Category Archives: Automailer
In your email marketing campaigns, each message you send should come with a facility allowing readers to unsubscribe from receiving any future emails. Even if you don’t add an unsubscribe link yourself (which is a bad idea), one will automatically be added.
However, have you ever wondered just how exactly that link works? And more importantly, what happens to people who have unsubscribed, and is there a way to get them back? If you have multiple lists, how do you ensure that they only get unsubscribed from a particular list and not every list in your account?
Enform’s Automailer naturally comes with this functionality (an unsubscribe tag) whether it’s in the HTML page, template, or plain text version. Upon sending your campaign to your subscribers, each reader receives a copy of your email, with the tag automatically replaced with a unique link for each subscriber.
Each link is unique to each person and each email marketing campaign, so it’s not just a matter of copying an old unsubscribe and pasting it into your next email.
A Look at What Happens When a Subscriber Clicks on the Unsubscribe Link
Upon clicking the unsubscribe link, the user is directed to our Automailer system, which records the click and automatically recognises the subscriber and his/her corresponding email list and campaign.
Enform’s Automailer instantly unsubscribes users from your email list, with no need for you to manually change any settings on the program. Your campaign report will now show that user as having unsubscribed from receiving future emails.
The Suppression List – Ways to Manage Multiple Lists and Not Lose Subscribers
The default unsubscribe setting on our Automailer automatically removes an address from all listings in the same account. This means that if the unsubscribed address were in your ‘customers’ list and ‘newsletter’ list, it would be removed from both. We’ve also made steps to ensure that you don’t accidentally import an unsubscribed email address back into your account. Addresses that have unsubscribed from your campaign are immediately added to your suppression list.
However a unique feature of Automailer allows you to change your unsubscribe setting for your lists; this is extremely useful if you want the unsubscribe link to only remove users from the specific list their emails came from but leave them on other lists in your account. A great feature that ensures you don’t lose subscribers by a blanket suppression across all lists.
Once Unsubscribed, is a User Blocked Forever?
Former subscribers can re-subscribe at any time through your subscribe forms; only you are prevented from reimporting an address once it’s in the suppression list.
How do you Keep Users from Unsubscribing from your Lists?
There’s no foolproof way of keeping your database of subscribers 100% intact, but what you can do is make a compelling case for subscribers to stay, right at the unsubscribe page.
Take for instance, the unsubscribe page of Lazada.com, a major e-commerce player in Asia. Upon clicking the unsubscribe link, you’re presented with different options to better control the mail you receive.
The options above are particularly useful for several subscribers annoyed with the flood of emails they’re getting, so giving them some kind of control over their messages increases the likelihood of them staying.
Vision impairment and blindness are far more serious problems than you might think. It’s estimated that there are about 285 million people all over the world who suffering from blindness and visual impairment. In Australia, about 357,000 people report problems seeing even with eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. This is a topical issue with the current lawsuit against Coles.
As far as emails and web usage are concerned, these issues impede the efficacy of getting your message across. Fortunately, you can enhance the accessibility of your campaigns sent via Enform’s Automailer with a number of practices designed for the vision-impaired and users relying on screen reading devices, and audio prompts.
Below are some of the basic requirements for email messages to be considered accessible.
Use Descriptive Subject Line
Sounds easy enough, but you’ll be surprised to know how many campaigns out there have subject lines that aren’t descriptive enough. The subject line is what draws readers to open the email, so it should descriptive and concise.
This is even more important to people with vision impairments, who rely on subject lines to see whether emails are worth opening up or not.
Consistent Logical Reading Order
HTML email newsletters are typically coded with tables, the most reliable method of building layouts compatible across desktop, webmail, and mobile email platforms. However, these tables have to be planned and built carefully, taking into account users relying on keyboard-only access, who might not read the content in the order intended. For example, screen readers go through tabular content from either left to right or top to bottom.
