Remember that weird feeling when Google Docs first launched, and you could see your colleague editing your words right in front of you? If you’re like me, your first reaction was “Seriously, you think YOUR phrase is better than mine? OK… yeah, it kinda is.”
Or the moment you realized you would never have to add a suffix like “v1_Final_ForRealThisTime_2” to any of your files again?
It was likely a mix of thrill and novelty. Maybe prior to this the only ‘live collaboration’ you ever experienced was your IT guy remotely taking control of your desktop and installing that malware you needed. But perhaps most exciting was knowing that it was a new era of work, one that transitioned from an era of iterations and isolation to an era of instant results and collaboration.
The Three Waves of Collaboration
There have been a few defining waves of collaboration in the workplace in recent memory that have led to today’s ubiquity of tools that make teams of all sizes work faster together.
The first wave was the digitization of everything from documents to phone calls.
Second, the accomodation of global workforces and work-from-anywhere cultures.
Third, and most recently, the need for real-time results and instant gratification.
Not too long ago I was sending printed out paper documents to my colleagues, awaiting their notes and comments, incorporating them back into my first iteration, and repeating the process until both sides were satisfied. Today, I receive a link to a Google Doc in Slack and then jump right in with my team, hammer out the perfect message, and then move on in a matter of minutes.
Today’s workplace tools bridge gaps (geographic or otherwise) to get projects done. It turns slow moving teams into efficient ones. Geographically dispersed teams into neighbors. Outsourced teams (like agencies and freelancers) into integrated ones.
These tools can be broken down into three distinct categories:
Communication: Instant messaging and group messaging has finally landed in the office, and even though the category leader Slack was founded less than a decade ago, it’s almost unheard of not to have some sort of IM capabilities in your company. The same is true of video chat tools like Zoom and Google Meet. Communication is instant and it’s team based.
Project Management: Some of us might still have a paper to-do list, or the endless post-it notes that seem to always spread over onto our neighbors desk (sorry Ayhan), but tools like Asana and Trello have forever changed how teams collaborate on projects. Instant updates, notifications, comments, and timelines have made the task of planning and monitoring projects a team-based activity.
Creation: Finally, all tools devoted to creation, whether that’s coding, writing, designing, or emailing, is shifting towards collaboration. Just as Google Docs and Dropbox has changed how teams work on documents, Github has changed how dev teams code and debug, and Figma has changed how teams design apps and websites. At Mailjet, we’re focused on changing how teams create and send emails.
So, am I just a guy passionate about teamwork? OK, I’ll admit I’m a stickler for efficiency, but it’s more about the fact that I now work in email which seems to be the last industry to get the memo that times are changing.
The thing is (warning: rant about to start) that email is inherently a team-based activity. Even medium sized companies can have as many as eight different people involved in an email template from designers to copy writers to developers to CRM managers. Beyond that, companies often have different types of emails like transactional, automation, and marketing and different teams devoted to each.
And while these teams are communicating on Slack or Yammer, managing projects in Asana or Trello, and creating content in Google Docs or Dropbox – they are sending email in a static environment not build for collaboration. They build in isolation, not synchronization.
Mailjet is a Collaboration Tool
We’ve heard this story over and over again from customers – as workplaces come to expect real-time and instant results from communications, projects, and content creation, they are stuck dealing with iterations and slow feedback in email creation. We felt this pain ourselves sending our weekly newsletters with our Mailjet marketing team spread across five countries and 4 time zones.
That’s why we focused 2018 on making emails faster for teams.
Think of all the features you love about Google Docs, packed into email (plus way way more). To give you an idea of just a few of the features, we’ll show you how we put together this week’s newsletter to keep our audience informed on our latest blogs, videos, and product releases.
On any other ESP (or on Mailjet a couple of months ago) to build this newsletter we would have had to take turns going into the email builder to do our separate parts, close the app, and inform our colleagues that the email is ready for editing. It was tedious, redundant, and not at all how a modern businesses should work. Today – the entire edit occured in one place.
Bea (in London, UK) added some comments in the app so that I could jump right into an edit when he got back from my amazing lunch in Toronto, Canada.
Aline, the designer, locked different sections so that no one messed with her beautiful images.
Michyl, our Head of Marketing Communication, was assigned the final approval role so that no email could be sent without her permission.
We don’t want email teams to feel stuck in the pre-collaboration era ever again, and we expect this is just the beginning of how email will move towards team-based creation. On top of live collaboration, comments, and permissions, we have also released Role Management capabilities to assign the ideal roles to each team member, and the ability to track changes to templates.
As mentioned above, the third and most recent wave of collaboration has brought on the need for real-time results and instant gratification. It’s no longer about just working together, or even working together across borders and timezones, it’s about getting to the needed result immediately. As email continues to be a key channel for marketing teams to engage their audience, it’s more important than ever to help email marketers get their desired results immediately. To us, this means easier live collaboration, ability to comment and communicate right in the interface, to make templates as easily accessible and recoverable as possible.
As the workplace changes, so too does how we work. Mailjet is about to change how emailers work.
Let us know how your team emails, what pain points still persist for your team, in what way does email still feel trapped in 2010?
So you’re sick and tired of hearing about your beautiful emails landing in spam? We’re glad you checked in. If you’re responsible for your organization’s email campaigns, you’re probably constantly thinking about how to avoid spam filters, spam words, and always landing in the inbox.
