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API Samples for PHP, Ruby & Flash

Get a quick start to using the new Campaign Monitor API with these updated sample…

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How To: Report on Multiple Occurrences of the Same Link

Depending on how you design your emails, you might prefer to see each instance of…

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Christmas Email Competition 2008!

In an effort to class up Christmas, we’ve run the Christmas email competition for the…

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Smarter Newsletters with Targeted Content

Most businesses start out their email marketing efforts by sending the same message to all their subscribers. It’s easy, and it often gets great results. The next step beyond a one-size-fits-all approach is to be smarter about what content you send to each person. Today I received an email that is a great example of targeted newsletters. The email was from FontShop, an independent font retailer and Campaign Monitor customer. FontShop sent me as a registered user the first edition of their Web & Interactive Design newsletter. The idea is to discuss fonts as they relate specifically to the web — what works well on screen, for example. So how did FontShop decide I should receive this particular email? When I created a free account, I was given the chance to fill out a profile and select my professional areas of expertise and interest. That information is obviously used to segment the total subscriber base into smaller chunks that can then be sent more targeted content. In Campaign Monitor, you can use our segmenting feature combined with some custom fields to do exactly this. FontShop don’t force everyone who creates an account to receive emails from them (or any form of marketing). My account also contains a subscription settings page, where I can select to opt-in or opt-out of emails and print brochures at any time. This is a well considered setup, and should make a significant difference to the response rates that FontShop sees from their campaigns. I know I was very interested in what a web specific newsletter would cover. Now that they are sending out these targeted emails, Fontshop will be able to take advantage of the report comparisons feature to easily compare opens, clicks and unsubscribes for each segment. How could you make your emails more valuable to your subscribers? How can your subscribers be split into smaller groups? Related information: Watch a video walkthrough on working with custom fields and segments Use the preference center to let people self-segment Signup for a free FontShop account

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Australian Research Shows Email Still Dominates

Following on from yesterday’s post about the relative popularity of RSS and email, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has released a study on internet use by Australians. The report, Telecommunications Today Report 6: Internet Activity and Content, examines consumer adoption of the internet and the impact this is having on the growth of the digital economy in Australia. With 73 per cent of Australian households now having access to the internet, the report found that, overall, household internet users are accessing the internet more frequently, with an increasing number recording ‘heavy’ use (8 or more times per week) There is plenty of interesting information to be gleaned from the report. Most obvious is how dominant email is as the primary internet activity. Source: Nielsen Online (2008) The Australian Internet and Technology Report, February 98% of people in the study used email in the last 4 weeks, beating out all other activities by a big margin. Compare that to ‘reading blogs’ which was way down at 16%. Email newsletters look like a pretty good option for reaching Australians (at least the over 16 population). As well as general usage, 36% of people had subscribed to a newsletter in the last month. Add that to your arsenal of reasons that your clients should consider sending an email newsletter! Check out the full list of 6 communication services reports for more details. p.s. Did you notice the amusing gender difference chart? More men than women use the internet for maps and directions… is that easier to handle than asking a person?

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RSS Not Replacing Email Yet

For web designers and developers, email can seem a dreadfully old fashioned way to spread information. I’ve spoken to plenty of people who tell me that RSS is going to take over and email will be dead soon. There is no doubt that for some types of information, an RSS feed is a much better way to keep up to date. It’s also obvious that lots of people are struggling with too much email. However, outside of the techy world, RSS has a very long way to go. Via Steve Rubel we came across a Forrester research paper on the state of RSS. Nearly half of interactive marketers use RSS, but consumer adoption has only reached 11%. Of the consumers who haven’t adopted RSS, most don’t understand how RSS is relevant to their lives and the way they seek information. If marketers expect to reach a critical mass of consumers by using content syndication, then they must take on the burden of education. Why does this matter to you? This really is important to remember. While you and your immediate circle keep up with your favourite topics, products and companies via RSS, the great mass of people are not doing that. In fact, even most Campaign Monitor customers do not subscribe to the RSS feed, and we always see a huge boost in traffic to the blog after our newsletters go out. So when you next design a blog for a client, take some time to explain this to them. Clients are rightfully concerned about how to keep people coming back to their site. An RSS feed is simple and useful, but it won’t reach most of their audience. Email newsletters, on the other hand, appeal to a much greater potential audience. You can offer a well designed newsletter layout to your clients, and help them get that attention. It’s a nice additional source of income for your business as well as for your client’s business. Email may be old, but it’s got plenty of years left in it still!

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Accessing the Campaign Monitor API using Python

Thanks to the work of long time friend and Campaign Monitor user Grant Young, there is now an implementation of the most common Campaign Monitor API methods in Python. Subscriber.Add Subscriber.AddWithCustomFields Subscriber.AddAndResubscribe Subscriber.AddAndResubscribeWithCustomFields Subscriber.Unsubscribe Subscribers.GetIsSubscribed Visit the campaign-monitor-api-python page on Google Code to download it and get started. Also check out the quick sample code for help. We’re starting to build up a great collection of API implementations, extensions, plugins and modules for Campaign Monitor, and if you have one you’d like us to mention, or a request for a module you’d like to see, just let us know.

