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Back to the Basics

We spend countless hours thinking of the marketing messages that will help boost the bottom line.  However, how often do we get so caught up that we forget to incorporate the basics?  

At the core, marketing messages need to contain three main elements: the right people, the right message and at the right time.  How many of us fall victim to not segmenting out messages at a granular enough level?

First make sure you segment your audience. There are a number of different ways to slice your audience, here are a few:

  • Segment out people who have diverse interests as shown through preference center interests or shopping behaviors.
  • Slice your audience by the amount of money they typically spend when they make a purchase.
  • Break out your audience by gender and send gender appropriate emails if your product offering and content justifies doing so.
  • Segment by times when your customers typically purchase (day of week, time of day, etc).
  • Implement abandoned cart emails to help get consumers over the hurdle to purchase.
  • Send recommendation emails based on past website and/or purchase behavior.

Second have a unique message that speaks to each audience. After you have determined how you want to segment your audience, the next part is ensuring the audiences get a message that will resonate well with them. Here are a few examples:

  • Perhaps those that usually buy in the $50-$100 threshold are an audience and you target an email to them with a discount off $125 or more to encourage them to purchase more next time.
  • You may notice an audience who only shops and buys when you have a sale, these people should likely be in a different group than those who always buy the newest items at full price. You can have a specific message for "sales" driven people.
  • If someone always buys towards the middle of the month you could make sure to stay top of mind for them with an email when they typically make their purchases.

Third make sure you send to your audience at the right time.

  • If you have data that suggests certain send times are better for specific audiences use this data to make sure you are sending emails when they are going to be read and acted upon.

By doing a better job to ensure the right people get the right message at the right time your emails will become more effective and relevant.  Take the three steps above and start incorporating these into your email sends and continuing to expand on your audience segmentation and messaging.

And as always, be sure to give clear notice and choice requirements for consumers to contact you regarding their marketing preferences. For more guidance on this issue, check out DMA Guidelines:


Email Privacy Concerns Heat Up Again

The topic of email privacy has been a topic of conversation again. This is a result of several organizations sending a letter to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its policies around email privacy.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) governs some of the email privacy issues. Whether or not the ECPA should undergo reform has been a recent topic of debate. The ECPA was created in 1986 and currently allows law enforcement agencies to read emails in some cases without having a warrant.

A bill has been introduced to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before accessing electronic communications. Proponents of this bill believe this would provide greater protection to email communications.

Proponents of the reform state the email privacy law should require that all law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant for the consent to the contents of email. Opponents on the other hand argue that the subpoenas the law requires, for emails 180 days or older, requires a higher burden of proof than warrants.   

Debate will likely continue as those on both sides argue the validity of the reform of email privacy laws. The results of the reform on email privacy will have an impact on email marketing and the concerns of those using email as a form of communication.


Ways to Make Your Email Campaign End Happily Ever After

Marketers have used storytelling to take traditional and digital campaigns from something ordinary into something extraordinary. However, how much thought have you given to weaving storytelling into your email campaigns?

Email marketers can use storytelling to integrate a cohesive brand message that ties in the emotion of the brand and relates with the email recipient. Now with rich customer and prospective customer data, marketers can use this data to speak to its email recipients like never before. Think about the relevance and what you know about your customers from their click behavior in an email, open times, purchase behavior and more. Carefully slicing the data and looking at the customer behaviors can influence what story you tell to each customer in an email.

Try using the personas you have developed for your brands and segmenting your email audience in a way that groups people into one of the personas. Then send targeted emails to persona group. By sending a specific message to each group you will relate better with your customers.

In order to find out the effectiveness of the email you should implement tracking to see where recipients click and what part of the story is engaging to them. Using this information you can then craft the next email and further iterate thereby improving performance. Perhaps recipients who engage with one section of the email and not with another can be further segmented for your next email to receive something specific to these new interests indicated through click behavior.

By following the tips above your email campaign will be on its way to success, ending happily ever after.


Understanding Email Consent Under CASL

Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) will be here before we know it. The law comes into effect on July, 1 2014. CASL will in part impact sending messages to recipients located in Canada. One important portion of CASL is understanding the consent component.  

What does consent mean with commercial electronic messages? Consent means the recipients must have been given the emailer permission in order to be receiving the email.

How do you give consent? Consent can be given in a few different manners. You can have email recipients:

  • Sign a document
  • Check a box on a form
  • Obtain verbal consent, but make sure this is followed with a written record of the consent

What else is required regarding consent?

  • You must let the recipients know the type of messages you'll be sending
  • Whether the messages are: marketing, promotional, product updates or releases, newsletters, etc.
  • When informing the recipient of the type of emails they will receive you make it clear and apparent in the message

Consent is one component of CASL. For complete details please review the law in its entirety and check with legal counsel. Make sure you know and understand the other major components in advance to the law taking effect here in a few months.


How Predicting the Future Makes Email Analysis Pay Off


use email analysis to predict future customer behaviorYour email data can be useful in multiple ways. It can tell you which campaigns flopped, which subject lines rocked, and when different customer segments are the most receptive to your message. All of that actionable email data helps you see what worked (or didn’t) in the past.

And it can help you predict the future, which can have both short- and long-term payoffs.

