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New Feature: Keep Track of Your Unconfirmed Subscribers

If you’re using double opt-in for your subscriber list (which we recommend), you’ve now got the option of seeing which subscribers have completed your subscribe form, but haven’t actually clicked the verification link. Unlike single opt in, double opt in requires your subscribers to validate their email address before being added to your subscriber list. When a new subscriber completes the subscribe form on a web site, an email is immediately sent to the supplied address containing a verification link. To complete their subscription, that person must click the verification link. From today, you can quickly see if any potential subscribers have failed to take that final step and click their verification link. This is handy for spotting potential form entry errors like a mis-typed email address. This feature also helps to identify any potential delivery issues with your confirmation email. We allow you guys to specify your own from name, from address and email content for the verification email. Make sure you always use valid from details and avoid potentially spammy words in your email content.

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A Few Handy Plain Text Formatting Tips

We recently made a few subtle tweaks to Campaign monitor when you select the format you’d like to send your email in. We still present the same options – HTML only, HTML and text or plain text only – but we’ve tweaked the copy to encourage those sending HTML only emails to also include a text version. There are many reasons behind this. Including a text version can improve your deliverability, it looks much better when forwarded by many web-based email clients, and is a format some of your subscribers simply prefer. While your formatting options are obviously more limited, there are still plenty of do’s and don’t you need to observe when designing plain text emails. Stefan Pollard recently put together a few great tips on the best approach to formatting plain text emails that are definitely worth checking out. While you’re at it, take a look at Mark Brownlow’s tips for formatting plain text emails we published here back in December 2004. All his points are still very relevant today.

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Look for the Positives in Your Unhappy Subscribers

As you know, Campaign Monitor is directly integrated into the feedback loop for a number of large ISP’s like AOL, Hotmail, MSN, Juno, Netzero and a few others. This means that when any of your subscribers at these ISP’s mark your campaign as junk, we automatically remove them from your list and give you a detailed report about who made the complaint and when. Derek Harding recently put together an overview of how feedback loops actually work and there are two points we think he covered really well. The first is an explanation of why even the most well maintained lists can still see a few complaints. It’s important to understand that though your list may be 100 percent opt-in, it may still receive a substantial number of complaints. For years, end users have been told not to trust email unsubscribe links, so many users hit the spam button as a way of unsubscribing. While we do take action when a customer receives a significant number of spam complaints, we certainly realize that many of your recipients are just taking the easy way out or might not trust your unsubscribe link. Then there was this beauty. Too many marketers dismiss complainants as troublemakers and malcontents. The reality is there’s a wealth of data in who complains and what they complain about. Regardless of whether you believe the complaints are unfounded, if they complained they were dissatisfied. Smart marketers aim to avoid dissatisfied customers (or prospective customers). In my experience, the majority of complaints are caused by a failure to meet expectations. A common case is high complaint rates among new subscribers. This can be caused by subscribers not realizing what they signed up for, subscribers not getting what they thought they signed up for, or a long delay between sign-up and the first mailing. Just like the recent tips on getting the most out of your unsubscribes, there’s plenty we can learn from those marking our legitimate emails as junk. If you’re receiving complaints for any of your campaigns, it might be time to review your subscribe process and make sure you’re meeting and exceeding the expectations of your subscribers.

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E-Commerce and Email Marketing, an Interview

I recently did a short interview with Varien, an awesome Los Angeles based e-commerce developer and happy customer of ours. The interview was put together for their excellent blog on all things e-commerce, and focused on the role of email marketing for those selling online. If you’re selling products over the web, there are a few bits in the interview worth checking out.

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Hardware Upgrade Problems

A few hours ago we flicked the switch on a big server upgrade including a significant hardware boost and a brand new database server. Unfortunately the process hasn’t gone as smoothly as we had hoped and something that should have taken 5 minutes is going to take much longer. At this stage, it’s very unlikely that we’ll have Campaign Monitor up and running before 6pm (CDT) this afternoon. We can’t apologize enough for this, and please rest assured that we’re doing everything in our power to get things running smoothly again. We’ll post updates here the moment we’re back online and you can access your account. UPDATE – 12.45pm (CDT) All sent campaigns should be displaying and working fine now. Link tracking is currently disabled but we’ll switch that on soon. In the mean time though, your recipients won’t notice a thing. We’re now working on your subscribe forms and will post here as soon as they’re back online. UPDATE – 1.25pm (CDT) OK, subscribe forms are back online now. This means your campaign recipients and any subscribers are no longer affected by this outage. Link tracking is also back online and we’re now hard at work getting the application itself available UPDATE – 4.45pm (CDT) We’re making plenty of progress bringing the application back online, but it looks like we won’t make our self imposed deadline of 6pm (CDT). As it’s coming to the end of the business day for many of you, we recommend waiting until tomorrow to get any campaigns out. A hardware problem managed to corrupt some recent data, so we’re treading carefully to restore this problem before we open the application up again. It’s tough to give accurate estimates on when this will be complete but we don’t want to promise any less than 6 more hours (12am CDT). As usual, we’ll be posting here the moment you can access your account and thanks again for your patience. UPDATE – 2.00am (CDT) Right now it looks like we’re less than 2 hours away from bringing the application back online. All of our hardware issues have now been resolved and we’re tying up loose ends before flicking the switch back on. Thanks for all the kind words we’ve been receiving too, your understanding is very much appreciated. More news to follow real soon… UPDATE – 6.40am (CDT) WE’RE BACK! Access to all accounts has been re-enabled and all the queued campaigns are getting delivered as I type this. We’ll be closely monitoring everything, but please feel free to access your account. We can’t thank you guys enough for the kind words of support and patience as we got to the bottom of this issue. We’ve seriously got the best customers in the world. UPDATE – 8.20am (CDT) While the application is back online and fully operational, the hardware failure did mean that a portion of our customers data needed to be restored from a very recent backup. Unfortunately this meant that anything added to those accounts during this window was lost. We’ll also be restoring some data to these accounts to fill in some of these gaps over the next 12-24 hours.

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Improved Campaign Scheduling

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.

Blog Post

Making the Most of Your Unsubscribes

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.

Blog Post

9 Steps to Better Welcome Emails for New Subscribers

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.

Blog Post

Free HTML Email Templates

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.

Blog Post

Turning off Link Tracking and Image Downloading

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.

Blog Post

Image Based Spam on the Rise

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.

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