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If you’ve created a new campaign in the last day or so you might have noticed something missing when selecting the format of your campaign. Previously, you had 3 options: HTML only, HTML and plain text, and plain text only. As of our most recent update, the “HTML only” option has now been removed. Moving forward, whenever you’re sending a HTML email, you’ll need to add a plain text alternative too. Why should I include a plain text version? Including a plain text alternative with your HTML email is best practice. It’s best practice for a number of reasons: Content-based spam filters like SpamAssassin look for a close match between your HTML content and plain text content. If there’s a significant difference, your email will be penalized. Some of your subscribers prefer plain text or use an email client that doesn’t properly support HTML email, especially if they’re reading it on a mobile device. Often they might have an email client but not a web browser, so they can’t access the web-based version of your email. One little point of clarification. We always included a plain text alternative for you, even if you sent a HTML only email. This was just a brief message with a link to the web-based version and an unsubscribe link. It was better than nothing, but didn’t get you any closer to solving the problems listed above. Why wait until now to make this change? Removing this option has been on our minds for a while now, but we were hesitant to remove it altogether until we made the process of generating your plain text alternative an easier process. Now that we’ve added the ability to pull the text out of your HTML version with a single click, we felt the time was right. I realize this adds a step to the create/send process for some of you, but please remember it’s in the best interests of you and your subscribers to include a well formatted plain text alternative whenever you send a HTML email. Also, don’t forget about our free plain text templates that provide a great starting point for a nice looking plain text email.
Today we added support for a much requested tweak to our segments feature, the ability to export only that segment of subscribers. As you may already know, our segments feature makes it a snap to target specific groups within your subscriber list. Let’s say you want to send a campaign to all your female customers, or only those subscribers who showed interest in Product x from your last newsletter. Segments make that easy. As well as sending campaigns to your segments, you can now export them straight to Excel or a tab delimited text file. This is especially handy for those of you using Campaign Monitor as your main data store. Now you can easily get subsets of your entire list out of your account based on any criteria you desire without having to export everyone and do some ugly hacking in Excel. We hope it’s a handy time saver for you.
If you’re a BlackBerry or iPhone user, you’re probably well aware of just how popular mobile email is going to be in the future. With the recent announcement of HTML email support on the BlackBerry, not to mention the iPhone’s already stellar CSS support, it’s clear that the challenge for us email designers might not be as daunting after all. If you consider the recent prediction that 20% of email will be accessed wirelessly in 2 years, that’s a comforting thought. That’s the future, but what about the present? Currently, the BlackBerry only supports plain text, Windows Mobile 5 does plain text too, and Windows Mobile 6 scrapes in with basic HTML support. It’s not the prettiest of pictures. With that in mind, we’ve just updated our design and spam testing tool to produce screenshots of exactly how your email will look on all 3 of these mobile platforms. Add to this the 17 other email clients we already cover across the desktop and web, and you’ve got some serious testing coverage, all for just $10. If you’re interested in learning more about mobile email, Email Marketing Reports have a great list of resources, particularly on mobile email design. Even if you don’t read your email on a mobile device, you can safely bet that some of your recipients do.
We all know that having a plain text version is an essential component of a well designed email campaign. For people who use email clients that can’t display HTML, and for those who prefer plain text, we need to provide information equivalent to the HTML component. By the time you have fought your way through the endless incompatibilities of email client rendering however, it can be hard work getting yourself excited about a well formatted text version. Good news! We’ve just added the ability to jump start your plain text email by automatically pulling all the text out of your HTML version. We can’t do all the work for you, but we can save you some time and hassle. Just click the ‘import it from your HTML’ link, wait a moment and up will pop your text, stripped of all HTML, your links replaced with the relevant URLs written like so: [https://www.campaignmonitor.com] and your webversion and unsubscribe tags converted to the plain text tag format. The whole thing is formatted to our recommended width, so that you have the maximum chance of everything working. Then all you need to do is a little tidying to make things neater, and remove anything not relevant for the plain text. For example, from an upcoming MailBuild newsletter, which looks like this in HTML: Campaign Monitor can automatically generate the following text: We hope that will save you a lot of time, and should lead to more nicely formatted plain text versions in the future. Don’t forget to checkout our plain text templates and tips for more ways to make your plain text more effective.
