5 Things I Love About This Email From Angie’s List

I’m not a fan of using someone’s first name in an email subject line … though it can be effective.

I’m also not someone who likes the use of symbols in email subject lines … though sometimes “gimmicky” tactics work.

However, for some reason, this email from Angie’s list – one that included a heart symbol AND my first name in the subject line – was one that I opened immediately.

Subject Line: ♥ Share the Angie’s List love, Dj!

Angie's List

5 Things I Loved About This Angie’s List Email

Subject line aside (though it did work), there were many things I loved about this email from Angie’s List. Taking it from the top …

  1. Simple, clean, not-too-big header: As Greg from Bronto suggests, it’s possible that headers may negatively impact conversions. While I have not seen any hard data to back up that claim, I think Greg makes a good case. The header in this email is the same as the one on the Angie’s List website and it does not take up too much space. Nice.
  2. Clear “contact us” messaging at top: While they could have done a better job of answering the “Why should I follow you!?” question, they get points for including it. Bonus points for adding a phone number. I’m guessing they do a lot of business via phone. And they also linked up to their contact page. Well done.
  3. Consistency from the subject line to the main call to action: As mentioned above, the subject line of this email was, ♥ Share the Angie’s List love, Dj!. Check out the first line of this email: We ♥ Big Mouths. Consistent! I love that there is even a picture of Angie with those big (fake) lips … sending a kiss to all of her email subscribers.
  4. Short, direct intro: Angie’s List did not waste a lot of words explaining what this email was all about. Even with a quick skim, I knew what to do.
  5. (3) Easy ways to spread “share the Angie’s List love”: Not 1. Not 2. But 3 – yes 3 – easy ways to share the love. Personalized e-invitation. Copy-and-paste. Old school, tell a friend when you see them. 

Here is what happens when you click the “click to sign in” (option #1) … and then sign in:

Angie's List Tell A Friend

What I love about this approach is that Angie’s List takes care of the heavy lifting. The more effort it takes to “share the love,” the less likely someone is to take action. They include the subject line (though I don’t love it) and a pre-filled out email (though I’d probably customize it slightly). As a bonus, they give away candy (tootsie rolls or tootsie pops) if a friend signs up. Nothing crazy, but unique enough to catch my attention.

The one issue I have with “invite a friend” pages like this one is that I have to actually recall my friends’ email addresses. Who remembers that stuff? Isn’t that what Gmail/Yahoo/AOL/Live is for? Heck, I don’t even know my own wife’s phone number and I call her multiple times per day.

If you click “Invite friends on Twitter,” a pre-populated tweet – like the one below – opens in a new tab.

Angie's List Tweet

Again. Angie’s List does the work so I don’t have to! Smart.

The only thing I’d tweak about this email is to change option 2 from “Copy-and-paste” to “Share with Your Community.” Then, I’d add Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn icons and auto-populate those networks (like the Twitter one above) when someone clicks.

What do you think about this email from Angie’s List? Love? Hate? Meh? What suggestions – if any – would you have for them?

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode a listen!


Email Marketing Made Simple

DID YOU KNOW…

I recently launched a new online course, Email Marketing Made Simple, that promises to help make you a better email marketer.

-Having trouble growing your email list?
-Not sure what a preheader is?
-Avoiding using the word “free” in your subject lines because someone told you it was a “rule.”
-Having trouble figuring out how to use social media and email marketing together?
-Not sure what you should be testing and how often?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions (or all 5!), I can help.

Learn More about Email Marketing Made Simple

 

82% of Greatist’s List Growth Comes From Its Popup

Greatist Daily Email PopupAlmost without fail, when I give my Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing talk and mention using a popup to collect email addresses, there is a collective groan throughout the crowd.

Let’s face it, many (most?) people hate popups.

I personally don’t care for them. However, as Chris Penn reminded himself (and all of his readers) here of the cardinal rule of marketing: I am not my customer.

My version of that phrase goes like this: Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

But what if adding a popup or popover* to your website worked? What if you could attribute a significant portion of your overall list growth to a popup? Would you test it?

In our book – The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing - Jason and I give several examples of individuals and companies who are growing their email lists quite a bit through popovers. We talk about Chris Penn’s popover as well as the one from Funny or Die. Both of them report incredible results from their popovers.

The more websites I visit, the more popovers seem to be “popping up.” The latest example comes from the team at Greatist.