It can be a stressful and tedious job, but once you take a step back you’ll see that there is a clear and easy way to stop email from going to the junk folder.
We get it – there’s nothing we hate more than seeing great email go to waste.
Almost 25% of email marketers now cite deliverability as one of their main barriers to effective marketing – an increase of 5% in two years, and yet only 6% of marketers are focusing on solving this issue.
There’s no point spending time crafting great content if your messages are never seen.
In this article, we’ll help you start off on the right foot and land your email to its intended destination. We’ll first help you understand what email spam is, what tactics you can employ to avoid the spam folder, what words and phrases to avoid, and finally how to run spam filter tests.
What is Email Spam and Junk Email?
Spam, or junk email, refers to malicious, unrequested email sent by “spammers” who want something from you, want to do something to you (e.g. attack your computer with a virus).
Of course there’s a difference between spam and spam folders, which is the repository of all things that email clients and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) consider spam. Not everything in the spam folder is malicious, and in fact a lot of it isn’t. That’s why it’s important to adhere to best practices to avoid being marked as spam yourself.
Malicious content has been all but removed by ISPs, who have strengthened their filters in the past few years. In the early 2000s, you were probably still dealing with nonsense in your inbox and it probably made you hate your inbox a little bit. Today though it’s unlikely that a true spam email will ever make it through to the inbox.
That said, it’s easier than ever for consumers to mark emails as spam through one-click buttons on clients like Gmail which will then store future email from this sender in the junk folder.
Email Deliverability Definitions
Spam filter definition
There are a lot of checks that happen when an email goes through the server. ISPs (such as Gmail, Yahoo, AOL) have put filters in place to protect spam or malicious email from landing in a recipients’ inbox.
One thing to keep in mind is that deliverability is different from delivery. The two sound very similar, but shouldn’t be confused.
Deliverability rate is calculated as how many emails are inboxed out of the total sent. Delivery rate actually includes all email accepted by the ISP, which includes email that lands in the spam folder.
You can have a 100% delivery rate, but if your deliverability rate is only 45%, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to communicate with your customers.
Soft bounce definition
A soft bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender, but only for temporary delivery issues. This can be because the user’s inbox is full, the server is down or the message is too big for the recipient’s inbox. GIFs are a great way of increasing engagement in your emails, but make sure they’re not too big!
Hard bounce definition
A hard bounce is when an email is sent back to the sender because it couldn’t be delivered for permanent reasons. It could be that the email address was typed incorrectly, or a fake one was entered because the subscriber was more interested in receiving the perk or offer for signing up than receiving your email.
This is why it’s always helpful to set up double opt-in.
How to get my emails delivered to the inbox instead of the spam folder
How to stop emails from going to the spam folder
There are several best practices and tips that you can follow to improve your reputation and deliverability. We created a free white paper that lists 34 factors that can impact your deliverability, but also highlighted the top tips to follow and adopt here:
✓ Use a custom domain email address that is linked to your website. You will then be able to setup DKIM & SPF, which will allow for email authentication by the recipient servers.
✓ Ensure your website is active and running. Sending email from an address that is linked to an inactive or blank website will make ISPs suspicious.
✗ Do not purchase, borrow or copy any third party contact lists. Not only do these types of lists typically contain many spam traps and poor quality email addresses, it is against our sending policy. Note: A spam trap is an email address that is not used for communication and it should never receive emails; if it does receive email, then it is automatically considered to be spam
✓ Develop good quality contact lists by collecting email addresses via an opt-in from your website. A double opt-in process is recommended to eliminate mis-typed or fake email addresses.
✓ Regularly update and clean your contact lists. Monitor your mailing results, and remove older non-engaging or blocked email addresses. Focus on the people who are most interested in your newsletters.
✗ Do not use ALL CAPITALIZED WORDS in your subject line or body.
✗ Avoid using spammy type words (‘Free’, ‘Sale’, ‘Cash’, ‘Limited Time Offer’, etc). (more on words to avoid below)
✓ Keep your subject line between 35 to 50 characters long. The longer your subject line, the more likely it will be flagged as spam.
✓ Send content that your subscribers have signed up for and are expecting. If you send non-relevant content, your subscribers may mark you as a spammer. And the more people that open your newsletters, the better your reputation
✓ Send your newsletters consistently.
Advice on how to send bulk email without spamming
Sending bulk email that consistently lands in the inbox unfortunately can be a pretty frustrating process, especially if you’re not staying on top of your lists, campaigns, and sending processes.
That’s what Mailjet is here for, to not only optimize our platform for world class deliverability, but also to arm our customers with the latest tips and best practices to ensure deliverability.
Monitor Your Contact Lists
We’ll begin where we often begin when it comes to email: your contact lists. The first place we look when a customer is having deliverability issues is their contact lists to determine (1) where these contacts came from, (2) if and how they are engaging with the content, and (3) whether the lists are being cleaned frequently.
If it hasn’t been stated enough – avoid buying lists or scraping the web for emails…at all costs. Not only will your deliverability suffer reducing the reach of your emails to legitimate audiences but in a world increasingly concerned about data privacy, and in fact governments that are cracking down on this heavily, the only best practice here is to build your list organically.
