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Mobile Sign-Up in Direct Mail

Here is a direct mail example from Dick's Sporting Goods where they promote their social media and Mobile Sign-up.  This is a great example of using direct mail to promote online endeavors.

Do you have other examples?
What has worked and not worked for you?
Do you use mobile for your marketing Campaigns?

Transactional Emails Can Provide Big Returns

A transactional email is an email that is sent in response to an action. The most common types of transactional emails are order confirmations, ship confirmations, and order tracking emails. Transactional emails are generally high performers. On average they have seven times the open rate and four times the click rate when compared to bulk email. Also, transaction rates (i.e. purchases) can be four to eight times higher in transaction emails compared to bulk emails.

Here are a few reasons why these types of emails perform so well are:

  • Transitional emails are sent to already engaged (purchasers) email addresses.
  • The recipients in most cases are expecting an email after a transaction and then interact with it once it arrives.
  • Since the recipients are already engaged with your brand, they have a higher chance of making another purchase from the transactional email.
10 Transactional Email Best Practices:
  1. Say "Thank You" in the email
  2. Send optimized transactional emails using HTML
  3. Include your branding
  4. Include dynamic product cross-sells using product recommendation engines, or seasonal offers
  5. Provide a link to track order and shipping status
  6. Include some site navigation in the email creative
  7. Test the Inclusion of an offer ($ off, % off, free shipping, etc.)
  8. Include links to all of your Social Media efforts
  9. Promote email sign up
  10. Do not include an offer in the subject line or as the main message
Let me know when you are ready to begin or enhance your Transactional Emails!

Bank of America Steps It Up To Stop Spammers

It is a sad reality that there are unscrupulous folks that send spam and fishing email. Some of the most authentic looking and most dangerous spam I have seen in my in box have been from fishers trying to replicate Bank of America Emails. These fake emails usually notify me that my account has been frozen and then encourages me to click on a link or to reply with personal information.

Today I received a legitimate email from Bank of America. This email introduces updates they are making to their emails. This includes a new look, personalization, a security checkpoint, alert information and more. I am sure the flood of B of A spoofed emails has been a headache for the bank. Hopefully these changes will solve the issue and stop the spammers.

Here is the email I received from Bank of America:

Here is more on the B of A alerts:
What do you think about the changes Bank of America is making? Do you think an email redesign will slow down the spammers? What else should businesses do to stop spammers? Share your thoughts!

Email Client Market Share : Report On The Top 10 Email Clients

Fingerprint recently released a report on the top 10 email clients.

Right click the image to see a larger version.

Data was collected from 250,000,000 email recipients using the Fingerprint analysis tool. This chart shows the top 10 email clients by market share. This wasc Compiled February 24th 2010.

The Top 10 are:

Email client  (Market share)
1- Outlook (43%)
Outlook 2003 and earlier ( 34%)
Outlook 2007 (9%)
2- Hotmail  (17%)
3- Yahoo! Mail  (13%)
4- Gmail (5%)
5- Apple Mail     (4%)
6- iPhone  (4%)
7- Thunderbird      (2.4%)
8- Windows Live Mail (Desktop)                (2%)
9- AOL Mail  (1.2%)
10- Lotus Notes    (0.4%)
Others (8%)

Does anything in this list surprise you?

Email clients are recorded when images are loaded within an email. Some email clients block external images, or are not capable of displaying HTML email. That includes non-current models of Blackberry, and other mobile devices unable to view HTML email. As a result these are not tracked and do not appear in the report.

Furthermore, the report only shows the top 10 email clients detected. In total there are over 3,000 different clients. Because of this diversity we recommend analyzing your own mailing lists to gain the most accurate information, since results can vary greatly depending on your lists' demographics.

Invitations In Email: Make It Fun and to the Point

From time to time you might want to send an invitation to your subscribers. Maybe there is a private event, a new store opening, a special sale or other event that you would love your subscribers to attend.

I recently saw a great invitation email from Shutterfly.  Shutterfly uses a template very similar to personal event email invitations (namely “e-vite”) to promote their “exclusive sale”. It gives the user a more personal, special feel, just like they are being invited to a special party by their friend. Simple, personal, and straight to the point. Nice!

