Retailers: Get your e-mails past the judge and the jury
By Dan Forootan, [email protected]
Retail marketers have long feared their e-mail messages being considered as spam. But who decides if an e-mail message is spam? The answer is much like a courtroom verdict: the Internet service providers (ISPs) play the part of the judge and individual list members make up the jury. So, before hitting the send button marketers must make sure their argument holds up in court.
Getting your message past the judge
As judge, the ISP’s are not interested in emotional arguments — only the rules, and as long as the rules are followed there will not be any repercussions. In the court of e-mail marketing the rules are referred to as ‘Best Practices.’ Follow these and the judge will allow your case to go to the jury:
1. All list members have directly consented to receive messages from the sender
This means an active request has been made by the subscriber to specifically receive your e-mails. Consent does not include failing to uncheck a pre-checked box on a web form or entering a business relationship with an associated organization.
2. Maintain good list hygiene
Regular list hygiene includes removing hard bounces, members who unsubscribe or register a complaint. This is essential for good delivery and a positive sender reputation.
3. Use sending authentication
Authentication, such as the Sender policy Framework (SPF) helps the sender prove they are who they claim to be.
4. Send professional message content optimized for in-box delivery
The ideal is to create content that has a good balance of text, graphics, and links, while avoiding words and phrases that are typically associated with spam.
5. Monitor and resolve complaints
Since a high complaint rate is now the number one reason for poor delivery, responding to and analyzing the source of complaints is becoming increasingly important.
6. Making Your Case to the Jury
As the jury, message recipients will respond based more on emotion than fact, and since the verdict of the jury will almost always be upheld by the judge, e-mail marketers must take steps to turn an emotional argument into a case built on facts.
7. New members receive a ‘Welcome Message’ setting expectations
Sent right after someone opts-in to a mailing list, it makes a positive first impression.
8. Have a standardized ‘From Address’
This increases the recipient’s ability to recognize the message sender. Also ask recipients to add this address to their address book or contact list — helps messages avoid the spam/bulk/junk folder.
9. Send messages with a descriptive and branded subject line
A focused subject usually increases response and reduces complaints.
10. Let the recipient know why they are receiving the message
A simple line like “You are receiving this e-mail because you have requested our monthly newsletter” will help to remind the recipient why they are receiving the sender’s message.
11. Only send content that offers true value to the message recipient
Since everyone is facing an ever expanding in-box, e-mail marketers must give their recipients a clear reason not to reject the message.
12. Send on a regular schedule
This practice will help to keep recipient from forgetting the sender.
13. Always have a visible and functional unsubscribe method
Giving message recipients a quick and easy way to remove themselves from mailing lists will greatly reduce complaints and protect the sender’s reputation. It is also the law: the unsubscribe link must be clear and accessible.
Retail marketers who effectively meet the different e-mail marketing expectations of the judge and the jury will receive a favorable verdict — and proceed to the inbox.
Dan Forootan is the president of StreamSend E-mail Marketing, a leading provider of e-mail marketing solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].
Borders closes sale of Paperchase
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Borders Group announced it has closed on the previously announced transaction to sell Paperchase Products Limited to Primary Capital Limited, a U.K.-based private equity firm, for approximately $31 million USD.
On July 13, Borders announced it would sell Paperchase.Under the agreement, Borders Group said it will continue to purchase and carry products designed and sourced by Paperchase in its U.S. stores.
The company will receive proceeds of approximately $31 million (USD based on current exchange rates) upon closing, which is expected within the next week. The company is required to use $25 million of the proceeds to reduce the amount outstanding under its $90 million term loan credit facility. The completion of the sale is subject to customary closing conditions.
“We’re excited by the opportunity to build on the success of Paperchase, which is a well known design-led stationery brand in the United Kingdom, whose products have received great visibility through Borders stores in the United States,” said Graham Heddle, a director of primary Capital. “We look forward to working with the Paperchase team to build the business over the next few years.”
Borders Group acquired a majority interest in Paperchase in 2004.
Ebay’s revenue up in Q2
SAN JOSE, Calif. Ebay reported that revenue for the fiscal second quarter ended June 30, increased 6% to $2.2 billion, or 15% excluding Skype, compared with the same period of 2009. The company recorded second-quarter net income on a GAAP basis of $412.2 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, and non-GAAP net income of $530.2 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, representing an 18% increase excluding Skype, compared to the same period of 2009.
“We delivered strong second quarter results, demonstrating the global strength and increasing diversity of our business,” said John Donahoe, Ebay president and CEO. “PayPal is strong and getting stronger, building a robust and innovative global footprint serving all of ecommerce. And our Ebay turnaround remains on track, with strong performance in Europe, significant changes in the United States and continued improvements to the buying and selling experience. We continue to focus on delivering strong financial results, managing a healthy balance sheet and making the necessary investments to compete, win and satisfy our customers.”