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Watch Your Language!

That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet At least so said Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. He may be right about the smell, but I think we can all agree that renaming a rose to stinkweed would not bode well for chances at Chelsea. Recently there’s been discussion of the affect names can have on the way readers understand and think about things. We covered it ourselves (see email as conversation, not invasion) and Aweber’s Justin Premick made the same point. As web designers it is easy to slip into jargon mode. A great percentage of the people we talk with, read from and are influenced by are basically insiders, immersed in the language of nerdery. AJAX, .Net, rendering engines, DOM scripting, XHTML, selectors….to outsiders it might as well be Klingon. When you are sending emails to ‘normal’ people though, it’s no good using insider jargon. It’s saves time for us when talking to each other, but for outsiders it is incomprehensible. Instead, we need to be careful not to assume too much background knowledge. When we talk to our web design clients, it might mean going right back to basics, and explaining terms the first time they are introduced. I’m sure most of us are pretty used to that by now. When using Campaign Monitor though, there is another factor to consider:Your client is an insider in her industry too. She knows a ton of jargon about event planning or car tyres or scuba diving. There is a big risk that your clients will forget that their readers don’t know all the jargon either. So when you are putting together emails for your clients, have a thorough read of the content they are sending. You are probably not an expert in their field, so you’ll be in a great position to point out confusing and unnecessary jargon. Your clients will be happy to hear the feedback from you, rather than have their subscribers end up confused or disinterested. Not to mention that if you can provide some content consulting as well as the technical services, you are worth paying more! If you’d like to learn other ways you can help your clients become smart email marketers, we highly recommend reading Mark Brownlow’s The new email marketing. It’s a continuing series of great posts that aims to “explore the tactics used by enlightened marketers to exploit email successfully, sustainably, ethically and efficiently”. How many of you offer more than ‘just’ design and technical work for your clients? How many would like to start?

Blog Post

Recent Changes to CAN-SPAM

If you are a US based sender of email, you’ll be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act which regulates commercial email sent from the US. Last month the US Federal Trade Commission announced some additions to the Act, and we wanted to bring them to your attention. Of course, Campaign Monitor’s anti-spam policies have always been stricter than required by law, but it is still important to understand your legal obligations. From the FTC press release, the four new provisions are: an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender” You’re covered here by using the instant unsubscribe link through Campaign Monitor, which is required in every campaign. the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements; This one is a bit unclear, but unless you are sending a single campaign to multiple client lists (which we would not recommend) nothing changes. This is how a lawyer involved in the Act describes this change: This requirement is an effort to hold affiliate programs responsible for how their affiliates promote them. If the affiliate is honest about who they are, and their “From address”, and if they put something in the email about themselves, then the user will be able to unsubscribe from the affiliate’s list. But if the affiliate is dishonest, and hides their true identity, then the affiliate program for the product featured in the email (which will be the product being sold under the affiliate program) becomes responsible. (above was taken from a comment by Anne P. Mitchell on The Gripe Line). The next item is: a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address” We actually get that question occasionally: Is it OK to list a post office box and not a street address. Now it is clear that is acceptable. a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons This seems to be about not allowing unsolicited email even when it is sent to a company or other entity, rather than a specific person. Again, not something allowed through Campaign Monitor in any case. So while these changes won’t impact on most Campaign Monitor customers at all, it’s always useful to know what the current landscape is, and to be able to speak to your clients about their obligations. If you are not in the US, make sure you check for similar requirements in your own country.

Blog Post

A Guide to CSS Support in Email: 2008 Edition

In the last year, we’ve seen some changes in the email client market. Webmail usage continues to grow significantly while new versions of popular desktop clients have been released. In an attempt to stimulate some improvement on the CSS front, we’ve helped launch the Email Standards Project. While we can hope for future improvements, it’s the present we need to design for. The time has arrived to again poke and prod the major email clients to determine just how much (or how little) support they provide for using CSS with HTML emails. Last year’s report focused on the unique challenges of Outlook 2007. In 2008, Outlook is still an issue, but there are encouraging signs in other areas. The release of Entourage 2008 (the Mac equivalent of Outlook) made great improvements with CSS support, bringing it on par with Apple Mail’s excellent rendering. Proof that perhaps Microsoft has been listening and we can only hope that the next version of Outlook will follow suit. Thunderbird 2 was released with plenty of new features, and continued it’s run of excellent CSS support. Gmail has probably been the most disappointing client of all. One of the advantages of web applications is not needing to wait for new versions to be rolled out. With just basic in the head CSS selector support Gmail would go from bad to good but we’re still waiting for that. Checkout the Email Standards Project post about some support inside Google though, and keep your fingers crossed. We did expand our testing this year — A combined total of 21 email/web clients making this the biggest test we’ve ever done, up from last years 13. The CSS support in email guide is permanently located at https://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/, and that’s the best page to bookmark to ensure you are always seeing the latest version. Read the full report at https://www.campaignmonitor.com/css/

Blog Post

CSS Support in mobile.me Email?

Although the majority of the Freshview team slept blissfully through the WWDC keynote, we were all interested to hear about Apple’s new Mobile Me service, which will replace .mac in July. Once Apple’s new web applications are up and running, we’ll be sure to thoroughly test the .me email client and see how well it supports CSS in HTML email. If you can’t wait for that, you can content yourself with an update to our CSS support chart which will be coming later this week. In thinking about the continuity of email from desktop to web to mobile, one question occurs: How would you change your email newsletters if you new your readers were mobile, not sitting at their desk? Would you make them shorter? Would you have different content? Less images? More links or less links? Your thoughts appreciated! Update: One thing we forgot to mention is that Cameron Moll’s excellent book on designing for mobile devices is on sale for $10 a pop! While not focusing on email design per se, it’s still a great primer for those considering how best to approach designing for mobile devices.

Blog Post

2008 Email Design Guidelines

In this article we’ll discuss the technical, design and information elements that make up a…

Blog Post

Campaign Monitor Drupal Module

A completely open source content management platform, Drupal is a popular choice for large scale, flexible websites. A key feature of Drupal is the ability to add on modules, plug in code that extends the core functionality to do any number of different things. Sydney based Campaign Monitor user Stephanie Sherriff has written a cool Drupal module to integrate Campaign Monitor newsletter signups with your Drupal website. Stephanie describes it in this way: a fairly simple module that just adds the ability to subscribe and unsubscribe from a newsletter using the API. It also creates a page that displays prior campaigns Here is how the module’s configuration page looks in Drupal: Once the module is up and running on your site, you can place the newsletter signup easily, creating something like the form shown here. If your site visitors are logged in, then the form will even be pre-filled for them using the details from their user account on your website. This could be an excellent way to grow your list, and also something to implement on websites you are building for your clients. Stephanie is still planning some further improvements to the module, and we look forward to seeing those too. Visit the Campaign Monitor Drupal Module page to find out more, and to download it.

Blog Post

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.

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