by most standards but they don’t exactly stand out.








This example from American Apparel uses black. However, they’ve created an eye catching contrast by using black elements on a light background. By using plenty of whitespace they’re able to really make the bold text and image stand out.





J.Crew uses a splash of red to create high contrast. The use of a bright red sweater in this example really makes it pop. I also find it interesting there’s no mention of “Black Friday”. Instead they call it “The gifts, gifts, gifts! Event”.





Coldwater Creek chose to use black as an accent color. It still references Black Friday and uses the color black but red is the featured color here. All that red combined with black and green accents give the email a nice seasonal feel.





Tiger Direct used an animated ticker in their creative. Animation is a good way to draw attention. In this case it also helps emphasize the limited amount of time you have to take advantage of the sale.





Another way to stand out is to avoid using black at all. This email from Nordstrom is full of bright colors which help it stand out. Barring the dotted border they completely avoided using black. They could have used black for the text “BLACK FRIDAY” but instead chose gray.








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Happy Hanukkah

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Travis Buck

During the holiday season, I see many retailers successfully tailoring their emails to holiday shoppers. Most holiday emails, however, are specifically focused on Christmas specials or sales; what I don’t see as often are emails focused on Hanukkah, especially with regards to the creative. A search through my inbox will return many emails with “Hanukkah” in the subject line, but there are few examples that carry the theme through to the actual design. Here are two nice examples I’ve seen that focus on Hanukkah.








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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Well, Not Really.

Monday, November 18, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Donna Fulmer
Until now, the emails I’ve been getting from top Alexa-ranked clothing retailers have been curiously lacking in holiday spirit, despite the short timeframe the merchants have to promote it. I’ll be curious to see if emails begin looking more festive this week or if I’ll have to wait until after Thanksgiving. Take a look at what I’ve received so far:  

Gap


According to my email files, Gap was the first to make a holiday mention on October 12. An email promoting a Columbus Day event featured this at the bottom:  
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Then on November 4, this appeared at the top of an email that had a non-holiday subject line, 1969 denim:  new luxe treatments + washes:
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The most recent (and only other) holiday reference I’ve seen from Gap was last Wednesday (November 13), and although it references gifts, it does not mention holidays specifically, nor does the landing page of winter items it links to.
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Lands' End


Way back on October 17, Lands’ End sent an email with the subject line Sweater weather and an announcement of a holiday contest at the bottom of an email promoting a Focus on Fall Halloween sale. I’ve gotten nothing referencing holidays since:
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Victoria's Secret


On October 23, Victoria’s Secret sent an email with the subject line Your first gift of the season:  Free tote with $75 purchase and a winter-themed hero shot with no particular holiday reference:
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And the subtle winter (but not holiday) theme appeared again last Tuesday (November 12):
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Then on Wednesday (November 13) an email with snowflakes and the visual above repeated lower in the email:  
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And on Friday (November 15), more winter, but nothing holiday-specific: image

Forever 21


On November 21, I received this email from Forever 21 with the subject line Fab Holiday Finds For Your Favorites subject line and not a single email featuring a holiday reference since:  
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H&M


H&M began a bit earlier, sending this November 1 email. Although the email references holiday looks, the subject line was simply Stunning Party Styles + Exclusive Online Offers:  25% off & free shipping:
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Then last Friday (November 15) a holiday subject line – New holiday collection + 50% off select sweaters online – and fairly subtle holiday references in the email’s photos:
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J Crew


I got my first and only holiday reference from J Crew in this email last Tuesday (November 12), but neither the email’s subject line nor images had a holiday theme:  
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American Eagle Outfitters


Last Wednesday (November 13) I got my first hint of the holidays from AEO with this subtle reference at the bottom of an email:
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And on Friday (November 15) the words Warmest Wishes in this email gave the slightest hint of holiday:
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Have the messages in your inbox been hitting the holidays hard yet? 

