November 7th, 2007 | 7 MIN READ

12 Can't Miss Email Strategies Webinar Recap

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

You’ve Got Mail!Thanks again to Carolyn Gardner from Sitebrand for sharing her email marketing expertise with us this morning, and to Power Reviews for sponsoring the event.

If you missed the call, or if you were listening intently and would like to continue the conversation online, right here on our blog -- here's the Coles Notes version of the webcast:

UPDATE: Webinar now available. Or catch up on all our webinars in our archive.


As email users, we expect and value emails that are timely, meaningful and relevant from people that we know and trust. Anything that doesn't meet this criteria is considered SPAM.

Your goal is to create "Love Opportunities" where recipients WANT to open, click and buy from you.

Components of Email Marketing

1. LIST (Without a list, you have nothing)

  • Quality over quantity and integrity of your list -- much better to have 40 opt-ins who want to hear from you than 200 that
  • You don't have to do what your competitors do. Just because Company X sends emails bi-weekly doesn't mean you have to.
  • Build, don't buy your house list.
  • Don't send emails just because someone did a transaction. Many etailers do this but it leads to reputation problems and deliverability issues. You dilute the quality of your list with people who don't want to hear from you.
  • Provide an easy sign up process and don't ask for too much information. Make this accessible from every page as people come to your site from links and search engines.
  • Make your opt-in requests "prominent and irresistible." Give a few benefits of subscribing (example: Air Miles)
  • Link to a privacy policy.
  • Set expectations. Make it clear on sign up page the frequency of your messages.
  • Offer easy opt-out for subscribers. Don't take it personal as people's tastes and interests change. Much better to have a targeted list that's smaller.


  • Make your messages timely and relevant.
  • Think one screen with minimal scrolling.
  • Scannable messages - less is more.
  • Emails must make sense even when images are turned off.
  • Too many alt tags make it messy (Dell example).


  • Understand what works for your customers, not just what general research recommends. Are your customers more
  • interested in what's new or what's on sale? Is brand more important than price?
  • Test your campaigns.
  • Create urgency: "One day only sale - not available in store" for example.


Example: "Email Exclusive - Free Shipping Offer" (BODY SHOP)
The "from" line is far more important now than it used to be as customers skim from lines to weed out spammers. (I recommend you use your brand name).


  • Break it up into HTML version. Sacrifice a few fonts for higher sales. Client example:

Example of client email with image only and HTML

  • Image emails degrade poorly on mobile devices. Another reason HTML is the way to go.


  • Every email must have a primary purpose.
  • Use calls to action in text and image format because people have different interaction preferences.
  • Be strategic in the links you use.

Example: Home Depot

home depot screenshot

  • Home Depot uses image links and text. Eyes go to images first.
  • The image is effective as the model is pointing to the link. Research shows our eyes will follow where the subject of a photo is looking or pointing.
  • Images are often turned off by default. that's why you want them both.
  • Put text link immediately below image, or in same direction prinipal object of image is focused.
  • Don't be afraid of multiple areas for call-to-action.

No one's really reading the email, they're skimming and scanning, so "shake it up"


  • Send a welcome email (a type of "trigger email"). This is easy to do and very effective, especially when it includes an incentive (free shipping on next order, for example).
  • Save a sale with email. Example: Roots Patent Leather Laptop Bag


Sold out in 12 hours. When re-stocked, email sent out with subject line: "Patent Laptop Bag. Previously Sold Out, Now Back in Stock."

We covered shopping cart recovery also here and here.

  • Send "win-back" emails to non-responders.

Chapters-Indigo Winback Email

  • Send refill reminders if you sell expendibles like vitamins. Keep track of date of transaction.


  • No perfect time or day to send, understand your list and send accordingly.
  • Look at the patterns of your own customers.
  • If you can't target each individual, look for spikes in open rates and click throughs.
  • Remember a ton of spam happens overnight. You don't want to be inadvertently deleted in the morning with the dreck.


