The gap between expectation and experience

The gap between expectation and experience can make the difference between success and failure. Large gaps often result in lower conversion and higher unsubscribe rates. You've probably heard people say "don't make promises you can't keep". Likewise, you shouldn't build expectations you can't meet.

The three phases identified in the diagram (shown here on the right) are crucial to managing expectation experience gaps in your email marketing. These three phases are explained in greater detail below.

Manage the expectation
Make it very clear what your readers should expect. This should run right through your email strategy from campaign timing to email content. Take time to think about how your email campaigns will affect the expectations of your readers. Aim to create realistic and attractive expectations that promote long term loyalty.

Monitor the experience
It's very important that you monitor what happens during the experience. If you have a high opt out rate, abandonment rate after click through or low conversion rate you may have an issue with expectation experience gaps.

Feedback the experience
Encourage your readers to feedback their comments. Simply asking if you met their expectations can help avoid any unnecessary marketing blunders. Ideally you should ask what they expected and how this compared to their experience. If you failed to meet or exceeded their expectation you have an expectation experience gap. You may be under selling your business or over promising. Adjusting this will help you maximise the success of your marketing efforts.

Email marketing checklist

So you've got a NewZapp account, you've got a template, you've written your content, and you're raring to go. Let's make sure your emails look great every time you send with our email marketing checklist.

1. If you're copying and pasting content, keep it clean!
Whenever you copy and paste from an external source such as Microsoft Word or a website, you could be bringing additional coding into your email. Some email readers will refer to the code hidden behind your content instead of the text styles and colours that have already been pre-set for you on your NewZapp template.

For instance, Outlook 2007/10/13 uses MS Word as it's html rendering engine. The effect this can have on your emails is that content looks very different to how it looked when you were composing it, and in worst cases, actually disjoints or breaks the whole layout.

Here are a couple of ways in which to help you clean up the content that you want to paste:

  • Whenever you paste anything into NewZapp it will ask if you want to paste as plain text - always click yes! NewZapp will then clean the content of unwanted code as it pastes it into your email.
  • Whenever you copy and paste it is also recommend you use Notepad like a clipboard. Paste your copy into Notepad first and this will strip it back to basic text and of all coding. Then select all and copy again from the Notepad screen and paste straight into your email. 

2. Use descriptive links instead of full links or email addresses
If you include full links or full email addresses as text within an email, you run the risk of being caught in spam filters. This is because the filter detects that the link is not going directly to the link destination but via the NewZapp servers first in order to provide you with tracking data. To avoid this try using a descriptive link instead eg. Read more online, visit our website or contact us. Using a descriptive link can also help you create a much stronger call to action, generating higher click-through rates.

3. Be polite
No one likes being shouted at, so follow the basics of email etiquette and avoid SHOUTING YOUR SUBJECT LINE as a means to make your email get noticed (it won't) or SHOUTING ORDERS AT YOUR RECIPIENTS like CLICK HERE!!!! (they won't).

4. Size your images correctly
To make sure your email looks just how you want it, in as many email readers as possible, it's best to size your images to the exact size that you want them to appear in your email. Some email readers will ignore the fact that you have resized an image by clicking on a corner marker and reducing it and choose to refer the original size instead - which could be quite embarrassing if you're using that 2000 x 1000 pixel image from your A4 brochure that the printers gave you!

If you're a NewZapp customer you can either use the Image Editor within your account or size your images before you upload them. If you want to size your images before uploading to your account, you can use an image resizing tool such as Microsoft Office Picture Manager. If you don't have any image editing software installed then there are free tools available online.

5. Use a genuine and monitored from email address
Use a genuine and monitored from email address. If you've taken the trouble to invest time and money in email marketing, with presumably the purpose of engaging with your database and gaining new business, then anything they might want to tell you by clicking reply (good or bad) should be important to you.

No, you are not going to be bombarded with bounced email server messages, NewZapp catches any of those for you. Yes, you are going to receive some 'out of office' replies on this email address but if you use this address for other correspondence then consider setting up a rule on your inbox so that replies from your email marketing land in a folder of their own for you to review separately.

