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design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Emailing Groups – The Right Way

May 22nd, 2014

Are you aware that how you send emails to your customers can dramatically affect the viability of your entire business? In the most extreme cases emailing to customers the wrong way can result in your entire domain being frozen or shut down.

While a successful email marketing strategy involves much more, there are a few basics that you must adhere too to protect the good name of your business and prevent potentially serious problems with your company’s ability to deliver emails of all types to vendors, clients and customers.

1. Never send to large groups using Outlook or Webmail!

Have you ever logged into your individual email account and sent an email to a group of customers by adding them all to the bcc field? Or have you ever taken a larger list of customer email address and broken them up into smaller sequential emails?

Because of the prevalence of spam, email service providers and ISP’s closely monitor emails sent to multiple addressees as well as the frequency in which they’re sent. ISP’s and service providers tend to be overly cautious and favor erring on the side of preventing potential spam. Therefore  they are likely to flag your email/domain as potential spam when they see this type of group sending activity. In some cases I’ve seen email service suspended as a warning for 24 hours if too many such emails are sent, and, in extreme cases, the Website and email for your domain can be shut down.  This threat exists when sending through an individual account no matter how legitimate the email is and how much your recipients want to receive it.

The best alternative is to utilize one of the large 3rd party email marketing companies, namely VerticalResponse or Constant Contact. They send millions of emails each month and have the ability, because of their size and volume, to safeguard that your domain name does not get associated with spam. Not only will your domain name be protected, for their nominal cost, there are many other advantages such as tracking and the ability to have have a custom HTML email design developed for your brand.

2. Never buy lists of email addresses from 3rd parties!

There is a good reason why Constant Contact and Vertical Response do not allow the use of third party email lists . . . they are often not poor quality in terms of relevancy, they tend to result in a much higher rate being marked for spam by recipients (thus potentially blacklisting your domain) and most importantly there is no way to verify that these lists were obtained legally. In short, they present a very high risk of damage to your domain name and the deliverablity of all your company’s email . . . just don’t do it!  For more information on this topic and insight about best practice email marketing visit Word to the Wise or Deliverability.com; both great sites about email, delivery and spam.

There are of course legitimate ways to collect addresses for your email  marketing—you can start with this these 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business provided by VerticalResponse.

3. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act on all your marketing related emails (It’s not hard).

While admittedly The FTC is not overly aggressive in prosecuting, the fact remains that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. This should serve as good motivation to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  4. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  5. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  6. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

For full details on these email guidelines, see the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Facts for Business.

PowerPoint Background Design Pointer . . . Less is More

March 13th, 2014

Some great advice from the design sage John McWade from Before & After Magazine

Don’t add clutter to your Website!

August 6th, 2013

I want to point out a great post that Seth Godin made a couple years ago. It’s one of my favorite short articles to reference before starting a branding or design project —The inevitable decline due to clutter.

As is his gift, he does a great job of articulating minimalism; a principle of design and communication that has become critical for success in this age of massive information overload.

I’m having a hard time not quoting his whole post because it’s so good, but in the spirit of minimalism here are the best parts:

  • “As digital marketers seek to increase profits, they almost always make the same mistake. They continue to add more clutter, messaging and offers, because, hey, it’s free.”
  • “Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention.
  • “More is not always better. In fact, more is almost never better.

Emotion and Advertising – Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial

February 4th, 2013

Out of the thousands of ads we’re exposed to each day, what is it that makes only a few stand out?  It’s emotional connection. Those ads that don’t have it, no matter how technically precise, are noise and filtered out by our brain.

Here’s great example from The Richards Group of how it’s done right.

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