  • We think "long." Offers mixed with editorial and sometimes third party advertising.
  • Not ANOTHER newsletter!
  • Much better to use a different wording for your messages, like e-flyer, e-update, e-bulletin, e-promo -- depending on your business.


  • Test subject lines, offers, regions, time of week, time of day...
  • Measure, opens, clicks, opt-outs, bounces, conversions...
  • Refine - better segmentation, better offers, better calls to action...

Jason mentioned the AM Inbox from Chad White's blog that monitors the daily email messages of over 100 top retailers.

  • If your opt-outs are on the rise, rethink your strategy. Don't get complacent, there is always better ways of segmentation, placement, wording, call to actions...

Q&A Session

(Carolyn's comments are paraphrased)

Jason kicks it off with an observation that when he sends emails with multiple offers, click through is high, but with one offer, conversion rates are better.

Carolyn comments:

Conversion really counts - qualified clicks happen when your call to action is more precise. The others are window shoppers but they don't know what they want to do.

Use effective segmentation with dynamic content - winter sport enthusiast and summer sport enthusiast, for example.

Attendee asks question about international segmentation.

Carolyn comments:

Respect first language choice, and watch your time zones.

Attendee asks if Carolyn thinks retailers are paying enough attention to providing content in emails, not just offers.

Jason and Carolyn comment on the effectiveness of including review data in content email -- they add validity to the sell. Carolyn suggests using a "little nugget" and link to full testimonial or list of testimonials.

Jason and Carolyn discuss email design templates and compatibility with Outlook and others. Carolyn says you need an HTML version and a text only version. Avoid CSS as it renders poorly. There are validation tools (please comment if you know specific service providers, links) that preview how your email looks in various email clients. You can also open your own accounts and test them. (Maybe scan your list, if a significant number use Hotmail and Yahoo you could hone in on these ones??)

Attendee asks: "What degree does email have to reflect a website image?"

Carolyn comments:

Shouldn't be a different look and feel. If you want to look different, create a landing page that complements email that went out.

Attendee asks what Carolyn thinks about navigation within emails (HTML).

Carolyn comments:

Like it. Smart. Comfort and familiarity -- makes sense.
Effective to use the top preview section for an e-tip, in this issue, summary...

Attendee asks about when you have a database that hasn't explicitly given you permission to market to them. Carolyn suggested an opt in campaign one time email to your database. Say "You're receiving this email because we want to invite you to series of emails so you're getting (VALUE)"... You will lose people, but you'll keep people who really want to hear from you.

Attendee asks how to prevent email offer cannibalization by affiliates (posting on forums, etc).

Note: Our next webinar is on how to run effective affiliate marketing, coupons and discounts, and how to work with affiliates.

Jason comments:

Coupons need to have a set limit on them - time or redemption (100 redemtpions) that way they can't be reposted on e-boards. If they're doing that, you are probably not doing a great way to manage your affiliates so you should look into that.

Attendee asks about email tracking and sending service providers -- what to look for?

Carolyn comments:

Look for good list management, managing opt outs, bounces and why they're bouncing.
The other thing is reporting tools - click through, open rates, bounce, opt out and deliverability.
Look for a tool that has good ISP reputation.
Advanced: A/B Split testing and subject line offers. If it's not done automatically, take database and cut in half.

Jason asks about email acquisition strategies -- namely co-acquisition with partners. Carolyn says to be clear about it when you send a message to a partner's list. Include a permission reminder at top of email (You're receiving this email because you signed up for ESPN etc.)

What about double opt-in?

More and more of a trend. But a double edged sword. Helps deliverability. ISP's like that but you'll lose people because they won't click and open.

Attendee asks about list cleaning.

Carolyn comments:

If an email bounces 3x we put it in hold status. Email addresses have high churn rate but you want to keep the list clean because your bounce rate affects your overall deliverability, could flag you as a spammer.

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