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Quick Tip: Choosing Google Analytics Tags

Now that you can automatically add Google Analytics tags to your emails, we wanted to remind you how you can easily edit the tags used for each campaign. Once you have setup Google Analytics integration (see the help topic) you will have an extra option when importing your HTML for a campaign. You can change the tag used for the source of traffic, and for this specific campaign. If you are using Analytics for yourself, you might use “Campaign Monitor” as the source, so you can tell which people came from your Campaign Monitor emails. However, if you plan to show the Analytics reports to your clients, it would be best to choose something more generic like ‘Newsletter’, or the name you use when rebranding the software. When you login to your Google Analytics account and browse by traffic source, you’ll see the name you set when sending the campaign: We recommend keeping the source the same for each campaign you send so you can easily see an aggregate for all Campaign Monitor campaigns in your Analytics account. Of course, you can also tweak the campaign name tag to make things easier to recognize too – for example, to remind you this was the campaign where you changed the subject line, or sent later in the day. That can make it easier to understand the impact changing different elements has on your eventual results. Let us know if you have any of your own Google Analytics tips and tricks for use with Campaign Monitor.

Blog Post

Redefining Spam

Not long ago, spam was reasonably easy to define as unsolicited commercial email. Advertisements for things you never asked about, email from companies you had never heard of. Offers to increase the size of various parts of your body and claims of missing millions, yours for the asking. However, as the amount of email we are all receiving continues to grow, our tolerance level for each individual email falls. The definition of spam seems to be changing to something more like that old definition of ‘art’ as “I know it when I see it”. We’ve posted before about ISPs using a broader definition of spam, measuring not just permission but relevance. A recent survey by Q Interactive and MarketingSherpa has confirmed that this is a growing definition, not just for ISPs but for individuals. “underscoring consumers’ varying definitions of spam, respondents cited a variety of non-permission-based reasons for hitting the spam button, including “the email was not of interest to me” (41 percent); “I receive too much email from the sender” (25 percent); and “I receive too much email from all senders” (20 percent).” From an email senders perspective, this can seem unfair: We gather permission legitimately, they know who we are, and yet they still push the spam complaint button. Features like the Hotmail unsubscribe button can make it easier for people to get the result they want (less email) without having to accuse a sender of spamming, but until they become more common, we all need to be wary. It’s not good enough to have their permission, you also need to put yourself in your subscribers shoes. They signed up for information about one of your products, but does that mean they want email about your other products? Not necessarily. Also, making sure that you send emails soon after signup, and consistently can help subscribers remember who you are. If they do not get an email for 6 months after visiting your booth, it’s easy for them to call it spam. Finally, a clear permission reminder and prominent unsubscribe link will make it easier for a subscriber who is no longer interested to unsubscribe rather than reach for that spam button. As part of our approval process, we try to make this clear. If we hold up your campaign to check on the relevance of your emails, we are trying to help ensure you don’t end up with spam complaints, even if you are not sending unsolicited email. How do you define spam personally? How do these findings fit with you as an email recipient, and as an email sender?

Blog Post

The Principles of Beautiful HTML Email

If you’re an experienced Campaign Monitor user and a regular reader of this blog, then you probably have a pretty solid idea of what makes a ‘good’ HTML email. If you need a refresher, or you are looking for a good introductory article, then read on. Over on SitePoint, which is a great resource for web designers and developers of all kinds, I’ve got a new article live. It’s called The Principles of Beautiful HTML Email and it covers the core principles of designing for email vs designing for the web. I want to give a special mention to some Campaign Monitor users (and their clients) who have been previously featured in our gallery and are examples in the article. Zurb Threadless Recycle Now WWF Future Makers HIVE Inside Packaging Please do check the article out, and consider bookmarking it for later to send it to that designer who still sends emails as one big image, or to your client who wants you to send them! Read The Principles of Beautiful HTML Email at SitePoint

Blog Post

Christmas Email Competition Winners!

