Admail Blog

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

We've said many times on our blog and in our newsletter that your email database is your most valuable email marketing asset. We take list quality and management very seriously here, and while much of it is done behind the scenes, list management is a major part of what we do at Admail.net. We've recently developed a new list hygiene system that pushes list hygiene to the next level.

This new hygiene checks lists against an even larger database of records to keep your list as clean as possible and is designed for large lists that have been collected organically by users who want to ensure that they don't run into any issues during mailing. You may think that your list is above reproach, but in our many years of experience, we've seen lists, even from companies with household names, run into spam issues. These are companies that responsibly collect lists and have no reason to send spam. It's unfortunate, but because of how many spam protection organizations run their operations, even the most responsible mailer can run into issues if they don't have their list properly hygiened.

Our new hygiene service is designed to be the final step in cleaning the cleaning process and eliminates potential mailing issues. The process compares data against a comprehensive list of known spam-traps and honeypots, domains with bad mx records, and domains owned by individuals known to be over zealous about spam reporting. This service isn't necessarily for everyone, it's designed for users with very high quality lists that want to ensure that they don't run into ANY problems.

One major risk that many list owners are unaware of is the fact that old addresses, especially from Hotmail, can be extremely problematic. Some email providers will use inactive addresses as way of identifying spam mailers. Even if the address was good at one time, if it has been inactive long enough, you can be identified as a spammer. These old inactive addresses essentially become ticking time bombs on your mailing list. Along with our list hygiene, it's wise to keep track of list members who have interacted with your email over time by either opening or clicking through. If you see addresses that have been inactive for 6-12 months, we suggest removing these members from your list to prevent hitting them once they become spam traps.

By default, Admail does a basic list cleanup for every file upload. Known bad addresses, and other problematic email addresses are removed before the first email is ever sent. Once mailing begins, Admail tracks the results of all of your mailing activity. Unsubscribes are automatically made inactive on your list as are hard bounced. Soft bounces are monitored but not made inactive until they have bounced 3 times in a row. Admail also has relationships with most of the major email service providers which allow us to have feedback loops set up. This prevents unwanted issues when users mark a message as "spam" rather than using the unsubscribe button.

Admail is one of the few email marketing service providers that will work with customers who have a troubled list. Our compliance department works hard to understand each customer's business and the source of their list so we can head off any potential problems. We have a strict terms of service that we expect all of our clients to uphold, but we also build relationships with our clients which prevent issues that might occur with larger mailers.

If you feel that your list meets the situation we described and you'd like to discuss using the new list hygiene feature, please contact us today. Depending on the size of the list, we will quote you a price. Email us now at sales@admail.net or call us during business hours at 800-479-6233.

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Mon, Jul 29, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Design, Email Marketing

Outlook 2013 has arrived and with it many email designers had hoped that Microsoft would reform some of their old layout breaking ways. The consensus is, unfortunately, that they have not moved in a particularly positive direction as far as rendering email is concerned. Microsoft is still using Word to render email and they continue to ignore many email rendering standards causing marketers and designers everywhere to pull out their hair.

We've been digging into the Outlook 2013 program and we're aware of quite a few issues that will affect email already. Below I'll list some of the major ones, but the hiccups probably aren't limited to what I've found. Our designers are working hard to find every issue, but testing, as usual, will be the only real way to know what your email will look like on the other end.

Lists are not allowed: If you've been designing email using lists, (html tags ul, ol) they will no longer appear correctly. You can achieve a similar effect now by using a "-" in front of a list item and then relying on traditional formatting to give each item their own line.

GIFs won't play: Outlook 2013 will only show the first frame of a GIF, it will not allow animation. If you want to use GIFs, make sure the first frame gets the point across without requiring the additional frames.

Links may be ugly: Outlook doesn't support text decoration styles and according to reports, links will ignore any attempts at formatting and appear in the standard bright blue and underlined style. This could be particularly annoying depending on the background colors you decide to use.

Problems viewing this email?: Outlook 2013 has included a "problems viewing this email" link to allow you to view messages in a web browser, probably because their own program does such a poor job of displaying HTML code. Curiously, it downloads the source HTML and displays it locally on your machine. Admail.net still includes our own "problems viewing" link which provides an archived version hosted on our servers.

No background images: If you ever wondered why you can't use background images, you can mostly blame Outlook. On the one hand it prevents some really nice design options, on the other hand it prevents 1992 style tiled backgrounds from appearing in email, so we're kind of torn on this one.

Outlook will ignore images with a 1x1 dimension: Unlikely to be a problem for most users, but if you're using an image as a spacer, we've heard reports that a 1x1 image will be ignored completely.

Table cells with a height less than 15px will be bumped up to 15px in height: A curious and potentially layout breaking issue, this can lead to major problems if ignored.

