Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Simple Lessons from HR Newsletter

Monday, 07. April 2008 by Anna Billstrom

I profiled some airline industry emails the other day. Today, I am writing about some do’s and don’t's (mostly don’t's) that we can learn form a Human Resources newsletter.

How Did I Get On This List?
If your customers have to ask that, something went wrong in the lifecycle, customer contact arena. Either you didn’t follow up right after the opt-in transaction , establishing brand, From Address- great for enabling images btw- and cementing the relationship, or you don’t have a right to contact this person. This is the case in point- as a member on an alias of a non-profit, I submitted a request for sponsorship, and they took it as an opt-in to their newsletter.

I once helped out a friend who was starting a simple newsletter campaign to her contacts (she is a PR specialist) to tell people how you know them. Say it right off the bat. Especially if this is the first communique in a long time. “You may have met me on a job as a PR specialist, or from my old Floral industry days… ” it could be personalized, or just generally stated.

This was done right: a useable contact email address was easy to find. So, I contacted the list owner on how he received my email address, and he responded that his list is large (300,000) and full of respected HR professionals. Nice, but that wasn’t the question I was asking. So he should know how his sources originate, by setting up tracking IDs, or some other indicator as to what channel, either “you contacted us once for a request” or “you opted in on our web site.”

How to Unsubscribe Folks
Wrong: after that first email exchange, he refused to unsubscribe me manually.

I get another newsletter, and go to unsubscribe. The unsubscription page asks for more personal information than my email address. I’ve seen very large corporations try to harvest personal information at this point, and it’s the wrong idea. You can offer different preferences, but you really should key it all off of email address (or an internal key that maps 1-to-1 with email address.)


- Make it easy for folks to unsubscribe. Don’t ask more information than their email address. And, optimally, let them “one-click” unsubscribe by passing the email address in the link.

- Don’t implicitly opt-in people to your mailing list. Ask them. And, as is the trend now, ask twice.

More Info:
Email Labs’ “Spotlight on Double-Opt-Ins”

Keynote from Stefan Tornquist

Monday, 25. February 2008 by Anna Billstrom

Tamara Liveblogging
Stefan Tornquist, from MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit, gave the keynote and reviewed some of the top findings from the 2008 Email Marketing Benchmark guide.

First, he showed the chart on “taking the temperature” on email marketing, and it showed, year over year, a stagnation of “rosy” chart, and that basically problems have gotten more intense for email marketers.

Stefan then flipped to a slide showing something we all know- “newsletters still work”- for acquiring leads, essentially.

He displayed an odd report on the percentage of false positives on the spam filter, that predominantly (61%) were flagged by a single ISP, and a huge dropoff when classified by up to 3 ISPs. ISPs examined: Hotmail, AOL & Yahoo. He finished by saying that “the score does not tell you the entire story, you should monitor ISPs.” Interestingly, this is more a concern for B2B than B2C.

I was pleased to see the analysis of opens and clicks across segmented, versus unsegmented lists, and that sometimes the difference is 2:1 more efficacy for highly segmented lists.

On copywriting, and subject lines, Stefan quoted Ann Holland that “subject lines are getting shorter”, and they are getting ‘short & punchy.’ Essentially, “the first twenty characters are going to get looked at,” of the 45 characters suggested.

The most interesting report displayed, of course, the eyetracking chart, and renewed advice to move the template around to get- move the template around periodically (every 3 campaigns) to make users click on non-content, or less interesting or focussed panels, such as sponsor ads.

He lent advice on landing page optimization: remove navigation, and surprisingly enough, repeated page testing raises the efficacy up to 400% more. 400%. Amazing.

Last slide was a review of email marketers and their judging their inside, ASP or ESP vendors and how they are “good to great.” Turns out full service ESPs win out on that category, and with 60% email marketers with ESPs “able to handle complexity.” Basically- they’re worth the expense!

