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Archive for October, 2008

Guidelines for an Effective Subscription Form

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Presenting potential subscribers with an effective opt-in form is essential in creating a good mailing list. The subscription form has two main goals: to collect enough information to begin a relationship and to communicate trustworthiness to the subscriber. Herein enters the trade off: how to request sufficient information without instilling distrust in the respondent? Kath Pay from Infobox offers a list of tips for optimizing your subscription form, which can be organized in terms of content, design and wording.

Form Content:

  • The initial subscription form should request the minimum amount of information necessary to begin a mailing relationship. Email address only or address and full name provide enough information for a basic personalized communication.
  • More information can be requested in subsequent e-mail interactions, once your subscriber has developed greater trust toward your mailings.
  • Optional form fields can also be used to request additional information. Pay recommends limiting optional fields to five, since anything greater will create the impression of an intimidatingly lengthy form.


  • Use error detection script to alert subscribers to information entered incorrectly. This minimizes faulty entries and maximizes the validity of your mailing list.
  • To the same end, include an extra field so the respondent fills in their email twice.
  • Include wide form fields so that the respondent doesn’t have to scroll from side to side, making it as easy and convenient for them as possible.
  • Use blank tick boxes so that opting in is an active choice. This prevents respondents from feeling like you are trying to cheat them and reduces spam complaints later on in the game.


  • Clearly label whether a field is required or optional, so respondents are not needlessly intimidated by the breadth of the form.
  • Don’t use confusing instructions for checking tick boxes. The use of double negatives and other confounding tactics will make the respondent feel like you are trying to trick them.
  • Everything they are opting in to by checking tick boxes should be explicit in the text of the form, not hidden in the “Terms and Conditions”. Even though respondents are required to read this, they will still feel deceived when they encounter mailings they did not expect.

When a customer feels tricked and associates this with your company, it hurts your brand. In an increasingly connected market where word of mouth reigns, it is not worth it to pad your mailing list so your message reaches a greater number of people. Remember that, as far as mailing lists go, quality is absolutely more important than quantity. Following the tips listed above will help you maximize the relevance of your subscribers while optimizing their perception of your trustworthiness.

Written by Adam Blitzer

October 31st, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Forms, Landing Pages

Obstacles on the Horizon for Behavioral Targeting?

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DMNews recently featured a piece outlining one of the larger challenges under debate before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tracking and behavioral targeting. Many consumer groups are concerned with privacy issues surrounding tracking online behavior using cookies and clickstream data.

The challenge arises when consumers themselves express conflicting opinions. A recent TrustE study resulted in 57% of consumers expressing that they are uncomfortable with online activity being tracked. However, 64% of those consumers also said that they prefer to receive relevant, messaging from brands they know and trust. The ability to track activity is what allows marketers to serve up valuable ads with a targeted approach.

The article recommends taking the following steps to be sure you’re ahead of the curve as legislation unfolds:

  • Be Transparent - Make sure you privacy policy clearly states when data will be used for tracking and targeted marketing.
  • Give the Customer Control - Many companies are already creating goodwill by allowing consumers to opt out of tracking programs.
  • Use Tact - As we’ve said before, sometimes you can be too close for comfort. Customers want targeted messaging, but don’t want to feel like they’re being stalked.
  • Keep up to Speed -  Keep up with trends and make sure you stay on top of which way lawmakers are leaning so you aren’t scrambling to be in compliance when decisions are made.

Written by Adam Blitzer

October 21st, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Industry News

Is a dedicated IP address right for me?

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A dedicated IP address is not the ideal solution for everyone. There’s agreat article on Ezemail.com that discusses the pros and cons so you can decide whether a dedicated or shared IP is right for your company. Ezemail.com’s overall recommendation is that marketers that frequently send large numbers of email blasts would benefit from a dedicated IP address, while those that send only occasional or monthly emails would probably not want a dedicated IP address. Below are some of the highlights from the article:


  • Reputation – Sharing your IP address means you’re also sharing your reputation. Having your own dedicated IP address puts you in charge of your reputation and deliverability.
  • Accreditation and Whitelisting – Some whitelisting programs require you to have a dedicated IP address. Being accredited can help improve deliverability.
  • Monitoring – Being in charge of your own IP address allows you to monitor and take action immediately on any issues that arise.


  • Volume Spikes – Spikes in volume can negatively affect your reputation and need to be watched and managed carefully. Since your IP address is dedicated to you, you wouldn’t have your ESP balancing out the spikes with other clients’ mailings, so this would be your responsibility to manage.
  • Volume History - Reputation is also tied into volume history. Since you’re starting fresh with a new IP address, you would not have any history. Some ISPs are throttling IP addresses with no volume history to stricter reputation standards, so your reputation would need to be built slowly over time.
  • Deliverability – Having your own dedicated IP address doesn’t automatically mean your deliverability will be better. To improve deliverability, you also need to become accredited with whitelisting companies.
  • Monitoring – Monitoring and taking action on issues that arise requires both time/effort and money.
  • Cost – Most ESPs charge extra for this service (as a separate line item cost or added to monthly fees). Additional costs can be accrued from whitelisting and monitoring (direct costs to your ESP or costs incurred from taking the time and effort to monitor yourself).

Written by Adam Blitzer

October 8th, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Email Marketing

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