The 10 Best CRM Tools for Small Business

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How to enhance your email delivery

Beyond • April 10, 2009

Great email delivery is one of the most important parts of a successful email campaign. In the long run, it will not only save you money and time, but increase your audience and ultimately boost your sales. At Benchmark, we go the extra mile to make sure you have the very best delivery and open rates, constantly adjusting our strategy to move past any roadblock email clients put in place. But did you know there are things you can do on your end – as an email marketer – to improve your deliverability?Here are some things you can do on your end to ensure most of your emails and newsletters make it to the inbox: 1. Slow down your email send rate Some ISPs set a threshold for how many emails you can send during one session. If you exceed this threshold or limit, their system can flag you as a spammer and will block the rest of your email newsletters. One way to avoid this is to send your messages in small bursts, with a pause of a few minutes between these bursts. 2. Tuesday / Wednesday 2-3pm = increased response If you send during this time frame on these days, your subscribers will come to expect that your email will arrive in their inbox on the same day and at the same time every week. This means that they want to read your content and will generally be more receptive to any special offers or promotions you may include. If you keep things consistent, customers are less likely to get confused about your newsletter or email and report it as spam. 3. Use a tag line at the beginning of the subject line Mark your newsletters with a tag line so customers recognize that they\'re coming from you. Here\'s an example: ‘[BME Newsletter] TEST. 297, 04.07.2009—Email Marketing — Tips’. Stay consistent and put a tag line in your subject line every time. The more you do this, the less chance you\'ll get a spam complaint. 4. Always insert the current date in your content A correct date that indicates when the newsletter was sent is more important than you probably think it is. If the date isn’t mentioned or is provided incorrectly, the newsletter is given spam score points. 5. HTML is OK, but only if MIME-Multipart is used When sending newsletters as HTML, make sure that the plain text version is also attached. Messages sent in MIME-Multipart-Format are automatically sent in a way that subscribers without active HTML viewers still get a decently formatted e-mail. It is important that both plain text and the HTML-versions have the same or very similar content. The percentage of text should be higher than the percentage of HTML or images. 6. Use CSS very Carefully In most cases it is better to use in-line CSS-styling in HTML instead of referring to the CSS- file in HTML. However, referring to external CSS-files is better than sending them with the newsletter. 7. Avoid graphics and complex HTML elements Spam-filters consider number issues related to HTML when deciding whether or not to deliver your emails. For instance, if the newsletter has too many closed tags, too many images or table elements, it gets just as many spam score points. Also, keep this in mind that many readers use software (Outlook, for example) which automatically blocks images. If users don’t understand what the mail is about they will report it as spam. Complex HTML is generously awarded with many spam score points. Thanks to this, we suggest that you keep it simple. Colorful backgrounds, tables, JavaScript and Web forms should not be in your newsletters. 8. Ask / Request that your users add you to their whitelist To ensure the bulletproof email delivery, ask your readers to add you to whitelist. 9. Use the same \"from\" address Keep your \"From\" address constant and same. This helps subscribers that have added your email address to their whitelist continue receiving messages from you. 10. Monitor new subscribers Monitor new subscribers to your email lists. Set suspicious email addresses such as \"abuse@\", \"nospam@\", \"postmaster@\" and \"marketerspam@\" as inactive subscribers. these email addresses should not be in your email list. 11. Verify your subscribers with signup confirmation Always make your mailing lists double / confirmed opt-in. This means that when a user subscribes to your mailing list through your website or any other source, they will be sent an email with a link that they must click on to confirm their subscription. This is very important because many people can accidentally enter an incorrect email address or even the email address of someone else on purpose. When that person receives a newsletter they did not subscribe to, they will assume they have been spammed and they will report your newsletter as such. Using confirmed opt-in subscription method will also help you to keep invalid email addresses out from your email list, which reduces the volume and percentage of undeliverable messages or hard bounces.


