4 tips for resending to non-openers

If at first you don’t succeed – try and try again. It’s a message that’s been drilled into us since childhood but how well does it stack up when it comes to your email marketing?

For a long time it has been argued that resending emails to recipients that didn't open the first time round could do more harm than good, but there is also a lot of evidence to suggest it can be an effective way to re-engage with your subscribers so long as you proceed with caution.

1. Only resend the most important email campaigns
Suppose that every time a subscriber left one of your emails unopened, you resent it. Imagine how annoyed your subscriber would get. It probably wouldn't be too long until they unsubscribed from all of your email marketing messages. So pick your most important email campaigns and limit your resending to just those ones.

2. Change your subject line 
The subject line plays an important part in capturing your reader’s attention and enticing them to open the email. If it didn't work the first time, what makes you think it’ll work the second time? Tweaking the subject line also has the added bonus of letting readers know this email was not resent by mistake.

3. Change your sending time
When it comes to timing your resend, make sure you give people enough time to open to your original email – we usually recommend waiting at least 3 days. It’s also helpful to resend your email at a different time of day to your original send. Someone might not have had time to read your email when you sent it at 9am but they might have time after lunch.

4. Measure the impact
The entire goal of resending your email is to encourage a few more opens and clicks in hope of driving additional conversions but this can come at a cost. Some people may respond negatively to the additional email in their inbox and unsubscribe. So be sure to measure the unsubscribe rate of your email resend and weigh this up against the additional conversions that it creates. If too many people are dropping off your list because of the resend, it may not be worth it.

Children of the (higher) resolution - part 2

In my last post I talked about the increasing popularity of devices with high pixel density screens such as Apple’s Retina Display. Now I’d like to go into a bit more technical detail and consider what makes such a screen look so good, considering a little bit of the past, present and future on the screens we most commonly see.

There are 3 aspects of a high PPI screen - resolution, physical size and viewing distance.

Screen resolution is measured in pixels (the tiny dots that make up the image on your screen), giving the number of pixels on the horizontal and vertical axes of a screen. Multiply these values and you have the total number of pixels on the screen. For example, a typical laptop has a resolution of 1366 x 768, which gives a total pixel count of 1,049,088 – over a million pixels. Pixel count has no bearing on physical size – pixels can be created at any size allowed by technology, meaning many current smartphones have the same resolution or greater than a 50 inch HD TV.

The physical size of screens is an interesting topic. In the UK, screens are always measured on the diagonal and always in inches, bizarrely. Until fairly recently we saw a trend of ever-increasing mobile phone screen sizes; indeed they still creep up with every new iteration, but we’ve reached (and in some places surpassed) the ideal device size. I have a 2 year old Samsung Galaxy S3 and it only just fits in my pocket when I sit down. Some of this year’s top spec Sony phones could be used as tribal hunting weapons.

So mobile phone screen sizes have plateaued at a maximum of about 5 inches on the diagonal. Tablet screens are also limited by device size and weight, coming in 3 distinct size categories ranging between approximately 7 and 10 inches. Phone/tablet crossovers also exist, like the Samsung Galaxy Note range, but I personally refuse to call anything over 5 inches a phone. If it doesn’t fit in my jeans then it’s a tablet.

I digress. Laptops have a huge variety of screen sizes, from the smallest netbooks with 7 inch screens to tap out screenplays in caf├ęs to 19 inch gaming behemoths that weigh as much as a large dog and set fire to your knees. Desktop monitors have a similarly wide range, with manufacturers recently upping the size race again to the latest resolution buzzword, 4K. More about that later, but consumer desktop screens are most commonly LCD panels in widescreen (16:9 or 16:10) format these days, ranging from 19 to 30 inches.

This brings us to TVs, which conveniently start at about 19 inches, the same size as the smallest monitors, but extend to about 70 inches, or an entire wall of your lounge, whichever is smaller. Yet currently almost all TVs have a resolution of just 1920 x 1080, otherwise known as (full) HD.

Fun fact: The best cinema seats are 1.5 times the height of the screen away from the screen with a viewing angle of 37 degrees (source).

The difference between TVs and monitors (and indeed all devices) is all about the viewing distance. When you look at your phone, you’ll hold it fairly close to your face. You’re close enough to the screen that on a low PPI device you can see individual pixels. When you watch TV you’re sitting across the room, meaning much larger pixels are acceptable without a noticeable quality problem. The same goes for a cinema. Yes it’s a huge screen, but unless you’re in the front row you’re actually quite a long way away from it.

Test yourself: Use your fingers in front of your face to make a box surrounding your TV screen. Is it much different from the size of your phone? Try it next time you go to the cinema too.

The future’s coming (quick, hide!)
We’ve become used to HD displays very quickly (we had standard definition TV for years and years – HD has been around for 5 minutes in comparison), and despite the fact that they still look great we’re a greedy bunch and we want more – bigger, better and yesterday, please.

