Discuss

Automailer

A Breakdown of What Exactly Happens During an ‘Unsubscribe’

By | Automailer, Blog, ecommerce, eDM, Research, Social Media | No Comments

Social_email_marketing_flat

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.

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.

Email Accessibility: Making Sure Everyone Reads your Email Campaigns

By | Automailer, Blog, Comment, eDM, Research | No Comments

Email Accessiblity

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.

Ideas to Make Your eDM Email Subject Lines Work

By | Blog, ecommerce, Uncategorized | No Comments

good-bad-subject-line-examples

The bitter truth: The vast majority of email newsletters, promotional campaigns, and email blasts never make their way past the crowded in boxes of their recipients.

Those that did manage to get views did so thanks to how users evaluated email subject lines and sender information.

Successful emails reach users who are confident enough to open them, and the keys to this are clear, easily recognisable sender information, and concise, well-written subject lines. Both factors help users make informed decisions on whether or not to open or bypass an email message.

Web usability experts the Nielsen/Norman Group (NN/g) put together some guidelines on how to create effective subject lines that should increase the chances of your emails’ success with users.

  1. Incorporate content into subject lines

With the mad rush of information reducing web users’ internet attention spans, email subject lines should let users know the kind of content the newsletter contains. Users want to know what’s in a message right away through the headline, and while it may seem like a good idea to tease users into reading a message, this is not the case with emails.

The argument against being too direct with subject lines is that users might not open an email newsletter if they see the content in the subject line right away.

NN/g however, notes that it’s much better to keep users informed and allow them to make a decision instead of forcing them to open the message only for them to have no interest in it. Most users may not even bother doing this, deleting the message instead. The interaction cost is simply too high with no clear benefit to the user. fail

We at Enform agree with NN/g’s assertion  that it’s much better to have some messages fail to be opened by some users, than risk penalizing them with opening messages they don’t like.

However, be aware that Junk mail and anti-SPAM filters look at subject lines very closely so go easy on the “killer sales” language.

email subject

  1. Place keywords into the subject line and limit it to 40 characters

For optimal viewing of subject lines, it’s best to stay within the character limits set by email programs. Because character limits vary between programs (not to mention they can change over time), it’s best to stay within the safe limit of 40 characters.

The most important content should be placed right at the beginning of the subject line to prevent it from being cut off. Keywords that carry the most information and are the most descriptive should take prime real estate. Avoid the common mistake below:

(Company Name) Newsletter: The Annual Clearance Sale is Here

The first 3 words in the subject line above could have been put to better use, replaced with more meatier keywords such as the discounts being offered in the sale, the date of the promotion, what products are on sale, and more.

EmailSubjectLines

  1. Avoid redundancies

We already mentioned how important it is to select the right keywords for the subject line, so by all means, don’t repeat things like the sender information in your subject line. While it’s important to let users know whom their newsletters are coming from, don’t waste valuable space repeating information that could’ve been replaced with something important.

Remember, you have less than 15 seconds to get the readers attention with your email or eDM message, make it count.

 

Majority of Email Opens Take Place on Mobile Devices Studies Show

By | Automailer, Blog, ecommerce, Mobile, Research, Web Design, Web Store, Webpage Monitoring | No Comments

image1 (2)

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

tablet

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

android-caotic-android-vs-ios-1

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.

More Findings

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.

Automailer Spam Test scores and what they mean for your eDM’s

By | Blog | No Comments

The most important point is that your eDM message is being seen by your targeted audience, correct?

If so, it needs to get there first before it can be seen.

Automailer Spam test is an effective content based Spam filter test tool, using a scoring system where messages are tagged as Spam only when they have enough Spam characteristics in total. A properly managed Automailer Spam test correctly identifies 90% – 95% of Spam.

If your message score’s a 5 in the Spam test, this means that there are 5 counts of Spam characteristics found in your message and you may risk facing deliverability issues, whilst scores of greater than 10 will frequently develop delivery issues. Enform advises that any eDM you intend to send out to your database will have a higher chance of successful delivery if the Spam count is less than 5, in comparison to an eDM that has a Spam count of 5 or more.

