Some Initial Thoughts on Unroll.me

UnRoll.meThanks to this Mashable post from yesterday, the email marketing world is all abuzz about Unroll.me, a startup who claims to be “the easiest way to manage your inbox.” They offer 3 services:

  1. Unsubscribe from your unwanted [email] subscriptions
  2. Discover. Try out personalized recommendations
  3. Organize. Receive a daily overview of the subscriptions you like

As an email marketing guy, I’m most intrigued by the first one – Unsubscribe from your unwanted subscriptions. I signed up for the Beta program and am “awaiting my official invite.” To be fair, this initial review of Unroll.me is not based on me using the service as I don’t have access yet.

I also have mixed feelings. On one hand, I get pumped every single time there is a mention of email marketing (like this video interview of Chris Brogan). On the other hand, it makes me cringe a bit to think about a service that makes it easy for someone to “mass” opt-out of email marketing messages.

The opening paragraph in that Mashable article jumped out at me.

Yesterday I was subscribed to 271 newsletters. Today, after putting about 10 minutes of effort, I’m subscribed to just the 17 of them I find useful…

It got me thinking, is the average consumer really subscribed to 271 email newsletters? If so, do they only find 6.2% of them useful? In a very unscientific, not statistically significant, uber-biased “study” I initiated on Twitter and Facebook where I asked how many unwanted emails people were subscribed to, I was surprised by the numbers.

  1. 50
  2. 132
  3. 20 (since Jan 1)
  4. 30
  5. 15
  6. 123
  7. 50%
  8. 4 per day
  9. 100-150
  10. All of them
Again, this is a far cry from a legitimate survey, but the data sure is compelling. I had to remind myself that as an email marketing guy, I’m not the average consumer. Far from it. When I get an unwanted email, I either report it as spam (assuming I never opted in) or unsubscribe (if I no longer find it valuable). Based on the range of answers above, it would seem that most folks simply delete unwanted emails over and over and over — instead of marking as spam or unsubscribing. Or, if you are Melissa Case (who you should hire), you don’t bother to unsubscribe
Because things like this happen: “If you’d like to unsubscribe, please click here. <I click there> Please enter your password. <enter password> We’re sorry, we don’t recognize that password.” THAT is why.
Deb Henry said,
It drives me crazy that they say click here to unsubscribe and then they make you enter your email address again. I have several email addresses that push to one centralized email address and sometimes it takes a few tries to remember which one it was. Multiply this times 100 emails. It’s easier with unlimited storage in gmail just to ignore them.

Fascinating.

That being said, depending on the adoption rate, Unroll.me could have some serious implications for email marketers. Will it “change your life” like it did for Evan Gramis?

 

Unlikely, but …

What Unroll.me Means For Email Marketers

In the email marketing world, we preach relevance, value and timeliness. With a service like Unroll.me, value becomes that much more critical. If your email is no longer providing value, consumers will – in one fell swoop – unsubscribe from your list. All of that work, all of that effort, all of that time you invested to grow your email marketing list is gone.

However, in many ways that’s also a good thing. Why? It forces email marketers to stand out – to be different. It forces them ensure that every single email they send passes the “Holy Smokes Test” (hat tip to Jason Falls for my new go-to phrase).

It may even force them to break the rules … just a bit … to see what works best for their subscribers.

Getting consumers attention these days is increasingly difficult. Between social media networks like Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn to QR codes to text messaging, we are bombarded with marketing messages – always, everywhere. However, as I’ve preached many times before (and will continue to) there is nothing more valuable then an email address.

Email addresses are the currency of the web. Use can use your email list to nurture prospects through the sales funnel as well as keep your current customers, clients, and fans informed on what’s happening in your business. Most importantly, an email marketing list can easily be segmented to best target specific groups. While it’s certainly possible to segment your social media followers, it’s a lot more difficult.

What do you think? Does a service like Unroll.me change the game for email marketers? Does it force us to up our game? Or is it just another passing fad?

Cheers
DJ Waldow

The Importance of a Timely, Valuable Email

Last week I was returning from Dallas where I gave a talk on Breaking the Rules of Email Marketing at Jason Falls’s Explore event. The flight leaving Dallas was delayed, resulting in some passengers missing their connection in Denver. I was not too worried as the plane I was taking to Denver was the same plane I would ride into Salt Lake City (my final destination).

Very long story short: They decided that the airplane I was on would be continuing on to Los Angeles (not Salt Lake City). The flight to Salt Lake City had already left when I arrived in Denver. I had to spend the night in Denver and waited several hours the next day (Saturday) to hop on a standby flight back home.

I understand this kind of stuff happens. Nothing in travel – or life, for that matter – is guaranteed. However, as I was sitting in the Denver airport on Saturday crossing my fingers that I’d be able to get on the next flight home, the following email landed in my inbox … at 11:57AM.

Travelocity Email

To be clear, this is the top (above-the-fold) portion of the email from Travelocity. The content below this simply showed my original flight itinerary.

