Recently, the United States Postal Service announced plans for a new service, Informed Delivery, which will scan your mail and email you the images every day. After subscribing to the service, you can receive images of up to ten pieces of mail delivered to your inbox before 11:00AM. For now, the service only applies for letter-sized envelopes and not packages or catalogs and magazines. It does not appear that you can actually opt-out of receiving the mail if it appears to be junk, but it can save you a trip to the mailbox some days. Whether or not this is a service that will add value to the USPS remains to be seen. It is, however, interesting that the USPS is turning to one of the biggest factors in its downfall: email. Really, it shows the importance of relevance. In email marketing, direct mail, or any other line of communication, businesses need to deliver content that their customers, subscribers and leads want. If any campaign feels impersonal, it’s sure to be ignored—or worse—marked as spam. In fact, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails according to Jupiter Research. The best way to deliver relevant content is by actively segmenting lists and keeping contacts organized with as much detail as possible. During the winter, most customers won’t want to be taunted with beachwear … unless the campaign is to lure them into planning a sunny getaway. However a list is segmented, whether it be based on gender, location, product preferences or anything else, it should make a customer or subscriber feel like the campaign in their inbox was tailored specifically for them. Relevance can be derived by proper list segmentation, but it can also be based on the value being delivered. This can be in the form of savings, education and information or entertainment. If campaign is firing on all these cylinders, subscribers will not only feel that the email is relevant to them, but may even look forward to receiving those communications as well. We’ll wait and see how Informed Delivery helps the USPS and its customers. For now, we’ll thank them for the opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of relevance. They have it hard enough this time of year. After all, they get shown up by an overweight senior citizen capable of delivering packages to the entire globe over the course of one night.
One of the keys to success in e-mail marketing is to reduce the number of spam complaints that you receive. Spam complaints can hurt your standing with your ISP or hosting provider, and even prevent your messages from being delivered to millions of users of popular web e-mail providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. In spite of these potentially very significant consequences, many businesses that rely on e-mail marketing as a major part of their advertising efforts fail to understand the steps that you can take to prevent spam complaints from being submitted. The following tips will help you reduce your spam complaints: Confirmed opt-in: The best way to ensure that your subscribers want to receive mailings from you is by using a confirmed opt-in process. It requires your subscribers to confirm their subscription by replying to an e-mail before they can be added to your e-mail list. Your list only: It is no longer acceptable to purchase e-mail lists or use third-party lists. You should remove any e-mail addresses obtained from third party sources. Practice good list hygiene: Don’t get in love with your list. The quantity of email addresses in your list means little; it is the quality that counts. As a general rule, the older your list (or addresses in your list) the greater the chance that they may not be any longer interested in receiving mails from you. That said, there are no specific rules as all businesses are different. Some businesses will know that some of their best customers are their oldest customers, so the culling of all e-mail addresses obtained before a specific date may not be suitable for those businesses. Include the Unsubscribe Link: The first and most important step you can take is to include an unsubscribe link in every message. Beyond this, the unsubscribe link should be two things: obvious and painless. Customers who want your emails will ignore the link, and those who don\'t will find it easy to unsubscribe from your list, rather than hastily clicking the email as spam. Evaluate your Subject Line: Ensure that - especially when starting out - your company name is included in the subject line. You may be thinking that is not necessary, since your company name will more than likely show in the \"from\" field, however, this helps to convey professionalism. Be sure that the message in your subject line is actually conveyed in the email. No one likes to be duped, and doing so raises the chances of your e-mail being marked as spam. Familiar layout: Using a consistent e-mail template with the same colors, fonts and layout will help your subscribers to recognize your e-mail campaigns. Over time your subscribers will recognize your layout and with that familiarity they will be reminded that they have subscribed to your list. Familiar and consistent company name: Confusion and complaints can originate from subscribers being unfamiliar with your company or brand name. Consistent from address: Using a consistent ‘from’ e-mail address serves two purposes. First, using the same ‘from’ address over time is another way to ensure that your subscribers recognise your e-mails. It is best to use a from e-mail address that includes your brand or the company name that they subscribed to. Second, if different ‘from’ addresses are used it increases the chances that the subscriber’s local e-mail filter programs (spam filters) will block your e-mails. It is a good idea to ask your subscribers to add your e-mail address to their address book to ensure that your messages will get past any local filters. Frequency: A common complaint trigger is businesses sending too many e-mails to the same group of people. While a subscriber may like your products and your business, there becomes a point when your mailings become annoying when sent too often, particularly if you are sending essentially the same message over and over again. The frequency of mail-outs will depend on your business and the type of information you provide to your subscribers. By outlining the anticipated frequency in your sign-up subscription terms, your subscribers will know how often to expect your mailings. Few other tips: - do not write long email copy - go for “short and crisp”, then point to your website for more information; - don’t repeat your website URL over and over again — you are more likely to get more complaints than more sales; once or twice is usually enough; - run a spam-check on your messages before you send them out and fix any problems that it detects.
From time to time, we come across a customer that has a list they\'ve been hanging on to for years. At some point the people on that list opted-in, but for some reason these people have not been contacted or sent an email in a long time. The customer, naturally, wants to revive the list and start using it again. The truth is, there is no easy way to make an old list new again. But here are some guidelines if you absolutely must find out who\'s still interested in receiving emails from you. If the email address on the list is more than a year old, ditch it. Around 1/3 of email addresses change each year so if you\'re working with a list within a year, it\'s kind of a gray area. But if your list is older than that, count on 2/3 or practically the entire list being unusable. Set up a free account to send re-confirmation emails from if your list is small. If you have a smaller list and can comfortably send less than 200 emails a day and get your answers within a few weeks, set up a free account with a name that sounds similar to your newsletter. For example, if you usually send from joe@joesgardeningreport, you might want to set up an account like email@example.com Use your free account, if possible, to send emails asking people to re-confirm their subscription and interest. This email might say something like: “We\'re updating our database and want to know if you still want to receive Joe\'s Gardening Newsletter. Click on the link if you still want to receive emails from us”. Make certain that the email is plain text. Plain text emails have a far better chance of getting through spam filters than fancy ones with graphics. The main reason you want to send from a free account is to protect your regular sender account if your re-confirmation emails get blocked. It\'s quite possible you will get many spam complaints when you send the re-confirmation email. This way if you send from your free account and you get put on an email blacklist, it won\'t affect the account that you normally send your email and newsletters from.