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Recently we mentioned our Google Analytics integration, which is excellent for keeping up to date with what your subscribers do after they read your emails. How about knowing when people signup to your lists though? You can already grab the new subscribers RSS feed (find it at the bottom of each list’s details page in your account), but today we’ve spotted a great way to keep an eye on your lists, while watching the rest of your sites vital statistics. Campaign Monitor customer Mark J Reeves has developed a plugin for Shaun Inman’s popular Mint software. Mint is a tool for seeing recent page visits, referrals, searches and all kinds of statistics about your website right now. We use it ourselves on all our sites. With Mark’s plugin (called ‘Peppers’ in Mint terminology), you can see a list of people subscribing to a specific list in the last 24 hours. All you need to do is plugin your API key and ListID to get started. Checkout the Campaign Monitor subscribers Pepper to download it. Thanks go to Mark for his development, it looks like he has plans to do more in the future.
If you’ve been keeping up with the Email Standards Project you will know about our Project Gmail Grimace, where we asked designers to send us photos of themselves experiencing the frustration of designing for Gmail. We gathered them all together, and created a short, fun little video to try and get the attention of the Gmail team. That video has been posted today, and we’d love for you all to go and check it out. If you would like to help spread the message of the Email Standards Project, this is something you might blog about very easily, or send your designer friends too, it all helps. Watch the 2008 Gmail Appeal video.
Having reviewed many, many thousands of email campaigns sent through Campaign Monitor and MailBuild, we’ve noticed that a lot of designers like to try and hide the unsubscribe link away, to make it like a little game of ‘find the link’ for their subscribers. We’ve always encouraged people to do the opposite, make it easier for people who don’t want your emails to unsubscribe than it is to hit the ‘spam’ button and cause you trouble. The always helpful Mark Brownlow agrees with us in his post “Time to move the unsubscribe link? recently. If it’s there in the preview pane, then more people are likely to use it instead of reporting you as spam. Less spam reports means a better sender reputation and less chance of ending up on a blacklist The best way to find out of course is to measure it – does having the link at the top actually lead to a significant increase in unsubscribes? A reduction in spam complaints? If more people do unsubscribe, does that leave you with a more responsive and passionate subscriber base? We’ve posted before about working with your subject lines, and you can also experiment with positioning your ‘key action’ links, use of images in your newsletter and the ‘introductory’ text above your headers. There’s no end to the possible layouts, all it needs is some creativity and a willingness to make small changes. We’d love to hear about any changes you have found useful, so leave us a comment.
Campaign Monitor has always been well known for its great reporting features, because they make it so easy for you and your clients to see very quickly the results of your email campaigns. Today we released another new feature based on a lot of your suggestions and requests that can help extend that email campaign reporting right into your website. All you need to get started is a free Google Analytics account and a few moments in Campaign Monitor. If you aren’t already aware, Google Analytics is software for tracking your visitors as they move around your site. By placing a small piece of code on each page, you can see great reports about the number of visitors, where they came from, what they did and how long they stayed. With a little extra work you can even track conversions and sales data so you can see exactly how you’re generating customers and revenue. With our new integration feature, you can follow your visitors all the way from your email newsletter into your site, and hopefully right through to ‘conversion’ – an ecommerce sale, a consulting enquiry or whatever other action you might want to measure. Best of all, it is super easy to setup. Getting started with Campaign Monitor and Google Analytics We’ll assume that you’ve already got your Analytics code working on your website (or your client’s site), tracking away on that end. Setting it up on Campaign Monitor is a snap. To get started, jump into your ‘Manage Clients’ tab, and pick the appropriate client, and click the blue ‘Edit client’ link to access the Google Analytics setting. Here’s a complete walkthrough of the process if you need help. Now whenever you send a campaign for that client, Campaign Monitor will automatically add Google Analytics tags to each link to the domains you selected. During the campaign setup process, you can enter a useful title (the campaign name by default) and source name to help you find that campaign in Google Analytics later. Now whenever you send a campaign for that client, Campaign Monitor will automatically add Google Analytics tags to each link to the domains you selected. During the campaign setup process, you can enter a useful title (the campaign name by default) and source name to help you find that campaign in Google Analytics later. What can Google Analytics do for me? Some pretty cool stuff! Being able to connect the data from your email campaign with the same people’s data on your site gives you some great insight into how your campaigns convert into website traffic, customer conversions and even sales. Here are a few quick examples that show you the power of integrating with Google Analytics. For a complete walkthrough on how to access these reports in your analytics account, check out our complete guide. See exactly how much revenue your campaign generated As well as the total revenue generated, you can also see exactly how many transactions your campaign generated, the average value of each subscriber and the percentage of subscribers that converted into a sale. Learn more about tracking revenue with Google Analytics. Track how many subscribers converted By setting up conversion goals in Google Analytics, you can see how many subscribers completed a desired action, such as completed an enquiry form or adding a product to their shopping cart. Can I track individual subscribers? Unfortunately, the short answer is no – Google updated their Terms of Service to disallow the collection of any information which can be used to personally identify subscribers. So, the tracking and reporting of clicks by name, email address etc. in Google Analytics is no longer an option. This new feature is live in your account now, so if you’re already using Google Analytics for yourself or your clients, you can access these reports in a snap. We’ll be putting together a series of posts here moving forward to show you how to get the most out of this feature and hopefully some interesting case studies on how some of you are using it to improve the effectiveness and return on investment for your email campaigns.