The Subject Line is: Feel the love. Save 20% at our invitation-only Insider Sale.

How To Get More Clicks: The Secret Revealed

Email Marketers are always trying to find ways to get openers to click their emails.
  • Does a 20% off coupon parlay more clicks than Free Shipping?
  • What day of week generates the best results?
  • What about time of day?
In a recent email Urban Outfitters took the direct route – they asked for the click.  The email below is giving their subscribers an “Exclusive First Look” at their new styles.  To seal the deal they make it clear that items are only available by clicking the main image from the email.

Giving email subscriber an exclusive look is a great way to reward them for being part of the Urban Outfitters email list.  UO makes their subscribers feel special.  This will hopefully convert non-clickers into clickers and then purchasers.

Well done.

Here is the creative.
The subject line is simply Exclusive First Look
P.S. Is it just me or do the Urban Outfitter models make you depressed?  I love the brand but whenever I see their gaunt models I wish I were able to tell them a joke to make them smile and then feed them something hearty.

How To 'Undo' A Gmail Message

The ability to "undo" an e-mail has been a little known feature of Google's e-mail service since last year. But in the past few days, it appears to have been improved.

Google Operating System, an unofficial blog that shares Google news and tips, noted this weekend that a user now has up to 30 seconds to take back an unfortunate message.

In reality, the feature doesn't actually pull back an e-mail that's already gone, it simply holds your message for 30 seconds before sending it out -- just in case you change your mind.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed Monday that the 30-second option was added early this month.

When the feature first rolled out in March 2009, you had to be super-quick to use it. It only allowed five seconds to take a message back.

Enabling the feature is a bit complicated if you're not familiar with Google Labs, the place where the company lets users test out experiments with Gmail and other Google projects.

And it's worth noting that, because it is a testing space, anything in Labs is subject to change.

But, at least for now, here's how to avoid instant e-mail remorse.

To enable 'Undo Send':

1. Log in to Gmail and go to Google Labs. If you've never gone to Labs before, click the word "more" in the very top left corner, then scroll down and click "even more."

2. In the column on the right, click "Labs." It's next to the icon of a beaker filled with green stuff.

3. Click "Gmail Labs" in the column on the right.

4. Scroll down almost all the way to the bottom until you see "Undo Send." Click "enable" and the feature is now on. Then scroll the rest of the way down and look in the bottom left corner for the "Save Changes" box. Click it.

5. Now, go back to the main Gmail page and click "Settings" in the top right. You should also see your green Labs beaker icon there now -- this will let you go straight to Labs from now on.

6. Scroll down to "Undo Send" -- it should be right above "My Picture." Your default should be set to 10 seconds. But you can use the drop-down bar to stretch that to 30 seconds.

7. Scroll down and hit "Save Changes."

8. To undo an email, just look for the box at the top of the screen that will have the words "Your message has been sent." After that, you should see the "Undo" option. Click that and you'll be sent back to the e-mail's draft form, where you'll have 30 seconds to edit or delete it before it goes out.

This is from:

Point of Sale Email Capture: A True Story

I recently decided to revisit the idea of working out.  In all honesty I have run out of excuses not to start working out.  Today's task was to purchase running shoes.  I went to my neighborhood Big-5 (Big-5 is a sporting goods store located in the Western US) and bought shoes.  During the transaction the sales person on the floor also managed to obtain my email address.

The conversation went like this:
Salesperson: Here is the size 11 you had asked for.
Me: Thanks.
Salesperson: Do you use email?
Me: Yes.
Salesperson: Would you like to sign-up for our email program and get 10% off?
Me: Sure.
He hands me a pen and a sign-up form and continues talking.
Salesperson: Email is great because we save money by sending less mailers and we can pass those savings onto our customers.  You will receive your welcome email and 10% off coupon in about 24 hours.
Me: Great.
I scribbled my email address on the form and handed it back to the salesperson.

Here is the three inch by two inch sign-up form.

Big-5 did a great job.
  • The sales person asked the right questions and provided just enough information to seal the deal.
  • He was not overbearing or annoying.
  • He had the form and a working pen at the ready.
  • He verified the email address once I gave it to him.
  • The form was clear and easy to understand.If I did not provide an email address in the store but kept the form, I could always sign-up at a later date online.
Well done!

