Email marketing tips for beginners

In this post, we share some basic tips for those of you who are just starting out in email marketing. You might be about to launch a regular email newsletter to raise awareness of your work and/or invite your readers to sign up to a product or list (responding to a ‘call to action’ or COA).

While email marketing has been described as ‘one of the oldest digital marketing techniques’, it remains highly effective. Conversion rates from marketing emails tend to be about three times higher than from social media.

Email Marketing

Here are our top five tips to bear in mind:

1. Personalise your emails

An email that reads like a generic message sent to hundreds of list members is much less likely to be read and acted on. By starting your email with your list member’s name, you are more likely to catch their attention. With Simplelists, you can add a member’s name into your emails (see how here). You might also want to think about more imaginative ways to customise the content of your email to match with the reader’s age, gender, location etc. Little details like this are likely to give you email a more ‘human touch’ and help the email to feel more relevant to the recipient.

2. Get to the point and keep it relevant

Recipients like to receive messages that are relevant to them so it’s not a good idea to try to sell or promote something that they didn’t sign up for in the first place. Communicate key messages at the top of your email content, especially as many email clients do not automatically show the whole email. Therefore, the top content needs to motivate recipients to scroll down. It is also a good idea to keep the subject line short and concise. You should try to avoid words that might be seen as ‘junk’ by spam filters (e.g. ‘free’ or ‘cheap’). You can read more about how to write a good subject line in an earlier post on our blog.

3. Use visuals

Today, we access our emails on a variety of devices at different times of the day. We can be at our desk, on the move, commuting, or relaxing at home. So, visuals can be an essential tool for sending an email that is more engaging than your competitors’, catching the eye of the recipient and encouraging them to read it. Images are processed much faster than text by the brain and, as we all know, our attention span is short in an age where emails and other notifications bombard our devices 24 hours a day. Some good ideas to try include: charts/diagrams, graphs, icons, videos (or a thumbnail link to a video), headers and emojis. Every audience is different though, so make sure the visuals you use are suitable for your recipient group.

4. Target/segment the recipients

It is important to remember that the goal of most email marketing campaigns isn’t simply to deliver a message. It can be to raise awareness of an organisation’s work, sell a product, fill in a form, etc. Ultimately, you are prompting a COA (call to action). While following tips 1-3 above will ensure that your email is relevant and engaging, it is also worth thinking about further targeting, or separating your contacts into different groups, depending on certain characteristics/activities. You can then personalise your emails for each group. With Simplelists, you can do this by using multiple lists to manage your contacts.

5. Measure success

At the end of the day, it is not worth putting all of this work in if you do not have a sense of the results that you are achieving. It is a good idea to decide what you would like your ‘key performance indicators’ to be. Examples might be:

  • open rate (how many people opened your email);
  • click-through rate (how many people clicked on links in your email);
  • click-to-open rate (the number of unique clicks/number of unique opens);
  • bounce rate (how many emails didn’t get delivered);
  • delivery rate (emails sent, measured against bounces);
  • unsubscribe rate (how many people unsubscribed from your list);
  • referral rate (how many people sent the email on to someone else); and/or
  • number, or proportion of, spam complaints.

 

Timing your email newsletters

There is lots of information out there about when is the best time of the day/week to send email newsletters, ensuring that as many people as possible open (and read) your message. We’ve already written about how to come up with a good subject line to increase your open rates and in this post we’ll look at the variety of data that analyses the best time to send your email.

Timing your email newsletters

Time of day

An analysis of more than a billion emails was recently conducted by a major email newsletter company to identify trends in the best time to send marketing emails/newsletters. The results showed that the number of ‘email opens’ increased after 12pm, with the optimum period being between 2pm and 5pm. This suggests that people prefer to read newsletters or other marketing emails once they have cleared the more urgent emails in the morning. It goes without saying that you should aim to send your email within working hours, otherwise they are likely to be deleted in the morning ‘clear out’ of the inbox. If some of your contacts are in a different time zone, you’ll need to take this into account as well.

Time of week

The same study also revealed that Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest days for the average person/worker in terms of email volume. With that in mind, it might be advisable to aim for other days of the week (although Mondays are not recommended as ‘back to work blues’ may get in the way), to help your email ‘stand out from the crowd’, or you may wish to stick with these two days as they have been shown to be successful for many marketers. Sending marketing emails at the weekends is not advised, although this may be a good time for you, if your audience dictates.