Predicting future behavior with email analysis
With the right email analysis tools in place, you should be able to start seeing trends in customer behavior that will enable you to predict future behavior. At the very least, you should have averages you can use for predicting.

When you start seeing tendencies and trends that enable you to make predictions, you can start planning to capitalize on opportunities.

The short-term payoff of predictive analysis
Knowing what customers are likely to be interested in when, you can target messaging appropriately to be more successful because you know when they will be most receptive. Perhaps by studying analytics you’ve learned customers are more likely to go for a bigger and more expensive HDTV at a certain point in the buying cycle. That would be the time to include the higher-priced televisions in the messaging. Or perhaps you’ve realized that customers start thinking about sound systems to go with their new televisions at a certain point in the buying cycle, so that’s when you’d incorporate that kind of cross selling into the mix.

That’s the short-term payoff of your predictive analysis: being able to up sell and cross at the right times.

But there is a long-term payoff too that can result from using email analysis to predict future behavior: happier customers.

Use data to delight customers
If you’re not using personal data to inform your email marketing, you are boring. Period.

But use that data to predict what they will want when, and guess what? You’ll delight them. You’ll be seen as helpful. Your content will be timely and useful. Your customers will feel like you are really paying attention to them and striving to serve their needs over yours.  

And all of those warm fuzzies might not lead to the immediate short-term payoff I referenced above, but they will lead to happier customers with a stronger loyalty to your brand and a better engagement with your emails which in turn will improve your email deliverability. Whew!

People vote with unsubscribes and spam buttons
If you don’t put your data to work via email analysis, you risk sending generic content that doesn’t sell because it doesn’t hit the right customer at the right time, let alone have the right message. Taking that approach leads to boring email marketing that people will eventually tune out. If people stop opening your emails, you’re likely to see an effect on your email deliverability rate. And if you get really boring and annoying, you could very well see an increase in unsubscribes and spam reports.

Wouldn’t you rather put your data to work and deliver delightful content instead? 

Marco Marini, CEO
ClickMail Marketing


What Can Email Marketers Learn from Olympians?

Olympic athletes, teams, and coaches work diligently to prepare for their main event through a series of hard work and planning. The Olympians are the best of the best and can inspire and teach others. Email marketers can learn and apply what Olympians do to achieve success and integrate these principles to email marketing campaigns. 
When considering what Olympians do to prepare they focus on at least three things.  Olympians set goals, they push the limits and work to out-perform the competition. Email marketers can apply three things to enhance performance of marketing campaigns.
First, marketers can better achieve objectives by clearly setting goals.  As an Olympian would set the goal of winning the gold medal, the first goal is not winning the gold, but rather a series of other accomplishments which first must be met in order to get to the final goal.  An email marketer as well needs to set a series of goals with the end goal in mind.  Maybe the end goal is achieving a sales goal by the end of the year from a marketing campaign. In order to achieve that end goal, the marketer will have to reach a certain number of subscribers, specific open rates, click through rates, and other metrics to reach that final goal.
Second, email marketers can learn from Olympians who push the limits.  Day in and day out, Olympians are constantly pushing the limits both mentally and physically.  Email marketers as well need to learn to push the limits. Pushing the limits may take the form of testing and trying new things such as a new way to message a campaign or new way of targeting consumers. By testing the limits a campaign can have the opportunity to reach new heights and become more successful.
Third, out-perform the competition.  Olympians in order to win have to focus on ways to out-perform the competition.  Out-performing the competition is never easy.  In email marketing this likely will involve a deep competitive analysis and determining where your business outshines the competition.  As well working harder and smarter than the competition will allow you to become more successful.  More in-depth planning, getting ahead of trends, and innovation will allow for optimal performance.
All in all, we as email marketers have a lot we can learn from the Olympians.  We too can be the best at what we do if we focus on goal setting, pushing the limits, and ways to out-perform the competition.  
Michelle Wimmer

Super Bowl - A Super Time for Email?

Television commercials have long ruled the advertising landscape for Super Bowls. However, with more people now on mobile devices and tablets while watching television, this has changed the landscape for advertising. Whether your business has million dollar budgets or much smaller budgets, you can now reach consumers with Super Bowl ads even during the Super Bowl with email for a fraction of a television ad cost.
Did your business take advantage of advertising during the Super Bowl either before or during?  Companies have done an excellent job with time sensitive emails to take advantage of the Super Bowl audience and catering email content to the audience. 
Before the game, Consumer Product Goods companies and grocery stores have done an excellent job of content marketing.  This industry has focused on recipes and game time deals on particular food. 
The Super Bowl is bigger than just football too, there are half-time artists.  Businesses can take advantage of catering to those who tuned into to see the half-time show and offering relevant email marketing messages. 
After the Super Bowl, businesses across all industries can come up with clever messaging to relate its product or service to the Super Bowl.  The message could focus on "Overtime" savings or clever discounting or messaging to attract the football audience. Now is the time more than ever to take advantage of the chance to reach the football, half-time show, and commercial watching fans with email.
Michelle Wimmer

Using Social Media to Boost Your Email Marketing and Grow Your Email List

In celebration of the high caliber speakers coming to the  Email Evolution conference  later this week (January 23-25, 2014), this guest blog post from Karen Talavera of Synchronicity Marketing highlights some of the concepts she will be presenting in a roundtable at the event.