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37signals on improving email design

Over on Signal vs. Noise, Jamie Dihiansan has written about his approach in evolving the email marketing and triggered messaging design for 37signals’ products. Often the job of designing emails is seen as a one-off task- build it once and it is triggered off and sent for ever more. Taking this approach can mean you miss out on a great opportunity to improve the way your company and products are seen by your customers. After the signup process, triggered emails like signup confirmations and welcome messages can be the ‘last chance to make a first impression’. So it makes sense to revisit them regularly to look for ways to improve them. In the case of the Basecamp Max welcome message, the 37signals team thought they could make the messages less confusing, and ultimately split the emails content into two separate messages for clarity. Here at Freshview, we’ve gone through a similar process with our request for feedback emails, and the changes we made improved our results dramatically. Here are a few areas you might like to look at in your messaging and newsletters: Is the content still up to date? It is common to make changes to features in your application, but forget to update your welcome message to accurately reflect the change. Are the important parts obvious enough? You might want to mention all the cool stuff people can do with their accounts, but what do they really need to know to get started? Do those things stand out at a glance? Are you using the right format? Would using some HTML let the important content stand out better? Or, might you be scaring people off with an over designed email, and do you need to simplify? Don’t let your recurring emails stagnate while your website is continually refreshed. Although they might be out of your mind, for your customers, email is just the opposite. It’s an ongoing reminder of what your company does and how it does it. Personally, I loved receiving the Moo order confirmation email. Have you received a great ‘triggered’ email?

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Discuss: What kind of email newsletters will last?

Here at Campaign Monitor we’re all big RSS users. Personally I love NetNewsWire and have a ton of feeds I review on different schedules, depending on their content. Web designers and techies in general have really taken hold of the idea of RSS, even though so far it has not spread much into the general public. Still, I’m not 100% RSS only, there is still some information I prefer to get via email. The canonical example for me is Threadless, who pump out a newsletter every week, sometimes more. Seeing the new shirts in my inbox is a thrill, and it’s one email I always open. There are other emails I have stuck with too: tidbits and Catch of the Day are two favourites. I’m interested to know whether you also have a few core favourites that you stick with. It seems clear that a lot of what is currently filling up inboxes actually belong in a different medium, like RSS, or even SMS alerts. When those things get out of our way, there will be more space for the truly valuable, the really funny, the most worthwhile emails. I’d love to hear from you all on this topic: What makes an email newsletter worth subscribing to in 2008? Answer purely from your own perspective, or think about the content your clients are sending. Will the best newsletters be the really personal ones? Short, to the point value? Content not available anywhere else? We’ve got Campaign Monitor t-shirts to give away for the three best comments, so have a think and leave us your thoughts.

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CSS Support for MobileMe

Last month Apple replaced .Mac with a new service called MobileMe and while it is certainly slicker visually and nicer to use, in terms of CSS support the results were mixed. We ran MobileMe through our baseline CSS test, and found that there were improvements in some areas (see our Email Standards Project test result) but in other places some CSS support was actually degraded compared to .Mac rendering. It is still a very solid client, but of course it is never nice to see the level of support going in reverse. MobileMe lost point in CSS selectors, and we saw odd results with link colours and heading styles. CSS defined in the head is partially ignored (for example in lower level headings) but if you drop the styles inline, everything seems to render much more reliably, much like Gmail. Nonetheless, MobileMe dropped a few points in our test. We’re already planning the next version of the CSS test, which will broaden its scope to better cover both inline styles and styles in the head, giving you as much information as possible to build emails which will render more consistently. If you haven’t already checked them out, take a look at our free email templates which are built using all the information gathered during the CSS test.

Blog Post

Designers Are Everywhere!

A little while back I posted a poll that asked ‘Who do you design for?‘. The idea was to find out whether you were mostly freelancers, design company owners or employees, inhouse designers or something else. We’ve had over 300 responses covering all areas of design, and we wanted to let you know how the votes have played out. Who do you design for? Votes % Run my own design company 81 25% Freelancer designer 49 15% Inhouse designer for a web/software company 45 14% Inhouse designer for a non-web company 42 13% Designer for a marketing agency 34 10% Designer on the side, not my main job 32 10% Work for a pure design agency 16 5% Other 14 4% Designer for an educational institution 12 4% Designer for a government body 4 1%   Clearly the dominant group is designers running their own companies. 25% of you are in that position, which is fantastic. One interesting piece of information is that the responses were heavily skewed towards owners and freelancers when the poll first went live. However, after we mentioned the poll in our newsletter, we had a big jump in the number of inhouse designers. Perhaps inhouse designers are less likely to spend time on the blog? Inhouse designers (at web and non-web companies combined) make up slightly more than a quarter of respondents. Designers in marketing agencies, and ‘on-the-side’ designers make up the other big groups. So what can we learn from this? For one thing, clearly design is being integrated into all forms of business, so the opportunities for designers to work in a variety of areas are huge. On the other side, Campaign Monitor customers seem highly likely to be business owners as well as designers, which is a whole other area of expertise. So we’d love your feedback on this: Should the Campaign Monitor blog stick to the technical side of HTML emails? Should we include more content of general interest to web designers? Don’t worry, Campaign Monitor will always be the place for in depth research and guidance, but our ultimate aim is to help designers build their businesses. If we can do that in other ways, let us know! Don’t forget that we also blog (sporadically!) over at Freshview about the company, and we could perhaps talk more about business on that blog. Thanks to everyone who took the poll, we appreciate your time, and please do leave us a comment!

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