Know your audience

Your audience is likely to have certain habits, depending on their interests and the information that you are sending to them. These habits might render some of the more established statistics about ‘when is a good time’ somewhat less useful. For example, if you are communicating with a young, technologically-motivated demographic, evening emails may work just as well as ones sent during the day. If your email requires a response, evenings may also generate higher engagement, especially if your email isn’t directly work-related. Similarly, Fridays (which are often not recommended as the weekend is a distraction) may work better if your email is about entertainment and the weekend is about to start.

What about the device?

A lot of the points above are not necessarily applicable to mobile users. A lot of the research tends to focus on desktop users who open emails at work. Mobile users continue to be active into the evening and at weekends. In 2013, a study found that 55% of consumers open their emails on desktops, while only 25% opened emails on mobile devices. With the ever-growing use of (and reliance on) mobile devices, this number is now likely to be much higher. Making emails more ‘mobile friendly’ and responsive will also affect the user’s experience of the content that you send.

So, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘right’ time to send your emails but being aware of these points will help you to choose the best time for your content/audience.

HTML Emails – Complete Series

We have just completed the final video in our HTML emails series which takes you through everything from designing your email, to writing the code for responsive emails and finally to testing and sending the email. Here are all six parts of the series:

Part 1: Overview

Part 2: Design

Part3: Doctype, Structure & Metadata

Part 4: Adding & Styling Text

Part 5: Adding Images

Part 6: Sending & Testing

HTML Emails: Adding Images

In Part 5 in our video series on creating HTML emails we show you how to add images to the email.

We’ve included a copy of the full code here so that you can use it:

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<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
 
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
 
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>
 
</head>
 
<body>
    <table width="100%" style="max-width: 600px;">
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Hi Anne,</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae feugiat ex. Donec eleifend viverra justo. Nam velit arcu, imperdiet sed ante sed, bibendum finibus erat. Maecenas ut elementum odio.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris est lectus, fermentum nec turpis at, dictum eleifend dolor.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Heading 1</td>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Heading 2</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Pellentesque dui magna, maximus ut diam eu, aliquam vehicula sapien. Suspendisse sed auctor libero. Integer id velit consectetur.</td>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Sed in euismod odio. Mauris pulvinar sem erat, vitae suscipit nisl tincidunt a. Vivamus sed tempus metus, at dignissim ligula.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/call_to_action.png"></td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px;">Best regards,</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px;">John Doe</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/company_logo.png"></td>
            <td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/facebook.png"></td>
            <td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/google_plus.png"></td>
            <td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/twitter.png"></td>
        </tr>
    </table>
</body>
 
</html>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>

</head>

<body>
	<table width="100%" style="max-width: 600px;">
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Hi Anne,</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae feugiat ex. Donec eleifend viverra justo. Nam velit arcu, imperdiet sed ante sed, bibendum finibus erat. Maecenas ut elementum odio.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris est lectus, fermentum nec turpis at, dictum eleifend dolor.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Heading 1</td>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Heading 2</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Pellentesque dui magna, maximus ut diam eu, aliquam vehicula sapien. Suspendisse sed auctor libero. Integer id velit consectetur.</td>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Sed in euismod odio. Mauris pulvinar sem erat, vitae suscipit nisl tincidunt a. Vivamus sed tempus metus, at dignissim ligula.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/call_to_action.png"></td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px;">Best regards,</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px;">John Doe</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/company_logo.png"></td>
			<td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/facebook.png"></td>
			<td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/google_plus.png"></td>
			<td style="float: left; padding-right: 10px;"><img src="http://demowebsite1.co.uk/email-images/twitter.png"></td>
		</tr>
	</table>
</body>

</html>

Images Must Be Placed On A Server

If you want your email to contain images the first step is to place the images on your server. When you do this also record the path of the image so that you can point the image source to it in the email.

Put the image in a table data cell

In the email put the image in it’s own table cell and make sure that the path is correct and points to the images on the server.

For full details on how to add images to your HTML email watch this short video:

HTML Emails: Adding & Styling Text

In Part 4 of our video series on creating HTML emails we show you how to add text to the email using tables and also style the text using inline CSS.