Interesting quick talk, in a very crowded hall, but deemed useful by my neighbors.

Peeves and Hopes for 2008

Saturday, 29. December 2007 by Anna Billstrom

Asilomar I had a great, relaxing vacation on the central coast of California, biking along the ocean and eating homemade cioppino, Amish bread, persimmon salads, saffron yeast rolls (lussekatt), on and on. Anyways, returning home and getting online, I had left during the peak time for our email marketing emails. I just moved about 250 marketing emails into one folder, which made me think of trends this year, and what 2008 (hopefully) will look like.


- Increasing frequency. For the last few months I’ve noticed a few companies increasing the frequency during the holiday season- and I know some ESPs even suggest this. There is something called too much, and daily is too much. Macy’s & Toys-R-Us have been doing this- possibly others. Eddie Bauer- once a day for 4 days leading up, then back to 3 times a week. Williams-Sonoma same as EB, every day for the 4 days leading up, then once every few days. Amazon sent one or two near Christmas, but most of it was transactional plus promotional regarding recommendations or my orders.
- Incoherent offers. Free shipping before Xmas, then free shipping after Xmas. Consumers do notice a gimmick.
- All image emails. If I’m a new subscriber, and you don’t introduce some text for me to read in Gmail, I will not load your image (because I have no reason to), unsubscribe or delete your image. You won’t see me as an “open.” You lost my subscription, and you didn’t even know you did.
- All promotion all the time. All of the analysis points to transactional emails and behavior personalization, but some retailers still don’t get it.
- Print-oriented graphics. The “big splash” image with text in the image- does secure the font style, which is great for print, but for email and online, unwieldy. Use commonly installed fonts (arial), and otherwise work with the strengths of online- you can cut it up, make it dynamic, make it interactive.
- Ignoring mobile and RSS. Email marketers who are stuck on email as the only channel. Some of your customers use other channels, and all analysis points to an increasing trend, so look to the future.
- No thank yous. So rude, you marketers! Thank your customers. Do you want loyal returning customers or flash in the pan discount shoppers?


- More transactional emails. It’s working the long tail, and the middle tail, and anything after the welcome email, basically. Look at your customer base, identify segments, email to them specifically. Let them know you’re singling them out. This is great CRM.
- Email Standards Project. I’m excited about spending our time on *not* making a simple email render the same in all browsers. Let’s focus on good marketing, not on technical graphics layout issues.
- More customer insight. Let’s find out what our customers really need, and want, instead of spending time and money on things they’re not that into.
- Diverse syndicated content. Let’s get our marketing message out to various channels easily, in the preferred method of each customer- mobile, RSS, FaceBook, whatever.
- Less spam. This goes along with decreased frequency of marketing emails, above- let’s make sure that all the hard work we do to distinguish ourselves from spam, gain sender reputation, manage customer subscription preferences- is not ruined by management’s short-term dollar interest to send more than 3X a week (best practice).

A Note on Good Customer Service: Apple

Wednesday, 14. November 2007 by Anna Billstrom

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about my experience with Apple Customer Service. What kind of person would send 1 1/2 hours in a store waiting in a line, and return the next day for more help, and actually be excited about going that second time? That’s how, with a strange combination of elements, Apple has made customer service OK.

- Immediately approached by a host-like person, who does a quick triage on the problem. I had shorted my iPhone, they took it and hooked it up to a power source behind the counter.
* I was on a list, and I saw I was on a list, and they told me I was standby, since I didn’t have an appointment.
* I saw them answer appointments, and methodically go through the list of standbys.
* They knew me by sight and name, and told me “they’d find me” if I wandered around the store.
* They had a teaching theater with comfortable seats right next to the line.

I’m new to Apple. Despite growing up in Cupertino, my work required mostly Unix systems, and PCs, until about a year ago. I was also squeamish about the price points with Apple products.

The next day, I returned a Kensington FM Transmitter that I’d bought at the store, with no packaging and the receipt on my iPhone. The exchange occurred in about 10 minutes.

