View all of Chad's MediaPost columnsHow you and—more importantly—your boss answer that question easily predicts the future success of your email marketing program.

In this Email Insider column for MediaPost, talk about:

  • The behaviors that indicate an “email marketing is cheap” mentality vs. an “email marketing’s ROI is high” mentality
  • The results of these two lines of thinking on marketplace adoption of marketing automation and mobile-friendly email design and trends in deliverability
  • The disconnect between what marketing leaders say is important and those marketplace realities
  • Why it’s time to acknowledge that email marketing is no longer cheap and that trying to compress email marketing costs is a losing long-term strategy

>> Read the full column on the MediaPost blog

On the Horizon: Subject Line Designers?

2015 100 Inspiring Subject Lines - 92sGiven the lift in message engagement that’s seen in nearly every channel when you add an image to a message, it’s exciting that we now have limited use of images in subject lines. As I discuss in Salesforce’s 100 Inspiring Subject Lines, special characters like stars and hearts started appearing in the subject lines of marketers’ emails in early 2012, and then emojis began appearing in subject lines last year.

Currently around 2% of B2C emails include a special character or an emoji. Over the next two years or so I expect their usage to slowly rise—perhaps settling in around the 4% mark—as marketers become more comfortable with these new subject line elements and become assured that they don’t negatively affect deliverability.

While not a blank canvas, there are hundreds and hundreds of special characters and emojis that are appropriate for marketing use. That gives you a wide range of expression.

Let’s look at the three ways that visual elements can be used in subject lines and see them in action in some real-life examples…

>> Read the entire post on the Salesforce blog

Getting ready for the holiday season is almost a year-round effort—which is to say you’re preparing for November and December the other 10 months of the year.

To help you prep, I discuss 6 retail email marketing priorities in this slide deck, which includes supplemental links to research reports, articles, and real-world examples that allow you to take a deep-dive into the topics that are most important to you:

  1. Reassessing program goals
  2. Getting mobile-friendly
  3. Optimizing snippet text
  4. Increasing targeting and personalization
  5. Building out triggered emails
  6. Keeping inactivity in check.

Check out this slide deck and see why making progress on each of these priorities between now and October will get your email program in excellent shape for the upcoming holiday season.

Lego email carouselAt the end of Email Marketing Rules, I say, “The emails of the future will be much more like sending subscribers a microsite than a static message. People will be able to watch videos, browse product assortments, and make purchases—all without leaving their inboxes.”

Following decent progress on video in email over the past few years, in recent months we’ve also made progress on browsable rich content thanks to the discovery of a WebKit hack that lets marketers create a fully functional tabbed box or content carousel, where subscribers can click the tabs or buttons in the content block in the email to flip through different images.

Emails from B&Q and Lego show off just how engaging these “email carousels” can be, especially since the hack is compatible with responsive design.

>> Read the full post on the Salesforce blog

The Last Word on February 2015

The Last WordA roundup of email marketing articles, posts, tweets and examples you might have missed last month…

Must-read articles, posts & whitepapers

Engagement Totally Matters (The Email Skinny)

Sender reputation and personalized deliverability: what inbox engagement really means (MailUp)

ISPs Live in the Age of the Customer, Do You? (Email Experience Council)

Under the hood of the new Outlook app (Display Block)

Episode 8: Our Top 5 Predictions for Email Design in 2015 (Litmus)

New Google Algorithm Hits Websites Lacking Responsive Design (Rival IQ)

Which ESPs Give Email Marketers ESP? (DM News)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

@meladorri: I love my job. I love this industry. I love the email community. No, I’m not drunk. Just sentimental. @litmusapp #eec15 #emailgeeks

@asouers: Matt Moleski at Comcast says they identify users who use Spam as Delete and don’t allow them to impact your sender reputation. #EEC15

@SimmsJenkins: 90% of U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. 69% have bought from an email. @MarketingSherpa

@meladorri: “Mobile ready emails are a huge improvement in company perception.” YES! And subscriber happiness/experience. @matty_caldwell #eec15

@iamelliot: Poop emoji is acceptable for subject line use, right?