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Smart Segmentation Strategy Leads to Doubled the Revenue from Half as Many Emails

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

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Ben Smith Appointed as President of Listrak

Monday, October 07, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Please join us in welcoming new Listrak President Ben Smith!
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Lititz, PA-based omnichannel digital marketing solutions provider Listrak recently announced the appointment of Ben Smith to the newly formed role of president. Smith comes to Listrak from Lancaster, PA-based Clipper Magazine, where he served in several roles over the course of nearly two decades.
Most recently, Smith served Clipper Magazine as vice president of art production, overseeing the production process of more than 300 local editions and managing a staff of 250. Prior to being promoted to the role of vice president of art production in 2006, Smith served Clipper Magazine as director of operations and assistant sales manager.
As president, Smith is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Listrak, which was recently named to the Central Penn Business Journal list of Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies for the third time since it was founded in 1999. In addition to operational duties, Smith plays an integral role on the company’s leadership team, planning for the strategic growth of the company, which increased revenue 45% in 2012. Other members of the team include co-founders Ross and Howard Kramer who serve as CEO and COO, respectively.
Smith comments, “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to apply my experience in leading a growing operation to such a dynamic company. Listrak has put together a powerful core business that is positioned to excel moving forward. I have taken on the daily operation of the company, and will be working closely with the company founders along the way to ensure the accomplishment of our goals. The company has put together a great team and I look forward to working with them all to enhance and promote our brand.”
CEO Kramer adds, “Bringing on Ben in the role of president marks an important time in Listrak’s history. I am confident that he will help take the company to the next level, while allowing me to focus on product innovation at a time when technology is moving at such a rapid pace.”
He continues, “I will now be able to work even more closely with customers to truly understand the changing nature of agile commerce. With Ben on board, I will be able to devote attention to aligning Listrak’s products and services to meet the unique needs of omnichannel retailers to deliver a consistent, relevant and personalized experience across all consumer touchpoints.”
Smith, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, resides in Lancaster with his wife, Beth.
Listrak is an omnichannel digital marketing solutions provider that works with retailers to drive revenue growth, profitability and increase the lifetime value of customers. Founded in 1999, the company’s solution suite boasts analytics technology that enhances campaign performance, shopping cart abandonment solutions that help recoup lost revenue, post purchase solutions to increase lifetime value, seamless integration across multiple platforms, as well as email, mobile, social and more. Listrak has more than a decade of email marketing experience and works with leading U.S. online retailers, including Deb Shops, Waterford, Ten Thousand Villages, Swell, Vintage Tub and La-Z-boy. For more information, visit http://www.listrak.com.

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Break it to me Gently - Re-ngagement Done (Mostly) Right

Thursday, September 26, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Donna Fulmer
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I recently received this email from Chico’s that exemplifies how to do re-engagement right. If you’re considering a re-engagement campaign to warm up inactive subscribers for the upcoming holiday season (and you really should be), you might take some tips from this effort.
First, the subject line, “Last Chance…50% Off (Confirm Your Email),” broke it to me gently. They want me off their mailing list if I plan to keep trashing their daily sends unopened, but they’d like to keep me enough to offer me an incentive to stay. 
Inside, rather than being all-business, I was treated to an attractively-designed email with a style consistent with the brand (lest I’ve forgotten why I was attracted in the first place). And finally, the offer was communicated loudly and clearly and the call-to-action was prominent.
When I clicked through, a similarly-designed page enthusiastically thanked me for staying connected, re-stated the offer and gave me the code:
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All of that being said, I would have liked to have seen Chico’s do one critical thing differently. Because I shop there so infrequently (only for gifts), I really do tire of seeing emails so frequently and delete them habitually.There will come another gift-giving time, however, when I will want to shop there again, so I don’t want to be cut off completely. 
As it turns out, when I went back to the original email and clicked “unsubscribe” out of curiosity, I was pleased to see that I could actually opt-down to two emails a month, which is ideal. The email and landing page, as well as the standard unsubscribe link in the email, however, made it seem to me that it was going to be either Chico’s way or the highway.
So, I guess you could say we’re now on a break. We’re going to see each other much less frequently, but there’s still hope that we’ll one day get back together…