The next big thing in screen sizes is 4K, otherwise known as UltraHD. 4K has been around for quite a while; the vast majority of UK cinemas have either 2K or 4K digital projection. Consumer 4K (to be found in TVs and computer monitors)  is in itself a slight misnomer (and a bit of a swizz if you ask me) as the 4K refers to the horizontal measurement, i.e. 4000 pixels wide, when the 1080p/I naming convention with HD refers to the vertical measurement. Then there’s the actual resolution of 3840 × 2160, less than 4000 on the horizontal. Having said all that, there’s still 8,294,400 pixels to look at, which is a fair few in anyone’s book and 4 times as many as HD. Then there’s 8K (otherwise known as Super Mega Ultra Wicked HD) just around the corner…

In conclusion
Those of us with high PPI digital devices are now enjoying a level of sharpness more akin to print. Perhaps it won’t be long before the 72 PPI ‘for screen’ standard is completely dropped and everything is designed to a minimum of 300 PPI. We’ll all need a faster internet connection in order to cope but it could be a similarly magical shift to the one we had not too long ago from analogue standard definition (SD) to full high definition (HD) television. You could argue it’s already happening.

What movie quotes can teach us about email marketing

We take a look at some famous movie quotes that can also relate to email marketing best practices. So how many movie quotes can you recognise? Without any Google cheating that is!

"I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle"
When asking for people to subscribe, don't ask for their life history, make it easy for them to signup. By asking for more than just email address and their name you will only end up making the process longer and it could put people off from subscribing. Keep it simple, have an area on every page of your website where people can enter their email address and click subscribe.

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"
This is what your subscribers will say if your campaigns have no relevance to them. Ensure that you are giving them exactly what you said you would when the subscribed and not just emailing them about irrelevant subjects that they have no interest in.

"I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse"
Offer your subscribers something in every email campaign, a free educational ebook to download, a discount voucher or coupon that will encourage them to use your business or service. From your welcome email to your regular campaigns make sure you are offering your subscribers something not just of relevance but all that is of interest to them. You can then monitor how popular the link clicks are which will help you with your future email campaigns.

"You, talkin to me?"
Don't confuse your subscriber, personalise your email campaigns with their first name to grab their attention so they know you are talking to them. I'm not saying go crazy by adding in lines upon lines of personalisation but at least greet them at the start of your email. You could even ask them a question using personalisation like; "@Firstname@, have you seen our email marketing check list yet?", then include a link for them to follow.

"Bond, James Bond"
Make sure your from name is clear and you keep it consistent. If your recipients get an email from your "Company Name" then you start emailing them from "Jenny Jones" this may cause some confusion as to who you are and when people are confused they get annoyed. This may very well cause them to unsubscribe.

"Say hello to my little friend"
Include a forward to a friend link as well as social share buttons so your subscribers can share your email. Doing this will help increase the overall reach of your email campaign and get you in front of potential new customers.

"You've got to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky?"
Be sure you test your email campaigns prior to sending. By not testing you will only be spinning the email roulette as to what subject lines are being marked as spam, how the email displays across different email clients and checking for any link or spelling errors.

Children of the (higher) resolution

Every time I see an article or advert about Apple’s Retina Display, I have to force myself not to dismiss it as marketing guff and consider the relevancy. Let me explain.

As an email designer, devices with a Retina display are a pain. When I open an email I have lovingly crafted they make my pin-sharp graphics look a touch blurry, and that’s guaranteed to upset any designer.

First it’s important to understand what a “Retina” screen is. First and foremost, the name is just an Apple marketing term – Samsung, Sony, HTC, in fact all smartphone manufacturers are now producing devices with high PPI (Pixels per inch) displays.

Any screen with a pixel density high enough that under normal viewing conditions the individual pixels cannot be distinguished is essentially “Retina”, although it should be noted that Apple’s Retina devices handle images differently to any other high PPI device.

In a nutshell, the PPI value is determined by the resolution of the screen and its physical size. The ‘normal viewing conditions’ also vary between devices and their use. I want to explore these details in more depth in my next post.

Scalable graphics, photos and text look super sharp on these screens. Unfortunately, images created at the smallest possible size with mobile devices and data connections in mind don't look quite as sharp as they should. In fact, Apple Retina displays in particular have a particular way of handling and displaying graphics that ironically make 'normal' graphics look worse than any other high PPI screen, where the slightly fuzzy edges are barely noticeable.

The current workaround is a @media query – a line of code that tells devices with certain parameters to do different things. In this case, telling devices with a pixel ratio of 1.5 or greater (with a few other rules specified to cover different devices) to display an image double normal size.

