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Below is a guest post from one of our partners, RUKUS, a company that specializes in mobile-first personalized video campaigns. Have a read! Personalized video email marketing is proven to increase conversions and encourage engagement but at RUKUS.io, we’re asking does it change behavior and brand perception? A recent campaign with Zumba Fitness suggests yes. At the Chicago Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference, I met the ZUMBA Fitness folks and shared some results Rukus.io achieved with one-to-one personalized video email campaigns. Wayne Miller, senior manager of email and marketing automation explained that he had been charged with three tasks (1) deliver next-level engagement for this year’s Zumba Instructor Conference 2014, (2) increase ZUMBA Fitness brand awareness, and (3) outperform last year’s attendee registration rates. Having already implemented best practices including responsive mobile layouts and static video embedding, this was a difficult challenge.The first time Wayne saw a real-time personalized video, he saw an opportunity: “To see something like that, generated in real-time, is mind blowing. That level of engagement is what we were looking for. People haven’t really seen something like this before. Presenting our conference with RUKUS, putting someone in the moment of convention before they’re even there, was kind of a no brainer.” Consumers are increasingly desensitized to traditional email marketing tactics. Including the subscriber’s name in the greeting or body copy has lost its luster. Each name on your email list is a human being, a real person. They expect to be treated with care and respect. The Rukus.io Zumba Instructor Conference campaign launched in April under the pretense that personalized video was a way for Zumba to quickly and personallyconvey in an email that the event was on that “next level,” Miller said. (Marketing Sherpa) When wielded with care, the combination of existing CRM data, third-party data, strong video asset and groundbreaking video technology can deliver staggering and unparalleled results. Miller was floored with the results “With this campaign we pushed ZUMBA’s click-through rates up 4X over the control group, and delivered a 50% Click-to-open rate,” the strongest they have ever seen, ever. By delivering a one-of-a-kind experience, the investment in existing data nurtured relationships and changed a desired behavior.  “The Zumba Instructor Conference 2014 campaign resulted in more than 2X greater conversion rates compared to subscribers that did not receive a RUKUS personalized video.” (Miller), Brand perception also changed. Social sharing of the videos proved an emergent campaign dynamic in that some recipients had nearly 1,000 views of their Rukus.io video. For example: With mobile media consumption exploding, all email campaigns must be responsive and fully optimized to all devices. With the ZUMBA campaign, RUKUS.io...

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Coding and troubleshooting HTML emails can be tough. Very tough. That’s why we’ve made this handy guide to help walk you through some of the biggest pitfalls and bugs common with HTML email coding. You’ll learn what to look out for, how different email clients like to render things, and how to transition your emails to mobile responsive templates. All that and a wealth of other resources are included in our latest whitepaper. Download the whitepaper now!  Complete the short form below: Enter in your information below to download the Pixel Perfect Whitepaper * indicates required field First Name:* Last Name:* Email:* Company Name* Share...

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We recently had the pleasure of joining Jeffrey Rice of Brick Street Software on Marketing Tech Talk to discuss how email marketing automation can be an email marketer’s (and digital marketer’s) best friend. In this podcast, we discussed two crucial automated programs that can make a big impact in your email marketing: Welcome Programs and Cart Abandonment Programs. Have a listen to our Marketing Tech Talk with Jeffrey Rice on the UR Business Network.   You can also check out our whitepapers on the two subjects: – Exploit the Power of the Welcome – Email Marketing Whitepaper – Save Your Shopping Carts with Email – Email Marketing Whitepaper Share...

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In case you missed recent events, Gmail has added unsubscribe functionality to their UI. Lifehacker has a good, quick synopsis on this topic. (Okay, Gmail has had this for a while—they’re just making it much more obvious.) And while the world assumes that email marketers are flipping out over this development, I offer you two reasons why I for 1) am not flipping out over this, and 2) believe this is actually a positive development for email marketers. Reason 1: Email Marketers Don’t Have Control Over the Inbox. This is just another reminder from the ISPs of the world that they (and, to a certain extent, their customers) control the inbox. ISPs don’t make money off of email marketing, so they’re in the business of protecting their networks and their customers—the users. Email marketers don’t control whether their message gets delivered. They establish a sender reputation The sooner email marketers can come to terms with that, the better off we’ll all be. Reason 2: Unsubscribes are better than spam complaints Unsubscribes and spam complaints both mean the same thing: People want off your list. When that becomes the case, you want people to unsubscribe. It may seem counterintuitive, but making the unsubscribe process easier to find and act upon is better. Unsubscribes don’t hurt your sender reputation (how ISPs see you and allow your messages to be delivered). And more unsubscribes tend to lower spam complaints—the type of negative engagement that hurts your program in the long term. Here’s an anecdotal, personal experience case study that shows what I’m talking about: In my previous life on the client side, I wanted to reduce spam complaints on a monthly newsletter I was sending out. I convinced my bosses that having the unsubscribe at the top and bottom of the email would likely reduce spam complaints. The first month I tested my hypothesis, spam complaints were cut in half and unsubscribe rate only rose marginally. Mission accomplished. What Gmail has done here is in many cases the equivalent of having an unsubscribe link at the top of your email. The numbers will show this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So why do I think this is a positive for email marketers? You’re always going to lose subscribers. How you lose them is incredibly important. And, as I said, you want them to unsubscribe. So, why not make it easy on your departing subscribers now and better for your email marketing program down the road? Gmail seems to be helping in that capacity. Just one email marketer’s opinion… Share...

