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These days there’s a growing list of essential content you should include in every email you send. You know the drill. Unsubscribe mechanism, postal address, link to web version, the list goes on. The permission reminder message Of all the essential content though, there’s one I consistently see missing in many of the thousands of campaigns we deliver each week. What makes this more surprising is that this is one of the most important elements and also one of the easiest to add. I’m talking about the permission reminder message – a simple sentence or two reminding the subscriber how they gave you their permission to email them. Here’s a quick example: Hi, just a reminder that you’re receiving this email because you subscribed via our web site. As promised, this issue includes great tips on …… Simple hey. In 2 simple sentences you’ve assured each recipient that your email isn’t spam and reminded them why they were interested in hearing from you in the first place. Don’t stop there We’re nearly there, but now that you’ve reminded the subscriber how you got their permission and what you’re sending them, why not give those that are no longer interested the option to unsubscribe right there and then. Here’s a complete example: Hi, just a reminder that you’re receiving this email because you subscribed via our web site. As promised, this issue includes great tips on ……, but you may unsubscribe if you’re no longer interested. If you can’t summarise how you got their permission in a few words, then there’s every chance you don’t have it or they won’t remember giving it to you. “Remember that time you downloaded a report from our partner and gave them your email address” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. While we’re on the subject, we recently tweaked our anti-spam policy to make our permission requirements crystal clear. We give you a quick summary of this each time you add subscribers to your account, but it’s worth a peek if you haven’t already checked it out.
We’ve just made a few small updates that should keep you schedulers out there happy. From today, as well showing the date, time and time-zone your scheduled campaigns will be sent we’ll also be including how far away that actually is from right now. So instead of seeing something like 1.55pm on Friday, 25th August (Central Time), you’ll also see about 4 days and 3 hours. This comes in especially handy for those scheduling multiple campaigns in multiple time zones. On top of this, we’ll also warn you when you try and schedule a campaign in the past. Previously we just assumed this was deliberate and sent the campaign immediately, now you’ll get a confirmation message just to make sure.
Yesterday we highlighted some great tips for welcoming new subscribers to your list, so today we thought we’d look at the flipside. Stefan Pollard just put together some great suggestions for getting the most out of anyone leaving your subscriber list. As you know, Campaign Monitor requires a single-click unsubscribe link to be included in every email you send. On top of this, we also let you set up a confirmation page to redirect the unsubscriber to, and this is where Stefan’s tips shine. He writes… Instead of letting unsubscribers go with just a thank-you note, give them the opportunity to tell you why they’re leaving. You can use that information to sharpen the focus of your e-mail program, redo your template or send schedule, improve personalization, or find other ways to become more valuable to subscribers or customers. We especially liked these 2 suggestions: Include a form giving that gives them an opportunity to let you know why they unsubscribed, such as no longer interested, was sent too frequently, etc. If you have other newsletters on different topics or sent less often, give them the opportunity to subscribe to them instead. Out of any subscribers in your list, it’s the people who are leaving that can offer the best advice on what needs improving.
Mark Brownlow recently put together 9 common sense suggestions on ways we can all improve our automated welcome emails we send to new subscribers. As Mark explains… Somebody just felt interested and enthused enough about your products, services or publications to request regular emails from you. This is one of those precious marketing moments. You’ve got the prospect’s attention. You’ve got their interest. You’ve got their permission to send them email. And how do you communicate with them in this glorious, elusive moment? Unfortunately for many of us this is usually a pretty generic and boring confirmation email. Mark’s recommendations range from reminding them how often they’ll hear from you, giving an immediate feedback option and using conversational language. All great ideas. We’ve just updated the suggested text for the welcome emails in Campaign Monitor that embrace most of Mark’s suggestions. There are a few in there that you’ll need to add yourself though, like reminding them of the benefits of subscribing and rewarding them with some kind of treat. Check out the article and make the few simple changes to your welcome emails today.
We often get asked by new customers if we have any sample email templates they can check out to get started. We’re psyched to say, of course, we do! These email templates cover everything from a simple announcement email to an email newsletter and much more. If you’re looking for some further inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, our design gallery has now grown to 100 awesome examples of emails from some of the best-known companies on the planet. Plus, we’ve got a helpful post on the 4 ways email templates make your email marketing better.
When you import your content into Campaign Monitor, we automatically download all your images and convert all your links so they can be tracked through the reports. Works well. Everyones happy. But, what if on the odd chance you didn’t want us to do that? What if you’ve got a dynamically created image that you want to be different for each recipient (perhaps using data you pass in through a custom field). Well we’ve just added a couple of simple attributes you can add to your code that let us know to leave certain bits alone. What do they look like? All you need to do is add either the cm_dontimportimage or cm_dontconvertlink attribute to your image or link tags. As a quick example, here’s the image tag in action: Turning off image importing <img src="http://www.myserver.com/filename.jpg" width="20" height="20" alt="alt text here" cm_dontimportimage> Turning off link tracking <a href="http://www.myserver.com" cm_dontconvertlink>this is a link</a> Although we don’t do any conversion when we detect these values, we do remove the cm_dontimportimage and cm_dontconvertlink values when we actually send your campaign.
