- Announcing the Truly Twisted Marketing Metaphor Contest!
- Stupid Marketer Watch: To Sears, You're Not Worthy
- Stupid FTC Watch: Let the Show Trial Begin
- What Email Marketers Can Learn from My Dog Willy
Think you've got a twisted mind? Why, of course you do! You’re a Magill Report reader.
This week, in order to give readers a chance to demonstrate their demented creativity I am launching The Magill Report Twisted Marketing Metaphor Contest.
Sears issued an apology last week to an undisclosed number of Shop Your Way rewards customers who had received an errant email touting “extra special” VIP Mother’s Day deals.
The promotion reportedly touted “huge points on jewelry, flowers, chocolates & more.” It also reportedly included 20 percent off an online purchase and 10 percent in points for buying products from affiliated brands, including ProFlowers.
Apparently the promotion was meant for VIP members, but mistakenly sent to non-VIP members.
Hence, the “apology.”
The Federal Trade Commission last week sent letters to 10 so-called data brokers warning that their practices may violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Each letter clearly states the FTC hasn't evaluated the companies' practices. However, the attorneys with not nearly enough to do at the FTC spent our money crafting and sending threat letters anyway.
This episode will certainly not end with these letters and you should be outraged.
Warning: Crudeness ahead]
One day recently I looked into our living room I saw our male cream-colored Labradoodle, Willy, humping our other male cream-colored Labradoodle, Woody.
Woody didn't seem to be bothered by Willy's actions. He just kind of stood there and let Willy continue.
As I watched the two of them, I thought: "If ever there was a metaphor for bad email marketing, this is it."
Stupid Glitch Revisited: Some Very Confused Email
Musician's Friend has a truly confused email program and I've got the messages in my inbox to prove it.
Stupid Media Watch: To This Day, Privacy Zealots Have Bupkis
Privacy zealots would be so much more credible in their crusade against data-driven marketing if they could come up with a single case of actual harm.
But they can’t so they make it up.
Email + Phishing: Separating Scams from the Real Thing Can be Tough
While ISPs and corporate spam filters work hard to catch most of the bad email out there, inevitably some do get through to the inbox. Some scams – whether spreading viruses or phishing attempts - are pretty obvious.
Others can sometimes be so realistic even those of us with heightened awareness do pause for a moment. And then there are the legitimate emails that look like phishing scams. Here are a few recent examples from my inbox.
Spam Turns 35; Time to Say 'Thank You'
Spam reportedly turned 35 over the weekend and now's as good a time as any to point out a few things about it few others seem to recognize.
Arrested Dutchman was a Spokesman? Nice Choice
Am I the only one who questions Stophaus's choice in a spokesman?
Dutchman Sven Kamphuis was reportedly arrested in Spain on Friday over accusations that he was behind the massive distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack launched against anti-spam group Spamhaus in March.
Kamphuis was involved with Stophaus, a group of unknown numbers aiming to take down Spamhaus.
Stophaus has claimed credit for the DDoS attack against Spamhaus. However, Stophaus claims Kamphuis was not directly involved in the attack.
Kamphuis just served as a a spokesman for the group, they claim.
Sure, Email More; But Not Your Whole File: Experts
Not all email addresses are created equal.
As a result, while some experts don’t necessarily disagree with the concept of sending email more frequently if it results in a revenue lift, they do not recommend sending more frequently to every address on the house file.
As some readers will recall, I have been advocating for testing increased email frequency for two weeks.
As follow up, I interviewed two experts who offer a different take.
Return Path Unveils New Anti-Phishing Service
Email intelligence firm Return Path today unveiled an anti-phishing service it claims can detect attacks launched from domains not owned by the company whose brand is being fraudulently used.
Responsys Claims First-of-its-Kind Preference Center
Email service provider Responsys yesterday unveiled what it claims is a first-of-its-kind preference center that provides clients a unified view of customer permissions and preferences across marketing channels.
Shock Study Reveals 69 Percent Email Opens On Mobile
Almost 70 percent of emails in a March study of big-brand, business-to-consumer messages were opened on smart phones or tablets, according to just-released figures by Movable Ink.
Close to 60 percent of big-brand emails were opened on smart phones, according to Movable Ink.
Just as stunning, the study of 100 brand marketers’ messages found that less than a third of their emails sent in March were opened on desktops.
Movable Ink’s study would seem to contradict every other study in the marketplace.
If it Means More Money, Darn Right You Send More
I knew when I published last week’s piece calling for shock treatment on people who continue argue for decreasing email frequency when decreasing frequency has shown to cause revenue to drop, some wiseass was going to pop up and say something like: “So what are you saying? Mail two times a day? How about four?”
And, of course, someone did.
The short answer to those questions: Yes, and yes. As long as production can handle it.
It's About DM Fundamentals, Doy
I often get a kick out of it when my son discovers something he thinks is new when, in fact, it’s not new at all.
His latest discovery was the word “doy,” as in: Well, no kidding.
Over the weekend, I overheard my son and his best friend discussing the term and claiming their schoolmate Megan had invented it.
“Megan didn’t invent doy!” I chimed in. “That word has been around since 20 or 30 years before you two were born, doy!”
Predictably, they refused to believe me. And just as predictably, I used the word doy whenever possible when talking to my son and his best friend for the rest of the day.
My son is an only child. As a result I have to perform double duty as dad and annoying older brother. I am told I play the latter role quite well.
What does this have to do with email marketing? A lot, actually.
Best Book Ever; How I Became a Writer
I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time. I want to say best ever, but there has to have been a better one somewhere.
It’s called Niagara Digressions by E.R. Baxter III.
[Warning: No marketing in this column.]
Stupid Debate Watch: You're Still Discussing this Why?
A quote in a recent article on MarketingLand.com illustrated just how badly conventional wisdom can infect business decisions.
Why Fully Confirmed Opt-In Sucks
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I employ fully confirmed opt-in in my email subscription process only because I have to.
Over the years I’ve irritated a lot of people—the right people as far as I’m concerned. And a bunch of them would jump at the chance to pollute my list by feeding it garbage addresses and/or forge subscribing people to this newsletter who don’t want it.
As a result, in building my email list I employ fully confirmed opt-in where would-be subscribers must respond to a confirmation email to get added to my email file. This way, only deliverable addresses possessed by people who want The Magill Report get added.
But let me state in no uncertain terms fully confirmed opt-in sucks. I hate it. If I could abandon it, I would.
Spring Home-Improvement Surveys: And the Winner is...
Major League Baseball has started and the days are longer. Spring is finally here. And for many, that means time to spruce up the yard and garden and start on home improvement projects. To coincide with the changing season, two large home improvement stores used email to get a pulse on their subscribers’ preferences. How did they do?
Shuvitt Inyurass Woos Asian Beauties; A Kitten Where?
[Author’s note: I considered holding this piece as a result of the bombings in Boston yesterday but then decided to run it. Having been in the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, I decided long ago not to let terrorists dictate my behavior.]
My alter ego, Shuvitt Inyurass, has apparently been very busy lately looking for love in Asia.
Stophaus Threatens New, Massive DDoS Attack
Stophaus, an anonymous group of unknown numbers dedicated to shutting down Spamhaus, is threatening new and massively larger DDoS attacks against the anti-spam outfit and its supporters than what it launched in March.
Most Retailers Don't Use Abandoned-Cart Emails: Bronto
Though abandoned-cart emails have proven time and time again to be one of the most effective selling tools in email marketing, the majority of retail respondents to a recent survey said they don’t employ them.
Face it, Your Messages Go Mostly Unread
After more than a decade of covering email marketing, here is what the industry has begun to sound like to me:
Oh my god! Eighty percent of Internet users check their email on mobile devices! Drop everything! We have to design for mobile devices!
Thumbs! Thumbs! Thumbs!
We have to design for thumbs!
But what mobile operating system should we design for?! Hell, I don’t know! All of them!
Please Get Out of My Face
I just had the living bejesus scared out of me by a website. No, it wasn’t some conspiracy-theory blog outlining the government’s plan to confiscate my vodka.
It was a website where an ad automatically loaded with full audio.
I had apparently earlier watched a video that required me to turn up the volume. I then visited RasmussenReports.com to read a report on how much Americans trust the news media.
The site loaded and BLAM!
Stophaus: We Got What We Wanted; End Game is Near
So it didn’t slow the Internet as the worldwide press reports would have us believe.
And it didn’t kill anti-spam outfit Spamhaus.
However, the person or group claiming responsibility for the widely reported DDoS attack on Spamhaus claims he/they got what they wanted.
Stupid Media Watch: The Biggest Slowdown that Never Happened
In the nineties as editor for marketing trade publication iMarketing News , I slowly drew the conclusion that the New York Times is generally full of crap when I realized it misreported major elements of every story of which I had personal knowledge.
“If they can’t get the stuff I know about right, why should I trust their coverage of issues I have little or no knowledge of?” I thought.
Yes, the Times isn’t alone in misreporting stories big and small, but its errors matter more.
TowerData Rebrands as Email-Only Data Firm
Database-services firm TowerData is expected to announce today it has rebranded itself from a telephone, postal and email database services firm to solely an email firm.
Newsflash: Press Releases Should Make Sense
Another day, another indecipherable press release. I get them all the time.
And they all suffer from the same problem: Too many people put their paw prints on them before they go out.
Wow. Spamhaus Piece Draws, Er, Comments
Want to know why Spamhaus keeps emailers at arm’s length? Check out the comments left by someone calling himself Prince Sven Olaf von CyberBunker-Kamphuis, MP after last week’s Q & A with Spamhaus chief executive Steve Linford.
I’ve republished them below, oldest on top, so they can be read in the order they appeared. They speak for themselves. They are a small example of what Spamhaus deals with every single day.
Stupid Media Watch: Let's Tax Email!
George Skelton apparently doesn’t understand the Interwebs is a global series of tubes.
The LA Times writer published a piece last week in support of a Berkeley, CA politician who recently came under fire for proposing a tax on email to prop up America’s ailing postal service.
Personalized Emails, Welcome Programs Work like Gangbusters: Experian
Though most marketers ask for customer data, 70 percent of them don’t use that data to personalize emails, according to a recently released study by Experian Marketing Services.
However, personalized mailings achieve 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings, according to Experian’s 2013 Digital Marketer Report.
Red Pill Releases New ESP Guide
Email marketing consultancy Red Pill Email today released one of two editions of its 2013 Email Vendor Features & Functions Guide, a guide that details the service-and-product offerings of dozens of email services providers worldwide.
To create the guide—Red Pill’s fourth—the company surveyed 62 vendors with 500 questions.
Blasphemy: Segment? Pshaw! Just Send More, Says Quist
Want to make more money with your email program? Simple. Send more of it.
That was the gist of the message Dela Quist delivered in a wide-ranging presentation last week to members of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.
According to Quist, CEO of email marketing agency Alchemy Worx, one of the biggest issues crippling the permission-based email-marketing industry is “fear self loathing” where its practitioners are too busy bending over backwards to avoid being called spammers.
Spamhaus Provides First Batch of Answers
Several weeks ago, Steve Linford, chief executive of anti-spam organization Spamhaus agreed to take questions from marketers through the Magill Report.
Marketers responded with more than 50 questions. This week, Linford provided answers to the first 14.
The FTC's Warped View of Marketing
Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill made a deeply troubling, and very revealing, remark in her keynote speech to attendees at the Direct Marketing Association’s DMA in DC conference last week.
The statement reflected how little she knows about how marketing actually works.
Dear Microsoft: Meet Karma
Did anyone notice a drop in responses from Hotmail and Outlook address holders last week?
If so, there was a reason.
Facebook Will Crash; I have Proof
Facebook is going to crash. I just saw the sign and I know it’s going to crash.
How do I know this? Well a little history is in order.
Just before the market crash of 1929, either Joseph P. Kennedy or financier Bernard Baruch or both, depending on which sources you believe, said that when shoe shine boys are giving stock tips the market is too popular for its own good and it’s time to get out.
Get out they did. And they made a ton of money.
Well, marketers, in much the same vein I’m telling you it’s time to get out of Facebook.
A Look at Email + Apple's Passbook
With the launch of iOS 6 came the Passbook feature which allows consumers to store coupons, loyalty cards and tickets on their iPhone or iPod touch. There were quite a few articles in the fall about which companies were onboard including Target, Starbucks, American Express and Walgreens. This list gives even more insight into who is using Passbook.
However, I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of them, particularly for retailer in-store coupons and for restaurants.
The option to quickly add the coupon to your Passbook is much more appealing—and easier—than printing out the coupon and once it’s added it’s easier to access while out shopping or dining than scrolling through an inbox to find the right email.
Turd Sandwich Drops Campaign Against Giant Douche
Microsoft is apparently winding down its despicable “scroogled” smear campaign against Google—at least the paid-media portion of it, anyway.
Launched in November, the television, newspaper and social-media campaign was aimed at convincing the public that Google is deceptive by failing to tell them its shopping search results are paid and that it scans Gmail accounts to serve hopefully relevant ads.
In thinking of Microsoft versus Google I am reminded of my favorite episode of South Park: Turd Sandwich VS. Giant Douche
Questions for Spamhaus: Update
I think we may have drowned Steve Linford.
Two weeks ago, the chief executive of anti-spam outfit Spamhaus agreed to take questions from Magill Report readers.
I put out a call for questions and the responses came in. Boy, did they come in.
Fifty one of them to be exact. Linford has assured me he’s working on them. We should be hearing from him soon.
Emailers Under Threat in DC, Too: DMA
When American federal lawmakers talk about going after so-called data brokers, email marketers should feel just as threatened as any traditional data compiler, according to a top legal executive with the Direct Marketing Association.
The reason: The definition of “data broker” in Washington is far different from what most direct marketing professionals think of when they hear the term.
Stupid Glitch Watch: Reactivation Campaign Pain
It was the reactivation campaign that worked ... and then didn’t.
A lot of marketers are going to read this and think: “Heh, at least he’s not writing about me.”
But I probably am writing about you. You just don’t know it.
In Atlas, Facebook Buys a Clunker
From an end-user perspective, Facebook has some serious work cut out for it on Atlas, according to two experts who have used Atlas and its competitor Dart extensively.
“Atlas is the square stone wheel of ad-tracking systems,” said one. “The terminology is obtuse. It’s unintuitive. It takes you three times as long to do anything as Dart. It’s everything you would expect from Microsoft.”
Get To Inbox Responds to Magill Report
Get To Inbox responded to an article published in this newsletter last week in which I questioned the new email service provider’s claim it could provide superior inbox delivery and higher click rates.
The response was from Tom VanOstrand, Get To Inbox’s chief technical officer:
Stupid Academia Watch: Dumbest. Article. Ever.
And the award for the most alarmist piece of fantastical idiocy on marketing goes to Erik K. Clemons for a piece he had published on the Huffington Post.
Headlined “Online Profiling and Invasion of Privacy: The Myth of Anonymization,” the article is a classic case of academic theory completely divorced from reality.
Got a Question for Spamhaus? Here's Your Chance to Ask
Steve Linford, the chief executive of the most feared entity in email marketing, has graciously agreed to take questions from Magill Report readers.
So if you’ve ever had a question for the folks at Spamhaus, now’s the time to ask.
Here Come the Canadian List-Hygiene Police
Once the Canadian anti-spam law goes into effect—if ever—the clock will start ticking on email marketing lists that have not been built under Canada’s definition of explicit permission.
New ESP Making Questionable Claims
A new email service provider has launched claiming it can improve clients’ delivery, open and click-through rates.
Why Sales Tax Simplification is a Really Bad Idea
The Direct Marketing Association last week condemned the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would allow states to require online vendors to collect sales and use tax on certain out-of-state purchases.
According to the DMA, the bill doesn’t do enough to simplify sales tax collection.
“DMA believes that Congress should reject this effort and instead seek real efficiency and harmonization among state taxing regimes in order to achieve a truly streamlined system of sales tax collection,” the organization said in a statement.
Want to see sales-tax rates skyrocket? “Streamline” and “harmonize” them according to the DMA’s wishes and remove the element of jurisdictional competition.
Why Amazon Suddenly Supports Online Sales Taxes
Amazon used to be against collecting taxes on sales to consumers in states where it doesn’t have a physical presence. In November it switched sides.
And when the Marketplace Fairness Act was introduced in the House and Senate last week, Amazon was listed among its supporters.
So what happened?
Amazon can expect to benefit from the collection of online sales taxes in at least three ways.
Stupid FTC Watch: Here is What We're Dealing With
Anyone who trusts the Federal Trade Commission to make rational and reasonable judgment calls concerning any aspect of online advertising should consider the following:
The FTC last week announced a settlement it reached with the makers of Four Loko in which Phusion Projects agreed to repackage the super-sweet, high-alcohol beverage in re-sealable containers and disclose on each can that: “This can has as much alcohol as 4.5 regular (12 oz. 5% alc/vol) beers.”
Are the FTC lawyers really this stupid? That disclosure isn’t a warning. It’s a selling point!
Email Pros Daniels, Marriott Team Up
Email marketing expert Chris Marriott has joined David Daniels’ consultancy The Relevancy Group as its vice president of services and principal consultant, the two announced today.
UK DMers Advance New Engagement Metric
A group of UK Direct Marketing Association members have advanced a new metric they claim is the best way to measure email engagement.
Dubbed open/reach, the metric is the number of people who have opened a marketer’s email messages at least once over a given period of time, say a quarter or a year.
FreshAddress Unveils Email Scoring Service
Email-database-services company FreshAddress last week unveiled a service it claims can measure the likelihood certain email addresses are used by a person likely to spend money.
Dubbed eSpend Score, the service assigns each email in a client’s database a score from zero to 100.
PCH's Tripi Named Pollard Marketer of the Year
Sal Tripi last week was named by the Direct Marketing Association’s email experience council as the 2013 Stefan Pollard Marketer of the Year.
The assistant vice president, digital operations and compliance for Publishers Clearing House is the annual award’s third recipient.
Pollard was a respected email-marketing mentor and best practices proponent. He died unexpectedly in 2010.
Every year since Pollard’s death, the eec has bestowed his namesake award on someone they believe best exemplifies his mentorship and commitment to driving email best practices.
Tripi said the award is particularly meaningful because Pollard mentored him.
Dear DMA: Your Little Ploy Didn't Work
Dear Direct Marketing Association:
Stupid Media Watch: Weeping from Pure Ignorance
What is it about marketing that leads so many writers at big publishers to file so much ignorant garbage about it?
In the latest case of a writer having no clue how marketing works but still thinking he can write intelligently about it, we have IT columnist Dennis Howlett over at ZDNet.
He published a piece last week headlined “CMO to have more spend power? Don’t make me weep” in which the second sentence pretty much tells us all we need to know.
“Traditionally, marketing departments have been largely unaccountable in terms I understand,” Howlett wrote.
He then spent the rest of the column demonstrating how true that statement is.
Canada Anti-Spam-Law Debate Descends into the Absurd
It’s not like we needed any more evidence that Canada’s anti-spam law—passed in 2010, yet to go into effect—is an utterly absurd attempt to regulate a problem it will do nothing to solve.
And we certainly didn’t need more evidence that all it will do is hamstring law-abiding people and companies, possibly putting them in danger of severe penalties.
But boy did we get it.
More Evidence 'Showrooming' Threat is Overblown
Fifty eight percent of cell phone owners used their phones for recommendations, reviews or price comparisons in a bricks-and-mortar store this Christmas shopping season, according to a recently released study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Twenty seven percent of cell phone owners used their phones inside a store to look up a product and see if they could find a better price elsewhere, according to Pew Internet.
And of the 27 percent who price checked in a store, 12 percent bought the product online.
So what does this say about so-called showrooming, where people supposedly use bricks-and-mortar stores as showrooms and then research and buy with their smartphones online?
This Webinar is Worth Your Time
I've done a lot of webinars over the years, some better than others. But the one I moderated with Return Path last week was one of the best in which I've ever participated. Yes, they're my lead sponsor and yes they paid me to do the webinar, but they didn't pay me to plug it after the fact here.
Click the link below to listen to it. I promise it'll be worth your time.
Courting Trouble: Big Retailers Don't Use DMARC
Of the top 100 retailers in America, just three protect their brands from phishing using DMARC, according to a study released today by email intelligence firm Return Path.
The news comes exactly one day short of a year since the DMARC scheme was unveiled.
The news also comes as phishers are increasingly using phony receipts and shipping notices to capture people’s financial information, according to Return Path.
Okay Marketers: Less Whining, More Doing
Finding out that just three of America’s top 100 retailers have published DMARC records and that 77 of them do not fully authenticate their domains wasn’t remotely surprising.
But it was a little infuriating.
Marketers are forever complaining that email inbox providers don’t treat their permission-based mail fairly.
And to some degree I have sympathized. But not today.
Stupid Media Watch: Facebook Mastering the Art of 'Slow Spam Bludgeoning'
Anti-marketing writers for large media outlets would have so much more credibility if their careers and practically everything they do online—except watching the only thing people will pay for—wasn’t underwritten by advertising.
One standout among the utterly clueless anti-marketing writers currently spouting nonsense on a regular basis is Slate staff writer Andrew Leonard.
Reminder: Don't Use 'Super Bowl'
So whether or not the National Football League can legally stop unaffiliated advertisers from using the trademarked term “Super Bowl” in their promotions is apparently up for debate.
But do you want to be the martyr, er marketer who tests them? Of course not.
PCH Exec Cold, then Sold on Co-Reg
After having sworn it off, Sal Tripi has embraced co-registration as an email list-building tactic again.
The assistant vice president, digital operations and compliance for Publishers Clearing House had had enough bad experiences with co-registration he thought he was done with it forever.
But the folks at marketing services firm eWayDirect convinced him to try it one more time.
Dealing with those Pesky Point-of-Sale Addresses
Talk about a potential point of failure: 78 percent of retailers collect email addresses at point of sale using their sales clerks, according to a recent study by Experian Marketing Services.
Relying on sales clerks to get customer email addresses is a surefire recipe for getting dirty data. They’re often young, always think they’re underpaid and have most likely never heard the words “list hygiene.”
And not surprisingly, the collection of dirty data at point of sale is exactly what has happened.
Point of sale is an obvious place to collect email addresses. It simply has to be done properly.
Finalists for Stefan Pollard Award Set
The Direct Marketing Association’s email experience council last week announced three finalists for the third annual bestowing of its Stefan Pollard Marketer of the year Award.
Podcast: Amazon Opens Cyber Monday Spigots; So What was the Result?
[Sponsored content] Amazon.com’s Cyber Monday email marketing philosophy this year was apparently something along the lines of: “Crank it up, baby!”
According to information gleaned from Return Path’s competitive email intelligence tool, Inbox Insight, the online seller of seemingly everything that can be shipped doubled its Cyber Monday email volume from 2011 to 2012.
So what was the result? Complaints? Unsubscribes? To find out, click on the link below and listen to a short interview I did with Margarita Golod, director, product marketing for Return Path.
The interview is a nice, digestible six minutes long and entirely worth your time.
Email Lives; 'Big Data' will Die: DMCNY Speaker
Email still apparently hasn’t received the memo it’s supposed to be dead and there is a heck of a lot more marketing noise about mobile and social than there is actual spending on the channels, according to Bruce Biegel, managing director of the Winterberry Group.