Spam Assassin is the largest open source Spam filtering engine and they have provided some basic rules to avoid deliverable issues and warnings. Below is an explanation of some of the more popular content-based filtering rules you might see, along with some suggestions on how to avoid them.

Please keep in mind that some of these filters go against the grain of best practice email marketing however, at least your message is more likely to get through. Note that these apply to both Subject line and message body but it’s important to remember that the Subject line is arguably the most important to get right :

  • “Click here/ Click on the link below for details” – Avoid using this phrase as Spam tests triggers a warning when it sees this on the body of the email. Try and rephrase, instead use “read more” or “follow the link”.
  • A WHOLE LINE (OR MORE) OF CAPS – Spam tests look for whole sentences that use CAPS, usually seen in the Subject line. Avoid using CAPS regardless as it is equivalent to shouting at your customers.
  • $$$ sign – Do not use the ‘$’ symbol consecutively, Spam tests examine the body of the message for any phrases that contain ‘$$$’. Only use it when needed, for instance, when you quote the price of a product.
  • “Free” or “FREE offer” – this is probably the most common word that sends Spam alerts. It can be difficult to avoid using this word if that is the message you would like to come across. Instead, use it in the body of the message and avoid using CAPS. DO NOT use ‘FREE’ in the subject line.
  • Heavy use of images – Spam tests examine messages that are graphic heavy or contain strange images. As a rule of thumb, emails must not be composed of over 40% image coverage. Text on the other hand, must be at least 60% larger or more prominent than images. Read more.
  • Messages sent on weekends are more likely to be identified as Spam than messages sent on weekdays.

It is sometimes difficult to ensure your eDM is clear of all content based filters. However, it is important to avoid having any of the above in the Subject line. This is the first thing people will see, if the subject line contains word such as “offer”, “free” or “special”, otherwise your message may be consequently regarded as Spam mail.

If it is necessary to use words or characters that are regarded as Spam characteristics, only include them within the body of the message and be mindful of the way you phrase an offer for a product or to notify customers of a special offer.

Enform Automailer has Spam and mail client test capability built in to help you check your message and ensure you get maximum audience engagement and conversion. Remember, too often we obsess over how our messages are seen by recipients, in reality, they are never perfect. However, no one will see them if they don’t even get through.

Always be wary of your intended audience and ensure you test your eDM before sending. Enform’s Automailer service can assist with targeted delivery of your eDMs by maintaining a thorough client database so you can ensure that your messages are being sent to the right people.

A/B Testing makes Email Marketing Simple

By | Automailer, Blog | No Comments

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.
enform automailer
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!

The Results?

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)

The Catch?

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.

Enform Offers New Automailer Features for Landing Page Optimisation

By | Blog | No Comments

Have you always wanted to optimise your landing pages for your email campaigns through A/B testing but never got around to doing so due to time, skills and energy constraints?

Enform now has a web app we’ve specifically designed for the purpose of testing, creating and publishing email landing pages as part of our Automailer package. Moreover, we’ve built our program with the ability to provide you with comprehensive reports, giving you relevant information about your test campaign. And if you don’t have the skill to create code and set up the analytics protocols yourself, don’t worry. Enform has seen to it that you get this as part of the package. All you have to do is set an objective, such as collecting email subscribers, and you’re good to go.

Grow your Email Subscriber List

Perhaps the biggest advantage of having optimised pages geared towards your email lists is its ability to make your list grow. A/B testing allows you to determine whether your email subscription pages are working the way you want them to. An optimised landing page allows you to streamline your email marketing campaign, helping produce a higher conversion rate. Moreover, our web app allows you to automatically export email addresses into our main Automailer features.

Create Landing Pages

Enform’s new Automailer web app not only allows you to gain more subscribers, it also helps you create and host landing pages for your email marketing campaigns, whatever your promotion may be. Whether it’s a special, limited-time offer or new service, the choice of how to proceed with your optimised landing pages is up to you.

If you have questions about our new Automailer feature, don’t hesitate to contact the Enform team.