Here is the welcome I received as promised in about 24 hours.  The Subject Line, which could be better, is Subscription Notification

Do you have any POS (Point of Sale) real-life stories?  Please share them with us!

RE: at the start of the subject line? Good idea? Bad Idea?

I recently received this question in my inbox from an reader.

"I read somewhere that the use of 'RE:' at the start of an email subject line gives the message a better chance of not being thrown in a spam filter. Is this true?"

What do you think about adding RE: to the beginning of a subject line? Is it deceptive? A good idea? Does it work?  Share your thoughts with us!

Quality Check – It's a Dirty Job But Someone's Got To Do It

As any serious marketer knows, quality checking your products is imperative.  This could be an email, a billboard, a catalog, an online advertisement or anything else that is public facing.  Quality checks are not glamorous but they are necessary.  Don’t neglect this important step!

Here is an example a friend of mine sent me.  Cutting off the tags from a recent gift from the Disney Store displayed a missed text addition.  Oops.

Here is the front of the tag – Nothing wrong here.

Here is the back – the manufacturer (or someone along the production process) neglected to add logical text to this valuable product space.

Do you have any other examples of marketing mistakes? If so, please share them with us!

Give Your Emails Some Personality

For many email marketers the number one goal of an email is to generate revenue.  If an email does not perform, an opportunity can be lost.  This is great – but can also lead to stagnant emails.  Once in a while it is nice to mix things up.  

Send an email that is not about generating sales but about building relationships, passing along a funny story, or telling your subscribers more about who you are as a company, as an email marketer, and as a person.

Your subscribers might be interested in hearing more about your employees, the city your business is in, about the models you use in your emails etc.  Give them something to talk about.

Here are two great examples.  

The first is from Eddie Bauer.  They introduce their company dog, Eddie, and talk all about him on their Facebook page.

The second is from  This email is all about the company and includes pictures.
The Subject Line of this email is simply Photos of us.

Do you have any examples of emails that take a break from marketing and send a new message?  What are your thoughts on emails like this?

Ready, Set...Reactivate!

It is no secret that email marketing lists can get stagnant.  Your subscribers are not responding to your  emails at the rate you would like and you are not sure what to do. 

The answer is run a reactivation campaign. You can reactivate your inactive subscribers!

Here are some interesting reactivation related stats, tips and tricks:

1. More than 80% of email marketers send the same content to all subscribers.
HINT: Use creative segmentation to send your subscribers what they like at the cadence they like.

2. 30-60% of most subscriber lists are inactive.
HINT: Be sure to identify your inactives and reactivate them.

3. Nearly 30% of most subscriber lists re-engage during the holiday season.

4. Not all marketers define inactivity based on the same criteria. 
HINT: Create an inactive definition for your email list and test it frequently.

5. We Miss You campaigns have proven to be effective in reactivating recently lapsed buyers.  Messaging Tactics for inactives also include Aggressive/Unconventional Subject Lines, Aggressive Offers & Creative Treatments, Reactivation Series, Polls or Surveys and Changes in Frequency.

6. Include click data into your strategy to incorporate recommended items based on click inference into the content.

7. Define and analyze your Inactive subscribers to gain an understanding of their past behavior with your program (especially for any seasonal purchase behavior).

8. Re-Integrate reactivated subscribers back into the email message stream.

9. Don't let subscribers become inactive in the first place– create lifecycle messaging.

10. Be relevant – keep subscribers engaged from the start of the customer journey.

Here are some reactivation creative examples:

Share your reactivation stories with us!  What has and has not worked in your reactivation campaigns?

Email Marketing: There Is Some Good Right?

Email Marketing is typically not a glamorous or an overly useful endeavor in the larger scheme of world events. It's not like email marketers are saving lives, curing diseases, or solving world problems. The Nobel Prize or a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame will never be given out for the best email marketing campaign. However, there is some good that email marketing does on a local and global level. The next time you are at a social event and someone asks you what you do, you can stand proud and announce “I am an email marketer!”

