Mastering your subscriber section

Over the last few weeks I have been receiving a number calls from customers who are struggling to format their subscriber Excel spreadsheets correctly so I thought it was time for a blog post on the matter. From hidden quote marks and tabs to converting your file to a .csv ready for importing – we answer all your questions.

Getting your subscribers ready for Import
Your database of subscribers can be imported en mass via Newzapp's import subscriber function. To ensure a successful import we recommend:
  1. Your database is formatted correctly in an application such as Excel.
  2. You've created groups ready for your database to be uploaded into.
Formatting your database
We recommend saving your database as an excel file called .CSV (comma separated value), with your subscribers listed in columns. CSV is not the default file extension for Excel so you will need to click "save as" and select .csv. This can be just a single column of email addresses or details such as first name, last name, company name etc.

The file itself needs to be as simple as possible, no colouring, macro's or filtering should be included in the file. Database driven applications such as Outlook and many CRM based systems can wrap contents of a cell in hidden "quotemarks" when exported to excel. These will need to be removed.

Removing Hidden Quote Marks and Tabs From Your CSV File
As mentioned above, when exporting a database of subscribers as a .csv (comma separated variable) file, many types of software can add unwanted hidden quote marks (") and tab characters to the data. Additionally, programs such as Microsoft Excel can insert invisible quote marks around unrecognised symbols. This will not be obvious until you try to upload the file into a NewZapp account. The extra quote marks and tabs can dramatically alter the way the data is formatted and are best removed before bringing the file contents into the account. This pdf explains how to remove these hidden quote marks step by step

Creating your groups
Before importing your excel database we recommend creating new groups, so the data can be segmented into target groups. To do this simply click on the blue and green circle icon within your navigation panel.

Renaming a new group
To rename your new group right click on the new group, type in the new name and click confirm. 

Importing Your Subscribers
  1. To start click on the subscribers tab and then import new subscribers here.
  2. The first screen will ask you to select a file to import, click browse to locate your excel file. You can also set your account to email you once the upload has been completed.
  3. The second screen will ask you to confirm what data is in each column of your excel database. Use the pulldowns to change any headers that are incorrect.
  4. The third screen deals with which group you would like to add your subscribers into. If you haven't created any the subscribers will be added to your account as unassigned. You can cancel the import at this time if you wish and create a group.
  5. The final screen will inform you the file is being imported. You do not need to remain on this screen until the import is complete.
You can navigate to any area of Newzapp whilst you wait for the file to import. Details of its progress can be found under Subscriber Import History & Status on the homepage of the subscriber tab. If you’re still having trouble we recommend watching this video

Express Import
If your Excel file follows a few simple rules your subscribers will be added using our Express Import. Express Import will add your contacts up to 10 times quicker than the standard import queue. The Excel file (.csv is recommended) must contain no more than 4 columns. One of these has to be Email Address; the others can be a combination of Title, First Name and Last Name.

Import Summary
Once your file has finished importing you will be able to view a summary report of the upload. To access this information click on the ‘details’ button next to the upload which is found under the Subscriber Import History & Status on the homepage of the subscriber tab. Please note the import reports are only available for a week after the import has taken place. 

Within this report you will be given an option to ‘export failed subscribers’. To do this simply click on the export button and then click download. Within this export and the report itself you will find out why your subscribers did or did not upload and the message which relates below.  

401 Added to your account
Already in your account. Any additional data added or updated
Not added. They have unsubscribed
Added to your account and added to group
Already in your account and added to group
Not added. They have unsubscribed. Added to group
Added to your account and already in group
Already in your account and already in group
Not added. They have unsubscribed. Already in group
Added to your account but not in to group as it does not exist
Already in your account but not added to group as it does not exist
Not added. They have unsubscribed and not added to group as it does not exist
Not added. Matches previous email address
Not an email address
Email Address too long
Email Cell empty
Duplicate in file
Title exceeds maximum length
First Name exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Last Name exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Company Name exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Mobile Number is too long exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
423 Job Title exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Address 1 exceeds maximum length of 150 characters
Address 2 exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Address 3 exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
City exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
County exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Postcode exceeds maximum length of 10 characters
Country exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Tel No exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Fax No exceeds maximum length of 50 characters
Alternative exceeds maximum length of 50 characters

Adding An Online Signup Form To Your Website
As part of your NewZapp package we supply you with the HTML code required to create an online signup form. The code found here can be cut and pasted directly into any HTML page on your website. Using this form means anyone who subscribes to your newsletter will automatically be added to the selected group(s) within your NewZapp account meaning you don’t have to manually upload someone when they sign up. 