If you try using a non-existent from email address then your email is pretty certain to be rejected by the recipient's mail server. So resist the urge to use one that doesn't exist, it just won't work. If you don't want a personal email address as the sender, consider setting up a friendly, non-offensive email address like updates@, enews@ or newsletter@. These should be more readily received by recipients and email filters than sales@ or info@ and look a whole lot more polite than donotreply@.

6. Use a 'from' name that your subscribers will recognise
If your recipients don't know who the email is from, they're unlikely to open it. Within NewZapp you can set the 'from' name of your choice for every email you send. The question to ask is, do your subscribers know you personally or do they know your company, brand or product? We'd advise that you use whichever would be most recognisable to your subscribers.

In NewZapp you can use up to 128 characters, so you can have it all (if you want to) i.e. "John Smith at Smith Ltd".

How to comply with the new Canadian Anti-Spam Law

The Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) takes effect July 1, 2014. This law regulates the sending of commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to anyone in Canada. Those sending a CEM must get the consent of those they are sending the messages to. They also must identify who they are and provide an unsubscribe method for those who do not want to receive any more CEMs from the sender. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for companies, and even jail time for those found in violation of the law.

The law applies to any company that sends CEMs to anyone in Canada. Businesses trying to determine what they need to do to conform to the new law might benefit from the CakeMail resource, Guide to Understanding the Canadian Anti-Spam Law.

“There’s been a lot of confusion about CASL,” says CakeMail CEO Francois Lane. “This new legislation affects all businesses that email anyone in Canada, even those based in the U.S.” Or in the United Kingdom.

Definitions

CEM. A CEM, according to CASL, is any message intended to encourage receivers to participate in a commercial activity. Mostly, this includes any marketing, promotional, and advertising correspondence. Not only must companies get the consent of those they send CEMs to, the burden falls upon them to prove that the consent was actually received.

Consent. Consent, according to the CASL, can be either expressed or implied. Furthermore, those who request consent must do so clearly and simply, setting forth the purpose for the consent, who they are, and if they seek it on someone else’s behalf, who that party is. When in a business or personal relationship with the CEM receiver the consent is considered implied, though an existing business relationship requires the client to purchase or lease a product or service. This must occur within a two-year period prior to the CEM being sent.

Unsubscribing. Another option for those receiving emails is the ability to unsubscribe. Additionally, the message should include an unsubscribe method that is clear, prominent, and easy to access. And even though the law’s language might not be exactly clear, it does state that the whole process be consumer friendly.

Getting CASL-Ready

Ultimately, CakeMail recommends the following steps when getting CASL-Ready:
  1. Know where all your contacts are based.
  2. Get proof of consent for every contact.
  3. Know the difference between “express” and “implied” consent.
  4. Provide an unsubscribe mechanism in every CEM.
“People haven’t realized the impact it will have on their business,” says Lloyd Longfield, president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, as quoted by the TheGlobeandMail.com. “We are trying to bring the message home that this is something we have to hit hard and hit fast, because most businesses will find themselves out of compliance with their communications.”

This article was written by Cheryl Knight and was first published on the Business Solutions website.

Mastering the call to action

What do you want your subscribers to do, and why should they do it? In email marketing, that’s what your call to action should clearly and concisely communicate. Although a call to action is one of the most important factors driving conversion, many email marketers don’t give nearly enough attention to theirs.

We take a look at some of the ways you can create an effective call to action that goes beyond the generic “click here”.

Make your words count
Use a strong command verb to start each call to action. Sum up quickly and clearly what subscribers will get by clicking. Some examples include:
  • Download now
  • Sign up today
  • Buy now
  • Compare prices here
  • Take out your free trial now
  • Order yours here

Give readers a reason why they should take the action. 
In other words, what’s in it for them? Will it help them do their jobs better, lose weight, or save money? You may also want to highlight your offer compared to your competitors, such as free delivery. This is all about the benefit, make sure it’s clear.