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5 Tips on Crafting Emails for the International Market

Beyond • April 8, 2009

Localization and segmentation are extremely beneficial when marketing internationally. Knowing a country’s most common language and respecting the differences within their varying cultures will substantially improve the results of your email marketing campaigns. The following are 5 tips on how to craft emails for the international market. 1. Familiarize Yourself with Spam Laws The US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 has influenced countries around the world to adopt similar anti-spam laws giving governments the ability to prosecute spammers. Primarily differing in matters of consent, most of these laws apply to similar topics but refer to them in different ways or have varying penalties and restrictions. Sometimes different countries\' laws can overlap, so keep abreast of the major laws and act accordingly. 2. Focus on Time Zones and Days of the Week Obviously time zones must be taken into account but also remember that timing affects regional and cultural variations. Find out what days constitute the weekend and be mindful of holidays from country to country. 3. Check Your Tone The tone and length of your content deemed appropriate will vary from one country to another. For example, newsletters in the United States commonly include article overviews with links to the full articles, yet some countries will expect all content to be presented in full. Similarly, some countries are used to a more straightforward type of sales email, while others cringe when an ad is too bold. Take time to craft your email newsletters to cater to the expectation of your readers. 4. Get It Right on Shipping Laws and Taxes Familiarize yourself with the shipping laws of countries where you conduct business. Domestic norms will not always apply abroad and inconsistencies regarding finances can be distressing for both sides - especially when it is not clear who is at fault. For example, it is common practice in the United States to post prices excluding tax. In some countries this would be considered illegal. In France, it is common practice for the recipients to print a confirmation form and return a fax whereas in other countries this may be considered a nuisance. 5. Study Language Issues Language preference is not always as clear as you’d like to believe. Many countries commonly practice multiple languages and the one you support in particular situations can be very important. Certain audiences may prefer to communicate in English by email, but even so, there are still differences between British English and American English and even South African English. This is when attention to detail can make or break a connection with a potential client. The bottom line is that increasing globalization will create a market in which online relationships will be the crux of success for your business. It is no longer acceptable for ignorance to excuse shortcomings when catering to international clients. Start with these simple tips and make the effort to localize your wording and acculturize your content whenever possible.


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Permission Email Marketing Report: Worst Industries for Spam Email

Beyond • April 7, 2009

Nowadays, spam is so common that it has almost become synonymous with email. Most of us probably have more unsolicited or unwanted mail than we can actually read. This viral epidemic is rearing its ugly head across multiple industries, but some have it worse than others. According to a study recently published by security vendor Symantec, the automotive industry is leading the way with the most recipients reporting their messages as spam. In the month of February, 84.3% of its messages were reported as spam. Coming at number two was the education field with 82.6%. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector was third with 81.4%. These numbers are pretty alarming when considering that the global rating for spam as a whole is 81.3%. It is safe to say that not all the apples in the bunch are bad, but it is also clear to see that these industries have a problem. Here is what they can start doing to clean things up: Follow Protocol It is bad practices that continue to keep spam alive. Senders have been abusing the email system since day one, but industries can avoid this plague by following the legal protocols and policies of email marketing. Doing things such as including a privacy policy, designing a comprehensive unsubscribe process and keeping a clean list can go a long way in keeping spam at bay. Stop Misleading Recipients These days, spam is not solely defined as an unsolicited message sent without permission. It can also be a message that misleads the recipient. This is something you want to avoid no matter what area you specialize in. Subject lines should never try to trick the recipient into opening a message. The content you discuss at signup should be exactly as you described when it arrives. You must deliver what you say you will and when you say you’ll deliver it. Not all blacklisted senders are bonafide spammers. Perception has a lot to do with the fate they were handed. Commit to Opt-in Email Marketing The automotive business and other industries suffering from unbelievably high spam rates can improve dramatically by simply committing to opt-in marketing. This means building a list, staying away from leased and purchased lists, getting permission and providing recipients with an easy way to opt out. Opt-in email marketing is all about doing what it takes to stay out of the spam folder and off the infamous blacklist. It appears that the automotive sector has developed a rough rep, but spam is bad all across the board. Symantec’s survey shows that spam accounts for 80% of the email in retail, marketing, financial and various other industries. This goes to show that just about every major arena could be do a little more to clean up their act. Spam may never die but it can be contained if senders stop giving it strength.