It's the personal touch that can maximise success

Why does a barman call his locals by their first name? It's simple, because they like it and it's good for business. In this article we look at personalising emails and the impact this can have on campaign success.

One of the most important things to consider when you're creating a marketing email is how you will grab the reader's attention. Sometimes we miss the obvious things, so here's the secret:

If you know their name, use it - just don't wear it out!

It may not revolutionise marketing as we know it, but if used correctly you might be surprised by the reaction that personalisation gets.

Here are a few do's and don'ts for personalising your email marketing:

  • Make your mass customer communication personal as this should increase customer feedback, loyalty and hopefully sales revenue.
  • Personalise offers to each individual and or company to make your recipients feel special. Just adding their name can personalise an offer enough to prompt a decision.
  • Review your data on a regular basis for errors, gaps and updates. 
  • Make sure you have first name, last name and company name collected in new data wherever possible.  
  • Think outside the box. You don't have to stick to "Dear John" personalisation, you can add personalisation tags to any part of a message and more than just once.
  • Try adding personalisation to your subject line as well as or instead of in content. 

  • Don't get caught out by the "Dear blank" syndrome. Check your database before sending your email. If you don't have first names for everyone use "Hi" or "Hello" instead of Dear - anything to ensure that your message makes sense without data being added. 
  • Don't get addicted to personalising. If you wouldn't use it normally in an email, then don't use it! Forced personalisation can look mechanical to the reader. This defeats the object of using it in the first place.
  • Don't assume that because you've personalised the email your subscribers will read it all. You need to think about what your customers want to read. Always write for the reader rather than yourself. 

For more guidance on personalisation you can read our article 'The good, the bad and the ugly of email personalisation'.

Email Marketing - Where to Begin

Email marketing is arguably one of the most powerful channels for lead generation. It’s inexpensive, it can help you reach your target audience almost instantly, and it allows for a quick response time. Email also helps to build a relationship between your customers and your company, and drives online sales like no other marketing tool can. However, for your campaign to be successful there are a few things you need to take into consideration and a few key steps you need to follow…

Step 1: Goal Setting
Identify your email marketing goals before you run your campaign. What do you want to get out of your email marketing?

Maybe you’re running a special offer, want to promote a new product or just want to connect with your customers through a newsletter. Whatever your goal, you should think about a strong call-to-action and ensure you keep taking small steps to reach your end goal.

Goal setting will also help you determine the overall success of your email marketing and your return on investment (ROI).

Step 2: Creating and sending your email campaign

The basis of an effective email campaign is crafting an effective email. The most important elements of your email are:

Subject Line: The estimation is that you have up to 5 seconds to catch your subscriber’s attention with your email marketing subject line. With most people receiving on average 50+ emails per day you really have to make your subject line appealing to your readers and make them want to open your email.

  • Avoid subject lines that are too long - anything from 40-55 characters should be OK.
  • Keep the use of punctuation (that can often flag spam filters) to a minimum.
  • Always be honest - don’t try to fool your subscribers and lie about the content of the email as this could cause them to unsubscribe.

Subject lines typically perform one of the following actions; educate, ask a question, announce a sale or new product, offer a solution to a problem or jump on a popular topic.

From Name: Aside from the subject line, the first thing a recipient is likely to look for is who the email is from. It should clearly be identifiable – either your company name or your personal name if it is well known. Once you decide on the from name, keep it consistent with each email. Late Rooms does this really well with Lucie.

Whatever you do, avoid using a ‘do not reply’ or ‘no reply’ email address as your from name or email address. Nobody wants to get an email from their good friend ‘do not reply’ – you’re basically forcing your subscriber into a one-way conversation, the exact opposite of what a marketer should be encouraging.