Next, pay attention to how your users are engaging with your content. What are their open rates, bounce rates, and blocks. Without consistent oversight, it’s easy to let the these numbers drift upwards and consequently see your deliverability drift downwards.
While some users who no longer want or need to receive your messages will unsubscribe, more often than not your subscribers will start ignoring your email, maybe even marking them as spam, or the inbox provider like Gmail and Outlook will start to filter out your messages on their users’ behalf.
As a result, the onus is on you to clean your lists and keep those open rates and deliverability rates moving up and to the right.
To do this, you can use Mailjet’s Segmentation feature to identify those users who haven’t opened your emails in a few months, or those who are marking it as spam.
Brands that keep their lists clean can actually see an increase in not only open rates but also total opens as a result of better deliverability.
Email Authentication with SPF, DKIM, DMARC
Trust and permission is at the center of a successful email marketing strategy which makes it one of the most powerful marketing channels.
As a result, to avoid the spam folder, you need to prove to inbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook – the gatekeepers to your audience – that you are, in fact….you. Think of inbox providers as bouncers at a bar, they only care about two things: (1) do you have identification, and (2) are you worthy of connecting with crowd inside.
In order to get passed the bouncer, you don’t need to slip a fake ID and a $20 bill, it’s a little more complex than that. Here are a few things to consider to authenticate your email, prove who you are, and get past the spam filters:
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – is an email validation protocol designed to detect and block email spoofing by providing a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP Address authorized by that domain’s administrators.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) – an email authentication method designed to detect email spoofing. It is a way to sign and verify email messages at the message transfer agent (MTA) level using public and private keys. The public keys are published in DNS TXT records. DKIM authenticates the source and its contents.
Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) – an email-validation system designed to detect and prevent email spoofing. It is intended to combat certain techniques often used in phishing and email spam, such as emails with forged sender addresses that appear to originate from legitimate organizations.
To setup your SPF & DKIM records, you will need to copy the SPF & DKIM values from your Mailjet account to your DNS records for the domain you want to authenticate.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen ISPs become a bit smarter and have started to move away from more traditional spam alarms.
Today, ISPs learn from how we interact with the messages that arrive in our inbox, which helps them determine whether emails should go to the Spam folder or land safely in our inbox.
So what does this means for words you should (and should not) be including in subject lines, then? Well, words tend to be misleading, thus resulting in higher-than-normal user complaint rates. These complaints, along with poor interaction from recipients have a negative effect on the sender reputation and, ultimately, impact the deliverability of future messages.
Just imagine how many times you have received a subject line that includes the word “Free”. How many times has there actually been something that’s truly free in the email? Probably very few, which explains why now, when you read the word “Free” in your inbox, you generally just roll your eyes at a not-so-subtle attempt to get you to open a deceiving email.
And if people do open the email and then find that there’s actually nothing really free there, senders can expect a high rate of user complaints like spam reports and unsubscribes that will impact their future inbox placement.
If you are looking to avoid those words that will trigger spam filters, we’ve got you covered. Below are some common spam lingo to help protect you from using them yourself and being mistaken for a spammer, or worse, a phisher.
The word “invoice” is a phisher’s favorite – if you see this word in a subject line, there’s a chance they’re trying to bait you in. Make sure to check the sender address to verify the email’s validity. email@example.com is not the same as firstname.lastname@example.org. Scammers try to profit out of our carelessness.
PayPal, Visa/MasterCard or any bank name
Again a case where a legitimate name can be used for phishing.
Scammers often try to impersonate financial institutions by sending emails with the same color scheme and layout, redirecting to a mirrored site made to look almost exactly like the one it is spoofing.
As a consumer, follow the same steps above, verifying the sender address and domain name. As a marketer, use authentication tools DKIM and SPF to prevent spoofers from hurting your reputation.
Lottery, Free Gift, Prize
This is one you always see in your spam folder. Hundreds of thousands of emails are sent to people with a subject line claiming that they’ve just won a big prize or that they’ve been selected for a sweepstakes you’ve never entered before. You have to be very gullible to fall for that one, yet scammers still send these by the millions since they are quick and easy to send. If it’s too good to be true, then it is. When you craft your emails, don’t give your customers a chance to ask themselves this question and certainly don’t let the ISP ask this question.
Urgent, Desperate, Please Help
Variations of this “damsel in distress” scheme have made appearances over the years, where phishers pretend to be an affluent person from a far away country, who, being chased by wrongdoers, is forced to flee to a safe haven. For some reason they have chosen you as the sole trustee of all their money and they promise great rewards for helping them open an account with a specific bank so that they can transfer their funds. These spammers are the butt of many jokes, avoid these words to avoid being on the wrong end of the joke.
Casino/Free Spins/Deposit Bonus
Gambling spammers often send out campaigns that promise high return, free entry or double deposits. If it’s not a website you recognize, then straight to the spam folder it goes.
Here are some examples of specific words you want to be cautious of using:
How to prevent email from going to spam: Use spam checkers or spam filters testing
What is a Spam Checker or a Spam Filter Test?
Even if you follow all of the above best practices, inevitably you may have missed something, or even more likely is that there might be something going on that you could have never caught with the naked eye. In fact, 70% of emails show at least one spam-related issue that could impact deliverability.
That’s why it’s so important to run spam tests to check the potential of your email being delivered to both the ISP and the ultimate inbox.