Outlook.com disables any 'mailto:' links: Mailto links, which are meant to be clicked on to conveniently compose a new email message, don't work in Outlook 2013. The program ignores the mailto code and won't take any action when a mailto link is clicked on.

Padding and margin issues: Padding in paragraph and div tags, as well as margin top and bottom styles, do not function.

Page breaks past 1600px: Email displayed in Outlook 2013 automatically inserts a page break at 1600px. This is apparently caused by being rendered in Word. If you plan to do a email that is taller than that, prepare yourself for an awkward break. At this time, there doesn't appear to be anything that can be done about it.

These are the standout issues we have come across in the 2013 iteration of Outlook so far. Our designers are probably finding more even as I write this. If you are worried about issues such as the ones listed above, please do testing of your email in multiple email clients before you send it out. It truly is the only way to know for sure. We will be keeping our eyes on the problems listed here, tracking down more, and looking for solutions so we can help you deal with them. Please contact us if you have any questions. We're here to help.

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Mon, Jul 22, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

IP monitoring is an important part of successful email marketing that many mailers are unfamiliar with. To put it simply, from the moment you begin to send email from an IP, it begins to gain an email "reputation". This reputation can drastically affect the chance that any email sent from the IP reaches the intended recipients inbox.

For the common person who only sends personal email to friends, colleagues, and other addresses, IP reputation isn't a concern. Low volume personal email is very unlikely to cause an IP to gain a poor reputation. That all changes when someone begins sending bulk email. "Bulk", in this case, really just means anything over the average amount of mail a personal email account would send. Whether that be hundreds or thousands of emails, the risk of damage to a mailing IP starts to increase exponentially. Once an IP reputation starts to become clouded, a mailer will quickly begin to see a decrease in deliverability. If the IP reputation isn't repaired, success in mailing can grind to a halt.

Professional IP monitoring is one of the major reasons that many mailers come to a service like Admail.net. Even if you're only sending 500 emails a month from an account, without IP monitoring, you'll likely run into problems sooner than later.

At Admail, we have a trained staff who monitor all of our IPs around the clock to ensure the best deliverability possible. They deal with IP reputation issues as they arise and ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible to ensure your campaigns remain successful. Admail has 15 years of experience dealing with IP reputation and we've built the relationships and knowledge base necessary to handle any problem.

Admail also has a system of tiered IPs in place that protect the mailing success of all of our users. Clients are placed on the appropriate tier of IPs based on their list quality, mailing history, and content. If a client begins to damage the reputation of an IP range, their account can quickly be moved from those IPs and evaluated. Mailers who approach list growth and mailing responsibly over time are moved to more exclusive tiers of IPs. This tiered approach protects all of our clients and allows responsible mailers to maintain the highest levels of deliverability while allowing us to be more flexible with mailers who may make a mistake.

Admail prides itself on working closely with our customers to understand their situations and needs. We know most of clients personally and work to achieve their goals. Speaking with our clients gives us insight into where their lists comes from and how they plan to mail to it. We evaluate all this information and use it to evaluate potential IP reputation risks. Our relationships allow us to serve all of our customers better.

If you have more questions about Admail.net or the specifics of our IP monitoring system, please feel free to contact us at support@admail.net. Thank you!

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Mon, Jul 22, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Best Practices, Design, Email Marketing, Sending Email, Tips

Sometimes being "digital marketing" makes email seem like a new and complicated way to market a business, but the truth is that email marketing is by no means a new territory. Marketers have been leveraging email as a marketing tool since the early days of the internet. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts, white papers, books, and every other type of guide on how to send successful email marketing campaigns. Each inevitably gives a different flavor of advice tempered with their own experiences and biases. There are, despite the large quantity of informational sources, basic rules that nearly every advice giver can agree on. I've covered most of them before in this blog, but it can never hurt to reiterate some of the basics. Today I'll reveal some of the "secrets" of sending email marketing campaigns.

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Wed, May 29, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Design, Email Marketing, HTML

Designing email for a mobile market is among the most pressing issues in email marketing today.

This is an obvious truth for everyone in the email marketing business, but the question you are probably asking yourself is, "How do I deal with it?"

To have success with email marketing, your message must be attractive and functional on many platforms. The number of users reading email on their mobile devices is already at a substantial 40% (at least), a percentage that we believe will continue to increase.

Some email marketing services have adopted the idea that responsive design is the best way to prepare email for mobile devices. When an email is designed to be responsive, it will display differently depending on the display size of the device. In order to know the size of the device, a certain type of code called a media query must be used. Media queries are functional on most mobile platforms.

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Media queries are successful on most devices, but only if your list members are using a relatively up-to-date version of their chosen platform. Responsive design and media queries can make even the most complicated templates look great on mobile. We use responsive design in our very own website, but the unfortunate truth is that design for email is much different than modern website design.

