Author Archive

Integrating Pinterest in Email

According to Experian Hitwise, Pinterest is now the number three most-popular social network in the U.S., behind Facebook and Twitter. This explosion in site traffic has happened virtually overnight, and there’s no evidence it will slow down anytime soon. Pinterest in EmailWhat this means for most marketers – especially those seeking to reach a female demographic – is that Pinterest may be an untapped resource and opportunity to connect with customers. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about how to integrate Pinterest into your marketing campaigns. Here are a few practical tips on how to integrate Pinterest into your next email campaign: Add a “Pin This” Button to specific sections of your email. Chances are, your product is exactly the kind of thing a Pinterest user would like to pin to one of their boards…so make it easy for them!. It’s surprisingly simple to add a Pin This button to your email campaign, and you can even designate the image and description that will accompany your pin. Use this code to link your “pin this” button:[WEBSITE=URL]&media=[IMAGE_URL]&description=[POST COPY] Create your own boards to mirror and complement current email campaigns. For example, if you’re a book publisher it might be a good idea to create a board called “My Summer Reading Plan.” Use this board to pin images of book covers you would love to read over the summer. Then pull those images directly into your email. This will be a subtle way to prompt readers to do the same. This is also a great way to get your audience more engaged with your products – especially if they’re not interested in making an immediate purchase. See example. Offer incentives for re-pinning. Adding a short call to action for readers to repin something in your email. It could be in the form of a fun contest where anyone who pins your product will be entered to win. Then randomly choose a winner from the group of re-pinners. Come up with a catchy title for the contest…let’s say “Pin it to win it!” Finally, do some research. Check out what other companies are doing with their Pinterest accounts. To get started, here’s a great webinar on Pinterest Best Practices, produced by StrongMail:

Posted in Email Marketing, Social Media

Advertiser Spotlight – WaterBrook Publishing Group

For this month’s Advertiser Spotlight, we are highlighting a great e-blast from Waterbrook Publishing Group.

This campaign was sent as a dedicated email to our Christian Bible Studies list, and received nearly 3x the average click-thru rate.

E-blast example

Here’s a breakdown on why we felt it performed so well:

1. Image-to-Text Ratio

This is a common trait we notice in higher-performing email campaigns. While there are certainly benefits to coding an e-blast as a standalone image (i.e. it guarantees proper formatting of text and spacing), it also has some limitations.

Many email clients have images blocked by default (Gmail does this, for example). The best way to ensure your message is received by all readers is to include some text in the email. This will often improve the appearance for subscribers with images enabled as well, but more importantly it is not blocked by image filters.

2. Descriptive Alt Tags

Because certain e-mail clients do not automatically display images, the Alt Tags for an image are very important in communicating calls to action and other vital information.  This campaign included clear and helpful Alt text for each image in the email, allowing readers to know exactly where to click even when image blocking was in effect.

3. Promotional Offer with a clear Call to Action

Everyone enjoys a giveaways and promotional offers, right? Sure they do…especially around the holidays.  This campaign featured a nice giveaway, nicely targeted to our Christian Bible Studies list. But what really set them apart was the clear call to action.  The buttons were prominent and clearly written, making it easy for readers to take action.

4. Social Media and Blog Links

Another feature that we are seeing more often is the inclusion of social media and/or blog links in email campaigns.  This allows readers to connect with the brand or interact with product offers, and possibly even promote it themselves within Facebook or Twitter. As advertisers, that kind of viral promotion is as good as it gets.

Posted in Advertiser Spotlight, Email Marketing

Email Subject Lines – Tips and Best Practices

In email marketing, getting subscribers to open your email is half the battle.

Today’s consumer is bombarded with advertising messages – via radio, television ads, billboards, and social media – the total number of messages received per day now exceeds 5,000 for the average person.

And because we don’t have time to process 5,000 messages a day, we’ve gotten pretty good at filtering them. Emails are no exception, and in most cases your subject line will have less than a second to be judged worthy of opening.

To help you get your subject lines through that filter, we’ve gathered some of the best tips from industry experts and boiled them down into the following 3 rules:

1. Keep it short.

Under 50 characters, if possible. According to many studies, emails with subject lines of fewer than 50 characters have better open rates. Other studies have shown that keeping it under 35 is even more effective.

If you must go longer, make sure to put the most important information first. (Our specs allow up to 70 characters, including spaces.) Remember that longer subject lines may be truncated on mobile devices. Read more.