Unlike your naked eye, or even your picky colleagues’ eye, a spam test reviews your email to determine whether different spam filters will flag it and keep it out of inboxes.The test looks at everything from the content of your email, subject lines, where you are sending it from, and your domains reputation. To use our bouncer analogy from before, it’s like showing up hours before the evening gets started to have your bouncer pre-approve you for access. It might not always work but it certainly gives you some assurances you didn’t have before.
How Do I Run A Spam Test?
If you’re using an Email Service Provider like Mailjet to send emails, then your best bet is something called a seed list. A seed list is a list of internal emails you can send a test email to, such as co-workers, family members or friends.
Ideally, you’ll want the email address to cover a range of email clients and devices, so you can check if it makes it through the different email spam filters.
Using Mailjet, before you send your email to the masses, you can send a test email that not only tests for spam filters (like Gmail spam filters) but also is a great way to test for email responsiveness in different clients. To best use seed lists though, there are many services designed just for this purpose such as Litmus, Email on Acid, and many more.
Each of these tools will provide you with a seed list of email addresses that you can cut and paste into your test email and send out to identify any issues with landing in the inbox. Spam testers will test for the following flags:
Email Server Reputation
Sender Email Address
Sender IP address
Email Server Configuration
Email Content and Subject Line
As examples, both Email on Acid and Litmus are email optimization tools which include a spam filter test. Using any spam tester, alongside Mailjet, you can test your emails using the following easy step-by-step process:
Create your email and of course first check for any red flags in the content, subject line, and contact list
Once you think you’re ready to send, click on Send a Test Email
In your Spam Testing tool, select Start a New Spam Test or Start Spam Test
Copy and Paste all of the seed contacts that Litmus generates into Mailjet
Send your test email
Go back to your Spam Test Tool to identify any spam warnings and understand how you can continue to optimize your campaign to ensure maximum deliverability.
These services will send your emails through all the major spam filters before sending to make sure that they pass the first test.
Then it will check your sender reputation by looking at your IP addresses and any domain names used in your email.
There are many known blacklists and if your reputation is at all compromised or flagged, you’ll get a notification before sending.Next it will verify that your email authentication, such as DKIM, DomainKeys, SenderID, and Sender Policy Framework, is set up properly.
Finally, some services even provide you with a spam score, so you can compare your campaigns against past campaigns and your colleagues campaigns. The root of all happiness? Quantifiable competition.
Avoid the Spam Folder with Mailjet
Mailjet is constantly looking for ways to optimize and improve the deliverability of our customers’ emails. We manage the reputation of each sender and provide authentication tools (SPF, DKIM, etc.) to help implement all of the above best practices. We also optimize sending frequencies (i.e. throttling) and HTML code.
Ultimately, Mailjet is designed to simplify the whole process of sending emails and ensuring deliverability, so that our customers can focus on sending great newsletters, transactional emails, or whatever other content you want your audience to engage with. But what does Mailjet actually do? Let dig into 5 key points:
1. Management and monitoring of the reputation to avoid the spam folder.
Mailjet allows you to watch and protect the global reputation you have as a sender. This is defined by the reputation of the URLs, the domains and the IP addresses that are used. The content of the messages can impact each of these elements.
A lot of indicators are provided on the Mailjet Dashboard, and you will have access to the reputation of your IPs and to the scoring SpamAssassin, which validates the major formats and filters.
We have also partnered with BriteVerify and 250ok to help manage deliverability and reputation stats – the more you know about what practices aren’t working, the more you can start to solve them.
2. Avoid the spam folder – Access to authentication tools: SPF, DKIM & Domain Keys
Authentication systems have a set of standards for most of the ISPs. These protocols guarantee and protect the identity of the senders as well as fight against phishing.
Therefore, it is often necessary to publish these certificates. If this is not done, the ISPs can consider the non-authenticated emails as suspicious and place them in the spam folder.
Mailjet implements and optimizes all major email authentication protocols that senders need including DKIM (DomainKey Identified Mail), SPF (Sender Protection Framework) and DomainKeys by default. This can also be personalized for free. If you require assistance in this process, please contact our support team.
3. Optimization of the sending pace (I.e. throttling)
ISPs use ‘throttling’ mechanisms to control the volume of data traveling over their networks. Some impose temporary or permanent volume restrictions.
The threshold is based on the number of connections between the sending server and the receiving server, the number of messages per connection, and the volume of messages over time.
If you attempt to open too many SMTP connections at the same time or send too many email messages within a short time, you are very likely to get errors such as:
‘server has exceeded the rate limit allowed’, or
‘too many connections from your IP’.
If this happens, the reputation of the IP addresses used can have a major effect on these limits. In order to guarantee optimization of the reputation, Mailjet will slow down and adapt the sending pace when needed.
By respecting this imposed variations, the messages are accepted, they do not bounce and get to the inboxes of the intended recipients.
4. Optimization of the HTML structure of the email
Mailjet’s drag-and-drop email builder, Passport, gives anyone the ability to get 100% optimized code from the header to the footer of the email. All HTML elements abide by standardized rules and guarantee an improved deliverability.
Note that when using this feature, no technical knowledge is required. Always remember that an incorrectly coded email can trigger some spam filters.
