I have a very common name and, as an early Gmail adopter, I was lucky enough to get my name as my email address.
The downside? I get literally hundreds of emails every month that don’t belong to me. Not only do these messages clog my inbox, but with all the newsletters and offers I receive each day, it’s extremely difficult to remember if a commercial message was something I wanted, or if I’m getting it by mistake.
According to Microsoft, 75% of email messages reported as spam are actually legitimate, requested communications. The subscriber entered the wrong email address, didn’t uncheck an opt-in box when they registered for a website, or simply forgot that they signed up. So, these messages are a gray area when it comes to deliverability – they’re legitimate, permission-based sends that are important to some people, but may be considered by others as spam.
To help fight legitimate spam and the inbox clutter caused by unwanted graymail, email providers are increasingly relying on personalized, relevancy-based filtering to determine which messages are important to individual subscribers. If your messages are reported as spam or even ignored, they won’t get priority placement in the inbox, and your subscribers may never see your message. As an email sender, this means you need to protect your reputation as well as your position in the inbox through a clear unsubscribe mechanism and a reengagement strategy.
Senders are often wary of the unsubscribe option. You’ve spent a good amount of time and effort growing your list, so you don’t want your valuable subscribers to leave. However, if you don’t provide those who don’t want your message with a way to clearly remove themselves from your list, they generally respond in one of two ways:
Therefore, providing subscribers with a clear and prominent way to unsubscribe is in your best interest as an email sender. You may lose a few subscribers, but your reputation will be protected.
While many senders only place their unsubscribe link somewhere in the footer of the email, consider also putting it at the top, in the “preheader” area. Include a brief reason for the message, such as, “You are receiving this message because you registered on our website. If you no longer want emails from us…” Also, consider giving subscribers preference options other than receiving all messages and unsubscribing. Perhaps someone wants to receive offers from you, but not your newsletter (or vice versa). By allowing them to choose what messages they receive from you, they may be more likely to remain on your list instead of completely opting out.
Also consider implementing a reengagement email to keep your subscriber list fresh and filter out the subscribers who are no longer interested in receiving messages from you. A typical reengagement email is sent to subscribers who haven’t opened an email in a particular period of time. The messaging asks if the subscriber would still like to receive email messages from you, and requires an action – usually a click – to stay on the list. Subscribers who do not respond are removed from the email program, and you know the ones who do are still interested in hearing from you. While these campaigns do decrease your list size, the subscribers who remain are more likely to respond to your messages, which will further increase your relevancy in the eyes of the email providers.
Unfortunately, not everyone on your email list will want to receive your messages, even if you are collecting valid opt-ins. They may have changed their minds, forgot they registered, or entered the wrong email address! Luckily, with a clear unsubscribe method and a reengagement campaign, you can maintain a great sender reputation and focus on your most interested subscribers.
You may have recently heard about HTML5 but it’s more than just a new online buzzword. As the name implies, it is still HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and it still works generally the same way HTML always has but, what you may not know is how it’s different or how it can be used.
The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) says HTML5 is the cornerstone of the Open Web Platform, a full programming environment for cross-platform applications with access to device capabilities. What does this mean to developers and the future of the web? HTML5 adds features directly to HTML that previously required multiple technologies. It also includes features to improve organization of content, access of content for people with disabilities, Search Engine Optimization and functionality across devices.
HTML5 still uses the standard elements such as <div> and <p> but now includes many new elements such as:
These new elements serve multiple purposes that are helpful to developers, users and search engines.
Developers can use these new elements to better organize and label their code making it neater and easier to read. With multiple developers working on files, these elements standardize code allowing designers and developers to immediately understand the structure of a page. Developers can also make their code more efficient by using these elements with CSS to reduce the amount of classes and/or id’s in the document.
Web users with disabilities will have an improved experience with the use of these new elements. Using these elements, devices can better understand and interpret the content on the page, its purpose and its importance which makes it easier and faster for users with disabilities to access the information they need. Elements such as <figcaption> provide visually impaired users descriptions of supporting images using content hierarchy such as a title and paragraph.
Search engines use the improved organization of content to provide their users the relevant and up-to-date information they need. Search engine bots can use these elements to quickly outline the content of a website and more accurately decide if the content is relevant to the keywords of a search.