Use Code to Indicate Headings
HTMLT heading tags <table>, <body>, <h1> and the like are critical to ensuring screen readers understand content hierarchy in email messages. Simply styling text by changing the font and increasing font size won’t work with assistive devices. These visual cues have to be coded into the text for screen readers to understand them.
Provide Obvious Contrast Between Text and Background Colours
Users with vision problems or colour blindness are less sensitive to colour contrasts and luminosity when reading images and text on emails, so it’s important to differentiate text, images, and background with the right colours and contrast. Colours should be chosen not just for aesthetic reasons, but for accessibility too.
You can choose from a number of applications to test emails for contrast and help integrate non-colour based cues for everyone to understand your messages.
For Images, Be Sure to Offer Text Alternatives
Again, screen readers rely on code to relay content to vision impaired users, so images that serve an aesthetic purpose (i.e. preserving layout) should contain null alt attributes (alt=””) to signal they should be ignored.
However, images that should inform screen readers, like company logos, should have alt text to notify their meaning to screen readers. Example below.
<img src=”enformlogo.png” alt=”Enform Automailer” />
Incorporating these steps into your campaigns isn’t difficult at all, and simply means taking an extra step to expand the reach of your email messages. Give them a try and your campaigns may just reach more people.
Over the last year we have seen multiple studies from firms like Experian Marketing Services and Yesmail showing an interesting and important trend: the number of people opening their emails on mobile devices continues to rise, with 50 percent or more email opens occurring on the mobile platform.
As the year comes to an end, yet another study by Return Path, yields similar findings. Their research shows that in December 2013, 51 percent of email opens happened on some kind of mobile device. The study also marks the first time ever that Return Path has observed mobile email opens getting a majority of the platform share.
Most notably, the highest percentage (62 percent) of mobile email opens occurred over Christmas, likely caused by the deluge of holiday greetings and shopping transactions made by consumers. Perhaps
Similar Findings by IBM: Online Shopping
Further supporting this, IBM also reported having 48 percent of all online shopping traffic coming from mobile devices on Christmas day. Results are up by 28.3 percent compared to Christmas Day in 2012, while also surpassing the traffic share of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping blitzes. Mobile also accounted for 29 percent of all online sales on Christmas Day for IBM, showing a significant increase of 40 percent compared to last year.
Other noteworthy findings by IBM include a clear pattern—and a continuing trend—indicating more purchases happen on tablet devices, with browsing occurring predominantly on smartphones. IBM’s research shows smartphones account for more traffic compared to tablets, at 28.5 percent and 18.1 percent respectively, but account for only half as many sales, at 9.3 percent and 19.4 percent respectively.
More Shopping Traffic on iOS than Android
Another interesting find by IBM is how iOS devices reportedly drove more than twice as much shopping traffic, compared to Android devices on Christmas Day, at 32.6 percent versus 14.8. Return Path also showed a similar disparity, this time on the email front. The market research firm found that 86 percent of mobile opens happened on an iOS device on Christmas day—58 percent of opens occurred on an iPhone, 28 percent on an iPad.
A similar study by Movable Ink also found a major imbalance between emails opened on Android and iOS mobile devices.
It also comes as no big surprise that Return Path found that the majority of email messages on mobile devices were opened on weekends and holidays, while emails opened on traditional desktop computers spiked during Mondays. In other words, mobile opens happened when people were away from work, and desktop opens while at work.
For Internet service providers (ISPs) and email service clients in the United States, vast increases in email opens occurred on Gmail in December, which Return Path correlated to a recent change Google made to display images, which are now enabled by default.
If anything, these findings show what we’ve been telling our clients throughout the previous year, that is, not to forget to design emails for the mobile format. Mobile email opens are no longer just a trend—they’re here to stay, and will only continue to grow.
Study Finds Email Click-to-Open Rate Higher on Desktops than Mobiles
Although the rise of mobile device usage has changed the manner in which we go through our electronic mail, a recent study by Yesmail Interactive shows that while 49% of email opens occur on a mobile device of some sort, interaction rates on mobile devices actually fell behind desktop rates by a significant margin. In fact, the study, which sampled 11 industries, found that click-to-open (CTO) rate for emails read on desktops was around double the rate of emails opened on mobile devices (22.6 percent on desktops as opposed to 11.1 percent on mobiles).
