Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Welcome Gavin!

Thursday, 26. August 2010 by Anna Billstrom

Just want to welcome Gavin Handley, my former colleague and prize

-winning email marketer. I had the delight to work with him for approximately 3 years at my client, his employer, Kodak Gallery. Gavin’s got a keen awareness of client needs and great creative flair. We were talking yesterday about activity in the email space, and we both realized that it’d be great to open up the discussion on this blog. So I am really excited that he’s able, and interested, to contribute!

Gavin’s started off with his first post, “Engaging Newsletters.” Check it out!

Adventures in Email Marketing in European Business Review

Monday, 23. August 2010 by Anna Billstrom

The good news, is that one of our posts: Obama Campaign – Stephen Geer Dir. of Email was used in the European Business Review, in an article on the Obama campaign and social media. The bad news is that one of their links back to here didn’t work. One did! One didn’t. I also didn’t check comments on here for a while, so the fault lies in both courts.

The article – Obama and the Power of Social Media Technology by Jennifer Aacker and Victoria Chang. The Review has also disable the right button, so that I can’t copy and paste a snippet here. Still, glad we got the mention. And yes, the devil’s in the details.

It’s a great article, too!

PubliTweet: quick twitter posting

Thursday, 06. May 2010 by Anna Billstrom

OK- this is a new way of posting/embedding twitter posts into your blog. From Xavier, via Blackbird bookmarket: Publish a tweet in html

sample: (it was a 2-step process, very nice)

About to release a bookmarklet for Twitter Blackbird, cutting the number of steps to publish a tweet from 6 to 2! Stay tuned!Wed May 05 04:05:20 via Twidget

Blogging/Videocasting/Podcasting Basic Steps

Tuesday, 28. July 2009 by Anna Billstrom

I was recently on a podcast, and after listening to it, once it was post-production, had a lot of “constructive criticism.” The funny thing is that criticism wasn’t just about podcasting, the aural experience, or using the myriad of technical tools available to auditory editors. Nope, it was just good writing.

1) Make your point quickly. Especially with video and podcasting, users can’t graze or glance through material, so get to the main point, gist, angle, funny quickly. David Sedaris uses the “40-second rule” as does most of This American Life. Make your joke in 40 seconds.

2) Why are they here? Why should they listen? Think of your audience and why they’re giving you their precious time. Imagine in your head a composite audience member- some readers you know about or just guess who your ideal reader would be, and give them reasons to stay.

3) Short is good. I jumped into the podcast in 20 minutes. 20 minutes of the host rambling. I honestly can’t tell my friends to listen to it because they have to hear this guy for that long. (Actually I tell them to fast forward to 20 minutes).

4) Be niche. It’s an easy way to get a dedicated audience. This isn’t a requirement, just a tip.

Probably the best way to learn from good podcasts, videocasts, and blogs, is to show them.


Stuff You Missed in History Class (
WNYC Radio Lab (
This American Life (
Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (

Illdoctrine Hip Hop Video (
Steve Isaacs (
Bronto TV (

Link Bait & Numbers Games & New Readers

Wednesday, 11. February 2009 by Anna Billstrom

Trophy Wall In regards to my last post, I got a twitter reply,

"@banane, is email marketing dead? [link to my blog post]"

My post was a methodical, bulleted list of reasons why you should not acquire email addresses from vendors, basically, don’t buy email lists.

Some folks do connote email marketing with snatching up large tracts of anonymous, unqualified email addresses. I don’t. I think that’s a bad practice. This fellow thought that was “the death of email,” to not buy email lists. So… email marketing = buying email lists? To not buy them, is the harbinger of the end?

No, no, he replied, “it’s link bait.” Maybe I think too much about this stuff, but let me get it straight. It’s OK to say my post is the beginning of the end of this industry, refusing to buy email lists, because it’s going to bring more readers to my blog.