5. Statistics, Feedback Loops and the Relationship with the ISPs
Mailjet maintains highly accurate, real-time data to track every piece of feedback from audiences – including those who mark messages as spam, and emails that are blocked or bounce. Every complaint is traced and taken into account.
This is best illustrated when someone clicks on the button “report as spam” on any inbox client. Mailjet gets this information and stops sending to this email address.
The bounces and unsubscriptions are also automatically managed. This helps maintain high quality lists. Anyone who is persistent in sending undesired emails could get blacklisted at any moment.
The world of email marketing is changing every day, and as more and more brands recognize the value of email marketing – the more difficult it is to stand out in your customers’ inboxes. One way brands can differentiate themselves in email is through video. In fact, including video in your email marketing campaigns and subject lines can increase open rates by 19% and click-through-rates of 200-300%.
While there’s a lot of talk about video in email, it can seem pretty daunting and expensive. Let’s explore how you can (and cannot) include video in your emails, and how to best increase engagement of your content
Can I embed video in the email?
The simple answer is yes. The complex is answer is…well, it depends. There are a couple of problems to consider. When you think about it, when was the last time you actually watched a video within an email? If you’re a Gmail user, the answer is “I think I’ve watched a YouTube video a few times”. If you’re a Microsoft Outlook user – the answer is “never”. The same goes for email on iOS or Android devices.
The problem is that a lot of these inbox providers are not compatible with embedded video, which means to get the benefits of video in email marketing, you need to find some tools and loopholes.
For example, Mailjet’s integration with Viwom allows you to embed videos in your email campaigns that will automatically detect the device, operating system, and email client where the email is opened from and deliver the best option to each one. On some clients, the video won’t load but at least you can ensure something is delivered in its place – like a GIF or an image.
When Litmus was putting together their Email Design Conference, they knew they had to do something creative with their emails, so they were one of the first to really try embedded video in email. The effect definitely caught the eye of those who saw it; however, only about 40% of users could actually viewed the video in their email client.
While this was four years ago, unfortunately email clients haven’t changed all that much, and video embedded within an email is still not the best practice. There are options, though.
An alternative to video in email: Animated GIFs & Thumbnails
The best way to leverage the power of video in your email campaigns is to use animated GIFs to drive attention to the most seductive of internet activity: moving images. Your audience has become accustomed to short snippets of video previewing the content they are about to watch, including previews on major streaming platforms like YouTube and Netflix.
A major goal of all email marketing is to, of course, have your audience engage further with your content, products, or services. So, having the ability to attract users to your landing page where you can incentivize further engagement is much more attractive to marketers than embedding the video in the email itself. The goal is that your readers click back to your website, not to stay within the email.
On Mailjet, this is as simple as adding an image and linking to your favorite landing page.
You can also simply use a static image coupled with a play button superimposed on the image to indicate to your audience that selecting the play button will send them directly to a video.
The million-dollar question though is this: do you autoplay the video or not? In most cases, autoplay video is frowned upon, it’s annoying when you land on a page and all of a sudden a video and its audio start playing when you weren’t expecting it. This is especially true if you’re on a phone and your precious data is being eaten up.
In this case however, autoplay videos works well, primarily because the user has already indicated interest in watching a video by clicking the play button, so you’re completely within your moral universal internet rights to autoplay your video.
Key steps to pairing video with email marketing
Once you’ve decided that yes – I am going to be a video marketing guru and start including video in my email campaigns, the work has just begun. There are three major steps you will need to take to make the most out of your campaigns: establish your campaign goals; film quality video content, and optimize for engagement.
Establish your email campaign’s goals
Just like any marketing tactic you explore, you need to identify the goal of your campaign before getting into the weeds. Even Tommy Wiseau had something resembling a plan.
First off, what are you hoping to accomplish with your video? Are you trying to get users to try a new feature? Are you promoting an upcoming event? Do you have a new product that you want to show the world? Or maybe you just want to drive as many views as possible to your video.
Create the right content for the goal you are trying to achieve. Sometimes, a 7-10 second video is all you need to show your great new product, and sometimes an in-depth tutorial or course is exactly what your audience is looking for. If you’re goal is to drive sales, what call to actions are you baking into the video to direct people to purchase pages? If you’re goal is to simply increase the number of views, what are you doing in the first 3 seconds to capture the attention of the user and incentivize them to stick around for the whole video?
Film quality video content for your email
Sometimes a webcam video is enough, and in fact it can be a great way to show a personal touch if you are looking to personalize video in your email marketing strategy. Other times, though, a touch of flare and production quality is important to inspire trust and encourage engagement throughout the video and into the next step in the journey you want to send your audience on.
To produce a video that falls somewhere between your grandparents trying to figure out video conferencing and Mad Max: Fury Road, you need to keep in mind four key things:
Dimensions and format,
Cameras and lenses,
I’ll leave it to the team over at Vidyard who show us how you can easily shoot high quality B2B videos on your smartphone for under $250.
Optimize your video marketing for engagement
Finally, once you have established your goals and filmed that perfect video, you now need to optimize your audiences experience to ensure you are driving attention precisely where you want it.
Check the transition from email to video
First, make sure that the transition from email to the landing page is seamless by ensuring the video is set to auto-play, that the video is clearly visible above the fold on your landing page, and that the videos size isn’t too large that will cause slow load times. This last point is especially true for users navigating to your site on mobile devices, which will already take a bit longer to load and could destroy data usage for many users.