Five good things about email marketing:
  1. Emails bridge the world. You send an email to your friend in Prague or to the guy down the street about the latest Nordstrom sale without having to worry about your phone call waking him up or having an uncomfortable silence. You can share your thoughts with anyone anywhere without having to actually talk to them. Brilliant!
  2. Email raises awareness and support for worthwhile events and organization. Many not-for-profits and other do-gooders utilize email to get their message out in force.
  3. Email saves trees. Please, don’t print emails unless you need to.
  4. Email is supportive and complimentary to social media and helps advance new technology. Many pundits feel that social media will destroy email. I disagree. Email and Social Media works well together much like peanut butter and jelly, bagels and cream cheese, and Bert and Ernie.
  5. Email is everywhere! Try to name one person who you know that does not have an email address. Off the top of my head I can only name one – but she is only eighteen months young!  (By the way, I can name three adults who are not on Facebook.  Facebook, and other social media sites, will not be the end of email.  Hey, you need an email address to log in to Facebook right?)

Top-Performing Advertising Channels

In a recent survey, marketing executives reported that email is the strongest-performing advertising channel. Behind Email was Search, Offline, Affiliate Marketing, Display, Direct Mail, Social Media and Mobile.

 This data is from Datran Media's 4th Annual Marketing & Media Survey, 2010.

Share your thoughts on what will be the next big marketing channel.   Can Social Media be number one in the future?

Bridging the Offline/Online Experience

Retailers who have brick-and-mortar locations and an online presence frequently struggle on how to bridge these two unique, but vital, customer touch points.

Some of the Offline/Online struggles and questions are:
  • What are the best ways to promote in-store email sign-up?
  • How do we promote our stores in email?
  • How do we train our store associates to ask for email addresses?
  • Will promoting online over in-store result in lower performing stores and the cannibalization of our customer base?
Here is a good example of an email that World Market sent after an in-store email sign-up.  This email provides the best of both worlds. It adds the person to the email marketing list, promotes the benefits of online shopping, and also drives the customer back to the store with an in-store only offer.

What are some solutions you have found to the Offline/Online struggle? 
Please share your thoughts and ideas with us.

Yahoo! Mail Is Turning Links Blue By Default: Get The Fix

There is a new issue occurring in Yahoo! Mail.

What's happening
In some cases Yahoo! Mail is turning links blue by default

The solution
The workaround is to overwrite the Yahoo style by declaring it with an embedded style within the section like this:

Here is an example of the pesky blue links:

Here this is fixed:

Here is an example of how to fix this:

< a href=" http://%%track%%/dyn598" style="padding:0 8px 0 16px; color:#FFFFFF;" title="Mirrors" target="_blank" >Mirrors< /a >

Updated with Changes:
< a href="http://%%track%%/dyn598" style="padding:0 8px 0 16px; color:#FFFFFF;" title="Mirrors" target="_blank" >< span style="color:#FFFFFF" >Mirrors< /span >< /a >Mirrors

This example will set all links as black:
   < style type="text/css" >
    .yshortcuts { color:#000000; }< /style >  

If you need to change more than one link color you will need to create classes.

In this example there is a class created for the links in the header and for the links in the footer.

.header .yshortcuts { color:#666666; }
.footer .yshortcuts { color:#FFFFFF; }

The class name would need to be added to the table tag or tag that contains the links.

Here is an example of the header class added to the table tag.

< table width="619" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="header" >

If there is text that is being highlighted as a popular search term by Yahoo! you can place an < a > tag around it to stop the underlining and blue box.

Here is an example of how you can do this:

< a style="color:#000000; text-decoration:none;" >System text copy that is being underlined by Yahoo!.< /a>

 Please note: I added spaces before each < > in the above code. This is so the code displays correctly in this post. Remove the erroneous spaces when you try this in your Emails HTML.

As always, be sure to test your mailing after adding these snippets of code to ensure that it isn't causing any new breaks in other mail clients. Let me know if this update works for you. 

Header Redesign: Simple Changes Can Make Big Differences

Header text is a must have best practice for any serious email marketer. This text will display in an email even when images are blocked and formatting is not quite right. This actionable area, at a minimum, should deliver the point of the email and have a link to the online version. Header text should be clear, clean and actionable.

The specialty kitchenware retailer and culinary mecca, Sur La Table, recently updated their email header text. The new text not only follows header text best practices, but it also conserves precious email real-estate, and looks great.