These are the various factors I’ve come up with:
1) Nice, but not obsequious people. I didn’t over hear any overheated conversations in the Genius Bar. I didn’t hear any confrontations, either. This is direct comparison to waiting in line at Verizon, or Best Buy.
2) Knowledgeable staff, that know how to escalate, or just exchange the part and deal with it later. (This is what happened with my iPhone).
3) Attention to a certain system, and working with the system. Much like a nice restaurant, they paid attention to “the list” and showed it to me, which prevented me from constantly asking where I was on “the list.”

So, yes, Apple has money right now and a lot of customer service issues go away when you simply replace the product for the customer. But, to give them credit, this was a “light day” I was told, and there were about 15 people waiting in line, and the appointments were about a half hour off schedule. Still, nobody in line complained and everyone seemed pretty happy.

Email Marketing- a Little Too Narrow

Monday, 22. October 2007 by Anna Billstrom

Almost every day I realize that email is not the only way I get information- and it also shouldn’t be the main focus of companies and their messaging. Especially as there are always studies and reports done on the increasing of spam, and the decreasing of users’ trust in email. See: BeRelevant’s Silver Surfers Shun Email, for a taste.

As a user, I tend to change my FaceBook status quite a bit, basically treating it like my dormant Twitter account. I think internet users and thus your potential customers, act this way too. We all have our preferred method of contact, and it’s not just email.

Which leads me to the expansion of email marketing into far more than email. I am a huge proponent of RSS from back in the day. I know the statistics on how many consumers actually use RSS- but for each of those, you can respond with far higher adoption and conversion rates on RSS.

Other Contact Channels
- RSS. Setup your content, site, messages what have you, on a system that will allow syndication and subscription.
- Mobile. Setup the same content to be viewable and accessible effectively on mobile devices, from Nokias to iPhones.
- Social networks. Integrate your content, site, etc. with FaceBook applications, MySpace widgets, blog templates,etc. Sometimes this can be integrated with easy RSS programming, or other expandible technology.
- SMS. It’s gaining ground, and I know there are legal issues with the FCC, but doesn’t hurt to think about it. Simple messaging on cell phones- it can be a boon if you are an airline and need to communicate transactional messages quickly such as flight delays.
- Maps. Google has revolutionized the location data, and now you have to work with it too. I’ve done some geographical analysis on data, and more and more this seems to be very important to almost any business. For retail, applications are: creating easy directions, and messaging according to location. Transit systems are using directional GPS trackers in cars, mobile devices, etc. Though cars aren’t conceived as “devices” right now, it’s not too far a stretch to think that data may be available through cars (read: Google car).
- Video. One client hosted some video tutorials on MySpace, and linked to those videos from an email newsletter. I thought this was a very savvy method of integrating yet a new channel, and a new customer segment with different viewing preferences.
- Search. Companies that are not making sure their results are easily available by search are losing out on the large segment of the population that use search for *everything.* I can’t tell you how many clients I know that don’t do the basic gut check test of searching for their product on Yahoo/Google, to see if they have positioned their content well.

Advanced Email Marketing Checklist

Wednesday, 17. October 2007 by Anna Billstrom

What makes an advanced email marketing system? It’s more complicated than what I’ve listed below, but this is an easy gut check to see how your system compares, feature by feature.

