01.13.14 | Send Automated Welcome Emails

Automated emails have been one of our most requested features, and so we are happy to kick off the new year with the ability to create automated welcome emails. These are very useful to welcome new subscribers with a hand-crafted message.

To activate, click Compose, then Options, then select Automated email. New event options will appear under the subject.

To find out more about this feature head over to our docs page for automated emails.

12.04.13 | Three Reasons why e-Commerce Thrives in the Inbox

This week's blog post comes to us from email guru Kevan Lee over at leading email blog Sendsmarter.co. Kevan has seen first hand how effective email is in driving sales, and so we are delighted to have his thoughts on email and e-commerce.

Take a look at your inbox, and you will likely find a trove of e-commerce email, mingling with the newsletters and forwards.

What's the big deal? Isn't email supposed to be a medium for writers and a repository for newsletters? Clearly, there is value for marketers in the inbox, and they are taking advantage. Smart marketers are using email to boost their e-commerce business, and all online shops would be wise to follow. Here are three reasons why.

The 4,400% ROI

With an ROI so high you'd think it were a typo, email carries one of the biggest payoffs for e-commerce marketing efforts. According to the Direct Marketing Association, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you get $44.25 in return. That is an incredible investment! Costs are so low and rewards so high for a number of reasons:

  • Inexpensive email software that can reach a large number of customers
  • Multiple opportunities to follow up with leads and purchasers
  • Permission marketing---your subscribers want to hear from you
  • Automation of common emails and auto-responders

Take, for example, a shopping cart abandonment email. These triggered campaigns regain 29% of abandoned orders. Now picture the work involved. Sure, the setup will require time, energy, and resources to create the email, mine the data, and get it scheduled, but once the groundwork is laid, the email takes care of itself.

Email has Facebook and Twitter Beat

E-commerce has invested a lot into social media over the past several years, but still, all that hard work has yet to even come close to the stunning growth of email. Consider these stats from customer acquisition site Custora, which analyzed over 72 million shoppers. Over the past four years, online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customer acquisition through email. If that doesn't grab you, maybe this chart will.

(chart via Shopify)

Twitter and Facebook are blips on the chart. Email is a spike.

What are the reasons? There are likely several, but consider that social media content does not enjoy the guaranteed views of email. Some estimate that only 16 percent of the Facebook content your business posts will be seen by your fans. It is to Facebook and Twitter's advantage to limit views of content in order to promote their business services. There is no such conflict of interest in email. If you send a clean email, your subscribers will find it in their inbox. Guaranteed.

Targeted Customers, Fascinating Stats

E-commerce sites thrive on analytics---knowing who purchased what and how. Information like this can help inform an email marketing campaign and lead to segmented messages, which enjoy an average of 15% greater results both in opens and click-throughs. The Crazy Egg blog explains one M.O.:

After analyzing metrics on your subscriber, you can determine what content they engage with most and which topics or products they prefer. Once you have this information, you can then create customized emails for different groups.

The email campaigns offer analytics of their own, too. Smart companies can use the data on click-throughs, opens, and sales to determine which campaigns were successful and which weren't. The marriage of data and information with email and e-commerce makes both better.

Takeaways

E-commerce and email are a match made in heaven. Sending email simply makes sense for online stores, and the numbers support a huge potential for increased engagement and sales. If you run an e-commerce site and don't have email, make it priority No. 1. If you notice an inbox filled with more and more offers, now you know why.

10.03.13 | The Bare Bones Essential Checklist For Sending Solid Email

Sending the perfect email is a daunting task with a long list of things to consider. Whilst the "undo" or "delete" sent email feature hasn't been invented yet we have the next best thing; a solid checklist from email guru Kevan Lee. Kevan writes about email for Send Smarter, a blog dedicated to sending better email. Weekly posts include email best practices, email galleries, new stats and research, and more.

Kevan has been generous enough to put together this week's guest blog post. Don't forget to head over to sendsmarter.co to discover more email gems.

Is there anything more daunting than that terrifying, paralyzing send button?

Once you blast your email to your legion of subscribers, there’s no going back. Typos exist for eternity. Broken links are forever broken. Nothing can save your email now, so your best bet is precautionary measures. Before you send, run through a checklist.

There are a few essential i’s to dot and t’s to cross on every email that you send. Be sure to dot and cross them all with an email checklist that covers all the basics.

Download the Essential Email Checklist.

You likely have more on your plate than sending email, so I’ve kept the checklist brief. Longer, exhaustive options exist elsewhere for those with the luxury of time and resource. Email Monday’s checklist is particularly thorough.

The Essential Email Checklist covers the majority of minor flubs that can ruin a perfectly good email.

For the “why” of each checklist item, see the explanations below.

Happy sending!

The Essential Email Checklist explained

Recipients

  • The correct subscriber list or segment is selected.
  • The list or segment has the number of subscribers you expected.
  • All dynamic content and personalization appears as it should.

The first two items act as checks and balances for making sure the right people are receiving your email. Sometimes the right subscriber list might not have all the latest subscribers. Sometimes the number of subscribers looks right but the list isn’t.

Dynamic content and personalization can carry a bigger impact when they are wrong than when they are right. Double check to make sure names and details go where they should, and have a graceful fallback in case a contact lacks the proper info.

