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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.

 

Recycle-Yahoo

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…

Spam

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.

Security

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.
Good-vs-bad1

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!

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 http://www.tailormail.co.uk/blog/

[image_frame style=”framed_shadow” align=”center” alt=”Adding links to TailorMail” title=”Adding links to TailorMail”]http://www.tailormail.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Links.jpg[/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”]http://www.tailormail.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/ab-testing.jpg[/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.

starting-line1

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 tailormail.co.uk 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!

John.