Preference center with subject content, that dynamically pastes in live, scheduled emails. The customer can determine what email content they get.
Lifecycle emails from introduction series, ongoing to one year or more
At least a dozen transactional, automatic emails based on customer behavior.
Closed loop campaigning- responding to campaign performance with a new campaign.
Emails render well in all clients.
Emails render well with images off
Less than 1 AOL postcard a quarter
Goodbye email series (emails to very lapsed or dead subscribers saying a final adieu)
One-click unsubscribe, unsubscription landing page, and preference center flow.
Ability to report on the behavior of each campaign, and segment, of each campaign. According to basic metrics- deliver/send/click, etc.
Ability to campaign to the behavior of each segment of each campaign. Email to the segment of: “Top customers who have clicked on Mother’s Day email,” for example.
Ability to target customer behavior to SKU level (for retail).
Ability to track revenue from individual clicks on email content.
Ability to seed lists.
Ability to apply scoring models to lists.
Control group segments.
Regular ability to do subject line tests.
Ability to do A/B content tests.
Email format preferences ability for sender and recipient.
Emails are hosted on the site as well.
Forward to a friend capability.
Ability to report on unusual metrics such as the “non-open click”
Ability to send unique account/PINs in an automated process.
Ability to automatically send response campaigns- reminders, thank yous, etc.
Integration with PPC and SEO activities
Automated email hygiene process.
Partner and brand versioning of email content
Wireframed, dynamic content and email templates
Text versions of all emails.
Mobile versions

0-5: Newbie: You’re probably just grappling with getting your hands around CAN-SPAM requirements.

6-10: Basic system. You probably think there’s no money in email marketing, so you’ve never invested much thought or energy into it. Or, you may have just started a job and realize that all you have is a newsletter on Constant Contact. Regardless, you’re reading this checklist which is a good sign.

11 – 20: Not Shabby. You’re probably on your second generation of an email marketing system, or with an email provider that delivers this out of the box. You want to expand, but don’t know how.

20 +: Nimbus 2000. I hope you know what you have! It’s a great system. Of course there’s room for improvement.

Thanks to those that have mentioned this list!

- Email Marketing Reports

- Email Karma

This list is a work in progress, feel free to add more criteria below.

Defining the Customer From Data

Wednesday, 10. October 2007 by Anna Billstrom

It’s a challenge every company has, and every company has a different approach.

In email marketing, we’re used to dealing with the email address. That’s our unique qualifier. Interesting post today from Mark Brownlow over at Email Marketing Reports, about “Which Email Do You Ask For?” noting that people over the span of their online life have various email addresses. Each company has a challenge. When they say “how many customers do we have,” “how many members,” “how many visitors,” how many etc., what is their most detailed identification of the customer, and how relevant is that identification anyways? For contact strategy, you really want to know who your customer is, but to be honest having a unique email is as critical as it gets.

I’ve seen companies address this in many ways. Either from legacy systems that weren’t online, like banks, to media systems that have been acquiring email addresses without mapping them to internal customer accounts. Seems like a trend started in the ’99 to restrict registration only to new and unique email addresses. This made email marketing happy, but it made the householding project far more complicated.

You’re thinking: outsource to a vendor to clean up that data! Yes, certain vendors have lengthy algorithms to determine “main address,” and they do nifty things like check the veracity of the email and physical addresses. They also combine common accounts into an even more umbrella household concept, as well as giving you metrics and statistics against the rest of their data. Interesting post a week go aby Hillstrom regarding working with Data farms (as I call them), and the pitfalls: More On Compiled Lists Like Abacus. You just have to walk into the situation with eyes wide open. They’re taking your data, and defining it against their data, which may or may not be what you really want. Sure, you want a clean list, but at what cost? And have you explored internal data systems that may reveal more interesting relationships?

This can be a huge project, and initially it’s helpful to ask some seemingly vague and general questions that still just need to be asked:
- What are the processes that define the customer?
- Are there registration processes that are creating the multiplicity?
- Is anything in the ordering process identifying in a more true nature the customer (shipping address, email confirmation, etc.)

Case History
At a media client, where the relationships were complicated and there were restrictions on content, we started by creating various test cases outlining the most complicated household profiles. Then, we created a scenario at the end of the loop that satisfied the marketing stakeholders.