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Hitting the Inbox this Holiday Season - Your Questions Answered

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Listrak recently offered a webinar, “Hitting the Inbox this Holiday Season,” in which our Chief Privacy Officer James Koons and 250ok Founder and CEO Greg Kraois presented valuable tips on what you need to monitor to maximize email delivery during the busy holiday season. 
A link to a recording of the webinar will be available soon. 
During a Q and A session at the conclusion of the webinar. James and Greg were able to answer many - but not all - of the questions participants raised. Below, as promised, are responses to the questions that could not be addressed within the hour:

Q:  What is a bounced email and what is the difference between a hard bounce and a soft bounce?


A:  A bounced email is a message that did not reach the intended recipient’s inbox. The message is returned to the sender with information about why it failed. These appended messages are referred to as bounce messages and can help a sender determine why a particular email has bounced.
Bounce messages are usually defined as “hard” or “soft," however, we feel it is better to describe them as being either temporary or permanent delivery failures.
A hard bounce is a permanent delivery failure. Generally these recipients will never accept email. Common hard bounce reasons are that the email account or domain does not exist.
A soft bounce is a temporary failure.  Examples of a soft bounce reason would be the user is over his or her email storage quote or the server is temporarily unavailable. 

Q:  Can I find out why a spam filter rejected my message if no reason is given?


A:  Unfortunately, not all spam filters provide a reason as to why messages are filtered out.  Some are open about their content restrictions, while others are not.  In general, most filters are not willing to share much information at all and are not willing to share their filter logic with email senders in an effort to keep spammers guessing.

Q:  I’ve noticed that a lot of email clients block images by default.  Is there a way to force images to be shown?


A:  If the sender’s email address has been marked as a trusted sender, the images will be enabled automatically.  A good way to ensure that images are shown by default is to encourage recipients to add you to their address book. 

Q:  If I am on a shared pool of IPs and there is a problem with one IP (perhaps that of another customer), I am told that all the IPs in the pool will be affected.  Is this true?


A:  It is very rare that an entire IP range is blocked due to a single IP issue. This was a more common practice in the past, but now ISPs tend to only block the problem IP addresses individually. Listrak uses 250ok’s Blacklist Monitor to watch our entire IP space. Individual IP blocks are monitored daily, and each one is thoroughly investigated and mitigated as needed.

Q:  How do you ensure that the message volume and send speed matches the requirements of each ISP?


A:  Send volumes that are too high or too low can have a negative impact on your email deliverability. Listrak’s deliverability team will balance your email volume according to the requirements of various ISPs and message sending speed is also adjusted by ISP to help ensure your messages won’t be blocked due to rate limiting issues.

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ECommerce Holiday Email Campaign Look Book

Friday, August 30, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments


12 best practices, 15 real examples - our holiday email campaign look book will help you have a successful holiday season!


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Want to Know your Customers’ Preferences? Just Ask!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet
I ordered a couple of things from The Container Store a few days ago. And this morning I received this email with the subject line “We want to get to know you…”
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I think the email is nicely done as it tells the customer what information The Container Store is looking for and offers a birthday reward for sharing the info. It also says it will only take a minute, so customers know up front they don’t have to invest too much time answering tons of questions.
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And it’s true. The online preference center simply asks what product categories the customer wants to hear about, how the customer describes him- or herself, shopping preferences, birthday, and zip code. There is also an option to add a mobile phone number but it clearly states that it doesn’t currently have a mobile marketing program at this time.
The email and preference center are nicely organized. But what else would I expect from The Container Store, which specializes in organization!

