StrongMail: Daily Deal Sites Cause Growth of Email Delivery Server Customers

StrongMail Email Delivery ServerStrongMail yesterday issued a press release, announcing “a significant increase in customers for its burst email delivery technology” (Email Delivery Server).

This patented technology is not new but with capacity to “assemble and deliver millions of personalized messages in less than 10 minutes”, according to StrongMail, one shouldn’t look too far for this increase of customers.

As you know, daily deal sites and email services (Groupon, anyone?) are rapidly gaining popularity and many retailers and e-commerce players are focusing on coupons and promotions.

The reason is obvious: promotions, special deals, etc. are still the main type of content consumers are seeking for. According to several studies, it’s even the main reason why consumers start following brands (notice the word “start”) on social media.

The expansion of daily deal sites and emails is one of the reasons, StrongMail says, of the mentioned increase.

Among daily deal sites (and flash commerce sites) that chose the provider are FamilyFinds, HauteLook and Joss & Main.

Press release here.

Email Vendor Features and Functions Guide: Differences Between Email Vendors Bigger Than Expected

Email vendor guides This week the European Email Vendor Features and Functions Guide is released, the second part of the guide that offers side-by-side comparison of in total 53 ESPs worldwide.

The first worldwide edition of John Caldwell’s guide

In a collaboration between our friend John Caldwell‘s Red Pill Email and Social Email Marketing contributor Jordie van Rijn his Emailmonday, this will be the first time there will be a world edition.

Adding the European vendors the number of included ESPs is effectively doubled, thus presenting a more complete overview of the international ESP marketplace.

Jordie van Rijn: “We see a lot of ESP’s expanding their services abroad. Sometimes with very aggressive methods and competitive pricing to get a bigger piece of the email market. We are seeing that American suppliers look at Europe for innovation and clients, and vice versa. The US version has been running for two years, now the European vendors are also included.”

Differences between European Email Service Providers

While all ESPs find it important that email marketing strategy is well thought out, 20% of the email vendors don’t offer any email strategy advice. A quarter doesn’t offer creative services.

In the email tools themselves there are also large differences. If you would like to have some more control of you data than just a simple export mechanism, it is advisable to look at all the different ESP offerings. From the questions the guide asked European ESPs about data control there where suppliers that offered 89% of all functionalities, but there were also some that only offered 20%.

A new trend is offering pre-configuered campaigns, like an abandoned cart campaign, a welcome mail and automatic resends to non-openers. With this type of e-mailings, much is gained in conversion and efficiency. But only 2 out of the 28 European Email vendors offered all types of pre-configured emailings. The majority offers less than 40% and a few don’t offer any of these campaigns.  

Contents of the guide
The 2011 Email Vendor Features & Functions Guides show side-by-side comparisons of 53 email vendors ranging from small market table vendors to commercial MTAs and points in between, with over 200 essential questions asked. For the first time, a desktop application was added that helps users to identify the vendors best suited to their needs based on their own business criteria.

John Caldwell, the author of the guide has been in the email space since 1996. The Red Pill Email founder, has worked on the agency side, the client side, and as a consultant, using deployment tools that range from ESPs to in-house to home-grown email systems.

Jordie van Rijn, contributing editor of the EU Email Vendor Features and Functions guide, is an independent email marketing consultant. With his company Emailmonday he has over 8 years of hands-on experience as an e-mail marketing and loyalty marketing consultant.

Digital Magazine for Content Marketing Professionals Launches in Europe

Chief content officer A new magazine focused on content marketing by the Content Marketing Institute is now available in Europe. Chief Content Officer is the world’s first magazine devoted to the fast-growing, evolving field of content marketing.

It is written by, for, and about the most innovative, influential global content marketers. and of course marketers that embrace content and content marketing for their lead nurturing or integrated email and other interactive marketing strategies.

Content marketing is an emerging discipline of creating and distributing relevant content to the right audience at the right time—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.  It focuses on creating educational and engaging content that is geared towards consumer needs, and it requires marketing professionals to start thinking like publishers. [Read more...]

Using Incentives to Acquire Opt-In Email Addresses

Incentives_promotions When email marketing emerged as digital alternative for other forms of direct marketing, the emphasis with many email marketers was for a rapid growth of the lists. The use of rented lists, co-registration programs, mass campaigns and competitions to acquire as many possible subscribers, were daily practices. Even email address ‘harvesting’ programs were frequently used, long before there was any legislation on email marketing.