(Note: not really PBS) For example, Jane and her husband share an account at PBS Kids, that their daughter uses to play games on. He has a newsletter registration with his work email at Ken Burns’ documentaries, and she has daily NPR news updates to her personal Hotmail account. Keeping their accounts discrete is no problem, since each has a separate email address. For other channel marketing, though, it’s useful to know that they are a single household. Should each email address get a unique offer of 10% off a new DVD? Or if they knew that it was one household, because the physical addresses were similar (note, typos and abbreviations are different to each email address.) Or, make sure that there is a child at the first so the content matter should always be child-oriented? And catalogs should be de-duped for that address. And, in general, success metrics and ROI shouldn’t be determined by three customers as in reality they are probably a single wallet share.

Using internal processes to help clean up your definition is one angle. Another is to look at the variety of responses to your email list over time, and manage them that way. Customers won’t check each of their email addresses and click on each one (or, rarely enough to be relevant). Working with your response data as well as internal process data can help identify a true idea of the customer beyond their various accounts and addresses. For catalogs, if you have backtrack abilities- that is leaving a code on each catalog to match it to the issuers, and seeing who follows up, you can further clean your data.

User verification: you can run a scheduled campaign to ask users to confirm data. Note this has been really exploited by eBay and PayPal phishers, so it’s not necessarily a good idea anymore. One client did start a clean-up program that ran every week and asked users to answer some survey questions, verify their info, then gave them an offer. That’s also a good way to churn through inactives.

Good CRM Teams

Tuesday, 09. October 2007 by Anna Billstrom

Like the beginning line in War & Peace: “Happy families are all the same, but unhappy families are different in their own way.” Same with CRM teams. I’ve seen more than a dozen flawed CRM teams, but the structure of a happy team is relatively consistent.

So these teams have the following responsibilities:
- send out one-off campaigns from marketing groups
- manage automated, triggered messages
- manage creative email content (but not branding, or guidelines)
- advise internally on best email practices
- provide analysis on customer behavior
- create new CRM-oriented marketing campaigns

And this is how they get it done, most effectively:
- CRM lead
- Campaign Manager
- Database manager

Resources available, but split with other departments:
- Data warehouse engineers
- Creative and graphic artists
- Statistical analysts

For new development, or new branding, there may be new folks integrated or expanded within the groups. Each role has these responsibilities:

CRM Lead: Besides the regular stuff you’d read here, one of the more hidden and important activities is to acquire more data. Not just acquisitions of list buys, but internally. So many companies I’ve been at didn’t even know the data they had internally that they could leverage. So being an evangelist for the customer datamart is a huge aspect of this job. Also, to do that you need to understand the structure and abilities of your datamart. A CRM team will fail if the leader does not understand this, and can’t communicate it to superiors and peers in the company. Usually, direct mail people have been the most successful converts into the CRM/email marketing role. If you don’t come from an IT or database background, it can be a tough row to hoe.

Campaign Manager: Also going to avoid the obvious and go in for the odd responsibility: determine the ROI for each campaign, and use that as the lever to get some campaigns in the calendar, and punt others. I’ve seen so many managers buckle under pressure from marketers, when all they have to do is have the marketers prove the viability of the campaign. It’s not about “XBox being hot”, it’s about, “will this XBox service warranty get a better open rate than MS Golf?” Sure, there are other variables, but a Manager who stuck to their guns on ROI will have less stress, and a happier department. Because essentially everybody looks at the ROI at the end of the quarter, and not the justifications.

Database Manager: For an effective system, there will be a lot of activity on this database and it requires someone full time. Nobody will give it the TLC that the group requires. I am a fan of the internal database (but external email send system). Because there are so many data acquisitions going on with an active CRM Lead, the DB Manager will work closely on getting that data in timely. The IT schedule has operational responsibilities, where as a Marketing Database manager can work more on the marketer’s schedule. Also, as anyone who works with Marketing and IT can attest- marketers require a lot of back and forth on data pulls and analysis.

