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Jordan Lane's Post Featured in September 2009 Cheetah Spots!

Jordan Lane's post, Is Share-With-Your-Network Killing Forward-To-A-Friend?, is featured in Experian-CheetahMail's September 2009 Newsletter, Cheetah Spots!

Click here to read the Is Share-With-Your-Network Killing Forward-To-A-Friend? post on

Click here to view the September 2009 Cheetah Spots.

Here is an excerpt from the first paragraph of the post.
"Share-with-your-network (SWYN) is a relatively new phenomenon in the email marketing space. SWYN includes social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg etc. Some email pundits believe that SWYN is slowly but surely putting an end to forward-to-a-friend (FTAF) functionality in email. I don't believe this is the case."
Click here to read the entire post Is Share-With-Your-Network Killing Forward-To-A-Friend? on

No Payments, Budget Watching And Other Email Trends

This holiday season, as the economy tries to make a comeback and people will be watching their wallets closely, many shoppers will be looking for deals or delayed payment options. The good news is that many retailers will be offering a variety of deals.  We are already seeing this in email.

Here is an example of a header image used in a recent Spiegel email.  This offers no payments until January 2010.

Sephora does something for the shrewd shopper who does not want to spend a mint but still wants a quality product.  Sephora bundles products together and offers a reasonable price.  This is something that we will be seeing more and more of as the holiday season approaches.

The Subject Line for this email is: Value-packed kits for $40 - or less
I like the creative  RoadRunnerSports has below.  The subscriber is asked to only pick one prize.  This also ties in with International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  From what I can tell, all three "prizes" linked to the same page.  This is a fun creative that is memorable.

The Subject Line for this email is:  You Have 24 Hours to Claim Yer Pirate Treasure Inside!

What trends do you see in email right now? How do you think Holiday 2009 will do for retailers? want to know your opinion!

Are You An Email Addict?

According to a 2008 AOL survey of 4,000 e-mail users in the United States, 46% were "hooked" on e-mail. Nearly 60% of everyone surveyed checked e-mail in the bathroom, 15% checked it in church, and 11% had hidden the fact that they were checking it from a spouse or other family member.

You can view the study Death by Information Overload, Harvard Business Review, September 2009, by clicking here.

Now if I can only find a twelve step program I can participate in online...

Are you an email addict?  Share your story.

Short Subject Lines Are Hot This Holiday Season

A new trend that will be used more and more this holiday season is short subject lines.  A recent study found that in all verticals, except Consumer Products and Services, saw the highest open rated with subject lines less than 25 characters.  We are already seeing this trend.  One though on short subject lines is that the more white space to the right of the subject line, the more attention is drawn to the email and the more likely that it will be opened.  The jury is still out to see if this is true

Which subject lines stand out the most in this in box snapshot?

Here are some short subject lines I saw this week:

Sender –

Subject Line – Kingston Blowout
Sender –

Subject Line – Seriously – Save $10 today
Sender – Office Depot

Subject Line – HALF-OFF SALE
Sender –

Subject Line – These Boots
Sender –

Subject Line – See what's new in Sale!
Sender – Sephora

Subject Line – 4 HR BARGAIN BLITZ
Sender –

Subject Line – Get ripped!
Sender – Abercrombie & Fitch

What do you think about short subject lines?  Do you have any examples?  Have you seen this trend? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment.

Doing What Is Right Actually Pays Off

"Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it."
~ David Starr Jordan, The Philosophy of Despair

Any reasonably responsible email marketer knows that he or she should, at the bare minimum, follow CAN-SPAM regulations when sending email marketing messages. But, as it turns out, following this and other best practices does pay off in the long run. MarketingSherpa recently published a report called "Email Performance Since 2001," tracing the relationship between email marketing best practices and email success. In one form or another, MarketingSherpa has asked the basic question about how well email marketing has performed since their first survey in 2001.

This chart highlights performance trends when following Best Practices and when Deviating From Best Practices. The Y Axis shows the efficiency of the email marketing endeavor. The X Axis displays the year.

Doing What Is Right Actually Pays Off in Email Marketing
What it all means:

  • In 2001, it was easier to get opt-ins than it is now. “Relevance” wasn’t our ad nauseum catchword yet, and simply throwing up an email capture form on a website would yield names.
  • Over time, we see that as email matured, inboxes filled up and other media worked their way into business and personal life. Given the competition for attention, email has held up remarkably well, especially given its yearly obituary at the hands of the latest, greatest marketing tactic.
  • In 2004 we see where deviating from best practices really began to negatively affect the bottom line. At this point, it was no longer a walk in the park to acquire and retain subscribers; marketers found that they had to provide value, think about relevance and pay careful attention to their email programs to see continued success.
  • Every year since 2004 the success gap has grown between those who follow best practices and those who don’t. Those who fit MarketingSherpa’s ‘best practices’ model (a definition which evolved over the years based on tracked metrics) report stable or improving impact for email, while those still batching and blasting are seeing diminishing returns.
There are numerous best practices in email. This report underscores the value in maintaining these best practices and keeping up with the latest trends in email marketing.