Strategically place your CTAs
As your audience is viewing the video, create clear calls-to-action throughout that are both valuable and unobtrusive. While VH1’s Pop-Up Video may have gotten away with annoying pop-ups all through the 90s, today you need to make pop-ups and call-outs within the video subtle, and clearly adding value to the user experience.
This is especially important during those moments when you expect users to drop off, including the first 10 seconds when you need to capture the viewer’s attention before they leave. On longer videos, those over 10-minutes, most of your viewers are gone by the 50% mark. Pay close attention to your audience retention stats to determine when most users leave and create CTAs just before these moments to drive further engagement.
Create dedicated landing pages
To encourage ongoing engagement, you’ll also need to send your audience to a landing page you own, that is designed to ensure continued engagement with your content, products, or services.
Far too many brands are still sending their audience to YouTube, or Vimeo, or some other third party page to watch their content. You can either own the entire multimedia experience that your audience is about to embark on, or you can send them to a page to watch your video and inevitably get distracted by the latest cat video recommended to them. Optimizing your videos is about more than just the video – it’s about the entire user experience.
Finally, the most exciting and high impact way of optimizing your video marketing is through personalization. Businesses can see a 500% increase in email engagement with video personalization. While this can be difficult for bulk mailing, there are a lot of tools coming out that can connect your CRM and databases to your video content that seamlessly embeds personal details like names, companies, cities, and more right into a video.
If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that personalization is the key to successful marketing and video is the next forefront of this trend. Get ready for your name and information all over billboards and street signs in the videos you watch.
To Recap: Done right, video can enhance your email campaigns
Yes, it’s possible to embed video in your emails, but it’s not the best experience for your audience and it doesn’t bring them to an optimized landing page for further engagement.
Animated GIFs and Video Thumbnails are the best way to add video to your email marketing, and in fact can increase CTRs by 200-300%
Focus first on your goals, and then focus on producing the best video to achieve these goals.
Producing good quality video doesn’t need to cost you your entire budget – in fact the whole solution is in your pocket.
Optimize everything! Create the best user experience for your audience to watch and interactively engage with your content.
Get those cameras out and stand out from the crowd. What videos are you going to produce this summer? Tell us all about it on Twitter.
If you’re like 55% of marketers, you have seen a significant decrease in your Facebook page’s engagement since they changed the algorithm to encourage “more meaningful social interactions with family and friends.” While social media platforms are, of course, an important way to connect with your audience, it’s increasingly become clear that doing so means you are communicating on someone else’s property – not your own. You do not own the relationship, the channel, or the data, and therefore are at the mercy of how other platforms decide to distribute your content.
100K followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn is not nearly the same as 100K subscribers on your newsletter. Assuming you land in 99% of inboxes, and get a respectable open rate of 20%, you are already well above the rate of Facebook followers that will even have a chance of seeing your post. Way back in 2012, organic reach on Facebook was at an all time high of 16%, this was down to 6.5% in 2014, and since changes to Facebook’s algorithm this year brands are seeing organic reach around 2%.
While social media offers the benefit of personalization and targeting in a way we didn’t know possible only a few years ago, email marketing is right there with them and in fact is doing so in a way that is based on the explicit permission of the audience. Something that is, of course, becoming increasingly important in a new age of Data Privacy and GDPR.
The question then is when do you want to use paid and organic content on social media platforms? Do you want to be paying for one click to your website, or do you want to be paying for the beginning of a warm and recurring relationship with your audience? By growing your email list, and from there building a quality, permission-based, relationship, you are building value in your own property.
To make up for this diminishing impact of organic reach on social media platforms, it’s important to apply what you’ve learned from social media’s personalization and data analysis to your email marketing.
Email Marketing & Personalization
Email offers the unique ability to personalize content to your audience – who they are and what they like. Personalization extends beyond just calling out their [First_Name], allowing marketers to curate content, links, images, and even videos based on any data and metrics you have received from the user. This is especially true for online retailers who benefit more than many other brands with advanced data including buying history, location, and more. Today, however, only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations.
At first, personalization can seem daunting when you think about customizing a message to every single individual in your list, a list that may reach into the millions. Personalization, however, doesn’t need to be about one-to-one relationships, instead it is about personalizing your content to broad categories like interests, behaviours, or any attribute that can be shared by many. If you know from previous email engagement, through your website, or any other data collection method, that an email address is associated with a certain attribute – you can use this to personalize future emails.
For example, did they open a previous email about a shoe sale? Did they click a link about women’s jeans? Did they select a specific dropdown item from a menu?
The Miami Heat captures your favorite player when you sign up for their email list. How do they use this information? In any an infinite amount of ways – they could segment their list so only people who select that player receive the content (more on that below) or they could feature a rotating case of players in their bulk email and personalize who will appear in the email based on the user. If you’re favorite player is Dwayne Wade – guess who’s video interview the Miami Heat include in their email?
Email List Segmentation
As alluded to above, personalization and segmentation are in the same family but are different for a few important reasons. Whereas personalization is about substituting content, images, text, etc. based on data within a mass email, segmentation is about chopping up your contact lists and sending only to certain people…based on data. This could be based on their location, whether they’ve recently opened an email, their level of engagement in your products, who their favourite player is (again), their favorite color, whether they identify as a dolphin or a poodle, whatever you can have fun with and use to serve up content they’d enjoy.