Great additions to the Swipe File pinboards

Jack Spade email builds toward CTA and has responsive header and footer >> View the pin

American Apparel emails checks whether subscribers are thinking spring or winter >> View the pin

Blue Nile 3-email cart abandonment series >> View the pin

Kate Spade does year-long promotional email series >> View the pin

Noteworthy subject lines

American Apparel, 2/5 — It’s #pantytime
American Red Cross, 2/24 — #GiveWhatFireTakes
Chili’s, 2/18 — Go Warm Up The Car- Chili’s is Open!
Clinique, 2/17 — Start the Lunar New Year in Style + FREE lipstick
Garnet Hill, 2/17 — The Presidents’ Day Sale — re-elected for one more day
FansEdge, 2/1 — The Patriots Are XLIX Champions!
Levi’s, 2/1 — TIMEOUT. These jeans are game-changers.
Clinique, 2/1 — Super Roll: NEW fragrance rollerballs + FREE body cream mini.
Zulily, 2/1 — Your Super Sunday Lineup: Buster Brown, AM PM, Hop to It toys, Spectrum home organization and more
eBags, 2/1 — Hut…Hut…SALE!
NFLshop, 2/1 — Patroits Fan, 9 Hrs. to Kickoff! Get Ready for Super Bowl XLIX!
Uncommon Goods, 2/3 — We Found 10 Matches For Your Valentine
MoMA Store, 2/1 — Give Back to All Your Valentines! + Free Shipping Over $50
ModCloth, 2/23 — Real ModCloth employees model your fave swimsuits!
ThinkGeek, 2/17 — 10 months to go: suit up with new Star Wars exclusives!
Anthropologie, 2/7 — Is this the end of skinny jeans?
Ann Taylor, 2/2 — Will Spring Come Early? We’ve Got A Dress For That!
Clinique, 2/2 — 20 shades of flawless + FREE Superprimer mini

New posts on EmailMarketingRules.com

Infographic: Shopping Cart Abandonment Email Trends

Opens, Clicks, Junks, and Blocks in the Third Age of Email Deliverability

10 Experts on How to Use Email Marketing for Events

4 Key Subject Line Trends Driven by Mobile and Social

Disconnects on Metrics: Health vs. Optimization vs. Success Metrics

Valentines for Email Marketers

January Review & Season Wrap-Up for the 2014 Email Marketing Holiday Calendar

Trends for 2015: Views from 10 Email Marketing Experts

The Last Word on January 2015

Email Marketing Rules (2nd Edition)The 2nd Edition of “Email Marketing Rules” was published 6 months ago today and I just want to say, Thank You! Thanks to everyone who has bought it. Thanks to everyone who has tweeted, blogged, and otherwise said nice things about. And an extra big thanks to everyone who has reviewed it on Amazon—each new review really makes my day.

As a sign of my appreciation, I’ve permanently cut the paperback list price by 17% to $14.99 and the Kindle price by 25% to $5.99. I hope this allows even more people to benefit from “Email Marketing Rules.”

>> Buy print edition—and afterward get the digital version for FREE via Kindle Matchbook

>> Buy Kindle edition (which is readable on any device with the free Kindle Reader app)

I’d also like to once again thank my awesome editors, Mark Brownlow and Aaron Smith; Jay Baer, who wrote the insightful foreword; Andrea Smith, who designed the cool cover and illustrations; my copyeditor, Brian Walls; and all the folks who generously wrote blurbs for the book: Jeff Rohrs, Don Davis, Simms Jenkins, Kyle Lacy, Loren McDonald, Andrew Bonar, Dave Chaffey, and Justine Jordan. And last, but certainly not least, thanks again to my wonderful wife, Kate, who has supported me all the way.

