Monday, December 14, 2009

Increase your email's performance during the holidays

This is the time of year when your users are inundated with emails. Black Friday emails, Thanksgiving discounts, Christmas offers... not to mention the notorious increase in activity from all the spammers sitting around, hoping for a click to make a buck. The question now becomes, how do you have your users look out for your email while sifting through thousands of other offers/promos?

As I had mentioned in my last post, subject lines and building anticipation or including a call to action for your next mailing are some important tools you can use to increase the performance of your email. With all the expenses, preparing for holiday parties, and shopping, your users are more stressed than usual. They don't need the additional stress of going through hundreds of the same offers - buy now, use this coupon and save, etc. You need to come up with a way to better understand your users and differentiate yourself from all the other companies sending emails. Pushing your users over and over or sending the same email with the same promo/offer will get your mailings deleted. You can differentiate yourself by offering informative, effective, non-pushy subject lines - become a friendly voice to your users.

Once you've got the reader's attention, you've already won 90% of the battle. Next you need to monetize on the attention you've got from your readers. One way is to stretch their interest from one email to the next. Here are a few strategies you can try:

- Include an effective call to action, such as, "Look out for a blow out sale happening two days before Black Friday. Stocks are limited." Maybe mention that this promotion isn't for everyone - the users were selected via a randomized process. This will create a sense of exclusivity and increase anticipation for the next mailing to come because you have allowed the reader to believe he/she is the only one privy to this information. It instantly becomes more valuable.

- Send a follow-up campaign to non-opens, or send a special offer to clickers. Historically, this has worked well, but sending test emails before the start of the holiday season is the only way to be sure of what will work for your mailing list.

- Limited Time Offers are another effective way to increase opens, clicks and revenue. Allow your readers a month or 6 weeks to use a promotion, rather than 24 hours or 3 days or something. It's advisable to avoid One Time Offers, because they come across as pushy and forceful - they send a message of urgency, which is the last thing your users need this time of the year.

It's important around the holidays not to push sales too hard. Stress levels are at an all time high and people are looking for that one company to give them a break and not force the sale out of them. This is the time when you make or break user loyalty. Be a friend to them and you will reap the returns.

Co-Author: Courtney Dillsworth & Roopal Sharma

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are you prepared with your strategy for the Holiday season?

I’ve noticed a trend where creating an authentic, consistent personality in your campaigns, which speaks directly to your users, can have a positive effect on your ROI. Being relatable and personal in your communications and not just strictly business has resulted in higher opens and click thru rates.

Spark the reader’s curiosity by including a level of unpredictability and mystery in each of your campaigns. Add elements to the campaign which will make the user look forward to your next email. Include a compelling call to action, such as "look for a 10% coupon in our next email." This is an effective way to keep readers engaged from one campaign to the next. It also increases the probability of higher opens for your follow-up campaigns.

Say you went out to eat at your favorite restaurant and ordered the same entrée you always order. You will more than likely lose interest in that particular entrée fairly quickly and want some variety. Emails work in a similar fashion. Don’t recycle campaign content, as readers tend to get bored with reading the same information, resulting in drops in your open rates. When this happens, no matter how compelling the offer/information appears in your subject line, you have lost your audience and the campaign is doomed.

The fact of the matter is good content should get you the responses you want and help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your campaign. It is crucial to have a striking, informative subject line, as it is the first impression of your campaign readers will see. Sending new campaigns with the same old subject line will probably get your email deleted before it’s opened. Make your communications stand out – be unique and cater your information specifically to users on your opt-in lists. Basically, you should try to find a new way to convey your message, thus differentiating yourself from your competition.

Setting performance bars for your campaigns can also be a good way to improve performance. If an email’s performance rates drop below the criterion you’ve set or the norm from historical data, it’s time to revise the campaign, the content or the subject line. Doing this frequently will allow you to know your consumer base more intimately and send well-targeted and successful campaigns.

Although the level of spending may be lower than previous years due to the recession, the fourth quarter is always the highest spending quarter of any year. 2009 won’t prove to be any different. Testing is the key to capitalizing and monetizing on this increase in consumer spending. Try out new campaign or subject line styles prior to the start of the holiday season so you can really benefit from holiday spending.

