Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

Content Dethroned As King?

Relevant Content is KingContent has been dethroned as king and relevant content has taken its place.

Of course relevant content is king. What else would it be? Off-topic content?

The question is: Do you know what is relevant to your audience? Do you know what is relevant to each of your audiences? Do you provide a range of content that appeals to more than one segment at a time? If not, read on for tips on how to improve your email subscriber retention and how to improve email response rates.


A retail furniture store features only what is on sale for three mailings, which, coincidentally, is all bedroom furniture. How many people are in the market for bedroom furniture at the time of each mailing? Pushing what is on sale is fine but feature items in other rooms as well. Fewer subscribers will feel they got yet another email that doesn’t apply to them.

Professional Services
A professional services firm features content that helps prospects understand their services and choose them. What about prospects further along in a project and have started implementation? What content do they want to see? What are the other phases of the prospect’s project? The professional services firm is missing an opportunity to demonstrate their expertise and communicate key differentiators in the other phases of a project.

You get the idea. Step back and put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes. Even the Pros lose sight of this from time to time. Whoops. I’ve forgotten to update or reference my editorial calendar. Or worse. I settled for what content I could get versus going the extra mile to get what will be effective.

Everything we do online should contribute to building our house list. Everything we do with our house list should be done to retain our current subscribers and acquiring new ones. Don’t blow it on the last step and come up short.

Until you get your content game on, consider breaking out your lists into sub categories so you don’t lose people to the dreaded global unsubscribe.


Instead of the retail furniture store offering a single newsletter or promotional list, they could offer the subscriber the option to customize their subscription preferences. E.g. Receive promotions and offers by room type, furniture type, accessories, etc.

Professional Services
In this scenario, they could offer subscription preferences for a newsletter, white paper announcements, case studies announcements, etc.

You can see where this is going. You can reduce the number of subscribers who globally unsubscribe by offering other subscription options. If they don’t want your newsletter because it rarely addresses their needs, they still have the option to subscribe to something else instead of Globally Unsubscribing.

I hope that these tips will help you with your email subscriber retention efforts.

Download this as a presentation.

Posted: May 19th, 2010
at 9:03am by Rob Van Slyke

Tagged with , ,

Categories: Email Marketing,Email Optimization

Comments: 2 comments

Top 10: Improve Email Deliverability and Response

Keep emails fresh

  • Relevant: Appeal to each of your primary audiences

Unless you only offer one product/service and subscribers would only subscribe for one reason, you need to segment your list and provide relevant content to each segment. See my recent post: 6 Easy Steps to Implement An Email Segmentation Strategy

  • Deliverable: Dot your I’s and cross your T’s.
    • Setup domain authentication (previous post)
    • Keep your list clean (stop sending to unopens)
    • Watch your text to image ratio
    • Don’t go overboard with the superlatives, ALL CAPS and spammy words
    • Include a copyright and link to your privacy policy
    • Use clean HTML code – sloppy errors are flags

Don’t let mistakes affect deliverability. All sorts of things affect deliverability but don’t let the basics slip by.

  • Compatible: Design for the various previews in email clients

Preview your email templates in the major email tools such as Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Apple Mail.

This is the best reference I’ve found for understanding which CSS styles render in which email tools:

  • Personable: A friendly person wrote this – not a company

The days of stuffy corporate speak are over. You are trying to build a relationship with your prospects through multiple channels. Don’t blow it in email.

  • Focused: Don’t create distractions and keep it shortFor whatever reason, many email templates are full of distractions (navigation links, house ads, etc). Focus on:
    • Your subscribers’ needs
    • Your goals

Again, reference my post Email Segmentation Strategy for tips

  • Test: Test everything before you change something

If I had to guess, I’d say 5% of all email marketers test their emails in any way. Marketing = Testing.

  • Simple: Simplify the layout

Unfortunately, most marketers don’t revisit their email layouts and templates as often as they should. If you aren’t testing, how do you know what to change?

  • Fresh: Work in design elements that keep it fresh

Just a visual queue to your subscribers that this isn’t a resend and they should take notice.

  • Recognizable: Review your from, subject line and headline strategy

Don’t get too generic with your from email and from name and don’t change them. You want subscribers to add you to their address book. If you change your address and/or from name, it won’t be in their address book. Choose something recognizable and run with it.