Add a sense of urgency
Make the offer available for a limited time only or include an incentive for the first 50 respondents. This helps motivate a more immediate response. If subscribers leave the email message in their mailbox to return later, there’s a good chance they won’t.

Make it stand out
From a design perspective, you want to ensure that your call to action stands out. Don't hide it within a block of text. Separate the call to action out and ensure that there's white space surrounding it so that it stands out. Use a bold font and even a font that is a larger size than the rest of your email content. You could also try using an image as your call to action.

How to beat the mid month blues

So it's the middle of the month and you are looking to get more activity on your website, the problem is you sent out your newsletter two weeks ago. What you need is some social media activity to fill this gap and interact with your followers, keeping them warm until your next newsletter hits their inbox.

So here are a few ways you can try to improve on this lack of activity by engaging with your followers...

Ask your followers to subscribe
You don't get if you don't ask. Post an update to your Facebook or Twitter account reminding your followers where to go to subscribe. It is also a good idea to show previous examples of your campaigns next to your signup form - just to show subscribers what they are signing up to and how this may interest them further.

Interact with your fans
Maybe recommend a product for a rainy Monday afternoon or simply show them a new product that you have in stock. This can help grow activity on your posts and also grow an awareness of your brand. It's also a great time to ask for feedback or reviews on product X.

Run a competition
A great way to gain exposure is to run a competition. You can give away a product or service you provide or even vouchers for high street stores. The competition could entail getting your followers to like or retweet your status to enter, this in turn will increase your overall reach. Just make sure you have a page on your website with the rules of the competition, details of the prizes and when the competition will close. Or if you are running the competition via Facebook or Twitter make sure you adhere to their rules and regulations.

Offer a discount
Create a discount code on your website and share it on your social networking sites, giving something back to your fans and attempt to encourage new customers. You could even create a welcome email that contains the discount code as this would encourage more people to subscribe to your newsletter.

Plan Ahead 
Think ahead to any public holidays that are coming up, maybe you'd like to create a campaign themed around Hallowen or maybe try posting an update in the evening or over a weekend. This can be anything from announcing a new feature in your system to promoting a new blog post or how to guide.

By using a free application like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, you can manage all your social media accounts under one roof. This also allows you to create social media updates in advance so you don't have to be sitting at the computer over the weekend. If you use Google Analytics you can see where most of your traffic originates from and at what time. This can be something to work from in the future if a certain time is more popular than others.

Share links to blogs or guides
Share links on Facebook and Twitter to any recent blogs or guides you have written, maybe you can post earlier blog posts to give them some attention. As mentioned above, if you use a social media dashboard application manager you can schedule your updates for the week ahead!

Bullet Point Best Practice

Email marketers often rely on bullet points to summarise long content and outline key parts of their product or service offering. So how can we ensure that our bullet points are working hard and how do we create brilliant bullet points that build better business? Read on...

What's the aim of a bullet point?
Put simply, a bullet point is a way to present information in a concise, precise and scannable format which is ideal for email communications. However, these strong points can also be weaknesses.

What's the problem with bullet points?
Creating scannable content is a great idea. However, we need to remember that bullet points can be too scannable. When creating bullet points you'll need to consider how your reader will see them. There are a number of best practices for creating bullet points.

What are the best practices?

Lesson No.1 - Never neglect the bottom of your list or email
In an article on Marketing Sherpa, Anne Holland suggests two key areas that you'll need to focus on. The first is list order and the second is the keywords in your list. In terms of list order, Anne suggests that you focus on importance. Place your most important bullet at the top of your list, then your second most important bullet in second position and then your third most important bullet at the bottom of the list.

It's important to avoid neglecting the bottom of your list. This principle can also be applied to email structure in many cases. The bottom of your email can be one of the most viewed area's after the key points that appear in the preview pane.

Lesson No.2 - Never start with the same word
Anne's second piece of best practice advice is to place the keywords at the front of your bullet points. Never start your bullet points with the same word. Anne advises that this will only result in the words and bullets merging into a blah, blah, blah.