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Successful Email Fundraising for Associations & Organizations

Beyond • April 6, 2009

Recent surveys conducted by Convio show a wide discrepancy between the average funds raised annually, per email address, between various sectors of non-profit associations and organizations. Some vertical segments obtained nearly eight and a half times as much in donations for every usable email address than others. Much of the difference can be simply explained by the varying fundamental nature of the specific industry segments, but there are some details and trends that can point the way to increasing online revenue for any association or organization involved in fundraising. Lists May Be Growing Too Fast for Appeals to Keep Pace The total online funds raised for an overall email marketing campaign can be analyzed on how many dollars were donated per each email address on the list. This gauge allows the directors to be able to make accurate determinations of how online revenue is being generated based on the average for each online constituent. The Convio study found that the overall dollars raised through email across sectors dwindled to $6.10 per address in 2009 from $6.76 the previous year. The drop can be attributed not only to global economic indicators that were at the most severe lows in decades, but also to the burgeoning in subscriber email address list sizes. The lists of many organizations are growing at a very fast pace and this rate may be exceeding the capacity for fundraising approaches to drive home the motivation for making the donation. Immediacy Gains Donations The clear winner in the online revenue per usable email address stakes was the Team Events vertical segment, with an enviable $27.56, followed by Disaster & International Relief at $22.43. Team Events are primarily high profile appeals centering on highly publicized fundraising events such as runs, walks, bicycle rides or other similar events that are specifically created to raise awareness and funds for the organization and its goals. Disaster & International Relief fundraising is primarily driven by current events, and with the recent cascade of worldwide disasters both natural and man-made it is not surprising that their revenue per address is at an extremely high level. Raising Funds for Long-Term Programs Is More Difficult What the results of these two vertical segments can prove to all non-profit association and organization directors is that in order to be able to put forward a convincing and effective fundraising email campaign, the primary necessity is immediacy. Enormous disasters such as the recent one in Japan have galvanized the world’s attention and thus created a much more fertile environment for online donation solicitation. Team events are usually massively promoted through all major media in a concentrated geographic area, thus the awareness factor of the general public in that region is off the scale and this translates into an incentive for participation in time for the date of the event. Not surprisingly, a vertical segment such as Higher Education, which raises funds for various long term programs for colleges, universities and their alumni associations, has the lowest revenue per usable email address rate of all, at a mere $3.30. Emotional Appeals Strike Resonant Chords in Donors Approaching donors in emotional appeals goes beyond disaster relief, but also extends to various “heartstring” causes such as Hospitals, Medical Foundations & Research. This segment managed a third place showing at $19.36 per address, followed by Human & Social Services at $17.18 and Jewish campaigns at $16.41. All three of these segments are able to craft appeals that strike an immediate and resonant chord among supporters and thus can achieve high donation per email targets. In contrast, the appeals conducted by relatively more staid and static segments cannot take advantage of emotional entreaties and thus collect far less funds: Public Affairs is able to generate only $3.36 per address. Immediacy and emotional appeal seem to be significant incentives for online donation solicitation. If your non-profit association or organization is not hitting the mark on these critical aspects, immediate attention is required to bring in the elements that will motivate your supporters to write that check.


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New Facebook App: Add Signup Forms to Your Facebook Fan Pages

New Facebook App: Add Signup Forms to Your Facebook Fan Pages

Beyond • April 5, 2009

Update: As per changes in Facebook\'s policy from October 2011 one requires additional permissions for the application to manage pages. We have made the necessary code changes to adjust the new structure and it should work, provided the steps below are followed. Clients must follow the steps listed below in order to reinstate the app on their pages again: 1) Log in to Facebook and navigate to the page below (http://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications). You will need to delete the \'Benchmark Email Signup Form\' from above page. 2) After completion of the prior step, please navigate to the page where you have inserted the Signup Form and click on the \'configure\' button below. It will prompt you for the same permissions that it did the first time around with the addition of \'Manage Pages\' which is now required to install the Signup Form in your pages. 3) You will need to edit the Signup Form settings (if everything went well with step 2, then you should be on this page without having to do anything extra), just save it once for good measure and you are good to go. We have been discussing the importance of integrating email marketing with social media until we are blue in the face. Of course, it’s one thing to talk about it. It’s another thing to go out and do it. We’ve gone and done something that will make this integration easier on all of you. Benchmark Email has developed a Facebook app that allows people to subscribe to your newsletters from your Facebook Page. For a step by step guide on how to install the app on to your Facebook Fanpage, check out - How to Add the \"Signup Form\" App to Your Facebook Fan Page? Once the app has been successfully installed on your Facebook Fanpage, the final output will look like this: The Benchmark Email Signup Form Facebook app automatically integrates with your Benchmark Email account. When people are on your Face fan page, they can add their contact information (email address), and all this information will go directly into the contact list/s (that you have chosen) in your Benchmark Email account. To try the Facebook app for yourself, click here