Here is the updated header text. Notice the links are all click-able and are in one line at the top of the email.
Here is the original header text. The text is not all click-able, is a bit long-winded, and takes up valuable, above the fold, email real-estate.

What do you think about these updates? Have you updated your header text? Please share your experiences and thoughts with us!

When Your From is Done: Updating Your From AddressPart II

In March 2010, I had a similar article to this about updating a From address. Here is another example of updating ones From address. 

There comes a time in most email marketer’s life that the email address he or she sends from needs to be changed.  This change might be warranted because of an IP update, a change to a new email marketing service provider, a hosting update, for ascetic purposes, or other reasons.

When a change like this must be made, what should be done? Two of the most critical goals are, one, to do your best to be sure deliverability does not suffer when the new email address is used and, two, that subscribers recognize that the email is from you and do not hit the spam button.  After a thorough white listing process what’s next?  Do you alert your subscribers about the new email address, if so how? recently tackled this issue.  In their case they were updating their ‘from’ email address,, to the easier to digest

This retailer of all things baby sent an email to their subscribers explaining that to better serve them they are making some ‘technical upgrades’ to their website including changing the address that they send email from.  The message requests that the subscriber does one of three things.

1. Right click on the from address with the email, select "add to contacts."
2. Right click on the message before opening it, select "add to contacts" or "add to people I know.
3. Click "add to address book" from within the email next to the from address.

This message is clear, simple, and sincerer.

One update that should make to their creative, however, is add the new email address to the header of the email.  Here is a good example from Current Catalog.

This way the subscribers will be more conscious of the change since it is in the top of the creative and top-of-mind.

Here is the creative from  The subject line is: We're updating our email address‏

Here is another example. This one is from Kenneth Cole.
The subject line is: Add our new email to your address book

Two Email Tools That Every Marketer Needs

I found two great email marketing tools on Email  These will come in handy for anyone who works with email marketing data and email addresses. 

The first is an email validation tool.
The second is an an email extractor tool.

Email Validation tool
This tells if an email address is real.

Email Extractor Tool
This does lots of data organizing and extracting.  Let's say your client sends text and emails combined and wants us to pull out the emails.  This will do that.

Features also include:
  1.    Extract emails without repeating the same email
  2.    Display total extracted emails
  3.    Select different separator for each email (or enter your own)
  4.    Group emails by number specified by you. Each group is separated by new line.
  5.    Option to sort emails alphabetically
  6.    Option to extract or exclude email containing only certain string
  7.    Option to extract web addresses instead of email addresses

How will you use these tools?  What other email tools do you use?  What other email tools do you wish you had?

Adding Facebook Like To Email - The Secret Is Out

A recent hot topic in Email Marketing has been adding the Facebook Like icon and functionality to email. 

Here is how this works:

1-They can select the icon. This will take them to a new URL where the Like is registered.

2- They can select the icon. This will take them to a new URL where the Facebook Like is registered.

The simplest way and the one most likely to work for most users is to use the following code.

1. Change the URL to the page you want ‘liked’
2. Change the img location and upload your likebutton image.

This is still a new tool.  Lookout for enhancements and feature updates.  
Please email me if you would like a text version of this code.

Data Append Mishap

I am a fan of quality steak and well run email data appends.  In this example the high end steakhouse, Fleming's, is batting.500.  They serve some of the best steaks in the world and unfortunately had a misstep in a recent data append.

I have been a Fleming's email subscriber for some time. I diligently open each email looking for the next delicious deal. Recently I received an email from Fleming's with the subject line: Email Communications from Fleming's. Interesting, I thought.  When I opened the email I instantly recognized this as an email append message.  I was being auto opted in to receive emails from Fleming's even though I was already an active subscriber. Oops...

This screen shot shows the append email, and past emails I have received.  As you can see I regularly receive their emails.

How did this happen?  My guess is that they ran a data append, acquired my email address from some database, but neglected to exclude already subscribed email addresses from their final list.  They not only emailed subscribers but paid someone for this match!  Double ouch.

For those who do not know an email data append is typically ran like this:  You take non-email address customer data (name, address etc.) and run this against a database looking to match an email address.  Once you acquire an email address you send an email notifying the person that you are opting them into your email list because you have a past relationship with them. This newly acquired subscriber must be given the option to opt out in the append email.