Lesson No.3 - Keep lists to a minimum and an odd number if possible
The length of your list is also an important consideration. Don't forget that you're trying to give your bullet points maximum exposure. The more you list the more likely the reader is to scan through your bullet points.

We suggest keeping lists to an odd number if possible. This is because an odd number will sit nicely on the page and allow the eye to see a clear middle to the list. This can help maximise exposure for the middle bullet point which can be completely missed by a scanning eye.

Lesson No.4 - Use hyperlinks in your bullet points
The final area to look at is maximising the impact of the list. In most cases the aim of the list is to generate interest. In order to maximise the impact of the list you'll need to get your readers to click-through to find out more. We suggest creating hyperlinks from the bullet points. The links can be from the entire bullet point or just a section of the text. Creating hyperlinks from text in your email will help maximise click-through rates and allow you to learn what your readers are most interested in.

Why email provides benefits for both sender and recipient

Email is one of the most personal, dynamic, interactive and cost-effective communication tools for marketing. email marketing now leads direct mail in terms of volume and the benefits are widely recognised. However, very few marketers recognise how beneficial email can be for the recipient. In this article we'll look at both sides, benefits for the sender and for the recipient.

Email is considered by most marketers to be a low cost, flexible and efficient marketing channel. It's also well known to provide excellent return on investment. In fact, permission based email marketing can achieve up to 5 times greater response than direct mail. Add to this, email's ability to drive traffic directly to your website, build your brand, promote your business and develop relationships. It's not surprising so many businesses are using email in their marketing campaigns.

It's not only the marketer that reaps the rewards. The number of consumers opting in to receive emails is on the rise. But what's in it for them?

The modern consumer uses email for work and personal communication. They want to be the first to know about offers and product news. Especially from businesses they have already purchased from. Email provides them with an interactive, easy to access and controllable communication channel.

Control is key for the modern consumer. They want to choose what they receive and when they receive it. With email they have this control. At the point of opting in, a company can easily offer the consumer choice. When an email arrives in the inbox, the recipient can control opening, clicking and opting out. They can also easily share emails with friends, colleagues and family. All this at the click of a button. No hassle, no waste and maximum control.

With email the consumer can receive an engaging and personalised service. The marketer has flexibility, speed of delivery and return on investment. These mutual benefits for both marketer and consumer help to ensure that your business can compete in the modern, fast paced marketing environment where consumers are more informed and confident than ever before.

Unsubscribe me - please! 5 best practices

What impression do you leave with subscribers who choose to opt out from your email list? Keep in mind that just because they want to unsubscribe, doesn’t mean they no longer want to be a customer. So if your unsubscribe process is confusing, takes too long, and causes frustration, you’ll leave prospects and customers with negative feelings about your company. Plus, they’ll be much more likely to mark your email as spam if they can’t find the unsubscribe link, which can negatively impact your deliverability and return on investment.

1) Provide a simple and easy unsubscribe option: The key to ensuring customer satisfaction is to make the unsubscribe process easy. The link should take the recipient directly to a page where they can automatically unsubscribe. If you’re a NewZapp customer we will automatically create an unsubscribe link for you on every email you send out. You can also customise the text on your unsubscribe page via your settings tab and then preferences.

2) Don’t hide the unsubscribe link: Provide a visible, underlined, one click unsubscribe link in the footer of your email. You can also try placing it in the header to see if this is more effective for your audience. The more a company tries to hide the unsubscribe link, the higher the complaint rate.

3) Regularly test your unsubscribe link: A lot of unsubscribe links do not work because they are never tested, except at the time of creation. Before each send out test the link and make sure that the recipient has been removed from your mailing list. Here at NewZapp we regularly test the unsubscribe function so this should never be a problem for our customers.

4) Confirmation: Confirm the successful unsubscribe immediately after. This reassures users that you have dealt with their request and looks professional. Again, if you’re a NewZapp customer we will handle this for you by displaying an ‘unsubscribe successful’ message on the screen.