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Measure Your ROI: Use Google Analytics With Benchmark

Measure Your ROI: Use Google Analytics With Benchmark

Beyond • April 4, 2009

Quick question: how much does the average email recipient spend at your Website or shop? If you can\'t answer that, don\'t worry - you\'re not alone. Email marketing return on investment is a big unknown for lots of email marketers. But thanks to our new Google Analytics feature, you\'ll get your answer. Now you can add Google Analytics - for free - to your Benchmark Email newsletter and email campaigns. You\'ll get an exact figure on how much your recipients spend, what they spend their money on, and where they go when they click on an email link and land on your site. With Google Analytics and Benchmark Email you can view: How much each email recipient spent, on average, at your site Which customers made the big purchases and which ones made smaller ones Where email marketing recipients went when they showed up at your site How much you\'re spending on email campaigns versus how much you\'re taking in Which site pages dead end and which ones bring in the best conversions Problem pages on your site that cause people to move on to something else Which customers abandoned their shopping carts Which products bring in the most traffic and which ones fall flat If you already have a Google Analytics account, all you need to do is check the box to turn this feature on in the first step of the email creation process. If you don\'t have a Google Analytics account, you can go here to set up your Google Analytics account. Google Analytics provides ultra-precise tracking that answers all these questions and more. Combining Google Analytics with Benchmark Email gives you a bigger picture of what happens when people click on a link in your email, and shows how you can improve upon your campaigns in the future to boost your sales.


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Top 5 Ways to Obtain Your Restaurant Patrons’ Email Addresses

Top 5 Ways to Obtain Your Restaurant Patrons’ Email Addresses

Beyond • April 4, 2009

Building an email marketing subscription list is central to your entire online promotional strategy but it is a process that can prove difficult for restaurateurs. Here are five ways to ensure you obtain your patrons’ valuable email addresses and have them coming back for more. Your Wait Staff Your wait staff is the interactive face of your restaurant: where the direct relationship your patrons have with your services is embodied. If we assume that your wait staff has already done everything possible to ensure that the patron is comfortable and satisfied with the meal, ambiance and service, perhaps the patron will be receptive to a suggestion brought with the bill: “We’re always developing new dishes and approaches here at The Hard Crock Cafe. We can send you our monthly newsletter that’s crock-full of insights, tasty tips and discount crock-coupons. Could I have your email address?” Incentives Your diners respond to motivation and the approach above will be far more successful if an incentive is worked into the script. “Your first newsletter will contain a 50% discount coupon for an entrée on your next visit”; “a two for one meal special”; “I can give you a ($5 / $10 / etc.) discount on your bill right now”; or “… and your dessert becomes free!” If your restaurant has a Chef’s Table, a reservation at that sought after location can prove a powerful motivation to turn over the email address. Other possible incentives include providing the customer with the possibility of setting up a visit with the Chef tableside, or to order a rare, decadent and delectable Foodie Heaven specialty that is off the menu and completely way over the top, like Kobe Beef Tenderloin in Matsutake Mushroom Sauce with shaved White Alba Truffle. When Taking Reservations When your staff is accepting a reservation is a great time to suggest to the patron that they can receive the newsletter in exchange for their email address. The type of incentive that can be provided from the list above can be sent in print-out-coupon form to the diner immediately via email, giving your reservations personnel additional ammunition to get that all-important address. On the Guest Check Many POS systems have lines that can be customized with specific promotional content. Instead of wasting this space on “Crock Around The Clock At The Hard Crock Cafe,” this area can contain a note asking for the email address and a space that the patron can fill out, which is then torn off and left in the Guest Check Folder, in a container by your register or on your bar. You can place blurbs pointing out the use of that space on your menu or on the takeout and delivery order forms. On Your Website If you are already drawing traffic to your website, providing the incentive there can act as a significant conversion factor. Since the patron is already visiting your site, you can offer valuable online content rather than a discount coupon. You can easily develop article or short e-book content such as “The Hard Crock Café’s 20 Favorite Crock-Pot Entrees - Recipes & Photos”; “Chef Crockarooni’s 12 Favorite Italian Mama Specialties”; or “10 Ways To Organize A Hard Crock Party At Work!” In all of these approaches it must be made absolutely crystal clear that the email address will place the patron onto your email campaign subscription list. It is imperative in order to adhere to both ethical and legal standards that you not only specify the restaurant’s newsletter frequency and ease of opt-out procedures, but also have a way of recording the customer’s approval whether by email or physical form. Considering every aspect of your restaurant from the aspect of how email addresses can be collected from patrons will build your list and boost your bottom line. And that’s no crock!


