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Case Study: Launching a New Product with Campaign Monitor

Today we chat with Garrett Dimon, the super talented interface designer behind the just launched…

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Manton Reece Talks Email Marketing with Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is targeted quite narrowly at web designers, something that came about because Freshview was originally a web design agency. There’s a big skills cross over between designers and developers though, and we know a lot of you guys are doing a bit of both. So recently, when we found out that independent Mac developer Manton Reece was using Campaign Monitor to send an email newsletter, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. Why did you choose to send an email newsletter? I had two goals for the newsletter: reach out to new potential customers and notify existing customers about the latest features of my product, Wii Transfer. For people who had already purchased it, I knew that some percentage of them are probably not using it very often — people’s habits and needs change, or they just aren’t aware of how the software has evolved. There had been so many significant improvements in the new version, even though it was a free upgrade I wanted as many existing customers as possible to know about the new stuff. At the same time, I also had a list of people who wanted to be notified when a new version was available, even if they hadn’t been ready to buy yet, as well as a separate list who had opted-in to the newsletter as part of a promotion I did last year to give away a Nintendo Wii. I thought some of these people at least represented a good opportunity for new sales. How did you find using Campaign Monitor? I first heard about Campaign Monitor from 37signals. When they recommend a product I usually pay attention, since they value the same kind of things in a web application that I value: clean design, responsiveness, and a fair price with no gimmicks. What most struck me about it is the attention to all the little details that you don’t really want to think about. How do bounces and unsubscribes get taken care of? What about duplicate email addresses across multiple lists? Sending email to thousands of people is, frankly, a little bit scary, so it’s nice to have a system designed by people who have already thought about the problems you are going to hit. I also wrote a quick script to export addresses from my own sales and giveaway databases and was happy to see that Campaign Monitor was smart about detecting fields and letting me label and keep track of custom data within the Campaign Monitor system. Pretty cool. Did you get the results you were after from the email? “Maybe the best thing I did was to create a special discount code to include in the newsletter for 20% off” Yes, but to be honest I didn’t have very specific results in mind that could be measured easily. I wanted to get into a routine of sending a yearly newsletter with announcements and discounts, and from that I knew that I would get some direct sales and hopefully a smaller wave of publicity and word-of-mouth. I’ve found that marketing is not just about one specific thing you do, but more that the cumulative effect of all the things you do is what leads to steady sales or recognition. I also learned a few things along the way that I will make sure to fix next time. For example, it was probably a mistake to put the company name in the email subject of the newsletter instead of the more recognizable product name. I also didn’t track referrer links from the email directly, which would have provided interesting stats, especially since I knew that many of the people who had participated in my giveaway were Windows users and could not actually purchase my Mac-only product for themselves. Maybe the best thing I did was to create a special discount code to include in the newsletter for 20% off. This allowed me to track exactly which sales came from the newsletter. Sometimes people just need a little reminder or incentive to become customers, so the newsletter plus discount is a nice solution. Thanks to Manton for taking the time to answer our questions. Developers, especially small companies and independents, often have very close ties to their customers. When you only have a small number of products, it is really important to make sure each one stays relevant and useful. Email newsletters are a really simple way to keep in touch with those customers, remind them that you are around and let them know what updates or new products you have coming for them. It can also help maintain interest during periods when you are not making releases, by giving tips or hints out, focusing on features or asking for feedback. Manton has decided on a yearly newsletter, which is a pretty rare approach. He may find that a gap of that long between issues causes him some problems with people forgetting they had actually signed up and complaining about it. We’d suggest something more frequent, perhaps three times per year. While the reporting from a single campaign is useful, having results from several campaigns to compare can be a lot more helpful – especially if you use HTML format, and can track link clicks. For example, seeing what people are actually most interested in, and watching your open rates when you make changes. Even in plain text format, there is plenty of hassles in email sending that Campaign Monitor can take care of for a developer as Manton mentioned. Bounces, unsubscribes, duplicate address and more. Not to mention the API to play with! Listen to Manton and fellow Mac dev Daniel Jalkut talk about promoting your software on Episode 7 of their Core Intuition Podcast. If you are a Mac using Wii owner, don’t forget to take a look at Manton’s cool Wii Transfer. Are you a developer who uses Campaign Monitor? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment (you can even pimp your products!).

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A Work of Genius

I LOVE Campaign Monitor. I think your web site is top notch, the features are extraordinary, the pay-as-you-go pricing plan is a work of genius, and the free templates are incredibly useful. No kidding. Sam McMillan, Wordstrong

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“The best, most intelligent web application I’ve ever used”

I’d like to say that Campaign Monitor is the best, most intelligent web application I’ve ever used. I’ve also just started using MailBuild and it looks just as impressive. Brian Qualls

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“Simple and straightforward”

We’ve been using CampaignMonitor for over a year now and it’s efficiently delivered many, many thousands of emails. The process is simple and straightforward, the dispatch quick and effective, and the reports detailed and useful. I’d happily recommend the service to anyone in need of a good mailout solution. Collis Ta’eed, Co-founder FlashDen.net / AudioJungle.net

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“The best email solution I can find!”

You guys are really a great company. I enjoy the warm personality of your brand, the ease of your interface, and the control that you give designers in creating campaigns. Thank you so much for the best email solution I can find! Geoffrey Graham, Punctuate!

