Archive for the ‘Email’ Category
For at least a couple of years now, I’ve been getting calls — sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly and occasionally daily — from a company called GlobeNewswire, a NASDAQ-owned firm that’s in the business of distributing press releases. I expect a high level of behavior from those who serve this particular market, because I like to think that my fellow public relations professionals are more aware of the rules regarding marketing communication. On my most optimistic days, I like to think that PR pros show more respect for the unofficial rules of good communication.
So it has continually surprised me that this ostensibly respectable firm apparently maintains no “do-not-call” list and does not follow the email guidelines set out in the CAN-SPAM Act.
I’m pasting the latest email — and my reply — as an example of what not to do. It is worth noting that there was no “unsubscribe” link, and to my knowledge I’ve never had any communications with this particular person. If I had, he’d know that I had requested no further communication.
From Global Corporate Solutions:
I trust you are well and a great weekend. I know it has been some time since our last communication, so I wanted to reach out to you in regards to your press releases.
As discussed previously, NASDAQ Globe Newswire offers you the most competitive rates in the industry (averaging 30% less than our competitors), while maintaining the same, if not better distribution than the other tier one wires (Business Wire, Market Wire and PR Newswire).
I would like to offer you a significant discount on your next release, in order to give you the opportunity to experience our exceptional distribution and services.
Your first 3 releases will be at a 30% discount; State, Regional or National.
Below is a link for you to register with us: (There are NO FEES or obligations when registering or fees or obligations to try our services)
Please feel free to contact with any questions. Thanks for your time and I am looking forward to working with you. J
You people have badered me to the point I’ve begun trashing you on Twitter and considered turning you in to the FCC, since I get calls almost weekly despite always giving the same response: “Put me on your do-not-call list.” Obviously, you have legions of commission-only salespeople who have no respect at all for the preferences of the people they’re trying to sell. It is also clear that you either do not maintain or reference a DNC list, or that you have a total disregard for such. Please advise me as to how I can convince you to go away away and leave me alone?
I am not kidding at all about the possibility of an FCC complaint.
Note that your email was sent to “—-@—.com” - an address I haven’t used in years. By emailing you from this address, I am NOT giving you permission to put me on any mailing list, print or electronic.
In the beginning — waaaay back 10 years or so before the Internet — there were the dial-up online services — The Source, CompuServe and America Online (aka AOL). Among other things, they offered an email product that allowed users to communicate with almost anybody in the world via something called the Internet.
Keep in mind that the Internet, up until then, had been a network used mainly by scientists and academics. The World Web showed up much later, with the creation of the Mosaic browser in 1993.
The Source, CompuServe and AOL eventually swallowed each other up, leaving AOL as the last one standing. To early users, it was the entire online experience, and people used AOL and the Internet interchangeably. In the mid 1990s, CompuServe and AOL tried to maintain their positions as the gateway, but once people realized a single click could take them to any site in the world, that was a lost cause.
Ever since then, various web sites have sought to be “all things to all people.” A few — notably Yahoo! and Google — have come close, integrating search, news, email and instant messaging. But sooner or later, another player arrives to dilute the market further. Google has made several attempts to break into the social media message-oriented market, with the most recent entry being Buzz, but it hasn’t caught fire. Yahoo’s entry seems to be stuck in the starting box as well.
For the moment, Hitwise tells us that Facebook has passed Google as the busiest site, but its messaging has been limited in that you could only send messages to other Facebook users. For a while now, rumors have circulated that Facebook plans to roll out an enhancement to its message system, perhaps adding pop email. Some have dubbed this the “Gmail killer,” which is more a compliment to Gmail than anything else. But I don’t expect it to matter much because:
- Everybody already has email, and there’s no compelling reason to change. It may well be that we all end up with a Facebook mail account, but I don’t see it changing the way we use Facebook much.
- Corporate email won’t switch to Facebook. Many companies have banned Facebook because people waste so much time on the site, so they’re certainly not going to give up their branded corporate email addresses for Facebook, even if employees can use the Facebook mail product without visiting the site.
- The typical reaction to newly introduced add-ons these days is for people to enroll with a shrug and a yawn. That’s been the case with Buzz, as well with everybody’s IM services. Many of us now use multi-protocol IM clients (Pidgin, Digsby, Meebo, eBuddy etc.) to accommodate all the platforms people use. Mine usually runs with Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, GTalk and Facebook accounts running at the same time. The contacts all show up in a single window, and I’m rarely even aware of which account someone else is using, just as I don’t much care whether somebody’s email address is AOL, MSN, Gmail or a corporate server.
