Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

Simplify SubscriberMail® Reporting with Link Labels and Link Rollups

Posted by Nic Winters on December 8th, 2015

Millennials ShoppingMany of our SubscriberMail® users rely upon the Message Summary Report within their account to provide them with actionable information about their past campaigns and help them communicate results with others at their company. However, sometimes we find that the complex URL structure used by some clients can lead to a click report that is less than ideal (especially for those that may not have worked on the email project and are simply looking for quick details).

For example, these URLs may make sense to the person that crafted an email campaign:

http://www.mywebsite.com/thispage.html?content=1

http://www.mywebsite.com/thispage.html?content=24

http://www.anotherwebsite.com/product/featured/display.html?item=367

… but to others on their team, they may not know what products were included on those pages, etc.

With the Link Label feature within SubscriberMail, you can update these types of links so that they are more informative, such as:

MyWebsite – Home Page
MyWebsite – Specials & Promotions
AnotherWebsite – Featured Product #367

Upon creation, Link Label entries will automatically update relevant links within the Message Summary Report area and continue to apply them to all subsequent messages sent from the SubscriberMail account where they were created — there’s no need to recreate existing ones for future messages.

In addition to Link Labels, our Link Rollup feature allows for the grouping of related links that would normally be listed individually in reports. For instance, consider the following unlabeled links:

http://www.mywebsite.com/mypage.html?productpage=28937423

http://www.mywebsite.com/mypage.html?productpage=28937dfs

http://www.mywebsite.com/mypage.html?productpage=28sdddd

Although the three raw URLs above all lead to the same product pages, each one would normally be treated as an individual entry in the Click Through Details portion of the SubscriberMail report. However, you can use the Link Rollups feature to combine such similar links to be displayed like this:

http://www.mywebsite.com/mypage.html

…then create a label for the rolled-up link to make it appear like this:

MyWebsite.com – My Page

Grouping related links via a Link Rollup allows for much easier data comprehension. In the example above, we only are dealing with 3 links, but imagine a scenario where you’re dealing with far more URLs. Using these features, you can see how Link Rollups and Link Labels can make for a much cleaner report.

Please contact our support team at support@hcdigital.com and we would love to walk you through the process of creating link labels and rollups within your SubscriberMail account!

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Understanding Email Design

Posted by Shannon Gomez on October 14th, 2015

Mobile Quick ReferencesTo understand email design, you need to understand the end user’s viewing experience. Many designers think that web pages and emails are built the same way because they both rely on HTML and CSS, but current web standards don’t work in the world of email. Email applications, or clients, do not use the same standards as web browsers. They provide limited support for HTML and CSS in outdated and inconsistent ways. Semantic elements — like section, header, footer, headings and paragraph tags — and external CSS don’t exist in email. Everything must be built in tables nested within other tables and styles are applied inline.

Web pages are usually viewed in about 10 common browsers, which share similar modern standards for supporting HTML and CSS. Email is viewed in a wider number of clients, which use a rendering engine to display the content of the message. Control over how your email is viewed by every client on every device can sometimes be tricky. For example, the SubscriberMail® Inbox Experience displays more than 40 different ways your recipient might view the email you send.

Also, not all declarations work across all browsers. A background-image will not work in Yahoo® Mail, Gmail™ and AOL®, and rarely will it display in any Outlook® program or Lotus Notes®. Outlook holds a large percentage of market-share with email recipients, but has little support for CSS properties like display, float, width, height, margin and padding.

Responsive design is an elegant way to display web content across devices. Unfortunately, the code that makes this possible is not universally supported across all email clients. Responsive design relies on CSS media queries to conditionally change table, font or image sizes or even hide content from one device to another, but Gmail is known for stripping out the head section of an email and all the media queries within it.

The current trend is mobile-friendly or scalable design. This type of design works well across desktop and mobile devices by using a method called mobile-first. No media queries are used to adjust the design or elements between devices. Mobile-friendly designs are generally one column, less than 600 pixels wide, use larger fonts for better legibility on a small screen and include extra space around buttons and links for easier clickability.

You can also use the tried and true fixed-width or static design. This type of design will simply shrink itself to fit the screen on which it is being viewed. This means that images set to 600 pixels wide will be viewed at about 50 percent on a mobile phone and all fonts and images will reduce size proportionately as well.

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Automation and Data Help
Reinvent Email

Posted by Mallory Green on September 16th, 2015

BalanceFor the last few years, many thought that email was on its ninth life. Social platforms began taking the world by storm and continue to soar today as Twitter® reported that its users send more than 500 million tweets per year, and Facebook® has quadrupled in value.1 But email’s pulse continues to beat and, as data-driven marketing becomes increasingly more popular, “email is the ‘glue’ for communications across the customer lifecycle.2

Email addresses are the web’s identification system and, for many websites, viewing purchasing history or account balances all starts with an email address. With each click of the mouse, organizations are learning more about customers and assigning data to their email. So now instead of pushing out generic emails, marketers can use the data collected to analyze their customers’ behavior and provide them with more relevant content.

By adapting a marketing automation platform, marketers can house all of their data in one location with information being added seamlessly as customers interact with their business. With all that data in one place, marketers can create automated email campaigns based on pre defined triggers that target customers based specifically on their engagement history, such as:

Welcome messages. Schedule a message to trigger every time a new email address is obtained.

Content marketing messages. Gather and analyze data around content pieces. Take note of what content customers are reading and sharing. This will help determine where they might be in the customer journey or what topics they are interested in, which enables marketers to reach them with relevant content.

Follow-up messages. As customers interact with businesses, they may download a white paper, make a purchase, attend a webinar or abandon a shopping cart. These are all opportunities for marketers to follow up and ask about their experience, offer related information or provide recommendations.

Inactive resends. Testing done through Harland Clarke Digital, focusing on a variety of clients in a variety of industries, found that resending a message can improve engagement and increase render rates. Use this opportunity to resend messages to those who haven’t engaged. Remember to keep an eye on unsubscribes and understand that not every message, list and segment should receive an inactive resend.

Creating automated marketing emails is a great way to alleviate some of the work that goes into creating and sending messages, especially for one marketer. Not only are these types of emails essential in leading customers to their next point of conversion, they help encourage continuous, two-way communications.

Sources:

1. http://www.inc.com/john-brandon/why-email-will-be-obsolete-by-2020.html

2. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2422388/email-marketing-the-best-is-yet-to-be

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Adopting a Mobile Email Design Mindset

Posted by Jami Delperdang on August 21st, 2015

Mobile friendly Email DesignWhile the percentage of emails opened on a mobile device varies by industry, the overall average is 49 percent, which is a 500 percent increase since 2011.1 Within the financial services industry, mobile email has increased signicantly over the past few years and currently accounts for 31.5 percent of all email opens.2

So what does this mean to financial services marketers?

Standard email designs are intended for viewing on a desktop computer versus a mobile device. Sometimes they include columns or navigation that is best viewed at a larger size. In general, these types of emails simply shrink to the size of the device on which they are viewed. It is now essential that financial marketers adopt a mobile email design mindset and develop mobile design strategies to ensure account holders will have a positive viewing experience across their devices.

Mobile Email Design Mindset

Having a mobile email design mindset means learning how to visualize mobile email rendering and designing email for that device. Essentially, after understanding mobile parameters, there are two approaches designers can take: 1) they can design what is commonly referred to as “mobile aware” or “mobile friendly” email, or 2) they can use responsive design.

Let’s review each one in more detail.

Mobile Friendly

Mobile-friendly email design is created with mobile device viewing in mind and follows best practices for smaller screen sizes, legibility and easy click-through capabilities. More specifically, fonts are set a bit larger and buttons are given more space to make them easier to touch on a smaller screen. This design approach intentionally eliminates things that might be difficult to read, such as a navigation menu. A banner might be a table cell with a background color that can change width versus an image that would be tiny on a mobile device.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
Single design that works across all email viewing environments Provides a one-size-fits-all mobile experience
Does not require any media query support Slightly compromises some device experiences
Less resource intensive to produce May require horizontal scrolling on some devices

Responsive Design

Responsive design includes special code in the header of an email that will determine the device on which your email is viewed and adjust the layout accordingly. Fully responsive email designs should include a desktop version at 600 pixels wide and a mobile version at 320 pixels wide.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
Provides a custom mobile experience when @media support is present Not fully supported across all devices or email clients
Consistent experience across a wide range of devices HTML coding requires a greater level of complexity
Rearranges or hides specific content Incremental level of effort and resources for production needed
Provides the ability to collapse content areas with a finger tap

No matter which type of mobile email design approach you choose, it is best to keep things simple. Due to the lack of standardization across email clients, it’s difficult to predict how a complex design will work for your email recipients.

  • Designs should be approximately 600 pixels wide.
  • Keep it simple by using a baseline grid and avoiding complicated elements.
  • Anticipate that images can be blocked by email clients, and background images should be avoided as they commonly fail to load at all.
  • Image-heavy emails perform poorly.
  • Use web-safe fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Georgia and Times New Roman, which work well across all platforms.
  • Design with mobile in mind. Increase font sizes in the body of your email to 14 pixels or larger, and make sure there is enough white space around your buttons for easy clicking.

Sources:

1. Litmus. (June 2015). “Email Analytics.”

2.  http://www.emailmonday.com

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Boost Engagement Rates with Inactive Resends

Posted by Alex Wolski on July 30th, 2015

CreativityLike many of us, I sign up for and receive a lot of commercial email. Thanks to the nearly unlimited amount of storage offered by the free webmail providers, I have something like 15,000 emails across all of my personal inboxes. I don’t think I am alone in this.

Every now and then, I’ll find a past unopened message offering a great deal that has since expired. It’s not that I consciously decided not to read it; I just didn’t have time. Maybe it caught my eye but my phone rang, or the oven timer went off, and I had to deal with something else. By the time I get back to my inbox, which might even be the next day, I may have forgotten about that intriguing email. Now, it’s buried under a pile of other messages.

Looking at this from an email sender point-of-view, distracted customers can represent a largely untapped opportunity. We may assume each recipient is making a conscious decision to open or not open our email, but through testing done by Harland Clarke Digital™  focusing on various clients in a variety of industries, we have found that this is often just not the case. Resending the message can actually provide a lift in render and click rates… and this lift can be significant.

According to Bill Leming, VP Strategic Services at Harland Clarke Digital, “We’ve seen instances where it doubled the render rate and click through rates and instances where it increased responses by about 40 percent”.

These statistics will naturally vary by sender, offer and list segment. Like any other technique, it’s something that you need to test in order to see if it makes sense for you. Here are some additional considerations to take into account:

  • The easiest way to do this in SubscriberMail® is to create a Dynamic List Filter that will identify anyone who has opened or clicked on the original send. Then, you can copy your original message out of Sent Messages and redeploy it to the original list, making sure to suppress this list filter;
  • This technique will work best with your cleanest, most engaged list segments. If the list you are resending to has a high percentage of disengaged subscribers and/or spam trap addresses, it can actually work against your deliverability;
  • Thus, it makes sense to test with a small group first and, if there are no adverse effects, expand the testing group;
  • While you are testing, you need to watch your unsubscribe rate carefully to make sure the resend doesn’t cause a spike in unsubscribes.
  • You should also use the TOS Complaint Summary report to see if the resend has a higher “user marked as spam” rate than the original email;
  • You can use the Compare Message Summary report to see how the render/click rates of the resend compare to the original send and discover what sort of boost you are getting, or use the Combine Message Summary report to get the aggregate statistics of both deployments combined.
  • Not every email is a good candidate for an inactive resend. You may not see a benefit from resending a largely informational email;
  • While inactive resends can provide a boost to campaigns that didn’t do as well as you wanted the first time around, they can also work on campaigns that did spectacularly the first time around. If you get a 50 percent unique confirmed open rate and a 20 percent click through rate on a particular message, it clearly resonated with your subscribers. Why not resend this message?
  • While it is not necessary to change anything about the message, you might consider escalating the urgency of the subject line in resends. For example, “Time is Running Out…”, “Last Chance…”, etc.. This may urge distracted customers to pay more attention this time around.

Harland Clarke Digital’s SubscriberMail platform includes tools that make it easy to test inactive resend techniques and measure the effect of these techniques on your campaigns. Contact us for a demo today.

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