Emails and Thoughts From The Past Week : Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Minnesota Vikings, plus more - September 8th to September 14th, 2009

Below are some NOTEWORTHY EMAILS from my inbox this past week. Enjoy!

Home Shopping Network, like many retailers, is sending NFL football related emails with specific messaging and products related to the Minnesota Vikings. Jumping on the Brett Favre bandwagon, while he is still hot and in the news, is a great idea to move some Favre and Vikings related product. Hopefully Favre will stay on the team and all of this product will not go to waste. We would hate to see something similar to the Matt "Vick" Leinart doll...

brett favre, vikings, email newspapers, international credit cards, matt vick leinart doll,  people of walmart, 09/09/09, hsn emailBanana Republic does a nice job with a 09/09/09 related email. Using this unique date to create a unique email is a great idea. They had a 9 hour only sale that ended at 9 PM. In the email version they sent the date displayed using an animated.gif. NICE!

brett favre, vikings, email newspapers, international credit cards, matt vick leinart doll,  people of walmart, 09/09/09, hsn emailRalph Lauren does something unique in the image below thier main image. They promote the payment methods they excpet including what International Credit Cards.
brett favre, vikings, email newspapers, international credit cards, matt vick leinart doll,  people of walmart, 09/09/09, hsn emailClicking the image links you to the Frequently Asked Questions, Payment Methods page Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 . You are then able to view all the Countries who credit cards they accept. This is a great touch for those traveling internatianly and would like to visit a Ralph Lauren store, or for those from another country who would like to purchase in the U.S. Sometimes it is little things that this that can make a big difference.
brett favre, vikings, email newspapers, international credit cards, matt vick leinart doll,  people of walmart, 09/09/09, hsn emailThis is the second week in a row that I have seen a retailer use a faux newspaer image in an email. Last week R0adrunner Sports did this. This week we see this from Tiger Direct. It is engaging and interesting.

The subject line for this email is:
Just Arrived: New Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs & First Ever Core i5 PC Kit...Full Story Inside

brett favre, vikings, email newspapers, international credit cards, matt vick leinart doll,  people of walmart, 09/09/09, hsn email

UPDATE: Here Is The Latest On The New Maine Law That Bans Sending Email Marketing Messages To Anyone Under 18 Without Parental Consent

Please click here to view the original post, New Maine Law Bans Sending Email Marketing Messages To Anyone Under 18 Without Parental Consent, on this topic.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by media groups and Web companies challenging a controversial new privacy law.

Mills argues that the court should not get involved because she has no plans to prosecute companies for violating the measure. "The attorney general has publicly stated, and hereby confirms, that she will not enforce this law, to which the governor concurs," her office wrote in papers filed Thursday with the federal district court in Maine. "It is well-established that a federal court has no jurisdiction over a challenge to a state statute when there is no credible risk of enforcement."

The new law, slated to take effect Sept. 12, would bar companies from collecting personal information or health-related information from minors under 18 without their parents' consent. The measure also prohibits companies from selling or transferring health information about minors that identifies them, regardless of how the data was collected.

A coalition of media organizations including the Maine Press Association, and Web companies including AOL, Yahoo and eBay, recently asked the court to issue an injunction against the measure.

They contend that the law would violate their First Amendment right to publish newsworthy information about teens, as well as restricting teens' right to receive information. The Web companies also say the measure would require them to block teens from their sites.

The measure, signed by Maine Governor John Baldacci in June, sailed through the state legislature with no opposition -- apparently because watchdogs lost sight of the bill.

Although Mills has no plans to carry out the law, opponents say they are seeking an injunction because the measure also allows private parties to sue for $250 damages per violation. But Mills says the case should nonetheless be dismissed. "Essentially, the courts do not require state officials to defend against theoretical lawsuits that might be brought by private parties against private parties," her office argues.

You can learn more by clicking here.


Yesterday I received an email marked urgent from a trusted business associate. The subject line was FW: VERY IMPORTANT. This person hardly ever used the High Importance exclamation point in emails and if something was marked as important – it was life threatening. I was a bit nervous as I opened the email.

Once I opened the email I had to smile. It was a doom and gloom message about a horrible computer virus that was on its way. The virus “burns the whole hard disc C of your computer…and destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.” After a quick internet search I found oodles of postings about this message and how it was, in fact, a hoax.

As email marketers we need to be weary and aware of these types of illegitimate, viral messages. The claims of a horrible virus might not be true, but the fear email recipients feel is real. Messages like this can compromise legitimate email messages. Also, many of these hoax messages single out a specific company. The company named is not involved with this message. They are, in fact, a victim.

One takeaway we can gleam from this fraudulent message is that email marketers need to be sensitive and aware of recipients email fears. There are bad people out there sending bad email messages.

- What would you do if your company was named in a hoax email?
- What actions, if any, should y
ou take with your subscribers?