Segmentation is a great way to not only personalize content, but to save money and dramatically increase your ROI. For instance, Mailjet is a volume-based email model meaning our plans are priced on the number of emails you send. If you send an email to every single one of the 100K subscribers of your newsletter, you will be paying for 100K emails.
However, if you segment your list so that only active users receive the email about new product updates, or only US-based subscribers receive your email about an upcoming event in San Francisco, then you not only increase the likelihood of engagement, of return of investment, of the reputation of your domain to inboxes like Gmail – but you also save money. In fact, according to research from Liveclicker, a company that provides personalization services, behavioral targeting delivers an 8 percent increase in email revenue.
Almost as important as sending the right content to your audience, is sending at the right time. Marketing automation tools, paired with the personalization tips above, allow for you to communicate with your customers at the optimal time based on any number of triggered events or actions such as newsletter signup or purchases. For example, when users make their first purchase on your website, or sign up for your newsletter, you can increase engagement and personalization through a drip campaign customized to their interests and behaviours.
When you first sign up for a weekly newsletter, it may take up to 7 days to actually receive that first newsletter in your inbox, depending on when you signed up. You devoted all of your energy and money in order to (1) identify your target audience, (2) find out how to get their attention, (3) provide value or serve up an ad to get them to sign up for their newsletter, and then after all that you just add them to a long list of other users. They are as hungry for your content as anyone on that list, but you don’t serve them what they want, when they want it.
Automation allows you to send the content they are craving right away so that the weekly bulk newsletter isn’t the first email they receive from you. Perhaps the first one is a welcome email featuring a blog or video you think they will enjoy (ideally based on the data they’ve given you already). Perhaps the second email is something of even more value, like a discount code or a one-time sale. By building trust and offering value right off the bat, you can count on this user continuing to open your emails moving forward.
You can take your automation even further by integrating apps like Shopify, Wufoo, and yes even Facebook.
Many brands use integrations like Shopify to leverage the data they receive from triggers like purchases and abandoned carts to better personalize their campaigns and segment their lists. Doggyloot for instance keeps their customers coming back with e-commerce integrations into their email marketing to not only personalize the content but also target their sending to those they know are already interested in purchasing a product.
As organic reach on social media declines, and we move increasingly towards a permission-based marketing world, it doesn’t mean we need to move away from tailored content informed by data. In fact, as opposed to relying on a mysterious algorithm on property you do not own, learn more heavily into your own permission-based data collection tools on property you do own: your email lists.
Mother’s Day is coming, and on top of Sunday brunches and maybe a couple mimosa’s, you can also expect an increase in soft pinks and flower GIFs in your inbox. By the way, this year it’s May 13th – here’s a Google Calendar link so you don’t forget. :)
We love these times of year, including Holiday Season, Valentines Day, and Summer Break, because it brings out the most creativity in marketing departments and brands trying to distinguish themselves from the crowd. This is especially true for ecommerce and retail sites who are emailing about upcoming Mother’s Day sales, but just as interestingly, brands of all stripes are celebrating mothers in their own unique way.
Applying Best Practices to Your Email Campaigns
In honor of our mothers, we wanted to showcase some of the more effective and beautifully designed emails and newsletters, and give you a little look into what we love about them. Each of these campaigns utilizes many of our recommended best practices, including using images and GIFs to increase engagement, clear calls-to-action, simple design, alignment to your overall brand, and more.
BUT, we also would love your input! As you take a look at these campaigns, be sure to vote on your favourite at the bottom of the page, and we’ll tally these up to present to the world what the Mailjet community considers the best Mother’s Day newsletter 🏆.
Anthropologie: Power of Simplicity in your Email Campaigns
First up is Anthropologie’s To Mom With Love email. What we love about this campaign is its simplicity, focusing the email on one clear purpose: shop Mother’s Day Gifts.
The image is simple yet beautiful and brand-aligned, making it clear right off the top what this email is about. Their call-to-action, “Shop Mother’s Day Gift”, is more descriptive than many in this list, which simply state “Shop Now”. They also use colors really effectively, creating a clear emotional reaction of energy, love, and motherhood.
Jack Spade: Email Design to Increase Clicks
We warned you about soft pinks. This email continues the trend started by Anthropologie with it’s simple yet impactful design. They also take advantage of the fact that many of their customers are used to shopping on their website, and so they maintain this brand consistency with the website heading at the top, which creates familiarity and allows readers to navigate to any page on the site they want.
But make no mistake, the page THEY want you to go to is the Mother’s Day “Shop Now” link. The witty (and all too relatable) headline “You Never Call Anymore” literally forms the top of a funnel that pulls your eyes downwards to the one CTA, “Shop Now”. Brilliant.
SeatGeek: Brand Alignment
Next up is Seat Geek’s campaign, which is powerful for two reasons.
First, they know their audience, and as a result they are branding this email not like what we’ve seen above with Mother’s Day colors and flowers, but instead with their on-brand blue and yellow. Their audience, as a sports ticketing mobile app, is predominantly younger users who interact with their product on a mobile device.
Second, SeatGeek is the only example in this list that utilized a GIF in its email, and it does so in a creative way that (1) reveals more information the more you watch, and (2) draws your attention to the core message of the email: It’s Mother’s Day and she just wants to spend time with you.