Facebook has come closer than any site since the old AOL to becoming the entry level gateway to the Internet, but there’s no reason to believe that the Facebook stairway reaches to the sky. None ever has. My very subjective sense of things is that people will, at some point, want to simplify the way they communicate rather than continue to add redundant services.
iPhones, Androids and other smart phones have changed the game when it comes to reaching consumers. In fact, one could argue that people on the go often have more time for reading your email blasts and even visiting your web site. After all, what do we do when we’re sitting in a waiting room or waiting in line? We pull out our handsets to check mail and read some news.
In March, the Pew Research Center reported that 33 percent of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones. And they’re not just kids: 45 percent are 30 or older. One in three lives in a household with an income of $75,000 or more.
So these people can be important to your business, so here are a few ideas for getting your message to them:
1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. That means it needs to comply with current web standards. Heavy use of Flash and Java can make your site less accessible on handsets.
2. Enable RSS feeds on your website. If you use a content management system (CMS) for your site, you can usually do this simply by enabling the option or installing a plug-in. With this in place, visitors can get automatic updates on their customized home pages and mobile phones. Each time you add a new auction to your website, it will automatically show up in the RSS feed.
3. When sending email blasts and newsletters, keep the graphics to a minimum. Remember that many users read most of their email on their phones and can delete those that don’t capture their attention. This means if your picture-heavy email blast doesn’t grab the reader on his or her iPhone or Android, you may not get a chance at that same reader on the desktop. If you’re still sending e-mail blasts that consist of one big graphic, you’re missing a big chunk of your audience. On the smart phone, text rules. Remember, too, that many users have their e-mail set to block e-mail images, so you’re missing them on their desktops as well.
4. Reduce your reliance on PDF documents. We’ve all become addicted to PDF, especially for sending multi-page documents and electronic copies of brochures designed primarily for print. These are excellent as long as you’re sending them to someone who’s expecting them and who will get them on a desktop or laptop. But PDF documents can be difficult to view on a handheld. Whenever possible, render your information in either text or HTML so that the text can wrap to fit a small screen.
There’s a lot to love about email marketing. It “pushes” your message out to prospective customers or stakeholders. Its carrying capacity is virtually unlimited, so it can convey relatively complex messages. And it’s relatively inexpensive.
But it has one big downside: Everybody hates it. Even though the spam filters have done a good job of filtering out most the scams, the bad taste from the old days still lingers. But the usefulness of email marketing remains if you use it correctly. So here are some very basic guidelines for doing it right.
- Make it useful. Assuming you know things that others would find helpful, make this the focus of your newsletter. Let’s say you have a bicycle shop and you’d like to get people to buy more bikes. Instead of advertising a special on a particular bicycle, you might offer advice on maintaining the bicycle one already has. Tell the reader what needs lubrication, what type of oil to use, and how often to oil it. Give tips for getting the gears back on track when the chain slips. Talk about when and how to replace brake pads. Give suggestions for bicycle safety in special conditions, such as rain. This will make your newsletter more welcome and position you as an expert on quality bicycles, making your store the first one people think about when it’s time to buy.
- Use a third-party service. Using a service like Constant Contact or MailChimp ensures that your message contains the necessary “unsubscribe” links and blocks email from going to people who’ve unsubscribed. For example, if email@example.com has unsubscribed, most services won’t let you send email to him even if you try to add his address to the database again. A third-party service also protects your IP address from getting labeled as a spammer, which can result in entire companies blocking all email from your company.
- Keep the graphics to a minimum. The commercial email services typically offer lots of templates. Before you use one of them and load in a bunch of images, take a look at the graphic below. That’s a screenshot of an image-heavy email in my email client, which (like an increasing number of others) has the graphics turned off. Some communications professionals now argue that email newsletters should be exclusively plain text, with no HTML or graphics. I’m not willing to go there yet, because a small amount of HTML enables you to track who opens an email and clicks on your links. This can be powerful information. But I am now sending out some email with no visible graphics at all.
- Don’t overdo it. You can quickly wear out your welcome if you send out an email blast every couple of days. If you have an established audience of people who have asked to receive your mailings, you can get away with one a week, but that’s about the limit. In most cases, anything over a couple per month will start annoying readers.
- Study the provisions of the CAN-SPAM act and make sure you’re in compliance. For example, it requires that you include your address in each email – a requirement a lot of senders overlook.