We’ve just pushed an update live to our popular design and spam testing tool with the addition of 3 new spam filters. For all new tests, we’ll now be running your campaign though these additional filters: Norton 2008 McAfee Security Center 2008 Outlook 2007 Here’s a screenshot of the complete spam test line-up, which now includes 6 of the most popular desktop spam filters on the market: Where possible, we’ll try and provide as many useful reasons as possible why your email might have been filtered. Don’t forget, on top of running your email through 11 spam filters, firewalls and gateways we also provide a screenshot of your email in 17 of the most popular email clients. All for only $10.
A few days back we quietly launched what I think is one of the most useful new features we’ve added to Campaign Monitor in a while. As we’ve written countless times before, getting some design consistency across all the major email clients is one of the biggest annoyances of the job. The sole reason behind this frustration is the lack of CSS support, which was the reason we launched the Email Standards Project recently. To get around these deficiencies, you really need to move away from web standards and stick with table-based layouts with all of your CSS done inline, instead of being separate to your content. The problem is, adding that CSS inline is fiddly and takes a long time, not to mention how depressing it is completely butchering your code. Be frustrated no longer. Now, by checking a single checkbox, we’ll automatically generate your inline CSS for you when you import your campaign. This means you can build your emails just as efficiently as your web pages (except for those nasty tables you need to add), and then we’ll do the heavy lifting for you automatically that will ensure the best rendering result across all the major email clients. See it in action The best way to demonstrate how cool this feature really is, is to show a few before and after shots. As you know, the biggest CSS hater is Gmail. Taking a few random samples from our email design gallery, here are the results you can get just by ticking that innocent little checkbox. The Tonic Vision newsletter Gmail before the checkbox Gmail after the checkbox The NZLive.com newsletter Gmail before the checkbox Gmail after the checkbox The results really do speak for themselves. Even though we quietly snuck this feature in a few days ago, it’s already proven extremely popular, with more than 600 customers using it for their campaigns. A big shout goes to Toby Brain, our superstar intern who developed this feature, and also a big thanks to Alex Dunae, the developer of Premailer who was generous enough to offer his own advice on the best way to approach inline CSS to get the best results possible for you all. Enjoy, and if you can think of any ways we can make this feature even more useful, please let us know.
You may have noticed in your accounts recently a new link under the ‘reports’ tab labelled ‘Compare campaigns’. This is a brand new feature we released recently, thanks to a lot of great customer suggestions, and to the efforts of our star interns. The idea is that you can select two or more past campaigns for a particular client, or even across all your clients, and compare their key statistics in chart and table form. The five measurements you can compare are: Opens Clicks Bounces Unsubscribes Spam complaints Each one is compared as a percentage. Once you’ve picked the campaigns you want to compare, you hit the generate button and the data is loaded in. The new graphs are pretty slick, and you will need to have a recent version of the flash player installed to view them. You can hover over each indicated point to see the relevant date and value for the statistic at that point. Below the graph is a table listing the data, and at the bottom, averages across all your campaigns. If you decide you’d like to change the graph, use the edit button at the top to add or remove campaigns or statistics to compare, and regenerate it. These graphs are also available to your clients logging in for their reporting via Client Report Access. Why compare campaigns? With this new ability to easily compare your campaigns, you can start to really get an idea of what is working and what needs improvements with your clients emails. Here’s just a few ideas to get you started – we’re looking forward to hearing how you use campaign comparisons. Testing different subject lines If you want to improve your open rate, changing the subject line is a great place to start. Use segmemting to target one part of your list, and send them your standard subject line. For another segment, try something different, like putting an article title in the subject. Then compare your open rates for two campaigns. (more ideas for subject lines) Change your ‘call to action’ Once you can easily compare your click rates, you can start to experiment with the links in your campaigns. What happens if you use a graphic button to link to your site rather than a text link? What about a photo of your new product as a link vs the normal heading? Does putting a link at the top get more clicks? Are competitions worthwhile for gaining subscribers? Sure, running a competition where people have to give their address to enter might gain a ton of signups, but are they worthwhile? Use compare campaigns to compare your open rates and click throughs before and after the competition, and see if those new people are really interested. Also check out your bounce rates to see if you just end up with a bunch of bad addresses. There’s plenty of other ways you and your clients can make use of simple comparisons between campaigns. If you have a great idea, leave us a comment. Thanks to everyone who suggested this feature too!