The holidays are also a perfect time to send a sequel campaign. For example, send out a campaign with a 10% coupon, and then once they’ve redeemed that coupon, as an autoresponder/trigger-based event, send out a second campaign with a 25% coupon good for their next purchase over X amount of money. This will create anticipation, thus boosting opens and response rates.

Good luck monetizing your Holidays ;)

Co-Author: Courtney Dillsworth

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gmail Spam Messages

Have you ever noticed that when an email hits the Spam folder in your Gmail Account a little message pop’s up at the top? Have you ever taken the time to actual read it? I was surprised to find that these messages, which at first glance look pretty much the same, all mean different things. Each of the 8 reasons below that Gmail provides recipients can be simply categorized and that could be the key for improving your Gmail deliverability. Check them out.

CAUSE 1: Reputation Problems
Be careful with this message. Many people marked similar messages as spam.
Why is this message in Spam? We’ve found that lots of messages from a
re spam.
Among other factors, proper and continuous cleansing of your database is necessary to avoid reputation issues.

CAUSE 2: Authentication Problems
This message was likely forged and did not originate from your account.
This message may not have been sent by:
It is important to check your email authentication settings as they may not be properly set up.

CAUSE 3: Content Problems
Why is this message in Spam? It’s similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters.
Why is this message in Spam? It contains content that’s typically used in spam messages.
Make sure emails maintain a 60/40 text to image ratio, eliminate words that may get noticed by spam filters such as “cash,” and make sure content is valuable and relatable to recipients.

CAUSE 4: Serious Content Problems
Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link.
Be careful with this message. Similar messages were used to steal people’s personal information. Unless you trust the sender, don’t click links or reply with personal information.
If you see one of these messages, immediate action is required. Generally these messages will be seen as a result of a phishing scam – its important to handle promptly.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Best Times to Mail

Clients often ask us if there is a particular day of the week or time of the day that’s best to send to their distribution list. This is a hard one to answer. Although there are periods of time that are generally accepted as being most likely to return the best results, day of week and time of day depends greatly on the client and the purpose of the email.
Below are some things to keep in mind regarding email timing by day:
Monday - Inboxes are filled from the weekend, and people are trying to get back into “work mode.”  If you plan to send Monday its best to send mid-morning after office workers have had a chance to clean out their inbox.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - These 3 days are generally accepted as the best time to send. Why? By this time inboxes should be cleared from the weekend rush and your recipients should be in full mid-week mode. For office workers this entails reading through work emails as well as checking personal mailboxes for your messages. For stay at homes, timing may vary here, but usually at some point within this period (whether it be morning or night) individuals will most likely check their mailboxes.
Friday - There is research that suggests that sending out emails on Friday could present lower opens than other days of the week. On Friday people are itching to start their weekend and checking emails may not be high on their priority list.  If you do plan to send out on Friday, morning is generally best as it gives users a chance to check their message before leaving the office.
The Weekend – Business workers are generally out of the office during this period, which means if they don’t check mail from home they wont see your message until Monday morning when its lost in a sea of weekend emails. Try to avoid bulk mailings on the weekends unless to circumstances are conducive to this type of send.
In regards to time of day, we at Kobemail generally suggest to clients a send time of around either 10am or 1pm in the afternoon. Although time of day will have less of an effect on opens than the day itself, these times are great as a benchmark because recipients have already sifted through morning and lunch break messages.
Keep in mind, with the progression of mobile devices and the increase is accessibility to email these rules tend to fade. For individuals with smartphone devices, emails are checked as they come in and day tends to matter less.
We can’t stress enough that these are simply guidelines and tips for sending; what’s most important is proper analysis of your email marketing campaigns. Know your demographic, look through past data result trends, and experiment with times to find out what works best for your mailers specifically.
Happy Mailing!
- The Kobemail Team

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Multi-Use Content

Creating quality content takes time and as marketers we understand that time is always of the essence. In a rapidly changing industry where new technology brings about new ideas, products, offerings in shorter and shorter periods it is important to present relevant content to the user across multiple channels.