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Wrapping up this series on coding emails, we’ll look at some final layout commands along with other handy code snippets and tools. Column Shifting Layouts Two column layouts can work great for a wide desktop display, but when viewing on a small mobile device, converting it to a 1 column stacked design can greatly improve visibility. Generally a 2 column layout will actually be 3, one of them being a middle spacing column that gets hidden in mobile view: Add this in the middle column: class="hide" And this in the header: @media only screen and (max-width: 480px) { table[class="hide"], img[class="hide"], td[class="hide"] {display:none !important;} } In columns 1 and 3 add this: class="blockcol” With this in the header: @media only screen and (max-width: 480px) { td[class="blockcol"] {display: block;} } With these lines of code we force the individual cells to stack when the screen is smaller than 480px. It may be useful to set the width of the newly stacked columns so they are all uniform (300px is a good baseline). Big Fat Buttons Similarly, smallish buttons can work well in desktop environments with a mouse to do the clicking, but when it comes to small screens and clumsy fingers a larger button is usually better. Normally in a HTML button, only the text is clickable, wit hthis mobile button the entire button is clickable. Put this in the header: .cta { background:#df8c12; padding-left:30px; padding-right:30px; padding-top:10px; padding-bottom:10px; -webkit-border-radius: 6px; -moz-border-radius: 6px; border-radius: 6px; } .ctatext, .ctatext a:link, .ctatext a:visited { color:#ffffff; font-family:Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; line-height:150%; font-size:14px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px) { table[class=cta] a {display:block !important; padding:20px !important;} td[class="cta"], table[class="cta"] {width:300px !important; font-size:22px !important; padding:0px !important;} td[class="ctatext"] a {font-size:30px !important;} } And this is what the actual button code would look like: <table class="cta" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td class="ctatext" align="center"><a href="#">click here »</a></td> </tr> </table> Other Coding Resources: The great folks at Litmus always have wonderful newsletters and great coding tips as well, their blog is a great resource. The Mailchimp email template reference site is another great resource for tips and tricks in email coding, it is also very well organized to boot.  also check out their ever handy css inlining tool. Email on Acid has another excellent blog, in particular they like to get into nitty gritty details on individual email client bugs (Lotus notes, I’m looking at you). Campaign Monitor, I don’t think enough could be said about the great email coding resource that is the campaign monitor site along with their other tools they provide to the email community for free.  also see their background image tool. Share...

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It’s no secret that retailers ramp up their email marketing volume come the holiday season. They would be fools not to milk that “special” time of year for all it’s worth. There was one retailer in particular—for me, at least—that took the holiday season as a cue to unleash the hounds onto my inbox. That retailer is Brookstone. I’ve always been a fan of Brookstone—mostly for the massage chairs and the free lounging time they used to heartily encourage back in my youth (when malls were a thing and cells phones only existed in Mercedes). I’ve even purchased a couple of products—in-store, not online. As a result of my fandom, I’ve been on their email marketing list for at least a couple of years now. I had a feeling that the onslaught was coming when in November, the email marketing volume went from a few per week to once a day. Then, as we approached Thanksgiving, it happened: I received 111 emails between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. Over those 27 days, that averages out to a little over 4 emails per day. At first glance, that seems excessive. On the other hand, there is some logic to mailing multiple times a day. Multiple touches keep you front and center during a time when the inbox is literally overflowing with offers from retailers everywhere. And, if your spam and unsubscribe rates stay low (or spike to an “acceptable” level given your strategy) and your open and click rates warrant it, why not? CPM is low enough that the law of diminishing returns may not affect you. With no data to look at to determine success*, I can only make assumptions about how Brookstone’s holiday approach performed. Here are three assumptions I can make: Assumption: They tested subject lines a lot. I received a lot of repeat subject lines (or subject line with minor modifications). For example: “$15 off $49” (with some variation thereafter): 10 times “$20 off $99” (with some variation thereafter): 26 times “Still Shipping for Christmas” (with some variation thereafter): 7 times What does that mean? Those subject lines were working, and they kept testing against it. I was probably in either the A group or the “winning” group. Assumption: Spam complaints and unsubscribe rates were within “acceptable” limits. Why can I assume this? Email volume increased after Thanksgiving from 3 emails per day to 5 emails per day. Then the volume continued throughout the entire holiday season. Which leads me to my final assumption: Assumption: The campaign was a success. This assumption is admittedly the hardest to make without seeing the data for myself. There are,...

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