82% of Greatist’s List Growth Comes From Its Popup

Greatist may be my new favorite website on the Internet. According to its About page:

A greatist is someone who chooses better to improve their fitness, health, and happiness. Greatist.com is the trusted health & fitness source for the young, savvy, and social.

When I first discovered Greatist, I was reading a wonderful article when suddenly a popover appeared … asking me to subscribe to the Greatist Daily (see image at top of this post). Without hesitation, I entered my email address and hit the subscribe button. WHAT? Didn’t I just write above that I hate popups?

Yes.

So why did I opt-in? Why did I enter my email address? Simple. The Greatist content that I was reading was so wonderful that I wanted to get it delivered to my inbox daily. The WIIFM (what’s in it for me) was short, direct, and compelling. The opt-in form was simple (email address only).

I emailed Derek Flanzraich, the CEO and Founder of Greatist, to tell him how awesome their popover was. I also – of course – asked him if it was working for them. Here is what Derek shared with me:

Me: Did you always have the popup on your site? If not, what did your pre-popup list growth look like compared to once you installed the popup?

Derek: Originally, Greatist started without a popup… but I was ultimately convinced it was the most effective way to grow a list mostly because I learned we could profoundly customize it. Our popup appears only once to each IP address (a reader’s first visit) and only 90 seconds into a session. The idea is simple: not bother people, but offer them a way to keep up with Greatist if they like what they see enough to stick around for a bit. We’ve briefly considered having the popup appear only at the beginning of someone’s 2nd visit to the site. I’m typically not a huge fan of popups myself, but if done well and with a brand I want to hear more from, I’d love to see one. So just as with everything at Greatist, we want to share a value we believe is truly awesome (our original daily tips newsletter) to people who’d appreciate it! We had an email entry box at the top right of the site before and still do, but the minute we installed the popup, our growth began to accelerate big time.

Me: Are you using an off-the-shelf popup solution or is it home built? If off-the-shelf, what are you using?

Derek: We’re using a pretty customized popup solution from MailChimp.

Me: Who came up with the copy for the popup (I love it, by the way) and what prompted you do try something short, sweet, and light?

Derek: Think it must have been me! Though we’ve considered it, we haven’t changed it at all since we added the popup. Don’t rock the boat, right? The copy is super consistent with our brand: high-quality, but fun– professional, but friendly. We’re obsessed with building a health & wellness brand that people truly trust and love– and on our way!

Me: What percentage of your overall email list growth is due to the popup?

Derek: 82%. Wowza.

Me: Have you ever had any complaints about the popup?

Derek: Very, very few. The major complaint has been that the popup has a glitch that, when it pops up, some people (only on mobile) are dragged to the top of the site. If they were reading an article, they immediately lose their place and all hell breaks loose (I assume). We’re working to fix it! Otherwise, can’t think of a simple complaint because of just the popup in our over a year and a half history.

So … Should YOU Add a Popover To Your Site?

Yes.
No.
Maybe.

My advice is this: Test it. Try it for a few weeks to see if it works for your audience. In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I’ve been testing a popover on Waldow Social. Truth be told, it’s not been that effective for me. That’s why you need to test! Don’t discount it – or any list growth tactic – until you have tested it with your audience.

Are you currently using a popover to grow your email list? If so, how’s it working for you? If not, what’s preventing you from testing it?

*Note: I use the term popups and popovers interchangeably; however, they are not really the same. Mark Brownlow does a nice job of distinguishing between the two here. Basically, a popup is something that appears in a new window or tab where a popover appears as a box/form that lays over the current webpage. The Greatist example above is a popover.

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode – with SETH GODIN! – a listen!


Speaking of breaking “the rules” of email marketing, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

Team Obama Unveils Its Email Campaign Strategy

Last week, Team Obama released some of the data behind its email marketing efforts during this past election season.

As an email marketing guy, these are the kind of articles that get my juices flowing. The post also included this cool (info)graphic.

I plucked out a few quotes from the Business Week article that really jumped out at me:

“Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising emails.”

The fact that this was published in a mainstream media outlet – Business Week – is encouraging. I’m hopeful that these numbers can put a nail in the coffin of the “email is dead” commentary (pun intended). As I’ve said before, and anyone who touches email marketing in any way will agree – email is far from dead; it’s thriving.

“We did extensive A-B testing not just on the subject lines and the amount of money we would ask people for,” says Amelia Showalter, director of digital analytics, “but on the messages themselves and even the formatting.”