Content: Keep your copy concise and include a clear email marketing call-to-action, encouraging the recipients to do something, such as click through to the website, sign up for an event, download a free trial, or print a coupon. Remember, you don’t actually want your subscribers hanging about, reading your email all day, the key is to get them somewhere else, your website or blog for instance, where they can consume all the information. Your email just gives them a little taste of what is on offer.

Also, remember to be human, ditch the corporate speak, add humour, include customer stories, weave in real word-world events and pop culture when relevant and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Mobile Design: A recent study claimed we're on our mobile phone every 6 minutes, checking it on average 150 times a day - that means your email marketing campaign needs to look just as good on a mobile as it does on a desktop. There are two common design options for mobile email design — scalable or responsive:

  • Scalable: The layout is clickable and the type is readable, even when reduced 50% in size. Scalable design avoids large widths and includes big type and big buttons.
  • Responsive: The layout of a page responds based on the proportions of the screen on which it’s presented. This design is becoming increasingly common for use in emails, as well as on websites.

Sending: How often and the time and day you send your email campaign will greatly alter the effectiveness of your campaign. In terms of when, the default industry standard is that B2B emails should be sent on Tuesday or Thursday at either 11am or 2pm, and B2C emails should be sent on a Wednesday or Friday late afternoon. However, we're all different, so why stick to the same plan? It's a great place to start but the only people who can answer this question for you are your subscribers. When do they open your email? When does the phone start ringing after a campaign has been sent? In regards to email marketing sending frequency this is entirely up to you, but there are certain pitfalls to sending too often; subscribers could get burnt out and stop reading your emails, and too infrequently; subscribers can easily forget who you are and hit the delete or spam button.

Overall, consistency is key. Whether it’s timing, frequency, branding or content, for an effective email marketing campaign you need to build trust with your subscribers and the best way to do that is to be consistent.

Step 3: Tracking Your Email
Click me 

After sending your email marketing campaign, you will want to know how many people opened it, how many people clicked on specific links in the email, how many messages bounced, how many unsubscribes you had, and maybe how many people converted to a sale. Unlike print and traditional direct marketing, email marketing allows you to answer all of these questions. A few important things to note are your:

  • Open Rate – The percentage of people who opened your delivered email.
  • Click Through Rate – The percentage of people who clicked on a link within your delivered and opened email.
  • Conversions – The number of people who received your email and took the action you wanted them to take, whether that's a purchase or a like for your Facebook page.
  • Client Summary – the number of people looking at your email on a desktop, mobile phone or tablet and exactly what email reader they used e.g. Outlook 2010, Mail for iPhone.
  • Bounce Rate – The amount of emails that were returned by the recipients server and therefore undelivered. A “hard bounce” occurs when the recipient’s email server doesn't accept your message - the most popular reason being the email doesn't exsist or may have been misspelt. A “soft bounce” occurs when your recipient’s server accepts your message, but your recipient doesn't get it - perhaps because they have deleted the email address.
  • Unsubscribe Rate – The amount of people who remove themselves from your email marketing list meaning you can no longer send them emails. A perfect unsubscribe rate is around 2%, as it’s practically impossible to get down to 0%. The common mind set will lead you to believe that unsubscribes can only be a bad thing, but people unsubscribe for a reason; so don’t be downhearted when someone does, just take it as feedback for the next campaign you send.

A good ESP (Email Service Provider) should offer you all of this information plus much more via their email marketing reports section. NewZapp LIVE! allows you to see in an instant which link is the most popular, if your email is trending in social media circles, what time your email was performing at its peak and what device and email client your subscribers are using to view your email – all in real time. This kind of information is essential for future campaigns as it allows you to target your subscribers in a way that best suits them and as a result increasing your ROI.

The importance of tracking and measuring your campaigns cannot be overstated. It eliminates the guesswork and enables you to calculate your email marketing campaign ROI, so you know just how effective it was and whether you should spend your marketing budget in this way in the future.

Take a closer look at your marketing voice

You know your business, you know your product and you have an in-depth knowledge of the English language. You know your problem... you know too much.

One problem with knowing so much is that you forget to hear your marketing voice. Sometimes we even forget that we're writing for the reader and not ourselves. One common mistake is to overuse acronyms and industry jargon - this could be losing you business, especially if your readers have limited knowledge of what you do.

