Smart Subject Lines for Email Newsletters

In this screencast I show how SmartBrief uses a custom subject line in their email newsletter to drive people to open and scroll down the message.

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Landing Pages: Don't Forget to Cut off the Crusts!

A landing page is a web page created solely to support traffic that is inbound from an e-mail or online promotion.

Landing pages are optimized for the audience you anticpate sending to them, sporting tailored content that helps the prospect to take whatever your desired next action is.

They are a critical tool for online marketing.

One thing that many people forget about them is that the best landing pages have the crust cut off. Let me explain what I mean here.

My two daughters will not eat a PB&J unless the crusts are cut off the sandwich. Removing the crusts lets them focus on the yummy goodness in the middle. You should do the same with your landing pages.

Most content on your site sport a variety of navigation tools, promotions, and other links around the perimeter of the page. This gives the user lots of options for navigating to their next page. However, with a landing page, you only want the visitor to take one specific next action. Therefore, you should cut the crusts off your landing pages, removing this extraneous navigation and content from the edges of the page.

Crust-less landing pages keep the visitor focused on the specific messages you want them to read and the next step you wish them to take. Note that on Amazon.com when you enter the payment process, all of the navigation goes away. Same concept is at play here.

Cut off the crusts and watch your conversion rate improve!

Outlook 2007 to Use Word for Rendering HTML E-mail

According to SitePoint, Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook 2007:

That’s right. Instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer 7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS that is built into Word 2007 to display HTML email messages.

Egads! This will be quite a boon for newsletter designers, once they figure out what will work in Word 2007. It will be a horrible pain for the rest of the world. Given Word’s atrocious history of HTML mark-up, I shudder to think what hoops designers will have to employ to get decent rendering.

Perhaps my traditionalist preference for plaintext will come back into vogue.

(Spotted via Simon Willison.)

E-mail Woes

This week I’ve had reports from clients and colleagues that messages they sent to me were not making it and that my web host (which had been handling my e-mail as well) had been placed on a blacklist for suspected spam activity. I know they work hard on dealing with those issues, but I’d had enough and my e-mail is worth an extra investment to keep up and running. So, I signed up with an e-mail hosting service where that is all they do: webmail.us.

I came across this company a few months back when I had first researched the issue. I also found a blog by their CEO, Pat Mathews, which I subscribed to. In the intervening time, Pat came across as level headed and very passionate about his company via his blog posts, so I decided to give them a shot. Good example of blog marketing at work.

So far, their IMAP service is BLAZING fast compared to what I had before. Their tech support was also very responsive when I sent in a couple suggestions on the registration process. I’m very hopeful this will be a good investment for me ($120/year for five 1GB mailboxes).

Update: I won’t bore you with details but I inadvertently blew away my MX records at my DNS host, which means the Internet doesn’t know where to send my mail. I have reset it so hopefully it will be back in order soon. If you sent something to me today and have not received a response, please resend in the morning (Friday 12/2) or e-mail me at davgam at mindspring dot com.

Kevin Holland on Email Marketing

Kevin Holland shares his best tips in 5 Things I’ve Learned About Email Marketing for Associations:

This week, the 100th issue of our organization’s free e-newsletter will hit the streets. It’s very different from when it started because we didn’t know anything 100 issues ago! I probably still don’t, but having now generated hundreds of new members through email newsletters and sold tens of thousands of books, I think I’ve picked up a few things. (And yes, to the blog-faithful out there, I still am a huge proponent of email marketing, even over blogs.)

Great tips in that post, check it out! Pretty consistent with the article I posted last week.