Admail.net supports responsive design through our upload HTML feature. We believe that if you're going to tackle this emerging technology, you should have someone on staff with the ability to write the code themselves. This is important with responsive design because complications can and will arise. Problems can occur when displaying responsive designs on non-mobile platforms and in third party mobile email applications. Media queries are often not supported in these cases and responsive design may appear in a way you may not expect.

That is why we have chosen not to take the leap to responsive design and why we are holding off on making our templates fully responsive. Our templates already display beautifully on mobile devices without using responsive design or media query. Customers can rest assured that we have a finger on the pulse of mobile email design and we're keeping a close eye on all of the changes. We're more than happy to support our customers who do want to dabble in responsive design, but we're sticking with what works consistently for now. We know that the mobile platform is growing and here to stay. It's a big part of our development plans moving forward.

In lieu of responsive design, there are traditional ways of making your email mobile friendly. A few simple methods are listed below:

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Mon, Apr 15, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

Writing HTML for email is simple, but that can make it tricky. Confused yet? Let me explain.

Many designers make the mistake of trying to write HTML for email the same way they would for a webpage. Unfortunately, email programs today do not support the same standard of HTML code as web browsers. Code that works perfectly fine in any modern web browser frequently breaks when looked at as an email. Fortunately, writing HTML for email is simple. Anyone who can write HTML with moderate skill should be able to put together a functional email.

Simplicity, as previously mentioned, is the key to writing effective email HTML. Forget what you know about designing a web page, throw out your style sheets and cozy up to using lots tables. The standard for email HTML at this time is non-complicated table layouts with basic inline styles.

Designers should write HTML as if they were designing a web page 8-10 years ago. Things that won't work include, selectors and CSS inheritance. Advanced CSS tricks can be attempted, but cautiously. The more complicated the email becomes, the more chance there is for it to break in front of your customers. It really depends on where your readers will receive your email. There are some situations where risks are worth it and others where it's not. That's a decision for you to make.

Writing HTML for email is as simple as that. It may be counter intuitive for skilled web designers, but it certainly shouldn't be a challenge. If you are an HTML beginner, this is even something you could do. Writing a basic email is probably better than attempting to use an HTML editor or trying to export HTML from Microsoft Word.

Testing is the final stage and it's a very important one. It's how you verify that your exercise in simplicity has produced a quality product. The more testing that you do, the better off you will be while you start to learn to write HTML for email. Don't forget that mobile readers are extremely important these days making up around 45% of reads!

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Thu, Mar 21, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services, Best Practices, Sending Email

The first goal of any email marketer is to get their email into the inbox of their list members. This seems like it a relatively simple task, but there is a major obstacle in the way. That obstacle is SPAM filters. They are designed to protect recipients from being overwhelmed with unsolicited and unwanted email, but often, they block desired or harmless emails unintentionally.

The problem arises when SPAM filters go too far. Recently, there has been a significant upturn in legitimate mail being categorized as spam. This is happening to a wide demographic of email users and has affected email from countless sources. Even companies that are sending mail to paying subscribers have had their email land in the spam box along side unsolicited offers of natural male enhancement.

This highlights a serious problem that exists with SPAM filters at their very core. They are designed to adapt to user activity and to become better at filtering out SPAM from legitimate mail, but it turns out that accurate filtering is an almost impossible task. With such inconsistent filter accuracy, what happens when someone actually wants to get an email about the little blue pill or receive correspondence from foreign royalty? If your message happens to be similar to whatever topic is trending from the SPAMbot mailers that week, you may find yourself unjustly and unavoidably buried in the SPAM box.

In every campaign, some email sent will end up filtered into SPAM. I am a Spotify subscriber and I pay a monthly fee for their service. I am most definitely interested in the email that they send me and have never marked it as SPAM, yet for some reason, their recent messages have ended up in my gmail SPAM folder. It's really difficult to pin down exactly why. It's possible they are sending too much email to people who aren't interested and those people are marking it as SPAM instead of unsubscribing, or maybe their content or subject line are matching up with some recent SPAM language.

SPAM filters are not standardized. What is filtered in one email program may not be in another. If we continue with the example of gmail, we know that their SPAM folders are designed to react to how users interact with the email they receive. Gmail takes note of actions performed on mail from specific senders and certain content over time. Based on the perception of how important or unimportant a piece of mail is to you, they attempt to rank each email message. If it ranks poorly enough, into SPAM it goes. It's also clear that Gmail monitors recipients and content that is marked as SPAM throughout their whole network, taking other users interactions into account as well as the primary account user.

Looking at how just one email service provider handles SPAM highlights the complexity of how SPAM filters operate as a whole. Every web mail system on the planet has it's own specific system and there are a nearly infinite number of ways mail can filtered in home and offices. Just comparing the methods of one IT professional to the next shows that each SPAM filter has the potential to be very different.