Other Resources:
- I have never worked in a CRM group that had creative inside, and dedicated, to it, so I can’t speak to that. It sounds great, but in reality I doubt companies could provide the environment creative needs to keep someone happy. Creative groups are just a world apart, similar to programmer groups.
- IT maintenance isn’t required full time, more just occasionally when a disk fails, etc. so I haven’t worked somewhere where a group had a dedicated IT person.
- DBAs. I’ve worked places with DBAs in our group, but I thought it was overkill. If the DB Manager is worth their salt, they have a system they can work on, or escalate if need requires, but doesn’t require a full time DBA.
- Analyst. Usually these folks are either in marketing, or in marketing research. I did work with a statistical modeller at one site, and she just came over occasionally. She wasn’t full-time with our group. It’s occasional work like IT, and I have a suspicion they are too expensive to justify full time in CRM only.

Startup Email Marketing Package For The Startup

Tuesday, 19. June 2007 by Anna Billstrom

Traditional corporations and companies have CRM or email marketing departments with elaborate email campaign calendars and schedules. New companies can muster up a newsletter, and maybe some site generated welcome messages. Web 2.0 companies – I’m glibly calling them – seem to randomly take one or two campaigns out of the hat with no cohesive plan.

My favorite whipping boy is MyShape (still waiting for call) a personal shopping service. They are ripe to easily tailor their emails, but instead, periodically send generic promotions. YouTube doesn’t seem to email market at all, as far as I can tel. Yelp does a generic newsletter and a nice system message of “you have a compliment.” One client of mine could only wrap their mind around newsletters. I brought up various other campaigns and they started to get excited about it, but then kept drifting back to the main newsletter idea over and over again.

So what is it about these new companies and their inability to be revolutionary, or even au courant, in email marketing? I would devise this simple calendar and set of programs for any fledgling company, especially if it is a web 2.0 company. The point of this package is to educate and engender loyalty in the early interactions that the customer has with your site. Oh, and an order would be nice.

The Package
1. Welcome Email- immediately sent up on registration on the site
Work with the engineers of your site to get this triggered automatically upon registration. The timeliness of this is very important. Include a basic offer if you want, but don’t overpitch.

2. Introductory education email
This contains content on how to access site, a good starter product. This is sent a few days after registration. If too salesy may get high unsubscribes so tone it down.

3. A weekly email to “week 1/2 old” new customers or registrants. It is split into two sections:
a) if purchase, email a “thank you” and offer on another product (ok if already bought product)
b) if has not purchased, offer discount

4. Transactional and functional email
Based on the core of your business, figure out some interaction unique to your site that you can use to communicate with your company. MyShape could send an email when a user enters in their measurements, or new inventory comes in that matches their shape. Yelp could post that there are new businesses in the user’s neighborhood. YouTube could notify the user on how many views they have received, or similar tagged videos.

The design of this package of programs is to focus on the early life of the customer. Studies show that all activity with new people come within first three months. Instead of working on generic newsletters, instead grab new members and put your efforts into those introductions, education, and early upsell opportunities.

1. Welcome Email
Logic: 0-3 hours from registration
Content: Simple welcome message with opt preference, and zip code offer for regional promotions
Data required: email address, date and time of registration
Note: This will be a different from address from the rest of the emails- rarely is an email vendor able to do this kind of campaign, and you will doubtless want to use the web application hosting your product to do the instantaneous email send.

2. Introductory Email
Logic: recent registrants, anywhere from 2-5 days.
Content: Don’t layer on the promotions, this is mainly educational, a “how-to” use your product and services.
Data required: date of registration, email address

3. Week Later Email
Logic: Anywhere from 7-11 days, 2 segments, has or has not purchased
Content: Thank you to purchasers, with cross-sell; Discount on popular introductory product on other segment
Data Required: Date of registration, email address, has/has not purchased flag

4. Transactional/Functional Email
Logic: Some activity unique to business. For Yelp, they send out this site based email the moment another user has posted a compliment on one of your reviews.
Content: Notice unique, personalized activity and notify or promote similar services
Data Required: has/has not done certain activity (may relate to content or serve user-built content). Using the Yelp example, has/has not received compliment, date of compliment.

