Doing process audits may seem like a waste of time. After all, you probably won’t find anything major and there are lots of other things on your to-do list. But then again, you might indeed find something major and be super thankful you took the time to investigate.

Last month, I released the Email Opt-In Audit Imperative infographic that details research showing that more than a quarter of email signups that occur via the homepages of major B2C brands are not honored or experience significant delays in being honored. Since your most valuable email subscribers sign up via your website, these results are worrisome. And your homepage is just one of probably more than a dozen ways that subscribers join your list, so there’s potential for many more process breakdowns that could be slowing list growth.

View this Lands' End email largerExhibit A: Just a few weeks ago I received an email from Lands’ End with a subject line saying that it’s “Been too long!” Typically that’s the kind of language you’d see in a win-back email where a subscriber hasn’t engaged in a long time, but in this case this was the first email Lands’ End had sent since their welcome email more than 6 months earlier.

It appears that they uncovered a glitch in their signup process whereas email addresses weren’t getting added to the active list properly, and this email was their way of rebooting the email relationship. I don’t know how long the glitch persisted or how many subscribers were affected, but I suspect there was a very significant opportunity cost associated with it.

Exhibit B: Lowe’s experienced something very similar a few years ago. In January of 2011, I received an email from them with the subject line “Sorry we are a little late, but great values like these are worth waiting for.‏” The account where I received this email was used to subscribe to Lowe’s emails more than two years earlier, and I hadn’t received any emails from them until this one.

Exhibit C (added 10/16): Northern Tool had a nearly identical experience as Lands’ End. It also took them more than 6 months to honor my opt-in. Their first email went much lighter on acknowledging the problem and apologizing. They choose to only mention it briefly in the preheader, but they did add a prominent unsubscribe link, wisely recognizing that after such a long delay that some folks might not be interested anymore.

100813 Northern ToolKudos to these brands for discovering these problems, taking actions to fix them, and reaching out to affected subscribers. My experience has been that the vast majority of these signup breakdowns go undetected for years or get fixed unknowingly when updating or upgrading systems.

Make sure that you’re not missing out on valuable list growth by auditing all your email acquisition sources—and if you can do it ahead of the holiday season, then all the better.

Most Tweetable Tweets from Connections 2013

ExactTarget Connections 2013ExactTarget Connections was awesome! Beyond meeting tons of great people, old friends and new, there was lots of great content that kept me busy tweeting for four days straight. We’ve already shared 100 Tweets About Leadership and the Power to Lead from Within and Josh Kimber shared the 25 Top Tweets from #ET13, but I wanted to highlight some of the tidbits that I thought were critical.

Before I do that, if you were one of the more than 1,000 people who got a free copy of my book, Email Marketing Rules, during Connections, it would be awesome if you would sent a tweet of thanks to @ExactTarget, which made the giveaways possible. Thanks and I hope to see you at Dreamforce in November and at Connections 2014.

EMAIL MARKETING

@HauteLook sends 200 different email campaigns each month. #ET13

Test call-to-action buttons with low commitment language. Ex. “Shop now” vs. “Buy now” – @meladorri #ET13

MOBILE

76% of subscribers have opened at least 1 email on mobile in past 30 days, according to ET data. #ET13

CareerBuilder saw a 21%-24% increase in click rates after moving to a responsive email template. #ET13

50%-62% of CareerBuilder’s email opens are on mobile devices. #ET13

Uber is “lifestyle meets logistics.” In addition to their cab-calling app, they have done on-demand ice cream trucks, BBQ sandwiches.. #ET13

SOCIAL MEDIA

Caterpillar’s four pillars of social media: listening, promotions, thought leadership, and customer service. #ET13

Warby Parker’s social media team responds to EVERY tweet, Facebook comment, and Instagram. #ET13

I’m impressed 🙂 “@WarbyParker: @chadswhite Yes we do! We hope you’re enjoying Kristin at #et13.”

When Warby Parker cannot answer a tweeted question in 140 characters, they record a YouTube video and tweet a link to it. #ET13

Nordstrom is highlighting top-pinned items in their stores. -Steve Patrizi, Pinterest #ET13

BIG DATA & CROSS-CHANNEL

Sony powers their digital marketing efforts with purchase, demographic, and gameplay data. Engagement is up 23% so far this year. #ET13

Sony communicates with their customers via 30 different channels. #ET13

Not all data is information, not all information is insight, not all insight is actionable. -Matt Spielman, Return Path #ET13

Dying companies use data to react to changes. Thriving companies use data to predict future and act. -Kenny Tomlin, Rockfish #ET13

A Customer Company knows you are the same person no matter how you contact them. #channelintegration #ET13

The pinch point in marketing is generally content. – @mostew #ET13

LEADERSHIP

Real discipline is not what you chose to do but what you chose not to do. -Jim Collins #ET13

“Great leaders build companies that do not need them.” -Jim Collins #BuilttoLast #ET13

“Smart people are a dime a dozen. What matters is imagination.” -Walter Isaacson #ET13

Get the Kindle Book editino of Email Marketing RulesIn celebration of Connections 2013, ExactTarget is making the Kindle Book edition of my book, Email Marketing Rules, available for free today through Thursday.