“The conversation about social and mobile versus how you make money is still a lot more conversation and a lot less spend,” he said in a wide-ranging 2013 forecast speech to the Direct Marketing Club of New York in Manhattan’s Yale club last week.
DMA's Woolley has Experience where it Matters Most
Judging by her professional experience, Linda Woolley is an excellent choice for president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association.
The DMA took the word “acting” out of her title last week and made official a position she has operated in unofficially since May.
In elevating Woolley to CEO, the DMA has someone at the helm who has vast experience where direct marketing’s biggest threats materialize on seemingly a daily basis: Washington.
My Email+Social Prediction Report Card: Mostly As and Bs ... and a D
With the New Year upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to review the predictions I made last year about email and social in 2012. Have marketers made huge strides? Did my predictions miss the mark? Read on to find out.
Magill Report FFL 12: To the Victor Goes the Trophy ... and the Meat
As usual, they loved the trophy, but it was the meat football that drew the oohs and aahs from the good folks at eWayDirect.
I drove to Connecticut last week to deliver their spoils for having won the Magill Report’s third fantasy football championship in what turned out to be the most exciting season yet.
Stupid Legal Watch: Canada Defines Relationships; Boris the Spammer Takes Note
And for more evidence of the ridiculousness we are in for if Canada’s anti-spam law ever goes into effect, authorities there have now defined the terms “personal relationship” and “family relationship.”
Why? Well, let’s hear it straight from the folks who defined them:
“The terms are clearly defined in order to establish limits and avoid legal uncertainty and to prevent potential spammers from exploiting these concepts in order to send electronic messages without consent.”
Phew! That was close. But thanks to Canada, when their new law goes into effect—if it ever does; it was passed in December, 2010—Boris the Russian spammer won’t be able to claim the old “personal relationship” exemption spammers have been using for oh, like, never.
The setting: St. Petersburg, Russia, sometime in 2014
Dear Anti Spammer: Way to Make My Point
In an apparent attempt to make some sort of point, someone last week forge subscribed my email address to a bunch of newsletters—about a dozen or so.
The forged subscriptions came on the heels of a column in which I contended spam isn’t a problem for the average consumer and very likely not the problem some anti-spammers claim it is for them.
This isn’t the first time some vengeful, self-defeating jerkwad anti-spammer has forge subscribed my address to email lists. But the last guy—it’s gotta be a guy, right? What woman would do this?—was way more creative.
Movable Ink Signs Lilly Pulitzer
Movable Ink today announced that it has signed an agreement to provide its services to Lilly Pulitzer.
New-York-City-based Movable Ink allows marketers to serve dynamic content in email messages based on when the message is opened, where and other variables.
Lilly Pulitzer markets and distributes dresses, sportswear and other products based on the Palm Beach Resort lifestyle.
Return Path Webinar: Gain Email Insights Available Nowhere Else
As retailers were celebrating record-setting sales on Black Friday, the email intelligence analysts at Return Path were making a list of retail email campaigns and checking them twice for engagement and other performance metrics.
Join Return Path [and me] for this exclusive webinar that crunches the 2012 retail numbers, and shares actionable tips and trends to guide marketers as they prepare their 2013 email campaigns.
Drawing data from the 2 million-plus subscriber panel included in Return Path’s Inbox Insight product, our panelists discuss:
• The big surprises of the 2012 holiday season
• Results of subject line performance
• A glimpse into specific retailers' tactics and strategies
• Using competitive intelligence to optimize email performance
Spam is a Problem for You? Really?
Every time I publish a piece taking issue with anti-spammers’ view of how a perfect email world should work, I hear from one or more of them complaining about the volume of spam in their inboxes.
To which my general reply is: “Really? You’re having problems with spam? Now? Who’s your inbox provider, Acme?”
Then I picture them lying at the bottom of a ravine with giant springs on their feet and a sign that says: “Yikes.”
Do-Not-Track: More of What's Really at Stake
True story: An advertiser pitching a financial-services product to parents with young children on behalf of a client last week spent $45,000 on behaviorally targeted ads.
The result? $3.5 million in new accounts.
That’s 3.5 friggin’ million dollars on an ad spend of 45 thousand.
Hopefully, You Can Still Avoid This Huge Mistake
I made a terrible mistake in 2004 and just learned of it this weekend. And while I can’t fix what I did—or failed to do in this case—I can hopefully help others avoid doing the same thing.
[Warning: No marketing in this column.]
Podcast: Get the Latest in Mobile Best Practices
[Sponsored content] By now, everyone reading this newsletter knows it is becoming imperative to design email creative with mobile users in mind.
Almost one in four emails are opened on mobile devices, according to a recent report by email intelligence firm Return Path.
I recently interviewed Stephanie Colleton, director, professional services, response consulting, for Return Path to get some of her expertise on the subject of designing email with mobile opens in mind.
She interacts with clients on a regular basis and lately they all have been seemingly asking many of the same questions.
For example, which platform should marketers worry about most, iOS or Android? And what is responsive design and should marketers use it?
Click below to get the answers to these questions and more.
Wow! eWayDirect Wins Championship by Less than a Point
If only New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning would have connected on one more pass. Or if St. Louis wide receiver Danny Amendola hadn’t fumbled.
That has to be what Movable Ink’s Inkredibles team manager Jordan Cohen is thinking since he suffered a 0.8 point loss to eWayDirect’s Avengers in The Magill Report Fantasy Football League 2012 championship.
Meanwhile, Jarett Lewis, manager of the Avengers has to be thinking:
“I just beat my former friggin’ boss! Oonse, Oonse, Oonse, Oonse ,Wub Wub Wub Wub Wub.”
When Confirmed Opt In is Just Plain Craziness
On the heels of last week’s report that Spamhaus has begun blacklisting retailers for sending email to addresses with typographical errors in them, some anti-spammers predictably weighed in with calls for retailers to employ fully confirmed, or double, opt in.
The typos in question were believed to be the result of addresses incorrectly entered into the retailers’ databases at point of sale as part of their e-receipts programs—paperless systems that allow customers to have receipts delivered to their inboxes.
Spamhaus indicated it wouldn’t have blacklisted the retailers if only one-off transactional messages were sent to the addresses. It was the marketing email that came afterwards that was the problem.
Spamhaus and other anti-spammers also contended that if retailers sent messages to the customers asking their permission to send them non-transactional email and only sent marketing email to those who replied “yes,” there wouldn’t be problem.
And from an anti-spammer’s point of view, they are correct.
But from a retailer’s perspective, they are swirly eyed, stark-raving bananas.
Spamhaus CEO Linford Clarifies Retail Email Position
In the wake of last week’s report that Spamhaus has been blocklisting retailers for sending to email addresses with typos in them, the anti-spam group’s CEO Steve Linford was kind enough to clarify his position in the comments section of The Magill Report.
In order to understand what Linford is referring to, if you haven’t read last week’s report, it would be best to start there.
Here is Linford’s clarification unedited:
A New Year's Thank You from The Magill Report
Shoot: The Mayans were wrong, which means I’ve still got to work.
Next time The Magill Report comes out, it’ll be 2013—January 2, 2013 to be exact.
I’ll be publishing on Wednesday again because New Year’s Day falls on Tuesday this year.
In any case, I haven’t been a big fan of New Year’s Eve for many years. Long ago as a bartender I learned to view it as the night a bunch of people who don’t normally overindulge in alcohol turn into slobbering idiots.
Also, having marked 50 of them, I view the passing of another year increasingly less as something to go wild about.
But the passing of another year gives me an opportunity to thank some folks who made the 2012 Magill Report possible.
Now? Really? Spamhaus Blacklists Retailers for Typos
In an apparent first, anti-spam outfit Spamhaus has been blacklisting major retailers—among them Gap and Gilt—for email sent to addresses with typographical errors.
The typos are believed to be the result of addresses incorrectly entered into the retailers’ databases at point of sale as part of their e-receipts programs—paperless systems that allow customers to have receipts delivered to their inboxes.
Stupid Magill Watch: Fancy That; Cyber-Monday Subject Lines Work
Boy, was I wrong.
A couple years ago I published a piece calling BS on the concept of Cyber Monday.
I wasn’t contending it was always BS. I was contending it had become BS.
Hurricane Sandy Podcast: What Worked, What Didn’t
[Sponsored content] So just how well did—or didn’t—that American Apparel email work during Hurricane Sandy?
If you’ll remember, American Apparel took a lot of heat in the press for trying to capitalize on the storm by sending an email offer for a 20-percent-off sale with the subject line “Hurricane Sandy Sale! 20% off of Everything”.
Was the bad publicity worth it? While only the folks at American Apparel can quantify that question for sure, we at least can tell if people interacted with the message.
Click here or on the hear-podcast link below to listen to a short interview with Margarita Golod, director, product marketing for Return Path, to find out how American Apparel's Hurricane Sandy email performed.
Also, analyzing data from Return Path's Inbox Insight tool with more than 2 million subscribers, Golod reviews the best and the worst examples from email marketing campaigns deployed during Hurricane Sandy. She identifies the types of marketing messages that appeared to increase customer loyalty while protecting company brand and reputation.
Magill FFL '12: Shocker! League Powerhouses Are Out
This week just goes to show that once the playoffs are set, anything can happen.
The Magill Report Fantasy Football League’s top two teams were knocked out of the playoffs, leaving Nos. three and five to compete for the championship.
FTC Epic Show Trial a Sign of Things to Come
The Federal Trade Commission held a show trial last week.
It announced it settled charges with an ad network that exposed the names and addresses of more than 70,000 50-plus-year-old men whose browsing history indicates their weenises don’t perform on command quite like they did in their 20s.
Oh wait. The FTC didn’t announce anything like that.
Five Warning Signs Canada Doesn't Know What it's Talking About
Is it too much to ask government authorities to have at least a basic understanding of the issues surrounding the regulations they pass?
In Canada, the answer is apparently resounding “yes”—at least when it comes to spam.
A potential nightmare of an anti-spam law is slated to go into effect in Canada in 2013 and just last week its authorities published an infographic indicating they don’t even know what spam is.
Email+Mobile: What Did You Change This Year?
Where did the year go? Back in January I recommended that marketers, if they hadn’t already, get started on optimizing for mobile. Well, now that it’s the end of the year, let’s take stock. Here’s a short version of that list:
MagillFFL 2012: Quarterfinals Go Down to the Wire
Oh, the heartbreak and elation abounds this week in the email marketing industry’s premier fantasy football league—that would be the Magill Report Fantasy Football League in case anyone’s wondering.
Two teams went into last night’s Monday Night Football contest in the Magill Report quarterfinals down by fewer than 12 points and with enough players yet to go to pull out a win.
One succeeded. One did not. And both games were decided by fewer than two points.
Service Launched to Sniff Out Purchased Lists
Every email service provider knows this story: New client comes on board and hands over their email file; ESP sends messages on behalf of new client; anti-spam warning bells go off all over the place; turns out the new client provided a bad list.
Historically, the way ESPs generally find out if a new client has provided a bad list has been to send to it and see what happens.
Scott Hardigree, chief executive of email marketing firm Indiemark, aims to change that with a new offering he calls BlackBox.
Obama Email Team Gets Age-Old Lessons in DM
You know those Obama emails so many people—including Jon Stewart—made fun of? They worked.
They were ugly. Some seemed a little too familiar. But they worked.
[Editor’s note: Before anyone gets in a froth, this isn’t about politics. It’s about marketing.]
W3C Appoints Do-Not-Track Mediator: Good Luck with That
Want to unload a sinking ship? Well, I’ve got a taker. His name is Peter Swire.
Magill FFL Playoffs Set: Marketfish Out; FreshAddress In
So what the heck is the use of having divisions if they don’t mean anything? That would be the question of the week.
And that’s certainly the question the folks at Marketfish are asking today. Despite having won their division, they didn’t make the playoffs.
No one from Division 3 made the playoffs.
First! Thanksgiving Retail-Email Volume Surpasses Black Friday: Responsys
Shhhhh. Don’t tell retailers email is dead.
For the first time, America’s leading retailers sent more promotional email on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday, according to marketing services provider Responsys.
Not that Black Friday is an email slouch, mind you.
Commercial Emailers Lead in Complaints, Spam Traps: Return Path
Though their messages account for less than 1 percent of all email traffic, commercial emailers draw vastly more spam complaints and hit far more spam traps than other types of mailers, according to a just-released report from Return Path.
In a study of more than 2 million email boxes, commercial emailers drew 70 percent of the spam-complaints reported, according to the email intelligence firm.
In contrast, bots were responsible for just 3 percent of spam complaints, according to Return Path.
Online Marketing's Biggest Threat Isn't What You Think
We all know the most immediate threats to online marketing: Swirly eyed privacy zealots allowed to make crazy claims without being challenged by a compliant, intellectually lazy consumer press, and a Federal Trade Commission chairman who thinks behavioral ad targeting may result in someone getting their health insurance rates increased as a result of having bought a deep fryer online.
They’re the most immediate threats, but not the biggest.
MagillFFL: One Week to Go; Four Playoff Spots Clinched
As of this week, four teams can breathe a little easier knowing they’ve got a playoff spot: The TowerData Validators, Return Path’s GOLIATHS, Movable Ink’s Inkredibles and PL Marketing’s Lakeland Hawks.
Rebuttal: Email's Job 1 is Revenue, Not Conventional Wisdom
Editor’s note: Last week, I published a negative opinion piece on a suggestion digital marketing consultant Christopher Marriott made in a column on iMediaConnection that marketers should consider emailing people who have visited their sites but failed to do anything other than click around.
I headlined the piece: “Worst. Idea. Ever.”
I also invited Marriott to write a rebuttal. He was kind enough to do so. Here is what he had to say:
Stupid Media Watch: Dehumanizing the Chattel
Another day, another anti-marketing hack job by the New York Times’ Natasha Singer.
There is seemingly no reporter on earth who can accurately describe breathtaking online-marketing innovation and be as ignorantly dismissive of its benefits as she is.
She literally gets it without getting it.
Time to Ban the Word Consumer as a Qualifier
It’s time to replace the word “consumer” whenever it comes before words such as “advocate” with something more accurate.
“Time-and-resource-sucking jackwad” works.
Yeah, time-and-resource-sucking-jackwad advocate. That’s more like it.
And we came up with the new name just in time to learn of a new time-and-resource-sucking jackwad.
Magill FFL: And They're Coming Down the Stretch
While the playoff picture is starting to solidify in Divisions 1 and 3, Division 2 is completely up for grabs.
The top two teams in Division 2 lost this week and the third- and fourth-place teams won, putting three out of the five teams just one game out of first place.
Worst. Idea. Ever.
One of the best-known names in email marketing yesterday gave some terrible advice in a column on iMediaConnection.
The advice: Email people who have visited your site but left without making a purchase or registering in any way including supplying their email addresses.
The columnist: digital-marketing consultant Christopher Marriott.
Dilemma: To Spam Trap or Not to Spam Trap?
A reader presented me with an interesting dilemma today. Apparently her boss wants her to hand over the company’s email list to a friend so the friend can spam it.
The reader is none too pleased with her boss’s plans and apparently has been arguing against the idea, but to no avail.
Five Email Testing Pitfalls to Avoid
With the holidays fast approaching, many email marketers are gearing up for the busiest time of year. Even though time and budget may be tight, email testing needs to be a part of your email marketing plans. Without testing, marketers can be leaving a great deal of money on the table. However, a poorly implemented testing program can actually be detrimental to your program. During the busy holiday season, watch out for these five testing pitfalls.
Magill FFL: Three Weeks to Go; Playoffs Up for Grabs
Three weeks to go and the playoff picture is far from settled.
Depending on how tiebreakers work—and, no, I don’t have time to figure that out right now—it would seem that all but two teams have a possibility of making post-season play, albeit some being very long shots.
Segments? What Segments? Marketers Opening the Spigots ... Again
In another piece of evidence that most marketers using email inhabit a different planet than the industry’s talking heads comes news that while more than 50 percent of retailers plan to increase their email volume either slightly or significantly this Christmas-shopping season, just 21 percent have invested in segmenting technology in the last year, according to a survey by Bronto Software.
Translation: Most retailers aren’t segmenting their email files in the run-up to Christmas. They’re simply opening the spigots.
Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that. It simply illustrates how separated the email pundit world is from the industry’s practitioners.
Moreover, this separation has existed for years.
Why Showrooming is Probably BS
At first glance, a survey published by Accenture last week paints an alarming picture on the rise of so-called showrooming for bricks-and-mortar retailers.
However, common sense and a look at some numbers says fears over showrooming—where people supposedly use bricks-and-mortar stores as showrooms and then research and buy with their smartphones online—are probably overblown.
From Now on, I'm not a Guy; I'm a Worldwide Forum
I finally figured out why I don’t get the recognition I deserve. My business’s name isn’t substantial enough.
Magill FFL: Talking Smack Gets Cohen Smacked
What happens when you talk smack about your record? Well, usually it’s an invitation to the fantasy football gods to swoop in and smack you upside your head, that’s what.
And that is exactly what happened to Movable Ink’s Inkredibles after team owner Jordan Cohen bragged two weeks ago in the comments section of The Magill Report about having the only team in the league with a 6-1 record.
The Inkredibles proceeded to lose their next two games, leaving their record at 6-3.
Stupid Media Watch: What the DMA is Up Against
An exchange between Direct Marketing Association chief executive Linda Woolley and New York Times reporter Stuart Elliott during a press conference yesterday perfectly illustrated the challenges the DMA faces with its newly launched consumer-education initiative on data-driven marketing.
Got Canadians? Better Uncheck Those Boxes
In another fine example of why lawmakers shouldn’t legislate permission in email marketing comes news that Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last week issued a clarification to Canada’s anti spam law banning prechecked permission boxes.
Email Plus: A Look at Embedded Video
Last month’s article by Julia Peavy discussed using animated graphics as an alternative to video in email. It got me thinking, what IS the state of video in email?
Magill FFL: The Unfairness Abounds
This week we have a pair of examples of how unfair the fantasy football gods can be.
Living Social’s Illegal Use of Hands put up a whopping 142.14 points this week, the second-highest score in the league.
Oh, but wait. Illegal Use of Hands went up against Omeda’s Oh My! Omeda who scored 164.6, the highest score this week.
Length Shmength Just Write what Works
I can’t for the life of me think of a more useless debate than the one being had about subject-line length.
A lot of people for whom I have a great deal of respect are taking part in it.
So why am I wasting time with it? Because as a professional copywriter with decades of experience behind me, I feel the pain of all the copywriters out there who have to endure such discussions with their non-writer piers and supervisors.
Another Take on Subject Line Length
Yeah, yeah. First I say the subject-line-length debate is a waste of time. Then I devote half a newsletter to it.
Well, even though I do think the entire debate’s a waste, that doesn’t mean no one had anything interesting to say.
Dela Quist, CEO of email marketing agency Alchemy Worx, had a lot to say. And if you want to get your geek on, he’s your guy.
Here’s Quist’s take on subject-line length:
Stupid Media Watch: A Word on Christmas and 'Spam'
Christmas is coming! Yay! We love Christmas in the Magill household. Actually, I love Christmas.
One of the big reasons I love Christmas is because I married the coolest woman in the world. Wanna know how cool? This year, she’s checking into buying me a still.
How friggin’ cool is that?
This year, there’s also a major change afoot. We’ve decided this is the year we tell our nine-year-old son that Santa doesn’t exist—that Santa is us.
We think he’s known for quite some time but doesn’t want to ruin a good thing. Fair enough. Who in their right mind would want to put all that loot in jeopardy?
One thing that will not change this year, however, has nothing to do with the Magill household’s approach to Christmas. What will not change is the consumer press’s approach to it.
Magill FFL Week Five: Time for an Animal Sacrifice
It’s time for the NetAtlantic TidalWave to find a volcano and throw a virgin into it. Or if that’s too inconvenient—or if we’re a little squeamish about killing virgins—maybe sacrificing a goat and painting their faces with its blood will do.
Either way, they’ve clearly got to do something to make the fantasy gods happy.
Given their luck so far this season, though, they’d probably just succeed in making it rain and getting a good corn harvest.
Bam! Kapow! Open-Rate Debate, Part Two
Last week’s piece on the great open-rate debate was the single most popular article of the year for The Magill Report. It drew more readers than this newsletter has subscribers.
So apparently there’s an appetite for this information. And that’s good because there’s a lot more of it.
Stephanie Miller Takes VP Role at DMA
Online marketing veteran Stephanie Miller has joined the Direct Marketing Association as vice president, member relations, it was announced today.
Miller’s position at the DMA is newly created and her day-to-day duties have yet to be defined in detail. Broadly, though, the job is aimed at making sure members are happy.
More Writing Advice from the Fat, Drunk Writer: Crafting a Good Lead
After the headline, the most important part of any article is the lead. In too many trade articles these days, it also tends to be the biggest pile of crap in the piece.
And it’s not just non-professional writers who are churning out crap trade leads. Many of the professional writers at well-known trade publications are leading with garbage, as well.
And the thing is, writing a solid lead doesn’t take a super amount of talent. Let yours truly serve as an example.
Magill Report FFL: The Week the Undefeateds Went Down
The would-be juggernauts are juggernauts no more.
Last week The Magill Report had three undefeated teams: Movable Ink’s Inkredibles, PL Marketing’s Lakeland Hawks and the eWayDirect Avengers. This week they all went down.
Bam! Kapow! The Great Open-Rate Debate
So just where does the highly flawed open-rate metric fit in the email marketer’s measurement arsenal? Does it even have a place?
After all, an “open” is recorded when the receiving machine calls for graphics from the sender. So with graphics turned off by default in many email inboxes and graphics appearing in the preview panes of others, the “open rate” doesn’t really measure “opens” at all.
After a short back-and-forth on Twitter with a marketing professional who considers the open rate all but useless, I decided to pose the question to participants in Bill McCloskey’s Only Influencers discussion list of digital-marketing professionals.
Let’s just say the question turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought and the Influencers had A LOT to say on the subject. So much, in fact, that the debate will appear in this newsletter in two installments.
At times, things even got a little heated. [The Magill Report loves heated.]
At certain points, the discussion isn’t necessarily lightning-fast reading. But it is jam packed through and through with insights from some of the smartest digital-marketing professionals in the world.
Stupid Media Watch: Meet the Real Christmas Creep
Allow me to introduce you to Ben Popken, hack reporter and world-class punk.
Getting the Most Jingle Out of Your Holiday Emails
Ready to crank up the Christmas shopping email spigots? Of course you are. Isn’t everybody?
Commercial email volume is reportedly growing 20-percent every year and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
As a result, smart holiday-shopping email isn’t just about cranking up the spigots. It’s about mailing the right offers at the right time to a clean, responsive file.
Bonnie Malone, director, response consulting for Return Path, has some great ideas for getting the most out of your make-or-break fourth-quarter mailings this year.
Click the link below to hear what she has to say in the second installment of our sponsored podcast series.
Magill FFL: Undefeateds Down to Three
We’re just three weeks into the season and just three teams are undefeated: Movable Ink’s Inkredibles, PL Marketing’s Lakeland Hawks and the eWayDirect Avengers.
The Inkredibles beat e-Dialog’s e-D’s TD 93.82 to 69.98, leaving the Inkredibles tied for the Division 2 lead with the Avengers at 3-0.
First-season champion e-Dialog’s loss put its record at 1-2.
