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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?
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.
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/
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.
More great designs have joined the Campaign Monitor gallery recently. Browse through to pick up some great ideas you can use in your own emails. Subscribe to the email design gallery’s RSS feed to see the latest designs.
Have you ever really thought about the way email campaigns are sometimes described? Have you heard your clients talk about “email blasts” and “mail shots“? Sounds less like we are emailing our subscribers, and more like we are declaring war on them! Without getting too carried away, it’s clear that names are important. If our clients, and we ourselves think about our email campaigns as ‘blasts’, big one way transfers from us to them, we’ll be tempted to act in ways we never would in a real conversation. The more we see our audience as passive receivers of a mass message, the less likely we are to think about what works best for them instead of us. Email is such a personal medium, at least on the receiving end, and it’s a dreadful waste of that intimacy to just throw out the same message to everyone. So what do we do instead? I’m suggesting two courses of action here: Stop using war metaphors like ‘mail shot’ and ‘e-blast’ right away. Encourage your clients to think about their emails as conversation starters and updates. It sounds small but it can really impact on their decision making. Make your emails more personalized by using tools like segmenting, custom fields and analytics. It helps you to stop thinking of your readers as a single mass, and start considering them as individuals. Treating people as individuals flows through to respecting their ability to unsubscribe at any time, and not hiding the link from them. It means wherever possible letting people email you back instead of discouraging two way contact. Email should be a conversation, not an invasion.
Although we are an Australian company (based by the southern beaches of Sydney) the vast majority of all of you designers are based in the USA, or are at least more familiar with US dollars. For that reason we have always priced Campaign Monitor in US dollars. However, when we came to actually take the payment, we had to convert the quoted price to Australian dollars. We have always been generous on the conversion rate, so that you don’t end up paying more, but sometimes banks on the customer end will charge foreign currency conversion costs. It’s been a frustration for some time, but in the last day we’ve improved things. From now on, every campaign will be priced and charged directly in US dollars. That means your accounts team won’t be hassling you because your invoice is 8 cents off the charge on the card! The price we quote is the exact amount you will see on your statement. Thanks to everyone who has given us feedback on this issue. p.s. You can follow CampaignMonitor on Twitter to get the fastest notification of updates like these, new features, and also give us your direct feedback.
It’s Web Visions time again here in my local town of not so sunny Portland, OR. I’ll be there both Thursday and Friday to enjoy some great sessions from speakers like Campaign Monitor’s frequent blog contributor Mark Wyner, Jason Grigsby, and Jeffrey Veen. So if you’re going to be attending as well, I’d love to hear from you. If you see a woman walking around in a Campaign Monitor t-shirt it’s likely me; no guarantees though! Come up and say hi, give feedback or ask questions (or all three!).
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