We’ve included the code here so that you can copy it and use it to make your own HTML emails:

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<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
 
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
 
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>
 
</head>
 
<body>
    <table width="100%" style="max-width: 600px;">
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Hi Anne,</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae feugiat ex. Donec eleifend viverra justo. Nam velit arcu, imperdiet sed ante sed, bibendum finibus erat. Maecenas ut elementum odio.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris est lectus, fermentum nec turpis at, dictum eleifend dolor.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Heading 1</td>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Heading 2</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Pellentesque dui magna, maximus ut diam eu, aliquam vehicula sapien. Suspendisse sed auctor libero. Integer id velit consectetur.</td>
            <td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Sed in euismod odio. Mauris pulvinar sem erat, vitae suscipit nisl tincidunt a. Vivamus sed tempus metus, at dignissim ligula.</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px;">Best regards,</td>
        </tr>
        <tr>
            <td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px;">John Doe</td>
        </tr>
    </table>
</body>
 
</html>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>

</head>

<body>
	<table width="100%" style="max-width: 600px;">
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Hi Anne,</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris vitae feugiat ex. Donec eleifend viverra justo. Nam velit arcu, imperdiet sed ante sed, bibendum finibus erat. Maecenas ut elementum odio.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px; padding-bottom: 10px;">Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Mauris est lectus, fermentum nec turpis at, dictum eleifend dolor.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Heading 1</td>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 20px; color: #f26012; padding-top: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Heading 2</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 45%;">Pellentesque dui magna, maximus ut diam eu, aliquam vehicula sapien. Suspendisse sed auctor libero. Integer id velit consectetur.</td>
			<td style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 45%;">Sed in euismod odio. Mauris pulvinar sem erat, vitae suscipit nisl tincidunt a. Vivamus sed tempus metus, at dignissim ligula.</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 10px;">Best regards,</td>
		</tr>
		<tr>
			<td width="100%" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; font-size: 17px; color: #333333; padding-top: 6px; padding-bottom: 10px;">John Doe</td>
		</tr>
	</table>
</body>

</html>

Tables

All the content of the email is contained within a table with each paragraph of text being placed in its own table row:

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<tr></tr>
<tr></tr>

Where text is in two columns the table row contains two table data cells:

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<td></td>
<td></td>

Each cell contains the column’s text. The columns are given a width of 45% and floated left and right – note that a width of 50% wouldn’t give any spacing between the columns and therefore a smaller width is used.

Styling

Inline CSS is used throughout – CSS stylesheets are never used for HTML emails.

The table width is set to 100% and the max-width is also set to 600 pixels. This allows the email to be responsive – on large screens the email will be 600 pixels wide while on small screens such as smart phones the email will adjust to fill the width of the screen.

The text is styled to make it look good – the font-family, font-size, text colour and padding are all set using inline styles. These styles are applied to all table data cells.

For a full explanation please see this short video:

HTML Emails: Doctype, Metadata & Structure

We are in the process of making a short video series: ‘How To Create HTML Emails’. Part 3 of the series takes you through the HTML which can be used as a starting point when writing the code. We’ve included the code here so that you can copy and paste it if you want to get started making an HTML email quickly:

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<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
 
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">
 
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>
 
</head>
 
<body>
<!-- EMAIL CONTENT GOES HERE -->
</body>
 
</html>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional //EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en" xml:lang="en">

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"/>

</head>

<body>
<!-- EMAIL CONTENT GOES HERE -->
</body>

</html>

Coding an HTML email is actually quite straightforward, despite the reputation that it has being difficult. There are a few things that are different from creating an HTML webpage though…

Doctype

If you are writing HTML for a webpage in 2015 it’s likely that you’ll use HTML5. For HTML emails this is not the case – you’re coding for a large variety of email clients, many of which are outdated. It has been found that HTML 1.0 Transitional is the most reliable doctype to use.

Note that different email clients treat the doctype in different ways. Some strip out the doctype completely (including the Gmail Android App and Outlook 2010). Others respect the doctype that you set (iPad and iPhone Gmail Apps, Outlook Express and Thunderbird 6). Others strip out the doctype and replace it with XHTML 1.0 Strict (Gmail and Hotmail). This has a implications for testing which will be discussed at the end of the series – for now it is enough to know that XHTML 1.0 Transitional is the most reliable doctype.

Note that when we are working with XHTML we need to include an xmlns attribute in the opening html tag. We have also specified the language type here as it can be useful for screen readers and the sight-impaired.

Meta Data

We have included meta ‘Content Type’ so that we can set the character set as UTF8 – specifying as much as possible can be a good thing when writing code for the whole range of email clients.

Meta ‘Viewport’ as seen above sets the viewable area to the width of the device screen – this is essential if you want your email to be responsive. If your email is intended solely for desktop users then don’t include this line of code.

The final bit of meta data to set is the title tag - this is worth including because it is used by Outlook when people use the ‘View in Browser’ function and it can also appear in email preview snippets in some versions of Hotmail.

So that is all you need to know to get started making an HTML email – we’ll bet that it’s not as tricky as you thought. For full details see the 3 minute video:

 

 

 

 

Make Sure Real Emails Don’t Get Sent To Spam – Gmail 2015

All modern email clients come with a spam filter, including Gmail. This is generally a good thing because it prevents your inbox filling up with spam emails – instead spam emails get sent straight to your spam folder and don’t ever make it to your inbox.