Return Path Morphs Into 'Email Intelligence' Firm
Return Path is reinventing itself.
Long known as an email deliverability and security firm, the company today unveiled a series of services in a bid to become primarily known for email intelligence.
ClientsFromHell Post Makes my Point
Almost as if on cue, a designer put up a post on ClientsFromHell.net last week proving the point I made in the most recent issue of The Magill Report that the vast majority of designers don’t think in terms of communication.
Silverpop Integrates LinkedIn to Social Signup Function
Silverpop yesterday announced it has integrated LinkedIn to Social Sign In, the digital marketing technology provider’s social signup tool.
Magill Report FFL: A Weekend of Squeakers
Wow! Three games in the Magill Report Fantasy Football League this week were decided by less than a point.
Apache to Microsoft: Drop Dead
Apache has told Microsoft to go boink itself. And for good reason.
The Internet’s most widely used Web-server application will ignore Microsoft's decision to turn on the do-not-track-request mechanism by default in Internet Explorer 10—a decision Microsoft roiled the industry with earlier this year.
The Infographic: One Big, Fat Oxymoron
The biggest contradiction in terms in publishing today has to be the so-called infographic.
For one thing, infographics ask designers to do something the vast majority of them are not wired to do: communicate information with symbols, graphs and sparse copy.
How 3 Marketers are Integrating Email and Animated Graphics
It seems we have been hearing about the incorporation of video into email for some time. And yet, from my inboxes filled with several marketing messages, the proliferation of emails incorporating video hasn’t attacked my inbox. Instead, my inbox in the last couple of weeks had emails using animated .GIF in the email.
Animated .GIFs use a compressed, streamed and animated GIF file to display video‐quality content. This method allows subscribers to preview a shorter clip of the full video and see the motion and images right in their inboxes.
So, how are marketers using this technology to increase email engagement?
Magill FFL Season 3: Return Path Blasts Out of the Gate
In its third-year crusade to soothe the pain of two previous heartbreaking seasons, the Return Path GOLIATHS scored a whopping 152.5 points in a lopsided win over Omeda’s Oh My! Omeda, which scored an anemic 72.94 points.
A quick look at Omeda’s roster shows they have the horses to score higher—New England quarterback Tom Brady, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green and Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant among them. The fantasy gods simply did not smile on them this week.
Epsilon Unveils Email Co-op Database
Marketing services provider Epsilon today announced it has developed what it claims is a first-of-its-kind email co-op database that will help clients more effectively indentify and reactivate lapsed or soon-to-lapse customers, and optimize the timing of individual messages.
Dubbed the Email Response Network, Epsilon claims its email co-op database gives its clients the ability to identify how their customers are interacting with email in and out of their house files, including the device they use to open emails and the time of day they are most receptive and responsive to marketing messages.
Stupid Email Watch: 'Are You Phishing Me?'
Talk about paranoid.
Oh, it’s warranted. But still: Talk about paranoid.
The Real Agenda Behind the Recent COPPA Flap
If readers take one lesson away from this newsletter, let it be that the privacy movement’s agenda isn’t remotely about protecting anyone’s privacy.
Notice we never hear a peep out of them when the government missteps or oversteps. No, the privacy movement is a thinly veiled attack on capitalism aimed at kneecapping advertisers’ ability to reach prospects effectively.
Even so, at first glance, recent complaints to the Federal Trade Commission by 17 so-called child advocacy groups against McDonald’s, General Mills and other companies’ refer-a-friend email marketing efforts looks like an unusual case of privacy-zealot idiocy.
But once one understands their real agenda, it makes sense.
Magill Report FFL Season Three: A Printer? The Browns?
And the big question for the Magill Report Fantasy Football League’s third season is: Who the hell let a printer in this league?
The answer, of course, is me. Among the companies represented in this year’s league is Victor Printing based in Sharon, PA.
I figured it would be fun to have a postal direct-mail printer represented in a mostly email-marketing vendors’ league.
ISPs Judge You on a Metric You Can't Measure
Forget individual opens and clicks.
In their efforts to block email people don’t want and deliver wanted messages, Internet email inbox providers are reportedly assessing emailers’ spam reputations based on something called the “read rate”—the percentage of a sender’s messages that get read.
So what does a marketer’s read rate need to be in order to avoid having their messages being treated as spam?
If ISPs have anything to say about it, we’re never going to know.
Stupid Media Watch: Those Evil Database Campaigns
Can consumer reporters really be as stupid as they come off? Or is marketing really that hard to understand?
The Associated Press ran a sinister-toned piece last week about a super-duper mega-evil database marketing initiative by the Romney campaign to ferret out new donors. It was a typically ignorant consumer-press hit piece.
Bill Wagner Moves from COO to CEO at StrongMail
Bill Wagner has been named chief executive officer at email service provider StrongMail. Wagner was previously chief operating officer. He succeeds outgoing CEO Sam Cece.
Wagner said the change has been in the works for months and was prompted by Cece’s wish to explore new opportunities.
More Writing Advice from a Fat Drunk Who, When He's Sober, Can Write
This is not your father’s marketing column.
Did that opening sentence sound stupid to you? Yes? You want to know why? Because it’s stupid. And it’s stupid because it’s a cliché.
Turning someone else’s worn-out phrase and thinking it’s clever is one of the most common sins in trade writing.
What Google's Email Search Test Means to You: Nothing
Google has begun an experiment that could breathe new life into some old emails.
Some experts are claiming the development has the potential to drive unprecedented collaboration between companies’ search and email marketing efforts.
Members of digital creative teams better pray they’re wrong.
What is it About Facebook that Draws Such Idiocy?
Boy, Facebook sure brings on the stupid.
And, no, I’m not talking about the people who use it, though there is more than enough stupidity to be found there.
No, I’m talking about the seemingly never-ending parade of fools telling Facebook how to run its business.
On This Issue, We Should, Um, Choke, Follow Europe
God help me, I’m about to recommend emulating Europe.
This would bring the number of times I’ve recommended following Europe on anything to two—the other being the tolerance of certain adult behaviors considered crimes in America.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Europe. I attended grade school in Leads, England. I spent two of the most enjoyable years of my life stationed on an Air Force base in the Netherlands. The Magill family’s next vacation will involve visits to Paris, London and castle ruins in Wales.
So it’s not that I dislike Europe. I just don’t think we should try in any way to be Europe.
Except for in the following case:
Dell, HuffPo Sued Over Mobile Messaging
Class action lawsuits have been filed against Dell and the Huffington Post over alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, it has been announced.
The Huffington Post lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, on behalf of anyone who received text messages from the Huffington Post after requesting that they, according to the announcement made by plaintiffs’ lawyers Gilman Law LLP.
A Rare Peek Inside the Battle Against Spam
The numbers are staggering.
In 2011 Yahoo! Mail received an average of 1.25 million signups for email accounts from spammers each day, according to a study released last week.
Yahoo! Mail experienced an average of 2.5 million new signups overall per day, according to the study “The Economics of Spam” by Justin Rao and David Reiley, researchers at Microsoft and Google, respectively.
DMA Fires Back in Congressional Data-Probe Farce
The Direct Marketing Association yesterday sent a letter to eight members of Congress urging caution in their recently launched probe of so-called data brokers stemming from an irresponsible hack job done on Acxiom by New York Times reporter Natasha Singer.
Stupid Human Resources Watch: Dumbest Question Ever
Anyone who’s spent any time in corporate America knows the weeniest department in every company is human resources.
They’re the ones who force us to watch sexual-harassment and corporate-conduct videos that are so bad, they make us wonder what the hell kind of videos they passed up.
For the record, I used to watch human-resources videos on my home computer while slugging straight vodka so I could feel like I was making good use of my time.
In any case, the latest bit of human-resources stupidity came to me second hand from the wife and an old colleague, both of whom are in corporate America and both of whom were asked one of the most dumbassed review questions ever: “Where do you expect to be in five years?”
Magill FFL 2012 is Set!
After receiving more requests than could be accommodated, the roster for The Magill Report Fantasy Football League 2012/2013 season is set.
It includes a mix of teams from last year and some newbies.
If your company is on this list, you’ve got a team. If not, thank you for the request. Teams were awarded to companies from last year who made their request before noon today. Newcomers were then given teams on a first-come/first-serve basis.
So without further adieu, here is the lineup:
Magill Report Fantasy Football is Back! Get Your Team
What time is it? Why, it’s football time! And what does that mean? It means it’s time for The Magill Report Fantasy Football League!
Phishing Threatens Your Brand More than You Think: Return Path
By Ken Magill
While phishing is often considered a threat mainly to big, well-known brands, it’s more of a threat to smaller firms than most people think, according to Sam Masiello, general manager for anti-phishing services for Return Path.
What’s more, when a company gets phished, the costs are enormous, he said.
“Customers are 42 percent less likely to do business with you if you are being targeted by a phishing attack, regardless of whether or not they are actually getting tricked into giving up their information,” said Massiello.
I interviewed Massiello recently as part of the launch of a new series of sponsored podcasts called Reputation Reality Check with Return Path and Ken Magill.
Now granted, Masiello has an agenda, but he also has a lot of interesting things to say.
I consulted my editorial advisory board—aka the wife—and she said that as a marketer she found the interview fascinating. And trust me when I say she never says anything just to make me feel good. “You feel good enough about yourself already,” she says on a regular basis. “I’m not doing anything to make it worse.”
In any case, click here to listen to the podcast.
Or is reading's your thing and you want highlights, click the link below for an edited transcript:
Email + Location: How 9 Large Brands Localize Campaigns
As more and more emails are read on mobile devices, email marketers must design for mobile, create a positive mobile experience, and work to perfect the timing of emails to generate the greatest response.
Location is another factor that email marketers must integrate into their email programs. A quick scan of my inbox shows a few different ways marketers are currently integrating email and location.
Only Influencers Launches New Forums
Only Influencers—entrepreneur Bill McCloskey’s invitation-only discussion network for digital marketers—has launched three new forums: Startup, a community for entrepreneurs, Graphics, a forum for designers and Real Estate Pros, a discussion group for realtors.
Stats and Damned Stats: The Opens-To-Opener Rate
I think I’ve been at this too long.
Amid all the various benchmark stats Silverpop published in its 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study yestarday—open rates are around 20 percent as they have been for years; average click rates are between 4 and 5 percent, and so on—one stat jumped out at me: opens per opener.
How often are emails that record an “open” opened again?
Stupid Email Watch: You Sold Me, Remember?
There’s an old saying among home beer brewers: It’s really easy to make good beer and it’s really easy to make bad beer.
The same can be said for email customer service.
M3AAWG Announces J.D. Falk Award
The Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group last week announced it is accepting nominations for its newly unveiled J.D. Falk award, named after an email technology and anti-spam veteran who died last year at 37 after losing his battle with cancer.
Pontiflex Unveils Social-Media Email Service
Pontiflex has added an automatic social-sharing feature to its mobile email-subscriber acquisition service AdLeads, it was announced today.
Stupid FTC Watch: Your Overlords Have Spoken
In another piece of evidence that Federal Trade Commissioners have way too little to do, they just released a study implying the words “up to” in advertising are inherently deceptive.
No, not because they’re inaccurate or wrong, but because a lot of people apparently don’t pay a whole lot of attention when reading advertisements after being accosted by market researchers in malls.
The study is part of a larger FTC agenda under which marketing’s overlords have decreed the words “up to” in advertising—as in “save up to”—must have meaning far beyond the pesky English language’s definition.
Getting Feedback on Relevancy Before it's a Problem
Marketers have long asked subscribers for their feedback on product purchases and many ask, at the point of unsubscribe, why a subscriber is leaving. But we’ve seen more marketers trying to get out in front of the issue of program relevancy instead of waiting for a subscriber to move into a state of inactivity or to unsubscribe. “Rate-this-email” type calls to action are becoming more common. Below is an example from British online grocery retailer Ocado.
An Email Prompts New Thoughts on Spamhaus
I was recently contacted by a marketing acquaintance who is completely fed up with anti-spam blocklisting outfit Spamhaus.
As I read the email, I realized I was about to be forced to do something I haven’t done in a while: Sit down and write an honest opinion of Spamhaus that marketers can understand.
Stupid Subject Line Watch: Deadline? What Deadline?!
Sheesh! The Mitt Romney campaign scared the crap out of me last week.
Why Are the World's Greatest Communicators so Silent?
One of the great ironies of the privacy movement is that the industry in the anti-advertising zealots’ crosshairs contains the best minds in the world at getting messages out to consumers.
Yet, out of them we get barely a peep on this issue.
Yes, They Spam; But we Should be Rooting for Kraft Anyway
Okay, so let’s get something straight right up front. I wouldn’t in a million years attempt to defend Kraft Foods’ Gevalia Coffee’s email marketing practices.
They—or more accurately, their affiliates—have been spamming for more than a decade. They give direct email marketers a bad name.
That said, a court ruling went in Kraft’s favor last week that should give us all a reason to breathe a sigh of relief, for now at least.
A jury in a federal court in Maryland has ruled that anti-spam plaintiff Paul Wagner is not a bona fide Internet service provider—hopefully a big step toward getting his case tossed in the trash bin where it belongs.
However, the case isn’t over.
Stupid Magill Watch: The Data is from When? Oh. Um ... Oops
Tsssssss. What’s that sound? Why that’s the sound of my red face scorching with embarrassment.
Stupid Email Watch: Gingrich Appends Badly; DNCC Plays the Guilt Card
Just because he’s out of the race apparently doesn’t mean he can’t still abuse email.
My Gmail address received an email yesterday with the subject line: “Important Communication from Gingrich Productions.”
The body copy contained language indicating the email was part of an append—a bad one.
Email Response Rates Pathetically Low
Email response rates are pathetic in comparison with other channels, according to a recent report from the Direct Marketing Association.
Email campaigns sent to house files drive an average 0.12 percent response rate—response being defined as the user having taken some sort of action called for in the message, according to the DMA.
In comparison, letter-sized direct mail drives an average 3.4 percent response rate, almost 30 times that of email, according to the DMA. And this is despite direct mail’s average response rate having dropped 25 percent in the last nine years, according to the DMA.
Social Networking Sites are Spam-Metric Kings: Return Path
Social networking sites hit astronomically more spam traps with their email than other industry sectors, according to a study released today by email security and deliverability firm Return Path.
What’s more, social networks scored worst in all three key metrics email inbox providers use to determine whether or not to junk incoming messages, according to Return Path’s 2012 Sender Score Benchmark Report.
Stupid Artist Watch: Let's Hear it for Spam Poetry!
Folks, we’re all in the wrong business. We could have been artists! Or poets, to be more precise.
The words and phrases have been right in front of our faces every working day of our lives since email came along.
They’re in our spam folders. Who knew?
North America has Highest Email Reputation: Return Path
North American marketers have the highest average email reputation in the world, according to a just-released study by email security and deliverability firm Return Path.
According to the company’s 2012 Sender Score Benchmark Report, North America scored 67. By comparison, the second highest sender score was achieved by Australia at 55.79.
Retail Email Volume Sets Record in May; Trajectory Unsustainable, Says White
After a relatively quiet couple months, retailers opened the email-marketing spigots to record-setting levels in May, particularly during the run-up to Mother’s Day, according to Chad White, research director for marketing software firm Responsys.
“So far this year, email volume is up more than 18 percent compared to the first five months of 2011,” he said. “And that pace is ahead of the 16 percent overall increase in email volume per subscriber seen in 2011 vs. 2010. That said, June and July tend to be quieter email marketing months, so we anticipate slower volume growth until we reach the core of the back-to-school season in August.”
So while email’s punditry talks incessantly about email relevance, segmentation and targeting, retailers’ answer is apparently to simply continually crank up the volume.
Email + Sweepstakes: A Winning Combination
By Julia Peavy
I like to win. I can thank my Dad for that. Endless games of cribbage against him as a kid (and mostly losing), taught me the value of good competition and not giving up. Granted, I’m used to losing. But, given a choice, I’ll choose winning.
So, when a good sweepstakes email shows up in my inbox, it piques my interest. Who wouldn’t want to win a new grill or a free hotel stay? Email is an obvious and great way to promote any sweepstakes, but as with any campaign, flawless execution is a key factor to success. So, what can we learn from these recent sweepstakes emails?
Who Really Stands to Lose in the Do-Not-Track Debate
Turns out do-not-track proponents are actually corporate tools.
Stupid Scammer Watch: Shuvitt Inyurass Gets Phished
Apparently Nigerian 419 scammers trade email addresses. Either that, or when one attempt to scam a mark fails, they revert to another.
Lately my alter ego, Shuvitt Inyurass, has been getting unsolicited scam attempts.
Microsoft Kneecaps Advertisers ... Including Itself
Microsoft just became online advertising’s equivalent of Spain’s self flagellants, those religious zealots who walk the streets publically whipping the crap out of themselves as a form of penance.
Thing is, at least self flagellants only whip the crap out of themselves. Microsoft just whipped the crap out of everyone else, as well.
The company announced in a statement last week that Internet Explorer 10—which will be bundled into Microsoft Windows 8—will include a do-not-track feature that will be on by default.
Facebook Ain't the Online Ad Market
In an exercise in pure bullshittery, the always provocative media columnist Michael Wolff published a piece in MIT’s Technology Review last week claiming Facebook is going to collapse and take the rest of the ad-supported Internet with it.
“At the heart of the Internet business is one of the great business fallacies of our time: that the Web, with all its targeting abilities, can be a more efficient, and hence more profitable, advertising medium than traditional media,” wrote Wolff. “Facebook, with its 900 million users, valuation of around $100 billion, and the bulk of its business in traditional display advertising, is now at the heart of the heart of the fallacy.”
MyBuys Unveils Long-Term Retargeting Service
Personalized-offer-recommendation firm MyBuys today unveiled a retargeting scheme under which it claims it can serve effective targeted display ads to clients’ site visitors and customers for up to 18 months.
Stupid Activist Watch: Could We Let 'Em Make the Damn Things First?
Having seen some pretty amazing technological advances in my hopefully far-from-finished life, I occasionally think about all the cool stuff I probably won’t live long enough to see.
A cure for diabetes, fully immersive video games, human colonies on other planets and smoking-hot, lifelike robot prostitutes come to mind.
The cool-stuff-I’ll-miss thought came to mind again last week when I learned Google has developed a driverless car.
A driverless friggin’ car. Oh, what I could do with one of those.
Candidates Blast their Files with Email Sweeps
Email clearly has given teams Mitt Romney and Barack Obama the power to leverage fundraiser sweepstakes like no other channel before it.
A direct marketing tenet holds that if you want to know what’s working for a rival, observe what they do repeatedly because repetition indicates success.
Well, both the Obama and Romney camps are hammering their files with chances to win personal meetings with them and other famous people.
Stupid Comment Watch: What Year is This?
Please tell me the guy I’m about to quote was quoted out of context. Or at least please tell me the quote was from an interview done in 1999.
Oh, Amazon, You Crafty Devil
What was that? Why, that was the sound of my fat ass hitting the floor after I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.
Amazon.com is in the midst of negotiating deals in which it may get to keep the lion’s share of sales taxes it collects in California.
And I think it’s hilarious.
Red Pill Email Launches Jobs Site
Email marketing consultancy Red Pill Email has launched a free job-search site.
John Caldwell, CEO of Red Pill, outlined the service in an email to The Magill Report:
Gmail Can be Tamed; Just Ask ProFlowers
Between Yahoo!, AOL and Gmail, Gmail is the most difficult ISP for bulk emailers to get their messages delivered into the inbox, according to marketing intelligence firm eDataSource.
“Google is the toughest one to get through if you aren’t following best practices,” said G.B. Heidarsson, senior vice president of sales and marketing for eDataSource.
However, one marketer apparently addressed Gmail’s persnickety spam-filtering rules and achieved results.
e-Dialog CEO Simone Barratt Resigns
Often when high-profile executives get fired, press releases announcing their departure will say something like “has gone on to pursue other interests” or “left to spend more time with family.”
And anyone who has been a business or trade reporter for any length of time knows these phrases are euphemisms for: “We booted his overpaid, underperforming ass out the door.”
This week, however, we have news of a high-level executive who has resigned of her own accord and has apparently actually done so to spend time with her family—her 91-year-old mother, to be precise.
Simone Barratt, chief executive of marketing services provider e-Dialog, has resigned.
Less Than Half of Marketers Have a Mobile Strategy: StrongMail
Though smartphone usage is skyrocketing, fewer than half of marketers have a mobile strategy in place, according to a recent survey conducted by StrongMail.
What’s more, of the marketers who have employed a mobile strategy, 57 percent have been doing so for a year or less, according to the email service provider.
As for why 55 percent of those surveyed haven’t implemented a mobile strategy, 37 percent cited a lack of strategy and 22 percent cited a lack of resources.
However, with smartphones accounting for nearly half of all devices in use by mobile users, it is imperative for digital marketers to adopt and integrate mobile marketing tactics, said Kara Trivunovic, vice president of agency services, StrongMail.
Misplaced Attack Watch: Newt Isn't Remotely Alone
Okay, let’s get something straight. Newt Gingrich isn’t even close to the only politician sharing or selling email addresses and enabling spam.
Two weeks ago, ComputerWorld columnist Richi Jennings published a piece criticizing the Gingrich campaign for putting its email donor files up for rent. Then last week, email service provider Elite Email put out a press release essentially rehashing the same charges against the Gingrich campaign.
Political email is exempt under the Can Spam Act of 2003. News of any one American politician or political movement spamming or enabling spam is akin to a story about a plane not crashing.
Well, no kidding.
Canada's Screwy Anti-Spam Law Delayed?
Although it was expected to be in force by now, Canada’s anti-spam law has reportedly been delayed until sometime in 2013.
In the meantime, business interests are hoping regulators will clarify what is broadly seen as an incredibly complex, confusing and vague piece of legislation.
Crap on the Part of the Economy That's Working? Come on, Man
The Internet is one of the few bright spots in the economy and one of my heroes has just said we should kneecap it.
I respectfully disagree.
Two Ways Google is Integrating Email with Other Channels
This month I’d like to talk about how Google is integrating email with both search and social. For the past few months Google has been testing a feature that displays an email opt-in field in their paid search fields.
Outward Media Debuts 'Clean-Send' Database
Database marketing services provider Outward Media last week unveiled “Clean-Send,” a database it claims contains about 300 million email addresses to which marketers should not attempt to send email.
Newbie's Pinterest Post Crashes Site ... But it's all Good
s if marketers didn’t already have enough social-media options to consider, suddenly there’s a rocket called Pinterest, the pin-board style image-sharing site.
For marketers with the right demographic—women who like to share decorating, cooking, arts-and-crafts and style ideas, among other things—it is simply growing too fast to be ignored.
In January, comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.
The site had 18.7 million unique visitors in March, according to comScore.
In any case, one merchant recently scored such a hit with Pinterest users that the resulting traffic crashed its web site.
Stupid Media Watch: The Anti-Marketing Narrative Lives
Just when I think I can no longer be shocked by the anti-marketing idiocy that appears in the consumer press on a regular basis, another more egregious example comes along.
The Greenwich [CT] Citizen last week published an opinion piece by a contributor and reportedly former Pittsburgh television reporter Beth Dolinar headlined “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam…”
As I read the piece, I literally cocked my head to the side like a confused dog.