This quote makes a really nice case for the value of testing – something I cover in Module 5 of Email Marketing Made Simple. What I really like about Team Obama’s testing is that it’s not limited to the subject line. They tested copy, imagery, buttons vs. links, and so on. See the last quote for more on what they tested

“It quickly became clear that a casual tone was usually most effective.”

Sometimes, simple is better. As Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman discuss in Content Rules, it’s important to speak human.

“We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to constantly keep testing,” says Showalter. “Every time something really ugly won, it would shock me: giant-size fonts for links, plain-text links vs. pretty ‘Donate’ buttons. Eventually we got to thinking, ‘How could we make things even less attractive?’ That’s how we arrived at the ugly yellow highlighting on the sections we wanted to draw people’s eye to.”

So you are saying that “ugly” can win? That beauty is in the eye of the subscriber? In The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing (as well as in Module 4 of Email Marketing Made Simple), we talk extensively about “ugly” emails outperforming “pretty” ones.

This Blog Post in 12 Words

Email is not dead. Test. Be human. Break the Rules (through testing).

What stood out to you most in this data that Team Obama shared? 

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. Give the latest episode a listen!


Speaking of breaking “the rules” of email marketing, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

FW: Break the Rules: Using Gimmicky Subject Lines

When I logged into Facebook this morning, this was the first update I saw:

Really sick of promo emails with FW or RE in the subject lines. Class it up, marketers. We can do better!

To be clear, the person who posted this is a friend as well as someone whose job is very closely tied to marketing.

My first reaction to her post was something along the lines of “YOU TELL ‘EM! I’M SICK OF THOSE GIMMICKS TOO!” (and yes, I did yell that out loud).

Then, I paused.

I recalled this book that Jason Falls and I just wrote – The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing – that’s all about breaking “the rules” of email. I had to remind myself of what we talk about in the book and what I preach all the time:

Best practices are those that are best for YOUR audience.

What if these “gimmicky” subject lines actually work? What if – for the audiences of these email marketers – subject lines using “FW” and “RE” lead to more opens, click-throughs, and conversions?

Would you do it? Would you at least test it to see how your subscribers responded?

Take a look at this email from Marketo (Note: I’ve removed some information to protect the innocent):


(Click on image or here to view entire email)

If you look closely, it appears as though Chelsea Kovak received this email from “Marketo Events” (her employer) and forwarded it along to my friend. I could be wrong, but my bet is this was not a one-off email; instead it was part of an email marketing campaign.

Here’s one more example that I received last week. It was sent from “Matt Steinmetz” (not sure who he is) and included an invitation to attend Content Marketing World – an event hosted by a colleague of mine, Joe Pullizi.

Check out the 4-minute screencast below:

Having trouble seeing? View it on my Screencast-O-Matic page.

I agree with much of what my colleague Loren McDonald said in his June 28th Email Insider column: Subject Line Gimmicks Won’t Solve Your ‘Open’ Problem.

But again, what if it works? Who are we to say what tactics and strategies email marketers should employ?

So …

My questions to you:

1. What are your thoughts on using “gimmicky” tactics like this in an email subject line?
2. Would you open, click, and buy something from an email like the two examples above? Have you in the past?
3. Have you or your company ever tried this tactic? If so, has it been effective for you in the short and/or long-run? Please share some metrics. I’d love to do a follow up blog post.

Finally, if you work at Marketo or are named Matt Steinmetz or Joe Pullizi … I’d love to hear how effective these emails were for you.

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westergaard and I have started a weekly podcast called The Work Talk Show, where we interview crazy-smart folks about how work gets done. This week’s guest is John Morgan! Listen to what John has to say about 2-hour power working.


Speaking of breaking “the rules” of email marketing, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

When It’s Okay to Break The “Rules” of Email Marketing

They get me every time!

This is what my friend Gini Dietrich wrote when she forwarded a Sephora email (from her iPhone, which she’s named George II). Below is the top half of the email she was referring to.

Notice the subject line uses her first name: “Gini, we’re celebrating you!” As I’ve mentioned before, I’m personally not a fan of using someone’s first name in the subject line. I think there are better, more creative ways to personalize emails. That being said, best practices are those that are best for YOUR audience. In this case, it would seem first name personalization is working – at least for Gini.

As Jason Falls and I talk about in our new book, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing, as long as you are testing – to see what works best for your audience, it’s okay to break some of “the rules” of email marketing. Go ahead, be a rebel!