One positive, however, is that the email append creative Fleming’s used is really sharp.  They explained why I was receiving the email, provided ample ways to opt-out, and also told me more about who they are and what they offer their customers

Email Deliverability tougher in US than Europe

ReturnPath recently released their 2009 Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report.

Some Key Findings Are:
  • E-mail deliverability varies by international region, with European marketers enjoying the best chances of reaching consumers' inboxes.
  • In the second half of 2009, only 80.1% of permission-based commercial e-mail in the US and Canada was delivered to the inbox. This represents a slight increase from the first half of the year.
  • The percentage of mail delivered to the "junk" or "bulk" e-mail folders remained flat at 3% in the July-to-December time period for the United States and Canada. During the second half of 2009, 16% of e-mail messages was not delivered at all, a slight decrease from earlier in the year.
  • Commercial European mailers saw a more favorable picture, with 85% of e-mail delivered to the inbox.
  • In Europe, only 3.6% of permission-based e-mail was sent to "junk" or "bulk" e-mail folders, while another 11% was missing or not delivered at all.
What is the difference between North America and Europe?
According to George Bilbrey, president of Return Path, the difference between the US and Europe is due to ISPs' approach to filtering
"North American ISPs tend to use reputation more when deciding if an e-mail gets delivered, and European ISPs do much more content delivery filtering."
Asia Pacific outperformed both Europe and North America with 86.9% inbox placement, only 3% of e-mail sent to the bulk folder, and only 10.7% missing. Interestingly, in China, e-mails were more likely to get delivered if they were sent from within the country.

Have you seen your delivery rates change? Do you email more than one country? Do the rates vary based on country or region?  Share your thoughts!

Product Ratings and Reviews: A Recipe For Success

Product ratings and reviews are a powerful and proven tool to boost  sales, build brand loyalty, gain valuable insight into your customers and products, improve your organization, and to generate buzz about your products, service, and website. This all sounds fantastic, but...
  • How is this done?
  • What is the best way to run a ratings and review program?
  • What are some pitfalls and best practices?
  • Where do I begin?
Review requests are typically sent to purchasers via email after a set amount of time following the purchase. One week after delivery is a good rule of thumb for marketers to use — but your wait time can vary based on your sales cycle. Be sure to account for shipping times and delays prior sending the review request, and keep in mind that it would not be good if the request was sent prior to the customer receiving the product or having time to adequately enjoy or use the product. Many email service providers, eCommerce solutions and product review vendors can automate the entire email and review process. I recommend jumping on this opportunity if it is available to you.

Here are some of the key components to a seamless review process.
  1. Be sure you have a good looking email review request creative. List the product name (and have a picture, if possible).  Ask for the customer’s feedback, address the customer by first name, list the purchase date, and present an offer or sweepstakes for completing the review.  Be sure to have links to your website and other eCommerce sites. Don't miss this opportunity to make another sale.  Remember, you are emailing someone who recently made a purchase from you.  They could very well purchase again from this email.
  2. Create a clear and easy flowing review process.  Don't make the reviewer guess what they need to do next in the review process.  Also, do not make this too time consuming.
  3. Make the review submit button clear and obvious.    
  4. Give the reviewer the ability to view and edit his or her review prior to it being posted.
  5. Once the review is posted send a follow-up email to the reviewer letting him or her know that the review was successfully submitted, thanking the customer for the review, where the review is (they might want to tweet it to their friends), how to edit or remove the review, the details of any offer or sweepstakes for making the review, and what to do if you never made a review and someone else has submitted this in your name.
  6. Analyze  reviews once they have been posted.  If someone gives you a rave review, blog about this, tweet this, highlight this in one of your marketing emails.  Tell the whole world how great your customers say you are.  Be equally as proactive if you receive a bad or scathing review.  Try to solve the reviewer's problems or issues.  The bottom line is to take the good, bad, and indifferent reviews and work to make your products and business a better place and have the best customer experience as possible.
    Here is a real life review experience I recently had with ratings and reviews.  This is a review request for a picnic table I recently purchased. Take special note to the flow of the review process.  This entire process, from when I first opened the initial email to the Thank You For Making a Review email, was about four minutes.