Well, speaking of the future of marketing, let’s talk about link bait and numbers games.

First, with link bait, no I certainly don’t mind doing funny, silly, intriguing tweets to promote one of my posts. But misconstruing (if that’s what he did) the purpose of my post or the message I’m making, and sending your followers there, is confusing and kind of pointless.

OK, now to do it all in the name of numbers, I say: in this social media world, someone’s always gaming the system, and what they get out of it is, how to game the system. It’s based on probability, that by increasing your audience, you will have more opportunities. That couldn’t be farther from my methodology. I work on creating meaningful online relationships between companies and their customers, through relevant, timely, and interesting messaging. Not just broadcasting randomly to people unsolicited.

So the fact that the link didn’t make sense, means that poor readers coming over here expect me to be another numbers-gaming popularity mechanism. Well, here you will enjoy some conversations by a small, eclectic, but high-quality group of email marketers discussing the best practices of ethical & effective email marketing. Welcome, if that interests you!

Top 13 Annoying Blog Tricks

Thursday, 05. February 2009 by Anna Billstrom

… that I discovered while reading 1000 posts. What? There’s not 13 listed here? Oh, that’s because I’m super annoyed with…

Enumeration. “Top 3 Blog Annoyances,” “5 steps to easy weight loss”, “52 (I’m not joking) tips for _____.” It is so overdone! And, rarely are there a finite number of whatever you’re writing about. Making up a number just makes you seem like you’re grasping at authority. Focus more energy on making your points easy to read, well-written and direct.

Not doing your research. I’m over people writing a blog post without looking around the blogosphere to see if it’s been written about before. Link to it, then add on a new thought. It brings nothing to the conversation to re-post, re-writing the obvious, or “telling your audience” something they could easily find. It’s all about respecting your audience and contributing to the conversation.

Really long posts (and I mean, unnecessarily long) There is a time and place for long blog posts. Like, very involved stories, or extended, complicated arguments. But beyond the browser pane, and you’ve got to have a good reason. An old writing tip (for novelists) is to delete your first chapter. In this case, perhaps the first two paragraphs. The post usually stands quite well without the long intro. This is the #1 (just to enumerate) newbie error in blog writing- too much, all at once. Span it out.

On that note, I will stop writing this blog post!

I Read 1000 Posts So You Didn’t Have To

Tuesday, 03. February 2009 by Anna Billstrom

I’ve been offline for close to a month, so I’ve finally faced my Google Reader and its notation that I have “1,000 posts” unread in my professional categories. Here’s the original, the newsworthy, and the entertaining!
email marketing, twitter, and social marketing <-- divided into neat little categories.

Email Marketing
The folks at the Google blog don’t post a lot, but each one generates a ton of echo-chamber posts. 2 big things happened this month:
- Archive Email on Your iPhone
- Gmail Goes Offline.
Right, and Yahoo is working with ReturnPath on a Feedback Loop. I’m just assuming everyone knows that.

From Chad White of Retail Email blog…
- Retailers & their lack of Facebook love: Few retailers mention their Facebook pages
- The Oopsy awards! Find out all the flubs
- I was interested to find out that this Christmas we set a new volume record

Here are some interesting bits from EmailKarma
- No reply why bother at all? It’s a repost of Chad White’s no-reply post, and on my Google Reader- and Bloglines- the RSS feed says “respond to:”. Whoops- not on EmailKarma but on RSS feed generators!
- Good old industry news, that was news to me: IBM to acquire Outblaze

Could you possibly say something new about subject lines? Yes! Mark Brownlow at No Man Is An Island introduces the Scrabble Theory.

Usually I don’t like blog posts about blog posts (like this one?) but Mark Brownlow’s insight into Kevin Hillstrom’s was a delight: Finding the missing numbers.

Yum, case studies. Oh, and failures. Schadenfreude! Return on Subscribers gives us… Email marketing fail: Inquisix

Denise Cox lines up some truly hilarious Really bad unsubscription processes.