5) Checking replies: Monitor your reply inbox on a regular basis as users sometimes unsubscribe by replying to the email. If this isn't checked you could risk missing unsubscribes and as a result could receive complaints from the customer next time you send to them or worse, they will mark you as spam.

Creating an email marketing plan

Looking to do some email marketing but not sure where to start? Well, the key to getting your email marketing off the ground is having the right plan, and it isn't as hard to put together as you might think. Let’s take a look at the process step-by-step.

Step one: Define your readers
Before you start designing, writing and sending email marketing campaigns you should define your audience. Once you’re able to accurately define who they are, you’ll be better able to provide them with relevant information.

If you already have a list of subscribers who are they and how did they sign up? If they subscribed during checkout, they're customers, if they found you through your website or at a trade show they are leads or a ‘general’ audience.

If you don't have a list of subscribers yet, who is your target audience and how will you find these people?

Step two: Determine your content
What’s going to make your readers actually want to open your email and stay subscribed to your list? Usually, it’s a mix of helpful tips, special offers, sales, promotions, surveys, and seasonal or holiday-themed content.

You want to provide value-added content for your existing subscribers so that they’ll also want to share the content with their friends - which will allow you to continuously increase the size of your reach. Once you start your campaign, identify the type of content that’s really resonating with your readership and use that insight to help generate ideas for future topics.

Here are some tips for making and gathering compelling content that will speak to your subscribers:

  • Treat your readers like VIPs - they entrusted their e-mail address to you and are expecting to get something valuable from you in return.
  • Keep it useful and relevant - think about which emails you open and which you delete right away. You aren't going to open an email that doesn't benefit you in some way so make sure the content of your newsletters are giving your subscribers something they want.
  • Show some personality - chances are, your voice, tone, and sense of humour are all important reasons why your customers signed up in the first place. Try to write the same way you'd speak to one of these customers.
  • Keep it short and sweet – nobody wants to read a boring newsletter that goes on, and on, and on… you get the picture. If you do need to include a longer piece, feature only the first paragraph and link to the rest of the content on your website. 

Step Three: Determine your sending frequency and goals
How often does it make sense to communicate with your subscribers? Most businesses opt for once a month while some communicate more or less depending on their specific requirements. Ideally you want to be sending once a month as a minimum, any less could cause your subscribers to forget about you and unsubscribe as a result.  

From there you need to decide what you want to get out of your emails, do you want to send traffic to your website, help promote sales or increase traffic to your website? Set goals like these for each of your campaigns and then keep track of your progress over time. 

Step four: Make a schedule
Not everyone is going to send on a regular schedule, but for a lot of senders, having a timeline is helpful, if only because it gives writers, designers, and managers a deadline to work toward. It’s also useful making a note in your calendar of when you should begin working on your email – the last thing you want to do is create it the day it’s supposed to be sent out. We also recommend making a note of any public holidays and special events in your calendar as they could affect your sending schedule and or content. 

Outlook 2013 and how it affects your email designs

So just when you thought as an email designer you had everything covered… (you even had Lotus Notes eating out of the palm of your hand!) then along comes a new release that gets you crying into your code and wishing that background images not showing in Outlook was the least of your worries!

The launch of Outlook 2013 shouldn't, in theory, have caused any new issues at all. Just like Outlook 2007, and 2010 before it, it still uses Word as its rendering engine. So how could that possibly make life for an email designer any more difficult?

Here’s how: 
  • Any table cells that have a height of 19px or below will automatically have space added to make it up to 19px.
  • Any image with a height of less than 19px will have the same issue.
But never fear, the Design Team at NewZapp ride to the rescue again by documenting the workarounds and adjustments to the tried and tested methods of delivering good looking, and stable HTML emails.

We recently launched the latest edition of the NewZapp Designer’s Guide v3.1 and a companion factsheet that shows you just what we’ve added to account for our new findings in Outlook 2013.

You can download both the NewZapp Designer’s Guide v3.1 and our Outlook 2013 factsheet here.