from line

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

Remain transparentWe 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?

We’ve talked about building trust with welcome messages and privacy policies. Another key is using transparency throughout your campaign. Be up-front, be honest, be approachable. In the anonymous Internet cloud, be someone real and tangible.

There are several effective ways you can do this:

How to Be Transparent In Your Emails

  • First, include a valid postal address.

    Yes, this is already required by CAN-SPAM, but it also conveys your authenticity. You aren’t afraid to provide your location, so you must be on the level. And if you do get snail mail from a subscriber, you’ll be able to respond.

  • Put your face where your mouth is. Include your picture in your emails to put your subscribers even more at ease. Bonus points if you’re wearing a friendly smile (see below).
  • Post a link to your privacy policy on your web form and in your emails. This reassures subscribers that you will keep their information secure.
  • Provide valid FAQs.

    If the answers are evasive or vague, alarm bells might go off in your subscribers’ heads. Answer directly. Answer completely. Answer helpfully. Then provide a way to ask questions you may have missed.

  • Deliver what you promise.

    If you offer a 30-minute Pilates video, there should be 30 full minutes of quality instruction and demonstration. If you link to a how-to guide, the landing page should be that actual guide, not an ad. Follow through, and you won’t break trust.

  • If you want to be transparent, approachable and trustworthy, do NOT list a ‘do not reply’ email address in the from line. If your subscribers can’t contact you back, you are not in a dialogue; you’re just blasting them with information. Hitting ‘reply’ is the most natural way for them to respond. Stop them from doing so, and it looks like you’ve got something to hide.

How Do You Build Credibility?

How do you show subscribers that you are trustworthy? Have you found some methods more effective than others?

Thank you for sharing!

AmandaAmanda
3103 Philmont Ave. Ste. 200
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006, USA

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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

From TagMaybe you’ve never thought about it.

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.

But the same thing applies to your “from” line; if it’s too long, subscribers won’t be able to read all of it while viewing their list of emails.

Here’s what I mean:

Emails From My Inbox With Long “From” Lines

Within the last 48 hours, I’ve received messages from these long-named senders:

Long From Lines

See how the “from” lines all cut off right around the same point? They’re longer than Gmail is willing to show me all at once.

What About Other Email Programs?

I wanted to find out if other email programs did this, and if so, at what point they did so.

So I ran a test: emailing different addresses of mine at the various webmail providers as well as in MS Outlook, with “John Jacob Jinglehiemier Schmidt” set as the “from” name.

Here are the results:

Email Client/OS “From” Line Displayed # Characters
Yahoo! (Windows XP) John Jacob Jinglehiemi 22
Yahoo! (Mac OSX) John Jacob Jinglehiemi 22
Gmail (XP) John Jacob Jinglehiemier. 24
Gmail (OSX) John Jacob Jinglehiemier. 24
Windows Live Hotmail (XP) John Jacob Jinglehiemie 23
Windows Live Hotmail (OSX) John Jacob Jinglehiem 21
AOL Webmail (XP) justinsawebertest@yahoo. 24
AOL Webmail (OSX) justinsawebertest@yahoo. 24
Microsoft Outlook 2007 (XP) John Jacob Jinglehiemier Schmidt 32 (all)
Mozilla Thunderbird (XP) John Jacob Jinglehiemier Schmidt 32 (all)
iPhone Mail John Jacob Jinglehie… 20 (then the …)
Gmail (Android mobile phone) John Jacob Jinglehiemier 24

Observations

  • In most webmail programs, it didn’t matter what operating system you were on. Hotmail was the exception in that it cuts off the “from” line a couple characters earlier if you’re on a Mac.
  • All my tests were in Firefox, so I can’t say whether the various browsers (IE, Chrome, Safari, Opera) would affect these figures.
  • Where the width of the “Sender” column could be adjusted (notably Mozilla Thunderbird), I used the default width.

    Users can obviously change this and so there’s no way to guarantee that the results of this test will hold true for every user.

  • These email clients don’t all necessarily look at character counts for the cutoff; some may cut off after a certain number of pixels.