Just visit Amazon.com to download it for free (no coupon code necessary) and then install the free Kindle app to read it on any smartphone, tablet or computer.

Through 108 easy-to-understand rules, Email Marketing Rules is your guide to understanding the practices that lead to spectacular results, while steering you clear of trouble. Jay Baer calls it “the best book ever written about email marketing,” and Internet Retailer Magazine says it is “a must-have for any email marketer.”

>> Get Email Marketing Rules for free—but only until the end of Connections.

4 Reasons to Update Email Images Post-Send

4 Reasons to Update Email ImagesBroadcast email content doesn’t have to be static. By updating the image source files—in other words, saving a new image to the same URL path—you can change the content of an email after you’ve sent it. Here are four reasons why you might want to do that:

1. A Featured Product Has Sold Out

In Holiday Inspirations from the Email Swipe File, one of the 14 tactics we discuss is creating urgency, which is especially critical during the holiday season. To illustrate one way that’s done, we share a cool example from Bass Pro Shops where they update a product image with a “SOLD OUT” overlay.

This is the in-store equivalent of seeing an empty shelf. It makes you more receptive to the products that are still in stock and less likely to hold off on making a purchase. With this particular email from Bass Pro Shops, they were savvy in that they promoted two products in these flash sale emails, one of which seemed to always sell out very quickly—I assume by design—amping up the urgency on the other product offer.

2. The Offer or Sale Has Expired

Similarly, for limited-time sales and offers, you can…

>> Read the entire post on the ExactTarget Blog

Where You Can Find Me during Connections 2013

ExactTarget Connections 2013I’m super excited about next week’s Connections, which will be my third. If you’re attending, I’d love to meet you. Here’s where you can find me:

MONDAY
4p – 5:30p >> I’m attending the Town Hall with Scott Dorsey and Marc Benioff.

TUESDAY
9p – midnight >> I’m a featured guest at the Cloud Crawl Party at the Colts Grille (110 West Washington St.), where I’ll be hanging out with my esteemed colleagues Joel Book, Kyle Lacy, Chip House, and Dawn DeVirgilio.

WEDNESDAY
10:30a – 11:15a >> I’m attending the Retail & eCommerce Roundtable at the JW Marriott (Ballroom 10).

2:30p – 3:15p >> I’m presenting The Good, the Bad, and the Best: Practices for a Post-Wild West Email Marketing World in the Convention Center (Rooms 120-122).

5p – 6p >> I’m signing copies of my book, Email Marketing Rules, in the Client Listening Lounge. Bring your copy or get a free copy by completing a short survey to help us with our 2014 Predictions Research Project.

I’ll be around on each of those days, as well as on THURSDAY, attending sessions, hanging out at the Social Command Center and Social Lounge, and chatting with folks at the ET booth. I hope to see you there!

All-Star Email Marketing Author SessionWish you had your own panel of email marketing luminaries to answer all your burning questions? Well, this is your chance.

Join Simms Jenkins, DJ Waldow and myself for a unique webinar event on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 2pm ET, where you decide what questions we’ll answer. Plus, if your question is selected, you’ll win autographed copies of Simms’ The New Inbox, DJ’s The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing, and my Email Marketing Rules.

With four highly acclaimed email marketing books between us, rarely has so much email marketing knowledge been assembled in one place. Don’t miss the All-Star Email Marketing Author Session!

>> Register and Help Determine What Questions We’ll Answer

Chad's MediaPost columnsFor those marketers who already have visions of Christmas emails dancing in their head, here are my email marketing predictions for this holiday season:

1. Marketers will send more responsive emails on high-mobility days. After the last holiday season, the shift to mobile reading of emails is now unequivocally too big to ignore. Retailers have finally gotten the message and have made a mobile-friendly overhaul of their email templates a priority this year.

Most retailers have taken incremental steps, with many adopting mobile-optimized templates in recent months. But on the days during the holiday season when subscribers are most mobile—like…

>> Read my entire Email Insider column on MediaPost.com

Holiday Inspirations from the Email Swipe File

Download > Holiday Inspirations from the Email Swipe FileAlready have visions of holiday emails dancing in your head? So do we. In Holiday Inspirations from the Email Swipe File, you’ll find festive examples of holiday emails that illustrate 14 important holiday email tactics, including…

  • Trumpet the Start of the Holiday Season
  • Bring Seasonal Flair to Triggered Emails
  • Accommodate Santa’s Fat Fingers
  • Incorporate Learnings from Other Seasons
  • Encourage Wish-Sharing
  • Get Progressively Better
  • Delight Spirits

Learn about all 14 tactics, view our selection of inspiring examples, and pick a couple of tactics to add to your own holiday marketing plans.