Okay, back to this email from Sephora…

I asked Gini what it was about this email that “got her.” Here’s what she had to say:

Typically they have the sale item in the subject line, which always get me to open it. But this one I was curious so I opened it and saw OMG! I get five extra samples if I buy by Wednesday? Heck yes! Count me in. I’ll just buy mascara or something to keep in my drawer until I need it. But it works. Every stinking time. I bought a new hairdryer a couple of weeks ago because they had 20% off one item. I’m a sucker; what can I say?

This email worked – for Gini. She opened. She clicked. She converted (purchased).

Inferring a bit from what Gini said above, I believe that she opened this email because she trusted Sephora. Based on past emails, she knew that the Sephora offers were valuable. Couple that trust with a subject line that jumped out at her, they had Gini at “we’re celebrating you!”

Keep in mind, most people open an email based on one of two factors (or both): Subject Line and From name. If you recognize/trust the sender, you are more likely to open the email. If the subject line is compelling (or clearly states what you can expect), you are more likely to open the email. Add to that the fact that Sephora has a proven track record of providing value to Gini and this email was a slam dunk.

Are you sending emails that have your subscribers opening, clicking AND converting? What was the last email you received that “worked” (to steal a Gini phrase)? Please share in the comments below.

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? Nick Westeragaard and I have started a podcast! The Work Talk Show is a weekly podcast featuring a talk show format along with crazy smart guests who operate outside the lines of what work has traditionally looked like. We have “irreverent and insightful” conversations on work habits, work-shifting, virtual teams, productivity, travel, tools, technology, work-life balance, and everything in between as we take a look at how work gets done today. This week’s guest is none other than Krista Parry! Listen to what she has to say about defining success.


Speaking of breaking “the rules” of email marketing, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In the book, we talk about growing your email list as well as breaking “the rules” of email marketing. Break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

7 Email Marketing “Rules” You Must Break: Social Brand Forum 2012

What do the Iowa River Landing, Ann Handley, Nick Westergaard, Mack Collier and breaking “the rules” of email marketing all have in common?

Normally, not a whole lot.

However, next week – October 17 and 18 – Ann, Mack and I will be speaking at Nick Westergaard’s Social Brand Forum 2012 event located at the Iowa River Landing. I’ll be presenting, “7 Email Marketing ‘Rules’ You Must Break” – one of my all-time favorite topics.

I am very excited to be part of Nick’s first (annual?) Social Brand Forum. Located in the heart of Coralville, Iowa, Social Brand Forum 2012 is sure to be a killer event. As I first shared with Nick when he asked me to be a part of this event, when I step foot in Iowa, it will be the first time I’ve been there since the Jess Settles days. Anyone remember Jess Settles? I’m pretty sure he played at Iowa for about a decade.

As is shared on the event website:

Social Brand Forum 2012 brings national-level social media content to the Eastern Iowa Creative Corridor for a day and half of keynotes, panel discussions, and interactive sessions. Featuring speakers, authors, and thought leaders from the national stage, the event is designed to help marketers at organizations small and large build stronger brands through social media content, conversations, and community.

But don’t take it from me! Check out the details of the event – speakers, schedule, and so on.

One last thing. Last month, Nick (even organizer), Ann (good friend, colleague, author, and event speaker) and I sat down and recorded a short video talking about the Social Brand Forum 2012. As you can tell, we had a bit of fun, as we always do when the three of us get together.

YouTube Preview Image

Having trouble seeing the video? Try watching directly on YouTube.

See you in Iowa!

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

P.S. Have you heard the news? The aforementioned Nick Westeragaard and I have started a podcast! The Work Talk Show is a weekly podcast featuring a talk show format along with crazy smart guests who operate outside the lines of what work has traditionally looked like. We have “irreverent and insightful” conversations on work habits, work-shifting, virtual teams, productivity, travel, tools, technology, work-life balance, and everything in between as we take a look at how work gets done today.


Speaking of breaking the rules, did you know that my buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote a book called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win?

Yup. It’s true.

In fact, Nick will be giving away some copies of the book in Iowa next week. But, you could always just break the rules and grab your copy today, right now. Here –> AVAILABLE NOW!

Reminder: There is no such thing as “best practices” when it comes to email marketing. Best practices are those that are best for your audience.