2. Keep it professional.

Avoid spam trigger words like “Buy Now!!” or “$$$.” Excessive punctuation will almost certainly earn you a spot in the spam folder, and may lead to spam complaints. An unexpected discovery reported here is that “help,” “percent off,” and “reminder” in subject lines negatively affect open rates.

Don’t use ALL CAPS. Capitalizing one or two words is okay, but it should be done sparingly and only to communicate necessary emphasis.

3. Don’t be pushy.

Avoid hard sells. The owner of MailChimp said it right when he quipped, “The best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.” Read more.

Don’t tell people what they need. Phrases like “MUST READ” or “ACT NOW” are more likely to get deleted than they are to elicit a sense of urgency.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Email Marketing

ALT text in Email – Tips and Best Practices

If you read our online specifications and followed a link to this page, you’re probably wondering either 1) “What in the world is ALT text?” or 2) “Why are they telling me to keep it under 25 characters?”

I’ll attempt to answer both questions in this post, so feel free to skip down to section 2 if you are already familiar with ALT text.

1. What is ALT Text?

ALT text is an important (and in many cases required) component of HTML and XHTML documents. The “alt attribute,” as it is properly referred to by design geeks, provides the alternative text to be displayed in case images are blocked or broken.

This is extremely important for HTML emails, because some email clients block images by default. If your email campaign has a prominent call to action (and it should), chances are it will be featured in an eye-catching button or graphic. And if you don’t apply ALT text to those images, that all-important call to action will be invisible to some of your readers.

Tip: ALT text should describe the function or purpose of an image. It’s not a literal description of the image. For example, if the image is a clickable button, do not apply the word “button” as the ALT text. Instead, use something like “Click to Learn More.”

2. Why put a character limit on ALT text?

Some email clients (including Windows Live, Gmail, Yahoo, iPhone and Apple Mail) will not display ALT text if it exceeds the width of an image. That means if you’re using a 200-pixel wide button for your call to action, you would be well advised to keep the ALT text under 25 characters.

Ros Hodgekiss from Campaign Monitor wrote an excellent article on how to optimize ALT text for popular email clients. In that article she includes a screenshot of two images rendered in Outlook Express:

ALT text in Outlook

This is how roughly 50% of Outlook users will see them (because Outlook blocks images by default).

That’s not very good news, but at least Outlook Express is displaying the ALT text in place of the blocked images. This is not the case in all email clients. For example, this is how the same two images appear when they are blocked in Yahoo Mail:

ALT text in Yahoo Mail

As you can see, the longer ALT text simply disappeared from the first image. This is because Yahoo does not allow text wrapping — if ALT text extends beyond the width of the image, it will disappear.

This is why we recommend keeping ALT text under 25 characters. In fact, one or two words is usually enough to get the point across. It may be true that “a picture speaks a thousand words”…but not in the ALT text.

When it comes to ALT text in email, it’s best to keep it short and sweet.

Posted in Advertising Tips, Email Marketing, Online Advertising

RockMelt – A Social Web Browser

A few months ago, I started using a new web browser called RockMelt. If you have any interest in social media, or if you enjoy following sites via RSS feeds, I would recommend trying out the RockMelt browser. There are a bunch of cool features, but a couple of my favorites are listed below:

1. One-click sharing on any website. Most content-rich websites have added social sharing icons that allow you to share articles on Facebook or Twitter. RockMelt Share Button

However, there are still quite a few sites that either do not offer this feature, or have cumbersome processes that require several clicks in order to share content. RockMelt circumvents this problem by allowing you to share any webpage directly from the browser.

RockMelt’s Share button even converts URLs into “shortlinks”, making it easy to post on Twitter (without exceeding the 140-character limit). The title of the article is also automatically populated in the text box, highlighted and ready to customize.

I’ve found myself using the RockMelt share feature almost exclusively to share information on Facebook and Twitter – even on sites that have their own social sharing icons.

2. Custom Social Media and RSS Feeds. My favorite feature of the RockMelt browser is the “App Edge.” It’s an optional navigation bar that allows you to view updates from your favorite websites. For instance, I follow three Twitter feeds (one personal and two business accounts), and can quickly view updates on all three. I can also view posts from specific lists within each account, as well as monitor replies and “mentions.” The App Edge also alerts me of notifications on Facebook, and will display custom RSS feeds from my favorite websites.

I expect the folks at RockMelt to roll out more cool features in 2011, including some kind of integration with Facebook’s upcoming webmail platform, dubbed the Titan Project. If that happens, RockMelt may be a key player in the move toward “social email.”

Check out the official demo of RockMelt or visit their website for an invitation to download:

Posted in Social Media

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