>> Download this free report

The Last Word on August 2013

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

Must-read articles, posts & whitepapers

Deliverability Misconceptions: The Insider Break-down (Experian)

The Habits Of Highly Ineffective Email Marketers (MediaPost)

What’s an Email Hash, Anyway? (ClickZ)

Guest Expert: Alex Williams on 11 Things that Need to Die in Mobile Email (Silverpop)

Kagan: Court Hasn’t Really ‘Gotten To’ Email (Yahoo News)

Insightful & entertaining tweets

@marshallk: Knowing the moment that people open my emails feels like a super power. I need to learn to use it, like picking up buildings w/ bare hands.

@Advertising140: If your email still looks solid with images turned off…then you’ve done a good job. #emailmarketing

@markbrownlow: Test subject lines in admin emails, too. Produced >60% lift to confirmed subscriptions: http://t.co/JMwHJ6wmg1

@Jfalkenthal: A3: No one owns the community. A community can be facilitated & engaged with, but not owned. #etcafe

@JuntaeDeLane: I hear YouTube, Twitter &  Facebook are merging to form a super #SocialMedia site called YouTwitFace – Conan O’Brien

Great additions to the Email Swipe File pinboard

OfficeMax gift services footers from 2012 holiday season >> View the pin

Walmart welcome email from 2012 holiday season >> View the pin

Apple email sent on 11/20/12 >> View the pin

Home Depot email sent 2/7/11 >> View the pin

Noteworthy subject lines

Dunkin’ Donuts, 8/26 — School’s in session – recharge with a DD Card‏
Vera Bradley, 8/23 — Best-looking couples, class of 2014!
Hanna Andersson, 8/17 — Quick study in boys jeans: sturdy savings for one more week!
SkyMall, 8/1 — The 10 Things You Need for Back to School Success‏
ModCloth, 8/2 — Apt ‘apt.’ decor!
Coldwater Creek, 8/26 — Save on jeans + New Arrivals…Labor Day savings start NOW!
Sears, 8/26 — EXTRA 5-15% off online: Labor Day Kickoff savings‏
PersonalizationMall, 8/26 — 25% Off Grandparents Day Sale – This Week Only‏
Hanna Andersson, 8/28 — Halloween hannas are here!
Horchow, 8/21 — Autumn + Christmas: New finds, right now‏
Neiman Marcus, 8/17 — Men’s Fall Lookbook‏
Karmaloop, 8/23 — Fall Up! All New Jackets and Hoodies from HUF, Nixon, Crooks and Castles, Staple and more!
ModCloth, 8/29 — FLOTUS-worthy frocks.
Sephora, 8/30 — Too busy for the salon?
Michael’s, 8/24 — Rainbow Loom: As Seen on the Today Show‏
Pier 1 Imports, 8/24 — More ZZZs. Less $.
The Container Store, 8/23 — NEW! Q & A Feature‏
Etsy, 8/17 — E-I-E-I-O‏
The Container Store, 8/12 — ♫ Splish, Splash! ♫
Tiny Prints, 8/15 — 101 Reasons to Open this Email‏
Vera Bradley, 8/14 — Q. Best accessory? a) lanyards b) IDs c) wristlets …

Most popular posts on EmailMarketingRules.com last month

1. The Many Uses (and 2 Drawbacks) of Animated Gifs

2. Why You Shouldn’t Ask Your Gmail Subscribers to Re-Tab Your Emails

3. The One-Two Punch of Subject Lines and Preheaders

4. The Top 5 Passages from Email Marketing Rules

5. Things I Would and Would Not Apologize For

Download the Email Marketing Holiday Calendar InfographicDuring August, B2C brands sent each of their active subscribers 13.2 promotional emails on average, based on the anonymous tracking of more than 140 B2C brands, including retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, travel and hospitality, and nonprofits. That’s up 1% from the previous month.

Retailers sent each of their subscribers 16.2 promotional emails on average, down 2% from July. While it’s unusual for retail email frequency to dip in August, it’s not unheard of. That said, it is lower than I anticipated (see The Email Marketing Holiday Calendar).

National Retail Federation research indicated that back-to-school spending would be down this year, following a strong spending season last year, so it’s possible that retailers kept their email volume in check to match demand. It’s equally likely that retailers will shift some of their back-to-school messaging into September to capitalize on unforeseen needs—and peer-inspired needs—that arise during the early weeks of school.

For more on seasonal email marketing trends, check out Email Marketing Holiday Calendar 2013: September Preview & August Review.

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