Dr. Martens: Email Personalization
Our last contestant is Dr. (Doc) Martens. I’ll push past the obligatory beautiful flower arrangement, bold headlines, and website-navigation and instead focus on their email personalization. While this email is clearly a Mother’s Day email, trying to remind their audience that they have some gifts to buy, it’s also using past click behaviour and engagement data to curate a list of products that they think will be interesting to the user.
Plus, the way the flowers grow out of the text? Love it (Pro tip: just as with your mother, it’s always good to show respect to a designer).
Key Takeaways: Email Inspiration for Mothers Day
All together, these campaigns touch on some of the really important best practices you need to consider when putting together your emails campaigns, and especially your Mother’s Day campaigns.
Keep it Simple: Your campaign shouldn’t be asking your audience to do too much. One clear Call-to-Action and one core message is ideal to generate the most engagement.
Keep it Brand Aligned: While the soft pinks may feel like a necessity at Mother’s Day, don’t forget that you have a brand you need to maintain.
The Power of GIFs:A cat GIF is one thing, a custom GIF that can showcase your value, stay on brand, and also communicate your core message? That’s the tops.
Personalization: With your email platform, there is so much you can do to personalize content and segment audiences to increase engagement on your emails. Your Mom’s favourite Mother’s Day gift is a one-of-kind homemade card, why would your audience be any different.
We’ve love your thoughts – which email best captures the Mother’s Day spirit? Which email are you desperately trying to click on? Leave your vote here!
And if you’re wondering, “why now?” it’s because we’ve just changed our infrastructure in a big way that’s going to allow you to send emails faster and more reliably.
An Email Platform That Scales
Any online product needs storage to function. For Mailjet, this meant starting on dedicated servers: physical servers rented and exclusively used by Mailjet. Dedicated servers fit well with our original needs, but now not only are we growing, but our customers and their email campaigns are as well. In fact, together we now send billions of emails every month. We needed a platform that would scale with you.
Challenges Of A Dedicated Server in the Email Industry
Every company has their own “magic time” to send their marketing emails. Transactional emails also tend to peak during different times of the day or the week (for example, Monday and Friday are peak times when people book airline tickets). What this boils down to is HUGE fluctuations in email volume being sent at any time. Often up to 20x higher at peak periods.
The challenge was to make sure your emails were processed and sent lightning fast, despite periods of high demand, we (and you) had to invest in the highest level of computing power even when we didn’t need it. It’s like paying for electricity when you aren’t even using it – it didn’t make sense. Which is why, come 2016, with neither yours or our growth slowing down, we decided to make a change.
What Are The Benefits Of Google Cloud Platform For You?
There are many differences between using dedicated servers versus a public cloud like Google Cloud Platform, but the biggest one is that we no longer were confined to a fixed number of servers. In fact, we now have the ability to use as many, or as little, of Google Cloud Platform’s servers in an instant, ensuring your email campaigns are smoother to build and faster to send. The advantages were huge for everyone using Mailjet.
Mailjet and Google Cloud Platform also already knew each other really well. In fact, we’re the only European ESP accredited by Google to send bulk emails through Google App Engine and Google Compute Engine.
Ultimately, the benefits below are how Google Cloud Platform will help meet your needs both now, and especially as you grow:
With Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Mailjet now has access to computing power that is extremely flexible, allowing it to process up to 20x more volume at a given moment. This ensures that you can send campaigns in high volumes, and at peak times, and have them arrive in the inbox instantly.
More Reliable Platform
Mailjet is now powered at any given moment by the server we choose within the GCP network. If there is ever a problem with a server or multiple servers, we can switch them in an instant. The same reliability you have come to expect from all Google tools is now powering Mailjet.
Flexible Server Location
Many of our clients care very much about where their data is being processed. Thanks to GCP’s wide range of data centers, Mailjet now has the flexibility to choose from a variety of their data processing locations.
Faster Sending Speed
Mailjet can now send 6M emails in one hour, partially thanks to our switch to GCP.
Highest Levels of Data Security
Like Mailjet, Google Cloud Platform is ISO 27001 certified, the international standard for best practices of information security processes. What does this mean? You can continue to count on the highest levels of Data Security for your email data.
We hope you’re as excited as we are about how Google Cloud Platform will transform the speed, reliability, and flexibility of your email campaigns. Please let us know if you have any questions!
To learn more about our partnership with Google Cloud Platform, check out the case study on Google Cloud here.
GDPR, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, comes into effect in May this year and many North American companies are still asking themselves how this will relate to them, how they can best prepare for these changes, and how to avoid potentially massive fines. Mailjet, a GDPR-compliant email service provider, is hosting a 3-part webinar series entitled GDPR in the US & Canada. The first in the series features Mailjet’s Head of Legal and Data Privacy Officer, Darine Fayed, who covers:
What exactly GDPR is, how this new legislation applies to companies in North America, and what will happen if you don’t comply
How does GDPR affect North American businesses and marketers, and how does it differ from existing data protection laws (e.g. Safe Harbour, CASL)
The 8 key changes that GDPR brings to the data protection playing field
What steps you should be taking today to ensure you are ready before May. You are encouraged to also fill out our GDPR Quiz beforehand to know where your company stands in terms of GDPR knowledge.