The unfortunate truth is that landing in the SPAM box occasionally is a reality of email marketing. Even if you send the best content to the best list, it's possible that you will have issues. Someone may mark your email as SPAM instead of unsubscribing, or you might even land in spam because you send an unfortunately timed campaign for trips to Bermuda the same week that overseas SPAMbots chose trips to Bermuda as their high volume SPAM gimmick of the day. It's not to say you shouldn't aim for the inbox, but perfection is an unachievable goal.

Email marketing, like all marketing, isn't an exact science. There are unavoidable risks along the way. You can avoid a great deal of risk by producing quality content, remaining familiar with email marketing and SPAM trends, and collecting and maintaining your list properly. Even the best email marketers however, will end up in the SPAM box. It's not the end of the world. What many email marketers forget is that email marketing is relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing. When a few dollars allows you to send to 1,000 people, losing a few emails to the spam box is much more tolerable risk.

Our recommendation is to dedicate your time to content creation for your customers. You should keep an eye on what successful email marketers are doing and an even closer eye on what marketing is failing. It's actually one of the good uses of your SPAM box! Look at what you see there and if your emails are using similar language, layout, or subject lines, you'll know that you need to make a change. One of the best tips an email marketer can get is to cling tightly to common sense. Know you medium and know your audience and you will be sure to have success. Remember that they are your clients and you know them best. Give them what they want and you'll be generating too much interest to be worried about SPAM folders.

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Fri, Mar 1, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

Statistics show that in only a few years, more people will open email on mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers.

According to most reports, 42% of email is currently read on a mobile device. Mobile email is the most important way that email is evolving and one of the main reasons why it is more relevant today than ever. One thing is abundantly clear, in order to get the most of your email marketing, you have to not only keep mobile devices in mind, but focus on them.

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Tue, Jan 29, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

The Admail.net team has just returned from Las Vegas and another great PPAI Expo. We spent the week talking and listening to current and potential customers and one thing is for sure, QR Codes are still a hot topic for many business men and women.

Mobile smartphone adoption continues and will undoubtedly continue to increase as time goes on and QR codes seem to be the go to option when it comes to quick access to the Internet. It's simple to scan a code with a phone and immediately access anything online. Because of this unique ability, QR codes are very attractive to many marketing teams.

We saw this coming long ago and that is why we have spent a great deal of time researching and integrating QR codes into Admail.net.

Today, QR codes can be used even more effectively and easily with Admail. Our new sign up forms are all linked with a QR code as soon as they are created. This allows all of our customers, no matter their level of technical expertise, to use QR codes to build their email list. The sign up forms are easy to customize and can be quickly created and used to offer sign up incentives. The same QR codes created here can be downloaded and used on print materials or anywhere customers see fit.

Admail.net is pressing forward with many changes, including further integration of social media platforms into our system, as well as many other new features. As we move forward, we will continue to focus on QR codes as an important tool for our customers. We believe they are invaluable when used correctly to grow an email list organically and publicize brands, products, and organizations. We hope to be more hands one with our customers QR code integration in the future and encourage any of our customers to contact us to discuss their QR code plans. We will always be happy to help and have great understand of QR codes and experience using them successfully ourselves.

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Tue, Jan 29, 2013 | Author: Dan Lukens | Categories: Admail Services

Whether you are a long time user or completely new to Admail.net, there are probably useful sections of the site that you aren't familiar with. Admail is full featured and there are tools that may help you improve your results that you might be missing.

Interest Groups: Possibly the most useful feature on Admail.net. This is how you will segment your list so you can send to smaller groups. Master interest groups and you'll be able to achieve much more with you list. Once an interest group is created, new uploads can be added to it immediately from the upload page.

QR Codes: We've had a QR code generator on the site for some time, but with the re-design of our sign up forms, they are more relevant than ever. You can no create a QR code when you generate the link to your sign up form so you can use it in advertising or to print out at a physical location.

Target Filters: This feature is somewhat hidden, mainly because it's for a bit of an advanced user. While most accounts have access to it, it is rarely used. Target filters allow you to target a mailing based on data that you've uploaded with your list. It's always best to include as much information as possible when you do an upload (as long as it's reasonable!) because then you can use target filters if need be. Target filters can also be used to target emails by uncommon data values like shoe size when paired with custom fields.

Multiple Sign-Up Forms: A new feature, multiple sign up forms is a new way to change your sign up for based on where it will exist, or who will access it. Now you can have a different sign up for for every website you manage, or one for in your store and a different one on your website. This allows you to have specific theming, message, and even different incentives.

Video User Guides: Probably the least well guarded secret of the lot, our video user guides are a library of knowledge about the Admail.net system. They exist for nearly every feature including all of the features (except multi-forms which is coming soon!) listed previously. The most valuable page on the site for new users, go from a novice to a master in 2-5 minutes on any Admail topic.

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