Another one bites the dust. Yep, Mac.com’s free email service is ceasing next month. Only folks who upgrade to $99.95 year membership (which includes other benefits) will get to keep their “mac.com” mailboxes. All email publishers should probably strip off the mac.com names from their list and send at least two warning emails to those readers to say, “Hey, change your email address for your subscription if you’re not upgrading to the paid mac.com membership.”
I’m awfully glad we moved up the “manage your subscription” capability on our site’s home page to the top of the development priority list, just for stuff like this. It was always a nice-to-have app for customer satisfaction. Now it’s becoming critical for list longevity and retention.
Re: My question a few Blogs back about publishing on 9/11 this year, Rob Morrow writes, “I, personally, will be turning my site (www.1wizards.net) black on 9/11/02 with just a message stating that it’s been a year and Bin Laden is still out there somewhere. On that date, I think that no news is bad news!”
Ankesh Kothari, of MaxMailer, says, “Living in the real world, if we don’t publish a condolence note on that day, we will get lots
of hate mail; telling us in many words that we are inhuman.
Just writing a condolence note on sending it to your list won’t bring in any cash. Hardly any goodwill too; as most of the publishers and newsletter owners will be writing a similar message. My advice would be to take the middle path: Write a bit of both.
Start with a paragraph giving respect. Then you could say something like: ‘People have not lost their spirit. The best way to show Osama Bin Laden that he can’t shake us is by following our routine and showing him that we are not affected by his inhuman act.’ Then follow it with your daily newsletter.
I couldn’t wait anymore, so this afternoon we opened a GotMarketing email account and sent all Earthlink addresses on our subscription lists the following message. If you are a SparkLIST customer, you might consider doing something similar:
SUBJ: Non-routine request from Sherpa Publisher
Dear MarketingSherpa Subscriber,
You haven’t gotten any issues for about 10 days now because Earthlink is blocking the
service we use to send newsletters.
We’re working to get this sorted out, but in the
meantime, you can switch your subscription
to a different (non-Earthlink) address here: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/subscriptionManage.cfm
I’ve also made sure all our latest articles
are posted online so you can catch up with
anything you missed if you’d like to.
http://www.marketingsherpa.com <- includes links to B2BMarketingBiz, ConsumerMarketingBiz, ContentBiz, EMAILsherpa, MarketingFAME and more.
Thanks for your support,
Publisher, MarketingSherpa, Inc.
P.S. We are using a special email service to get this notice to you. If you would like to unsubscribeto our list, the unsubscribe info they’ll place belowthis will *NOT* work. Instead, please unsubscribeby going to this link on our site. It is easyand quick:
According to a story in Forbes.com today, Lands’ End’s “Ask Us” button which gives shoppers live instant (typed) chat with a customer service rep, “The company says that the average value of an order increases by 6% when a surfer uses its instant message technology. An online visitor who uses Lands’ End’s IM is 20% more likely to make a purchase than a customer who does not.”
The story doesn’t give comparative numbers on how much a shopper who calls the site’s 800 number for help (versus using the chat/IM function) is worth. I’m betting that 800 callers are worth even more. Having experienced both at the site while using a speedy DSL line, I personally got fed up waiting for the chat to happen and picked up the phone. Then maybe I’m more trigger-happy caffeinated than the average shopper. According to the story, roughly 10% of Lands End operators are trained to use phone or IM, which is somewhat indicative of demand.
Do you have press clippings on your site? While surfing over to check out a subscriber’s site tonight, I spotted a clipping that really stood out because, well it’s Real. Instead of linking to the online version of a story a newspaper wrote about them, Inscribe Publishing actually scanned in the paper itself. Check it out here.
I surf a zillion sites’ press centers, and I must say this is a very effective tactic because it really brought home to me the fact that ‘Hey these guys were written about in the paper.” It’s a visceral thing. And remember, the reason for posting articles about yourself in your press center is often less that they be read, than that their sheer presence impress people. This scanned in version impressed.
(BTW: Yes, I do happen to know the newspaper in question also has an online version because I’m a subscriber.)
[NOTE: Erin Read Ruddick, VP Marketing for Inscribe just wrote me in response to this Blog, "Our target audience is moms, and I've found we/they respond better to tangible things. For that reason, we chose to paste up the clipping and post the scanned version.
Plus, it gives a bit of a "home town" feel, hopefully making us seem more trustworthy."]
Our ad sales guy just asked me, “Are we publishing on 9/11?” I immediately said, “Yes.” But then thought. Well, how good an idea is that really? Are the other media and people’s attention going to be so dominated by one-year-after stuff that it’s not worth bothering publishing any other type of content that day?