Nostalgia machine- Tamara Gielen posted a funny old interview with a Hotmail developer/product manager: When hotmail was cool

Bronto’s Kristen Gregory writes an original, and empassioned, plea to clean up lists and other techniques for shedding the inactive: Drop your email lists deadweight without sacrificing ROI

Another Bronto-er, DJ Waldow does a nice recap of the user experience of Obama’s email campaign (OK and I’m a sucker for DJ’s posts AND customer experience posts) Obama knows email at least he’s getting there…

David Greiner at Campaign Monitor wrote the usual focused, practical web developer articles in the email marketing world;
- Track your new subscribers with WordPress and Mint
- How many nested tables are too much?
- And a shoutout to the Email Standards Project. Yay!

Brian Clark at CopyBlogger continues to write about some of the key challenges in this field. Here, he talks about being unique, being yourself, and not being afraid to be yourself, along with some great footage of Marvin Gaye singing the Star Spangled Banner.

MailChimp rocked out a few great posts:
- They laid down the law with their response to “Can I use a purchased email list?” Guffaws were heard in the blogosphere.
- Self-acknowledged 124th good newsletter idea I like the humorous acknowledgement, and it’s not a bad idea either.

OK I didn’t read the 300 or some-odd LinkedIn Q&A quesitons, but I did pick up on one or two good ones.
- Some poor soul asked for examples of re-opt-in emails, of which nobody posted an example (but me!) and lots of people sold them their services.
- Another great question: How do you describe how a blog works to a Victorian gentleman? Similar questions have haunted me at 3 AM too.

Dylan Boyd of Email Wars has such a sincere & unique voice that I easily dogeared about 10 articles:
- Is this emial’s tipping point
- on alternative email addresses: whispr: why do we want thee?
- Oooh! Failures! I love these!!! When landing pages blow
- Could new MySpace email make a dent?

Kevin Hillstrom’s Mine That Data blog is a dense chewy mass, but here are some key tidbits
- He gets a little abstract in the discussion of Business cycles.
- Very useful zip code and geographic analysis project, where readers contribute, Zip Code forensics version 2.0 is free
- Lifeitme Value and Organic Buyers

Yes, Twitter Gets its Own Topic
Alex Williams of Return on Subscriber tells me how to Track email on Twitter. It was new to me, sorry if it wasn’t to you!

MindComet at Email Marketing VooDoo lined up some pragmatic, practical tips on Leveraging twitter for your email. I thought I knew it all until I read his post, seriously.

Kaliya, “Identity Woman” reflects on I’ve been tweeting for a year now… and clicks through to fanboy’s social marketing rant, that I loved.

Kevin Hillstrom of Mine that Data writes about his newbie experience: Twitter update, 2 weeks in. Note, he doesn’t follow anyone on Twitter (at the time of this posting).

Chad White of Retail Email blog starts reposting twitterstreams, which I will of course kid him about, but I find it fun to read all the same:
- on “no reply” addresses
- about sample emails

David Armano of Logic + Emotion has a few great posts… on Twitter of course…
- he lines up an ego list, ““Tapping TWitter’s viral nature” of top twitterers, but we’re not supposed to dismiss it. Or something.
- and the reposted twitterstream, that I love so much: Priceline Rapid Response Prevents a Groundswell

Social Marketing
Of all of the Forrester blogs, I like Peter Kim’s and Jeremiah Owyang’s.
- Peter’s controversial criticism of the echo chamber: It’s Time to Transform.
- Jeremiah’s very useful research on white label communities (check out the neat graph too) Leaders in Community Platforms for Marketers

Karl Long of Experience Curve discusses whether Advertising is worth saving with a delicious photo of Billy Idol.