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What Information do you Ask for on List Registration Forms?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments


Marketing Sherpa just released its latest Marketing Research Chart -  
It’s obvious that email marketers are following the best practice of requiring only basic information at sign-up, but further analysis of the marketers’ responses also shows how data is power and how important data is for sending more relevant email messages. 
That is why implementing Welcome Series emails that invite new subscribers to share more information via a preference center should be an integral part of your email marketing strategy. We discuss this and more on how to acquire new subscribers and keep them engaged and, ultimately, buying in the whitepaper, Ecommerce Customer Acquisition: Tips for Acquiring Subscribers Who Will Become Loyal Customers.  


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Nice example of an email series

Monday, August 19, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Travis Buck
Recently I received a series of seven emails from J. Crew. The series started on Monday and I received one email a day for seven days. The promotion was fittingly called “7 Days of Summer”. There were a few things I really liked about this campaign. Each day the sale was different. The design of the email was also a little different each day yet had a nice consistent feel. Below the navigation there was a progress bar where the day of the week was highlighted with a hand drawn circle. The use of hand drawn text in the design was a nice touch as well.
Email series can be applied to almost any holiday or event throughout the year. With the holiday season quickly approaching it may be something worth thinking about. “12 Days of Christmas” or “Countdown to the New Year” are just a few examples that could make a nice email series.



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Recommended Products in Order Confirmation Emails

Monday, August 19, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet
I spent the weekend crossing items off my to-do list around the house. I cleaned out and painted my garage. I repainted the lamp posts and the trim around the garage doors. I organized my laundry room and went shopping to buy items to help me keep it organized, only I couldn’t find what I was looking for at Bed, Bath, and Beyond so I ordered a couple of things from The Container Store’s website. And I received this email confirmation:
I love the fact that it includes recommended products, but I’m surprised that it didn’t include any of the items that I actually added to my cart, but then removed before checking out. I spent a good amount of time on thecontainerstore.com and at one point I had seven items in my cart. I would add things, remove them, add something new, remove it and go back and re-add an item I had previously deleted. It took me a while to decide exactly what I wanted.
Thecontainerstore.com easily could have talked me into ordering some of the items I had removed from my cart simply by including them in the email confirmation. I didn’t look at shoe racks, garbage cans, cabinets or shower caddies, but I did look at other laundry room and closet organization items. Not just look, but I added them to my cart, which shows purchase intent.
I’m guessing that the recommended items in this email are hard-coded and that the same products are recommended to every shopper. They might be best sellers, or they might be items that they just want to move. But they aren’t items recommended for me based on my purchase intent or purchase history.

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'Tis the Season to Warm Up Your IP Address

Monday, August 12, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

In an article for Multichannel Merchant, Listrak’s James Koons tells you what you need to be doing now to help make sure your holiday emails reach the inbox. Learn more from James and Greg Kraios, founder and CEO of 250ok, in tomorrow’s webinar, “Hitting the Inbox this Holiday Season.”  
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Much like it used to be necessary to heat up a car on a cold day before driving, email marketers must warm up their IP addresses to ensure smooth delivery of holiday emails. If like most merchants you’re gearing up to increase your email sending volume over the holidays, now is the time to begin the warming process in order to establish your sender reputation and ensure maximum delivery rates.
Basically, you must begin by sending to a smaller number of subscribers on a conservative schedule and gradually increase email volume and frequency as your sender reputation begins to be established. Much like respect, sender reputation must be earned, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Below is a checklist to get you started. Together, these steps will help eliminate the major spam signals for IPs – heavy volume, high bounce-back and complaint rates and spam trap hits.
  • Begin by sending targeted campaigns to your best (most recent, engaged) subscribers
  • Send emails that are not time-sensitive and that have historically performed well for your brand
  • Divide large volume emails into batches and send separately
  • Be sure to include active contact requirements to avoid SPAM traps
  • Ensure that all authentication steps have been implemented – register a sub- or custom-domain for email marketing; get records in place for Sender-ID/Sender Policy Framework; utilize DomainKeys Idenified Mail (DKIM)
  • Monitor ISP-specific deliverability reporting and abuse reporting with feedback loops
  • Automatically remove all addresses who hard bounce or complain
  • Closely monitor subscriber engagement and suppress inactive subscribers from specific campaigns
  • Do A/B split testing to find out what works to improve any less than average results
  • Monitor your reputation by performing routine Inbox testing using tools like 250ok’s Inbox Informant
  • Each week increase email volume - for example send to 2% of your list daily for a week, then 10% daily for a week, 25% daily for a week, and so on – until peak holiday volume and frequency is reached
As Greg Kraios, founder and CEO of 250ok and a deliverability industry thought leader, says, email delivery is a privilege earned based on the continued responsibility of the sender. Even if you’re working with a reputable email service provider, much of the responsibility still falls on you.
If you begin now to warm your IP address, you will be in the best position to achieve maximum inbox delivery of your holiday emails.