    Step 1: The Request To Review
    I received the request for a review. The Subject Line and From address was very clear.

    Here is the email creative.  Notice that it lists the website I purchased from, uses my First and Last Name, has an image of the product, the product name, there is an offer and the link to write the review and the product name is in blue while the rest of the text is black.  This is very clear, concise and well done.

    Step 2: The Review Process
    Once I clicked the Write A Review link from the email, I was sent to the review page.  This page was branded with the companies navigation bars (just in case I wanted to make another purchase) and the review process was clear.  Notice how the item I purchased is again listed and contains a picture.

    Here are the categories in the review page.

    - Review Headline
    - Rating (One to Five stars)
    - Pros
    Here are the Pro category options. I could also add my own.
    Attractive Design, Cleans Easily, Comfortable, Easy To Assemble, Weather Proof, Well Constructed
    - Cons
    Here are the Con category options. I could also add my own.
    Difficult To Store, Not Weather Proof, Poorly Made, Tough To Assemble, Unattractive Design
    - Best uses
    Here are the Best uses category options. I could also add my own.
    Decks, Lawns, Patios, Porch, Relaxing, Entertaining
    - Describe Yourself
    Budget Shopper, Midrange Shopper, High-end Shopper
    - Primary Use
    Business, Personal
    - Comments
    - Bottom Line
    Yes, I would recommend this to a friend, No, I would not recommend this to a friend
    - Nickname
    - Location
    - Add images or video to the review
    - Preview and then submit

    Step 3: Thank You Email

    Within a few seconds of submitting my review I received a Product Review Notification email.

    This was an all text email that Thanked me for submitting my review by my first name and location, displayed the review, listed a link to update the review, and a link to remove the review.

    The only information that was missing in this email is how the drawing for the $100 gift card works. This was the offer listed in the Request To Review email.

    Suspend Your Email Subscription

    You are excited about an upcoming vacation or trip. Your subscribe to a million different email lists related to travel. Airlines, cruise ships, travel destinations etc. Then your trip is canceled or delayed. Boo Hoo.

    Now you have three email options –
    1. Ignore the travel emails in your inbox and become inactive.
    2. Go through the tedious unsububscribe process or simply hit spam on all the emails that you signed up for and no longer want.
    3. Periodically open the emails and dream about the vacation that might not happen.
    Recently I saw an unsubscribe page from a company called Vacations To Go that offers a nice forth options for the delayed traveler. They offer an option to suspend your current subscription and then choose a month when the subscription will restart. Vacations To Go also offers a frequency option of once a week, once a month, and every two months. This is smart – especially in the fickle and highly competitive travel industry.

    Here is the opt out/out down page from Vacations To Go:

    What other creative opt downs have you seen?

    Is Email Dying?

    For some reason people are getting more and more concerned that email is slowly but surely going away.  Some feel that social networking sites and text messaging will completely replace email.  This is simply not the case.  Email is here to stay.  Here is why.

    10 Reasons Why Email Is Not Dying
    1. People still send hand-written letters via snail mail. They could easily  make a phone call, send an email, text message, or status update.  Email is familiar and useful.
    2. Nearly all sites on the web that require registration require an email address.
    3. Email notifies you of updates from social networks.
    4. There is not any evidence yet that Google Wave really is the next big thing and will catch on a large scale. Plus you need an email address to sign up for Google Wave.
    5.  Email is universal, and social networks are not. Nearly everybody on the web has an email address. Also, most places of employment give employees email addresses. Meanwhile, a great deal of employers are banning workers from accessing social networks while on the job.
    6. There are plenty of people who have no interest in joining social networks. Frequent news stories about security, privacy, and reputation issues do not help convince them.
    7. Email is still improving and evolving. It hasn't screeched to a halt with the rise of social media. There is still innovation going on, and integration with social media. Email and social media complement each other. They do not rely on each other.
    8. Even social networks themselves recognize the importance of email. Never mind that they update users about community-driven happenings via email. Recently MySpace launched its own email service
    9. More social media use means more email use.  The people consuming the largest amount of social media are also the people consuming the largest amount of email.
    10. As far as marketing is concerned, email is doing pretty well, as many companies continue to struggle to find the right social media strategy to suit their needs.
    What are your thoughts on the longevity of email?  