Thoughts On Newsletters

Wednesday, 23. May 2007 by Anna Billstrom

Think of the Customer
Appropriate Usage: Lapsed

Think of the Customer
It may be surprising, but as an email marketer I find newsletters to be inappropriate in roughly 80% of the cases. It comes up a lot- because I think we can all agree that historically, when people think email marketing- they usually think of newsletters. It is one of the early uses of the medium, to finally digitize the mimeographed neighborhood newsletters from the 70s. They have a lot of juicy content in them, they’re educational, so what’s not to like? Most of my criticisms can be wrapped up into: people sending newsletters are not thinking of the customer.

The goal to a happy converting, churning customer base is communicating with your customer with relevant information, maintaining the relationship, over time, to ensure loyalty. You have to be sensitive to who they are, how they transact with you, etc.

So an example is my local liquor store guy a few doors down from my apartment. I go in once in a while, get cookies, milk, we talk about the Giants, etc. He does not tell me everything that has happened to him in the last week. He remembers me, he may bring up something about our last visit or a conversation we had before. It’s relevant to our interactions. Sure it’s easier for him to list off the highlights to each customer and not change the speech, but I’d think he was kind of crazy. Interesting note regarding personalization- I don’t think he knows my name, but he knows my Dad (they also talk about the Giants and Iraq).*

So to draw the analogy- segmenting your newsletter into those that are interested in sports, don’t drink alcohol, and have a serious sweet tooth. By then, you might as well go the whole 9 yards and make it a semi-promotional, semi-educational automatic transactional campaign. Sneak an offer in there- free liquor store t-shirt. (For some reason this guy refuses to give me one- he gives everyone in the neighborhood one! That would really ensure my loyalty. In fact, I’d probably *pay* for a t-shirt now, just to be in the club!)

But the occasional news bomb– not very effective. It’s easier for him, and that’s why companies like newsletters. Funny thing is aggregating all that content is not easy. So you rarely find someone actually writing the newsletters that think it’s a good idea.

I’ve received about 10 consultant and small business newsletters that use Constant Contact and their templates. In each case it has been hard to figure out how/when/why I was on the distribution list. MailChimp has a great post about it today in ‘Don’t Assume We Know You.’

“We see this countless times at MailChimp. Companies are in a rush to “blast their customers” with some offer, or some exciting (to whom?) company news, and they don’t consider that the majority of their recipients will simply get the email and ask, “Who the @#$% Are You, And How’d You Get My Email?”"

Many of these newsletters would benefit from thinking of their customer- and of course reintroducing the interaction “You signed up in May 2002 for xyz” would be the basic information but you could wordsmith it better. I almost deleted a newsletter from a very good career coach, who could have easily made the connection with me- “You signed up at a WITI conference in 2005″ etc. I mean, she got the emails from somewhere, couldn’t she have kept track of it? When she uploaded the email list to Constant Contact, call it something like “WITI 2005″. Then, create a separate wireframed content bit that introduces each newsletter:
“Happy Spring! I haven’t seen you since the WITI Conference in 2005, but I wanted to let you know what has been going on with XYZ!”

Appropriate Usage: Lapsed
A colleague recently brought me round with a good example of using newsletters. It creates community- and works really well with very inactive, lapsed segments. Like the liquor store example- if I moved away, and visited the liquor store randomly one summer day, I’d love to hear what this guy had been up to. That is totally appropriate. And from a budget perspective, creating little emails to send to these inactives every two weeks doesn’t make a lot of sense.

* Great bit in Email Marketing by the Numbers- that first name personalization is so overused now that it’s generally ignored. Personalization by transactions are far more effective, and referrals and social networks, that this guy knows my Dad, furthers loyalty.

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