As we revealed last year, we have some pretty good prizes lined up for the Campaign Monitor customer who sent (in our judgement) the best Christmas email. We were looking for a balance between creativity, design and practicality, for an email that works under the constraints of email clients, like image blocking for example. We saw a lot of good efforts, and sadly still a lot of emails that were just one big image, but a few emails really stood out to us, and we’ve showcased them below. Grand prize winner: Good Creative Congratulations to the team from GOOD CREATIVE who have walked away with this year’s prize. We loved the unique approach to a Christmas tree and the strong visual layout. Since there is actual text (not just images) in the email, it still holds together with image blocking on, and the content of the newsletter really sends a clear message about the agencies values. Well done! We’ll be in touch with the team shortly to arrange for their prizes: An iPhone A $100 Threadless voucher 50,000 Campaign Monitor email credits (that’s $500 worth) I’m sure they’ll have fun splitting that lot between them! Honorable mentions We’ve got three great emails to mention here, and the people behind each one will be receiving a solid chunk of email credits and a Campaign Monitor t-shirt of their choice. Pixel Magic From across the sea in New Zealand, the Pixel Magic team have created an email better suited to the decidedly non-white Christmases we have down under. A simple design that works really well, and does not try too hard and overwhelm the message. A great example of effective email design. Aegean Airlines Extra points for effort and bravery go to the creators of this plain text Christmas email for Aegean Airlines. Taking us back to the glory days of ASCII art, this email looks painstakingly constructed. We wonder how consistently it would render, but the idea is great and well executed, and it’s particularly interesting for such a mainstream product. 3blindmice From Sydney local Ben Manson, this fantastic design is almost all text. We love the right alignment, and particularly the way Ben has used custom fields to personalise his message for each client. Who doesn’t love a mouse in a Santa hat? Well done Ben. We’ll be in touch with all our winners very soon, and congratulations to you all. Thanks also to everybody who entered by using Campaign Monitor during this holiday season, and we hope to see you all back again next year with even better campaigns. We really appreciate your creativity and your business. Stick with us through 2008, we’ve got plenty of things lined up for you all!

Blog Post

More Answers about DomainKeys & Authentication

Midway through 2007 we introduced email authentication to Campaign Monitor, as an optional change you can make to increase the deliverability and security of your email campaigns. We’ve seen a huge amount of people setting up Sender ID and DomainKeys records for their ‘from’ domains. We introduced an email authentication FAQ for some common questions, but since then a few more common questions have cropped up. Can I still use Campaign Monitor without DomainKeys and Sender ID? Absolutely. If your host does not support TXT records, you can still use your Campaign Monitor account. It just means your campaigns may go through additional filters, and you miss out on the other benefits of authentication. Your campaigns will still be sent out as normal, and you will still see all the reporting. Do I have to change web hosts if my host does not support DomainKeys? No, you don’t have to necessarily. Instead, you can just switch DNS providers. Often your DNS records are hosted by the same people who host your site, but it does not have to be that way. Services like DNS Made Easy, ZoneEdit, easyDNS let you host just the DNS records with them, and keep all your sites elsewhere. This can be both faster and safer than hosting DNS and website together – it makes changing web hosts easier and also gives you more flexibility, so it is worth looking into. My DomainKeys are not verifying — what should I do? There are two main reasons this could happen. Either the DNS records have not yet propagated, or the records have not been correctly added. You can check how the records are appearing (or not) by using a service like DNSStuff. Go to the ‘tools’ section, and you can do a free DNS Lookup under ‘Hostname Tools’. Enter the domain name you are trying to verify (as in abcwidgets.com) and change the drop down menu to ‘TXT’. Hit ‘Lookup’ and you will be able to see if the records are showing up or not. If they are not there, then you need to talk to your DNS or web host and ask them to help you out. From our side, we can only see what is there, not make any changes. If it looks like the record is there and correct, then contact support. It will help if you mention the domain name you are trying to add records for. Email authentication can be a tricky area, but it is worth exploring as it is likely to become more important in the future. If you have any more questions, leave them as comments below.

Blog Post

Ensuring Your Emails Look Great and Get Delivered

While a lot of my energy is focused the Email Standards Project and looking to the future of email design, it’s obviously still important to know the best way to approach it for the here and now. If you’re looking for something close to consistency, this means using tables for layout and inline CSS. I’ve just put together an article for Vitamin called “Ensuring your HTML emails look great and get delivered” that looks back at my original recommendations last year, why they don’t make the cut any more and what you need to focus on today. This includes a list of CSS properties that are considered safe across the board, and the best way to use tables for consistent results. On top of my design recommendations, I also dig into advice on getting your emails delivered. This covers a range of topics like how to get permission, reduce spam complaints and monitor your sending reputation. If you’re already a Campaign Monitor customer, you can rest assured that all of the technical recommendations are already covered for you by default. Having said that, the technical side is only a part of your email reputation — the crucial ingredients of permission and relevance are up to you. Check out the article.

