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Do This! (Not That) For AWesome Emails

By Crystal Gouldey

The AWeber “Do This, Not That” approach was introduced when we realized that email marketing could use the equivalent to the food industry’s Eat This, Not That book. We started off with some tips to improve your deliverability.

Your deliverability might be better now, but that doesn’t mean your email campaign is mistake free. Perhaps the emails you’re creating are what’s hindering your path to success.

This is the second part of the series which deals with mistakes to avoid in the email creation process, and what you can do instead.

Don’t Use a “No Reply” From Address

What this is: Your subscribers see the emails are coming from an email address that has “noreply” in it.

If you’re approaching your email campaign as a one-way conversation, you’re on the wrong track.

A “noreply” address makes your emails sound distant and automated. You’re closed off from your subscribers and discourage developing a relationship with them.

Also consider the fact that your subscribers are getting tools to increase control over their inbox, and Gmail’s Priority Inbox bases its filtering process on your subscribers’ interaction with your emails.

Do this instead:

  • Encourage communication!
    Ask your subscribers for feedback on how you’re doing. Let them know you’re available if they have any questions. People like to talk to people, so let your subscribers know there is a person behind the emails.

GreenAnswers encourages communication in their emails by including a question box that directs the reader back to their site to ask a question:

Remember, Not Everyone Can See Images

What this is: You have the ability to create your messages in both HTML and plain text formats. While some subscribers may have their email client set to display HTML messages, others may not.

HTML messages allow you to track open rates and create beautiful messages. However, if you send only HTML, it can make your messages more likely to be filtered. Some of your subscribers may not even accept HTML messages in their email client.

Plain text messages aren’t as likely to be blocked, but they lack the tracking and formatting capabilities that HTML has.

Do this instead:

  • Include both HTML and plain text versions
    When you set up both and HTML and plain text version of your message, HTML is sent by default, but if the subscriber does not accept HTML emails it will revert to plain text. Since some subscribers may have trouble with HTML messages, you can include a link to view your broadcast message on a web page when your message is published on the AWeber archive.

Notice how Bon-Ton’s message includes a link to their web-based message:

No matter what you do, make sure you test your message by sending it to multiple email clients and checking that the message appears correctly

Don’t Treat Your Subscribers Like Numbers

What this is: Sending all your subscribers the same message.

You might think you don’t have the time to write personalized messages, so you just use the same campaign for everyone. Or maybe you’ve enabled campaign sharing to use messages someone you know already created and you’re afraid to stray from what you have.

What you’re doing is assuming all your subscribers are the same. This can prevent you from building a relationship with them, and they may be more likely to leave your list. Who likes getting generic messages?

Do this instead:

  • Use subscribers’ data to create personalized messages.
    You have the ability to send broadcast messages to a segment within your list. This way you can separate subscribers into different groups, and each group gets messages that are best for them. You can also ask for email preferences at the time of sign up to make sure subscribers are getting emails they requested.

You can choose to send a message to a segment near the bottom of the message editing page:

What Else Belongs on This List?

Can you think of other mistakes email marketers make? What emails drive you nuts? What should be done instead?

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Learn How These 3 Businesses Get Their Emails Read

By Crystal Gouldey

>If you aren’t asking the question “How can I get more people to read my messages?” about your email marketing campaign, it’s time to start thinking about it! Even if you’re happy with your response rates, there is always room for improvement.

First off, it’s important to think about what influences a subscriber’s decision to read your message or not. Whether your end goal is a click or a sell, the subscriber won’t be taking any action until they actually open your email.

We’ll be looking at three different email newsletters that did a good job getting people to read the message, bringing in a unique open rate of over 50%, and then you can apply their strategies to your messages.

How the Messages Appear in an Inbox

These are what our examples look like in a GMail inbox:

These three businesses have some different and some similar methods for getting subscribers to read their messages. We’re going to take a look at how they approach the subject line and how they make the from line something the subscriber will recognize:

  • Lawrence Chan’s Tofurious mentions a new product that the subscriber gets for opening the message.
  • This type of approach is great if you have a free report to share, a sample page from a new report or ebook, if you have a coupons, or if you are promoting a new product.
  • Lawrence takes a personal approach on his site by signing his blogs and including detailed personal information. People like to hear from people, and signing his emails with his name will carry over that personal touch.