Taking the time to draw a roadmap of your digital marketing strategy equipped with an outline of business offerings, target markets, and company goals will help make your content moldable to work for you in numerous outlets.  With basic content draw up all you have to do is analyze the posting location and make it work for that specific outlet.
Let’s look at Social Media channels as a perfect example. If you read an interesting article that you want to share don’t just post the link on your website and be done with it. Write a blog which incorporates aspects of the article while keeping your company’s bottom line in mind. After posting the blog manipulate its content to turn it into an informational mailer for loyal customers. Tweeting about the article or wall post in a creative manner would always be great multiuse examples of one piece of content.
When creating quality content think of ways to use it across all digital media outlets and for multiple purposes in an attempt to save time and maximize benefit.  

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Social Media and Email Marketing – It Doesn’t Have to Be One or the Other

Incorporating social media efforts into your email marketing campaigns is an effective way to increase brand exposure and drive traffic to your company website. The union of these two marketing heavyweights can help to create dialogue with consumers, drive content, and ultimately point your future email campaigns in the right direction.

Linking your social media to emails can create a cycle of give and take – consumers have the ability to ask questions, tell you what they want (and what they don’t want), and you have the ability to respond. As the marketer you have the means to formulate your marketing strategy around user opinions and use this cycle to create positive conversation and successful future campaigns.

With the vast sea of information floating over the intertubes recipient appetite for quality content suited to their needs is growing exponentially. Logically, the users actively searching for information, and the ones that are linked up to multiple social media outlets, are the ones who ultimately receive, open, respond, and forward information – these are your most influential users. Making email a one stop shop for all virtual outlets is the most effective way to engage these recipients and encourage them to engage others.

Here at KobeMail we encourage our clients to utilize smart channel connections to increase web traffic and improve brand recognition. We understand the importance of keeping up with a changing marketplace and adapting to new marketing practices in order to provide our partners with the best results possible.

The direct correlation between heavy email consumers and social media engagement proves that if you listen and allow customers to have a say – they will notice. Email marketing is no longer a one way street, so move over and make some room for social media.

Keep an eye out next week for “Social Media and Email Marketing- Ways to Connect”

Author: Caitlin Durand
Editor: Roopal Rawani

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How To Analyze Bounces

Bounce rates are, in relation to emails, the number of email that do not get delivered and returns to the sender. There are many different reasons why an email fails deliverability. They can be divided into four different categories, which are:

1. Hard Bounce – Emails that are permanently undeliverable. Example; bad email addresses.

2. Soft Bounce – May not have a permanent reason for why the email is not going through. Example; full inbox, server is down or message is too large. Tip to keep in mind is to remove users after the 3rd soft bounce to avoid bad ISP reputation.

3. Blocks – Internet service providers reject emails due to spam filters. This can be due to black listed domains or when users manually mark domains as spam.

4. Other – Non-verified/Inactive accounts.

Usually when inquiring a bounce message you will receive some information to help the sender understand why your email was not delivered. Message may include:

  • Date and time of bounce

  • Identity of the mail server that bounced your email (

  • A reason/ error message (mailbox full or unknown user)

  • Header of the bounce message and some of the email content

If you are experiencing high bounce rate, a good step to keep in mind is to first clean your email list. Having a rate of 20% bounced emails is considered high. It is important to cleanse your mailing list and remove all email addresses that are misspelled, have bad domains and that are inactive. The more bad emails you have the higher the chances of having spam filters red flag you as using stolen or bought list leading to a higher spam score causing more bounces.

Having a low bounce rate is good only when you are satisfied with the size of your email list and when you know your message is actually delivered. There can also be the issue of having email testing as a false-positive (when your email is not rejected, but is directly filtered to Trash). Analyze your low bounce rate by checking in your major ISPs for open and click-through rates. This will help you uncover any underlying problem in misreading the reports of your low bounce rate.

Author: Adeline Zeledon
Editor: Yasifur Rahman

Friday, May 22, 2009

Emails a 2 Billion Dollar Industry by 2013 ... Sweet!