During Cyber Week, one of the most important shopping weeks of the year, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud clicked through the promotional emails of more than 90 major online retailers and we filled our shopping baskets with more than $100 of merchandise.

Then we walked away, closing our browser after each shopping session. Here’s what happened next and how it compares to our results when we did this same experiment during the 2013 holiday season…

View all of Chad's MediaPost columnsIn the First Age of Email Deliverability, there were no rules and few if any consequences for bad behavior. In the Second Age, ISPs armed their users with “report spam” and “junk” buttons and senders that received too many spam complaints had their emails junked or blocked.

In the Third Age, which we are in now, ISPs also factor engagement metrics into their filtering decisions and make those decisions on the individual level as well as on a global level. These changes mean email subscribers not only have to tolerate marketers’ emails, but have to at least occasionally engage with them. That in turn means marketers can’t bloat their email lists with inactive subscribers to lower their spam complaint rates. In the Third Age of Email Marketing, the need for list quality keeps list size ambitions in check.

However, an ISP panel at the Email Evolution Conference in Miami earlier this month seems to have muddied the water on whether email engagement affects junking and blocking. The two quasi-revelations from the panel—which included representatives from Gmail, Outlook.com, AOL, and Comcast—were that:

  1. Clicks don’t affect deliverability.
  2. Only spam complaints factor into blocking decisions at Outlook.com.

While not news to those in the deliverability community, these two things surprised many and caused some to question the recent emphasis that’s been placed on engagement metrics. Don’t be confused. Here’s why you should still be concerned about engagement and inactive subscribers…

>> Read the entire column on MediaPost.com

Smart InsightsEmail marketing can be a powerful driver of event success. To get the latest advice on how to use email to ensure that your event is packed, Zettasphere Founder Tim Watson asked me and eight other email marketing experts to share our No. 1 tip for promoting a webinar or paid physical event.

Here’s the advice I shared:

The biggest opportunity around events is to address the journeys that happen (1) during consideration, (2) post-conversion but pre-event, (3) during the event, and (4) post-event. A person on each of those journeys has different needs at different points, and there are great opportunities to use personalization, dynamic content, and triggered emails to address those needs and drive the desired behavior.

Justine Jordan, Kath Pay, Samantha Iodice, Dela Quist, Skip Fidura, Jordie van Rijn, Dave Chaffey, Parry Malm, and Tim Watson shared recommendations that address email content, frequency, segmentation, and automation—plus tips on how to promote British death punk bands.

>> Read the full post on SmartInsights.com

100 Inspiring Subject LinesAfter your sender name, your subject line has the biggest impact on whether subscribers open your emails or not. Here are four key subject line trends to keep in mind during 2015:

1. Mobile continues to shorten subject lines. Because mobile devices display fewer characters of a subject line than their webmail and desktop email client counterparts, the growth of mobile email reading is putting downward pressure on subject line lengths.

2. Snippet text becomes increasingly important “second subject line.” Counter-balancing shrinking subject lines is the fact that more subscribers are able to see snippet text, which gives subscribers a preview of the content of the email and appears next to or underneath the subject line in the inbox view of the native iPhone email app, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and other email clients. For instance, the native iPhone email app displays around 80 characters of snippet text, more than twice the number of characters that it displays of a subject line.

3. More images appear in subject lines. Subject lines aren’t limited to text anymore. Starting in 2012, there was good support for special characters like hearts, stars, and arrows. And now the native iPhone email app, Outlook.com, and other email clients support emojis. Currently around 2% of B2C subject lines include special characters or emojis.

4. More hashtags appear in subject lines. In the age of omni-channel campaigns, hashtags in subject lines connect email campaigns with social media campaigns. Often, using a hashtag in a subject line sacrifices a small percentage of opens in exchange for driving more social activity, so they should be used thoughtfully—and they tend to be. Currently, well under 1% of B2C subject lines include hashtags.

>> Read the entire post on the Salesforce blog

>> And for more on trends, check out 100 Inspiring Subject Lines from 2006 to 2014

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