I’m often asked what I believe to be the number one way to connect email and social media marketing.  While there are many ways to connect email and social media, there are definitely a few “low hanging fruit” marketing tactics you don't want to miss in order to capitalize on the combined power of these channels.

Both connecting email to social and using social to strengthen and grow the visibility of your email program and especially your list matter because integrating email and social marketing creates leverage greater than either channel used alone can achieve. So if you have a strong or growing presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or other major social networks, what’s the best way to leverage it for expanding your email program?

The “how-to” depends somewhat on specific social networks, but in a nutshell the answer is invite and entice your social friends/followers/members to sign-up for your email program! Basically, you want to create multiple opportunities on social media to voluntarily capture their email address and other personally identifiable data.

That may seem obvious, yet it’s not what you do but how you do it that matters and determines your success rate. Let’s take a closer look at the how-to of inviting email sign-ups and gathering email addresses from friends and followers on the three biggest social networks:

1) Facebook – the beauty of Facebook is you have considerable screen real estate to work with, so be sure to develop not only a customized Company page for Facebook, but also create specific tabs within it that include opportunities for data capture. Ideas from basic to advanced:

Basic: Every company Facebook profile should have a visually attractive email opt-in, e-newsletter sign-up, or other form of registration that gathers an email address.  Check out this omni-present tab on retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond’s Facebook page which does just that.

Intermediate: Use posts to promote gated content that requires registration for access. Many marketers default to gating content behind the “like” button, but alternatively (through posts on your timeline) you can entice those who have already liked your page to provide personal information or complete a registration form to access additional, exclusive content. See how one social media consultant practices what she preaches on her Facebook business page here.

Advanced:  Run a Facebook promotion or sweepstakes requiring form completion and data gathering for entry. See how Chase Freedom Credit Card does it here.

The bottom line? Invite Facebook fans into your email channel by offering valuable content accessible only when they sign-up, or by just explaining the exclusive notices and treatment your email subscribers routinely receive. The point is, don’t just go for the “like” (remember, you don’t “own” your Facebook page – Facebook does!); gather a digital point of contact that is your gateway into longer, more personal messaging.

2) Twitter – Twitter is a little different. You have some real estate to post links or opt-in invitations on your Twitter profile, but obviously nowhere near as much room or depth as on Facebook. So on Twitter, use your tweets themselves to invite, entice and explain the benefits of opting-in to your email. People need to be gently reminded there are multiple ways to get the best deals, exclusive offers and information from you, but don’t over-hype it.

Rather than tweet an invite to sign-up for your email list, tweet a link to the free report, application, widget, game or services trial sitting behind a gated registration or opt-in page that asks for an email address. Promote the benefit - what’s in it for them - of your content and services, not what’s in it for you. Tweet such enticements at least once a day, but not so much that your promotional tweets vastly outnumber your helpful conversational status updates.

3) LinkedIn –LinkedIn offers some powerful and unique features – like groups, discussions and events -- for business people that are also great places to promote your content and embed links to your email sign-up and lead capture pages. Of those three I think the most powerful is events. Keep in mind, an “event” can be a webinar, tele-seminar, tele-summit, or other virtual point-in-time gathering that requires minimal investment but is a fantastic list-builder.

Almost anyone registering for a paid or free webinar, tele-class or other virtual gathering knows they must provide their email address as a condition for receiving access information. So, start routinely planning free or low-cost events and promoting them on LinkedIn (as well as Facebook and Twitter) and watch your email list grow throughout the year.

It’s not too late to join us at  Email Evolution conference later this week! For a free Digital Marketing Breakthrough Session revealing how to generate more visibility, revenue and results from your e-marketing click here. You can also follow Karen on Twitter (@SyncMarketing) or Facebook for daily tips and links to emerging email and social media marketing trends, facts and research.


Email Marketing Winners Show How It’s Done – Part 2 of 2

As managing director of the eec, DMA’s email marketing arm, I was delighted to announce  last week that we will be honoring two remarkable industry leadersZack Notes, Senior Analyst, UncommonGoods, will receive the Stefan Pollard Marketer of the Year Award; and our Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year Award goes to Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer, Oracle | Eloqua.  This new award  recognizes an industry leader who has made a substantial positive impact on the email marketing community as a whole, and/or on individual client(s).

Both awards will be presented during a special celebratory luncheon honoring the award recipients at the Email Evolution Conference, which will be held January 22-24, in Miami, Florida.

In this two-part series, we bring you some questions and answers with both honorees – to gain further insight into their outstanding work.  Earlier, we brought you thoughts and insights from Zack Notes.  Today, we’ll hear from Dennis Dayman:

Q:  How do you promote and advance best-practices within your work – with consumers, and with other businesses?
  The use of best practices is about saving and keeping digital channels, like email, as open as possible, without allowing it to fall into the hands of criminals or under the control of government. I believe best practices can be advanced most effectively by taking down the walls between providers and consumers; between companies and their competitors.

I aim to approach best practices with a broader view and an emphasis on the masses, not on a single entity, like myself or the company I’m representing. When all of the companies and participants in an industry work as a team, the speed of sharing this necessary information improves greatly.  When promoting ideals, information, and best practices, I implore people to use the information to better their customers and the needs of their specific brand.