HTML5 now includes built in interactivity by using simple element attributes. The type of interactivity that these attributes provide was previously accomplished using scripts. Now developers can save time and creatively use the built in functionality to create applications that function across various devices.
An example of this powerful added interactivity is the content editable attribute. Adding the attribute contenteditable=“true” to an element allows users to type and edit any text within the element. Another example of this added interactivity is found in online forms. Form fields are now able to understand the type of information they’re asking users for. Adding the attribute type=“email” to an input element gives it the ability to validate weather the text is in a valid email format or not.
HTML5 now includes the new jaw-dropping element <canvas>. This simple element is capable of handling very powerful effects, graphics, animations and interactions. Designers and developers can now create complex and interactive online applications that are usable on computers, tablets and mobile devices.
Canvas is still new but its use is quickly growing. Its full potential is yet to be seen but as older browsers and devices are replaced by HTML5 supported technology, its place and capabilities will be realized.
HTML5 is packed full of new features that improve a user’s experience, save developer’s time, increase efficiency and enhance Search Engine Optimization.
Older websites can easily be updated with these new features as there is nothing to install or include. You simply start using its new elements and features. Inherently, the new features of HTML5 are not compatible with older browsers but there are tools that allow these browsers to understand most of the new features.
As always, it is important to understand your site’s technical needs and who will be using your site when deciding on which features to include. However, we can rest assured that HTML5 will prove be a powerful and beneficial tool as we move into the future of web design.
Congratulations on your promotion with a window office! You move into your office and just stand looking out the window at a beautiful park. The flowers are in bloom and you are able to see the city skyscrapers in the distance. Wow!
A couple months go by and you realize that you have not looked out the window since that first day. So you take a moment to look out the window. The flowers are still in bloom and you still are able to see the city skyscrapers in the distance. You shrug and mumble, “Well so much for the window office, the view hasn’t changed at all. There is nothing new to see here.”
Ad-hoc analyses show views of the customer profile, product usage, predictive model performance, or customer proximity to stores. These views are critical to understand at a point in time. Like that first look out your office window.
But you do not refresh the ad-hoc views again until much time has passed or major changes in customer make-up or product offering occur. These views are critical for a foundational understanding of a customer base or category performance but what is missing is how to make this actionable on a repeatable basis.
You want to give your dashboard users something new to see. Avoid the “nothing new to see” reaction. The consumers of your dashboards need to see changes and the context to those changes if they are going to regularly view your dashboards as a management tool.
Here are some key tips to remember as you are creating dashboards for consumption:
1. Know your audience
Picture the primary user in your mind. Focus on what their needs are. Understand what their goals are. Build the dashboard to answer their questions but also help them answer the questions of their boss. Give them a reason to anxiously anticipate the updated dashboards by providing context to how what they are seeing compares to the past or to different audiences. Is the mix of products for this segment indexed higher or lower than the average customer?
Show how the information is changing and if that change is significant. Should they worry or celebrate the change?
2. Tell a story
Users of dashboards and reports get frustrated if all you are serving up are facts. They want a tour of their business and how it is performing. They want access to data that provides critical insights on how their customers are responding to marketing stimuli and a view into their entire business performance.
Part of knowing your audience is structuring your message in a way that they can quickly digest and tell others about. The information needs to be actionable.
Think about how you would take your dashboard and present it to a business leader. Is what you are displaying distracting from the story or enhancing it? Is there a better way to articulate what is happening?
A former boss of mine used honor the late, Paul Harvey, by asking “what is the rest of the story?” There is always more to the story. Sometimes we do not realize what it is or sometimes we do not think it is relevant. Challenge yourself to find what is not being displayed on your dashboard that could provide necessary context or background to the story your dashboard is telling. Maybe this context just needs to be written in a couple paragraphs of background about that product launch or campaign strategy.
3. Balance data with visuals
People process information differently. Some users just want data tables and others want more visual information. Create dashboards that address the needs of both of these cognitive styles.
You could create a summary bar of key stats like total sales, sales per customer, sales per visit, or average categories purchased with period over period changes. This resonates with the data person, but it also is a quick snapshot of current performance -good for the elevator speech to the boss. Graphs and data tables that best reflect the objective of the dashboard are also displayed. Avoid unnecessary visualization.