Yesmail Interactive’s study analysed more than 5 billion emails sent by the company during the second quarter of the year. It found that the gap between mobile and desktop click-to-open rates was particularly high in financial services (10.8 percent on desktops as opposed to 2 percent on mobiles); the marketing and advertising (11.7 percent on desktops as opposed to 3 percent on mobiles); and tech industry verticals (11.5 percent on desktops as opposed to 4 percent on mobiles).
The gap somewhat narrowed in the consumer services industry (30.4 percent on desktops as opposed to 19 percent on mobiles). On the other hand, the study also found that healthcare marketers enjoyed the highest click-to-open rates on desktops at 41.6 percent, and come in at a very close second for the highest mobile click-to-open rate at 18 percent.
So, what does all this mean, you might ask? We at Enform see these gaps in CTO rates as a telling sign that email marketers may be doing things wrong and are missing a crucial opportunity to engage with customers who use mobile devices.
Desktop CTO Rates by Industry
To give you a better look at email viewership preferences, Yesmail Interactive took the liberty of looking at desktop CTO rates by industry. Their study shows that the healthcare industry took the lion’s share of desktop email opens, at 52 percent, with B2B coming in at a close second, at 49 percent. It’s worth pointing out that B2B showed the largest share of mobile-only users at 48 percent, with just 3 percent reporting to be hybrid users, or users who viewed emails on both desktops and mobiles without showing any hard preference for one over the other.
All in all, only a third of users reported to being hybrid users, which indicates that a substantial number of consumers are device-agnostic, that is, they prioritise convenience over device preference for email interactions.
Other Key Findings
Hybrid users were most common in the hospitality and travel industry, at 38 percent.
Apple devices saw the highest number of mobile email activity, affirming other previous findings on the dominance of iOS as far as mobile email opens are concerned. In fact, Yesmail’s research shows a greater skew than what a previous study by Movable Ink found. Yesmail attributes this tilt to Apple’s continued dominance in the tablet market.
For many years, Restaurant.com enjoyed growing revenues bolstered by the ‘Batch-and-blast’ email strategy. Readership remained until 2011, when subscriber engagement fell down by as much as 35 percent. Even with the appeal of “certificates”—essentially digital versions of coupons—that can be exchanged for discounts across the restaurants under their system, the company’s generic emails failed in engaging customers.
Time for a Change
Restaurant.com shifted gears with its email campaign, overhauling its program in just 1 year. Instead of going with a “firing and forgetting” strategy, the company employed a sophisticated system that combines both automated and targeted emails.
The new strategy can be broken down into a 6-step process:
- Building internal support – First starting with home, Restaurant.com took measures to gain support from its investors, IT department, and creative team.
- Laying a Foundation – Restaurant.com had to change its database infrastructure to address new goals of their email campaign. Matching customer behaviour and interactions from the channels they came from, for instance, initially proved impossible, calling for a new system to be put in place. Likewise, a new eDM analytics system was set up because of this very reason.
- Rethinking the Marketing Strategy – One of the first things Restaurant.com did was to reduce the frequency of its emails, cutting the previous monthly volume of 22 emails in half. The focus should be on quality, not quantity. For example, A/B testing is a tool that tests the essential factors of email marketing significantly eliminating ‘trial and error’ resulting in emails that are both interactive and effective.
- Lifecycle-based Automated Emails – Restaurant.com. launched a new system of automated emails or “auto-responders” that reach out to customers they predicted were mostly likely make a purchase of certificates—these are subscribers with data showing they already made a purchase.
- Behaviour-specific Emails – Restaurant.com also formulated emails that perform specific actions, such as reminding subscribers of items abandoned in the shopping cart, encouraging them to participate in social media promotions, and more.