David Armano of Logic + Emotion has a few goodies:
- Social media experts down there with snake oil salesmen. Ugh.
- and, Wellsfargo doing it right

I couldn’t read all of Mashable’s 350 posts (so true, didn’t read 1,000 posts!), but I did pick out one or two written in the last week that I thought was new & relevant:
- SocialWhoIs helps you extend your profile on twitter/friendfeed
- Facebook’s monetization plan: polls, and lots of ‘em

My Talk & SF WoW

Thursday, 23. October 2008 by Anna Billstrom

Our Talk: 11/5, San Francisco, Social Marketing Tips
Rebecca & Erin
I’ve combined tips with a friend of mine- a true early adopter who has been on the forefront of almost every site and tool that I’ve picked up- Janet Fouts of Tatu Digital.

Event Info
Social Marketing Tips – for SFWoW
with Anna Billstrom and Janet Fouts
Nov 5, 2008
6pm – 9pm
McCann Worldgroup
600 Battery @ Pacific

Cost: $10 with preregistration at Acteva or $12 at the door. Register on Acteva

I’m going to post an interview with her in a day or so (or I hope to…), but if you’re in San Francisco and interested in meeting, ping me on Twitter or leave a comment here, I’d love to know you’re going to be there! I met some great readers at the MarketingSherpa conference, but if I have some time to talk it’s great to know in advance.

San Francisco Women on the Web is hosting the talk. They started in 1998, as an extension of WebGrrls then went solo around 2000- and manage a whopping 1500 subscribed list volunteers, lurkers & posters. On the list they’re great, in person, remarkable. Anyways, just wanted to give them a well-deserved shoutout.

Yours Truly & Lauren
The photo is me & Lauren Hornlein, a very cool tech writer & XML expert, and I’m holding a flipbook I made for a recruiting event SF WoW held- it’s the evolution of women’s dress patterns on one side, and modems on the other.

5 Common Newbie Mistakes

Tuesday, 23. September 2008 by Anna Billstrom

A couple of businesses I know have sent me their very first email marketing message, usually a newsletter, and I’ve started to notice some trends and common pitfalls.

1. Not labeling their top header graphic appropriately. I received two the other day that were called “top_banner.jpg” in the alt-text, which showed more dominantly than any other writing in their newsletter, in Yahoo & Gmail. The default for Yahoo & Gmail is to not show images from new senders, so unfortunately all of their recipients saw the same thing:

2. No introduction paragraph saying 1) where you got the email 2) who you are 3) why I’m receiving this. For first-time newsletters, a basic introduction is required, and best to put above the fold, and in the beginning of the email so it shows up in the teaser text of the email’s inbox.

3. Not using an approved-of email sender. Nothing screams amateur hour more than trying to send it from Outlook/Yahoo/Gmail (see: Letters this week).

4. Deciding to send a newsletter, instead of a lifecycle, relationship, or more personalized email. Sure, this is sophisticated, but it’s actually a lot easier to do with small lists than large ones. Send a few emails to new joiners, send a link to a give-away for long-time list members. Clean our your list, add a personal note at the top “Hi Mark- good to see you last week!” or anything. This is what the large corporations are striving for, and for little list owners, this is a huge win. People won’t unsubscribe, and they’ll actually read your newsletter.

5. Finally, not allowing for feedback or follow-up. Nobody likes a one-sided conversation. Leave your twitter name, allow RSS subscriptions, have a reply-to that is *real* (I personally hate fake reply-to’s), and if they do write you, respond politely. Put your newsletters up on your blog with a comment thread! There’s a lot of exciting new social media that can dovetail nicely with your email marketing campaigns- as a small business these can be very easy to setup and manage.


Tuesday, 16. September 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp has a neat new feature. You write your blog post, and MailChimp’s tool sends it out in email form. That’s great for folks who like to read their blog subscriptions, and for content publishers who don’t want to copy and paste all of their content into different distribution streams. These kind of tools are the new horizon: getting information to your customer base in the ways they prefer. Check it out.

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