  • Gary Rosenzweig’s Macmost has a different approach for their subject, and it’s very straight-forward: it’s the new MacMost newsletter and it even gives the issue number.
  • This is good for businesses that send out newsletters that are meant to be more informative than promotional.
  • Gary from MacMost doesn’t have his name come up a lot on his site, so if he used his name in the from line then subscribers may not recognize who it’s from. This is why it’s good he used his company name.

  • Frederick van Johnson’s This Week in Photo uses the subject to pose a question. This can make the subscriber interested in knowing what the answer will be. Is it the end of medium format cameras? If so, why? They’ll have to open the message to find out!
  • Asking a question will make your subscriber curious, so try and find what question your message answers.
  • Frederick has others contributing material on his site, so his name is not the only name there. Recognizing he name would depend on what pages the subscriber has seen on the site. His from line should be his company name since it’s on all pages.

Branding In the Subject Line

You want to use your brand as much as possible so that when a subscriber looks at your message in their inbox they immediately know who you are and what to expect from you. All three businesses included their company name in the subject line. Might seem redundant, but it’s working!

Other Tests for Increasing Opens

The best thing you can do is split test your broadcasts to find out what gets the best results. Besides what we talked about here, you many also want to consider:

  • Time and day the message is being sent: There is no universally agreed upon day or time to send your message, so your best bet is test. For a look at your own stats, you can go to the Reports page and look at the “Opens over time” graphs.
  • Snippets: certain email clients show a snippet of text from the beginning of your newsletter. You can use this to your advantage by putting catchy text at the top so they’ll open it or mark it to read later.
  • Preview panes: certain email clients will also show preview panes that displays part of the entire message. You can test this out by putting catchy text in the upper part of your email, or moving images around if it was initially top heavy with images, and see if this changes your open rates.

How Do You Get Subscribers to Read Your Messages?

Of course there are still even more factors that will determine whether or not your message gets reads. For example, setting expectations plays a big part in your ongoing subscriber response right.

So what do you do to ensure your subscribers keep coming back for more? Share your thoughts!

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Tried and True Email Marketing Tips

By Amanda Gagnon

No painted yellow lines exist on the road to email marketing mastery. Blogs, books, and case studies are piled into mountains, and climbing them can be daunting.

Fortunately, your fellow email marketers have left signposts along the way. Their comments, tweets and reviews signal which resources they found most useful. Their comments add their voices into the discussion, making that resource even more valuable.

One hill in those mountains of resources is the AWeber blog. Our readers’ comments and tweets show which posts they appreciate most. Those posts are assembled below to give you insight into some of the biggest issues that could crop up in your path.

The Posts Most Traveled

How To Add an Opt-In Form to Your Facebook Page

How to Add an Opt-In Form to Your Facebook Page

This Facebook application lets you invite your entire contact list – and anyone else who visits your page – to sign up for your emails.

Watch the video in this post to find out how to set this up, step by step.

'Do Not Reply' Address Don't Bother.

“Do Not Reply” Address? Don’t Bother

If you send emails from an address that doesn’t accept replies, you’re sabotaging your campaign and your relationship with subscribers.

This post and the responding comments explain the mistake you’re making and discuss the effects in detail.

3 Ways To Build Urgency In Email Subject Lines

3 Ways To Build Urgency In Email Subject Lines

A sense of urgency in your subject lines might prompt more subscribers to open your emails. Getting too dramatic, however, jeopardizes your credibility.

Find out how to strike the right balance with compelling, straightforward subject lines.

How to Market Like Nine Inch Nails

How to Market Like Nine Inch Nails

This industrial rock band has a marketing strategy as alternative as its sound. Email’s conversational, customizable nature means it’s an ideal medium for putting this strategy to use.

Read this post to discover ways you, too, can market like a rock star.

{!firstname}, Think Before You Personalize

{!firstname}, Think Before You Personalize

Personalizing emails with subscriber names has been reported to send opens and clicks skyrocketing. It might do the same for you – but it might also cause other problems.

Learn what they could be, and then discover some deeper, more useful ways to personalize.

Engage Subscribers: Six Fun Email Ideas

Engage Subscribers: Six Fun Email Ideas

Written as a response to no-spend New Year’s resolutions, this post is appropriate for any time you hit a lull in sales. Instead of pushing discounts that customers don’t want and you can’t afford, use this time to build loyalty with these entertaining ideas.

Test Results: How Long Should Your From Line Be?

Test Results: How Long Should Your From Line Be?

