Author: Sean Cohen

T-Shirt Design Contest – Win a Year of AWeber!

By Sean Cohen

We need your help!

After seeing the popularity of the AWeber socks we occasionally send out, we think it’s time to add some T-shirts to the AWeber wardrobe. :)

However, we’re so busy running AWeber and working on enhancements (like the recent control panel redesign) that we haven’t come up with a finished design!

This Is Where You, Our Loyal – And Creative! – Readers, Come In

We need your humorous and witty ideas for an email marketing-related design and slogan for the shirts.

So, we’re running a simple contest.

  1. Submit your ideas in the comments below.

    Text ideas are fine, but if you want to show us what you have in mind, you can use the T-shirt below as a template and link up your design in your comment.

    T-Shirt

  2. Our judges (a board of trusted email marketing professionals – namely, us) will review the entries and pick the best one.
  3. The winner will receive 1 year of AWeber service for free – and of course, we’ll throw in a free T-shirt or two.

Contest Deadline: Friday, January 23, 2009

To be eligible for the prize, submit your entries in the comments before 11:59PM on Friday the 23rd.

Even though there will only be one winner, we’ll try and pick a few runner ups and send them some free t-shirts as well.

Thanks, and good luck!

AWeber Core Values

By Sean Cohen

AWeber Core ValuesOver the last 10 years a lot has changed at AWeber.

Our team has grown by leaps and bounds, we’ve released hundreds of new features embraced by thousands of people around the world and our computer monitors went from small CRTs to fancy flat screens bigger then my first TV.

However, one thing has not changed and that are the values we’ve used to serve customers. We feel these represent what we need to do in order to make AWeber exceed your – and our own – expectations.

I thought you might like to see what helps to steer us as an organization.

1. Be Remarkable; Over-Deliver Value In All That We Do.

It’s easy enough to say you are remarkable.

To actually achieve that, to provide a remarkable experience to over 48,000 customers beyond what they might expect or even hope for, is our favorite challenge.

Any decision we make – from developing a new feature to the smallest tweak in the control panel – starts with the same question:

Will this over-deliver value in a way that will benefit our customers?

We truly hope we’re able to accomplish this each and every day.

2. Be Open, Courteous, and Considerate To All.

This is not only a saying but truly a way of life. Our office simply wouldn’t have the family feel that it does today if we didn’t feel this way.

3. Continually Innovate.

AWeber was built on a foundation of innovation.

We were the first to provide automated email follow up services and since then we have continued to lead the industry with new features and enhancements to our service.

However, we rely on our customers’ suggestions to provide the type of service you need and want.

4. Create a Collaborative Environment.

We work in an office with not only an open door policy but a “come talk to me whenever you need to” policy.

We try to avoid the typical cubicle environment, instead adopting an open arrangement that encourages each team member to interact and work with others.

5. Foster Camaraderie and Mutual Respect.

With the open culture here at AWeber, it’s only natural that we should encourage a natural environment of camaraderie.

This is evident just by walking around the office and seeing people working on a project together, discussing an idea in line for lunch or just sitting on the couch working on the next big feature release.

6. Encourage Continual Education and Improvement.

Everyone on our team strives to learn something new each and everyday.

Sometimes that involves just talking to team members and customers. Often, it involves attending an outside conference.

Throughout the year, members of our team can be found at various conferences or seminars located around the country. This list includes (but is certainly not limited to) OSCON, Big Seminar, Underground Seminar, Affiliate Summit, Podcamp, The Future of Web Design and other seminars.

7. Treat Each Customer As If They Are Our Only Customer.

We pride ourselves on providing not just “great” support, but world class, knock your socks off support.

(Don’t worry – we try and give you a new pair when this happens).

We want to make sure that each person who contacts us has an experience they can feel good about and that sticks with them.

8. Establish Long Term Customer Relationships.

Many customers using AWeber today have been with us since we started in 1998.

But we don’t take this for granted. We know it takes hard work and commitment to detail in order to earn and keep your business.

9. Don’t Take Ourselves Too Seriously; Have Fun.

We believe that hard work should be matched with a lot of fun. This is why we have established a culture that is different then most corporations.

Just walking through our office you can see the difference – whether it’s the XBOX and Wii playing on the projection screen TV, the random Nerf fights that spontaneously break out, or our team-building events (like outings to Hershey Park, or go-kart racing competitions).

We Aim To Understand What Our Customers Are All About. Hopefully This Helps You Understand What We’re All About, Too.

The concept of core values is not new. It’s embraced by innovative companies looking to better their users’ experiences at every opportunity.

Companies such as Zappos, Whole Foods Market and even Google publish core values on their website and try to follow them daily.

We hope that by publishing ours here, we give a peek into the way things work around here, and show you how important you, our customer, are to AWeber and the individuals behind it.

This list of our core values was put together by our entire team, and we all keep a copy within eyesight on our desks. It is a constant reminder that we are not like everyone else, and neither are our customers. We want everyone who interacts with us to feel our commitment to their individual success – every day.

AWeber Supports The Phillies

By Sean Cohen

For the first time since 1993, our hometown Philadelphia Phillies have won the National League Championship and are headed to the World Series.

AWeber is located right outside of Philadelphia and many of us are die hard Phillies fans. So, we thought it would be a great idea to support the team by wearing Phillies shirts and just generally get in the spirit of the game.

Yesterday was a great day, and the 5-1 clincher last night made it even better. We can’t wait for the World Series. Go Phils!