A very interesting article by Gavin O'Malley @ Media Post. Talks about how Direct Mail is on the verge of doom and budgets being redirected to online email efforts. According to the article ... "Borrell credits the rise of coupons online with the demise of direct mail"

You can read the complete article @

Happy Emailing ....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outlook 2007 Rendering Issue

Over the past year most of our clients using Outlook 2003 have upgraded to Outlook 2007 as their email client. Various rendering issues have Creatives that had previously looked perfect on all ISPs and Oulook 2003 now look completely different/broken when tested. This post will be an on going post of any issues that arise with rendering in Outolook 2007. What has changed? ...

Background Images – Background image no longer render in Outlook 2007. Although background colors still work.

Background Colors - Simple table background colors render. Complications occur and renders incorrectly when nested tables are used.

Font Styles has to be defined in each table - If you want the correct font to display make sure you that you have it defined within content table inline styles. Otherwise it will automatically default to "Times New Roman".

No flash or animated gif's - We never advised using Flash in your creatives but now animated gifs are out too...

CSS floats and positions a no no - Do not use them if you want your creative to render correctly on Outlook 2007. Use tables instead

To be continued...

Revival of the Blog...

I have been meaning to update the blog on a more regular basis but higher level priorities has been taking precedence. Apologies to all readers for such a long silence (close to year and a half to be exact).

It has been a strong 2008 for KobeMail which has taken up much of my time in development and building strategic relationships. I look forward to posting on a much more regular basis.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"You-Centric" vs. "Me-Centric"

KobeMail would like to wish all of you Happy Holidays. Here are a couple of tips to wrap up this year which maybe helpful for the coming year -- especially around the holiday season. As always, I hope you find the suggestions useful and they help to bring in a successful New Year.

Historically, during the holiday season the frequency of campaigns sent increases drastically. It is a time of spending, and advertising products becomes a necessity for revenue generation. While increasing your communication may seem like a good idea, for more visibility of your products and services, it may affect you adversely if the campaigns sent are spaced out incorrectly. Our recommendation to you -- allow at least seven to ten days between each campaign. Frequent emails within a short period can actually prove to be counter productive.

Users are less likely to open emails if they are sent too frequently. Like you, your users are busy with their family, buying gifts and planning out their Christmas/New Years Eve parties and are not checking mail as often. Increasing the frequency of emails may result in multiple emails from you waiting in their Inbox. This may rub some of your users the wrong way. Just because someone is a customer does not mean they want your emails all the time, especially when it becomes pushy. The chances of emails being deleted unread increases drastically which hurts your reputation. This may also result in increases in SPAM complaints or increase attrition to your database due to unsubscribes.

From a performance standpoint, you see a decrease in click through rates and from an ISP's perspective an increase in unopened emails generated from your domain/IP. ISPs have ad space within each email. They monitor the opens and non-opens, along with spam complaints on emails. If users do not open emails ISPs assume users are uninterested in your communication which can lower your reputation. The open rates on emails are just as important to ISPs as they are to you.

Planning early can mitigate the need for increasing the frequency of emails sent during the holiday season. Send campaigns in November reminding users of shipping deadlines. Remind them to try and avoid shipping delays due to the rush during the holiday season. This is beneficial to you because it may also help your company generate revenues prior to the shopping season and help your users avoid the stress and plan ahead during the holidays.

I have tried to touch on what you can do to ensure your emails are opened and have click throughs, but you should also be thinking of what your emails can do for your users. Make your emails more “You-centric” than “Me-centric”.

There are steps you can take to ensure your customers want to open your emails. Make sure you brand yourself throughout the year, so they will open the creative based on your "From Name". Build a relationship with them. Test your subject lines. Go through historical data to review which creatives had more click throughs and why. These are important details you need to keep in mind for the coming year, if you have not already.

In the spirit of giving, give back to your users. Instead of giving compelling reasons to buy your product, making your emails look “Me-centric,” take the additional effort to make your emails “You-centric.” Write about the customer benefits and what you can do for them. Instead of thinking “How can I write this email to make sales for my company” you should think along the lines of “What would my customers find useful in this email?” Don’t use pushy sales line and ALL CAPS, which can raise SPAM scores.. Create emails that have useful information and make the user want to read what is inside of them.