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5 Tips for Modern Email Subject Lines

Beyond • April 1, 2009

We’ve all done it before. You scan your inbox and see an email that looks like it may be from a marketing company, then you read the subject. If the subject line doesn’t grab you right away, that email ends up in the trash. Subject lines are one of the most important parts of your marketing email. As the first thing that your intended audience will see, the subject line can make or break your email campaign. You need catchy subject lines that pull consumers in long enough for you to show them the value of your email. Here are some tips for writing solid subject lines. Keep It Short You shouldn’t be shocked to hear that most people are carrying smartphones around with them everywhere these days. That means that almost everyone has the ability to check email on their phone no matter where they are or what time it is. For email marketers, that means that subject lines have to be optimized for viewing on mobile devices. If your email has a long, involved subject line, it’s likely to get passed over. Keep it short and sweet and you’ll see your open rates shoot up. Ask a Question This may seem a bit silly but you’d be surprised how well this little tip works. It has everything to do with tapping into your target audience’s curiosity. Ask a question that you think your readers would like to know the answer to or, even better, that they would answer yes to. If you are selling photo developing gear, try subject lines like “Wouldn’t you like to have your photos printed for less?” The key is to put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to reach. What would make you open the email? Call to Action A strong call to action always makes a good subject line. You can’t get any more straightforward than telling your reader (in as few words as possible) exactly what you expect them to do. You don’t want to be pushy and never type in all caps. Trust me, you will scare people off that way. What you do want is to be honest with your audience. Let them know what is expected of them and they will respond in kind. Trial and Error Not all subject lines work for everyone. Half of your audience may dislike the question approach, while others find the call to action approach too direct. They key to finding which subject lines work best with your specific audience is testing out different styles. Get creative. With each new email, try out a different type of subject line and keep track of what works best with your specific audience. Don’t forget to try combinations of different subject line styles and don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect style right away. Trial and error takes time, but it will definitely be time well spent. Avoid Spammy Words There is nothing more annoying than an inbox stuffed to the brim with spam. You can spot it a mile away. “CLICKNOW4BESTDE@LEVRRR!!!!!!!” Stay away from writing in all caps and overusing punctuation, which are typical of spam emails. Also, never leave the subject line blank. That’s another dead giveaway. As is writing anything like “Please Respond” or sticking a link in place of a proper subject. The fact is, spam annoys people. The less your email resembles it the better. The subject line of your email is the first thing that your reader sees; it holds a lot of weight. Good subject lines mean more opened emails and higher click-through rates, both of which mean more business for you.


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An Overview of Benchmark’s Email Marketing Manuals