Our single platforms may be different in many ways, but best practices are designed to overcome these individual differences, allowing them to be both effective and influential, especially when our industry works together toward a common goal of safety and protection.

Q:  What are some of the best ways you have found to foster trust among businesses and consumers?
Fostering trust between businesses and consumers begins with the business granting choices and control to their consumers, especially concerning its products and services that are being used for data capture. This simple strategy allows businesses to start earning trust from their end-users.  Once consumers see repeated respect for their privacy, they are more likely to provide the needed information to the business.

When businesses keep a privacy-centric focus, and keep the needs of the end- user in mind, trust is immediately built upon. When businesses are as truthful and timely with information regarding the end-users’ information during negative situations such as in data loss, the consumers tend to continually trust the business.

Q:  How has the explosion of Big Data changed the way businesses do email marketing?
  Most of our current federal privacy laws predate the technologies that raise data privacy issues -- such as behavioral advertising, location-based services, social media, mobile apps, and mobile payments. The move of commerce and content to the Internet has led to new abilities to collect, collate, use, and sell data, and new opportunities to use that data for innovative marketing and other services. Technology truly has created a new data environment.

The social media and mobile channels have allowed people to push out more personal information than ever before - no matter their time or location. Data collection is, therefore, easier than ever before. Determining what data is and isn't useful, however, is more difficult.

I have joked that the simplest definition of "Big Data" is "If it doesn't fit in an Excel spreadsheet, then its Big Data.”  This is true for most people who wonder how to make the shift from a traditional approach of just a few small contact data points like email and phone numbers, to Big Data ones that now tell us all your Digital Body Language, like click and buying habits outside of the traditional email channel. Also, Big Data is what happened when the cost of storing information became less than the cost of making the decision to throw it away.

To be honest, I think the idea or confusion behind the term Big Data has caused problems in email marketing. People think there are a new set of ideals or processes in place to send out email marketing when in reality the oldest and simplistic processes of sending a relevant and targeted message still stands.

Big Data is still surrounded by a world of relevant marketing ideals and where we have access to modern marketing tools. We just have to decide what we really need to just send an email or connect socially without collecting to much information.

Q:  How do you work to strike a balance between responsible marketing practices and preventing overly restrictive legislation that could stifle innovation?
By giving that choice to the consumers and brands. Lets face it, you can’t change everyone’s minds overnight. Just like raising my twin sons:  From time to time I have to let them fall and learn a lesson, especially when they just don’t want to listen the first time. To add to that, I can’t always be there to save them from the bumps in this road we call life. However, I can build good decision-making tools and a foundation so they can see the errors and making corrections when needed.
Now, I also can’t tell marketers how to run their businesses, but I can tell them the possible negative consequences if they continue down these wrong paths. Luckily, many listen the first time, but much of that is based on the cases that I make to them not just by saying something will be bad, but also showing them other people’s incorrect uses that got them in trouble. Learning from others’ mistakes as some say.

I also would say that history has shown that if and when restrictive legislation comes to light, we as an industry have always found new and innovative ways to continue the [responsible] data collection practices.

I will always be a supporter of less or no regulations, but sometimes we do need that sort of push to get us moving in the right direction. This was very apparent with the Can-Spam law here in the U.S. It didn’t ruin the digital marketplace for us, our lists didn’t get smaller, and not everyone went to jail for spamming. It actually put simple additional processes in place to help us gain the trust we needed from consumers when they gave us their email address. For me, part of my job is to talk to the regulators about innovation and also show them how the self-regulatory best practices do work today. What the regulators don’t see are the good use cases. They only hear about the bad ones.

Q:  And finally, what does winning this award mean to you?
  I still have a grin on my face from the minute I found out about this award. I’m so honored and humbled to receive this accolade from my extended family and peers. I have to share this with all of you for being a part of those goals to ensure our digital channels are kept open and clean for all to use.

I love the fact that we’ve all worked together, even as competitors, to give clients and brands the best tools and advice to help them be as successful that they can be. This has been a huge team effort. Internal recognition to now acknowledge I was doing my job well and the hard work had paid off. It was also external recognition from the industry association that supported my efforts.

I won't let this award define me. Instead, I will use it as inspiration and affirmation to keep writing, discovering, discussing, challenging, developing, honing my skills, and most of all continue helping others.

I have to close by saying enjoy the journey of life and your career path.  It’s about the experience - and allow it to open your eyes to the greater experience of people and teamwork to benefit the many. Definitely get a lot out of your networking, day-in and day-out. Meet new people whenever you have the opportunity and let them do the talking from time to time. Get to know what they are passionate about. You never know that your paths may cross again in the future or as in my case, they become good family and friends.

Please let us know some of the ways YOU are bringing your passion to your business – and how you  are using email to boost your success.

Lisa Brown Shosteck

Managing Director, eec



2014 - A New Year for Canada's Anti-Spam Law

We have written about Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) but understanding its impact on commercial email will be vitally important in 2014. Beginning this new year businesses should begin considering, if not already, the measures it needs to take in order to be in compliance. 