Being an Email Marketing Rebel


Last week I had the honor of speaking at Explore Minneapolis, an event hosted by my friend, colleague, and co-author Jason Falls. I’ve now spoken at 3 of Jason’s events and I have to say, this one was right up there when it came to quality speakers. Folks like Jay Baer, Tom Webster, Nick Westergaard, Nichole Kelly, Tamsen McMahon, and many others highlighted the 2-day event. As Jason said, it certainly was “fast and furious.”

In Minneapolis, I gave a “fast and furious” 30-minute talk about Being an Email Marketing Rebel. The presentation was based on the new book that Jason and I wrote, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: How to Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win (available now for purchase – as of yesterday!) Below are the slides for your viewing pleasure … and download.

Having trouble seeing the slides? Try viewing directly on Slideshare.

Interested in booking me to speak at your next event? Fill out this short form here (select “Book Tour” option under “How Can We Help?”) and I’ll get back to you shortly!

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social

——

Looking for an email marketing book that’s not your average, boring “You MUST do this” type advice? Look no further. My buddy Jason Falls and I just wrote, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win.

Break the rules and grab your copy today. AVAILABLE NOW!

Would You Open An Email From Don Draper? [Part III]

Would you open an email from Don Draper? As mentioned in Part I of this 3-part series, I did in fact open an email from Don Draper without having a clue who Don Draper was. When I did open it, I loved what I saw.

However, not everyone had glowing reviews for this MarketingProfs email. As discussed in Part II, Joanna Roberts shared some reasons why she deleted the email without ever opening it.

I’d highly encourage you to take a few minutes to read both Part I and Part II before continuing below. It will help set the stage for what you are about to read.

Now that you are all caught up …

MarketingProfs Shares The Data

MarketingProfs took a risk. They broke some of the “rules” Joanna cautioned email marketers against. They used a from name that was not necessarily recognizable by all recipients (at least, not to Joanna and me). They used a pop culture reference – again, one that was lost on Joanna and me.

But did it work?

I asked Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs that very question. Here is what Ann had to say:

Note: These are Ann’s words, verbatim. Emphasis in various sections is mine.

—————-

Don’s email earned a 25-30 percent increase in open rates from previous B2B Marketing Forum emails (depending on segment, hence the varying percent), and with double the click-thru rate.

We did experience a sizable jump in unsubs from Don’s mailing as well. But our unsub rate per mailing is pretty low anyway — so we didn’t see it as significant.

The mailing also netted 3 sales in the first hour. On the other hand, purchasing an event registration is not an impulse buy — it’s not like we were selling, say, t-shirts or tires. So we weigh other metrics more heavily when we consider the success of this email (and any event email, for that matter) — i.e., more people looked at this message and clicked through — which will definitely net indirect sales down the road, based on our history with selling event seats.

The idea for this email came to me in the shower (it’s where I do my best thinking — you?), but truly I can’t take credit for it, because the genesis of the whole concept came from our Event Marketing team (led by Jo Roberts) and the way they positioned the event: “This is Not Your Father’s B2B” with the retro graphics — and complete with the concept that this is the premier B2B event for marketers, but not just ANY B2B marketer.

The positioning is a little edgy — implying it’s not an event for everyone, but only forward-thinking B2B marketers who want to embrace the new challenges and opportunities inherent in digital marketing — especially social, content, search. So I thought — I wonder if anyone is annoyed by that? And who would be? And then suddenly Draper — the poster child for old-school tactics, broadcast techniques and the campaign-centric, one-and-done approach — came to me. Not literally. Because my shower isn’t that big. And it would have been a little weird, too.

Team member Corey O’Loughlin ran [with the concept] and hired a copywriter to handle it. Corey provided the writer tons of guidance on the creative — including the email’s overall look and feel. We loved the results.

It’s without a doubt probably one of the emails I’m most proud of our team for producing almost ever at MarketingProfs — not only because I love the way that it really got people really excited on social channels. I also had a number of folks on our list reach out to me personally with kudos — so that was cool. The buzz was pretty awesome for us — and our job is just to keep that buzz going and translate buzz into butts-in-seats.

—————-

If you ask me, this email was a success.