Beyond • April 1, 2009

The recent release of our Restaurant Email Marketing Guide has prompted us to recount our current selection of email marketing manuals for the new customers or visitors who aren’t as familiar with our services or who haven’t happened to notice the rapid growth of our marketing library. In late 2010, we began to bolster our Email Marketing Resources section with manuals that take a more in depth approach to email marketing. Committed to being a valuable resource to our audience, we have continued to add onto this section over the course of 2011. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll find so far: Email Marketing Resolutions for 2011 As you have probably guessed, this manual focuses on resolutions businesses can adopt to improve their email marketing efforts in the New Year. It goes over list building, the importance of understanding the performance data in your reports and seizing holiday marketing opportunities. With the spring season upon us, this manual has newfound relevance for the email marketer looking to refresh their strategy. The Complete Guide to Email Marketing Here you have what is easily the most extensive piece of documentation written about today’s email marketing game. Inside you will discover what makes email the right choice, how it stacks up against traditional methods and how to craft content that converts. This guide covers email marketing from A to Z. Quick Start Guide to Email Marketing If you want to learn more the finer aspects of email marketing in a hurry, this manual is for you. Our Quick Start Guide breezes through the process, from growing your list of contacts to measuring performance once your campaign wraps up. No fluff here. We jump right into the specifics. Winery Email Marketing Don’t let the name fool you. This guide can come in handy whether you specialize in wine products or software solutions. This is the guide to read if you want to learn more about segmentation, testing and how to maintain good relationships with an engaged audience of subscribers. In addition to demonstrating how email marketing can be used to work towards your business goals, we also go into detail about how Benchmark Email can help you accomplish them. Cleaning House: How to Build Healthy Email Lists The list is an email marketer’s most valuable asset. Hence the name. This manual lays out the steps for building and maintaining healthy lists. Inside, we cover list hygiene from sign up and sending frequency to managing bounces and unsubscribes. If you have been feeling that your list is in need of a good scrubbing, this is the manual to exfoliate with. How to Start Email Marketing This is the perfect guide for the business professional or team who wants to know more about the benefits of email marketing and what it takes to get started. We dive right into the power of this proven technique, discuss the types of campaigns you can deploy and even go over some of the limitations. After reading this manual you will be equipped with the knowledge needed to put together the perfect email marketing strategy for your business. Marketing Online: Surveys and Email Polls Feedback can be a powerful marketing tool in its own right. Read this document to make yourself familiar with the benefits of integrating surveys and polls into your marketing strategy, types of surveys that are available to you, strategies for using them and how often they should be used to gather feedback. Email Marketing Best Practices & Trends 2011 A followup to How to Start Email Marketing, this guide takes a comprehensive look at effective email marketing strategies. We teach you how to keep spam away from your campaigns, craft engaging landing pages and retain subscribers. This guide concludes by delving into the trends that have been projected to impact the online marketing landscape in 2011. Metrics: Tracking & Reporting with Benchmark Email As the name implies, this manual is all about the metrics that make email marketing worthwhile. With full analysis of Benchmark’s Real-Time Reports, opens, bounces, clicks and abuse covered in detail, we also provide Benchmark Email users with tips on how to improve each metric. Email Marketing for Associations & Organizations We take a look at how larger associations and organizations can successfully leverage email marketing to meet their objectives, how open and click-through rates for associations and organizations stack up against other industries, the short and long term goals email can help accomplish and the importance of keeping your marketing CAN-SPAM compliant. Associations and organizations have different priorities than most private sector industries, especially if they operate as not-for-profits, and we take that into account. This guide also weighs the do-it-yourself approach versus using Benchmark Email’s We Do It for You full service email solution. Introduction to Online Marketing Email marketing is just one of several internet marketing techniques. In our Introduction to Online Marketing, you will learn the difference between earned and paid advertising, the untold truth about SEO and how social media and video can be used to enhance your overall marketing efforts. If you have been considering coupling your email program with other marketing techniques, this guide can put you on the path to effective integration. Automotive Dealership Marketing Email can be a powerful marketing tool for just about any business and in any industry. In this manual, we explain the current state of automobile and motorcycle dealerships and how they can vastly improve their online strategies by making the most of email, social media and online marketing in general. From covering the benefits of taking your marketing initiatives online to providing a brief introduction of the features here at Benchmark Email, you will learn why it pays to accelerate your business beyond traditional media. Restaurant Email Marketing This one should probably look familiar since we just released it this week. Do you really need another summary? Here it is: Restaurants! Stop by Benchmark Email and peruse our original manual on email marketing for cafes, diners, roadhouses and all-you-can-eat buffets! Inside we cover the current events in the world of restaurant marketing, compare open and click-throughs by industry and tell you how Benchmark can uniquely benefit your customers and success. There you have it: A complete rundown of Benchmark Email’s marketing manuals. While this is more than enough to get you started, you can count on us continuing to build this section in our ongoing journey to become the ultimate email marketing resource.


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Video Email has arrived!

Beyond • March 31, 2009

Ever wondered how great it would be to drop a video right into your emails? What if you could use video to show off a new product, display a heartfelt testimonial or run an educational piece on how best to use one of your goods? Well, wonder no more. Now you can do it with Benchmark Email. With our video email feature, all you need is to add the embed codes to a YouTube or Google video to your video gallery, drop the video it right into your email template, and send it out to all your opt-in recipients. If the video is blocked by the recipient\'s email service provider, don\'t worry. They can click on it and we\'ll open up a new window and send them to a mirror site where they can see it in full. With Benchmark\'s video email feature, you can: Use any YouTube or Google video Store videos in your gallery Drop videos into your email layouts and HTML templates Send email marketing campaigns featuring your videos Our video email feature is not only included with every paid plan, but you can check it out during a no risk 30-day free trial. Sign up for a free trial – you don\'t even need a credit card – and you can start Introduction Section using video in all your campaigns.