July 1, 2014 marks the date of enforcement for the CASL law governing emails. CASL impacts not only organizations that do business in Canada, but also those businesses that and promote products or services to Canadian markets. 
A main part of CASL is the opt-in provision.  Organizations cannot under CASL, send commercial email unless the recipient has either expressed or implied consent to receiving email (unless an exception applies).  As well, the message must have a method to allow for unsubscribing. Furthermore, businesses have until July 1, 2017 to convert implied consents to express consents. 
Violators of the law will face steep penalties. Up to $1 million for individuals in violation and $10 million for others. 
Begin the new year by understanding how the new law will impact your business. Make sure to read fully through CASL to understand its intricacies and implications. 

Email Marketing Winners Show How It’s Done – Part 1 of 2

As managing director of the eec, DMA’s email marketing arm, I was so pleased and thrilled to announce that we will be honoring two remarkable industry leadersZack Notes, Senior Analyst, UncommonGoods, will receive the Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year Award. This award was established in honor of Stefan Pollard, a highly respected and beloved member of the email marketing community who suddenly passed away in 2010.

Our Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year Award goes to Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer, Oracle | Eloqua. This new award  recognizes an industry leader who has made a substantial positive impact on the email marketing community as a whole, and/or on individual client(s).

Both awards will be presented during a special celebratory luncheon honoring the award recipients at the Email Evolution Conference, which will be held January 22-24, in Miami, Florida.

In this two-part series, we bring you some questions and answers with both honorees – to gain further insight into their outstanding work. First, we’ll hear from Zack Notes:

Q:  How do you promote and advance best-practices within your work – with consumers and/or with other businesses?
Best practices are always changing so it’s important to stay current with industry blogs and publications. Externally, we are in constant communication with our ESP, Silverpop, as they always have the latest information on best practices, especially spam compliance, preference center flow, deliverability, etc.  We also communicate frequently with the smart people at Litmus as a reference when we have technical questions about content, especially mobile content.

We meet with a monthly catalog consortium group, with which we share our opinions on various practices. Recent discussions have included holiday send frequency and gmail tab management. Lastly, I have used my recent public speaking gigs as a podium to encourage others to try our methods of frequency control.

Q:  In what ways has mentorship figured into your work?  Do you feel mentorship is an important component of encouraging responsible marketing practices in the generations to come?
Definitely.  I have a twelve year-old neighbor who told me he wants to be a software developer when he grows up. I got him started on code academy and we’ve been working on python problems together. I think any marketer would be wise to incorporate a mentorship into their life. We can teach them responsible marketing and they can teach us the newest social channels we’ve never heard of.

Q:  How has the explosion of Big Data changed the way you do email marketing?
  Personalized emails that trigger in real time. This is my biggest email project in 2014 — and it wouldn’t be possible without Big Data sets and processing power fast enough to do collaborative filtering, product-based recommendations, etc.

Q:  What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
We are still a relatively small company with limited reach. It’s always rewarding when I meet someone who has actually heard of us. My cousin sent me a gift from UncommonGoods. She doesn’t know that I work there. That was awesome.

More specific to email, we’ve done a lot of work to improve the customer experience – we’ve built a responsive email frequency system which responds to engagement. We’ve given customers the ability to change their frequency manually and even take a temporary break from emails for a period of time. As a result, we’ve seen unsubscribes go down dramatically and it is rewarding to know that I am developing a program that is more rewarding than it is intrusive.

Q:  And finally, what does winning this award mean to you
Zack:  It’s validation that I must be doing something right. It encourages me to try to make more of an impact and influence the email marketing industry in a positive way.

Stay tuned for insights from honoree Dennis Dayman.  Until then, please let us know some of the innovative ways YOU are using email to boost your business success.

Lisa Brown Shosteck
Managing Director, eec



The Hidden Costs of Bad Email Segmentation


hidden costs of bad email segmentation How targeted are the emails your business sends out to customers and prospects? Have you implemented any kind of segmenting, to ensure your marketing messages are appropriate and relevant to each different kind of customer?

Maybe you haven’t gone down the path of segmentation yet due to the cost and time it will take to implement it. If that’s the case, you might want to reconsider because you’re probably losing money rather than saving it.

When it comes to segmenting your emails for targeted messaging, it’s not only that there’s a benefit to getting it right. There’s a cost to getting it wrong.

The costs of bad email segmentation
Bad segmentation—or a lack of it altogether—costs businesses money in multiple ways. Because we’re referring to money never made, these are the kinds of costs that one cannot itemize on a spreadsheet. Nevertheless, they are real costs, because they result in money left on the table.

  • You lose money when you try a customer’s goodwill. You only have so much goodwill with each customer, and they have little reason to give you the benefit of the doubt. Send them irrelevant messages time and time again, and you’ll wear out your welcome in their inbox, as well as wear away any goodwill they used to feel toward you.
  • You lose money when you lose a customer’s trust. Keep on sending generic, irrelevant batch-and-blast type messages, and you’ll make it crystal clear to your audience that you don’t give a (beep) about getting to know them and their preferences, likes and dislikes. Pretty soon they’re thinking, “I don’t trust you. You don’t know me at all.”
  • You lose money when you fail to engage a customer. Email deliverability suffers because that lack of engagement in the inbox tells ISPs your emails aren’t wanted and they might start to block you from that particular inbox. How many sales can you make when your email isn’t even delivered? Zero.
  • Most of all, you lose money when you fail to send targeted, appropriate offers that are much more likely to result in a sale. Why do abandoned cart emails perform so well? After all, the customer abandoned the shopping cart. They didn’t finish the buy. Yet they will go back and complete the purchase due to a follow-up abandoned cart email. Why? Because they are so specific to that customer.