Confirmed Opt-in Myths Exposed

By Sean Cohen

Confirmed opt-in as defined by SpamHaus, who is one of the most respected anti spam organizations in the world:

Known as “COI” in the legitimate bulk email industry, also known as “Confirmed Opt-in”, “Verified Opt-in” or sometimes “Double Opt-in”.

With Closed-Loop Opt-in the Recipient has verifiably confirmed permission for the address to be included on the specific mailing list, by confirming (responding to) the list subscription request verification. This is the standard practice for all responsible Internet mailing lists, it ensures users are properly subscribed, from a working address, and with the address owner’s consent.

In the event of “spam” accusation:

The Bulk Email Sender is fully and legally protected because the reply to the Subscription Confirmation Request received back from the recipient proves that the recipient did in fact opt-in and grant verifiable consent for the mailings.

Source:Spamhaus Website

Numerous myths have circulated regarding confirmed opt-in and its effects. There are many misconceptions out there, and we’d like to help clear those up.

Myth 1: My List Size Will Decrease Because Of Confirmed Opt-In.

Some addresses entered into your form will not confirm — that much is true. The percentage of addresses that don’t confirm depends on many factors, including the quality of your traffic and how effective your thank-you page, confirmation message and incentive for confirming are.

Percentages aside, there are compelling reasons that having fewer addresses on your list is a good thing.

Sometimes Less is Better

I know. You may be asking, “How can a decreased list size be a good thing?” Well, let’s consider:

5-20% of all web form submissions are undeliverable right off the bat.

This means that of your total list size you can cut that by 5-20% because these email addresses are simply dead. Remember these are not temporary undeliverable but permanent dead addresses.

Now, add on the bogus and malicious sign ups that undoubtedly will happen. For example, someone comes to your website and decides to put in bob@aol.com. Well, bob@aol.com was once a real email address and because you were not using confirmed opt-in you are now classified as an unintentional spammer.

A recent study by MarketingSherpa and KnowledgeStorm found that only 68% of users always enter a valid email address.

So, nearly a third of respondents knowingly enter bogus email addresses.

- Source

ISPs do not differentiate between unintentional spammers or actual spammers. The potential for you to be blocked or even worse, blacklisted, remains the same.

Less Can Be More Too

A study done by AWeber shows that using confirmed opt-in also reduces unsubscribes and complaints. This means that you keep more of your subscribers (the ones that actually want your email).

Read more about that here.

Myth 2: My Mailing List Is Different! I Don’t Need Confirmed Opt-In.

Let’s be clear, confirmed opt-in is for all businesses, plain and simple. Anyone collecting subscribers and in turn sending email needs to confirm that those people intended to sign up to your mailing list and want to receive your email.

In this age of email regulations and massive volumes of spam email, deliverability can be an issue. Why increase your chances of not getting delivered by putting yourself at risk.

Myth 3: No One Else Uses Confirmed Opt-In. Why Should I?

This is simply not accurate. Our own campaigns here at AWeber use confirmed opt-in for all email marketing activities. When someone signs up for a Test Drive of AWeber, they must confirm.

After setting up an account, if they want to receive our customer training email course, they must confirm. The same goes for our affiliates and their email training. Even when someone subscribes to our blog, they must confirm.

Ok, but AWeber must practice what they preach, who else?

If you want to sign up for the mailing lists of these organizations you will need to first confirm:

 CNN  Microsoft
 Oprah, CNet  bellagio.com
 IRS.gov  weather.com
 ign.com  maxim.com
 tgifridays.com  olivegarden.com
 pbs.org  visitpa.com
 Whitehouse.gov

The list goes on and on…

Myth 4: Subscribers In My Market Don’t Know How To Confirm.

The simple solution is to tell them. The first page after someone fills in an opt-in form, commonly called a “thank you page” should tell the visitor exactly what to do next. Often this is done most effectively with a picture showing visitors what the confirmation email will look like.

An excellent example is our test drive sign up video on the thank you page showing visitors what to do.

One variation of this myth is:

“Subscribers in my market don’t know how to click an email link.”

Honestly, if they can’t click a link then you probably should be marketing your business offline. If someone can find your website online I guarantee they can click a link.

Myth 5: My Sales Will Decrease Because Of Confirmed Opt-In.

Have you tested this assumption? The answer is always, “No, but I just assume” or “No, my colleague told me it would hurt sales”.

It’s best not to assume anything, but rather to seek out your own answers by testing and observing your own campaigns. We have found from our own testing that while the raw number of email addresses on our list declined when we switched to confirmed opt-in, sales did not.

This means that the people who did confirm were the ones that truly wanted the information that they had to offer and the ones that didn’t were not left to bloat the mailing list.

Grow Your Business Without Risk

Will your results be exactly the same as AWeber or even anyone else? This can only be determined by proper testing and measuring.

Use confirmed opt-in as an opportunity to make sure that your lists are 100% clean and that you know without a doubt that 100% of the people receiving your mail have specifically requested it themselves.

Spend your time and energy building your business with subscribers who want to hear from you rather than dealing with issues created by people who don’t want to hear from you.

Free Video from Our Confirmed Opt-in Seminar

Ready to optimize your Confirmed Opt-In process?

Join our Education Team for a recording of a recent live seminar for a demonstration of what you need to know to maximize the number of responsive subscribers on your list.

Watch the Confirmed Opt-in Seminar Video

Inserting a Picture in your HTML Message

By Sean Cohen

When creating an HTML email it is certainly possible to insert a picture, but the picture needs to be hosted online. In this tutorial I will walk you through the steps involved in taking a picture from your website and inserting it in an email…

Post Purchase Customer Follow Up

By Sean Cohen

Integrating a follow up campaign to customers after they purchase
is often more important than pre-purchase follow up….