We’ve updated the subscriber snapshot pages in your account. View the details. We’ve just launched a super useful new report that I think you’re going to love. Our campaign reports already provide you with a great overview of the results of your campaigns – opens, clicks, unsubscribes, etc, etc. But sometimes you need to zoom down past these general results and have a closer look at exactly how one particular subscriber is interacting with your email campaigns. Our new subscriber snapshot makes this easy by bringing your entire history with each subscriber into a single page. Here’s how it looks… As you can see, the snapshot provides a simple timeline of every interaction this subscriber has had with your emails. Quickly see precisely when they opened your emails, clicked on a specific link, forwarded the email to a friend or even unsubscribed. This data is especially useful for those sending targeted emails to a smaller list or segment of subscribers where you’re interested in the precise response from each recipient. We also provide totals such as emails sent, percentage opened and number of clicks so you can quickly gauge how interested this subscribers really is. On top of all this useful data, click the “Edit Subscriber” button and you can instantly update any of the data you have stored on this subscriber, including their custom field values. Not only is the snapshot available from any of your campaign reports, such as Recipient Activity or Opens Over Time, you can also access it at any time under Manage Subscribers. This is especially handy as you can quickly search your list for that subscriber and in an instant see your entire history with them. We think this is a really useful addition, and we hope you feel the same. Finally, big props go to Dan Bowden, our switched on intern that was the brains behind this new report. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it.
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?
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.
Just like last year, the biggest story out of SXSW Interactive seems to be Twitter. Some of the Freshview team are Twitter users already, but now we’re also trialling a Campaign Monitor Twitter stream. The Twitter newsletter is actually sent using Campaign Monitor – so we are closing the circle! The plan is to tweet about tips for using Campaign Monitor, updates, application status and other things of interest to web designers. We might even let slip a few hints about upcoming features. Following the Twitter user CampaignMonitor will also let you respond to our posts there and participate in some snap polls we’re planning. If you are looking for a good Twitter client, we can recommend Twitterific and Snitter. twitter.com/CampaignMonitor
The collection of great gallery entries keeps growing. Use them for inspiration when you need to spark an idea for your next design. Subscribe to the email design gallery’s RSS feed to see them all.
For most of our readers, 37signals need no introduction. As long time Campaign Monitor customers (they were our 41st customer way back in 2004), I chatted with founder Jason Fried about how they use email to market their products, their recent switch from plain text to HTML emails and plenty more. 1. How do you see email as a marketing tool? Do you see it as a different audience than your blog readers, an extension, or something else? “An email can have such an impact. It’s like calling an old friend every few months to catch up.” There’s some crossover between our blog and newsletter, but there are a lot of people who subscribe to the newsletter that don’t read our blog. It’s easy to think everyone reads your blog, but most people are way too busy to be a regular reader. That’s why an email can have such an impact. It reaches interested people who aren’t paying attention all the time. It’s like calling an old friend every few months to catch up. 2. What motivated you to make the switch from plain text to HTML? A couple things. We wanted to track how many people were opening the email and clicking the links. Using simple design and color to call out more important parts of the newsletter. Even though we’re going HTML, it’s still mostly text. The color and simple styling really helps make the point without having to get too fancy. 3. Have you seen an improvement in the traffic to your site or received any feedback since the switch? We didn’t really track newsletter results before, but it definitely feels like we’re seeing great results. We usually include a coupon with the newsletters and we’re seeing a nice uptake. 4. You guys typically design for the browser, how did you find designing HTML emails? A pain in the ass, honestly. It’s like designing web sites that have to work on 10 different browsers. HTML email display in mail clients feels like the mid 90s. They have a long way to go to embrace modern standards. 5. How do you decide what to put in your newsletters? We usually go back through a month’s worth of blog posts and pick out the ones we thought were most interesting. The more comments the better. We also announce a couple recent new features in our products and often include a coupon for a few bucks off a product. We try not to make the newsletters too long, so brevity is considered. We also use a URL shortening tool (like TinyURL) to keep the URLs from wrapping. 6. Do you and your team subscribe to many email newsletters yourselves? I like Mark Hurst’s Good Experience newsletter (also sent with Campaign Monitor). I think that may be the only one I’m consciously subscribed to. Unfortunately I get a lot of other ones I don’t remember asking for ;) 7. Why did you choose to use an external service to send your newsletters? “We looked around and tried a few, but nothing held a candle to Campaign Monitor. It is truly elegant, useful, and valuable.” A long time ago we used to do this ourselves, but we didn’t really have a good way of managing the list. We could blast one out, but we didn’t really know who was on it, we couldn’t send multi-part emails, we couldn’t deal with bounces, etc. As our lists grew (we have over 100,000 on one product list) we needed something to manage this process. We looked around and tried a few, but nothing held a candle to Campaign Monitor. It is truly elegant, useful, and valuable. We’re proud to use it and thank you for creating it. Recent 37signals newsletters Not surprisingly, the 37signals newsletters are a great example of simple, effective HTML email design. Each issue is predominantly text and smart formatting through inline CSS make them a pleasure to read in every email client.
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