Stupid Survey Watch: 65% of Pew 'Experts' are Idiots
Sixty five percent of a bunch of so-called Internet experts surveyed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reportedly agreed with the statement: “By 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases they make, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards.”
Of those who agreed with the statement, 100 percent also agreed that by 2020, the war on illegal drugs will be over, prostitution will be an over-the-counter transaction, babysitters will report their income and pay taxes on it, and bartenders and waiters will prefer to be tipped electronically so the transactions can be tracked.
Just kidding. I made that last bit up.
But in order for their prediction to come true, my made up prediction must come true, as well.
This Data-Card Disclaimer Says a Lot
Sometimes, just one sentence says it all.
Newt Gingrich earlier this month put his email-donor lists up for rent. As anyone reading this newsletter knows—or at least should know—renting email lists is a sure path to delivery troubles.
That is, unless the Gingrich campaign will send the messages on renters’ behalves.
Email from senders who haven’t received permission from recipients to send messages to them tends to—among other things—generate spam complaints, raising the risk that ISPs will filter the email as spam.
An email to TMA Direct, the firm managing Gingrich’s files, asking if steps have been taken to mitigate delivery troubles was not answered.
But a sentence on the data card for one of Gingrich’s lists says a lot.
FTC Proposal Would Wreck the Economy: DMA's Woolley
Far from just threatening online advertising and commercial email, the Federal Trade Commission’s current position on a universal do-not-track mechanism poses a grave threat to the entire U.S. economy, according to Linda Woolley, executive vice president of government affairs for the Direct Marketing Association.
Wow; Just 13% Employ Abandoned-Order Emails: Bronto
Though they are widely seen as one of the most effective weapons in the email marketing arsenal, very few merchants send abandoned-order messages, according to a recent study by Bronto Software.
In a study of 100 brands, just 13 sent abandoned-order messages, just five sent more than one abandoned-order message and only one sent three.
Email+ Social: Viewpoints from Consumers and Marketers
For several months now, Stephanie Colleton and I have been writing about how email and social media are working together to improve marketing programs. From new social networks (Google+ and Pinterest) to how marketers are integrating the two channels, we’ve seen a variety of sophistication levels.
Last week, two reports with new statistics on email and social media caught my eye and further demonstrate how these channels continue to be important to both marketers and consumers.
FreshAddress Unveils 'SafeToSend' Hygiene Service
Database services firm FreshAddress today announced it has launched a new email deliverability service.
How Do-Not-Track Could Destroy Email Marketing
The current push for a do-not-track mechanism by the Federal Trade Commission has the potential to lay waste to the permission-based email marketing industry.
Yet, as the debate unfolds, the industry is for the most part not even in the room.
EU? Internet Innovation Leader? Hahahahahahahahaha!
As a member of the U.S. Air Force, I was stationed in the Netherlands for two years and loved it.
Many of my friends at the time were Dutch civilians. For one thing, I smoked hashish during those years and it was safer to have Dutch friends than fellow American G.I.s.
The years were 1980-82, and marijuana and hashish consumption were far more acceptable then than now. Much of the enlisted rank and file on that particular air base smoked hash at least sporadically. We were in Holland, after all.
But the military still frowned on it and one loose-lipped airman could get a lot of people busted. So on weekends I socialized mostly with the Dutch.
I would also regularly stun my Dutch friends when they would ask me what I thought of their country. Rather than point out any perceived shortcomings compared to the U.S., I would tell them how much I loved it and how sad I would be on the day it came time to leave.
And indeed, leaving Holland was one of the saddest days of my life that didn’t involve losing a loved one or a pet.
The Holland stint wasn’t my only time in Europe. I attended first grade in Leeds, England, for example. More recently, my wife, son and I went to Estonia for an absolutely magical vacation.
I say all this because although I love so much about Europe, I’m here to bash it.
Swerdlow Leaves EEC; Magill Report Last to Know
My name is Ken Magill. I used to be a marketing trade reporter.
Today, well, let’s just say I could rely on carrier pigeons and be more informed.
LiveIntent Partners with Brilig
Email newsletter advertising platform LiveIntent announced last week it has formed a partnership with co-op marketing data firm Brilig.
According to the two companies, the partnership will make Brilig’s more than 10,000 segments available to advertisers on the LiveIntent network.
LiveIntent serves Internet-Advertising-Bureau-standard-sized ads into more than 1,000 email newsletters on behalf of their publishers.
The company also has higher-end inventory available, such as so-called skins.
Stupid Email Watch: The Alter Ego Who Refuses to Die
Shuvitt Inyurass lives!
I vowed to retire my off-color alter ego in May after a respondent to my juvenile shenanigans outdid me with an unintentionally humorous reply, but recent developments have forced me to resurrect him.
As long-time readers know, Shuvitt Inyurass was my fake name in a 2009 exchange with a Nigerian 419 scammer in which I introduced family members such as Pierce D. Boyle and Lihtta Pharty Inyurass.
I have used the fake name and email address, ShuvittInyurass_at_yahoo.com, to communicate with various likely scam artists over the ensuing years to see, among other things, if they can spot its obvious absurdity.
Well guess who can’t spot its obvious absurdity now? A well-known data giant and the Democratic Governors Association.
Yow, that was Close; Email List Scams Hit Home
The universe of potential email-list-scam victims is apparently practically limitless.
Just how limitless was driven home to me last week in an exchange I had with an entrepreneur friend who emailed asking for advice.
He had a very close call with a firm that appears to be related to India-based Data Champions/Sloan Marketing.
Pontiflex Launches Self-Service Mobile Ad Platform
Mobile ad signup firm Pontiflex announced today it has launched a self-service, cost-per-lead version of its platform called AdLeads.
Experian Acquires Japanese ESP
Global data giant Experian announced today that it has acquired Japan-based email marketing firm, Altovision Inc., for an undisclosed amount of cash.
And We Thought One in Five was Bad; Now It's One in Four
For the first time since email security and deliverability firm Return Path started publishing its Deliverability Benchmark Report in 2004, average email inbox placement rates have taken a significant nosedive.
Historically, email inbox placement rates have hovered at around 80 percent, according to Return Path.
However, global inbox placement rates in the second half of 2011 were 76.5 percent compared to 81 percent in the first half of the year, according to Return Path.
So whereas in the past, one in five emails didn’t make it into recipients inboxes, now the number globally is more like one in four, Return Path reported in its newest Deliverability Benchmark Report released today.
eDataSource Launches Ecommerce-Monitoring Service
Marketing-intelligence firm eDataSource announced today it has launched an ecommerce-monitoring service that offers insights into online sales trends at major retailers and subscription services.
Silverpop to Acquire Marketing-Automation Firm CoreMotives
Email service provider Silverpop announced yesterday it will acquire marketing automation firm CoreMotives for an undisclosed sum.
Both companies are based in Atlanta. The deal is expected to close this week.
Red Pill Unveils New Vendor Guide
Email marketing consultancy Red Pill Email has unveiled the newest version of its Email Marketing Vendors Features and Functions Guide, a comprehensive view of the features and functions of 45 email service providers.
This year’s guide, Red Pill's third, includes vendors from North America and Europe.
There's Inactive and There's Inactive: Kirby
If there’s one concept that has clearly arisen during the industry-wide debate over what or what not to do with inactive email addresses, it’s that not all of them are created equal.
Some are just dormant and may reactivate with the right offer at the right time.
Others are so dead they pose a threat as possible spam traps. And still others may not be spam traps, but if there are enough of them they may negatively affect the marketer’s email reputation.
But how does a list owner tell the stone-cold dead addresses from the possibly revivable ones? Eric Kirby, CEO of email intelligence firm Connection Engine, has a few suggestions.
Email + Social Marketer Spotlight: A Look at Pier 1 Imports
This month we wanted to feature one retail marketer who’s embracing social and integrating it with their email program. In January, Pier 1 Imports sent an email campaign dedicated to promoting their new daily deal on Facebook program.
Stupid Media Watch: Finally, Someone Speaks Up
Hallelujah! Suweet Jesus!
Finally, someone who knows their ass from a marketing hole in the ground, someone who could actually pour pee out of a boot with directions on the heel, someone whose happy meal has all its fries, took the time to respond to some consumer reporter jackassery.
The jackassery in question was published in the Wall Street Journal last week.
“Stores Smarten Up Amid Spam Flood,” said the headline.
“Retailers have started to wear out their welcome in customers' email inboxes, forcing stores to rethink their spam strategies,” said the lead.
“Ugh,” I thought as I began to read the piece. “Another consumer reporter who hasn’t taken even 15 seconds to learn the difference between big-brand commercial email and Viagra spam.”
Stupid Content Watch: Does this Technique Work?
Okay, so I get it. Lead generation firms take other people’s content and either repurpose it or regurgitate it, hoping the content’s keywords will get search results.
Sometimes they attribute the content properly. Sometimes they don’t.
But would someone please explain how lifting content and mangling it so it doesn’t make sense serves anyone’s prospecting purposes?
The following appeared at the end of a cobbled piece on LeadGenerationFormula.com headlined “Best Email Marketing Practices and Why Companies Don’t Adopt Them:”
“However, miss of collection might be usually a one partial of a problem. Ken Magill during a Magill Report notes that experts who call for email marketers to shred their email files mostly have no thought what’s concerned in producing and handling a artistic alone.
Shocker! DMA Was Blacklisted by Spamhaus
The Direct Marketing Association was blacklisted by Spamhaus and other anti-spam blacklist operators multiple times during the last six months, according to an internal DMA document marked “confidential” obtained from a reliable source by The Magill Report.
Inactive Schminactive: Keep the Names, Says Quist
Dela Quist is a heretic.
Why? Because the idea that inactive email addresses in and of themselves constitute any kind of a deliverability threat to mainstream marketers is a bunch of hokum, according to the CEO of London-based email marketing agency Alchemy Worx.
Moreover, according to Quist, attempting to lift engagement metrics, such as opens and clicks, is a fool’s errand.
Stunner! To the Winner at Least; Meg Reynolds Wins Pollard Award
In a move that apparently stunned the bejeesus out of this year’s recipient, the email experience council last week bestowed its second annual Stefen Pollard Marketer of the Year Award for Excellence and Creativity to Meg Reynolds, manager, campaign planning for REI.
Open Letter to Anti-Spammer Dan Balsam: Congratulations and Thank You
Dear Dan Balsam:
Congratulations on your recent anti-spam lawsuit victory against email-marketing firm TRANCOS!
Man, you really hit a grand slam on that one.
A California appeals court reportedly awarded you $7,000 in damages and nearly $82,000 in attorney fees. That’s $89,000 smackers. Wow. That should be enough to fund more lawsuits. You do seem to file a bunch of them, after all.
So far, you’ve won, like, more than 50 anti-spam small claims suits, right? A regular anti-spam juggernaut, you are.
The Best-Practices Pressure is on: Expert
The pressure for mainstream marketers to clean up their email efforts or face getting treated as spammers is increasing and it’s not just because of Spamhaus, according to one expert.
While anti-spam outfit Spamhaus has ratcheted up its blocklisting activities against mainstream marketers in recent months—as reported here last week—other forces are also at work, according to Tom Sather, senior director of email research for email deliverability and security company Return Path.
Email + Social: Integrating Pinterest and Email
Like many, I’ve been reading and hearing more about Pinterest recently (a visual social bookmarking network). While Pinterest has been around for awhile, its popularity is really starting to take off. According to a recent Shareaholic report, Pinterest accounted for more than 3.6 percent of referral traffic in January – more than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
With yet another social network to account for, how are email marketers starting to integrate their email programs with Pinterest? Here’s a quick look at few.
Stupid Anti-Spammer Watch: Poo-Flinging Monkeys Visit The Magill Report
Imagine walking into your living room to find monkeys flinging poo at each other.
I had the online equivalent of that experience this weekend when I went back to check the comments under last week’s Magill Report newsletter articles.
Stupid Whole Friggin' Industry Watch: Why do We Bother?
Want to know the most ineffective group of people in the history of business writing? Everyone who writes about permission-based email.
We’ve been going over the same crap for more than a decade now and what have we accomplished? Squat.
Spamhaus Rising: Or Why Your ESP has Toughened Up
Attention email marketers: Has your email service provider become a little—or maybe even a lot—tougher on you about your permission practices over the last six months or so?
Is their increased vigilance pissing you off? If so, your anger is misplaced. They are reacting quite sensibly to market conditions apparently imposed by Spamhaus.
The anti-spam outfit significantly increased its blocklisting activity starting around June, according to multiple sources in a position to know.
Well, I'll be Damned: Queue Up the Violins
Okay folks. I take back every critical word I’ve said about privacy advocates over the last 15 years. Every. Single. One.
Why? Because one of them has risen to a challenge I’ve repeatedly issued: the challenge of actual harm.
Oh, the writer certainly wasn’t responding to me. She very likely has no idea who I am.
But she did it. For years I have been saying that no one has ever been hurt by data-driven marketing and for that reason, privacy advocates always talk hypothetically. You know the drill: Personal data could be used to deny insurance, or employment, or whatever.
Never mind that stuff people put online, such as photos of themselves pregnant with a lit cigarette (real), can be pretty decent indicators that they’re not necessarily the most responsible humans and maybe not a good risk.
People must be protected from evil insurance companies, employers and financial institutions.
Otherwise, heart-wrenching terribleness like the following may happen. [Warning: After I read what you’re about to read, I literally fell out of my chair, curled up on the floor in the fetal position and began to sob uncontrollably. … Okay, well the sobbing started after reading it and consuming three double martinis, but that doesn’t make it any less tragic.]
In a piece in the New York Times on Sunday headlined “Facebook is Using You,” law professor Lori Andrews recounted the following:
Stupid Media Watch: Where the Heck Have You Been?
Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper published an editorial today decrying the country’s new anti-spam law passed in 2010 and set to go into effect sometime this year.
Umm, better late than never, I guess.
Stupid State Watch: Spamming as 'Free Speech'
A Fox News study—calm down Fox haters; this isn’t about political beliefs—has reportedly found that 19 states plus the District of Columbia, now ask for an email address on voter registration cards.
In nine of those states, according to Fox, email addresses from the cards are then sold to political parties, organizing groups, lawmakers and campaigns who can use them to send unsolicited emails.
Of course, when Congress enacted the Can-Spam Act, it exempted political messages.
And how are political spam’s proponents defending it? Why, with a free-speech argument, of course.
Shocker: FreshAddress Goes Opt-In
In a significant about face, email append firm FreshAddress has switched its business model to opt-in based—or at least as opt-in based as its executives believe it can go and remain a viable company.
The move comes amid an increasing amount of scrutiny the practice of email-appending has been under in recent months.
DMARC: The Latest Weapon in the Fight against Phishing
A group of some of the Internet’s most well-known brands this week unveiled a scheme that is possibly the most significant development in the commercial email industry’s battle against phishing in years.
Stupid Media Watch: Advertising Ignorance at the Washington Post
If online advertising is going to get a fair shake in the mainstream media, it apparently isn’t going to happen in the Washington Post.
A three sentence blurb from a piece last week ob Google’s plan to combine people’s searching behavior, Gmail chatter and YouTube consumption habits to enable the delivery of more accurately targeted ads tells us all we need to know:
“The move will help Google better tailor its ads to people’s tastes. If someone watches an NBA clip online and lives in Washington, the firm could advertise Washington Wizards tickets in that person’s Gmail account.
“Consumers could also benefit, the company said.”
Ffffft! That’s the sound of coffee coming out my nose. Either that or I need a Beano.
Warning: Don't Use 'Super Bowl' in Your Promotions
According to a press release published today by Canadian email service provider Elite Email, the biggest trend in email marketing for the last week of January has been Super Bowl-related promotions.
“The top email marketing trending topic for the last full week in January 2012 was ‘Super Bowl XLVI’ based on an analysis by Elite Email,” the company said in its release. “Both small and large organizations were jumping onto the media juggernaut that is the Super Bowl as email marketing campaigns were filled with phrases like “Super Bowl," ‘New York Giants’ and ‘New England Patriots’.”
One problem: Unless the organizations using those terms have paid the National Football League for the rights to use them and the NFL gets wind of said usage, the NFL will allege copyright infringement.
Bombshell: Experian CheetahMail Swears off Appending
In a dramatic policy shift, email service provider Experian CheetahMail has declared email appending to be an unacceptable address-acquisition practice.
Significantly, the declaration was made public by a former defender of email appending: Ben Isaacson, privacy and compliance leader for Experian.
Just as significantly, parent company Experian still offers email appending, though according to Isaacson, the no-append policy is going to be rolled out companywide.
Need Subscribers? Pontiflex Probably Knows of an App for That
You know that free mobile app you love so much? Chances are the ads that support it were placed there by subscriber-acquisition firm Pontiflex.
Oh, and they’d appreciate it if you would pay for the app by supplying your email address, and in some cases your name and zip code, as well.
Good Lord: Ad Alliance Goes on Offense ... with Cute
wanted to like the Digital Advertising Alliance’s new campaign. I really did.
The coalition of marketing and advertising trade groups is tasked with fighting arguably the biggest threat to online advertising’s existence—the nonsense spread by so-called privacy advocates.
Last week the Ad Alliance unveiled a consumer-education campaign consisting of banners and a website with three videos.
“[T]he ‘Your AdChoices’ campaign builds upon the DAA’s two-and-a-half year effort to develop and implement cross-industry best practices and effective solutions for the collection and use of data through its Advertising Option Icon,” said a press release announcing the campaign.
“With widespread industry adoption of the DAA’s Self-Regulatory Principles, the DAA remains committed to informing consumers about interest-based advertising, online data collection and use, and the simple way they can exercise control over their web viewing data,” said Peter Kosmala, managing director, Digital Advertising Alliance, in the release. “This highly creative public education campaign is an important step in that ongoing process.”
Highly creative is one way to describe it. Embarrassingly self indulgent is another.
Stupid Boss Watch: An Open Letter to Email Abusers
Dear supervisor who hasn’t got the sense to realize how destructive criticism delivered via email is:
The following is a scenario I have witnessed many times. A colleague receives an email from her boss telling her what a crappy job she did on something.
Was the job truly crappy? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.
What matters are the results: A serious amount of lost productivity.
Content Schmontent; It's Your Behavior, Stupid
A post by marketing software firm HubSpot last week on so-called spam-filter trigger words and phrases caused a bit of a kerfuffle among email marketing experts on Twitter.
“One of easiest ways to avoid spam filters is by carefully choosing the words you use in your email’s subject line,” said the piece in question. “Trigger words are known to cause problems and increase the chances of your email getting caught in a spam trap.”
The article then went on to list a bunch of words and phrases to be avoided such as “as seen on.”
To which a bunch of folks in email marketing circles responded: “Pshaw!”
Stupid Government Watch: Canada's Useless Freezer
From the it-won’t-accomplish-a-thing-but-sure-makes-us-feel-better file comes news of a spam reporting center being set up by the Canadian government.
Reports the Montreal Gazette: “Dubbed ‘The Freezer,’ the new centre will accept unsolicited electronic messages forwarded by individuals, businesses and organizations in Canada, including spam, malware (malicious software), spyware, short message services (SMS), and false and misleading representations involving the use of any means of telecommunications, according to Industry Canada.”
The funding for this useless endeavor? A whopping $700,000 a year.
Email + Mobile: No More Excuses: Get Started Optimizing for Mobile
In last month’s column, Julia Peavy listed “Explosive Mobile Growth” as her final prediction for the email space in 2012. Also in December, Ken provided some insight on the changes in mobile viewership. So, let’s take the bull by the horns and start talking about how to start optimizing your email campaigns for mobile use.
Huzzah! Pontiflex Chows on Championship Football
Yeah, sure, they loved the trophy and are now proudly displaying it in their reception area. But what the proud folks at lead-generation firm Pontiflex really wanted was the football.
No, not just any football. It was the Magill Report Fantasy Football League Championship sweet Lebanon bologna football from Dietrich’s Meats in Krumsville, PA (Mmmm. Mmmm.).
The Ocean-Marketing Lesson Everyone Missed
Lost in the worldwide coverage of the Ocean-Marketing fiasco has been the single most important lesson for marketers and publishers when it comes to engaging customers and prospects.
For those who may have missed the most riveting marketing story of 2011, an email exchange was published last week on Penny Arcade in which Paul Christoforo, president of a firm called Ocean Marketing, became shockingly abusive with a customer inquiring about an order.
Most chalked it up to a lesson in how not to deliver customer service. But that wasn’t the lesson.
Email Marketing Predictions for 2012
Everybody makes them. I normally hate them. But I’m short on material, so here are my email marketing predictions for 2012:
Fast Company's New Motto: Don't Innovate! Stagnate!
For the latest evidence that we are the most spoiled people in all of human history, look no further than Fast Company magazine’s crusade against “product spam.”
What’s product spam? Scores of nearly identical electronics with minor tweaks. According to Fast Company, choice is a bad thing.
How a Dirty Mind Can Help Save Your Creative
My journalism mentor Charlie Adair [RIP] was an utterly twisted human being, but in the best way imaginable for a student who wanted to learn to be the best reporter he could be.
He could have taught marketers a thing or too, as well—for example, about empathy, hitting deadline, and always thinking on one’s feet.
Stupid Politics Watch: Dumbest Email Acquisition Idea Ever
Boy, for a group that ran one of the most spectacular presidential campaigns in living memory, team Obama is sure a bunch of drool-bucket dumbasses when it comes to email marketing.
Note to conservatives: Team Obama did run one of the most spectacular presidential campaigns in living memory.
Note to liberals: Team Obama is a bunch of drool-bucket dumbasses when it comes to email marketing.
Note to independents: Whatever.
Is everybody pissed off now? Good.
Hotmail Changes Cause a Ruckus ... Or So I'm Told
Some changes Microsoft has made to Hotmail caused a great deal of consternation among some of the email marketers on Bill McCloskey’s discussion list Only Influencers, according to a blog post by deliverability expert Laura Atkins.
I can’t verify her claim. I’m not allowed to take part in Only Influencers’ discussions—something about a reputation for stirring up trouble.
In any case, a post on the WindowsTeamBlog revealed some eye-popping statistics.
Stealing My Content? Steal This $@#*&!
People lift and refer to my content fairly often. I’m usually flattered when it happens … except when they lift an entire piece and fail to link to the original article. Even worse are those who take content and do not give credit to the author.
Those who lift articles and fail to link to the original or give credit to the author are content thieves, the lowest form of publisher online.
Apparently there are two types of content thieves: plagiarists, and content scrapers. Content scrapers use automated systems to find and steal content appropriate for the themes of their sites.
I don’t have the time or energy to go after the plagiarists, but I do have a present for the scrapers: A column they can call their very own, complete with all the right keywords.
[Warning: Incredible crudeness, filthy sexual references and profanity ahead. I mean it. No complaints. You’ve been warned.]
Magill FFL: Stunners! TowerData Out; NetAtlantic Drowns The @men
Man oh man, do the fantasy football gods have a seriously twisted sense of humor.
In four contests of the top eight teams in the Magill Report Fantasy Football League this week, three of the four teams not in the playoffs outscored all four playoff teams.
What’s more, after losing six of their last eight games and limping into the playoffs with a 7-7 record, The NetAtlantic TidalWave beat FreshAddress’s The @men 122.06 to 76.38 to earn a spot in this year’s championship.