Anything about this email jump out at you as “not ideal?” Before we look at the actual messaging, let me remind you of the timeline:

  • Friday: Flight from Denver to Salt Lake left (without me on board)
  • Friday night: I spent the night in a Denver hotel
  • Saturday morning: I waited in the Denver airport for a standby flight
  • Saturday at 11:57AM: This “flight change” email arrived in my inbox
Take a look at the two bullets I bolded. My flight left without me on Friday night yet it was not until the next day that this email update arrived from Travelocity. At that point, it was too late. On top of that, this email provided little to no value. They took the time to bold “this is a significant change from your original itinerary” and “Your immediate action is required.” The single call to action was to call Travelocity. In other words, I – the traveler who was inconvenienced, had to take action.

Just for fun, I called.

I was informed that my flight had left without me – yesterday. That fact, as well as the email above, was not only poorly timed, but also not all that valuable.

3 Things Travelocity Could Have Done Better

The goal of this blog post is not to ding Travelocity. Instead it’s to get you – the email marketer – thinking about how to best use email to deliver timely and valuable content.  Travelocity could have:

  1. Sent the email immediately after my flight had left Denver (without me on it). Timing, in this case, was everything. I realize they may not have had this information handy right away; however, by the time they sent it the next day it was out of date.
  2. Personalized the email more. Yes, they did include my original flight itinerary. I already knew that information. Why not include some links to alternate flights? Since I booked my flight through Travelocity, that information should be available to them.
  3. Provided a stronger call to action. The only call to action in this email was for me to call them. How about a link to their online customer support or live chat?

Are your email marketing messages timely and valuable? What are your thoughts on this email from Travelocity?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share in the comments below.

Cheers,
DJ Waldow

Is This Spam?

Spam Spam Spam Spam Spammity Spam. Email spam. We all get it. We all hate it.

While many email clients – especially Gmail – do a nice job of filtering out spam, some of it slips through the cracks and lands in our inbox.

Some of us get fooled by it, even guys like me who have been living, breathing, eating, and sometimes dreaming email marketing for over 7 years.

How do you know what is spam and what is legitimate? What are the “tells”, if you will?

In today’s screencast, I’ll break down an email I received and share some thoughts on “Is This Spam?” I apologize for the scratchy audio. Not sure what happened!


Having trouble viewing the screencast? Watch on Screenr.

I’d love to hear more about your experiences with spam. How do you tell if an email is spam? Have you ever clicked through on a spam email? Have you ever replied to the spammer?

Do tell…

Cheers,
DJ Waldow

Free Email Marketing Review: GC Marketing Services

Just like with most things in life & business, it’s usually good to have another set of eyes review your work. In the case of email marketing, I think too often marketers settle into a routine and do things “because that’s how we’ve always done them.”

Let me – an email marketing guy with over 7 years of experience – be that second set of (objective) eyes.

In December of last year, I started offering free email reviews. I use a software called Screenr to record 5-minute screencasts where I show and talk through an email. During this review, I offer tips, suggestions, and general commentary. I’ve done a few of these email reviews recently and thought it would be nice to share them with you.

So … without further ado, I present you: An email review of GC Marketing Service’s first email campaign! Note: Be sure to click the box at the bottom right (next to the word Screenr) to view this screencast in full mode.


Can’t see the screencast? View it on Screenr

I’d love to hear your take on this email review. If you agreed with some of my comments, let me know. If you think I’m losing it and am totally wrong, let me know!

Cheers,
DJ Waldow

Using an iPhone App to Grow Your Email Marketing List

There I was, minding my own business, jamming out to Thriller with my 22-month old.

Pandora’s iPhone app was doing it’s job.

Suddenly … BAM!

I see this:

Pandora Email Opt-InWhat you are seeing to your left is a screenshot of my iPhone. On it is the cover Michael Jackson’s Thriller album playing on Pandora.

Blocking the bottom 3/4 of the album cover is a pop-up. However, it’s not just any pop-up. It’s an email registration pop-up! On top of that, it’s not a pop-up to subscribe to Pandora’s emails. Nope. It’s an email subscription option for Southwest Airlines and Cheapflights, presumably partners of Pandora.

Now I have to say, as an email marketing guy, seeing an email subscription option on Pandora’ iPhone app got me a bit pumped. It’s further proof that email is not dead. For someone who works with clients to ramp up their email marketing, this is a good thing.

At this point, you may be thinking … it’s a pop-up! I HATE pop-ups. So do I, for the most part. However, they work. Just ask Chris Penn (be sure to read his follow up post on selective popups). Whether or not the email marketing purists like to admit it, sometimes breaking the “rules” of email marketing delivers results.

To be fair, I have no idea if this Pandora iPhone app pop-up worked to drive new email registrations for Southwest Airlines and/or Cheapflights (If anyone from SWA or Cheapflights is reading this, we’d love if you can share some results in the comments below!). However, I love that they are testing it. I love that SWA and Cheapflights value email marketing enough to test out creative ways to grow their email list. After all, if you don’t have an email list … you don’t really have an email program.

What are you doing to grow your email marketing list? Is your email sign up form clear and obvious on your website? Do you take advantage of social media to grow your list? Are you doing something creative like Sephora? Perhaps you are leveraging SMS to grow your list like Red Mango.

Please share some of your tips and tricks for growing your email list in the comments below.

Remember: Without a list of email address in your database, there is no such thing as email marketing.

Cheers
DJ Waldow