4. Allow for flexibility
Even if you are the best at understanding your audience and building your dashboard to tell the story, the user still needs some flexibility to explore different cuts of the data. Some cuts of the data could be time, customer segments, customer geography, region-store hierarchy, department-category-product hierarchy, and marketing campaign hierarchy.
Anticipate what the most likely cuts are but refrain from opening up the flood gates of allowing the user to pick from dozens of cuts and even more measures. Most consumers of your dashboards are not going to be a power user. Even if they were, they likely will want to build their own dashboards and not rely on you to build it for them.
Matt Aster, Inbound Marketing Manager at Precision Dialogue has been selected to present at Online Marketing Institute’s Digital Media Strategy Summit. Aster will present a hands-on workshop dedicated toward “Measuring Social Media Impact with Google Analytics.” The OMS Digital Strategy Summit is an online event offering virtual sessions and hands-on workshops, April 22 through May 3, 2013.
Marketers are more aware than ever that social media marketing is important to their overall strategy and are making the investment to include social media in their marketing mix. The Digital Strategy Summit is designed to help marketing professionals acquire the skills and knowledge needed to generate higher ROI and revenue from a social media investment. The summit will offer two weeks of virtual sessions and hands-on workshops, provide attendees with the latest best practices, proven techniques, and social media case studies. Aster will be joined by other digital marketing professionals to discuss digital tactics and strategies that can be put into action immediately.
Matt Aster has more than 10 years of digital marketing experience working with large multinational corporations as well as small independent companies. Aster started out as a database administrator at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company within the enterprise data warehouse team. He then joined Progressive Insurance Company where he worked on email marketing, web experience, and web analytics. Most recently Aster was Marketing Manager at Steris Corporation managing all aspects of digital marketing including social media, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and email strategy. As a current member of the Inbound Marketing team at Precision Dialogue, Aster creates strategies and optimizes campaigns by using both new and existing digital marketing techniques.
“Google Analytics is one of the best digital marketing tools for any company to utilize and understanding how to leverage this tool for social media data can be extremely helpful,” remarked Laura Cameron, Director, Inbound Marketing at Precision Dialogue. “Aster’s wealth of expertise and knowledge in digital marketing will provide professionals with a quality hands-on workshop for those seeking to measure their social media impact.”
Precision Dialogue offers a full suite of customizable digital marketing and technology services that combine data, analytics, strategy, technology and creative solutions. Amongst Precision Dialogues’ digital services are email solutions, eCommerce solutions, search and display, social media, web analytics and more. Precision Dialogues’ Inbound marketing professionals, like Aster, also provide search engine optimization, paid search (PPC) and shopping feed expertise.
Those who are interested in attending the OMI Digital Strategy Summit should register by visiting, www.onlinemarketinginstitute.org. To learn more about Precision Dialogue’s digital marketing offerings, visit www.precisiondialogue.com/services/digital.
Mobile devices are becoming a great influence in the consumer’s life and behavior, and should also be a key component in marketers’ revenue-growing strategies. I encourage you to grab a small group of people at work and ask them: What are the first things you do in the morning after you wake up? I bet most people will say they look at their phones. Not only that, it’s likely that most of them will say that they check their emails!
The above data is based on more than 1 billion opens collected from Litmus customers worldwide using email analytics. Source: Litmus.com
With 700 million smartphones shipping last year and the tablet market growing at an accelerated pace, email marketers are focusing on strategies to enhance the mobile email experience and improve conversions. So now that I have your attention, let’s get you thinking about your own mobile email strategy.
This is the first question you should ask yourself before starting a mobile email redesign. Even though the numbers speak for themselves, each business is different. The first thing you should do before investing money and time in this endeavor is review your own analytics when it comes to email opens in mobile devices and conversions made from smartphones. Tools such as Litmus, IBM Email Optimization (formerly Unica), and Return Path provide great insight on how your consumers are looking at your emails. The other thing you should consider is how your email looks outside of desktop or web email clients. A bad user experience will break the path to the conversion, so you should be really paying attention to how that experience is presented in all of the relevant platforms. How do you know if your user experience is good? The tools listed above can be used to help you to assess the rendering of your email in different platforms, so you don’t have to keep a bag of different phones on hand for email testing! Read on for more information about how to review and improve your customers’ mobile email experience.