Subject Line

  • Your subject line drives subscribers to click.
  • The first 45-50 characters of the subject line are impactful.
  • The content of the email matches the subject line.

Subject lines are one of the best places to obsess over with your email. They might be the most important reason someone clicks to open what you’ve sent. The first two check boxes here make sure the subject line grabs your recipient’s attention. The third makes sure they don’t feel duped after they open.

Content

  • All default template content has been replaced with real content.
  • The full text has been re-read, word for word, and contains no grammar, spelling, style, or accuracy errors.
  • The from name and email address are recognizable to your recipients.

If I could highlight one thing from these three items, it would be to read the full text of your email word for word. Scanning won’t cut it.

(And technically, Item No. 3 should take care of itself if you have your email settings set up well. The from name and email address don’t need to change from email to email, unless it makes sense to do so.)

Design

  • All links are clickable and clearly appear as links
  • Alt-text is used on all images

Clickable links are important for everyone. Alt-text is important for those who have images turned-off.

Testing

  • All links in the email have been clicked, including images with links.
  • The links go the intended pages.
  • The email still functions and makes sense with images turned off.
  • The email displays well on mobile devices and in different email clients.

Much like the re-reading of your email, link clicking also needs to be a thorough endeavor. Wouldn’t you know that the one link that doesn’t work will be the one link everyone clicks.

For those with a pay-to-send email plan, you might have a rendering tool at your disposal. For others, you can test your email by sending to different personal inboxes you have set up at free spots like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Test on phones and tablets, too.

Necessary elements

  • The email has an obvious, functioning unsubscribe link.
  • A plain-text version of the email is made available.
  • A link to view the email online is made available.
  • Any necessary disclaimers and copyright information are in place.
  • Subscribers have a way to contact you.

No. 1 is the law. The rest are best practice.

Sending

  • The email is scheduled to send no sooner than 30 minutes after completing the checklist.
  • The email send time has been carefully chosen to optimize opens.

Schedule your send so that the email has a chance to simmer and you have time to correct anything that suddenly rushes to mind. I have saved a litany of errors by waiting to send.

Reporting

  • Time has been set to review the results of the campaign.

Knowledge is power, so make sure you take time to study how each campaign did.

10.01.13 | Sendicate Wins W3 Award for Best Web Application

Sendicate is thrilled to win the 2013 W3 Award for best web application. Awarded by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, The W3 Award honors outstanding Websites, Web Marketing, Web Video, & Mobile Apps created by some of the best interactive agencies, designers, and creators worldwide.

In its eighth year the W3 Awards received over 4,000 entries and is the first major web competition to be accessible to the biggest agencies, the smallest firms, and everyone in between. Small firms are as likely to win as Fortune 500 companies and international agencies.

The W3 is sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body consisting of top-tier professionals from a "Who's Who" of acclaimed media, interactive, advertising and marketing firms. IAVA members include executives from organizations such as Alloy, Brandweek, Coach, Disney, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Estee Lauder, Fry Hammond Barr, HBO, Monster.com, MTV, Polo Ralph Lauren, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Victoria’s Secret, Wired, and Yahoo!.

We humbly thank the W3 Awards and our customers for this honor.

09.19.13 | Introducing Smart Lists & Segmentation (beta)

Sending the right message to the right customer is critically important for email engagement. Email is an inherently personal medium so it makes sense to make each email as targeted as possible. The more targeted the message is the better engagement will be.

To achieve this goal Sendicate is releasing our new Smart Lists feature. Lists can now be created based on any custom field criteria such as gender, location, purchase history, or customer status. Any data that is sent to Sendicate can be targeted directly or through specific combinations such as "men" in "California" that have made a "purchase". There are limitless combinations and opportunities, and if you have the data you can segment and target it.

Smart Lists can also be created using data collected in Sendicate, including activity (clicks, opens), location (country and region), and email client (iPhone, webmail). It is now possible to create Smart Lists such as "Never Opened" or "Never Clicked", or even "iPhone users in New York". This allows for some powerful targeting capabilities.

One of the best features of our Smart Lists is that they are real-time with live data. Any segment is created instantly and is always up to date, and there is no limit to the amount of Smart Lists or combinations.

Smart Lists can be identified in the Subscribers List by having a small lightning icon next to the list's name. Any list with this icon has live data that can change from moment to moment.

Creating Smart Lists

To create a Smart List click the triangle in the search box to expand the search options. Enter your Smart List criteria and click "Save Results as Smart List". Or alternatively the data can be previewed just like a regular search. Each custom field data type has its own search operators. Text can have "contains" or "matches", numbers can be "greater than" or "less than", dates can be "before" or "after".

Importing Data

Smart Lists can be used with any of the default stats we track such as clicks and device type, but additional data needs to be imported as custom fields via our API, CSV imports, or by editing each subscriber's custom fields manually.

Beta & Next Steps

Smart Lists have been tested in production for a few months and are an extension of our recent search overhaul, but are lacking some interface and management polish. Future updates will make creating, editing, and using Smart Lists much easier. We promise!

Please let us know how you are using this feature along with any feature requests. Any feedback will be factored into the final release so get your wish list in. Have fun with it!