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Managing Email Bounces

Beyond • March 20, 2009

Emails sent in campaigns can bounce for a number reasons. Common reasons could be \"user over quota\", \"recipients server temporarily unavailable\", \"content rejected\". These bounces are classified into soft bounces and hard bounces. Soft Bounce: When the email has bounced with a reason indicating short term issues with the recipient, they are flagged as soft bounce. These email addresses could later be available in future campaigns. They include reasons like \"Quota exceeded\", \"Too much sessions in a connection\", \"Temporary local problem\", \"Out of Office Auto Reply\" Hard Bounce: When the email has bounced with a reason indicating permanent issues with the recipient, they are flagged as hard bounces. Chances that these emails could later be available for future campaigns is less. The reasons for such bounces could be : \"Mailbox not found\", \"unknown user\", \"mailbox is no longer active\", \"incorrect domain\". Benchmark email recommends cleaning up such emails to improve your statistics for future campaigns. In case the same contact has hard bounces in three consecutive campaigns, Benchmark email automatically flags the contact as a \"Confirmed Bounce\". A \"Confirmed Bounce\" contact will be excluded from your active contact count, and will not be sent any email, if the contact list is selected again. In case a previously bounced email is opened in another campaign before it has been flagged as \"Confirmed Bounce\", the contact\'s bounce counter is reset to zero. This allows bounced emails, to remain in the active contact count and not be flagged as \"Confirmed Bounce\". The \"Confirmed Bounce\" contacts are listed separately in your contact list.


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HTML Email Tips for Web Designers

Beyond • February 25, 2009

Note: This article is valid only for people using their own custom HTML. If you use our pre-designed email templates you don\'t have to worry about this. An HTML email communication might look good on your computer but fail completely on the contact\'s because it depends on graphics, fonts, and CSS files which only reside on your system. When you are creating your email in outside HTML editors like Microsoft Publisher, Dreamweaver, or FrontPage, remember that you are designing for email and not a website. If you design the email as if it were a web page, it may not display correctly in your contacts\' different email and web mail clients. Do not reference external CSS files. Most email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, .Mac, AOL Web, etc) wont reference these external files, because it interferes with their own CSS coding. Use in-line CSS if you have to use CSS at all, and make sure you test your email in the top email clients so you can check for mistakes and inconsistencies.i) Reference to external CSS file will not work <link href=\"css1.css\" rel=\"stylesheet\" type=\"text/css\">ii) Putting css style in the head of the email and calling the it in the body will not work <style> .main{font-size:16px;} .subhead{font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; color:#cc0000;} </style> <span class=\"subhead\">Newsletter Article</span> Use Inline Stylesheet: <span style=\"font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; color:#cc0000;\">Newsletter Article</span> Do not use one large image that takes up your whole email. Most email programs will block images by default, so all your recipients will see a blank screen when you send it. Make sure your email is not too wide. The idea is to design an email that will fit in the viewing area of most email clients. A width of 650 pixels is ideal and would fit in most email client windows. If you have any doubts about this, set up a few free accounts with Yahoo!, Gmail and the like, and send your email to see how it shows up. Remove junk code from your HTML. If you have used Microsoft Front Page, Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Publisher to design your email, please note that your template will include all sorts of junk code that can break up your layout and cause problems. At worst, sloppy code can get your email filtered into the spam file. Make certain you clean up unwanted/empty tags, unnecessary attributes, comments and other junk code before you you upload your email. The following are some examples: <v:shape> <o:column> <b:Xl> ![endif] Flash, JavaScript, ActiveX, embedded movies and sound files do not work in an HTML email. Even though those things may make your email cooler, anti-virus software will block all those things. Save the movies, sound files and more for your landing pages and link to them from your email. Make sure all links to images are complete, Web-based URLs. In many cases where this has become a problem, we\'ve found that clients have linked to images on their hard drive rather than on a Web page.Relative URL (will not work): <p><a href=\"lastpage.htm\">This text</a> is a link to a local page, either on your computer or within the same website.</p>Full URL (will work): <p><a href=\"http://www.microsoft.com/\">This text</a> is a link to a live webpage on the World Wide Web.</p> Test your emails in at least three or four email clients like Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL and Hotmail, just so you can check your layout and see any mistakes. You should send a test email to all the free email accounts you\'ve created and check your layout to make sure the images show up, your links work, your colors look like you want them to and more.