    Individual recipients may set different settings that cause more or fewer characters to appear in the space provided (example: whether a recipient uses fixed-width or variable-width fonts can affect how many characters display).

I include these observations to give you an idea of why your results might vary from these; however, I’d categorize most of these as relatively minor issues and/or edge cases that shouldn’t affect how you use this information.

So Your From Line Should Always Be 20 Characters Or Fewer?

Not necessarily. Just like when you look at subject line length, there’s no one universally right answer here.

Short isn’t always better – not if keeping it short cuts down on your ability to achieve your email campaign’s goals.

Take a look back at the screenshot from my inbox. Some of them – like “Ebates Top Picks Newslet” – are easily recognizable even though they’ve been truncated. Others don’t fare so well. Who is “Maggie L. Fox, Alliance”? I had no idea when I got that email.

  • Recognition is a determining factor here. If a long “from” line makes it harder to recognize who you are, then shorten it.
  • Position is another factor. If your “from” line is going to run long, get the most important and recognizable parts at the beginning.For example, MarketingProfs’ small business newsletter is called Get to the Point. Their “from” line is really long, but they make sure I see the branded part even when Gmail cuts off the rest – “Get to the Point: Small .”

Your “From” Line Suggestions?

What have you learned about creating effective “from” lines? Done any testing of them?

How did you determine what to use for your own?

Share your thoughts on the blog!

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“Do Not Reply” Address? Don’t Bother.

By Justin Premick

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

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?

  • Presenting subscribers with other ways to interact with your business – like on your blog, Facebook group, Twitter account or even in person at events your business will attend.
  • Writing in a conversational tone – like a “real person” talking to your subscribers.
  • Requesting feedback from subscribers on how your business – and your emails! – can better meet their needs.
  • Trying to learn why people unsubscribe by asking them.
  • Starting with subscribers’ permission and creating relevant emails that seek to build a relationship with your potential customers.
  • Sending your emails from a “No Reply” or “Do Not Reply” address.

If you guessed “Sending your emails from a ‘no reply’ or ‘do not reply’ address, give yourself a pat on the back.

“Do Not Reply” Addresses Have No Place In Your Email Marketing Campaigns.

Period.

All the other ideas in the list above aim to make your email marketing more social.

“Do Not Reply” addresses, on the other hand, try to take a permission-based, conversational marketing medium and mold it into an online version of TV or billboard advertising.

People who use “Do Not Reply” addresses…

  • … try to have one-way conversations in their marketing.

    Problem is, a one-way conversation isn’t a conversation at all. It’s a monologue.

  • … treat subscribers as a cost whenever they’re doing anything except buying something.

    To them, feedback isn’t free research on how to market better; it’s a cost to be avoided.

  • … don’t get that the main thing that affects your email deliverability is basically whether you make subscribers mad. Make them mad, they click the “spam” button. Enough of them do it, and you have a delivery problem.

    To subscribers, spam isn’t just unsolicited bulk email, it’s any email they don’t want. And not many people want to hear from people – or companies – who refuse to hear back from them.

    Business who use a “Do Not Reply” address don’t understand that they’re asking for spam complaints.

Good News: Most People Understand This. Better News: More People Will.

Most people don’t send their email marketing campaigns from “Do Not Reply” addresses – which was exactly what we expected to find when we ran stats on the “from” lines in all of our users’ campaigns a while ago. You guys are good :)

That said, there were a few people who were creating campaigns in AWeber and using addresses like noreply@example.com, do-not-reply@example.com and so forth (at their own domain, not example.com) in the “from” line.

We realized we needed to close that loophole and educate those customers, and we’ve done so.

When you create a campaign in AWeber, we check the “from” address for many common variants of “Do Not Reply” addresses. If a customer enters one, they’ll be notified that this is not OK and will be prompted to choose a new “from” address.

Our hope is that with a little guidance and education, we can help those businesses become better email marketers.

What Do YOU Think of “Do Not Reply” Addresses?

Have you ever sent a campaign using a “Do Not Reply” address? Ever received one? What do you think of them?

Share your thoughts on the blog!

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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?