I’ve seen quite a few mentions about the growing problem of image based spam on the web and unfortunately in my inbox of late. I knew image-based spam was getting worse, but this statistic in a recent USA Today article blew me away: Image-based spam accounts for 21% of all spam, compared with just 1% in late 2005. It’s only a matter of time before spam content filters respond by coming down even harder on predominantly image based HTML emails. With the difficulties of coding a consistent design across all email environments, it’s little surprise that some designers are still opting for an image-heavy approach to their emails. With the continued popularity of email clients turning off remote images by default, and the continual tightening of content filtering rules, this just isn’t an option any more. This is another notch in the growing list of reasons why you should avoid heavy use of images in your HTML email designs.
Just under a year ago we made a small change to the Campaign Monitor subscribe forms to ensure they weren’t vulnerable to any nasty comment spam and other types of form spam. This was a pretty simple change and has certainly done the trick to date. Having said that, there are still some old school single opt-in subscribe forms out there, some of which are capturing unwanted and bad email addresses. To prevent these annoying spammers from filling your lists with unwanted email addresses, we’ve just added an extra step in the subscribe process that only impacts these older forms. This simple extra step is a small form that requires the subscriber to enter a 6 digit number, like the screenshot on the right. This way we can prevent spammy subscribers joining your list. How to avoid this verification step Again, this only affects older subscribe forms that were created more than a year ago and submit to the campaignmonitor.com domain instead of the cmail1.com domain. If you’re a customer using this older subscribe form code, we recommend updating it to the latest version available in your account. As soon as you do this, this second step will be removed and your forms will continue working like they always have. If you have any questions at all about this, please fire them our way.
Even when you’re sending a HTML email to your subscribers, it’s always a good idea to include a text version with the email. There are a few benefits to this approach, which I’ll highlight later, but I recently came across a great case study on MarketingSherpa that highlights another reason to always include a text version. As well as the standard preview pane window, Microsoft Outlook also includes an auto-preview feature that displays the first 3 lines of your email. This gives your recipients a chance to preview your email before deciding to open it. Here’s a screenshot of it in action. By default, the auto-preview will display the first few lines of your text email. If you don’t include a text version however, things can start to get ugly. Instead of seeing a nice intro to your email, your recipient will actually see the first few lines of your HTML version. Outlook still strips your HTML tags, so it’s not all bad, but most HTML newsletters begin with standard content like the name and date of the newsletter or “Having trouble viewing this email” kinds of messages. Not the optimal content to encourage your recipients to open your email. When you send a HTML email with Campaign Monitor and don’t include a text version, we still add a text version for you by default with a small message and a link to view your campaign in their web browser. Again, this works great if someone is having problems viewing your email, but not so hot in Outlook’s auto-preview area. Our recommendation Always include a text version of your email even if you’re only sending in HTML format. Try and provide an enticing summary of the contents of your email in the first sentence or two. This, combined with a good subject and a recognizable from name/address should have a big impact on anyone checking out your email using Outlook’s auto-preview feature. Other reasons to embrace a text alternative On top of the auto-preview benefits, sending both HTML and text in a single email means: Those recipients who have their email environment configured to display text only will still be able to read your email. You’re reducing the chances of your email being filtered as SPAM. Many popular spam filters like SpamAssassin will penalize you for not including a text-version. You’ll even lose points if your text version doesn’t contain similar content to your HTML version. Better formatting when your recipients forward your email. Many popular email environments such as Hotmail will display the HTML version of your message, but when you forward the email it will actually default to the text-version of the campaign instead of garbling the original HTML message. There you have it. A text alternative to your HTML email should increase the chances of your email being delivered AND being opened. Who can argue with that?
The content below has been updated to reflect the current process. I recently helped a customer with a problem that we’ve heard a few times before, so I figured I might post the answer here as well. Here’s the question: “Many of my e-mail addresses have come from a store website (that I will continue to use) that has a simple single opt-in e-mail signup process. As I convert to Campaign Monitor, I want to move to a complete double opt-in process. I would also like to put my current list through a second round of opt-in. Is there a way with Campaign Monitor that I can import a list and then send an e-mail that gives the recipient a link to confirm their subscription to the list as well as unsubscribe if they no longer want to get messages from our store?” Because this technique is often used for older lists that haven’t been engaged with in a while, you should first make sure you have proper permission to contact the recipients. As we state in our anti-spam policy, you can not use Campaign Monitor to email any subscriber you haven’t contacted in the last year. Once you’ve verified that you have permission to contact the subscriber, choose the “Reconfirm a list” option within Campaign Monitor to create a one-click confirmation email. This will make it easy for your subscribers to stay engaged. There you have it! Give subscribers a few weeks to confirm their subscription. Moving forward, you should only send email to the new, confirmed list.
“I just wanted to say that we’re so impressed with everything about Campaign Monitor. It has to be one of the best web applications I’ve ever used. It’s beautifully designed (people in our office love the reports) and I can tell that a lot of thought and effort has gone into the user experience. It works beautifully. Oh and the support is excellent too! Congratulations. “ Mark Bennett, CABE
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