Remember: Other marketers are already doing this kind of targeted, personalized messaging. That is raising consumer expectations…and they expect it from you too, I suspect.

The power of advanced email segmentation
Let’s compare two scenarios to really mark the difference between not targeted messaging and targeted.

Being without data is akin to the restaurant collecting business cards in a bowl at the cash register. Sorting through those cards only tells you that someone ate at your restaurant. It doesn’t tell you what they ordered or if they typically order wine or even if they are a frequent customer or if they typically come for the crab feed on Friday nights or the brunch on Sundays. Without that kind of information, you’re unable to market to them in a targeted way, like offering a discount on a higher-priced wine, or a guest coupon for Sundays. The only marketing you can do is to say, “Come back to our restaurant,” because all you know is they ate there once—maybe. That’s hardly a personalized message, and it’s one likely to be ignored.

That’s pretty much what a lack of email segmentation limits you to.

On the other hand, imagine you’re the marketing manager for an online wine store using a relational database to track customers’ buying and behavior. For each customer, you could know:

  • How often they buy
  • What they buy, and not just white wine or red, but Viognier or Malbec or Montepulciano
  • Their typical purchase amount
  • If they buy more at the holidays
  • If they buy wine for gifts

With this knowledge, you could use advanced email segmentation to send targeted messaging that arrived around the time they normally order with a special price on the kind of wine they usually order, something that’s in their price range or maybe a little higher. If you know they buy more around the holidays or that they buy wine for gifts, you can create email messages that will be timed appropriately for the December holidays, but then maybe start messaging them with specials around Easter and graduation time too. (Of course, if they don’t respond to those additional holiday emails, stop.)

Which kind of email would you rather get, the “Come back to the restaurant, whoever you are” email, or the “Here’s a targeted offer showing we know what you like, at what price and when” email?

How to do advanced email segmentation
Advanced email segmentation doesn’t start with the segmenting. No, it starts with the data.

Scratch that. It actually starts with an email service provider (ESP) that supports and enables it.

But once your ESP is in place, it’s the data you’ll need. You’ll want not only the data from your email platform, but integration with other data sources too, like web analytics and your CRM system, for the most comprehensive picture of each person.

Next you’ll need a relational database for storing and accessing that data. The relational database was invented to make this kind of customer-centric data possible, because it allows for as many fields as you might need per customer rather than limit you to a set number of fields like a flat data file does. In addition, a relational database can draw from other business systems so you can potentially have not only email data, but also ecommerce and web analytics data to draw from too.

If you want your email marketing to be more profitable, you need to move beyond the basics. You need to know more than Marco is a customer, and you need to be able to track different types of information for each and every name in your database.

Advanced email segmentation is the way to the extreme relevance customers want and expect. Try to get by without it, and you’ll pay a very high price indeed.

Marco Marini
ClickMail Marketing



Canada’s Anti-Spam Law, CASL, is now a done deal

On Thursday November 28th 2013, the Treasury Board of Canada President (and champion of CASL) Tony Clement approved Industry Canada regulations in their final form. Today, December 4, 2013, the Minister of Industry the Right Honourable James Moore announced CASL will come into force on July 1, 2014. That’s right folks, six (6) month from now.

Canada Day 2010

After almost ten (10) years of work, Canada has finally put into place an anti-spam law which continues their long-standing Canadian tradition of having opt-in consent. Most online marketers doing business in Canada today are already familiar with their “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act” (PIPEDA) which is their privacy regulations that require opt-in for processing of PII, but now is enforceable specific to the use of digital channels like email and SMS.

The law imposes onerous opt-in and other responsibilities on marketers doing business online in Canada. It covers items such as the sending of Commercial Electronic Messages (CEM), prohibition of installing computer programs without consent, and sending messages with false or misleading information in the content or header. You can read more about their specifics here at the Oracle | Eloqua site Topliners.

Please note though that CASL is not restricted to residents or companies in Canada, it applies to all marketers sending email To: and From: Canada. The CRTC will work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, and other regulatory commissions to enforce this new law.

Under the new law, a definitive set of requirements and enforcement actions are laid out and penalties for violation of the law can be severe. Unlike CAN SPAM, which covers only email, CASL covers CEM, which is defined as any commercial "message sent by any means of telecommunication, including a text, sound, voice or image message." Effectively, this includes:

  • CASL requires express consent. This means NO pre-checked boxes.


  • Again, CASL is not just an email law.
    • It covers installation of computer programs without the end user’s consent
    • It covers any Commercial Electronic Message (CEM). A CEM is defined as any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity. Simply including a link to your website in an otherwise non-commercial message could potentially cause it to be covered by the law. A CEM could for example be:
      • Email
      • SMS
      • Instant message
      • Some social media messages


  • It covers any CEM sent TO or FROM Canada. The CRTC will work with international regulatory bodies such as the FTC to ensure compliance by parties based outside of Canada’s borders. Note that there is a provision for instances where a recipient is travelling to Canada and the sender would not reasonably be expected to know that recipient was in Canada at the time of transmission.
  • Prescribed information is to be included in every CEM as well as any request for consent. Requests for consent are also covered by the law, which means that they cannot be sent without first obtaining express consent.
  • Existing contacts cannot be ‘grandfathered’ in most cases and will therefore require marketers to gain affirmative consent from their Canadian contacts before the law comes into force.
  • Fines are steep, up to 10 million dollars per violation and private rights of action are permitted. 