Or, will some people be offended by the fact that we publish on unrelated topics that day? Last year we received negative feedback when we published a regular issue the day after, and we ended up not publishing the rest of the week at all.
Feedback from anyone? email@example.com
OK I was holding off because I’m a nice person and not a whistle blower, but this thing is been dragging on for a week now and it’s time to give a quick warning. If you are a SparkLIST client, you’ve probably been experiencing a higher-than-normal bounce rate for email broadcasts this week because they have (through no fault of their own) been blocked by Earthlink as a potential spammer. Let me note that SparkLIST is *not* a spammer and is infamous for booting clients who even secretly dream about spamming. It’s all just a vast tech misunderstanding.
That said, your Earthlink and Earthlink-hosted-domain (mainly small biz) email readers have not been getting anything you sent through SparkLIST for at least the past week. If this keeps up we are considering opening a backup account with another reputable broadcast vendor, stripping the Earthlink names from our lists and sending issues out that way.
Yeah, Earthlink names are only 3-10% of our lists, but in this economy, I don’t want to lose 3-10% of my potential issue revenues. Now is the time to eke out every scrap of possible revenue you possibly can because who knows how much worse this downturn is going to get.
In the meantime, not one but two subscribers wrote in to say our issues are being auto-tossed into their junk mail folders
because they use SpamAssassin to filter their mail. I think SpamAssassin is a great service, but unfortunately many of the terms they filter for (such as “opt-in”, “Spam”, “Email” etc.) are the subjects that we cover in our newsletters.
Alexis, our tech editor, said, “Why don’t we try to fool the filters by putting weird characters in words they filter for?
Such as S_pam or S*pam” My feeling is, many readers will just think our issues are riddled with (more) typos (than usual) and
the spamMers themselves will someday start using this ruse and then filters will filter for it, and we’re all back to square one.
OK, the next person who says, “There’s no cost to unwanted email” gets a waterballoon tossed on their head. Non-permission email overload is trashing every email publisher’s business right now.
Learned something neat today. In May when we relaunched all our sites I made one change to our opt-in forms that seemed simple at the time. Instead of just saying “Your email here” I asked our Webmaster to insert the word “work” as in “Your work email here.” We’re B2B so that made sense for us. If we were B2C I probably would have said, “Your primary email here” or “The email you check most often here.” Hey, why not ask for it if that’s what you really want people to opt-in using, right?
Anyway, one large national ISP used by lots of consumers, and businesspeople for their secondary accounts, decided for reasons known only to themselves to start rejecting mail this week from the mail server we happen to use. Neither we, nor the company we rely on to send our mail, are spammers or do business with spammers or anything wrong like that. Sometimes these things just happen because a tech thing sets off another tech thing and spam filters spring into action; and only techies can figure out what happens next.
The bad news is depending on the list, 5-20% of the newsletters we sent weren’t getting through to the end recipients. Except for two of our lists where our bounce rates were about 2% which is within the range of normal. What was different about those two lists? Same demographics and topics as the other lists, BUT these two lists had been collected 100% on our pages requesting “Your work email” while our other lists had loads of names collected prior to that time. Turns out people had been obeying, turns out those two lists had practically no consumer ISP email addresses on them.
Just got a note from Clif Bar customer service in response to a query about their product that I posted using their site form yesterday. If you are in charge of deciding what your customer service email should look like, you might want to steal an idea from them:
1. The “From” was a real person’s name. In fact it’s the name of the person who signed the letter.
2. The subject line simply read: CLIF BAR INC which is pretty bare bones, but since they didn’t use their brand name in the “from” line sticking it prominently in the subject line was mission critical. Also, because it didn’t use up all 30 charactors or so that I can see of subject lines in my inbox, it actually really stood out due to brevity. Plus it just looked honest. So despite the fact that I get so much spam these days I often enough delete “real” messages by mistake that get caught up in it, I noticed this one.
3. The letter was in text-only. No HTML.
4. The letter started with a few lines of white space, which caught my attention because it was, well, odd. Then there was today’s date, then a few more lines of white space and then a salutation “Dear Anne”…. and oh I get it, it’s a real letter!
You know, suddenly it felt very honest and respectful and pleasant. Especially after spam overload.
5. After giving me some advice about my question (including handy links) the last paragraph gave me a toll free phone number to call plus an email address if I had any more questions.
6. Just like a “real letter” it ended with a “Sincerely,” and then a real person’s name and title there at Clif.