  • 25-30 percent increase in open rates and double the click-through rates compared to previous B2B Marketing Forum emails.
  • While the unsubscribe numbers were higher than normal, Marketing Profs didn’t see it as significant.
  • 3 sales in the first hour.
  • One of the emails that Ann is most proud of the team for producing.
  • Ann had a folks personally contact her with kudos.
  • Good buzz. As Ann said, their “job is just to keep that buzz going and translate buzz into butts-in-seats.”
More than anything, I like that MarketingProfs broke some of the “rules” of email marketing. Then again, Ann is a bit on the rebellious side. I mean, don’t you agree? (one more)
What do you think? Was the risk worth the reward? Have you every tried this approach?
And finally, will I see you in Boston for the MarketingProfs B2B event? I wonder if Don Draper will be making a guest appearance. Ann?

Cheers
DJ Waldow

——

MarketingProfs certainly “breaks the rules” in this email campaign from Don Draper. Jason Falls and I talk about being rebellious and breaking some of the “best practices” of email marketing in our new book, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win. In fact, we have a couple of sections where we mention MarketingProfs!

Grab your copy today. PRE-ORDER NOW!

Would You Open An Email From Don Draper? [Part II]

Would you open an email from Don Draper? I did and without having the foggiest idea who Don Draper was.

Before continuing, please read Part I – I promise it will help give some context around the rest of this post.

Ok. Welcome back.

As mentioned in Part I (you did read that first, right?), I loved the Don Draper email from MarketingProfs. So much so that I shared it with my Twitter followers and Facebook friends. One of those friends – Joanna Roberts, Account Manager at Return Path, former co-worker at Blue Sky Factory, and friend for life – replied that she didn’t love the email … not at all.

Why Joanna Deleted The Don Draper Email

Joanna was kind enough to share her thoughts – as well as a few “lessons” – with us. Check out what she had to say below:

Note: These are Joanna’s words, verbatim. Emphasis in various sections is mine.

—————-

I’ll admit it, I watch a lot of TV. Put on some “Hell’s Kitchen,” “House Hunters” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” and I’m there. But one show I don’t and have never watched is “Mad Men.” I’m probably one of the few women in America that doesn’t know the name Don Draper. So imagine my confusion when I received an email from him (see email).

The email came to my Outlook inbox simply from “Don Draper”. In Outlook 2007, the list of emails in your inbox only shows the Friendly From Name and the Subject Line (not the From Address, which, for the record, did reference MarketingProfs). I scanned the email quickly … do I know a Don Draper and do I care why he’s not attending the MarketingProfs B2B Forum? Nope – delete without reading!

As I deleted, I wondered how Don Draper got my email address. Because in my mind his name was now associated with MarketingProfs through the subject line, I wondered if MarketingProfs had sold their email list to someone. I hoped this wasn’t the case, as MarketingProfs is a reputable resource for online and email marketing. But I still didn’t know who Don Draper was and why he was emailing me.

I forgot about the email until DJ mentioned on Facebook how great it was. Great? I don’t even know who it was from! So I retrieved the email from my deleted folder and realized it was a joke from MarketingProfs, intended to come from Don Draper of “Mad Men”. Obviously the joke was lost on me.

According to an Epsilon study from 2009, 68% of North American consumers surveyed said that they base their opening of an email on the From line. This is huge and shows the importance of using an easily-recognizable and consistent Friendly From Name and From Address. If readers come to expect your emails to come from a particular name, be it your company, brand or even a known person associated with your brand (think: Mickey Mouse or Bill Gates), you should use that name consistently. If you sway from that recognized name, recipients may not easily or quickly understand who the email is from and could delete your email without reading it or mark it as junk.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of using humor or doing something a little different from time to time with your email campaigns. It’s good to spice things up a bit and keep things interesting for your readers. But when doing so, it’s important that you don’t confuse the reader. Make sure they still understand who the email is from and that the intent of the email remains consistent with your company or brand. As email marketers, we’ve created a “personality” for our email campaigns, and it’s best practice to stay true to this personality, as it’s what readers have come to expect from us.

So in the end, what are the lessons here?

Lesson #1: Your Friendly From Name should be recognizable to all recipients so that when they see your email in their inbox, they know immediately who it’s from and want to read it. You only have a matter of seconds to catch your readers’ attention and stand out in the inbox. Don’t let those seconds slip away with an unrecognizable from line.

Lesson #2: Be careful with pop culture references, as not all readers will understand what you are talking about. Centering a campaign around a pop culture reference might cause those not-in-the-know to feel isolated and confused about your email message.