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Announcing the launch of new Benchmark Email!

Announcing the launch of new Benchmark Email!

Beyond • January 20, 2009

In August 2008, we began a broad, sweeping plan to re-imagine Benchmark Email. We\'re almost ready for launch. The new Benchmark Email will be faster and more powerful, completely redesigned and far easier to navigate than ever before. We\'ve kept the core features of Benchmark Email and added a slate of new ones, taking the things you loved most about the old system and re-packaging them in a dynamite new format. On the back end, every single line of code has been optimized. We\'ve even added a brand new infrastructure to make 100% certain that Benchmark is more powerful, scalable, stable and secure than ever before. We can\'t wait to unveil the new Benchmark and show you what we\'ve been working on, and we\'re certain you\'ll love it as well. Here\'s a list of some of the improvements we\'ve made: New Design and BrandingView Screenshots   Email Creation made very simple One thing we went for with the new email creation module is simplicity. Some of you complained that the old system had too many steps and different elements, making things too confusing to create an email campaign in a flash. We\'ve listened to what you\'ve had to say and streamlined the entire process. We\'ve made things sleeker and faster than ever before. The last system had email creation and email campaigns in two separate sections. You had to go through two sets of steps. For the new Benchmark, we\'ve combined the two processes under one umbrella: \"Emails\" . We\'ve added an extra layer of efficiency to cut back on all those steps. Now you can pop in, select your layout, edit it and schedule your campaign in record time. If you\'re running up against the clock and have to create a campaign on a moment\'s notice, you\'ll now have that option. View Screenshots Surveys made very powerful Our new survey and polling section gives you even more options than before. You have two choices: create an email survey or paste one on your Website. You can even do both at the same time! We\'ve also created a set of pre-made email templates complete with generic questions. You can edit those questions to suit your needs or leave them intact. You can also customize your surveys down to the very last detail, adding your logo, changing the colors and fonts and more. Spreading the word on your survey is easy. Place a link in your email campaigns or paste the code directly on your site. Invite your clients to take your survey with an email invite. With our sophisticated, real-time reports, you can view the answers to your survey immediately after customers complete it, and even track how many surveys were completed. You can now export the survey results to a PDF. View Screenshots Email Campaign ArchiveDon\'t trash your emails after you\'ve sent them – put them online and gain an entirely new audience! With our email campaign archive feature, you can take your emails, gather them in one easy-to-find place, and turn them into Web pages that both your current customers and potential new customers can find. Let your viewers see your past promotions, how-to tips, company emails and newsletters and more, long after you\'ve sent them out to your audience. View Screenshots Graphical ReportsWith the new Benchmark Email graphical reports section, your data never looked so good. View your email campaigns autoresponders as colorful pie charts. See bar diagrams of your surveys and polls. Gain revealing, up-to-the-second insight and feedback via graphics and charts that can be refreshed and updated around the clock. View Screenshots But Wait, There\'s More! Here\'s a list of other changes that we think you\'re gonna like... All new Embed Videos -Embed YouTube videos in your emails. In case the email client does not support embedded videos, we redirect the viewer to a web version of your email to play the video All new \'Segment\' your Lists - Slice and dice your email lists based on any field in your Contact List. You can create a segment based on the sign up date, zip code or customer type. Any field, or combination of fields, can be the basis of your segment. All New Dashboard - The dashboard is now an actual dashboard. You get a birds eye view of your account, with statistics on your last sent Emails, graphs for Emails sent, Image Gallery usage. Revamped Infrastructure - We\'ve improved the underlying architecture of Benchmark to make everything faster, more stable, and even more secure. As a result, you can expect some very powerful new reports and new ways to manipulate your data in upcoming releases. Test Campaigns Work More Like Real Campaigns - In the past, test campaigns had some broken links and merge tags, and looked a little \"broken.\" In the new Benchmark Email, we made significant changes that make test campaigns work a lot more like real campaigns. Compare Email Performance - You can now compare your Email performance based on Opens, Bounces and Clicks. Survey Templates - We now have preformatted templates to kick-start your survey creation process. You can update the questions and options to suit your needs. Export Results to PDF - We now support export of most of your reports in PDF format. We\'ll be posting more about the new Benchmark Email as we get closer to launch. Right now, we’re undergoing final QA. The new Benchmark Email will launch in February, and will be automatic and totally free for all our customers.


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