Blog Post

Optimizing Your Subscription Process in 7 Steps

Now that our support for HTML confirmation emails is live, I thought it might be a nice time to revisit some recommendations on the best approach to capturing subscribers via a form on your web site. Here are a few guidelines you should consider to ensure a good experience for your new subscribers and make sure they’re primed to receive your first campaign. 1. Make it easy to subscribe Nobody likes filling in forms. While we make it easy to capture all sorts of information about your subscribers, try not to get carried away. Ask for the bare essentials only. If you do need to capture lots of information, check out these tips on good form design. 2. Ask everywhere Don’t rely on a single page on your site to lure subscribers, such as a Newsletter or Contact page. Try and place a subscribe form on every main page of your site. Again, keep it simple and only ask for the bare essentials. Here are some tips on integrating your list with any current form on your site. Don’t forget to also capture permission offline any chance you get, such as events and at the counter. 3. Set expectations It’s extremely important that you align your customers’ expectations with exactly what you plan on sending them. Make sure your subscribe form clearly explains the type of content they’ll be getting and how often they’ll be getting it. Try and do this on the form itself, and then back it up in the confirmation email. 4. Get added to their safe senders/contacts list When sending a confirmation email we let you specify the from email address you’d like to use. Make sure this address is an exact match to the from address you’ll be using when sending your campaigns. This way you can request to be added to their safe sender or contact list in the confirmation email. Once you’re in that list, you’ll often go through less filtering and your images will be displayed by default. 5. Say thanks and give some gold Don’t forget to say thanks to your subscriber. They’ve just taken a leap of faith handing over some personal details to you, show them you appreciate it. You might also consider linking to key content on your site they might be interested in, such as a past issue or some popular articles that might be related to the reason they subscribed in the first place. 6. Track where they subscribe from Follow this little tip on tracking where your subscriber join from. This allows you to do some A/B testing on different pages to see which subscribe offer/design works best. 7. Don’t forget about forwards Be sure to include a forward to a friend and subscribe link in each campaign you send. If you’re sending useful content, some subscribers will pass it on, so try and make it easy for these recipients to join your list if they’re interested. Finally, don’t forget to keep the tone of your email personal, friendly and avoid lots of email jargon. Lots of these suggestions are easy to implement, but they can make a big difference in that all important first impression.

Blog Post

Getting Better Results from Competition Lists

Campaign Monitor is used by people in all kinds of industries and for all kinds of reasons. Some businesses are more naturally suited to email contact, and some types of email contact are more welcomed than others. One type of list that seems to get a disproportionate amount of spam complaints is competition entry lists. These are the lists where you have entered your email address to win some kind of prize, and at the same time agreed to receive email in the future from the company running the competition. This is completely legitimate, assuming it is made very clear to people signing up that are giving that permission. However, even when it is clear we still see a lot more complaints from campaigns to these kinds of lists. It’s reasonably apparent why that should be the case: There can be a significant time lapse between entering the competition and the first email campaign. A big chunk of entrants only signed up for the competition and never wanted extra email anyway. It’s often easier to hit the spam button than the unsubscribe link. The emails often have no apparent connection the original competition. So it’s not hard to see why some subscribers would have forgotten that they signed up, or not understand why they are on the list at all. Fortunately, these issues are all quite simple to combat with small changes. On the competition entry page, make it obvious what people are signing up to receive. Don’t use vague ‘offers from selected partners’ language if you can avoid it. Send the first non-competition email soon after signup. The longer you wait the less likely people are to remember giving permission. Include a clear permission reminder in each email. It should state specifically that the subscriber signed up by entering the competition (link to the site if it is still available), and also let them get off the list easily. Make the competition list double opt-in, so people have a second chance to understand what they are doing, and take a positive action to give permission. If your clients want to run competitions and send to the entrants, you may need to work with them to avoid getting too many spam complaints on your account. These guidelines will help you, and help them only send to people who actually want to get their messages.

Blog Post

More HTML Email Design Inspiration

There’s a ton of different ways to approach an HTML email design, and we’ve added a few more great examples recently. If you need some inspiration, check them out! See every new entry on the email design gallery’s RSS feed.

Blog Post

Inline CSS for Mac Users

Following on from our recent post on automatically generated inline CSS for email templates, another customer has come forward with a cool OSX widget to achieve the same goal. It’s called TamTam, and it’s very simple to use. You simply paste in your html with CSS rules in the head, hit “Inline” and TamTam updates all your inline classes, tags and ids. Thanks to Gary Levitt from MadMimi for a practical (and funky) designer tool.

Blog Post

Automatically Generate Inline Styles

Update Campaign Monitor now moves styles inline for you automatically – you no longer need to run your HTML email campaigns through an inliner like Premailer prior to send. That’s good news! Creating HTML emails that render well across multiple email clients is complicated by programs like Gmail that strip out CSS styles from the head, and only support inline styles (like <p style=’font-weight:bold;’>A bold paragraph<p>). Our base templates don’t use inline styles because that makes them too inconvenient to easily modify – much simpler to change the design first then apply inline styles at the end. Campaign Monitor customer Alex Dunae has done us all a big favor by writing a sweet Ruby script that accepts a URL, and automatically generates and applies inline styles from the CSS in the head of that page. The script is called premailer and is available for use right now. It won’t always work (with complex CSS cascades), but for most cases it saves you a ton of time. So now you can just build the page in your normal way, then have all the inline style drudgery done for you automatically. As an additional benefit, premailer also checks your CSS against our own guide to CSS support and warns you of possible issues. It’s a great piece of work, and well worth a look. Alex is even planning to release the source code soon.  

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