@media (min--moz-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),
(-o-min-device-pixel-ratio: 3/2),
(-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),
(min-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),
(min-resolution: 144dpi),
(min-resolution: 1.5dppx) {

     /*Show alternative double size image*/


This provides another image double the size for high PPI displays, ensuring everything looks as it should. Sadly due to limitations of the @media query code, it also means that every device that responds to the @media query itself (which includes all mobile devices) downloads the bigger image as well as the normal one. For an email with say 5 images, this is a 10 image download, 5 of which are double the size of the others. That’s a much longer load time, and could very easily be the difference between opening and ignoring an email.

But the fact is high PPI “Retina” screens are becoming the norm on smartphones and tablets. Why? As technology improves and brands seek to distinguish themselves from their competitors they increase the number of pixels while the physical sizes stay the same, all in the name of sharper text and images.

Load times are so important that they’re still the overriding factor, but if you had a super whizzy message to give that would really benefit from it (say an iPhone app targeted at iPhone customers) then the extra wait might be worth it. As always, it’s down to your target audience.

For those of you with enquiring minds, my next post will cover the 3 aspects that affect PPI and govern the user experience with any screen: Resolution, physical size and viewing distance.

The case of the disappearing dates on iPhones & iPads

This is a quirky topic that I've written about in detail before but when I spotted an instance of it the other day I thought it might be worth mentioning again for anyone who's not familiar with a friendly little quirk that you'll find when viewing emails on iOS (Apple) devices.

A customer emailed me to say she had a mystery on her hands. She'd sent an invitation email out to the company database but she was getting reports back from team members out in the field that the date was missing - and asking when the event was.

This was a puzzle as the customer had taken particular care in making sure the date was in the headline area, nice and bold, "you really can't miss it".

We chatted further and  the members of the team who were out and about were all using iPhones and iPads for their mail, and the in-built mail app.

I ran a little test of my own (with my own words!) to explain.

Working on the email in the NewZapp editor, my email looks like this in 'Mobile view':

My email in the NewZapp editor

But when viewed on an iPhone (this screen grab is a 4s), something's missing:

The date in my email is hidden on my iPhone

What's happening is that the helpful little operating system is converting the date text into a link to make it easy for you to click (tap) and add the date to your personal calendar. If you own a device like this you will have probably already noticed that phone numbers also appear as links, as a means for you to quickly add it to your contacts.

It's actually worth noticing how it's not only hiding "Wednesday 15th August" but also the word "this" which preceded it (did I mention how clever these devices are?!)

On the face of it, the fact that a date becomes a link isn't in itself a problem in my opinion, but with this template the default setting for text links is to colour them Dark Blue to match the branding - hence the disappearing act!

At the point where I was editing my email, and added the date, the text wasn't a link - it was just plain text. So in this situation a change to the template's settings will solve the issue.

Here I set a new default link colour that's enough of a contrast to the Dark Blue to show up when on an iPhone or iPad, but can still be seen on White:

With a contrasting link colour the date is visible

If the link colour was a bit bright for your tastes on the White background then this could be edited to Dark Blue easily as this is a link that was made in the editor.

And don't forget whilst you might also get a cheeky little prompt in the Gmail application on desktop, the date will show as regular plain White text in other readers.

If you have any questions on the way I tested this example, or strange yet beautiful examples of your own (remember there's no such thing as ugly emails, only misunderstood ones ;-) then please contact me via Twitter @NettyWest

5 reasons why you should avoid using a do-not-reply email address

A lot of email marketers use no-reply email addresses to send their campaigns but when it comes to email marketing, there is no reason why you should. Not only will your subscribers think you don't care about what they've got to say, no reply email addresses can also damage your email reputation and deliverability.

Here are 5 reasons you should stop using that no-reply email address straight away:

No-reply addresses lead to more spam complaints
Rather than using the unsubscribe link, some people hit the reply button when they want to unsubscribe from your emails. However, as soon as they see that replying to you isn't possible, don’t expect them to search for an opt-out link. The first thing they’ll do instead is most likely mark your email as spam.

Subscribers won’t add a no-reply address to their address book
One of the best ways to ensure that your emails are delivered straight to the inbox is by having your subscribers add your email address to their address book or safe senders list. But why would someone add an address to their contact list they will never be able to send an email to?

You may be damaging your brand
Your subscribers want to feel valued by you, and at the very least they want to feel you have an interest in what they have to say. In fact you should be encouraging your subscribers to reply to your emails because with a lot of email providers like Gmail and Yahoo this will automatically land you on the user’s contact or safe list. A no-reply email address means you don’t want to hear from them and that’s not good for your brand.

You may be missing out on sales opportunities
Subscribers don’t only use the reply button to unsubscribe, there’s a good chance you’ll be missing out on replies from subscribers requesting more information, or asking for a call from you. You could be missing out on buying signals or even orders.

You’ll be able to get out of office replies
Not getting out of office replies is most likely one of the reasons why you use a no-reply address in the first place, but sorting through these can help you find out all sorts of valuable information that you can use to clean up your email list. For example, which employees no longer work for a particular company and who your new point of contact should be.