Even though spam management in Gmail is very sophisticated it is still not foolproof – some spam still gets through to your inbox and sometimes real emails get sent to your spam folder by accident. If you receive a spam email in your inbox it’s not the end of the world – it’s pretty simple to delete it, or mark it as spam and move on. However, if you miss an important email that accidentally gets sent to your spam folder it can be a real nightmare.

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Whitelist The Email Address

Here we’ll show you how override Gmail’s spam filter for specific email addresses so that you will be sure emails from that address don’t accidentally get sent to spam… or if you’re reading this because you’ve missed an important email recently we’ll show you how to make sure it doesn’t happen again: you simply tell Gmail to whitelist an email address…

How To Whitelist An Email Address In Gmail

First login and select ‘Settings’:gmail1

Next navigate to ‘Filters’ and select ‘Create a new filter’:gmail2

Type the email address that you want to whitelist in the from field and select ‘Create filter with this search’:gmail3

Check the ‘Never send it to Spam’ checkbox and select ‘Create Filter’:gmail4

You’ll be taken back to settings where you can view the filter that you have set up – you can easily edit or delete the filter or add another:gmail5In the next few blog posts we’ll show you how to whitelist email addresses in other popular email clients such as Yahoo and Outlook.

New Feature – Take a Break

Some of our customers have requested a feature where members can take a break from receiving list emails rather than completely unsubscribe. We could see that this feature would be useful in a lot of situations…

For example, it’s fairly common for clubs or societies have an email list for their members – but membership of clubs and societies is rarely static – members come and go it’s not uncommon for some members sometimes leave a club and then rejoin at a later date. Rather than unsubscribe the member completely – it is possible to pause the delivery of their emails. If they rejoin at a later date you can resume the delivery of their emails in one click, rather than going through the subscription process again.

Human relationship with  computer communication timeout conceptWith this in mind we’ve listened to our customers and implemented a ‘take a break’ feature for list members. We’ve made it very easy to activate for both list managers and list members…

List Managers

Login to your Simplelists account, navigate to ‘list members’, select a member from the address book and tick the ‘pause delivery’ check-box. To restart delivery simply uncheck the box.

pause_deleivery1List Members

Visit http://archives.simplelists.com/ and if you aren’t logged in already enter your email address and you’ll be sent a confirmation email to your email address. Click on the link in the email which will take you to archives of your email lists. Simply select ‘pause delivery’ for the list that you want to take a break from. When you want to receive emails again you just click ‘resume delivery’ – simple!

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How to streamline your email routine to save a week each year

Email now takes up a significant part of almost everyone’s working day. If you spend more than an hour each day using email it makes a lot of sense to make your email routine as efficient as possible.

If you can save just 15 minutes a day on email you will free-up an hour and a quarter every working week, which is over 56 hours a year… that’s a time saving of over a full working week every year. If you can save an hour a day you will free-up a massive 28 working days in a year!

Macro shot of a watch workings

These figures may seem unbelievable at first but they are accurate when based on an eight hour working day, a 5 day working week and a 45 week working year.

So, how do you streamline your email routine to make it as efficient as possible?

1) Have set times for dealing with emails each day. Deal with your emails when you arrive at work and at the end of the day – set aside time for this in your daily routine. Close your email client for the rest of the day so that your emails don’t distract you from the work that needs to be done.

2) Use the two minute rule when sorting through your inbox. What’s the two minute rule? If you can reply to an email in under two minutes, do it straight away. Otherwise, mark it and come back to it after you have sorted through the rest of your inbox.

3) Use fixed responses if you regularly send similar emails. This can be a huge time-saver. For example, you might regularly type your address, a description of what you do or an email to thank people for payment. The next time you find yourself writing something that you feel you have written before, copy it for use in the future. Some email clients have settings to manage these, such as ‘canned responses’ in gmail. However, a simpler way to manage fixed responses is just to copy and paste each response into a notepad document and put them all in a folder in your desktop. This way, if you ever want to change email client you’ll still have all your fixed responses with you.

4) Unsubscribe from emails that you don’t want to receive… first time. Rather than just delete these emails take a few seconds to open the email, scroll down and click ‘unsubscribe’. This will cut down the number of emails that you receive and make sorting through your inbox quicker.

5) Send the spam to spam. Send spam emails straight to your spam folder and they won’t be a problem again. Before hitting spam though, check that the email is really spam – if it is as list you’ve signed up to or a marketing email from a company who you’ve bought something from, it is much better to unsubscribe.