    Deliverability Update (and maybe a Game Changer): Yahoo!, Gmail and others create new commercial email folders

    Yahoo!, Gmail and other email providers have started moving commercial email into separate non-Inbox folders, even organizing it by categories such as ‘shopping’, ‘travel’ and ‘finance’. 

    This means that by default, email will no longer be delivered to the Inbox at those domains.  Some good news is that it appears when this occurs, it will also no longer go to the ‘spam’ folder either.  There also does not appear to be a whitelist workaround except for address book entries, not even for SenderScoreCertified or Goodmail Certified Email senders.

    Does this mean the end of all of our deliverability problems?  Will it dramatically decrease domain performance to those email providers?    I can’t say now, but we’ve begun tracking it more closely and you should as well.  

    What do you think about this technology?

    Here's the screen shot from my Yahoo! account showing the new ‘Shopping’ folder:

    This is an application developed by OtherInbox that users have to download to ‘sort’ their email.  It’s available only for Yahoo! And Gmail right now, but the other webmail and software providers will get added soon.  It doesn’t seem to catch ‘all’ commercial email yet, but the vast majority is identified and moved and I have verified clients who were in the Spam folder also got moved to the right commercial folder.

    More details on this application can be found here.

    Yahoo! describes and promotes it here.

    It's important to remember that since it’s an application, it requires users to agree to separate terms.  As a result, it won’t reach critical mass anytime soon.

    REPORT: Google share of searches at 72 percent for May 2010. Beats Yahoo!

    Experian Hitwise announced that Google accounted for 72.17 percent of all U.S. searches conducted in the four weeks ending May 29, 2010. Yahoo! Search, Bing and Ask received 14.43 percent, 9.23 percent and 2.14 percent, respectively.

    The remaining 74 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis Tool accounted for 2.03 percent of U.S. searches.

    Click Here to View the Entire Report.

    Grow List Via Automatic Opt-In: Is this a Good or Bad Idea?

    Email Marketers are always trying to find new and effective ways to grow their email list.  This can include noble and unscrupulous tactics.  One tactic I have noticed more and more is having an automatic email opt-in at purchase.  

    It is a great practice to have an email sign-up box at checkout.  It is an acceptable best practice to have this sign-up box pre checked.  But now purchasers are being opted-in without even seeing a check box.  This is called an automatic opt-in.

    The fact is that the check box can be removed and still CAN- SPAM compliant.  I have seen some retailers experience a 25% or more increase in email sign-ups from checkout.  These are already engaged customers.  Many of them might want to receive email from you.  But many of these new subscribers might not expect to be added to your list.

    You will want to check with your internal legal and privacy council before making this live on your site. Also, you will probably need to make a change or revisit your privacy policy. Expect slight increase in opt-out from initial welcome email (you do have a Welcome email, right?).

    So the question is: Is Growing Your Email List Via Automatic Opt-In a Good or Bad Idea?  

    Share your thoughts with us.

    Here is an example of a common checkout page.  In this case the email sign-up box is pre-checked.

    Here is the same checkout page with an auto opt-in. There is not an email box at all. But once you enter your email address in the checkout form (anywhere on the form) you are opting-in to receive email.  This is not a question of legality but a question of good business practices.

    A Mysterious New Trend In Email Marketing

    Games of chance, and the allure of winning big, have captivated humans for as far back as anyone can remember.  From the infamous, and often crooked, shell game to making it big on Wheel of Fortune, people love to take risks with the hope of a big reward.

    I have noticed a similar big payoff reward in email marketing involving mystery savings. The idea is simple.  Offer your subscribers the chance to win big savings, cash, or prizes. All they need to do is click a link, go to a store with a code, or enter a code a checkout.  The catch is that only a small percentage of the recipients will be a big winner.

    Below are a few email creative examples utilizing this idea.  There are a variety of ways that a campaign like this can be run. One way is to break up your subscriber list and send each segment a different offer.  You could send 50% of your list the worse offer, 30% the second worse, 20% the next best, and 10% the best offer.  The segmentation on this type of campaign is almost limitless. Have fun and take a chance on this type of email campaign! Let us know your thoughts and experiences with mystery savings emails.