Here are five tips to help you write jargon free, easy to read marketing copy:
  1. Write everything in advance. Never leave it until the last minute to write your marketing communications. You'll end up rushing and you'll miss the obvious mistakes. 
  2. Always ask at least one colleague to read your communication before you send it. It's even better if you can get someone with limited or no knowledge of your product/service to read it first. Ask them if they understood it and whether they found it easy to read.
  3. Always spell out what an abbreviation or acronym stands for the first time you use it. For example: "We conducted a SWOT (Strength's, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the services market." 
  4. Once you have written your communication and you have read it through once, stop... take an hour or so away and then return to it. This time imagine you're the intended reader, you have no knowledge of the subject matter and you have limited time to read the email. Does your communication still work?
  5. You can always make a sentence shorter. Shortening sentences makes them easier to read. Most marketing copy gets a quick scan. Make sure that your email is clear and concise.

What to do when it goes wrong

We've all been there. You’re really busy but you just have to get your email out today. You write it, proof it, everyone’s happy and you send it. Then you spot the mistake.

In this article we'll cover a few typical situations where things could go wrong and how to react to them in a way that gives you the best possible outcome.

Spelling mistakes

It’s very easy to forget to spell check your email. We know you'll read what you think should be there when you’re up against the clock.

To avoid this happening make sure you always use the spell checker once you have finished your email and you're ready to send yourself and colleagues a proof copy. If however, your email does go out with spelling mistakes in it, we would recommend letting it go.

If it’s not obvious, you can get away with it as most subscribers won’t spot it either. There is no need to bring your subscribers attention to small things like this - sometimes these things happen.

If you do send the email again, make sure you add a note at the top of the email explaining the reasons, otherwise you could potentially annoy your subscribers by seeming to send them the same email twice.

Wrong subject line

Correcting this kind of mistake can be damaging to your brand rather than doing it any good. Subscribers are an understanding bunch so if you don’t make a big issue out of it, they won’t, especially if it’s a monthly newsletter and all you normally change is the month.

It’s not the end of the world if you send an email entitled April in May, but this type of mistake highlights the importance of sharing the proofing process with at least one other colleague, particularly those who haven't been involved in the copy writing process.

If your subject line contains important information and you choose to send the email again, make sure you add a note at the top of the email explaining the reasons why. Another way of managing this is to write an addendum on your next email communication, noting the error and correcting it accordingly.

Incorrect or broken links

This is a common problem and can be either a link that takes your subscribers to the wrong place or links that just don't work. The best thing to do in this situation is send the email again, with the right links, including a short note at the top explaining the links have been created.

A note in the subject line would also be advisable. For example:

From Name: NewZapp Email Marketing

From Email Address:

Subject: (Corrected Version) Previous subject line
"Hi there! Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: Yes, we are sending you the same email twice. Yesterday’s issue contained a broken link and we thought it was important to deliver the information to you correctly. Please accept our apologies for the confusion."

It's important to resend your email quickly and to explain why you are appearing to be sending the same email twice. This example is friendly, explains exactly what has happened and apologises for any inconvenience.

Your email has gone to the wrong subscribers

Have you sent a special offer to the wrong group of subscribers? This mistake can have the most impact on potential revenue so you'll need to provide the most considered but timely response.

If the offer is on an image then delete the image from your account. This will then display as an empty white boxes in the recipients inbox. This gives you time to send a corrective email, whilst ensuring as few subscribers as possible have seen the offer. Bear in mind though that if the image was hyperlinked, that the link will still be active should anyone be inquisitive about the white empty space!

If the offer is in the text, then there’s nothing you can do to stop it from being out there.

When you build your corrective email, here are some best practice tips to follow:
  • Make sure your subject line carries information about the previous email being incorrect.
  • Apologise.
  • Explain what the error is.
  • Move forward.
You can also give something back. It doesn't have to be the same offer, but as part of your apology you can provide extra value which could turn some subscribers into paying customers. This can provide additional revenue you wouldn't have tapped into otherwise and can improve your brand awareness.