Even if your mobile email is as beautiful as Scarlet Johansson or Channing Tatum, if the mobile website experience is poor, you will lose conversions. It’s very important to assess how your website looks in different resolutions. Sites like http://www.browserstack.com offer a great service to test websites in multiple platforms, including mobile.
There are different approaches for mobile email redesign, with the two most popular being:
This approach consists of using a series of techniques that include CSS3 media queries, fluid grids, and swapping content to make your email layout adapt to different screen resolutions. A great example of this is the email series that Precision Dialogue has built for Midas. As you can see, the content grows and adapts when viewed in a mobile device, making calls to action “finger-ready” so they are easy to tap.
Midas Email in Gmail
The same Email in an iPhone
Mobile responsive design can get a bit tricky when it comes to coding, adding some time to the build process.
These types of emails don’t require ninja developer coding skills; they are more focused on having one email design that will look good on different resolutions. To make this happen, you need to focus on a single column layout and big call to action buttons (aligned left – you will find out why later), so that all of your content displays nicely in any device. Following is a good example from a Kelly Services email newsletter:
Note the single column layout format of the Kelly Services career tips newsletter email
Here are some key elements to consider in your email design:
Rethinking your mobile strategy shouldn’t be guided only by what the industry is doing. It’s critical to consider how your unique customers are behaving. Before you consider redesigning your emails, you’ll want to review your analytics and conversion data. In the majority of cases, you can improve your mobile design and user experience – and ultimately, your conversions – with some fairly simple changes. The process should begin with asking yourself the right questions.
Join Research & Customer Experience Director Lisa Dragin this Thursday at 11am EST as she leads the ExactTarget user community (#ETCafe) via Twitter to discuss improving customer engagement with user research.
Lisa Dragin, Research & Customer Experience Director at Precision Dialogue, has a passion for making the world easier to use. Lisa has an excellent track record in usability testing, user research, user experience design, and prototype development. Her experience spans industries including retail, health care, financial services, public sector, and more.
Customers are complicated. They act subconsciously, have little time and even less patience, and can’t always articulate their wants and needs. What are you doing to understand why they behave the way they do with respect to your emails?
We will be giving away a $25 iTunes card to the person with the most insightful tweets so happy tweeting!
I am a true fan of ExactTarget products (a.k.a. “Product Nerd”) and generally enthusiastic about Precision Dialogue’s partnership with ExactTarget. When MobileConnect launched last year, it presented marketers with a huge opportunity to better plan, automate, and track mobile marketing campaigns. (And for ExactTarget email customers, that opportunity came in a tool that was conveniently integrated with their email platform.) Personally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a demo account and start playing – I mean, “testing.” The initial rollout included a lot of great features, and the product roadmap for 2013 does not disappoint! Let’s take a look:
The initial release gave us SMS messaging capabilities in over 80 countries worldwide through an easy-to-use interface. In Q4 of 2012, we saw the push of additional, more advanced message templates, as well as send throttling and improved settings for restricting send times by time zone.
With just one (by no means little) release, it’s now easier to trigger SMS messages in real time! Contacts can now be imported via the FTP AND the API. We can also trigger messages to audiences already created in the app, choosing both who we wish to include/exclude via an API call. Use of the API allows us to call these functions from our website or any external source, i.e., pushing a contact’s data to MobileConnect as soon as they opt in to SMS in the ‘My Account’ section of your website.
MobileConnect Playbooks allow users of the application to easily create contact strategies for acquiring opt-ins for SMS and email, and delivering email in real-time in response to SMS requests.
Have we already come so far?
If I wasn’t ready to shout about my love for MobileConnect from the rooftops, the product roadmap for 2013 definitely pushed me over the edge! (Remember earlier when I said I was a nerd?) The items outlined for the future of MobileConnect will truly help marketers take their SMS programs to the next level:
What else does the future hold for MobileConnect? It’s hard to imagine it getting any better than the roadmap for Q2, but my predictions include improved integration between channel applications (easier to unify MobileConnect contacts with Email subscribers), and reporting enhancements.
For more information or a demo of MobileConnect, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 887.332.9222.
*Release information is subject to change