Hot on the heels of our integration into Comcast’s spam reporting tools, we recently finalized the integration of spam complaints made by Yahoo! Mail users. This means that any time one of your Yahoo! recipients marks your email as spam through their email interface, we’ll automatically remove that subscriber from your list and provide a full report on who made the complaint and when. It’s an awesome feature for keeping your list clean and identifying if your subscribers are no longer interested in what you have to say. This complaint integration works much like the same partnerships we have with other ISP’s like Hotmail, AOL, Comcast, etc but, there’s a catch! The catch – you need to be authenticated The Yahoo! team are the brains behind the DomainKeys authentication method. Because they see authentication as a crucial part of email (we agree), they’ll only tell you who marked you as spam if you sign your email with DomainKeys. Luckily for you, this is a pretty simple process that our authentication wizard can walk you through in a flash. So, if there weren’t already enough great reasons to embrace authentication, Yahoo! just gave you another one. Here are the basic instructions that walk you through the process of setting up email authentication for each client in your account. Once that’s been set up, we’ll let Yahoo! know that you’re authenticated and your account will be updated automatically in the unfortunate event of a complaint.
As I’ve mentioned before, your sending reputation and the relevance of your email are some of the most important factors that can determine if your email arrives in the inbox or the junk folder. In order to evaluate your sending reputation, more and more ISP’s are using their “Mark as Spam” button. It’s pretty simple, if you only occasionally get a spam complaint made against you and you don’t send to that address again, you should be OK. Get lots of complaints and keep sending to those addresses and you’re in trouble. Many of the popular ISP’s out there share these complaints with Campaign Monitor so we can monitor our customers and also keep your lists clean of those who clearly don’t want to hear from you any more. To date we’re reporting on such complaints for Hotmail/MSN, AOL, United Online, Roadrunner and USA.net. We have now extended our spam reporting feature to include Comcast, the largest cable internet provider in the US. This means that any time a Comcast subscriber marks your email as spam, we’ll remove them from your list and also provide a detailed report saying who did this and when. This integration means your list will stay clean automatically and you can gather indirect feedback from your customers about the relevance of what you’re sending them.
Today we released a big round of updates to our API documentation and code samples to make it even easier to connect your Campaign Monitor account with your own web sites and applications. If you’re a back-end developer that’s right into this stuff, here’s the scoop on what we’ve changed: Vastly improved documentation We’ve done a complete overhaul on the documentation for every method available in the API. Each method will now include the related samples that feature the method, the parameters used, return codes and sample requests and responses for SOAP, POST and GET. Check out the Subscriber.Add method to get an idea of what you can expect. Comprehensive PHP wrapper Thanks to incredibly generous Campaign Monitor customer and PHP developer Kaiser Shahid, we now have an all-inclusive PHP package that supports SOAP, GET and POST seamlessly. The sample also includes a complete set of functions that encapsulate every method available in the API. Big Flash overhaul All you Flash developers out there will be pleased to know that we’ve now got a much improved Flash sample ready for download. Kindly developed by Ben and the talented team at DNA Design, the sample includes a standard subscribe form as well as a more complex version supporting custom fields. The sample has also been coded in a way that makes it easy to use any of the other methods available in the API. .NET C# and ASP samples move from the desktop to the web For the .NET samples we have created a VisualStudio.NET 2003 project that includes example pages calling some of the different API methods available. The pages use standard ASP.NET controls and are written using the Code-Behind model. This project will also work with all newer versions of Visual Studio. We’ve also changed the samples from traditional desktop applications to web pages. ColdFusion sample arrives For all those ColdFusion developers we’ve now got a great API sample that includes a standards subscribe form and a more complex one supporting custom fields. The sample code will also be easy to modify to adopt any of the other methods supported by the API.
Over the weekend we pushed a highly requested new feature live – HTML confirmation emails. It’s now easy to send a nicely formatted HTML confirmation email to anyone who joins your list from your subscribe forms or via the API. To import the HTML creative for your confirmation email, you just need to provide us with the URL. We’ll grab the page, import all images and even externally linked CSS into a single email referencing the images on our servers. You can easily preview your HTML version once it’s imported and make any changes that suit. To improve deliverability and ensure the confirmation looks great for those who prefer plain text, you can also provide a basic plain text version of your confirmation email that will be included in the same email. We’ll include a sample one to help get you started. If your new subscriber is using a plain text email client, they’ll see that version instead. To set up for own HTML confirmation email, head into your subscriber list and click on “Create a Subscribe Form” to get started.
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