Do’s and don'ts

Do schedule your campaigns. This will give you at least a 15 minute window to spot anything and cancel the send. You can then correct the mistakes, send yourself and colleagues a new proof copy and re-schedule the send.

Don't react too quickly. Consider the situation and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What effect did this have on the recipient? 
  • What’s the worst that can happen? 
  • Does the worst that can happen justify any action?

Don’t write “oops!” anywhere in your email or subject line when you're sending a corrective email. It’s not very professional and you can come up with something far more relevant.


Take your time. If an email is sent that you're not happy with, don't send out a response or corrective email straight away. Have a think about it and call us for advice and best practice guidance if you want to. Your first reaction won't necessarily be the right one, so plan a structured and considered response.

Inspiration for writing email newsletters

Sometimes the hardest part of publishing an email newsletter is knowing what to write. This article features tips to help keep your newsletters interesting and make publishing a newsletter rewarding and exciting for your business.

There's no question that fresh content is important, however, we all suffer from writers block from time-to-time. To help you in your time of need we've outlined five techniques you can use to create fresh content and take the strain out of creating email newsletters.

Be an expert

Nobody knows your business and your customers like you. Positioning your business as an expert will help build brand loyalty and create trust.

The best way to become an expert is to write about what you know. We've all heard the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none". Think about this in relation to your newsletter content. If you write about everything and specialise in nothing, you'll be seen as a jack of all trades. As consumers we find it hard to believe that one business can know all and provide all.

Choose an area of expertise, something you know a lot about and focus on it. You can support this with the expertise and knowledge of others. This way you're not struggling to write about subjects you have no knowledge in.

Feature guest writers

Guest writers are a great way to provide interesting, fresh content for your readers without needing to write articles from scratch. Featuring a guest writer shows that your business is connected and ensures you provide good content in an efficient way.

This is a win-win-win situation (yes three of them!). Your business wins because you get fresh content with limited hassle, your readers win because they have expert articles from those that know about the subject, the guest writer wins because they get exposure to your market.

Overall this is a must use technique in any email newsletter strategy.

Summarise or re-visit old content

A summary email can be very useful when fresh ideas are hard to come by. This can be structured in one of two ways.

The first is the "summarise and add" approach. Here, you summarise the old content and add additional information or opinions to it. This reduces your work load and provides fresh content for your readers.

The second option is the "summarise and link" approach. Here, you summarise a number of old articles and add value by providing additional links to websites, landing pages and articles related to the subject. This requires research to find the links and articles. However, your readers benefit from the additional news and your business is seen as a valued source of information.

Feature case studies

Case studies make fantastic email newsletter content. They're a great way to show your product or service in action and provide an opportunity to sell the benefits of choosing your business.

Case studies require research and preparation, which means they often take a long time to create. However, you'll be able to use your case studies in many of your marketing communications. Time spent creating case studies is time well spent.

Discuss hot topics

We all love to talk about what's hot and what's not. It's important for your business to show that you're up to date with the latest news and views. Discussing hot topics allows you to give your business a personality and build trust with your readers.

If you're struggling to find inspiration for your newsletter, simply select a relevant hot topic, summarise it and discuss how this effects your readers and the industry you work in. You can add value to the article by providing relevant links to external information.

5 questions I get asked every month about Email Marketing

Email Marketing Superhero
Is it a bounce? Is it a proof?
No it's a SuperEmail!
With smartphones and tablets dominating our lives combined with record breaking web eCommerce sales reported the interest in email marketing is sky high, so I thought I'd list the 5 most popular questions I get asked by experienced veterans and first timers alike.

1. Will my email get blocked as spam?

Start with the tough one I say. With message filtering services and webmail clients like Gmail getting hyper aggressive on incoming emails it's never been more important to send correctly formed targeted marketing campaigns. The era of "fire and forget" email blasting is over so to avoid getting blocked as spam you have to email smart.
  • Watch your subject lines and content
    Go easy on the SALES! and BUY NOW!!'s. Message filters will block emails with too many sales hammers.
  • Check the IP address reputation of the server you are sending from.
    Type in the IP address of your sending server into Senderscore or SpamCop to check it's reputation, your ISP or ESP should be able to provide you with this information.
  • Monitor your bounces
    If you use an ESP (Email Service Provider) check the bounce information in the tracking reports. These should tell you if your email is getting blocked.
Getting blocked as spam is a part of email marketing that can happen from time to time. The secret is to not panic, learn from it, and make sure your next campaign hits the spot.