Before the playoffs, The @men had won their last six games to finish with a record of 10-4.
Stupid Legal Watch: The Sheer Idiocy Behind Yahoo!'s Court Win
And this year’s award for biggest waste of corporate and court resources goes to … drum roll please … Yahoo! Yay, Yahoo!
The late 90s’ favorite portal was awarded $610 million last week in a default judgment against a bunch of offshore 419 spammers—default because they never showed up in court.
Why didn’t they show up? Because they’re reportedly located in Nigeria, Thailand and Taiwan. The name of the suit itself indicates how ridiculous it was from the get go: Yahoo! Inc. V. XYZ Companies.
May as well have been Yahoo! Inc. V. Man on the Moon’s Boxer Shorts.
Anti-Spammer Gordon Smacked with 'Vexatious-Litigant' Ruling: Lawyer
If serial anti-spam litigant James Gordon had put his time and energy into, say, energy research, we’d probably be off fossil fuels by now.
However, he chose instead to file nuisance lawsuits against companies he claims spammed him—24 suits in all, by one lawyer’s reckoning.
But new developments indicate the courts may have had enough of Gordon.
Email + Social: Reflections and Predictions
With 2011 almost in the books, it’s that time of year again (and I’m not talking about overeating and uncomfortable holiday work parties). It’s time to reflect on how email and social media were integrated in 2011 and where we’re headed in 2012.
Magill FFL: 2011 Playoffs Set!
Boy, FreshAddress’s The @men sure ended the regular season with a bang.
Between New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning on Sunday night and the Seattle Seahawks defense on Monday night, The @men scored a whopping 75.8 points propelling them to a 202.6 to 148.54 win over Message Systems’ MS Destroyers.
As a result, The @men will play Division 3 leader NetAtlantic TidalWave in the first round of the playoffs next week.
Free-Shipping, Twitter Promos Rule: eDataSource
Free shipping is one of online retailers’ top promotions of choice so far this Christmas-shopping season, and Twitter—at least message-volume-wise—is the No. 1 channel they’re using to tempt shoppers with their deals, according to new numbers from eDataSource.
Over the three-week period from Nov. 7 to Nov. 28, the more than 2,000 retailers eDataSource tracks sent 4,332 tweets with the words “free shipping” in them, according to the company.
By comparison, over the same period they sent 2,577 emails with “free shipping” in their subject lines, according to eDataSource, a company that provides competitive intelligence on email marketing and social media.
When Email is Viewed Heavily Effects Where: Study
Though mobile email viewership is steadily rising on a month-to-month basis, it plummets on Mondays, according to a study released today by email security and deliverability firm Return Path.
The drop apparently coincides with people getting back to work and interacting with email at their desks.
Best Spam Copy Ever
It was only a matter of time before spammers began learning direct marketing fundamentals.
One, for example, has apparently learned that long copy outperforms short copy. What is more, she—“she” is probably a vodka-guzzling Romanian gangster, but let’s not spoil the illusion—is speaking in the language of her prospects, illiterate, horny, gullible chat room users.
Magill FFL: NetAtlantic Backs into Playoffs; Division 1 Jostles for a Spot
Miraculously, after losing its last five games, the NetAtlantic TidalWave has held on to its Division 3 lead and apparently still has a lock on the playoffs.
The TidalWave lost this week to Division 1 powerhouse TowerData Validators 86.96 to 158.26.
The loss left the TidalWave’s record at 6-7, one game ahead of the PL Marketing’s Orchard Lake Pirates whose record is 5-8. However, the TidalWave’s record against division opponents is two games better than the Pirates’.
According to Yahoo!, the first fantasy football tiebreaker is “division winning percentage.”
[Author’s note. The analysis in this piece is wholly dependent on me having interpreted “division winning percentage” correctly. If I got it wrong, this whole article is a piece of inaccurate, meaningless crap.]
As a result, even if the Pirates win their last regular-season game next week and the TidalWave loses, NetAtlantic wins the playoff tiebreaker. Put another way, NetAtlantic could drop its sixth straight and still make the playoffs with a record of 6-8.
Must be nice.
Emailers Trot Out 'Cyber,' But to What Effect?
Email marketers this week apparently seriously latched onto Cyber Monday as a promotional tool.
Of 7,520 permission-based commercial messages monitored by eDataSource on Sunday and Monday, 1,252 had the phrase “Cyber Monday” in their subject lines and 1,440 carried the word Cyber, meaning they promoted some other twist on Cyber Monday, such as Cyber Week.
As a result, about one in five marketing messages the day before Cyber Monday and on the day itself promoted Cyber Monday or something similar in their subject lines, according to eDataSource, a company that provides marketing intelligence on email and social media.
And though the term Cyber Monday was coined to reflect a phenomenon that arguably may no longer exist, retailers overall have embraced it as a promotional tactic.
Design Triggered Emails Once, Tweak, They Last for Years: Expert
As email inbox providers reportedly eye people’s engagement with senders’ messages in order to determine if they’re wanted or not, it’s getting increasingly important for marketers to send messages that are, well, wanted.
As reported here last week, email service provider Responsys has determined that if more than 50 percent of a mailer’s list fails to click on messages for a year or more, the mailer stands a significant chance of getting their messages diverted into recipients’ junk folders.
One crucial component for combating an inactive file is to identify and remove addresses that are truly inactive. Another popular—or at least popularly discussed—method is segmenting the house file and sending different messages to different customers based on where they are in the sales relationship.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests most marketers don’t segment their files. According to database marketing expert Arthur Hughes, most marketers turn to increased frequency to boost email revenue rather than segmentation. Why? Because it’s easier and apparently pays off.
But increasing frequency is also dangerous. It can cause people to complain and unsubscribe, resulting in possible deliverability troubles.
As a result, an increasingly popular tactic is sending triggered emails, or messages that automatically go out because of some activity or inactivity by the customer.
The Internet is Following Me ... and I'm amazed
I briefly coveted a Bob Kramer knife and the fact that the Internet behaviorally targeted ad industry knows it is amazing.
Magill FFL: Buh Bye to the Wife
Thank god the wife isn’t in Division 3. Otherwise, she’d still have a shot at the playoffs and posting a video to YouTube of me getting my head shaved.
Anti-spammer Mickey Chandler’s Spamtacular Bastards beat the wife’s Rivet This! this week 129.56 to 76.42. The loss put the wife’s record at 5-7, which would still leave her in contention in Division 3 where leader NetAtlantic TidalWave has dropped its fourth game in a row.
Stupid 'From' Line Watch: And You Are?
Lately there seems to be a disturbing trend in business-to-business email marketing—disturbing being a euphemism for needlessly stupid.
Multiple trade publishers and other marketers whose email lists are up for rent have been sending stand-alone commercial pitches with the advertisers’ names in their “from” lines rather than the list owners’.
It’s not that the pitches are out of line with subscriber interests. But when email recipients see a vendor in the from line to whom they know they haven’t supplied their address, their first thought naturally will be: “How the heck did Acme Widgets get my email address?”
Email + Social: 'Tis the Season
The next six weeks are make or break for marketers in many industries including retail, business-to-business and non-profits. Both email and social can play big roles in the success of the season.
For many retailers, the revenue brought in through their email program during this time is critical. So it’s time to pull out all the stops.
Want a Better Life? Get Fired
Worried about losing your job? Don’t.
Getting fired is particularly terrifying for those who have never been let go. But those of us who have been fired can tell those who haven’t: “Relax. It’ll be tough but you’ll get through it and once you do, you may even be better off than you were before you lost your job.”
I’ve been fired five times over the years—I can be a real asshole—and each time my life turned out dramatically for the better.
Understand one thing: When someone gets fired—not laid off, fired—it’s usually because the wrong people dislike them.
Magill FFL: Division Leaders Getting Distance
For the first time this season, The Magill Report Fantasy Football League division leaders are all at least two games ahead of their nearest rivals.
Division 1 leader the TowerData Validators won their third game in a row, beating Mickey Chandler’s Spamtacular Bastards 97.98 to 80.5.
The win left the Validators with the best record in the league at 8-2.
e-Dialog's New Boss Same as the Old, Old Boss? They Can Only Hope
Can e-Dialog get its mojo back under newly named president Simone Barratt?
That’s the question former employees--of which there are a slew—current employees, and other observers are asking as Barratt takes the helm of an operation with reportedly major morale problems and a recently developed cover-your-ass culture.
Internet Advertising and Your Local Bartender
In another life I was a bartender—two stints at different taverns and one at a private squash club. Little did I know at the time that I was practicing a form of behaviorally targeted marketing.
Privatize the USPS? Sure; Better Yet, Privatize Our Mailboxes
The Direct Marketing Association last week put out a call to members to send letters to Congress urging it to free the United States Postal Service to act more like a real business.
Currently, any changes the financially struggling USPS makes must go through Congress first and, as a result, take a painful amount of time to get approved and implement.
“Now is the time to ask Congress to ‘free the Postal Service’ and remove the shackles that prevent it from operating as a truly independent business,” the DMA urged.
Unshackling the USPS is appealing and should be done. But it’s not enough.
Magill FFL: Phew! TowerData Takes the Wife Down
The TowerData Validators held on to first place in Division 1 this week by beating the wife’s Rivet This! and putting her in her rightful spot at the bottom of Division 1 with a record of 4-4.
TowerData beat Rivet This! 131.7 to 100, [yay!] leaving TowerData with a record of 6-2.
Maybe there will be no head shaving in the Magill household after all.
In the Privacy Debate, Civility is Killing Us
Remember during the summer when civility—or lack thereof—was an ongoing topic in American political debates? We needed to address our differences more civilly, was the claim.
But with Occupy Wall Street protesters calling for the death of capitalism, the debate over civility seems so far away now.
Good. Screw civility.
Spam Legal Battle Takes Ridiculousness to a New Height
Whatever you do, don’t send Matt Gage of Sioux Falls, South Dakota an email asking for his business—not even one.
In what has to be one of the most ridiculously out-of-proportion reactions to a business-to-business email pitch ever, Gage is on the midst of a legal brawl with California-based Knowledge Matrix over a single—that’s right, one—unsolicited email pitching him on Knowledge Matrix’s services.
Dela Quist Doesn't Like MainSleaze ... Not One Bit
Editor’s Note: Not surprisingly, the reactions to last week’s launch of anti-spam website MainSleaze were swift and divided.
Some email-service-provider representatives have apparently decided to use the site—aimed at naming and shaming big-brand marketers who spam and their ESPs—as a resource to investigate clients MainSleaze’s bloggers claim are spamming.
“[T]here are four ESP reps from four ESPs now responding to posts, launching investigations, and helping clean up the messes that we report,” wrote MainSleaze co-founder Catherine Jefferson in an email to The Magill Report.
However, not everyone is enamored with MainSleaze. Dela Quist, CEO of digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx, took issue with the site in the comments section of The Magill Report. Unfortunately, The Magill Report comments section stripped out his paragraph breaks and made it practically unreadable. [Working on that.]
Quist’s comments are worth reading. The one issue I would take with them is that Quist, like many people, seems to be under the misperception that a reporter covering something he deems as news is an endorsement. I did not endorse MainSleaze. But I felt its launch was an important development of which mainstream email marketers and their service providers—my readers—should be made aware.
Here are Quist’s comments unedited except for some minor punctuation:
Magill FFL: Uh, Oh: The Wife Creeps Up On Division 1
This is getting bad.
The wife’s Rivet This! Beat the NetAtlantic TidalWave this week 118.74 to 81.04 putting her on a three-game winning streak.
The win gave her a winning record for the first time this year, leaving her at 4-3 in Division 1.
Anti-Spam Blog Naming Names, Aiming to Shame
A new anti-spam blog debuted yesterday aiming to out so-called “mainsleaze” marketers—a derogatory name for well-known brands that send unsolicited email—and hopefully shame them into mending their ways.
Dubbed appropriately MainSleaze, the site is aimed at curbing unsolicited email that blacklists don’t generally tackle.
EU Bans Prechecked Boxes: All of Them?
Please tell me the EU hasn’t banned all prechecked boxes—as in all of them.
EU authorities last week published a consumer-protection directive that included the ban of prechecked boxes during online purchases.
The ban on prechecked boxes was aimed at stopping airlines, for example, from forcing customers to uncheck permission boxes to opt out of buying extra services such as insurance when buying airline tickets.
Fair enough. Customers shouldn’t have to opt out of spending cash on add-on purchases, but if the directive extends to email list building, it’s an overreach and I can’t find anything that says it doesn’t.
Email + Social Causes: A Missed Opportunity?
Recently, I stumbled across a couple of emails emails that stood out from other emails in my inbox. An email from Power Equipment Direct (PED) promoted a “like” on Facebook in exchange for a $1 donation to Operation Support Our Troops – America!
The other email from French Toast, a school uniform retailer, also caught my eye with the subject line “Meet Mr. Toasty.” This email invited me to visit the French Toast Facebook page to show my support Mr. Toasty’s mission to say “no” to bullies.
Not only did these emails catch my eye, they got me to click (something that is increasingly more important as ISPs consider engagement as a component of inbox delivery).
Magill FFL: Divisions 1 and 2 in Gridlock; Wife wins Again: Arghhhh!
In a case of what-are-the-odds-of-that? every team in Division 1 won this week and every team in Division 2 lost resulting in no change in their standings.
More importantly though, the wife’s River This! managed to beat last year’s champions, e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs, 105 to 96.02, leaving e-Dialog at second place in Division 2 with a record of 3-3. The win was the wife’s second in a row and put her back in contention with a record of 3-3.
As we all know, the wife in contention is fun for her, but could result in public humiliation for me in the form of a comically shaved head.
She commutes into New York City and is generally out of the house before I wake up. But being the wonderful, kind, caring, loving wife she is, she left a note on my Mac Book this morning.
It was so warm and sweet, I had to share:
Email Remains ROI King; Net Marketing Set to Overtake DM
Once again, commercial email is returning vastly more for every dollar spent on it this year than every other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association’s just-released Power of Direct economic impact study.
Separately, non-email Internet marketing, which includes display, search and social networking, is expected to surpass direct mail in sales for the first time next year, according to the study.
Infogroup Exec Rebuts Email Append Critics
Not only can email appending be done responsibly and cost effectively without harming the marketer’s reputation, it happens all the time, according to Dan Babb, senior director, interactive, for data giant Infogroup.
What’s more, Babb said, he’s got the repeat business to prove email appending works..
Marketfish Launches Postal Offering
Marketfish, a company that offers self-service email list rental, today announced it is launching self-service postal-address rental.
Spam Primavera Out in Front
Spam Primavera began emerging as the dominant team in The Magill Report Fantasy Football League this week by winning its fourth game in a row.
Spam Primavera, managed by Adam Mihalik, a marketing analyst at a really big insurance company I’m not allowed to name, kept its spot as the sole undefeated team in the league by beating Message Systems’ MS Destroyers 158.58 to 138.86.
That Sound You Hear is my Head Coming Out of my Ass
After a piece ran here last week taking issue with the Mail Anti-Abuse Working Group’s blanket condemnation of email appending, some readers politely let me know they thought my head was planted firmly in my ass on the subject.
They also offered to help me extract it. So I talked with a few of them.
Sniff. Wow. The air outside my ass is certainly more pleasant to breathe.
No Membership? No Problem; Pike Forges On ... But Can He?
Even having been stripped of his board seat and membership, Direct Marketing Association dissident Gerry Pike still plans to attend at least one of the DMA’s two Oct. 2 annual meetings.
His aim: Present the proxy votes he has received and get his so-called Say-on-Pay motion put on the ballot.
Multiple high-level DMA sources who declined to go on record said they believe since Pike is no longer a member he has no right to attend either the annual business meeting or the board meeting.
Stupid Bankruptcy Watch: Borders Sale Hinges on Idiocy
In another example of how privacy zealots regularly manage to muck things up and cost businesses piles of cash without protecting anyone from anything meaningful, a judge yesterday ruled Borders Group Inc.’s sale of intellectual property to Barnes & Noble can go ahead.
As a result, Barnes & Noble can take possession of Borders’ 48-million-customer database.
No, it’s not stupid that the judge ruled they could move forward with the deal. It’s the conditions under which he ruled they could make the transaction that are stupid.
Magill FFL: Spam Primavera Lone Undefeated
Hey folks! What do the Magill League’s Spam Primavera and my Buffalo Bills have in common? Why, they’re both undefeated, that’s what!
I know. I know. I’ve had my heart ripped out enough over the years to know the Buffalo Bills portion of that equation can’t last. For one thing, their passing defense is Swiss cheese.
But hey, it’s fun to be able to put the words “Bills” and “undefeated” in the same sentence, even if only briefly.
Meanwhile, Spam Primavera is the only undefeated team in the Magill Report Fantasy Football League and is emerging as this year’s possible juggernaut.
Stupid Advocate Watch: Proof They're Out to Kill Online Advertising
If there is anyone who believes privacy advocates will be satisfied with anything short of an online ad industry that’s been destroyed, consider a letter last week sent from the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue to the Federal Trade Commission.
Stupid State Watch: CA's ZIP Code Assault Continues
In the latest example showing that California is to legislative idiocy what Saudi Arabia is to oil, the fiscal-train-wreck state is about to pass a law aimed at protecting gas stations from being sued by class-action parasites for requiring people’s ZIP codes in at-the-pump credit card transactions.
Why is that stupid? Because it doesn’t protect anyone else and, as a result, dozens of despicable class-action shakedowns still stand.
Email + Social: Appetizing Integration
To get the creative juices flowing, let’s take a look at two examples of marketing campaigns from this spring and summer that leveraged an email- and social-media integrated model. Warning: Beware the power of suggestion. If you were planning on a salad for lunch, don’t read on.
Magill Report FFL Week 1: RP Revenge on Hold
So often winning and losing in fantasy football is simply a matter of the luck of the draw—or the lack of luck of the draw in some cases.
Return Path’s Goliaths posted a whopping 161.76 points this week—the second highest score in the league—only to lose to the TowerData Validators who posted the league’s top score of 178 points.
The Goliaths’ manager, Larry Karipides, is looking for revenge this year after a dominating last year’s regular season and then suffering a surprising fractional-point loss in the playoffs. If he’s going to get it, thanks to TowerData, the 2011 Return-Path-revenge tour won’t start until at least week 2.
9/11: In Memory of a Woman I Never Met, Who I'll Never Forget
Every September for the last nine years there’s always that one day.
The air is crisp, the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky—the kind of day only September in the Northeast can deliver.
Every year when I walk out into that day, I think: “Islamic terrorists start crashing planes into our buildings in 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1.”
On September 11, 2001, I arrived in the basement of Tower One right after the first plane hit.
Battle Brews at DMA: CEO Kimmel Paid too Much?
Gerry Pike is on another crusade to slap the Direct Marketing Association’s leadership around.
And just like his 2009 battle—which involved multiple issues—the hot-button issue for this feud is the DMA chief executive’s salary, bonuses and how they were negotiated.
Database Guru Calls 'BS' on Lifetime Value Detractors
Don’t think lifetime value is a valid metric in email marketing? Well, database marketing expert Arthur Hughes has one word for you: nonsense.
Last week’s piece in which Chris Donald, vice president of marketing at email marketing services provider Inbox Group, criticized lifetime value’s use as an email-marketing metric prompted a debate in the comments section of the Magill Report.
The article was also retweeted six times to a collective following of about 10,000 people.
But the most notable response came from Hughes, vice president, The Database Marketing Institute. Hughes is one of database marketing’s foremost experts.
e360 Beats Spamhaus! Um ... to the Tune of $3
Dave Linhardt, president of now-defunct email marketing firm E360 Insight, got a $3 slap in the mouth last week when a judge vacated his claim against anti-spam outfit Spamhaus for that amount.
Thing is, he apparently had a real opportunity to get some actual damages—not the millions he was aiming for, but substantially more than the three-dollar judgment he got.
However, by allegedly engaging in delaying tactics and presenting wildly different estimates on the amount of damages Linhardt claimed Spamhaus cost his business by placing e360 on its blocklist, Linhardt damaged his credibility with the court so much, the judge effectively told him to take a hike.
A Big Step Toward a Common Language
A years-long industry-wide effort at standardizing definitions of email metrics is getting a major boost this week as Responsys becomes the first large, enterprise-focused email service provider to formally adopt them.
Dubbed the SAME Project, or Support the Adoption of Metrics for Email, the initiative’s standards are the culmination of an effort that began in 2007. Over the years it has involved a who’s who list of email marketing executives.
What Up DMA? Why You Not Kill EEC?
Okay, Direct Marketing Association: I thought we had this talk already and understood our roles. You’re supposed to be utterly incompetent—especially on all things digital marketing—and I’m supposed to ridicule you.
Oh, Well. Twitter Experiment Ends
While The Magill Report’s Twitter experiment—where I try and get content by Tweeting questions—hasn’t been a complete flop, it also hasn’t gained enough steam for it to be worthwhile to continue.
Last week’s question: “What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done at work?” drew just two responses.
Magill Report FFL Season 2 Set; Calling for a Wife Butt Whuppin'
The Magill Report Fantasy Football Season Two is all set to go and this year we’re maxed out at 14 teams.
There are some new developments of which team managers should be aware: First I’ve added some bonus scoring. As a result, managers whose quarterbacks throw for more than 300 yards, whose running backs get more than 200 yards and whose receivers catch for more than 100 yards will see some added scoring.
Also, I’ve added one injured-reserve spot so teams have the option of keeping one injured player without him taking up a spot on their active roster.
Most importantly though, this year I received 13 requests for teams. Fantasy football requires an even number of teams so I recruited my ad-agency-executive wife to manage the fourteenth team.
Here’s why: Yahoo! fantasy football doesn’t allow the commissioner not to have a team. I can’t have a team. Even though I highly doubt I could win in The Magill Report Fantasy Football League—it is one of the sickest leagues I’ve ever seen—I can’t take even the remotest chance of winning the championship.
So the wife serves two purposes beyond cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, lighting my cigars, getting me beer and giving me foot massages: [Ha! Ha! Just kidding honey! Don’t kill me! No really. Please. (whimper)]: She gives the league an even number of teams and allows me to be commissioner through her.
But here's the deal. I need the other teams to kick her butt.
Stupid Marketer Watch: One Really Dangerous Question
An ad-agency-executive colleague called me yesterday and asked: “Do you have the Direct Marketing Association’s Statistical Fact Book?”
“No I don’t,” I answered. “Why do you ask?”
“Because Bob [An account executive; Not his real name] wants to know what average direct response rates are for [client’s] industry.”
“No, for everything.”
“Why is he asking for this information?”
“Because [client] is insisting on it.”
“Have you explained to him that even if that information exists, it’s worse than useless?”
Stupid Media Watch: The Sky is Falling at USA Today
And the latest piece of anti-marketing alarmist drivel comes to us courtesy of America’s McPaper, USA Today.
“Web tracking has become a privacy time bomb,” said the headline of the piece by Byron Acohido.
No need to guess where Acohido comes down on Web tracking for advertising purposes. The 1,600-word piece was rife with alarmist theoretical warnings while, of course, failing to give a single example of actual harm.
How Email Marketers Can Start Preparing for Google+ Now
As an email marketer (or any marketer), you can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing about Google+. From how fast it has grown (25 million+) to what it is (a new way to share) and what it isn’t (a Facebook killer). Google+ is everywhere.
