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The Importance of Low Hanging Fruit

Email marketers, from the novice to the expert, should always be looking for ways to touch their subscribers in a positive and effective way. There are a plethora of complicated and expensive ways to do this, including purchasing expensive lists and list building services, creating fancy and complex mailing campaigns, and generating robust and often overbearing reporting.

But as helpful as these higher-level endeavors might be, one should never neglect the low hanging email marketing fruit. This fruit will not only provide no-to-low cost wins, but also offer insight that neither breaks the budget nor strains the eyes.

Several simple email strategies include the following:
  • If in doubt, test it out. There are a wide variety of simple, cheap and effective tests that can and should be run on a regular basis. These include, but are not limited to subject line testing, time of day testing, day of the week testing, geo-targeting, age testing, and gender testing. These simple tests validate whether your larger, more expensive marketing plan is on the correct track or if your plan needs a tune-up.

  • Change up the format of your mailings through a creative test. If your mailings tend to be image heavy, try a text heavy mailing. If your images tend to be static, test an animated GIF. Since ISPs are more apt to block image heavy mailings, adding more text might provide your campaigns an easy and profitable lift.

  • Create a simple survey. Asking subscribers what they like and dislike about your mailings is a simple and sometimes illuminating way to obtain better insight into your customers and their needs, wants, likes and dislikes. You will never know if you do not ask. Adding an incentive (free shipping or a coupon, anyone?) is a great way to encourage subscribers to complete a survey.

  • Try a personalization test. Do your subscribers like to see their names or other personal information in your mailings? You will never know unless you run a test. Also, adding a forward-a-friend link with the option to subscribe is a great way to build your subscriber list for free.
Once you've run your tests, be sure to create a consistent and relevant plan to determine a winner. For example, you should ask yourself whether you are most interested in clicks, opens, or conversions, and then choose accordingly. The key is to be consistent when determining which tests are successful and which should be shelved for another day.

Happy testing and enjoy that low hanging fruit!

CAN-SPAM: Just The Facts

"Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting."
- Bill Gates on spam

Every so often it is prudent to take a refresher on fundamental email marketing topics and best practices. CAN-SPAM, officially known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003, is one of the most important online marketing topics. To follow are some of the basic facts, principals and rules concerning CAN-SPAM legislation. But like most legislation, this is not a simple bill. I recommend reading the entire act to learn more details.

Opt-Out and Opt-in Rules:
  • Opt-out email addresses cannot be shared or sold for marketing purposes.

  • The opt-out option must be available to recipients for at least 30 days after they receive a commercial email.

  • Opt-out requests must be handled within 10 business days.

  • Opt-out methods must be available either via an email option or single web page option.

  • If affirmative consent is not used, the email must be identified in the body of the message as an advertisement and include a valid brick-and-mortar postal address.

Other Related Information:
  • The CAN-SPAM Act went into effect January 1, 2004.

  • Header information must be correct and legitimate.

  • An email’s “from” and “to” lines must be accurate. This includes the originating domain name, and identifying the organization or person who initiated the email.

  • The subject line cannot mislead email recipients about the content within the email.

  • Email addresses cannot be harvested, and automated means cannot be used to create email addresses.

  • Clear and conspicuous notice at the time the consent was communicated” must be given if an email address is to be shared with a third party.

  • CAN-SPAM law is intended for the U.S. only.

  • It is up to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the State Attorney General, and ISP's to prosecute CAN-SPAM offenses. A spammer can be subject to a maximum $16,000 fine per violation. One of the largest CAN-SPAM violation settlements to date was $2.9 million in penalties. This case occurred in 2008.

So those are the rules. Pay close attention and as always, Happy Marketing!

Too Many Choices Can Be Dangerous

Online registration pages are vital to marketers. Offering too many choices or requiring too many steps, however, can lower conversion rates, result in bad data, and will harm overall marketing programs. A study reported by the American Psychological Association concerning employees choices of 401(k) plans supports this theory. The study discovered that when given two plan choices, 75% of employees at a certain company participated in the 401(k), but when given 59 choices, only 60% participated. The more choices given decreased the chance that a conversion occurred. In addition the research team found that the more options that were offered the more cautious people became and the more likely they were to abandon.

Here is how to get the most out of a registration page: