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Gmail changes could reduce your open rates

Changes to Gmail could reduce the number of opens you see for your email campaigns

TailorMail and  other email platforms track open rates by recording the number of times a specific image in the email is opened. In theory, every time the email is opened, the image is used and your email platform logs this as an open.

There have always been issues with this measurement, such as images being disabled on many clients or emails being loaded into a preview panel but never actually read. Well Gmail have just made this a little bit more complicated, by changing the way images are used in their emails.

In short, when you open an email in Gmail for the first time, nothing will really change, but after that Gmail will change the image links in the email to point to a copy of the images stored on their server so essentially you will not be able to measure any subsequent opens.

Here are three things you’ll need to be aware of …

  1. You may not be able to measure repeat opens. Your most engaged customers will often open an email more than once, the trouble is, you might not be able to see this any more. Although the exact impact isn’t clear yet it appears that this doesn’t apply to all geographic regions and may not apply where readers use a different device to re-open it. Essentially, repeat opens will be harder to measure accurately. 
  2. Location tracking will be more difficult. TailorMail and other platforms use images to track where an email is opened, so in the same way as above. Open locations recorded after the first one are likely to be less accurate for customers using Gmail.
  3. Interactive components may be affected. Those clever little bits that you have added to your email like countdown timers that rely on external feeds will only work if they point to the original source, so check them thoroughly in Gmail before you send the email.

Gmail is likely to be one of the bigger providers in your lists, so this could have a noticeable impact on your results. To find out more about this and other tips to get the most out of your emails, get in touch with us or to check out this easy to follow guide on how to get yourself started on TailorMail.

All the latest articles on TailorMail can be found on our blog page.


The brochure site

Choosing a website: The 5 most common types

Building a website for your business is a big investment, the web is littered with examples of abandoned sites that seemed like a good idea at the time (and probably were), but just weren’t the right site at the right time. With so many different options out there, choosing the right type of site is key to making it work for you, but also to prevent you spending much more than you need to.

According to Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist and author of Your Customer Creation Equation, there are five basic formulas for websites.

1.) The brochure site

What it does: A brochure site does what it says on the tin. It is glossy, polished and like most brochures exists to get people to call or visit you.

Who needs it: This site will work well for you if you have a store, product or service that is mostly offline such as a salon, high street shop or trade. They are a good option if you want a low maintenance shop window for your business.

What it takes: Brochure sites can be fairly easy and quick to set up, but make sure you get a good designer and make it easy for your customers to get in contact with you. It will often be people’s first impression of you, so make it a good one.

The brochure site

2.) The publication site

What it does: Publication sites can range from big news sites like the BBC through to your personal blog. They are all about information, and often they won’t sell anything directly, but make their money through advertising.

Who needs it: People who have something to say. Publication sites can be great for creating and sustaining online communities, so if you have a specific area of interest (that is interesting to other people as well) or a cause to fight for these sites can be a powerful tool.

What it takes: The wide range of blogging platforms available mean that you can start a simple publication site quite quickly, but don’t be fooled, it is going to take a lot of elbow grease to build your community or readership and you’ll need to consider how to support your site e.g. affiliates.

The publication site

3.) The online store

What it does: Stores sell things. The rise and rise of sites like Amazon and Ebay have lead to a generation of online entrepreneurs and online stores now sell almost any product or service you can think of.

Who needs it: An e-commerce site is a bit like having a supermarket online, so it is going to best suit businesses with a simple product that people already understand and want. It is a lot easier to sell and ship a £10 DVD online than a £15,000 mobile home!

What it takes: A true e-commerce store will require a lot of thought to get the customer journey and offer right. Unless you have a very big budget, stick to a templated site, but make sure that it is a good one and don’t skimp on the design or integration either – people will only come back if they enjoyed the experience last time.

The online store

4.) The consultative site

What it does: A consultative site is a bit like the next generation of brochure site. It is still a shop window, but it is going to provide a lot more content – it is all about ensuring a reader has enough information and the right information to make a decision about what they want.

Who needs it: Businesses that have a complex product or service. The perfect example would be a mortgage company, you probably wouldn’t buy your mortgage over the internet, but it would probably be the first place you looked for information about where you would.

What it takes: Like a brochure site, it may be the first impression customers have of you, so make sure it is designed well and make sure that you dedicate enough time and resource to ensure that you have a steady supply of relevant, up-to-date and unique content that will show you are the expert and have the best product for them.

The consultative site

5.) The online service

What it does: With an online service, often the site is the product such as an app or subscription based service. The site is the sales team, customer service department and product all in one.

Who needs it: This is quite specific because it is only going to apply to people with a pure online product such as an app developer or on-line service provider. Wave Accounting are a good example of this type of site.

What it takes: A site like this going to need good sales content such as videos, demonstrations or trials as well as email integration and customer service support. It’s a big investment, but it is the biggest part of your business after all!

The online service

Warning: The true cost of Yahoo! recycling email addresses

Recycled email addresses and what you need to do about it.

Yahoo! like most established email providers have long had the problem of what to with old email addresses that have long been forgotten, but never closed. The difference is that they are doing something about it which will have a significant impact on how we hold sand use addresses in the future.

Effectively Yahoo! have taken the decision to start recycling old email addresses with effect from August 15 2013. This is going to have 2 key impacts on you as a digital marketer…


You could become a spammer simply by contacting an email address that you already have an opt in for. ICO guidelines treat an email address as an individual in their own right which works well if only one person ever owns that address, but unravels when they are passed on. Best practice has always said that you should gradually strip out old and unresponsive addresses from your list to protect your deliverability, but now it could become a legal matter.


This could compromise the security of your user’s accounts. For many of us, an email address doubles as our username and even if it doesn’t, we need one to send password resets to. Now we will have no guarantee that the person we are sending a new password to is the same person that set the account up in the first place.

What do you need to do?

Whilst it isn’t clear yet exactly how the ICO are going to interpret these changes, it is clear that we need to act now. Somehow you need to identify which Yahoo! email addresses are active and which are not. Whilst there is no exact way to do this, here is what I’d suggest:

  1. Create a list of all Yahoo! addresses who have not opened or clicked on one of your campaigns in the last year. You can do this using the List segments function in your TailorMail account.
  2. Create a simple email with the purpose of encouraging the user to interact with the email in some way. You can make it a sales style email if you want to, but I’d recommend a more admin styled approach even if you are still driving people to your site in the end. Often it pays just to be honest about why you r sending the email.
  3. Make sure the subject line is clear and strong. Remember that these addresses haven’t opened one of your emails in a year at least, so they’ll need to a good reason to open this one.
  4. Send the email out before August 12 to ensure that there is enough time to get the full response before the deadline of August 15
  5. Retire any addresses that do not at least open your email from your list. This might seem extreme, but bear in mind that these people are not engaging with you anyway and are probably negatively impacting your sender reputation.

Killer offer to brand killer: 3 simple ways to improve your customer journey

Killer offers are great, but not if the customer then has a nightmare trying to muddle their way through your site to get it. This is why big brands spend so much on getting the online customer journey right, but as the case study below will prove, that is no guarantee. In fact, having a big budget helps, but there are some really simple steps you can take to make sure you get maximum value for your spend.

Here are three simple tips courtesy of Groupon and Costa.

1.) Make it simple to find

Costa’s offer was for a free drink and came in the form of an email that was delivered to me with a simple link and explanation. I didn’t have to look any further than my inbox

Groupon’s offer was a 2 for 1 on tickets to an airshow. I heard about it from a friend, but spend 20 minutes trying to find it on the site, before eventually finding a link from Google. If my son didn’t REALLY love aeroplanes, I’d never have got passed here.

Are you actively telling potential customers about your offers? If so, how easy do you make it for them to act on it?

2.) Make it simple to get

All I had to do to get my free drink was to click on the link in the email. Costa had my information from when I first got a loyalty card (even though I had never used it) and so there was just a nice clean thank you page saying that the necessary points would be added to my card shortly.

When you first arrive on Groupon’s home page you are forced to sign up for their daily offers email, you cannot get past it unless you are an existing customer. Okay, so I sign up and spend 20 minutes searching for the page. When I eventually find it I spend the next 10 minutes clicking every link on the page trying to find out how I can get the ‘Groupon’ that I need to print, before eventually deciding that there is no way to get it and finally looking for the ‘Help’ tab.

Check all your offers are still available (tell people clearly if they are not) and tell them clearly and simply what you want them to do to get it. Ask someone else to test it out, don’t just assume that it is okay if it makes sense to you.

3.) Make it simple to ask for help

The Costa offer was so simple to follow that I didn’t need to ask, but when I looked at their twitter feed there were plenty of examples of where they were interacting with customers.

When I eventually found the ‘contact us’ link at the bottom, the page does everything but make it easy to contact them. You actually have to click through to another page via a link hidden on the right. Once I had sent the email, I quickly an automated reply saying that they normally replied in 24 hours. 24 hours later I got another email saying that they were ‘unusually’ busy. When the reply eventually came three days later the ‘copy and paste’ style message was that the offer had expired and that the page would say this (it didn’t) but that they do re-run their ‘more popular deals and this is certainly one of them’, which would have been great if the show wasn’t tomorrow!

Make it easy for customers to contact you with queries via email, phone or social media and if you are going to use automated responses, check that they are correct. Where problems are solved effectively, it can actually increase loyalty, but hell hath no fury like a disgruntled customer!

How to create an effective test in 5 minutes

How to build an effective test (in 5 minutes)

Everyone knows they should be doing it, so why do so few brands regularly run tests in their email marketing. It is usually down to one of the following…

‘I don’t know where to start’
‘I don’t know what to test’
‘It just takes too long’

Whilst it’s true that some brands have whole departments who do nothing more than manage testing programmes, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number or really simple tests that you can run quickly and simply and they can have a truly dramatic effect!

Here are 5 top tests that you can run today, and the best thing is that they will only take you a matter of minutes to set up…

1.) Personalise your subject line

Adding a persons name to your subject line can have a significant impact on your open rates. Try running a personalised message in your subject line like “Tom, check out these great shows today”

2.) Add symbols to your subject line

Try adding a special character your subject line by simply pasting it into TailorMail. You can find a list some useful characters here The more relevant the symbol is, the more likely it will be to work e.g. “☼ Looking for a sun break? Check out these latest deals”

3.) Test a different call to action

Even small changes to your call to action can have a big impact. Try adding one to the top of your email, or making it bold. You can also use buttons to make it more visible. For more information on building a call to action, check out this post

4.) Use a different lead image

A picture is worth a thousand words (sometimes). Test using different images in your email, it is easy to swap them in and out and they can have a big impact on what people think and do about your email.

5.) Change your offer

How you present an offer, and even which offer you choose to focus on will have a big impact on whether people think it is worth going for or not. Try using a specific end date or pricing structure e.g. “cover from £4.99 a month” vs “cover from under £60 a year”.

Now that you have some killer test ideas, the next question is how to build them into your email. The answer is – like this…

1.) Create a new email and select the ‘A/B split campaign’ tab.

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”A/B Testing in TailorMail” title=”A/B Testing in TailorMail”][/image_frame]

2.) Select the type of test you want to run…

3.) Name your campaign and then depending on the type of test you have chosen, you will need to…

Choose the subject lines you want to use OR

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”Subject line test” title=”Subject line test”][/image_frame]

Choose the sender names OR

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”sender name test” title=”sender name test”][/image_frame]

If you have chosen a content test complete this screen as normal by naming the campaign and setting up the sender name then continue.

4.) Set the template and add your email copy as normal and then select the list you want to use and click on ‘Define A/B split’. If you are running a content test, you will need to do this twice, once for each segment.

5.) TailorMail will send a section of your list out to the test and control segments and determine which one is the most effective before sending the winner to the rest of the list. You’ll need to decide three things.

Firstly, how many people should receive the initial test, for smaller campaigns (under 300), I’d recommend using the full 25% to each. You can do this by using the slider.

Next you should choose what criteria you want to use for the test. Think about what the test is trying to achieve for this e.g. a subject line test will have the most impact on open rates.

Thirdly, How long do you want to let the test run before a winner is chosen. A default of 6 hours is selected, but you may want to leave it longer e.g. if you are releasing your email late in the day where many people won’t open it till the next day.

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”Setting your segments” title=”Setting your segments” height=”190″ width=”400″][/image_frame]

6.) Finally, check the summary page to make sure that everything is as you expected it to before moving on to send your test emails and approving the campaign as normal.

To get the most out of testing, try to only change one thing between your emails, so you know what made the difference and then use that element again next time to build a really effective mailing programme over time.

Happy testing!

Call to Action sign post

Click Here? Increase responses with a better call to action

It might seem obvious, but the reason you are sending an email to a customer in the first place is because you want them to do something like call you or go to your site. Email marketing is most effective when it is targeted and relevant to the reader, but even the best looking email at the right time and with a great offer won’t be effective if the reader doesn’t know what to do with it.

A huge amount of research has been done on working out what the most effective call to action looks like but the truth is it will depend on what you are saying and what you are asking the reader to do, but there are some universal truths you should apply.

Be specific

Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do with what they have read. ‘Call us now to get a quote’ or ‘Start your survey by clicking here >>’ both tell the reader exactly how to respond to the email.

It is worth thinking about where you want to direct responders to before you start. E.g. if the offer is only available on the website, then make sure that there is a link to the page they need with the offer.

Make it simple

Your reader may only focus on your email for a matter of seconds before deciding what to do about it. Nothing is worse than seeing a great offer and then not being able to figure out how to get it. However you want the reader to respond, make it obvious – make sure there is a link next to the offer so the reader doesn’t have to scroll down to find it.

Ideally build a link into your text, with TailorMail you can do this easily by clicking on the functions icon for the header or by ‘insert’ and then selecting the type of link you want to add. Also, make the link user friendly e.g. saying ‘see our blog‘ rather ‘visit

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”Adding links to TailorMail” title=”Adding links to TailorMail”][/image_frame]

Using buttons

Buttons can be very effective tools to improve response. If done right, they are eye catching and easy to understand. Effective buttons are usually…

  • Brightly coloured, oranges and reds are traditionally the best colours
  • Brief, keep the text in the button as short as possible
  • Add arrows ‘>>’ to the button to improve click through. Sounds simple but it works.

Buttons are effectively just pictures, so if you are using a TailorMail template you can simply insert the button where the picture would go and add a link in the normal way.

Test, test, test

Testing may seem like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Try using the A/B test function on TailorMail to see what links or calls to action work best for your emails. Even small changes such as changing a button from ‘Read more’ to ‘Apply now’ can have a massive difference on overall response.

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”AB testing in TailorMail” title=”AB testing in TailorMail”][/image_frame]

Review it

Finally, use the reporting tools to understand which links and calls to action were the most effective. Try looking at the Link Activity & Overlay report to see what links readers clicked on most. You can access this report through the reports screen by clicking on ‘Link Activity & Overlay’ on the right hand side.

As always with email – quality will almost always beat quantity, so spend a bit of time early on planning how to get your readers to respond and then keep reviewing it.


Getting started

Congratulations, you are only a few short steps away from sending your first emails. This guide will give you all the information you need, but please feel free to get in touch with us in the mean time if you have any queries and watch out for our updates on the latest new features and trends for TailorMail.

Step 1: Setting up your account

When you join TailorMail, we will send you an email inviting you to confirm your login details and set up your password. Once you have done this you will be taken through to your account homepage where you can create new lists, send campaigns and manage your account details.

In future you can access the site by clicking on my account on the home page of and entering you account name and password.

My Account

On your homepage you will see a number of options. The first thing to do is to confirm your account payment details by clicking on the billing tab in the top right hand corner of the screen and then selecting the option to update your payment details. If you are using the free trial, you do not need to provide these, but you will not be able to send out your first campaign until you have done so.

Step 2: Loading your mailing list

Before you can send an email you will need to load a list of people to send them to. On the homepage, you will see a button asking you to import your subscribers, alternatively you can select the tab at the top of the screen entitled ‘Lists and Subscribers’.

Lists in TailorMail

The platform will take you through the process step by step. You can load your list in several ways, but probably the easiest way is to drag your Excel or .CSV file onto the screen when asked to do so. Please do take time to check that your addresses meet the requirements for TailorMail – you will be asked to confirm this before you can actually load the list. Check out our FAQ’s for a better understanding of why we don’t allow third party lists.

Much of the value of email is, the ability to personalise your campaigns, so make sure you load any relevant information you have for your lists e.g. full names, birthdays or last purchase date.

Step 3: Design your email

This is the fun bit. Depending on your account, you may already have pre-designed templates to select from, but if you have chosen to load or design your own templates, then you will need to got to the templates tab at the top right of the screen to set up a template.

Once you have done this or, if you are using a bespoke template, you will be able to enter the content for your email. On the account home page, click on ‘Create & Send’ and then on ‘Get started’ to create your first email.

New Campaign

Choose a name for your email, a subject line and who you want the email to appear from i.e. the sender name and click on ‘Next’. Now you can select the template to use. Once you have selected a template, you can use the simple editor to enter your email content including pictures, links and styling. Click preview to see what your email will look like when you send it.

Step 4: Send your email

All that’s left to do is assign the list that you have created to this email, so that TailorMail knows who you want to send the email to. Click on ‘Define recipients’ and select your list from the options. If you would like to send a test email to up to 5 people before you send the final campaign, just click on ‘Test and define delivery’ and enter the addresses here, alternatively you can skip this step and go straight to sending the email by skipping past this screen and going straight to the send screen and selecting a time to send the email out.

All done! You have finished your first email.

What next?

Even a basic email like the one you have just created can be very effective, but there is a lot more you can do to make your emails more effective, targeted and automated. To find out more, keep an eye on our blog, or get in touch for some simple ideas that would work for your business.

Happy emailing!


Searching for the Genius Moment

The myth of the Genius Moment in Direct Marketing

[fancy_header variation=”deepblue”]Searching for the Genius Moment[/fancy_header]

If you have ever planned a marketing campaign you’ll understand this. Sitting looking at a blank piece of paper, desperately trying to find the inspiration for that next brilliant ad-creative – the one that will rank up there with Russian Meerkats and sprinters impersonating Richard Branson. The idea that is so funny and compelling that it will take Youtube by storm and transform your brand over night. Some of us may even think we have had that moment, only to find out that our customers weren’t quite as convinced.

In reality, very few of the most successful brands are built on genius moments like this. They are built on something much less flashy, but much more important. Testing. I am always amazed at the number and size of brands that waste huge amounts of energy and money on campaigns that they will only ever use once and then start from scratch again next month. Certainly none of them would treat a new product launch that way, but when it comes to marketing they somehow forget the basics of business and try to be the next Erickson or McCann.

Effective testing doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are very few situations where it can’t be applied. Here are a three easy steps to building an effective testing culture and making sure you get the most out of your marketing budget…

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  • Have a plan – Planning a test doesn’t require you to know whether something will work or not – after all finding that out is the whole purpose of the test in the first place. But, you do need to plan your tests. Don’t just pick a new header image because you like it – consider what you are actually trying to achieve, who is going to be reading it, what do you want them to do about it, will it mean the same thing to them as it does to you? Have a theory then test it.
  • Keep it simple – When you have found something that works, build on it. Sure there will be times when you need to re-think the whole idea, but in the mean time only change one thing at a time and see what impact it has before changing something else. Complicated test matrixes often look impressive on Powerpoint but unless you have a lot of time and resources to test them, you’ll probably just get frustrated
  • Don’t rush it – Without getting too geeky here, make sure that the results are statistically valid as far as possible. Quite simply, give the test enough time to make sure any improvements are because of the test and not the weather or just dumb luck! I’ve often heard excited marketers talk about 150% uplifts in response to a new test, but when you look a bit deeper all that means is that they got 2 extra sales and it’s only been live for a day.
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Don’t get put off if this all seems just a bit too complicated or fiddly. The benefits can be huge, a 3% increase in response over a month might not seem like much, but if you can keep building on that with other small wins, it soon starts to look a lot more impressive.