Businesses will need to scrub their lists and remove any covered address for which there is no affirmative opt-in to receive email and other CEM. It is expected that many email lists will be significantly reduced in size as a result. Privacy Policies and form collection on websites should be updated to ensure proper consent. In the case of forms, this includes moving from an opt-out (pre-checked) to an opt-in (not pre-checked) methodology.


Dennis Dayman, CIPP-US, CIPP-IT


Chair EEC Advocacy Subcommittee

DMA Ethics Committee Member



Holiday Gift Cards - What You Need to Know

The holiday season is in full swing and with the holidays comes gift cards.  If you're marketing gift cards this year either as an added value or as a primary gift, make sure to brush up on how to properly market gift cards.
Gift cards have given marketers trouble in the past when not fully disclosing what  the consumer must do to obtain the gift card. There are two main types of gift cards that have specific rules: retail gift cards and bank gift cards.
If the gift cards come with fees or restrictions the marketer must fully disclose this information. Several examples of restrictions that marketers should disclose include:
  • Expiration dates of the gift cards (cannot be less than five years after issuance date and it applies to funds on the card).  
  • Deductions from the gift card amount if the amount goes unused (can only do so if there is one year of inactivity, but this cannot exceed more than one fee charge per month). 
  • If advertising a gift card, do not state that the card is "free" if other actions are required from the consumer in order to obtain the gift card (such as a purchase of a product, or signing up for additional offers). 
For the full list of details surrounding gift cards go to the Federal Reserve System's website.
If you're marketing gift cards this year as part of a holiday promotion make sure to fully disclose any of the conditions that may be attached to the promotion. Consumers then will know all of the details which should lead to happier and more loyal consumers. 



Know a Rock Star in the Email Marketing Industry? Nominate Them Today!

The Email Experience Council (eec) is now accepting nominations for this year’s most admirable thought leaders in the email industry.

Email marketing is experiencing resurgence in focus and investment. It is the epitome of 1-to-1 marketing, offering the highest opportunity for relevancy and ROI. Marketers have doubled down in creative and technology to showcase just that, and it’s time to be recognized for those efforts. In an often misunderstood channel, from both a customer and executive perspective email still has everything to prove. It’s time to showcase the true colors of respectable email marketers that are achieving commendable results.

Each company is at a different level of sophistication in their email program. Whether the nominee is laying a foundation for a new email marketing program with best practices or sending dynamically populated content in hundreds of variations to subscribers, we want to hear their story. Whether the nominee is an entrepreneur running a small agency out of their home or an associate at an agency comprised of thousands of employees world-wide, we want to hear about their journey. Each is unique in their challenges and creativity and we encourage you to submit your nominations no matter what your scenario may be.

We are excited to announce that there will be two awards this year, representing the brand and agency side of the business:





  •  Mr. Stefan Pollard


  • The Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year Award: This award honors a brand-side marketer who has demonstrated exemplary achievements in email marketing and also acts in a manner characteristic of Stefan – a highly regarded and beloved member of the email marketing industry who suddenly passed away in 2010. He was a big supporter of the Email Experience Council and counted the Email Evolution Conference as his favorite industry event. This award pays tribute to Stefan while recognizing comparable professionals in the email industry.

To Nominate for Brand-side Email Leaders Only:

Pollard Email Marketer Nomination




 Sal Tripi, (EEC13 Stefan Pollard Award Recipient)
Assistant Vice President, Digital Operations and Compliance
Publishers Clearing House 


  • The Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year Award: Individuals from an agency/vendor/consultant are eligible. This award will recognize an industry leader who has made a substantial impact on the email marketing community as a whole and/or individual client(s). These individuals frequently work as an extension of a client’s team, but technically are employed at a third party company.

To Nominate for Agency/Vendor-side Email Leaders Only


Are you, or someone you know, at a brand or advising company deserving of either award?

Nominations are open through December 5, 2013. Nominations must be completed by an eec member, but nominees do not need to be a member. The eec Awards Subcommittee will carefully review each nomination and select a winner for each award. Winners will be announced at the Annual Email Evolution Conference in January 2014 in Miami (which is a great place to be in January!).

Winners will receive:

So what are you waiting for? Get going and nominate your un-sung email marketing hero today!


Loren McDonald

Chair, eec Awards Subcommittee



Four Steps to Follow with Comparative Advertising

Businesses have an inherent tendency to want to  compare its products or services with those of its competitors in order to showcase ways in which its products or services have superiority. In comparative advertising, businesses should follow four simple rules in order to avoid any issues with deception of consumers.  
The Federal Trade Commission has a policy that encourages truthful references to the competition and requires that comparative advertising to have clarity and the appropriate disclosures in order to not deceive consumers.  16 C.F.R. §14.15.
Businesses can have a way with words in which the comparative advertising may mislead a consumer to think a product or service has qualities superior to the competition when really that is not the case. The FTC has found companies in violation of the comparative advertising policy.
To avoid issues with violating the comparative advertising policy make sure to follow these four steps:
  1. Ensure the ad is truthful in its references to the competition.  
  2. Make sure the ad would not deceive the average consumer.  
  3. Have clarity in the advertisement.
  4. Provide the consumer with the appropriate disclosures. 
By following these four steps a business should have compliance with the comparative advertising policy.  In additional to having compliance a business may likely gain the respect of consumers for its truthful in advertising and can potentially win more customers.
For additional ethical business guidance, please review DMA Guidelines on Ethical Business Practice.