6) Set up folders in your email client… and use them. Almost all email clients allow you to create folders in which to file emails. Using these is much better than storing old emails in your inbox as you’ll have a nice neat inbox which is easily managed. It also makes it easier to find old emails that slip past the search function of your email client.

7) Use filters to automatically apply actions to incoming emails. You can use filters to automatically put emails from specifc addresses into one of your folders. For example, if you receive a monthly newsletter that you like to read in your spare time you can automatically filter it to a ‘newsletters’ folder and read it when it suits you. These emails will never touch your inbox so you cut down on the amount of email sorting that needs to be done.

8) Use an email list service if you regularly send emails to the same group of people. Simply create an email list and you can send an email to the list email address direct from your email client as normal – the email will be received by the whole group. This can be a huge time saver because it saves you having to add everybody’s email addresses manually. Group email services also come with nice features such as: the ability to prevent members of the list seeing each others email addresses and including the name of an individual in the email (e.g. ‘Hi John’ rather than ‘Hi Everyone’). For more information see this two minute video.

9) Add a signature to all your emails. Most email clients come with a feature that allows you to automatically add a signature to your emails – use this to add a sign-off too. You’ll never have to think about how to end an email again.

If you think that any of these steps could streamline your email routine then make the change straight away – a little time spent now will save a huge amount of time in the future!

Email Spam and the Law – UK and Europe

If you take part in email marketing it’s worth taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the law on spam. The law in the UK (the US will be covered in the next post) regarding spam emails is relatively straightforward and spending a few minutes making sure that you understand what you can and can’t do will keep you on the right side of the tracks and help you avoid fines of up to £5000!

gavel email spam 3d Illustrations on a white background

Before starting though it is worth noting that email spamming is bad marketing – bad as an wrong, bad as in ineffective and bad as in counter-productive. Not only is it annoying for the receivers of spam emails to get their inbox filled with junk mail, it can also be detrimental to the sender. The image of a company that sends spam emails can be ruined, potential customers can be scared away and loyal customers can become annoyed and leave.

Don’t worry though – it is easy to use good email marketing practice by simply following a few simple guidelines. These will keep you on the right side of the law and enable you to build a thriving email campaign which improves your brand image and increases your customer base…

What is Spam Email?

To put it simply spam emails are emails that are sent without consent – the person who receives the emails didn’t ask for them.

It may sound strange that people must ask to receive emails before you can send them and although true, there are many ways that people can opt in to receive emails. The simplest way that consent can be given is for the person to tick a box that asks: ‘would you like to receive periodic emails from us’. However, this is not the only way…

Soft Opt-Ins

When people opt-in to receiving emails by taking an action other than specifically asking to receive emails it is known as a soft opt-in. There are a few well-tested and valid soft opt-ins that can be used with confidence:

  • The most common soft opt-in is when a customer has bought something from you they are considered to have opted in to receive emails. If someone enters negotiations or expresses an interest in buying something from you they are also considered to have opted in. It’s worth noting that this is not carte-blanche to email the customer about anything you like – your emails must only contain information about products and services that are similar to those which they purchased or expressed an interest.
  • Another case where it is considered that a person has opted in is if they have been given the option to refuse the right to use their contact details but they don’t. It’s worth noting that the right to refuse must not be hidden from them or be difficult to find – it should be prominent and easy to refuse.

Unsubscribe

When you send marketing emails there are several things that must be included in order to comply with the law:

  • You must include a valid email address to unsubscribe or opt-out of future emails.
  • You must make the identity of the sender clear

These are very easy to do and come as default when sending email to a list through Simplelists.

Businesses vs Individuals

A lot has been made of the fact that the law is different when marketing to businesses as opposed to individuals. It is not illegal to send unsolicited email to businesses, so in theory email could be sent without businesses opting-in. However, this is not recommended for a number of reasons:

  • When an person is emailed at their company address the email is considered to be to an individual NOT a business: e.g. anne.other@company.co.uk is an email to an individual.
  • When the business is a sole trader or partnership (as opposed to a limited company or organisation) the email will be considered to be to an individual.
  • If the content of the email is not related to the business but has subject matter related to an individual it is considered to be an email to an individual.

UK Law – EU Directive

Because Simplelists servers are based in the UK we’ve based this information on UK law. It’s worth noting that this is the UKs implementation of an EU directive and therefore the law throughout Europe is similar, although it might vary slightly from country to country. In the next post we’ll look at spam law in the US – if you’re sending marketing emails from the US this will be important for you.