- Quality Control – Restaurant.com also made it a point to test every aspect of the campaign thoroughly before launching it. Different campaigns were tested, and each aspect scrutinised before making a database-wide change.
Implementing these solutions provided a higher ROI than using the batch and blast strategy that was previously used. Despite having attractive coupons on their eDM, their method lacked strategy.
Using an A/B testing tool, the user is able to target specific groups and identifies what engages their intended audience more effectively. Changes made by Restaurant.com to its email strategy have been nothing short of stellar. The conversion rate of the new emails over the old generic ones rose by 150 percent. Likewise, the company saw a 900 percent revenue increase for every 1000 emails sent (that’s $200). And both figures are for the automated emails alone.
The benefits when utilizing this type of testing system is the accuracy it is able to deliver making email campaigns more purposeful and less clumsy, eliminating the ‘firing and forgetting’ strategy.
Fortunately Enform Automailer has most of the elements talked about as standard features allowing for targeted, strategic eDM campaigns with effective ROI. Essentially, the main purpose of creating an eDM is to engage and interact which in turn generates results. So why waste the effort?
One of the most compelling reasons to engage in email marketing is the ability to measure almost everything about the online marketing method. From click-throughs, impressions, to redirects to your site, Automailer lets you test these factors in some way or another, significantly eliminating the problem of guesswork.
Automailer A/B testing is one of the relatively newer tools available to measure email marketing campaigns. And while it hasn’t quite picked up in popularity just yet, its capabilities increase your click-through rates by enhancing your email content.
Tested, Streamlined Content
A/B testing essentially allows marketers to find out which types or versions of emails get the most clicks from subscribers—think of it as using a focus group.
The benefits can prove invaluable if, for instance, you were to compare two types of content (say a video or image) and determine which version gets the most clicks. You could create two subject line tests and send them both to 50 percent of your email subscribers, with the winning email going to the remaining half of your list.
It’s a straightforward system that adds a huge level of safety and accuracy to your email marketing strategy, making the tool perfect for small businesses looking to run for cost effective campaigns.
It takes only a couple of minutes to set up an A/B content test. Our test client had no problems during the first run, and that’s without reading any documentation!
Our test client used 2 different subject lines to create the A/B test difference.
Results showed that Version B generated a massive 279% increase in open rate, in comparison to Version A. Clearly one subject line was more effective in prompting a reaction from the targeted audience. This also resulted in a higher click-through for a win-win.
Needless to say, our client was thrilled with the 279% improvement in open rate results, which were available to him via his Automailer Campaign Snapshot page, live. (Image shown below)
One problem with most A/B testing systems on the market today is that many of them are cumbersome programs with unnecessary features targeted towards corporate users, alienating other segments of the market in the process. Enform, however, offers the A/B testing feature on our Automailer that’s easy to use, even by amateurs.
If you like the Automailer idea but want to make sure you have your own unique look and feel, just ask us about building custom templates. Apart from the standard, simple multi-column formats most often used we can also build custom templates as colourful or as simple as you’d like.
The options are only limited by cost and imagination. Enform can help you work out what works and even test it for you with version control.
Talk to Enform about custom templates.
Permission based email marketing is still the core of any successful online marketing strategy and is essential for both staying in touch with your existing customers, promoting leads to new customers and finding new prospects. When coupled with a strong web site and a pro-active subscriber and user focus its easy to get your customer and product users to sign up and listen to what you have to say.
The Enform Automailer software package has been built specifically for our clients them better manage this very important aspect of electronic marketing, the email mail list.
The emphasis on “permissions” is critical here and is what separates your regular email from SPAM. Enform Automailer have all the tools you need to integrate with your web site for automatic user subscription as well as allowing for import upload of new subscriber or even manual addition all online via your own custom or XYS Pty Ltd portal.
Enform Automailer is state of the art and the most cost effective way to keep in touch with your clients without risking your online reputation or your mail server integrity.
To read more about it go to the Automailer page or ask us for an online