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Kissing frogs for a “fabulous user interface”

We came across a great ‘first-look’ review of Campaign Monitor from New Jersey consulting firm Benkard Online Marketing Programs. In the article, Andrew describes his search for “the right email broadcast service for small- and medium-sized firms with a monthly newsletter”. Andrew has checked out a lot of the options available, “kissed a lot of frogs” as he vividly calls it, but was not satisfied. However, his intial impressions of Campaign Monitor are great for us to hear, including: Fabulous user interface. Here is where they really shine. As you assemble an outbound email, the pages flow naturally together in a wonderfully linear way. How did they do this? Information is chunked together well, button colors chosen sensibly and applied consistently, labels are consistent, and there is white space to set the important material off… a solid UI means less chance of a mistake and less time spent building the email. We’re glad to see that all the time and effort put into the interface has made an impression. Of course, we’re not standing still — there’s plenty of improvements to make and great new features coming. If you have your own suggestions, jump into our forums and let us know. You can also read the full article Nifty Email Broadcast Service: Campaign Monitor at Benkard.com.

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“Made me look like a hero to my clients”

I really love Campaign Monitor. I’m a small, one-person creative shop serving the needs of small business clients. Campaign Monitor has made me look like a hero to my clients! Anne Sheer, Sheer Images Design

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“Your system is awesome”

Our first campaign went out last Friday using your system and today we got a $700 USD retail order as a direct result. Your system is awesome and truly easy to use. From Reeds Jewelers

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How 37signals uses Campaign Monitor – an interview with Jason Fried

For most of our readers, 37signals need no introduction. As long time Campaign Monitor customers (they were our 41st customer way back in 2004), I chatted with founder Jason Fried about how they use email to market their products, their recent switch from plain text to HTML emails and plenty more. 1. How do you see email as a marketing tool? Do you see it as a different audience than your blog readers, an extension, or something else? “An email can have such an impact. It’s like calling an old friend every few months to catch up.” There’s some crossover between our blog and newsletter, but there are a lot of people who subscribe to the newsletter that don’t read our blog. It’s easy to think everyone reads your blog, but most people are way too busy to be a regular reader. That’s why an email can have such an impact. It reaches interested people who aren’t paying attention all the time. It’s like calling an old friend every few months to catch up. 2. What motivated you to make the switch from plain text to HTML? A couple things. We wanted to track how many people were opening the email and clicking the links. Using simple design and color to call out more important parts of the newsletter. Even though we’re going HTML, it’s still mostly text. The color and simple styling really helps make the point without having to get too fancy. 3. Have you seen an improvement in the traffic to your site or received any feedback since the switch? We didn’t really track newsletter results before, but it definitely feels like we’re seeing great results. We usually include a coupon with the newsletters and we’re seeing a nice uptake. 4. You guys typically design for the browser, how did you find designing HTML emails? A pain in the ass, honestly. It’s like designing web sites that have to work on 10 different browsers. HTML email display in mail clients feels like the mid 90s. They have a long way to go to embrace modern standards. 5. How do you decide what to put in your newsletters? We usually go back through a month’s worth of blog posts and pick out the ones we thought were most interesting. The more comments the better. We also announce a couple recent new features in our products and often include a coupon for a few bucks off a product. We try not to make the newsletters too long, so brevity is considered. We also use a URL shortening tool (like TinyURL) to keep the URLs from wrapping. 6. Do you and your team subscribe to many email newsletters yourselves? I like Mark Hurst’s Good Experience newsletter (also sent with Campaign Monitor). I think that may be the only one I’m consciously subscribed to. Unfortunately I get a lot of other ones I don’t remember asking for ;) 7. Why did you choose to use an external service to send your newsletters? “We looked around and tried a few, but nothing held a candle to Campaign Monitor. It is truly elegant, useful, and valuable.” A long time ago we used to do this ourselves, but we didn’t really have a good way of managing the list. We could blast one out, but we didn’t really know who was on it, we couldn’t send multi-part emails, we couldn’t deal with bounces, etc. As our lists grew (we have over 100,000 on one product list) we needed something to manage this process. We looked around and tried a few, but nothing held a candle to Campaign Monitor. It is truly elegant, useful, and valuable. We’re proud to use it and thank you for creating it. Recent 37signals newsletters Not surprisingly, the 37signals newsletters are a great example of simple, effective HTML email design. Each issue is predominantly text and smart formatting through inline CSS make them a pleasure to read in every email client.

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Great feedback from two great designers

This morning we were lucky enough to come across 2 great compliments for Campaign Monitor from some of the best known designers on the web. First off, I got this email from Chris Campbell, co-founder of Infinity Box and also the guy behind Wufoo, Particletree and Treehouse magazine who had this to say… We used Campaign Monitor to send our newsletter today, and you guys should really give yourselves a pat on the back. I can’t even begin to explain how much better you are than the software we’ve been using. I woke up today expecting to spend an hour on this, and I was done in a matter of minutes. Next up we noticed some nice comments from Matt Linderman of 37signals fame. We have huge respect for the 37signals team, especially their design approach, so this one really means a lot. (Campaign Monitor is) a beautifully designed product that really pays attention to all the little the details. Thanks guys!

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“I LOVE Campaign Monitor”

I LOVE Campaign Monitor. I have to tell you, I investigated at least 20 other email newsletter types of services, and Campaign Monitor was head and shoulders above any of them for features and cost. I can’t wait to use you guys on a regular basis! Richard Rothstein, Richard Rothstein & Co

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