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Using Characters in Holiday Subject Lines - Tips you’ll Love

Monday, August 05, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

A tactic that can really help your message stand out in an over-crowded email inbox is to use special characters in the subject line.
Listrak 5.2 gives you the ability to add the characters easily using a drop down menu:
But, before you start adding them to every subject line, there are a few things you should know:
  1. Special characters work best if they start and end the subject line - that way they really stand out
  2. If the subject line doesn’t begin with the symbol, at least make sure it is within the first 20 characters to ensure it will be viewed on a mobile device
  3. You should never use different symbols in the same subject line
  4. Try to use the characters to replace words, don’t just add them to add them
  5. Some characters won’t render properly in every email client - be sure to test the subject lines first
  6. Don’t overuse them - they should be used to add emphasis in one or two emails per month - if you use them in every message you could look like a spammer
  7. Do an A/B split test to see if the subject lines boost the open and conversion rates
  8. Monitor deliverability of the messages 
  9. Watch what your competitors are doing and be different - stars and snowflakes are common symbols used during the holidays
  10. Have fun and be creative with them
When used correctly, special characters in subject lines can boost open rates 10-15%. If you have any questions, let us know!

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Holiday Email Deliverability Tips

Friday, August 02, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet
Email marketers face a conundrum during the holidays. They know they have to increase both list size and frequency but they also know that messages that aren’t relevant and over-mailing are the two biggest reasons people opt-out and/or submit spam complaints. And that can greatly damage their ability to reach the inbox, putting their holiday email strategy in jeopardy.
But, all will be well if ramp up your deployment schedule in a responsible and measured fashion and pay close attention to deliverability best practices.  Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

Monitor complaints


One of the easiest ways for subscribers to opt-out of an email list is to click the “report spam” button. When a subscriber complains, he or she should be removed from your list immediately and automatically, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor the abuse report after each send. Reviewing this information will help you quickly identify – and resolve – any issues.  If you haven’t looked at your abuse report lately, you should do so before you begin your holiday campaigns.

Warm Up your IP Address


ISPs closely monitor your sending routines over time, so a sudden increase in volume will look suspicious. Slowly increase your volume and deployment times leading up to the holidays and be sure to manage your IP addresses carefully, including closely monitoring reputation, setting up authentication, throttling deployment, list hygiene, etc. You can read more about it in Return Path’s “Email Deliverability Review.”

Let Customers Opt Down instead of Out


To help mitigate complaints, be sure every message includes an opt-out button that is easy to find and use. After all, if a subscriber wants to unsubscribe, it’s better for them to click the unsub button than the spam button. Another best practice is to let subscribers opt-down instead of opting-out. This strategy will help you keep your subscribers engaged and happy with the emails they receive this holiday season.

Monitor Engagement


The holiday frenzy doesn’t give you an excuse to throw all of your engagement best practices out the window. For example, if you usually suppress subscribers who haven’t opened one of your emails within a certain time frame, you shouldn’t start sending them daily holiday campaigns. Before the holidays, try to re-engage those lapsed subscribers with a fabulous offer. If that doesn’t work, be sure to keep them on a suppression list for most of your holiday campaigns. You can certainly send specific holiday re-engagement campaigns to them throughout the season in an attempt to recapture their attentions, like beau coup did last December, but don’t blast out every single one of your messages to inactive subscribers.