And yet, it can be difficult to determine if Google+ is the next big thing or just the newest social media kid on the block.
So, what does Google+ mean for email marketers? Should you care? While I can’t predict the future, here’s why email marketers should care and what they can start doing to prepare for Google+ or the next big thing.
Magill Report Twitter Experiment Fails; Not Ready to Give up Just Yet
Last week’s experiment in which I posed an Ask-an-Expert question to my twitter feed netted a grand total of zero responses.
However, two factors to consider are: A) It’s August, publishing’s slowest month and not the best time to launch a new initiative and B) The question I asked—how to calculate the value of an email address—is rather difficult.
So I’m not ready to give up on Twitter for Ask-an-Expert content just yet. I still believe Twitter is a viable source for community-created content. I just need to approach it differently.
Here’s what I’ve decided to do:
Another Spam-Filtering Lawsuit; This One over a Patent
A little-known outfit is suing a curious collection of well-known Internet-related companies claiming that by using information from Return Path’s email certification program to help filter out spam, the companies are violating its patent.
What’s more, it would appear the company in question—BuyerLeverage Email Solutions—is suing a bunch of seemingly random companies over a business model that was tried and proven unworkable several years ago.
Magill Report FFL Season Two: A Call for Teams
The most important news to come out of the end of the National Football League’s lockout is that there will be a Magill Report Fantasy Football League Season Two.
Hallelujah! Praise be to beer and vodka martinis!
If this season is anything like last season, it will be a blast.
Also, I'm expanding the league this year so there are some open slots.
Ask an Expert: Announcing a Twitter Experiment
One of the most regularly complimented features in The Magill Report is the Ask an Expert column. People are seemingly always coming up to me in social events at conferences and telling me Ask an Expert is one of their favorite columns in this newsletter.
It also has proven to be the most difficult to maintain.
As a result, I’ve decided to try and use Twitter to feed The Magill Report’s Ask an Expert column.
Starting this week, I will tweet The Magill Report’s Ask-an-Expert questions to my Twitter feed.
Stupid Magill Watch: Boy, Can I be an Idiot
Last week’s post about Epsilon’s financial statement and what I believed it meant—that Epsilon is doing just fine, thank you—prompted one enlightening reply in the comments section politely pointing out that I was being an idiot.
The article was so short, let’s review it in full here:
You Say relevance; I Hear Blah, Blah, Blah
I’m with Andrew Kordek.
The co-founder and chief strategist of email consultancy Trendline Interactive recently stated in a blog post that he despises the term “relevancy.”
Though I will admit I didn’t always despise it. I’ve even used it. I simply have come to despise it.
Sunday's The Best Day to Send, Says Study: Yawn
It’s the age-old question in email marketing and it seems to get a different answer depending on who’s doing the study: What the best day and time to send commercial email?
Well, this week at least it’s apparently early Sunday morning.
Does This Company Smell Funny to You?
Okay folks! Pop quiz!
Don’t worry, it only has one multiple-choice question with only two possible answers.
The question is: Should you do business with the following company?
FTC Doesn't Have Enough to do
As Congress anguishes over where it can possibly cut spending, I know of at least one place where we can start slashing right away: the Federal Trade Commission.
How do I know this? Well, the FTC earlier this month put out a call for comment on the Care Labeling Rule for clothing.
Who even knew there was a Care Labeling rule for clothing? What could such a rule possibly dictate?
Oh, Sure; It’s all Hugs and Kisses Now
At first it’s always champagne corks popping and party streamers flying. And then the painful process of integration begins.
Atlanta-based email marketing concern WhatCounts has acquired Baltimore-based marketing services agency Blue Sky Factory, the two companies announced yesterday.
But What about 'Designers from Hell?'
One of the more amusing websites for those whose jobs are connected to creating marketing and advertising materials is Clients from Hell.
The site offers a steady stream of anecdotes about ridiculous, silly, rude and stupid client behavior submitted by anonymous designers.
There’s just one problem with Clients from Hell: It’s too one sided. There needs to be a Designers from Hell.
I'm Not Anti-Anti-Spam; I'm Anti-Nutty Anti-Spammer
In the comments section beneath the piece published here last week on the recent massive drop in spam not being attributable to any law, some agitated human wrote the following: “[Y]our anti-anti-spam act became tiresome years ago.”
To which I replied: “Apparently not so tiresome that you’ve stopped reading.”
But here’s the thing: I am not now, nor have I ever been anti-anti-spam—or pro spam, to put it more concisely. I defy anyone to find a single sentence I’ve ever written defending unsolicited commercial email in 16 years of covering the subject.
Now I’m not rabidly anti-spam. I don’t get worked up when I receive it. I simply believe it’s a stupid marketing practice.
But there was a great piece of irony in last week’s piece that I failed to pick up on until Mr. Agitated left his comment.
Why Legislating Permission is Stupid: An Illustration
As Canada prepares to put its anti-spam law C-28 into effect in September, an official summary of it offers a nice—nice being a euphemism for mind numbing—illustration as to why legislating permission is a bad idea.
When the government decrees permission is necessary by law, government must define what exactly constitutes permission.
And sure as night follows day, when government defines permission, we get monstrosities like the following lifted verbatim from a legislative summary of the bill—legislative summary, mind you, not the bill itself:
Well, What Have We Here?
Woah! Now wait just a minute! According to a just-released study by Cisco, traditional mass-email spam dropped in volume a whopping 86 percent in one year from 300 billion messages a day in June 2010 to 40 billion a day last month.
Wow. What the heck happened?
How to Screw up Your Email Program in Two Easy Steps
It just takes that one stupid mistake to screw up an email program—or in the following case, a combination of them.
Email + Social: Attaching Value to Social Media Marketing
Let’s take a look at the value of marketing via social networks. It’s no secret that marketers have been struggling to measure the return on investment for their social media efforts. However, recent report finally sheds some light on the issue. A survey conducted in early June reports that 43 percent of US marketers have successfully used social media to increase customer acquisition in 2011.
eDataSource Announces Open-Rate Tracking
eDataSource now can track the open rates of the emails of more than 2,000 brands, the email intelligence firm announced today.
The Smart Phone Cometh
Suddenly, it’s time to take smart-phone email access seriously—very seriously.
One in five emails are opened on a smart phone, up from 4 percent in 2009, according to Campaign Monitor
At the same time, desktop- and web-based-email access have dipped significantly, according to the Sydney-based firm.
Time for a Magill Report Sign-Off Line
Ever notice all the cool marketing columnists have creative sign-off lines? For example, Silverpop’s Loren McDonald ends his MediaPost column with, “Until next time, take it up a notch.”
Jeanne Jennings ends her ClickZ column with “Until next time.” David Daniels ends his ClickZ column with “Until next time.”
Okay, so the last two are not all that creative and, in fact, they’re identical. But still, the columnists who have them are cool.
And I want to be cool so it’s time The Magill Report got a sign-off line.
Here are some possibilities:
Stupid Snooping Watch: Social Intelligence? Hardly
The Federal Trade Commission recently gave the okay to a startup that does background checks on job applicants that searches social media sites for questionable postings.
The FTC ruled that Social Intelligence Corp. operates within the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Fine. Social media postings are public, and employers have every right to try and figure out if a job applicant is potentially racist or violent.
Unfortunately—if the examples Social Intelligence gave to reporters covering it are representative of the way it judges applicants—it draws conclusions that are wildly out of line.
Ex-e-Dialoger Sweetser Lands New Gig
Arthur Sweetser, former chief marketing officer of email service provider e-Dialog, has landed a new gig at database marketing agency 89 Degrees.
Named for the position of the North Star, 89 Degrees is a 45-person shop in Burlington, MA, the same city where e-Dialog’s headquarters are located.
Sweetser signed on four months ago as 89 Degrees’ chief marketing officer.
The Story Behind the E*Trade Baby
Talk about publicity.
Lindsay Lohanʼs lawsuit against E*Trade Financial Corp. over a reference in its last Super Bowl commercial to “milkoholic Lindsay” resulted in 47,600 pieces of media coverage, according to Tor Myhren, president and chief creative ofﬁcer of Grey New York.
“It kind of frightens me what that says about this country,” he said in a presentation at the Direct Marketing Associationʼs All For One conference in the New York Hilton this week.
Silos, Always the Silos, Stop it with the Friggin' Silos Already
During his opening keynote at the Direct Marketing Association’s All For One conference at the New York Hilton yesterday, DMA president Larry Kimmel spoke of the need to break down marketing silos.
Iʼve met Kimmel a number of times and found him to be smart and likable.
But you know what? Iʼd rather have finishing nails pounded into the webbing between my toes than have to hear the phrase “marketing silos” ever again.
Ask an Expert: Best, Easiest Triggers
Let’s face it: The drive toward getting email marketers to adopt list segmentation has been an utter failure.
Marketers aren’t segmenting. They’ve opened fire.
According to a recent study by Epsilon, the volume of emails its clients sent rose almost 40 percent in 2010.
The reason: Segmenting takes time and effort, there’s no such thing as an overstaffed marketing department and few have the creative resources to create multiple messages for the same campaign.
Triggered messages—those sent as the result of some action or inaction—are a different story, however. Sure, they take some planning and effort up front, but once they’re in place they pretty much run themselves. They’re about as relevant and targeted as email marketing gets.
But where to start?
The Other Side of Facebook: A Twisted, Personal Social Media Tale
During a recent keynote speech by entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, I was reminded of how the social-media revolution is not all good—not all good at all.
Warning: This story is pure tragedy.
Marketing: The Profession that Doesn't Read
I've come to the conclusion that most marketers don’t read and that there’s a handful of us in the trade press and blogosphere talking to one another to no effect.
Why? How else can companies that publish statements like the following in their frequently-asked-questions sections continue to exist?
Slashed Content Boosts Bottom Line for Bottom Dollar Food
If only all email-campaign improvements could be so simple.
The email marketing team at Atlanta-based digital agency Engauge recently increased client Bottom Dollar Food’s weekly specials email click-through rate by 31 percent and lowered its unsubscribe rate by 11 percent with one simple move.
Low Complaints Don’t Mean Your Rep’s Not Crap: Return Path
While low spam complaint rates are certainly something email marketers should strive for, there’s a good reason for low complaints and a bad one, according to a just-released study by email security and deliverability firm Return Path.
As a result, emailers with high inbox placement rates have average spam complaint rates very similar to those with not-so-high placement rates, according to the study.
StrongMail Unveils Triggered Email Feature
Email software and services provider StrongMail today announced it has developed a drag-and-drop “Lifecycle Marketing” feature that allows marketers to create a series of triggered email programs with little IT involvement.
DEMCO Abandoned-Cart Emails Kicking Patooty
It is no secret that triggered emails—messages delivered as a result of some action taken or not taken by the recipient—outperform broadcast messages.
After all, they’re timely and relevant.
But given the relatively little amount of labor they demand compared to other targeting efforts, how much triggered messages outperform broadcast emails can be stunning.
Case in point: an abandoned-shopping-cart email program implemented by library supplies merchant DEMCO in 2009.
Twitter, Urban Outfitters, Pitchforks and Torches
Watching Urban Outfitters’ recent seemingly disastrous PR fiasco play out on Twitter and in the media reminded me of an old joke:
“What are you doing with those pitchforks and torches?” asks the king. “We’re revolting!” answers a voice from the mob. “I know that,” says the king. “But what are you doing with those pitchforks and torches?”
Independent artist Stevie Koerner on May 25 posted on her Tumblr page what seemed to be pretty solid evidence that Urban Outfitters had ripped off her jewelry design—states with heart-shaped holes punched in them.
The following day, blogger Amber Karnes picked up the story and Tweeted about it, calling for a boycott of Urban Outfitters.
Twitterville went nuts. Urban Outfitters took the jewelry down. All hail the power of social media, right?
Shhh ... Email Doesn’t Know it's Dead
For a communication channel that’s supposed to dying, email sure isn’t showing any signs of slowing.
In fact, the amount of presumably permission-based commercial email has gone up dramatically over the past year without damaging response rates, according to a survey published last week by marketing services provider Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association’s email experience council.
Email and Social Media: It's more than Including an Icon
The marketing media is awash with talk of “integration” – in general, and specific to social media. But what does integration mean and what does it look like?
To answer that question, my colleague Stephanie Colleton and I couldn’t think of a better place than our very own inboxes. Over the course of a week, we looked at over 75 senders in our inboxes - publishers, retailers, B2B, hospitality, finance – and many more commercial email senders. While including social media calls to action may seem like a simple and logical first step toward integrating these two channels, our unofficial study reveals that marketers still have room for improvement.
First Apparent Epsilon-Related Spam Reported
And so it has apparently begun.
The first case of spam that can be reasonably attributed to the well-publicized Epsilon data breach has been reported.
And there is evidence that whoever is sending the messages is no amateur.
Boss Wants you to Spam? Put Me on the Phone
One of the more disappointing professional moments—albeit not remotely surprising—I experienced recently was when I asked the audience of a panel discussion I was moderating how many had had management try and force them to send email to non-permission based names.
I forget exactly how I worded the question. I may have asked: “How many of you have had management force you to buy email lists?” or “How many of you have had management try and force you to add questionable names to your file?”
Either way, the majority in the room raised their hands.
As a result, I have decided to make Magill Report readers a free offer.
Stupid DM Watch: Behold the Committee Effect in Action
For one of the lamest email fundraising pitches in recent memory, look no further than my alma mater Buffalo State College.
The pitch was a classic case of marketing by committee. Or at least it better have been.
Stupid Bureaucrat Watch: ASA Saves UK from Auto Armageddon
Phew! That was close. But thank goodness for the bureauweenies at the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA just saved a bunch of people from driving 120 miles per hour—or 193.12128 kilometers per hour, as the case may be—up steep, winding mountain roads and killing themselves and possibly others.
How’d they do it? Why, by stomping on the heads of the evil marketing minds at Yahoo!, that’s how.
FTC May be Backing off Do Not Track
With multiple do-not-track bills in Congress and one in California, the future of online advertising hasn’t been in such jeopardy since banner clicks plummeted to near zero in the late 90s.
However, the Federal Trade Commission may be showing signs of relenting on the do-not-track issue.
Notes from Atlanta: A Piano's ROI?
Some random thoughts and ideas gleaned from Silverpop’s client summit in Atlanta last week:
If your site has a shopping cart and doesn’t have an abandoned-cart email strategy, implement one … now.
Library supplies firm DEMCO recently implemented a three-email abandoned-cart program in which messages go out one, three and five days after a cart is abandoned. The results: abandoned cart emails convert at an average 20 percent and deliver 97 times the revenue per thousand messages than regular promotional emails.
Stupid Marketer Watch: Hilton Pitch Says Too Much and Says it Wrong
Call it the case of a marketer being too clever by half. An email pitch from the Las Vegas Hilton recently attempted to take personalization up a notch and failed miserably.
Stupid Scammer Watch: One Last Shuvitt
From the couldn’t-make-it-up-if-I-tried files comes a short email exchange I had with a 419 advance-fee scammer yesterday.
Mobile Email Up 80% Since October: Return Path
Though desktop applications and webmail still account for the lion’s share of how most people read their email, mobile access has surged 80 percent since October, according to a just-released study by email deliverability and security firm Return Path.
Stupid Media Watch: This is What it's Come to
Utterly lost in all the coverage of the Burston-Marsteller/Facebook attempted smear campaign against Google last week was just how ludicrous the underlying issue was.
Ask an Expert: Dumbest. Moves. Ever
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: What is the dumbest thing you've ever seen a client/email marketer do?
I sent the question out via my Twitter feed and received three responses. I find it extremely hard to believe that out of more than 650 people, only three have witnessed acts of extreme email marketing idiocy. That said, the three that did come through are pretty stupid:
Where Are They Now? Pridemore Loses GA GOP Bid
Former email entrepreneur Tricia Pridemore over the weekend lost her bid to become chairwoman of the Georgia Republican Party.
Despite having the endorsement of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal—for whose campaign Pridemore was a volunteer—she lost to incumbent GA GOP chairwoman Sue Everhart, drawing 36 percent of the delegates’ votes to Everhart’s 48 percent.
Considering Dumping Your Breached ESP? Don’t be an Idiot
“E-mail services firm Epsilon will face years of repercussions and up to $225 million in total costs as a result of its recent data breach,” said a press release put out last week by self-described “cyber risk analytics and intelligence company” CyberFactors.
I have a message for any firm whose executives are considering leaving Epsilon as a result of its recent well-publicized breach: Don’t be an idiot.
New Plan: Don’t want to be Tracked? Fine
In an effort to surpass Utah for state Internet-legislative idiocy, California lawmakers are moving on a “Do-Not-Track” bill they hope will influence federal Internet advertising legislation.
Translation: they hope their bill will spread their stupidity into Congress and make alarmist, industry-crushing asininity the law of the land.
Ask an Expert: Determining Optimal Email Frequency
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: How do I determine optimal email frequency? For example, is there a benchmark opt-out rate I should be keeping an eye on if I decide to increase frequency? Or when do I know it's time to decrease frequency?
Once again, we turn to the experts on the Only Influencers discussion list, an invitation-only forum for digital marketing experts.
The Value (and Limitations) of Benchmarking
By Matt Blumberg
Last year I executed a ton of external benchmarking projects, with different leaders inside Return Path doing both systematic and ad hoc phone calls and meetings with peer companies and aspirational peer companies to understand how we compare to them in terms of specific metrics, practices, and structures.
It’s possible I drove the team a little nuts, actually. To some extent these projects were the former management consultant in me rearing his head. But I was also just really conscious of trying to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve as we rapidly scale our business this year. What is the real value in going through an exercise like this? I think it’s two-fold:
Exclusive: 1-800-Flowers Spam 'Was the New Guy'
And from the all’s-well-that-ends-well file comes the story behind 1-800-Flowers earning a listing on anti-spam outfit Spamhaus’s blocklist and then being delisted within 24 hours.
Stupid Media Watch: Another Mindless Parrot
Yet another example of how privacy whackos will make any claim—no matter how ridiculous—in their war on effective online advertising while reporters swallow their idiocy without even a hint of disbelief, comes to us courtesy of a recent article in the New York Times.
This Month in Dot-Com Wackiness: That $7 Billion with a 'B'
Editor’s note: It’s been almost exactly 11 years since the dot-com economy imploded in spring of 2000. Over the weekend, I went into the garage and dug up back issues of the various publications for which I’ve written. I’ve been writing about Internet and email marketing since 1996.
As a result, I’ve decided to start publishing an occasional column looking back at some of the wackiness that was the dot-come boom and bust. Here is the first:
Ask an Expert: Measuring Email's True Sales Impact
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: It's been fairly well established that email drives sales in other channels, ie. email goes out, inbound-call-center sales rise. How do you quantify the effect email has on other sales channels?
Once again, we turn to the experts on Bill McCloskey’s Only Influencers discussion list, a private forum for digital marketers:
Ask an Expert: Biggest Boneheaded Moves
Once again, we turn to the experts on the Only Influencers discussion list, an invitation-only list of online marketing experts:
Pay-Per-Click ESP Debuts
Dubbed Pay Per Visit Email, the service is aimed at senders with lists of up to a million addresses, according to David Chitester, CEO and founder of the firm.
Indiana Child No-Email Registry Hits a Snag
Dubbed HB 1418, the bill includes crippling fees for marketers.
Email Breaches: Outsourcing of Data Storage Irrelevant, Says Lewis
Lewis put his post in The Magill Report’s comments section. I believe it deserves more exposure.
Why the Epsilon Breach May be a Good Thing (so far)
Is there anyone out there with a computer and Internet access who hasn’t received an email from one of Epsilon’s clients saying that someone gained unauthorized access to a database containing their email address?
It’s hard to imagine there is.
Epsilon's well-publicized data breach has served as a huge wake-up call to email service providers and has resulted in the most massive public education campaign about phishing scams in the history of email.
News Flash: Massive Data Leaks! Happening for Years!
Major companies with troves of personally identifiable information on just about every consumer in America have been giving the information away to anyone who wants it and even some who don’t, The Magill Report has learned.
And they’ve been trading people’s personal information for years.
These companies routinely give people’s personally identifiable information to known felons, pedophiles, sex offenders, gang members, drug dealers, extortionists, spammers, hackers and con artists.
Ask an Expert: Email's Vital Signs
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: What are email's blood-pressure-and-cholesterol metrics, ie. What are the first two or three a consultant will look at to determine the health of a client's program and the first they will move to help the client fix?
Once again, we turn to the experts on the Only Influencers discussion list, an invitation-only list of online marketing experts:
Marketing Hiring Slowing but Still Strong: Survey
Though marketers’ hiring plans are slowing a bit going into the second quarter of 2011 compared to the first, the DM and digital jobs market is still strong enough that employment seekers can be somewhat selective about where they go to work, according to a just-released survey.
Epsilon Breach Brings out the Stupid
In a development that may signal marketers are getting smarter about interacting with customers after the click, Epsilon is reporting that average email conversion rates were up significantly in the fourth quarter of 2010 over the previous quarter and over the previous year.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender! Holomaxx's Hail Mary
That Microsoft is a cutthroat competitor is no secret but email marketer Holomaxx has made new allegations against the technology giant accusing it and Yahoo! of some seriously anti-competitive behavior.
The allegations—appearing in amended complaints filed by Holomaxx last week—accuse Microsoft and Yahoo! of blocking the email marketer’s messages for nefarious reasons and are believed to be the first time this particular line of attack has been taken by an email marketer suing an ISP for blocking its messages as spam.
Stupid Study Watch: Thank You, Captain Obvious
Folks, we are all in the wrong business. We need to quit our jobs and go get PhDs in one of the social sciences.
Then we can spend the rest of our lives doing studies that conclude the obvious.
The most recent example of university obvi-idiocy comes in the form of a study that determined people who receive a lot of email, habitually respond to a good portion of it, maintain a lot of online relationships and conduct a large number of transactions online, are more susceptible to email phishing than those who limit their online activity.
Ask an Expert: When/How to Reactivate II
This week’s ask-an-expert question is the same two parter as last week’s:
1) What are the most effective tactics you have seen for reactivating non-responsive email addresses?
2) How do I decide when an address is inactive?
This time our answer comes from Dela Quist, outspoken founder and CEO of British email marketing agency Alchemy Worx.
His answer comes via Only Influencers, an invitation-only list of marketing experts:
Epsilon Valdez: How Bad Might it Get?
Call it the warning message sent round the world.
What is potentially the largest known email list theft in history has resulted in probably the most warning messages sent to consumers concerning the same event ever.
But the big question is: How much damage can the thieves do with the stolen files?
The answer is: It depends on how much information they were able to get. And how much data they were able to get apparently depends largely on how Epsilon’s clients’ databases were set up.
Holomaxx's Yahoo!, Microsoft Lawsuits Tossed ... But
A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits filed by email marketer Holomaxx Technologies against Yahoo! and Microsoft.
However, Judge Jeremy Fogel in his March 11 ruling gave Holomaxx 30 days to file amended complaints.
As a result, the email marketer has until April 11 to revive the suits.
Ask an Expert: When/How to Reactivate
This week’s ask-an-expert question is a two parter:
1) What are the most effective tactics you have seen for reactivating non-responsive email addresses?
2) How do I decide when an address is inactive?