Today practices like renting lists are not recommended and ‘harvesting’ is only used by spammers.

Even co-registration programs have many drawbacks and are under fire, and justly. But the use of incentives, freebies and competitions for ‘list growing’ purposes is not without dangers, even if this is still applied eagerly by many companies and marketers.
One of the reasons why it is worthwhile to look at the efficiency of such incentives is the realization that email marketing revolves much more around relationships, dialogue and relevance than many thought. 

Furthermore the quality of the email lists is more important than quantity, certainly now that ISP’s only look at the interaction with mails from a deliverability viewpoint.

We want active, engaged and “clean” email lists, not collections of inactive addresses and masses of dormant subscribers. And finally we also pay more attention to the “human being behind the e-mail address”. The dimension “mass” makes room for amongst others relevance, segmenting, personalization, dialogue, triggers, scenarios and integration in email marketing.

There are various ways to use incentives, freebies, competitions or games to acquire email subscribers, both in B2B as well as B2C (even though other ways are typically used).

A non-exhaustive list of possible channels and formats to acquire opt-in email addresses via incentives:

  • Using online campaigns where the competition element is central and participants have to register.
  • By using the “time” element via other channels such as social networks. For example: “the first x people that register now, will receive y”.
  • Based on white papers (especially popular in B2B).
  • By campaigns in newsletters of third parties, typically online media.
  • Using send-to-a-friend or recruit-a-friend campaigns where existing subscribers are given something for every new subscriber introduced by them.
  • By offering promotions or competitions on the website where the subscription forms are.
  • Etc.

What are the benefits and dangers of the use of incentives and competitions to grow email lists from this perspective?

The most important benefit is naturally the growth of the email list itself and acquiring email addresses to complete existing lists or to launch new campaigns.

Yet the pure use of campaigns and incentives with the sole purpose of acquiring addresses is not without risk. I will summarize a few and add some tips.

  1. Just because someone participates in a competition or downloads a white paper, it doesn’t mean that he or she is also interested in your company. Naturally you will offer the possibility in the participation or download form to register as an option but even in that case, this is not a guarantee. It would be better to use scenarios making use of follow-up mails during and/or after the incentive for presenting your email program so that you are not aiming for the simple number of email addresses, but the commitment of the people behind these addresses. Naturally you can also use the address and the entire campaign for a separately email program with its own conversion objectives.
  2. When using send-to-a-friend campaigns or campaigns in newsletters of others you run the risk, certainly in B2B and niche B2C activities, of acquiring a large number of subscribers that lie outside your actual target group. A properly developed viral campaign can lead to an enormous effect but you must consider properly in advance the various ways to remain as much as possible within your target group(s). If you go too far outside these target groups, you will have a lower ROI on your campaign, unsubscribes and a higher percentage of inactive subscribers.
  3. If an email address is a type of condition for participation to a campaign or for acquiring a freebie, discount or anything else, you often have registrations with barely used email addresses. Many people create email addresses that are only used for campaigns and never again looked at. New addresses are often created especially for specific campaigns or nonexistent addresses are entered. The last can be avoided by sending the link for the discount, promotion, white paper or whatever per mail, but there isn’t much that can be done against the use of inactive addresses. That is why it is better to use scenarios with more than one phase, filtering the uninterested promotion hunters. The use of triggers is crucial.

In general, certainly when the direct purpose is the growth of email lists, it is best when the theme of the campaign connects seamlessly to the target group and theme of your email marketing programs.

Otherwise it is best to work with email campaigns specially setup for the campaign (especially in B2C) or the lead generation process (especially in B2B) and which can evolve gradually to opt-ins for your regular email programs, make a parallel or temporary email program possible with a specific conversion purpose or fit in a personal interaction scenario (for example lead nurturing).

And finally, don’t forget the cross-channel aspect: you don’t only want email addresses, you want contact points that are relevant for your business and client/prospect. An incentive may also serve perfectly to detect patterns, identify social media accounts, receive attention before proceeding with an actual registration or enriching existing databases.

And don’t forget the value of such campaigns in cross-channel database marketing and enrichment and customer loyalty programs.

But a proper, creative, segmented and thorough list through a firm opt-in incentive is obviously always welcome.

As long as it is relevant to your business and new subscribers!