Pay Attention to the Changing Landscape


A lot of big things have been happening in the deliverability landscape recently – Gmail’s tabbed inboxYahoo’s release of unused email addressesCASLCOPPACybersecurity Act of 2013, to name a few.  If you aren’t up on all of the latest news and regulations, you should brush up before the holidays. A great place to start is by subscribing to James Koons’ blog ideliveremail.com

0 comments:

Everyone Makes Mistakes…

Thursday, August 01, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

While we do everything in our power to avoid them, mistakes inevitably happen. The following, aptly titled, “Oops! Email Mistakes Happen” from Marketing Land shares some great pointers on how to handle them: 
Let’s face it: humans aren’t perfect. And there is definitely a human element to email marketing. From the designer who creates the graphics, to the front-line associate that clicks “Send,” there is a risk of something going wrong. So, on occasion, an email makes it to the inbox that isn’t 100% right.
Unfortunately, it can be a highly visible mistake. After all, most executives of a brand receive their own emails, not to mention the thousands or millions of subscribers. And unlike a webpage that can be replaced with new code relatively quickly or a Facebook post that can be deleted and re-posted (or at least commented on to correct a mistake), once an email is sent, it’s sent. Like a print ad in a magazine, it’s there for everyone to see.

What Can Be Fixed


Once it’s sent, it’s sent. Or at least, that’s what most people think. In reality, there are a few things that can be fixed after an email has been deployed.
The most obvious is an image. Have a graphic with spelling error? Simply replace the image on the server with a corrected version that has the same filename. Anyone who opens the email (even if he/she already opened the email in the past) will see the corrected image. Keep in mind that it can take time for the corrected image to propagate across servers, so subscribers could see a cached version for a while, but generally speaking your issue is resolved.
Some links can also be corrected after the fact. If you are linking to an incorrect product, or perhaps the URL you were given of where “it should be live” wasn’t accurate — that link can be modified (via your email service provider) after the email has been deployed. Again, anyone opening the email after it’s been corrected will be directed to the right webpage.
Last, if you are utilizing a feature that takes advantage of live content that renders at time of open (not time of send), then you can also modify any content, even if it is HTML text. In this scenario, content is pulled from an external webpage, and you would modify the inaccurate content on the webpage to resolve the issue. If the content is pulled at time of send, however, this will not work to resolve your issue.

What Can't Be Fixed


Unfortunately, the most visible part of any email, the subject line, cannot be changed once it’s sent. Even if you spell-checked your content, some mistakes can be overlooked. In this email from Blue Fly, I received a subject line of “See it. Love it. Not get it.”

BlueFly
While I didn’t work on this email, I’m pretty sure this subject line was supposed to read “See it. Love it. Now get it.” (That being said, I did open it, because I wanted to know, “Why do they want me to not get it?”)
In addition to subject lines, HTML text is another item that cannot be modified after an email is deployed (unless you are using a live content feature that renders at time of open, as mentioned above). This is copy-specific, so the most common issues have to do with spelling and grammar. Providing text that can be copied and then pasted in the transition from an email concept-to-build eliminates the need to retype content — removing a step where errors are commonly introduced.