Once again, we turn to the experts on Bill McCloskey’s Only Influencers discussion list, an invitation-only list of online marketing experts.
Staying Innovative as Your Business Grows (Part Two)
By George Bilbrey
Last month, as part of the Online Entrepreneur column, I shared some of Return Path’s organizational techniques we use to stay innovative as we grow. In this article, I’ll talk about the process we’re using in our product management-and-development teams to stay innovative.
What Really Motivates List Thieves
Silverpop was put on the defensive again last week when Play.com CEO John Perkins claimed that spam his customers received was probably the result of a months-old data breach at the email service provider.
Silverpop received a slew of negative press in the tech trades when the breach was first revealed last year. And Play.com's recent warning to its customers has prompted a new round of less-than-favorable press for Silverpop.
But while it has had the honor of getting the most press over stolen email files, Silverpop isn’t remotely alone.
The entire industry has been under attack for more than a year. Clearly, clean email lists are valuable enough for someone to want to steal them. But with spam filters likely to identify messages resulting from the thefts as spam and block them, what is it about these lists that makes them so valuable?
Read the article for a plausible answer.
Best. Campaign. Ever. ... Killed
The Smithsonian certainly had good reason to put an end to a fake-but-very-cool poster campaign that made unauthorized use of its logo.
However, the Smithsonian didn’t give the good reason for having the campaign killed. It gave the politically correct one.
Please Stop Crapping on Marketers, Part III
In the discussions that resulted from the first “Please Stop Crapping on Marketers” post, the central point was almost immediately lost.
I allowed it to be lost because I believed it was important to show some empathy for abuse-desk employees whose response to my original argument—if they read it—would rightfully have been: “You think marketers get crapped on? I put on a crap raincoat every day before work and some nights still can’t shower off the stink.”
Ask an Expert: Can I Reconfirm Hard Bounces?
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: Can I mail to my hard bounces and try to get them to reconfirm their status?
For the answer we turn to Rick Buck, vice president of privacy and ISP relations, CIPP, e-Dialog.
Please Stop Crapping on Email Marketers, Part II
ISP abuse-desk employees’ professional lives primarily involve dealing with spam.
Replace the word “spam” in the previous sentence with “clueless, abusive assholes and criminals” and you’ve pretty much got a second accurate job description for abuse-desk workers-or those whose jobs it is to prevent spam from entering and leaving their networks.
As a result, marketers—and at least one reporter, this one—who take issue with abuse-desk folks’ dismissive, and sometimes hostile, attitudes toward commercial email might want to walk a mile in an abuse-desk employee’s shoes before opening their yaps.
This was the message a number of professionals had in reaction to last week’s column criticizing what I still believe is an inappropriate reflexive hostility to all things marketing-related among too many Internet service provider executives.
Email Marketing a Conversation? Pshaw!
A debate broke out on Twitter last week over whether or not email marketing can be a conversation. Some people I respect said ‘yes,’ some people I respect said ‘no.’
Count me among those in the ‘no’ camp.
Ask an Expert: Remove Inactives? Or no?
This week’s Ask-an-Expert question is: "Should I ever remove inactive, but non-bouncing, non-complaining, addresses from my email file? If so, why, and how do I determine when?"
Once again, we turn to the experts on the Only Influencers discussion list, an invitation-only list of online marketing experts:
Email Conversions Best in Two Years: Epsilon
In a development that may signal marketers are getting smarter about interacting with customers after the click, Epsilon is reporting that average email conversion rates were up significantly in the fourth quarter of 2010 over the previous quarter and over the previous year.
Stupid Gov. Watch: Illinois Passes Idiotic Net Tax
What is it about politicians that prevents them from thinking rationally about e-commerce and taxes?
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last week signed into law a bill that attempts to force online retailers to collect sales taxes from customers gained through the use of affiliates based in the state.
Please Stop Crapping on Email Marketers
Email consultant Neil Schwartzman had a guest post published on Laura Atkins’ Word to the Wise and Al Iverson’s Spam Resource blogs last week that contained a troubling quote that is indicative of an anti-marketing—or at least marketing-dismissive—sentiment that is still prevalent among too many Internet professionals.
First let me make one thing clear: I know and respect all three of the individuals mentioned above. They are smart, dedicated, level-headed professionals. They’re also genuinely nice humans.
I just happen to disagree with Schwartzman’s opinion on marketing’s evolving role in people’s inboxes.
Ask an Expert: Advice on Email List Building
This week’s Ask an Expert column focuses on the biggest ongoing challenge email marketers face: how best to grow their email list into a large, responsive file.
Once again, we turn to the experts participating in the Only Influencers email discussion list, an invitation-only list of online marketing experts:
Red Pill Releases New Vendor Guide
Email marketing consultancy Red Pill Email has unveiled the newest version of its Email Vendors Features and Functions Guide, a comprehensive view of the features and functions of 28 email service providers.
Crappy Food, Jail Threat Could Lift Opens
Want to get your email open-and-click rates up? Just serve internationally reviled food and/or have the power to put your recipients in prison.
That’s one conclusion that could be drawn from a benchmarking study put out this week by UK messaging services provider Sign-Up.to.
ZIP Codes? Are They Kidding? Unfortunately, No
And for the latest piece of evidence that intellect and common sense aren’t requirements for becoming a judge, look no further than a ruling a month ago in California that ZIP codes are personally identifiable pieces of information and, therefore, illegal to collect during retail credit card transactions.
Ask an Expert: How to Evangelize Permission
See? I told you I know people. Last week’s call for questions for The Magill Report’s new Ask-an-Expert feature drew a great question: “How do you gently educate one's customers or employer to use permission-based marketing?”
I submitted the question to Bill McCloskey who runs the Only Influencers email discussion list, an invitation-only list of online-marketing experts.
The question generated a lively discussion among some of the sharpest, most informed folks in online marketing. Here it is:
Staying Innovative as Your Business Grows (Part One)
As part of The Magill Report’s Online Entrepreneur column, I’d like to share some of Return Path’s learning about how to stay innovative as you grow. In Part One, I’m going to cover some of the organizational techniques we’ve been employing to stay innovative. In Part Two, I’ll talk about some of the practices we’re using in our product management and development teams.
An Educational Kerfuffle in Anti-Spam Land
Anti-spammers have been skirmishing over the final touches of a best-practices document that has been in the works since 2004.
How important was the kerfuffle to marketers? Not very. But it was somewhat entertaining and it offers the opportunity to gain some insight into a group of people marketers love to hate: operators of anti-spam blacklists.
A project of the Anti-Spam Research Group, the document in question’s aim is to lay out best practices for blacklist operators.
Stupid PR Watch: Breathtaking Shamelessness
In a brazenly disingenuousness marketing ploy, Craigslist wannabe Oodle commissioned a study recently examining crimes committed by and against Craigslist users.
The result: the shamefully titled whitepaper “Crime and Craigslist: A sad tale of murders and more” prepared by an outfit called the AIM Group on Oodle’s behalf.
Announcing The Magill Report's 'Ask an Expert'
Me? No, I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who has been able to barely manage his unhealthy relationship with alcohol over the past 15 years and soak up just enough knowledge to sound reasonably intelligent when writing about email and online marketing.
But I’ve been doing this long enough that I know a ton of people who really know what they’re talking about.
Fear and Flying in Costa Rica
This piece has absolutely nothing to do with marketing. It's about an incredible parenting experience I had last week while on vacation--a vacation that put me short on material. I plan on submitting it to parenting magazines, but thought I'd share it with Magill Report readers first. The ads accompanying this piece are added value so I trust the advertisers won't mind running along side something admittedly wildly off topic.
Email-Expiration Idea Old, Useless: Expert
While many in email marketing are apparently warm to the idea of their messages’ headers containing an expiration date, at least one expert says the idea is 20 years old and as useless now as it was two decades ago.
Best ... Targeting ... Ever
Constant Contact last week served arguably the most targeted display ad in the history of business-to-business online marketing..
Hmmm ... Z's Respond Faster than A's: Study
And from the “That's-interesting-now-what-do-we-do-with-it?” file comes a study proclaiming that people with last names beginning with letters later in the alphabet respond to offers faster than people with last names beginning with letters earlier in the alphabet.
Sometimes Crowdsourcing Draws the Stupid
Sometimes the crowd gets it right. Sometimes the crowd is downright stupid. Take Wikipedia’s entry on direct marketing:
Nothing Says Love Like ... Cockroaches?
Talk about ROI.
New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society is wrapping up a Valentine’s Day email campaign in which it invited members to name one of the Bronx Zoo’s Madagascar hissing cockroaches for their Valentine. The return on investment has been stunning.
Ideally, Your Email Would Expire in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ...
Joshua Baer is on a mission.
The founder and CEO of OtherInbox wants marketers to be able to include expiration dates in their email headers.
After the emails expired, the receiving ISP would take some sort of automatic action, such as delete the expired messages or put them into a special folder.
However, Baer’s main challenge is getting widespread adoption.
New Questionable List Firm Appears
And yet another shady company offering email lists for sale has surfaced and this time its ties to India are irrefutable.
There is also evidence that this is another firm related to Data Champions/Sloan Marketing, an India-based outfit that has operated under dozens of aliases, including EmailAppenders, which has been accused by multiple marketers of ripping them off.
Getting ... Very... Tired ... of This
Must we discuss this again?
Another report has come out detailing the decline of email usage, particularly among teenagers, spurring another round of articles and posts predicting the death of email.
A piece of idiocy from Red Herring was a typical example:
Yahoo! Loss was the Killer: Goodmail CEO
The single most damaging event for Goodmail was the loss of Yahoo! a year ago, according to Goodmail CEO and co-founder Daniel Dreymann.
“That single event was the death knell,” he said, sounding surprisingly upbeat for a man being forced to shut down his company after eight years of hard work.
Goodmail announced to customers last week it would be shutting its doors today.
Goodmail Customers: 'What Now?'
Hundreds of Goodmail customers today are all asking themselves the same question: What happens now?
The email-certification firm left hundreds of emailers in the lurch last week when it abruptly announced it was closing its doors.
As of 5 p.m. PST today, the company’s CertifiedEmail program will no longer exist and for those who bought into the its unique approach to email deliverability, there is nothing else on the market like it.
Time to Change the Meaning of Double Opt In
I've decided to radically redefine the term “double opt in.”
I know, I know. Who the hell do I think I am? But just hear me out.
The reason I want to change the definition of double opt in is that I want to change the way people react to emailers who use the term without explicitly spelling out what they mean.
This idea came as the result of an incredibly exasperating conversation I had with a fellow attendee at the Email Experience Council's Email Evolution conference last week in Miami.
SaaS: Big-Company Processes on a Small-Company Budget
As a new business begins to generate more revenue and hire people, it tends to also start to produce mountains of data. To deal with that mountain of data, it’s helpful to establish solid business processes that are automated and scalable.
Software as a service, or SaaS, applications are a great way to help you do this in a secure and cost-effective way. This is also often referred to as “cloud computing” because the information is stored on servers external to the business, as opposed to onsite or in a dedicated data warehouse.
'Biggest Thing to Hit Email in 10 Years'
Miami--In a move that has revolutionary implications for email marketing, Yahoo and Hotmail--and to a lesser extent, Gmail--have quietly begun allowing senders to include dynamic content in their messages.
The development allows marketers to do previously unheard-of things such as change the content of an email after it goes out.
"This is the biggest thing to happen to email in 10 years," said Joshua Baer, founder and CEO of OtherInbox, who took part in a presentation on the development today at the Email Evolution Conference in Miami.
Silverpop's McDonald Honored at EEC Conference
Miami--Silverpop's Loren McDonald this morning was awarded the first Stefan Pollard Marketer of the Year Award for Excellence in Creativity & Contribution.
He was given the award by the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council.
The award was presented at the EEC's Email Evolution Conference taking place in Miami.
Weber Hits, Then Whiffs
While checking my email recently, the content of one of the messages caused me to make a sort of guttural "mmMMMmm" noise.
"Weber?" said my wife, who happened to be standing by.
"Yeah," I said. "How’d you know?"
"You made a Weber noise," she said.
Indeed, I had made a Weber noise.
Don't want it Public? Don't put it in an Email
A recent court decision serves to remind us of one of the cardinal rules of email, especially work email: Don’t put anything in it you wouldn’t want forwarded to the world or posted on the company bulletin board.
A California appeals court recently ruled that emails to an attorney that would otherwise have been privileged did not qualify as a "confidential communication between client and lawyer," according to the Chronicle of Data Protection.
The reason: they were sent from her employer’s computer. Moreover, the messages regarded her possibly suing her employer.
In reading about the case, I was reminded of the mother-of-all-misguided-workplace-email incidents of which I was personally part.
Amazon Launches Stunningly Cheap Email Service
Amazon.com sent a ripple through the email-service-provider sector today by announcing it has launched a bulk and transactional commercial email-sending service and is charging an astoundingly low cost-per-thousand emails sent: 10 cents.
A 10-cent CPM is unheard of in email transmission services.
Lawsuit from Weenie Land Revived
A California court of appeals last week overturned a judgment ValueClick won against serial anti-spam litigant Joe Wagner and his firm Hypertouch in 2009.
As a result, this nuisance lawsuit will continue to tie up a California court while doing nothing more in the fight against spam than making Wagner feel good about himself.
And much of this whole idiotic episode hinges on promotional use of the word “free.”
Stupid Anti-Spammer Watch: This Mortifies You?
For an example of how inappropriately hypersensitive some anti-spammers can be, consider a recent discussion thread on the SDLU [spammers don’t like us] email list.
Neil Schwartzman Starting Own Gig
Anti-spam expert Neil Schwartzman announced today he is leaving his post at email deliverability-and-security services firm Return Path to start his own consultancy.
“After a wonderful five-year run at Return Path Inc., my last day of employment with the firm will be January 31, 2011,” Schwartzman wrote in a blog post.
Marketers Beware: New Shady List Firm Surfaces
A new firm has surfaced apparently preying on unsuspecting marketers with email list deals that are most certainly too good to be true and most certainly not legitimate.
The firm appears to be related to India-based Data Champions/Sloan Marketing, a firm that has operated under dozens of aliases, at least one of which—EmailAppenders—has been accused by multiple marketers of ripping them off in bad email list deals.
What’s more, the new company is a member of the Direct Marketing Association, meaning the DMA logo displayed on a Web site is no guarantee the firm displaying it is legitimate.
Anatomy of a List Hack: An Insider's Story
After a recent story appeared here on email list thefts, one reader reached out and told a chilling list-theft story of his own that happened at a former employer. He asked that names not be used, but readers of this newsletter would recognize them all.
His tale illustrates how truly international online crime is and how relentless the criminals can be.
Q1 DM Jobs Picture Brightens: Survey
The direct-marketing jobs picture is about to significantly brighten, according to a survey released today by DM headhunting firm Bernhart Associates Executive Search.
Fifty two percent of companies that responded to the survey said they plan to add staff in the first quarter of 2011, according to Bernhart Associates.
This is compared to 41% which said they planned to hire in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the firm.
And a Good Time Was Had by All
The official award ceremony for The Magill Report Fantasy Football League took place at 2010 champion e-Dialog’s headquarters in Burlington, MA Friday and a good time was had by all—or at least no one said they had a bad time.
Twitter Fight! Twitter Fight! Twitter Fight!
Twitterland was abuzz last week—at least in email circles—when a debate broke out between two email professionals over what constitutes permission in business-to-business marketing via the social network LinkedIn.
It all began with a Jan. 4 tweet from email deliverability and spam expert Al Iverson: “DK New Media harvested my email address from LinkedIn. Not cool.”
Yahoo!, Microsoft Fire Back at HolomaXx; Judge Experienced on Internet Issues
Yahoo! And Microsoft have filed motions to dismiss HolomaXx’s lawsuits against them for allegedly blocking the Pennsylvania marketer’s email from reaching Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail users.
The cases are scheduled to go to trial February 25 before Jeremy Fogel, a Silicon Valley judge who is no rookie on Internet issues.
Stupid Profiling Watch: Whole Living? Pffft!
Targeted direct marketing is a beautiful thing. The most recent example in my household is how our incoming direct mail evolved after we moved from Manhattan into the Hudson Valley and began raising chickens.
My wife went from reading the New Yorker, the New York Daily News and Timeout New York to reading publications like Backyard Poultry.
Pretty soon she began seeing correspondingly appropriate offers for other publications, such as Hobby Farm Home, Hobby Farms and Urban Farmer.
The speed at which her direct mail pitches evolved with her changing profile was pretty darned impressive.
But as we all know, direct marketing can also be way off target.
5 Ways to Spot Trends That Will Make You (and Your Business) More Successful
Last week I published my annual “Unpredictions” for 2011. This tradition grew out of the fact that I hate doing predictions and my marketing team loves them. So we compromise by predicting what won’t happen.
But the truth is that the annual prediction ritual – while trite – is really just trend-spotting. And trend-spotting is an important skill for entrepreneurs. Fortunately it’s a skill that can be acquired, at least it can with enough deliberate practice.
Here are five habits you should consider cultivating if being a better trend spotter is in your career roadmap.
Email Attacks Committed by One Group: Sources
At least some of a series of recent, well-publicized data thefts were probably committed by the same person or group who stole email names from email service provider AWeber almost exactly a year ago, according to sources.
Moreover, whoever has been committing the thefts is highly sophisticated, sources in a position to know are saying.
“These are not amateurs,” said one high-level email executive who did not want to be named.
Email Dead? Nope, Not Even Gasping: Part 2
Well, lookee what we have here: another study showing email is not dead.
While just 5 percent of online Christmas shoppers reported being primarily influenced to visit top retailer sites by social media, 19 percent came to retailer Web sites as the result of a promotional email, according to the ForeSee Results E-Tail Satisfaction Index.
That means email drove almost four times the amount of Christmas-shopping traffic as social media.
Note to Boss: Copywriters Don’t Always Write
One of the great misunderstandings between copywriters and many of those who supervise them is how copywriters work. I have experienced this misunderstanding often.
For example, once while working as a copywriter for a small business-to-business cataloger in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., the CEO hauled me into his office. He was not happy.
“You know what I hate, Word Man?” He called me Word Man.
“No, what do you hate?” I responded.
“When you pace the warehouse,” he said. “I hate it when you pace the warehouse.”
Indeed, I did pace the warehouse. A lot.
E-Dialog Takes First Magill FFL Championship
After looking in mid-season like they might not even make the playoffs, e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs came back to win their division and beat Harte-Hanks Heroes by a score of 142.46 to 110.22 to take the first Magill Report Fantasy Football League championship.
As a result, e-Dialog will receive the much-coveted Magill Report FFL engraved crystal championship trophy and an almost-regulation-sized, football-shaped sweet summer sausage from Dietrich’s Meats & Country Store in Krumsville, PA (Yum!).
Stupid Executive Watch: BofA Tries to Head off the Suck
In anticipation of backlash as a result of a possible release of information from WikiLeaks, Bank of America has been aggressively registering domain names that include its board of directors’ and seniors executives’ names and the words “sucks” and “blows,” according to Domain Name Wire.
For example, according to Domain Name Wire, the company registered a number of domains for CEO Brian Moynihan, including BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com.
Domain Name Wire reported counting hundreds of such registrations on Dec. 17 alone.
Think about the money these people make. Then think about the abject stupidity of this exercise. Would someone please remind me again why I’m not a billionaire?
Just imagine the conversation that preceded this sorry piece of senior-executive stupidity.
Magill Report Predictions for 2011
I generally consider making predictions a prime opportunity to make an ass of oneself.
Yes, I make them. And, yes, I make an ass of myself on a regular basis.
With those thoughts in mind, here are some predictions for 2011:
Email Dead? Nope, Not Even Gasping
Email is the No. 1 online activity people across all age groups engage in, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
“Email and search engine use remain the backbone of online activities, with 88 percent of the oldest generation using email,” the study said. “Communicating by email is not as popular with teens, however; only 73 percent of teens use email, making them the generation least likely to do so. When teens do use email, they tend to use it more in formal situations or when communicating with adults than to communicate with friends.”
An average of 94 percent of all online adults use email, according to the Generations 2010 study.
Magill FFL: Wussy NFL Decision Holds up Championship
As a result of the wussiest decision in National Football League history, the results of the first Magill Report Fantasy Football League championship won’t be known until after tonight’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
The NFL postponed the game from Sunday night until tonight because of weather fears.
Vince Lombardi is turning in his grave.
An Open Letter of Apology to Twitter
I am so sorry. When you launched, I thought you were the most dumbassed thing I had ever seen, well at least the most dumbassed thing since the documentary where that guy decided to live with grizzly bears.
Now that was dumbass-hall-of-fame dumb.
We knew how the documentary was going to end before it even started. So no, I didn’t think you were as dumb as someone consciously deciding to live with wild animals so powerful that what they think is a friendly swat could make a guy’s head sail 50 feet away from his body.
But I thought you were pretty dumb.
Aghhh! Chest ... Hurts ... This Can't Be
Shooting pain … left arm … can … barely … breath.
Why the heart attack?
Well, there’s a reporter working for CBC News who wrote a story last week covering Canada’s new anti-spam legislation that was actually reasonably well thought out and explained accurately what the law probably will and will not do.
This is Green!? Seriously!? Pshaww!!
Look, I’m all for cynical marketing attempts to capitalize on trends, but what has to be one of the most blatantly cynical ploys in marketing history is the magazine New York House: The Voice of Green Living.
The way it is distributed alone is as about ungreen as marketing gets.
Stunner! Harte-Hanks Holds Off Return Path by Less than a Point
The Return Path Rage went into Monday night needing to score 23.47 points for a win over Harte-Hanks Heroes and a spot in the first Magill Report Fantasy Football League Championship.
They scored 23.3. Ouch.
The Jackassedness Abounds
For three examples of how ludicrously ass backwards our priorities are on online privacy and security, look no further than German savings-and-loan Hamburger Sparkasse, Internet-parental-supervision firm EchoMetrix, and WikiLeaks.
Engagement, Segmenting Survey Stats Not Quite Believable
At first glance, the most gratifying stats in a survey put out by email-marketing technology provider StrongMail last week was that marketers’ top priorities for 2011 are increasing subscriber engagement and improving segmentation and targeting.
Fifty two percent indicated the former is a top priority and 49 percent indicated the latter.
If true, these results indicate a significant percentage of marketers are finally getting the message that in email, relevance trumps volume.
But on second glance, these two stats are a bit hard to believe.
It's Christmas Carol Time!
Hey folks! It’s that time of year again! What time, you say? The Holidays?
Why no, my misguided—but nonetheless wonderful—friend. It’s not the holidays. “The holidays” is a term that has been foisted upon us by a small minority of joyless, politically correct weenies who have somehow managed to brainwash a large number of otherwise sensible people to use it, too.
No friend, it’s Christmastime. And you know what that means? Why, lame email-marketing themed Christmas carols, that what it means!
Magill FFL: Division Leaders End Season with Big 'L's on Foreheads
In a development that shows just how fickle the fantasy football gods can be—and what a cruel sense of humor they have—all four teams bound for the Magill Report Fantasy Football 2010 playoffs lost this week, three by double-digit margins.
No-Track List Not Practical, Says Expert
While the Federal Trade Commission is seemingly more and more hell bent by the day to implement a so-called do-not-track list for people who don’t want their Internet behavior recorded for advertising purposes, at least one expert says the whole idea is simply not practical.