Automailer Helps Understand the Proper Image to Text Ratio in Emails to Get them Past Spam Filters

By | Blog | No Comments

For email marketers, spam filters are annoyingly efficient and at many times, overzealous at their job of separating relevant messages from junk. There’s much ado about creating email campaigns that get past these virtual gatekeepers, with techniques ranging from avoiding select keywords and phrases, when best to send emails and how best to describe the message subject. What many marketers fail to acknowledge however, is the text to image ratio in the message body.

Outlook’s Junk Filter can cause major issues for campaigns when it comes to message with images. Default settings on Outlook don’t resolve images which is not only an inconvenience but also increases the risk of your audience not getting your message. Outcome? Recipients simply delete the message.

Spam filters have gone beyond just detecting key words and phrases in emails, forcing spammers to insert their content in images. Filters in turn have been designed to be suspicious of image-heavy messages. As a rule of thumb, emails must not be composed of over 40% percent image coverage. Text on the other hand, must be at least 60% larger or more prominent than images.

Other particulars email marketers need to take note of when it comes to images in emails include the number of images in a message, which should not exceed three, the web host of these images, which must be credible and the layout of these images, which should not be touching. Large images are also a major trigger of spam filters, so make sure you make clever use of banners instead.

Finally, be careful when using image banners to fill the top of message headers. Send yourself a test and think of what your customer or recipient will see if images are disabled in their mail client.

  • Does the message clearly show who is talking to them and what it’s about, despite the lost images?
  • Is there sufficient content to encourage action like click-thru or further reading?
  • Does it LOOK like Spam?

Also, remember that despite having standards, HTML code is an imperfect medium as it’s interpreted differently by different mail clients and browsers. Too often we imagine (and obsess) over how our message looks to the recipient in a perfect environment. Reality is that the environment they will use is rarely perfect so your message needs to be adaptable yet clear.

Take a look at the example below from Google. If anyone has the money and the smarts to do whatever it takes they have.   Enform Automailer has Spam and mail client test capability built in to help you check this stuff and make sure you get maximum audience engagement and conversion.

 

 

Enform Automailer Helps With Email Marketing Rules to Sidestep Junk Filters

By | Blog | No Comments

Automailer

One of the goals of implementing an effective email marketing campaign is to be noticed, but how do you do that when emails don’t even make their way to the receiver? This is a question tackled by a blog post by Being Smarter.

These days, it’s no longer enough to just think about ways to get emails past the watchful eyes of people wary of SPAM. People are no longer the biggest problem, as software and SPAM protection tools have taken their place. One such piece of software that’s indiscriminate in blocking emails with the slightest hint of SPAM is the Outlook Junk filter, the bane of every email marketer.

To help marketers get past this overzealous gatekeeper, Being Smarter highlighted a few rules to take note of in order to get emails to the intended receivers. The rules are based on a discovery by MAPILab, a company that reversed engineered Outlook’s SPAM filter from its 2003 version and beyond. MAPILab points out the steps Outlook takes when determining whether email is SPAM or not.

Some of the rules are:

For subjects and email details

  • Messages sent on weekends are more likely to be identified as SPAM than messages sent on weekdays.
  • Messages with a subject composed primarily of uppercase characters are more likely to be connected with junk email
  • Subjects with multiple duplicate characters are more likely to be labelled as SPAM, particularly when duplicate characters resemble the meaningless sequence of numbers, symbols and letters found in SPAM messages.

For email addresses

  • Outlook’s SPAM filter is programmed to detect and make a correlation with email addresses that contain numbers in their first 8 characters.
  • Email addresses with the words, “Sales,” “Profit,” “Success,” ”Enhance,” and”Mail,” are more likely to be recognised as SPAM.

For message body

  • A message body that contains keywords such as “advertisement,” “extra income,” money back guarantee,” “credit cards accepted” and more are likely to be labelled as SPAM.
  • A message that starts with “Dear friend” will set off some red flags on Outlook’s junk filter
  • Messages that contain symbols such as “000,” “$$,” and “!!” are likely to be marked as SPAM.

The good news is that Automailer automatically tests for a lot of these when running design and anti-SPAM tests however you need to be mindful of some finer points that relate to different industries and product types.

We’re also happy to review your other EDM programs or channels to make sure your message gets through and gets read.