  • Viral: Make it interesting and incorporate share icons

How much effort does it take from the first key strokes of an article to the moment you hit send to get your email out to your subscribers? If you add up the hours and cost, you might take your email marketing more seriously. Take another hour or so to review headlines, intros and photos to make your email something people want to share (assuming your content is compelling in the first place).

  • Useful: Reference previous and up-coming content

Just a bonus tip: People don’t read every email you send. Reference previous content and hint and upcoming content.

Download the Presentation Email Deliverablity Checklist

6 Easy Steps To Implement An Email Segmentation Strategy

6 Easy Steps To Implement An Email Segmentation StrategyThe concept is simple. Segment your list so you can provide relevant content to each target audience. Actually implementing an email segmentation strategy may prove more challenging. Incorporating segmentation into your email marketing strategy doesn’t have to be difficult. You want to provide Topic A to recipients interested in Topic A. The solution doesn’t require an Enterprise application – just a little elbow grease.


  1. Create your Email Marketing Segmentation Plan
  2. Add tracking variables to your URLs or make sure they are all unique
  3. Export your click report
  4. Sort by URL and add attributes to each group
  5. Upload new attributes
  6. Send relevant content to each target audience

Download the PowerPoint for 6 Easy Steps to Email Segmentation

Email Marketing Segmentation Strategy

Present different topics in the same email in such a way that you can safely assume that clicks on Topic A mean the recipient is interested in Topic A. E.g. If a recipient clicks Retirement Planning vs. New Family Planning, you can safely assume you have an older target. Let’s get more granular. If the recipient clicks on Retirement Planning Consultation vs. Retirement Planning 101, you have someone later in the buying cycle. Can you safely assume that? That’s up to you and your options.

Obviously you can’t segment your entire list with one email so come up with a long-term plan to incorporate ongoing segmentation. Create an editorial calendar that covers the full range of your products/services and spread out your content so you are not focusing on a single topic in an email. You risk alienating and losing recipients who aren’t interested in a particular topic. It will not be clear cut and you will probably have topics and targets that fall into more than one segment.

Tracking and Segmentation

You’re ready to hit send on your first newsletter with your email segmentation strategy in place. How will you know who is interested in what after you hit send? You have a number of options.

Manual Segmentation

The lowest-tech way to segment your list is to export your click report and sort by URL. Create a new attribute for that group and update your list. E.g. everyone who clicked gets tagged with two new attributes: Topic and Buying Cycle like this (click to enlarge):

Adding Segmentation Attributes to your Click Report

Most ESPs allow you to create custom fields. Create the new fields/attributes and then upload your list. Your subscribers will be matched by email address and the new attributes will be added to their record.

Sending a Segmented Email to Your List

Your ESP may not have a sophisticated way to send to subscribers based on attributes so the lowest-tech way is to create new lists for each group you have identified and send different emails to each list. I realize that takes more effort but you are putting the burden on your recipients to read each email and determine if it is relevant to them and they will eventually stop reading your emails or report you as spam.

Automated Segmentation

If you know how to use your Email Service Provider’s (ESP’s) advanced features, you can automate segmentation. Use their logic to filter people based on what they clicked on. I usually put a variable at the end of a URL e.g. or

If you don’t understand this, let me break it down for you. It’s simple. The ? after .html tells the web server it’s not part of the page name – it’s just extra information. The Topic=A makes Topic a variable name and makes as its value. This isn’t programming… Trust me. It’s just a way to get extra information in the URL so your ESP can read it.

Now that your URLs have tracking codes in them, create a rule in your ESP tool that says if URL contains Topic=A, update that user’s record with A in the Topic field. You can also perform other actions such as add them to another list, send them an email or series of emails, etc. Call your ESP’s support line for an intro to the topic. It’s easy to get started.

Build your segmented list over time and start offering more relevant content. Your response rates will increase and your list will grow faster.

Download the PowerPoint for 6 Easy Steps to Email Segmentation.

Posted: March 2nd, 2010
at 10:59am by Rob Van Slyke

Tagged with , ,

Categories: Email Marketing,Email Optimization

Comments: No comments

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