Behind the e-Dialog Management Shakeup
Former e-Dialog chief marketing officer Arthur Sweetser and former chief technology officer Ken Lajoie parted ways with the company because their personalities were more suited to an entrepreneurial startup firm than the type of company e-Dialog has grown to become, according to CEO John Rizzi.
Getting to 'Yes!' from the CFO
In most organizations the chief financial officer is the one you need to convince when you want to spend a significant amount of money. I am not talking about a decision to buy some more Google key words or a new computer. I mean expensive decisions such as investing in email marketing automation or committing a lot of money to an advertising campaign.
Often these projects do not have neat paths demonstrating ROI. But instinctively you know what is a good investment.
If there is a lot of money involved and you have no ROI case it will be tough to get the CFO to say yes. But here's the thing: The CFO wants to say yes.
Magill League Playoff Spots Locked Up
Well, next week is pretty much meaningless.
All four playoff spots in the Magill Report Fantasy Football League have been locked up. The only thing left to be decided is who plays who in the first round.
You Friggin' Knew about This!?
The most shocking piece of email-marketing-related news this week comes in a series of blog posts in which Return Path announced it had been phished and the email addresses of some clients had been stolen.
And no it wasn’t the hacking that was shocking. It was the revelation that some people in the industry had known about these attacks for almost a year and kept quiet about them.
First, We Kill the Branders
Okay, so maybe we don’t kill the branders. But realign them? Certainly.
Freelance writer Geoffrey James had a thoughtful piece published on BNET recently explaining why he thinks attempts to align the sales and marketing teams are a bunch of bunk.
Essentially, he said that rather than align with sales, marketing should submit to sales. My first thought was: "Damn right." Then I thought again.
DoubleClick's O'Connor Discusses FindTheBest.com
Ten years after resigning from the company he co-founded, DoubleClick, Kevin O’Connor has launched a new venture FindTheBest.com.
Launched in August and still in beta, FindTheBest.com aims to help people sift through the massive amounts of information online and give them objective, factual information to help them make side-by-side comparisons when researching considered purchases like cameras and colleges.
e-Dialog Solidifies Division 2 Lead
e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs solidified its Division 2 lead this week by beating arch rival Message Systems’ MS Destroyers 142.66 to 83.
The win put e-Dialog’s record at 8-4 and Message Systems at 7-5, leaving Message Systems one game out of first place in Division 2, but still in contention.
Permission Debate is Settled; Please Stop Yapping About it
OgilvyOne’s Gretchen Scheiman last week created a bit of a ruckus with a piece on MediaPost headlined: “Does Permission Need to be Explicit?”
She wrote the piece as a result of a debate that had been taking place on the Email Insiders discussion list.
“One group argued that explicit, upfront permission is the gold standard and that anything less—including eAppends—is unethical,” she wrote. “The other group suggested that it should be fine to send an email to someone who has chosen to do business with you and hasn't opted-out of communications.”
Scheiman’s conclusion? Permission does not have to be explicit.
Things that Say 'I am a Loser' More than an AOL Address
Some readers got upset last week when they saw that I had written: “There is little that says ‘I am a loser’ more than an AOL address.”
To all those who were offended, please accept my heartfelt apologies.
I take it back. There are many things that say “I am a loser” more than an AOL email address. So at the risk of offending even more readers, let’s list some of them, shall we?
Let's Call it What it is: 'Cyber Non-Event'
And for the biggest non-event in online marketing that gets more non-eventy—yet seemingly more written about and discussed—every year, look no further than Cyber Monday, a term that should have been retired several years ago.
Magill FFL: e-Dialog Retakes Top Spot in Division 2
e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs came roaring back from last week’s loss to score the most points in the Magill Report league this week and retake the lead in Division 2.
e-D’s TDs beat The Pontiflex DUMBOS 155.84 to 80.74 bringing e-Dialog’s record to 7-4 and dropping Pontiflex’s to 4-7.
Facebook's Email Will Rule the World! Mwahahahahahahah! Er, Not
Facebook announced its highly anticipated email platform yesterday. Before the official announcement, a bunch of folks got to speculating and most deemed a Facebook email platform an email-marketing game changer and possibly a Gmail killer. They were wrong. It's not a game changer.
After Years of Decline, Ad Banner Click-Through Rates Stabilize: MediaMind
After an almost decade-long slide and a steep decline during the financial crisis of 2008, average banner click-through rates have apparently stabilized, according to a report released today by online-campaign-management firm MediaMind.
According to MediaMind, click-through rates stopped declining in 2009 and have remained fixed at an average rate of 0.09% since.
Stupid Marketer Watch: Kmart Engages in Risky Email Shenanigans
I started getting email from Kmart a few weeks back and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the retailer got my address.
I haven’t spent a nickel with Kmart since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 and wiped out the value of some stock I had purchased.
Or so I thought.
Wow! Vick Puts Crush in Scoring Stratosphere
Fantasy owners who started Philadelphia’s Michael Vick Monday night got to experience the opponent-crushing joy of watching their quarterback score the most points this season.
Under Magill Report League scoring, Vick put up an astounding 72.32 fantasy points.
For owners who played against teams starting Vick, however, Monday Night Football showed signs of becoming a nightmare before the first quarter ended.
Why the Focus on Commercial Spam is Trivial
A horrific story surfaced recently that serves to illustrate just how trivial some anti-spammers’ focus on commercial email truly is.
Joseph Menn, a reporter for the Financial Times, posted a piece on Boing Boing recently updating his book Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet.
In the post, he brought to a close—of sorts—the story of an Internet security researcher whose daughter he reported was kidnapped by a Russian spam gang.
A HolomaXx Win? Er, Not Seeing it
While it’s never certain how a judge will rule, it’s difficult to envision a scenario under which HolomaXx Technologies will win the lawsuit it filed in late October against Yahoo, Microsoft and others over blocked email.
For one thing, history certainly is not on the e-commerce and email service provider’s side.
Online Entrepreneur: Investment in Email Spells Big Inbox Advances
Every year since about 2001, people have been claiming email is dead. Yet for all the hue and cry about everything that’s going to kill email (RSS, social, mobile, you name it), email is bigger and better than ever. More people using it. More emails sent. More commerce and debate sparked via the humble SMTP protocol.
Not only do I not think this is going to change anytime soon, I think that email is going to become more ingrained and more popular with both consumers and businesspeople
Magill FFL: Return Path Romps; Division-2 Drama Continues
The Return Path Rage routed the Spamtacular Bastards this week 157.26 to 59.52, bringing their record to a Division-3-leading 8-1.
Return Path already had the game well in hand going into Monday night, but then poured on the pain with a 31.1-point performance by Cincinnati wide receiver Terell Owens.
Canada Won't do a Utah, Says Expert
In a move that has set off alarms in the American email marketing industry, Canada looks poised to pass an anti-spam law that includes the right for individuals to sue commercial emailers.
Some observers—including this writer—have predicted that Canada’s inclusion of a private right of action in its anti-spam law will result in a slew of frivolous lawsuits, as happened in Utah after it passed a law giving individuals the right to sue alleged spammers.
In 2003, Salt Lake attorneys Denver Snuffer and Jason Riddle filed more than 1,000 cases against companies such as eBay, Verizon and Columbia House in a massive shakedown effort before the law was repealed.
However, there is good reason to believe Canada’s anti-spam law will not turn out to be the litigation-mill creator Utah’s was, according to at least one expert.
Firm Boasts a Rich, Cultured Email Network
Though the recession of 2007 was deeply painful for most businesses, the economic meltdown that began three years ago put one company on the map.
AltruNetwork sells standalone display advertising on a revenue-share basis on the tops and bottoms of the email newsletters and event announcements of some 700 arts and cultural institutions, reaching a total of 7 million patrons and donors.
As a result, the company claims, it is the largest aggregator of donors and patrons of the top symphonies, operas, ballets, art museums and performing arts centers in the U.S.
ExactTarget Apparently on a Tear
Shhh. Don’t tell ExactTarget the economy still stinks.
The marketing services provider known mainly for email today announced it posted a 40-percent boost in revenue for the third quarter of 2010 over the same quarter last year.
Magill FFL: Techies, Rage Continue to Roll
The TowerData Techies and The Return Path Rage extended their winning streaks this week to keep them on solidly top of Divisions 1 and 3, respectively.
TowerData beat Permission Data 90.4 to 60.8, extending the Techies’ winning streak to four in a row. Return Path beat PL Marketing’s Orchard Lake Warrior 125.22 to 76.24, dropping the Warrior’s record to 2-6 and extending Return Path’s winning streak to three in a row.
Return Path’s leading scorer was Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, who put up 28.02 fantasy points.
Both TowerData and Return Path sport impressive records of 7-1.
Sorry, Stan: It Ain't the Name
In an article last week on AdAge.com, direct marketing legend Stan Rapp called for the Direct Marketing Association to change its name.
His suggestion came as new DMA president Larry Kimmel is attempting to transform the organization to be relevant in the 21st Century.
In calling for a DMA name change, however, Rapp is focusing on the wrapper and not the package—which, ironically, is antithetical to everything direct marketing is about.
Stupid Research Watch: Most Ridiculous Claims Ever
Here’s one for the Stupid Research Hall of Fame: Anti-spam watchdog site SpamRatings.com recently published the results of a study claiming, among other things, that “the UK is one of the most dangerous places to surf the Internet in the World.”
And, yes, they capitalized the word “World.”
But silly punctuation is the least of the silliness in this claim.
Alliance Data: Marketing Budgets Stabilizing
From the we’ll-take-good-news-where-we-can-get-it file comes a statement in Alliance Data Systems’ third-quarter financial report that marketers’ budgets are stabilizing.
Magill FFL: Division 2 All Knotted Up
The TowerData Techies and the Return Path Rage won this week, leaving them both with 6-1 records and on top of Divisions One and Three, respectively, by two games each.
Meanwhile, e-Dialog’s eD’s TDs lost their third straight game, leaving their record tied with two other Division Two teams: Message Systems’ MS Destroyers and Permission Data. All three have records of 4-3.
Pols Open the Spam Spigots
One of the most irritating aspects of the debate over spam and what to do about it is the constant implication that commercial interests are almost solely to blame for the problem while politicians and political advocates tend to get a pass.
And make no mistake, politicians and political advocates are some of the most egregious spammers in existence.
Stupid Account Team Watch: How Not to Inspire Confidence
My wife, an ad-agency media VP whose team buys a lot of online advertising, recently received the following decidedly non-confidence-inspiring message from her surprise new Google AdWords account team:
Return Path's Miller Joins Aprimo
One of email marketing’s more prominent voices is apparently about to get a little quieter.
Stephanie Miller announced last week she has left Return Path to sign with marketing-automation software firm Aprimo.
Magill FFL: Permission Data Creeps Up on e-D's TDs
With their second loss in a row, e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs are in danger of slipping into second place in Division 2 of the Magill Report Fantasy Football League.
Despite scoring the second highest number of points this week, e-D’s TDs had the misfortune of playing the league’s top scorer, PL Marketing’s Orchard Lake Warrior, and lost by a score of 136.92 to 147.3, dropping e-D’s TDs record to 4-2.
Stupid Marketer Watch: Where's the Magic?
And for the latest example of why so many people hate direct marketers, look no further than the Criss Angel Mindfreak Platinum Magic kit as sold by TV Products Direct.
Stupid Terminology Watch: These Words and Phrases are Banned
As we head into the fourth quarter of 2010, now is an appropriate time to reiterate a vow I made to readers of my old newsletter, Magilla Marketing, last year.
In fall of 2009, I vowed to ban the phrase “holiday shopping” from Magilla Marketing. This week, I am repeating that vow. [I’m also banning a bunch of other stupid words and phrases and we’ll get to them shortly.]
But first, the worst: the completely idiotic—not to mention inaccurate—term “holiday shopping.”
This is not what Facebook Expected
Adam Guerbuez owes Facebook $873 million and he’s bragging about it.
Guerbuez was ordered last week by a court in Quebec to pay Facebook more than $1 billion (Canadian) in fines when the court upheld a ruling a California court made against the a Canadian Internet marketer.
Magill Report FFL: And Then There Were None
The Return Path Rage and e-Dialog’s e-D’s TDs both lost this week. And as a result, there are no undefeated teams left in The Magill Report Fantasy Football League.
Sigh. Are we really this Stupid?
Are marketers really so stupid that they’ll buy email lists from someone they’ve never met who prospects them through an email message with little or no contact information?
Apparently, some are. Otherwise messages like one which reached a Magill Report reader last week would stop being sent.
Funny Punctuation Watch: 'Magill-Meat?'
As some readers are aware, I complimented the blog Box of Meat last week, explaining it is the top blog on my “favorites” list and a source of many story ideas.
The folks over at Box of Meat responded by posting my comments and saying if they had an appropriate tchotchke, they’d send me one. Why a tchotchke? What: You’re in Saudi Arabia? No liquor stores nearby?
In any case, anti-spam and deliverability expert Al Iverson blogged about the incident and headlined it: “The Magill-Meat Love Fest.”
One problem with that headline: It should have been punctuated The Magill/Meat Love Fest,” with a slash between Magill and Meat, not “The Magill-Meat Love Fest” with a hyphen.
The hyphen makes Magill-Meat a compound modifier to Love Fest, meaning someone had a love fest with Magill Meat.
With that in mind, I have a few questions:
GetResponse Unveils Segmenting Tool
GetResponse, a unit of Poland-based emarketing technology provider Implix, announced today it has developed a list-segmentation tool for use with its turnkey email-marketing product that allows senders to target recipients by behavior, preferences and geographic location.
Magill FFL: Ouch, Jay Cutler Sucked this Week
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler—who seemed to have put his ball-management problems behind him in the first three games this season—crippled his fantasy football owners this week with a negative-point showing against the New York Giants.
Big Blue owned Cutler on Sunday night, sacking him nine times … in the first half. He didn’t return for the second.
The victim of Cutler’s disastrous night in The Magill Report Fantasy Football League was Message Systems’ MS Destroyers, who lost to Harte-Hanks Heroes 51.98 to 135.44.
Stupid Marketer Watch: Firm Abandoning Email
And the latest installment of “email-is-dead” stupidity comes from Holiday Brokers, a firm that is abandoning email marketing in favor of social media, according to Travel Weekly.
Stupid PR Watch: The Price-Chopper Lesson Everyone Missed
From the “this-will-go-down-in-the-annals-of-how-not¬-to-handle-social-media” file comes a story last week of a rogue Price Chopper employee reportedly going after a man who posted a negative tweet about the discount grocery store.
While most bloggers and those commenting in the discussions on Price Chopper’s Twitter incident seem relatively satisfied with Price Chopper’s efforts at damage control, the company missed a huge opportunity to address the real issue.
Three Email Execs Launch Consultancy
Morgan Stewart, whose former title was principal, marketing research and education for email service provider ExactTarget, has launched a consulting-and-research firm with two other email professionals.
Magill FFL: Third Week, 3 Undefeated
It’s three weeks into the Magill Report Fantasy Football League and three teams remain undefeated division leaders: Return Path, e-Dialog and TowerData.
Is That Marketing, Or Just a Farting Noise?
Marketing lessons can come from the unlikeliest places.
One morning after having arrived home in the wee hours from a conference, I woke my seven-year-old son up.
Max—whom I hadn’t seen for three days—opened his eyes and gave me the most heart-warming grin I think I ever saw. However, the grin was not for the fact that his dad was home.
The grin was because he learned a new trick while I was gone.
“Look daddy, I can make a farting noise with my armpit,” he said after jumping out of bed.
He then cupped his hand in his armpit and started flapping his arm: “Pffft! Pffft! Pffft!”
Believe it or not, there's a lesson here for marketers.
Privacy Wackos Eye 2011; Journos Mindlessly Parrot
What is truly astounding about the debate over online advertising and consumer privacy is the utter lack of intellectual curiosity on the part of most journalists covering it.
Take, for example, a story recently on Politico.com. It led: “The odds of Congress passing an online privacy bill this year get slimmer by the day, leading interest groups to fire up a lobbying blitz with an eye toward 2011.
“Supporters and critics of the effort are asserting themselves strongly in a debate over how companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook can collect and use consumers’ information on the Web.”
There’s an assumption in that second sentence that a) is flat-out wrong and b) very few people question.
Magill Report FFL Week 2: Harte-Hanks Roars Back
After a disappointing start to their Magill Report Fantasy Footballl League season in week one, Harte-Hanks Heroes came flying out of the gate this week to score 153.28 points in a blowout against Permission Data who scored 68.64, leaving both teams' records at 1-1.
Harte-Hanks' leading scorers were Denver quarterback Kyle Orton with 38.78 points, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy with 35.8 points, and Miami's defense with 21 points, giving the Heroes the highest point total this season so far—though it is only week two.
Some Welcome Maturity from Anti-Spam Land
Something extraordinary happened last week.
An anti-spammer was booted off a discussion list for being rude.
Extraordinary, you say? Have you been drinking, Ken? Well, of course, the answer is yes.
But the move was extraordinary nonetheless. Why? Because the anti-spammer in question, Rich Kulawiec, was barred from participation in the anti-spam discussion forum Spam L for being rude to a marketer.
Stupid Government Watch: Oh, Leave us Alone
I just saw the most ridiculous, insulting government intrusion into advertising design I have ever witnessed.
The insult: the newly required size for the warning label on all tobacco advertising, including smokeless tobacco—20 percent of the ad.
Anti-Spammer Scores First in Magill FFL
Leave it to an anti-spammer to draw first blood in an email marketing industry fantasy football league.
That’s just what happened when the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL’s season opener Thursday night. The pass gave Mickey Chandler’s Spamtacular Bastards the first points of the 2010/11 Magill Report Fantasy Football season.
Lyris Slashes Staff; Changes Course, Sources Say
As part of a significant shift in competitive direction, marketing-services provider Lyris on August 27 laid off more than 40 employees, according to multiple sources within the company.
That’s a “big number from the 290 the company had,” wrote one anonymous tipster who reached The Magill Report via email from an anonymous account.
He or she reported the number of employees laid off as 43. Another source, also from within Lyris, verified the layoffs but reported the number at 45.
The move is part of plan to take the company “up market” by shifting from small-business accounts to focusing on larger businesses in an effort to compete with the likes of Responsys, the email source wrote.
What Gmail’s Changes Mean to You: Not Much, Yet
Google raised a ruckus among email marketers last week with an announcement that it had made some changes to the way Gmail users could manage their inboxes.
But while the changes to Gmail are certainly part of a larger trend prodding email marketers to segment their files and send more engaging, relevant messages, the development in and of itself is not a game changer.
Dubbed Priorty Inbox, the initiative divides Gmail users’ inboxes into three sections: “important and unread,” “starred” and “everything else.”
Stupid Crusade Watch: The Kids are Fine
Alex Bogusky—founding partner of ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky—over the summer published a much-gushed-over and downright ludicrous essay calling for an end to advertising aimed at children.
The essay utterly abdicated the parental responsibility necessary in a healthy, market-driven economy. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Healthy right now, not so much.)
“Advertising to adults is not without controversy,” he wrote. “And although I’m concerned about consuming for consumption’s sake, I am able to see the role advertising plays in moving our economy forward and the benefit to society that can be created. However, when it comes to advertising to children, it’s much more difficult to find any redeeming value created by the activity. In fact, to the contrary, it is easy to see how destructive the process is to most of us.”
If Someone Stole Your List, Would You Know?
While seeding customer lists is nothing new in direct marketing, there’s a twist on the tactic anti-spam experts use that marketers could use to their benefit, as well.
Direct-mail marketers typically put their home addresses on their lists to detect, among other things, if a firm that rented it violates a one-time-use agreement.
Some anti-spam experts have taken this technique a step further to detect list theft and marketer malfeasance.
Stupid Search-Trick Watch: Content Thieves Strike!
Content drives search results. And if a blogger or company wants said results and either doesn’t have the time or talent to create it, what to do?
Why, steal it! That’s what.
An interesting case of content theft surfaced last week during one of my daily vanity searches in which my name appeared prominently at the top of a stolen post.
Smart Reporter Watch: You Mean They Exist?
There may actually be a tech reporter out there whose head is not completely buried in his colon when it comes to what legislation can do in the fight against spam.
Magill Report Fantasy League Set!
OK folks. We’ve got 12 teams for The Magill Report Fantasy Football League 2010/11 season that are nicely representative of various facets of the email marketing industry.
We’ve got email service providers, a deliverability firm, a couple marketers, three data providers and, yes, even an anti-spammer (Be nice. He’s a good guy).
Exclusive: Goodmail on the Block
Email certification concern Goodmail Systems is being shopped around, according to a document obtained by this newsletter.
However, recent developments with Yahoo make the company a far less attractive buy than it otherwise would have been.
DM Job-Search Time Almost Doubles: Study
Job prospects for out-of-work direct marketers have taken a sharp turn for the worse in the last 12 months, according to a study released earlier today by Bernhart Associates Executive Search.
Nearly one third of the 448 respondents—who are all unemployed—said they have been looking for work for more than 18 months, according to Bernhart. Moreover, the median length of unemployment among direct marketers is 12 months, significantly up from 6.5 months in a similar study Bernhart conducted a year ago.
Jerry Barnhart, principal of Bernhart Associates, said he doesn’t see an upturn anytime soon.
“I see no change for the rest of the year,” Bernhart said. “Everybody has more or less locked in their plans.”
Dear DMA: You’re Killin’ Me
Man oh man. What’s the marketing world coming to?
The Direct Marketing Association earlier this summer announced it had hired Larry Kimmel as its new CEO. He started August 2.
What the hell are these people thinking? I mean, Kimmel has actual direct-marketing experience. Couldn’t they find a washed up GM brander?
How am I going to take shots at the DMA now?
Why I Launched This Newsletter
With few exceptions, the state of marketing journalism is utterly abysmal.
For one thing, company bloggers who can’t write anything controversial for fear of irritating a client or prospect are driving a large portion of the online marketing-and-advertising discussion.
And at trade publishers, advertisers are getting increasingly demanding. As a result, the business side of publishing has dug its hooks deeper and deeper into editorial—or at least the portion of editorial that hasn’t been fired or alienated.
Stupid Activist Watch: Moronic Convergence
For arguably the dumbest concept ever put forth by a so-called consumer protectionist—and “dumb” in regards to consumer protectionists’ ideas is one stratospherically high bar to attempt topping—consider a post on Consumerist.com recently headlined: “Get Off Junk Mail Lists With Blitz Calling.”
“This is an awesome new tactic for getting off junk mail lists,” began the post. “I just learned it from Phillip, a Consumerist reader I met at the Consumers Union Activist Summit, who is eating a sandwich next to me. He calls it ‘Blitz Calling’ and he's used it to successfully get off seven different junk mail lists that initially tried to ignore him.”
Announcing Magill Report Fantasy Football!
OK folks, in an effort to bring a truly unique—and fun—offering to trade reporting, this newsletter is launching The Magill Report Fantasy Football League.
The Magill Report Fantasy Football League is aimed to be a way for vendors and marketers to have some fun with the brand and get some harmless, lighthearted press. Each Magill Report during the season will devote one story to league coverage. Losing teams will not be criticized—lightheartedly poked fun at, maybe, but not criticized.