Bait and Switch Advertising - What Does it Really Mean?

Marketers need to have a keen awareness when it comes to what the consumer may perceive as unfair and deceptive advertising.  One practice of such unfair and deceptive advertising is referred to as bait advertising
Bait advertising lures in the consumer by offering to sell a product or service in which the advertiser does not have the intention of actually selling. The advertiser in fact hopes to change the consumer's mind from buying the advertised merchandise into buying something else which will better benefit the marketer.  
One important part of the law includes marketers advertising a product and then not having that product readily available to the consumer. Marketers need to be extremely careful that the advertising done for the product will allow consumers the opportunity to purchase the product. If the product advertised fails to have a sufficient quantity or cannot meet the demands of the advertisement, the advertiser has unfairly deceived the consumer.
When marketers design emails to gain consumer interest then engagement marketers need to take the bait and switch law into consideration to avoid possibly creating an email which consumers may view as deceptive. While marketers may see bait advertising as a way to draw in consumers this practice goes against the Truth-in-Advertising Laws.

Does "Free" Really Mean Free?

When "free" doesn't really mean free marketers have been charged with falsifying claims and deceptively misleading consumers.  Marketers in the email space as well as other marketing channels have a challenge when it comes to enticing consumers and ensuring the claims made will not be misleading.
Consumers have struck back against false "free" claims from businesses.  Businesses and marketers can have a way with words and can lead consumers into believing a product is "free" when that may not be the complete truth. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to prevent businesses from practices that are unfair and deceptive to consumers.  
When businesses advertise a product or service as "free" it must clarify what "free" means or face steep penalties.  One example of businesses getting into issues with the word "free" is compliant consumers had with Jesse Willms and his companies.  The settlement for this case was $359 million due to accusations that the Willms and his companies had falsely advertised "free" trial offers when in fact the consumers were often charged a fee. According the to compliant filed with the FTC, marketers used email in addition to other channels when advertising the trials as "free" (
Marketers have a challenge of positioning their products and services in such a way that consumers will want to learn more or purchase.  However, marketers need to careful when using the term "free" to ensure consumers know of any strings that may be attached to the offer.

Do Not Track: A Disclosure Bill or Something More?

California has the latest development for the Do Not Track efforts.  The Amendment to CA's Online Privacy Protection Act (AB 370) aims to push forward measures that would purportedly give consumers more privacy online. The bill begs the question of whether it will simply act as a disclosure or provide something more.

Advocates of the bill worry that consumers’ rights to privacy are at risk from advertisers tracking consumer behaviors online.  In the minds of the advocates, the bill would provide a step in the right direction to allow consumers more visibility into the marketing practices of organizations.

Requirements of CA’s Do Not Track bill, state websites that collect personally identifiable information must do two main things.  First, disclose whether the website honors requests of consumers to disable online tracking.  Second, if the website allows third-parties to track users/consumers. Websites that do not offer this information within their privacy policy would have 30 days to comply with new requirements. 

Short of disclosing the information to consumers, the bill does not require websites to do anything further.  It is up to the consumer to determine whether or not the consumer wants to patronize the website.  The bill may turn away potential consumers as a result of marketing practices of tracking user behaviors.  However, consumers may not care about the tracking or may not pay attention to the privacy policies. 

Potentially large implications exist for companies from a marketing and revenue perspective.  Disclosures will simply inform consumers who want additional information, but will only disclose the information for now.  The choice will still remain with the consumer whether to continue to visit that particular website.  


Michelle Wimmer, eec member


Battle of Privacy v. Relevancy

Consumers on one hand want relevant messages and offers yet have a concern about privacy. Currently Google faces a lawsuit dealing with this issue.  The lawsuit alleges Google reads and mines the content of private emails in violation of California's privacy laws and federal wiretapping laws for advertising purposes. In re Google Inc. Gmail Litigation, 13-md-02430, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

By using an automated system to scan emails for content, Google can serve relevant ads to Gmail users that highlight an advertiser's product or service that relates to specific content within the email.  Advertisers can use this technology to serve the right messages to the target audiences at the right time. 

Emails in conjunction with relevant contextual targeting provide advertisers with an opportunity to meet their objectives and objectives of consumers by targeting a relevant marketing message.  In a world where consumers are inundated with advertising it has become more important than ever for marketers to be smart about messaging to make sure the consumers are getting the most relevant messages. 

The issue of providing consumers with a certain level of privacy yet also ensuring relevancy of marketing messages will continue to present a struggle for marketers to achieve the right balance.  Time will tell how the courts end up treating this privacy concern and what impact it will have on email as well as other digital marketing channels. 


Michelle Wimmer, eec member