I will discuss this in more detail in the next blog. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Features

KobeMail is excited to announce new service improvements for all our clients. The additional features are a result of feedback from you, our valued clients, who have continually given us recommendations on how we can make the service as well as the application better for your email marketing requirements. Needless to say, these three features were the most recommended in the past year.

Our three latest features are:

  • Rollover Unused Email Volume
  • GeoTrack
  • Push Reporting

Rollover Volume

No more wasted dollars for your unused volume. Many clients don’t even realize they have leftover volume at the end of a month. With this new service, we will track your account, and automatically rollover any unused volume to the next month. We want to make sure you get the most value for your money. The rollover volume will only be valid for the next month.

If you still have unused email volume after the one month rollover, please contact either me or your account manager so we can tailor your account to fit your volume requirements.

Rollover Volume will be fully automated and deployed effective December 1st, 2007.


This feature will benefit all those who currently do not capture user street addresses on their signups. We can now track U.S. state and city information based on the IP of the signup via GeoTrack (there is no charge for state tracking, additional charges apply for city tracking).

Gain a better understanding of the demographic make-up of your lists. Based on the signup IP the database will be automatically populated with the state from where they are signing up from. This will give more transparency to all our clients and their data to understand the demographic distribution of their lists.

All current clients will be automatically updated in a turn-key process and we expect full deployment by the end of January 2008.

Please contact your account manager or me for details on additional customization such as inclusion of city information along with the state.

Push Reporting

Need a running update of how your email marketing initiatives are performing?

Push reporting will be similar to our current Dashboard which provides a monthly overview with the BIG difference being -- you won’t have to log into the application and it will be in your email inbox for you to review with your morning coffee.

The reporting will give you a running count, based on two weeks of data, of your total sent, delivered, opens, click throughs and bounces for all your campaigns.

We want to save you time and keep reporting simple – while delivering pertinent information on the overall performance of your account.

The planned full deployment is the end of January.

We, at KobeMail, would like to thank all of you for your recommendations and look forward to more in the coming months.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Holiday Tips

Holidays are the busiest time of the year for just about everybody, including ISPs. Over the holiday seasons the number of emails being sent out, across the board, increases. ISPs receive larger amounts of volume so they are forced to set their threshold lower. There are more SPAM complaints by users, so ISPs become more stringent and strict. More words are flagged as SPAM and overall deliverability becomes more challenging. This makes it even more difficult for email marketers to successfully send large quantities of emails. To help counteract this problem we at KobeMail suggest throttling your campaigns. This will allow us to regulate the flow of emails being sent out which will ensure better deliverability into user’s inboxes.

Along with throttling there are other issues you can concentrate on to help improve deliverability during the Holiday season. Past experience is a great teacher, so refer back to and review your past years performance. Identify the lists and creatives that did well and which products worked best for you in the previous years. Evaluate how users reacted last year to your company’s emails over the holiday months. From your assessments make decisions on how, when, where, and what kind of emails you will send.

Encouragingly, though users’ inboxes are overflowing, past survey reports have shown that emails do influence consumers’ purchase decisions. Those who benefited most from holiday emails were companies recognized and trusted by users and consumers. This proves that email reputation and relationships are important. However, we are not suggesting you send more emails over the holiday season. Just ensure the emails being sent are more targeted and relevant i.e. mail smart not hard. Increasing the frequency of emails without increasing the value to the subscriber is essentially useless and may actually hurt you.

So we know you are going to send out holiday emails, however are text or HTML emails more effective in such a short period of time? Our research has shown that a combination of text and HTML formats seems to work best in a short conversion cycle. Text emails are best used if you just want to notify your users. However, if your goal is to give in-depth information, involve people and/or drive traffic to the website HTML format is more effective.

It is crucial to develop a strategy now that will balance promotional and informational emails that maintain the interest of your users. The strategies you implement now will help to to give you a successful email program for the upcoming new year.