Just because we know this message is not legit, does not mean we can assume others who received it also know it is false.

Here is the email I received:

Emails and Thoughts From The Past Week : All, Banana Republic, Rachel Ray, plus more - September 1st to September 7th, 2009

Below are some NOTEWORTHY EMAILS from my inbox this past week. Enjoy!

All has a busy, but captivating creative. I especially like the Fun Facts. This is a great way to entice a subscriber to click. They might learn something and purchase something. Win-Win!

animated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email,All Posters also uses a cool animated gif.

animated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email,Here is an interesting email I saw from Banana Republic. I am sure this will drive store traffic.

I am curious to know how they generated the unique bar codes. I assume they are unique. But they could have only sent a few select winners a unique code and everyone else is the same code.
animated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email, rachel ray
The next two emails are good examples of featuring one product for the entire email. and Williams-Sonoma both did this this week. This strategy is useful if you need to move a certain product, would like to announce a new product, or would like to change up your creative to stand out a bit.

animated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email, rachel rayanimated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email, rachel rayRoadrunner Sports does something different by running a letter in their email. This looks kind of cheesey with with Extra! Extra! tab, but I think this is the point. I like it!

animated gif, email marketing, newspaper in email, rachel ray

Subject Line Testing in Email: Just Do It!

An important key to email marketing success is testing. One of the most important components of a campaign to test is the subject line. The subject line is the teaser copy that entices the recipient to open your Email.
Keep in mind:
- Best-in-breed email programs consistently test their subject lines.
- It is important to verify your past findings and current theories about subject lines instead of making assumptions.
-If you can increase your open rates even slightly by optimizing your subject lines, the potential to increase click and transaction rates increases.

Here are some Subject Line Do’s and Don’ts.

  • Be clear and direct.
  • Be short – keep subject lines to 50 characters or less.
  • Do tell subscribers what’s new.
  • Remind subscribers when sales/events are ending.
  • Try wistful and fun subject lines. (But test on sale emails)
  • Test personalization, symbols (%, $) and capital letters. Also, I have seen pipes used successfully.
  • set your subscribers' expectations during the opt-in process about what kinds of emails they'll be receiving.
  • Be deceptive.
  • Be too long.
  • Deviate from your brand voice too much.
  • Scream (use words in all CAPITAL LETTERS).
  • Test once and then make long term decisions.
  • Be afraid to have fun!
  • Don't confuse newsletters with promotions. If your email is a newsletter, put the name and issue of the newsletter in your subject line. If your email is a special promotion, tell the subscriber what's inside. Either way, don't write your subject lines like advertisements.
Here are some Subject Line Testing – Test Scenarios
-Short versus Long.
-Mention a product type (shoes, shorts, cars, candy).
-Mention of Brand or style type advertised (Nike, Cargo Pants, Lexus, Jolly Ranchers).
-Use and placement of Free Shipping, % or $ Offer.
-Use of language indicating urgency (limited time sale, 3 days only, etc.).
-Use of language evoking curiosity or inspiration.
-Use First name personalization
-Include the company name.
-Use capitalization appropriately.

Here is a sample Subject Line test scena
A 10-10-80 split was used in this test.
  1. - 10% of the subscriber list received Subject Line 1.
  2. - 10% of the subscriber list received Subject Line 2.
  3. - 80% of the subscriber list received the winning Subject Line. In this case the winner was Subject Line 2.
Subject Line 1 - Free Shipping this Easter - Offer Code Inside (13% open rate)
Subject Line 2 - Free Shipping - Happy Easter (16.6% open rate)

The website and email marketing provider MailChimp looked at some of its clients highest performing and lowest performing subject lines.

MailChimp said that people who are new to email marketing often ask them, "How should I write my subject lines so that more recipients will open my emails?"

In order to answer that question, MailChimp recently analyzed over 40 million emails sent from customers through MailChimp. They found the subject lines with the highest open rates and the ones with the lowest open rates. Then they pulled 20 from each pile and put their subject lines in a side-by-side comparison. The wining or highest open rates were in the range of 60%-87%, while the losing or lowest performers fell in the dismal 1%-14% range.

Here are the results:

Do you see a pattern in the results?

On the winning side, you'll notice the subject lines are pretty straightforward. They're not very salesy or pushy. On the losing side however, notice how the subject lines read like headlines from advertisements you would see in the Sunday paper. They might look more creative but their open rates are horrible. It's as if those email marketers assumed that subject lines have to jump off the screen and GRAB THE READER'S ATTENTION! Unfortunately, most people get so much junk mail in their inbox, anything that even hints of spam gets removed immediately.

In this test case it looks like the best subject lines simply described the content of the email. It is that simple.

If you are having a difficult time deciding what subject lines to create look at the content of the email. Also, use your websites web analytic data. You might be able to use keywords searched on your site and keywords used to send visitors to your site.

When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what's inside, and the worst subject lines sell what's inside. But don’t take my word for it – You need to Test, Test, Test this for yourself.