—————-

While I agree with Joanna on most points above, I will add this: There is no such thing as best practices – only practices that are best for your audience. As long as you are testing and the “rule breakers” are working for you, then by all means go for it. That’s pretty much the main takeaway in the book I just co-authored with Jason Falls – The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing [plug].

Speaking of testing and breaking the rules, stay tuned next week for Part III of “Would You Open An Email From Don Draper? In this next blog post, we’ll hear directly from the MarketingProfs crew – specifically Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. Ann will share the backstory on what inspired this email as well as some metrics.

Anyone want to predict how it compared to other event emails? Feel free to take some guesses in the comments below.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

——

MarketingProfs certainly “breaks the rules” in this email campaign from Don Draper. Jason Falls and I talk about being rebellious and breaking some of the “best practices” of email marketing in our new book, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win. In fact, we have a couple of sections where we mention MarketingProfs!

Grab your copy today. PRE-ORDER NOW!

Would You Open An Email From Don Draper?

I have a confession to make. I’ve never watched Mad Men. Not one single episode. Heck, I’ve never even seen a second of the show, though I hear it’s pretty awesome.

So when I received an email from Don Draper last week, I had no idea who he was. None.

From: “Don Draper”
Date: July 27, 2012 11:43:41 AM EDT
Subject: Why I’m Not Attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum

I was seconds away from deleting it (or even marketing it as spam), when my eyes were drawn in by the subject line.

Why I’m Not Attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum

That was the subject line of the email from this Don Draper guy.

Hmm, I thought. I don’t know Don Draper, but I do know MarketingProfs. Not only do I know MarketingProfs, but I love them – the company, the people, their events … even the killer hold music they play before and after each webinar. Everything. In fact, I’m going to be speaking at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston in October [plug].

So, while the from name (Don Draper) was foreign to me, the subject line included MarketingProfs – a company I trust and love. Additionally, the subject line was creative and eye-catching. I mean, I just had to know why this Don Draper guy was not attending a MarketingProfs event – especially one that I was speaking at (How DARE he?).

When I opened the Don Draper email, this is what I was greeted by:

The headline, “Why I’m Not Attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum” was consistent with the subject line, which tied the pre and post-open together for me. And the copy? The copy? WOW WOW WOW. Brilliant. 

To top it off, there were 3 calls to action in the body of the email, one in the preheader, and one in the footer – for a total of 5 (good math, huh?). All links pointed to the event registration page on the MarketingProfs website. Very very well done.

I loved the email. I opened it. I read every single word. I clicked the link. I shared on Twitter and Facebook.

Contrast that with the following email I received this week.

From: Thorin McGee
Subject: Check out our all-star lineup

Like the MarketingProfs email from Don Draper, I had no idea who Thorin McGee was. The subject line did not give me any hints to the identity of this McGee guy; however, it was intriguing enough to get me to open.

This is what the top half of the email looked like.

Hey! There’s Thorin McGee pictured top right. Hi Thorin! Nice to virtually meet you. While I loved that they lead with a simple, direct call to action and a “RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY” button, the copy just did not move me the same way the MarketingProfs email did. It was not all that compelling.

Back To The MarketingProfs Email

Remember how I said that I shared this email on Facebook and Twitter? I was so excited that I just could not wait to tell others. Certainly everyone love it as much as I did, right?

Wrong.

My good friend, former co-worker at Blue Sky Factory, and current Account Manager at Return Path, posted this reply on Facebook:

Interesting … I deleted this email without reading it because I didn’t know the name Don Draper. I actually saw that name in correlation with marketing profs, and without reading the content, assumed MP had sold their email list to Don. Obviously I’m not a Mad Men fan and the joke was lost on me. I wonder how many others ignored the email because of the from name?

Joanna was kind enough to elaborate on her thoughts. However, I’m saving that for another post. Stay tuned Friday for Part II of “Would You Open An Email From Don Draper?

Teaser: I am also working on Part III – some stats and quotes from the MarketingProfs team. We’ll look into how (and where) the concept for this email was dreamed up. You’ll even hear from Chief Content Officer Ann Handley herself!

While you are waiting for Part II and III to publish, please add your comments and thoughts below! I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic.

Cheers
DJ Waldow

——

MarketingProfs certainly “breaks the rules” in this email campaign from Don Draper. Jason Falls and I talk about being rebellious and breaking some of the “best practices” of email marketing in our new book, The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win. In fact, we have a couple of sections where we mention MarketingProfs!

Grab your copy today. PRE-ORDER NOW!