When to Send an "Oops" Email


A mistake does not necessarily warrant an “Oops” email.
There are very few instances in which I would recommend sending a correction email. First, if there was a significant issue with the promotion itself — for instance, if a discount code didn’t work on the site, or the percentage off number was incorrect.
Another acceptable instance for sending a follow-up email is if the website was down, or the shopping experience didn’t work. This can happen to a website that isn’t prepared for high traffic or when something is out of your control like a DNS issue. Following is an example from Red Envelope, which extended their Cyber Monday sale last year due to site issues for customers.
Red Envelope Cyber Monday Oops
Sometimes, I receive an “Oops” email when I didn’t even realize there was an issue. In most cases, you should only send the email to those subscribers who were affected. You know exactly who opened your email and saw the mistake and exactly who clicked on the link that didn’t work, so reach out to them directly. Isolate the message to those who were affected.
In this example from Lee (a client of my employer, DEG) the wrong end date of the sale was displayed on the mobile version of the women’s email. The end date read “5/9″ instead of “5/19″ and was coded in HTML text.
An oops email was sent to only those subscribers who opened the email on a mobile device, with an updated subject line reading, “Oops! Our shorts sale isn’t THAT short…” Human nature spikes our curiosity to want to know what was wrong and also allows us to empathize when a mistake occurs.
Lee Emails
This works if you can correct the issue (image, link, site performance) and then follow up to those that were affected, allowing for closure.
However, if the mistake cannot be corrected and is severe enough (incorrect promo code in HTML text, for example), it may be appropriate to send a correction email to everyone. Still, the better solution (if possible) would be to set up the erroneous promotion code to be valid, allowing you to isolate the “Oops” email to only go to those affected.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t draw more attention to the error than you have to. Yes, “Oops” emails perform very well, and it can be tempting to send one for even the slightest mistake — but mistakes should be few and far between, or your brand’s credibility will suffer.
Of course, zero mistakes is always the goal, and successful performance should be rewarded. Preventing mistakes comes from thorough quality assurance processes as well as testing tools for rendering and link validation. Adhering to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) both internally and with any external resources is also critical. In my experience, issues are frequently the result of rushing or not following established processes.

The Threshold for Errors is (Rightfully) Low


As an email marketer, one of the worst things we can do is send an email to someone who shouldn’t get it, or not send an email to someone who should. As an agency, in terms of campaign management, our clients pay us to get it right. And, quite simply put, if we don’t, they will take the business to someone else who will. When it comes to getting the job done, focus on accuracy and efficiency. Accuracy first and foremost, but of course, the email must still deploy on time.

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Effective Use of Ratings and Reviews in Email Campaigns

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet
I received this email from L.L. Bean this morning:
I love the use of the product rating and the customer review. Curious about the review, I clicked through on the “shop now” button and found that these shirts do, in fact, have hundreds of five star reviews from customers and they are, in fact, a very popular item.
Sending emails featuring your most popular products and including great customer ratings and reviews is a great tactic, especially leading up to the holidays. People will start shopping for gifts soon, and knowing what other customers love and why they love it can really help them make an informed purchase decision.
We released a whitepaper “Two Easy Steps to Increase Engagement and Conversions using Ratings and Reviews” and have a solutions page where you can learn more about using ratings and reviews in your email campaigns
If you have questions or need help, let us know.

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Using Email to Drive In-Store Sales

Monday, July 29, 2013 Listrak 0 Comments

Megan Ouellet
Ann Taylor sent this email to customers this morning. It stood out to me because of its clear CTA - go to the store.
image
Email is such a boost to online sales so I thought it was interesting that  Ann Taylor would use the email to drive in-store traffic.
I clicked on the “find a store" link and was taken to this landing page:
image
Again, I found this interesting. This email and landing page do not promote the fall preview at all - it simply wants customers to go into a store to see the new arrivals in person.
The email does include a link to the online summer sale items, so customers can shop online if they choose. And the landing page also has a link to the new arrivals. But in order to view the fall preview online, customers not only have to click twice, they have to navigate their own way and find it by themselves. 
The point is clear - Ann Taylor wants the customers to go to the stores and work with a stylist instead of fending for themselves. They even request that customers make an appointment before they go in.
I’m willing to bet that the people who do go in and work with a stylist have a much higher AOV than the people who buy online. And they are also more likely to be repeat and loyal customers.
It is an interesting email tactic and one you should keep in mind for the holidays as it could be a great way to invite customers to shop in your stores and not just on your website.
If you have questions about this strategy, contact our email experts.

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