2. When should I send my Email Marketing Campaign?

Moving on from the "tough one" to the "classic one". The default industry standard answer for this over the years has been:
  • B2B Email
    Tuesday or Thursday at either 11am or 2pm
  • B2C Email
    Wednesday or Friday late afternoon.
Personally, I think this is a bit lazy. Like snowflakes we're all different so why stick to the same plan? It's a great place to start but the only people who can answer this question for you are your subscribers. When do they open your email? When does the phone start ringing after a campaign has been sent? We encourage NewZapp users to look at the open peaks to gauge when their subscribers are most active.

Click to enlarge
These peaks are fantastic indicators of when the ideal time to send your next email marketing campaign could be. Based on the most important factor, your target market.

3. US or UK Email Service Provider, what's the difference?

Due to the incredible growth of Email Marketing there are hundreds of ESP's to choose from. We all allow you to create, send and track your emails in our own special ways and this blog would be far too long if I went down the "my dad's bigger than your dad route" so I'll be sticking to the big one. 

Across the pond or good old blighty? Union Jack waistcoat aside, it comes down to 2 factors; The UK Data Protection Act and customer service.
  • Data Protection
    UK based providers have to adhere to the UK Data Protection Act, so your data remains here, on this island, safe and secure. Just as your website's privacy policy promised it would be. Using a provider outside of the UK means your data may well be housed off the island, no longer covered by UK Data Protection Law and potentially in breach of your own privacy policy.
  • Customer Service
    Dead simple this one, UK based providers are awake when you are, not tucked up in their beds thousands of miles away. Our websites have phone numbers on them with email marketing advisers on the end of them ready to help.

4. Should I be thinking about mobile devices?

In a nutshell, yes. Your subscribers world has changed, a recent study claimed we're on our mobile phone every 6 minutes, checking it on average 150 times a day! This begs the question, does your Email Marketing campaign look good on mobile?

Click to enlarge

For me, it's all about making sure the subscriber has a good experience when reading my email marketing campaigns. I want them to do something for me so keeping them happy and engaged is a great place to start. My top tips for this are:
  • Keep it short
    Unlike desktop mouse scrolling, thumb swiping can get very tedious very quickly. A good mobile responsive template will eradicate the need for pinching too.
  • Help fat thumbs
    Don't have text based links too close together, if the subscriber clicks on one but gets the other by mistake your email campaign will lose it's charm very quickly. Buttons are the key, big colourful ones that can't be missed by thumbs of busy people!
  • Subject line is king
    Could be the only thing the subscriber reads, so make it engaging. "January Newsletter" for example will not get the job done. 

5. What's a good open and click rate?

Click Me
In a similar fashion as "2. When should I send my Email Marketing Campaign?" this answer depends on quite a few factors. We recently produced an infographic based on NewZapp users by industry as a starting point.

Database age and quality are initial factors when responding to this question.

  • Age
    Your subscribers move around, alot. They change jobs, they change from hotmail to gmail, they go on maternity or paternity leave. Do they think to call and let you know? Unfortunately not, and as a consequence your email marketing campaign goes unopened. For me, any database of subscribers will start to decay after 9 - 12 months if not regularly maintained and response rates will suffer as a consequence.
  • Quality
    This falls into 2 sub categories of purchased 3rd party lists and your own database of subscribers. The open & click rate of 3rd party lists will be considerably lower than your own clean opt-in list.

After database quality comes from email address and subject line. Two of the most vital elements of your email marketing campaign and primary factors as to whether your email is read or deleted in my opinion.
  • From Email Address
    Avoid info@ and sales@ or similar addresses, spam filters don't like them and they look cold and impersonal. And don't get me started on noreply@ this is an email marketing sopbox of mine and anyone who does this should be ashamed!
  • Subject Line
    As mentioned above, this could be all you get so don't waste it with pointless statements like "January Newsletter" your subscribers already know what month it is. Ask a question, tell the reader who you are and why they should read on.