Before customers even get to your subject line, they encounter your from line. But what do they see there?

Different ISPs have different cutoff points, so your from line might be chopped in a way that leaves subscribers questioning who you are. Find out how to rewrite your from line for maximum recognition.

If You’re Lost, Ask Us For Directions!

If you find yourself confused by anything in these posts, you are welcome to contact our helpful and friendly Customer Solutions team. We’ll be happy to provide the best directions we can to guide you on your journey.

If, instead, you have a brilliant insight about any of these posts that you want to share, please feel free to leave your own comment. We look forward to reading your take on these topics!

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6 Easy Ways to Market Transparently

By Amanda Gagnon

We appreciate people we can trust. We are more likely to give them our time. We are far more likely to give them our business. You want your subscribers to trust you (and give you their time and possibly their business), but they may not know if they can. How can you reassure them? One way to do this is using transparency throughout your campaign. Here are several effective ways you can do this.

Our Top Posts From 2009

By Amanda Gagnon

2009 was the year of social network integration, testing send windows and organic list growth. While 2010 will bring its own trends, these changes aren’t going away.

Here’s a quick refresher of things that went down in email marketing last year.

These posts highlight some new AWeber features, a few colorful examples and the soundest advice we can offer.

2009: The Year of Posts in Brief

Using Email to Grow a Community: AWeber Talks to User Ramit Sethi
On his personal finance site, Sethi teaches his readers to be rich. Here, he gives a bonus lesson in email marketing success. His tips on building an email community are as valuable as gold.

How To Add an Opt-In Form to Your Facebook Page
Adopting social media techniques was a major move that many email marketers made in 2009. This post teaches you how to add an opt-in form to your Facebook profile, directing new contacts straight to your email list.

And since Facebook has more than 350 million active users, and over 700,000 local business accounts, it may be just the place to expand your online presence.

Design Inspiration From Fellow AWeber Customers
Three cameos of customer newsletters show what’s possible for small-time email marketers. Their clean design and quality content offer inspiration far into the future.

Have a Look At the New Web Form Generator
By far our biggest release of the year, the new web form generator was welcomed with open arms! Gone are the days of manually editing HTML; our web form tool helps you create professional and aesthetically pleasing web forms with absolutely zero HTML knowledge.

Test Results: How Long Should Your From Line Be?
“From” line length can largely impact the open rate of an email, yet it’s easy to overlook in the design process. Review what lengths are ideal in the major email clients.
This type of analysis should also be applied to subject line length. Make sure your subscribers can read the reason they should open each email!

{!firstname}, Think Before You Personalize
Personalization can be powerfully effective when used in the right ways. It can also be easily misused. Learn how to avoid the mistake of assuming that a string variable makes a message personalized, targeted or relevant.

“Do Not Reply” Address? Don’t Bother.
This post examines the trend of using an an unattended email address that discourages replies to emails, and explains why you should never do that with your own campaigns.

Deliver Smarter Autoresponders With Send Windows
Sometimes, certain days or times are ideal for subscribers to receive your emails. Find out why, and then learn how to increase your follow-up messages’ effectiveness by setting up send windows.

2010: Use It Wisely

Email marketing, with the biggest ROI of any marketing channel, is a path that can lead you to success. We hope these posts serve as stepping stones on your journey.

For more inspiration, read through the other email marketing tips that 2009 brought.

What would you like us to talk about in 2010? What steps are you planning to take in the new year? Let us know!

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Test Results: How Long Should Your From Line Be?

By Justin Premick

Typically length is a concern that comes up when discussing subject lines – how many characters you can fit in a subject before your subscribers’ email programs cut it off.

“Do Not Reply” Address? Don’t Bother.

By Justin Premick

It’s not often we invoke Sesame Street on this blog, but today it seems appropriate. Let’s play a little game: which thing doesn’t belong in your email marketing campaigns?

What Do Subscribers Expect from You?

By Justin Premick

Consistency is something that we all lean on, from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. When my alarm clock goes off, I hit the snooze button and it consistently reminds me to get up exactly 10 minutes later. I turn the left-hand knob on my shower, and hot water comes out of the faucet.

If my alarm doesn’t go off again after I hit the snooze button or if my faucet won’t give me hot water, it throws me off. It doesn’t necessarily ruin my day, of course, but it does remind me how reliant we are on routine and how disruptions in that routine aren’t usually welcome.

And just what does this have to do with your newsletter?