Author Archives: Tink Taylor

Tink Taylor

About Tink Taylor

Managing Director of dotMailer & Group Business Development Director dotDigital Group; Tink is one of the founding directors of the dotDigital Group PLC, formally Ellipsis Media Ltd, which was established in 1999 as a full-service digital marketing agency. With offices based in south London, central London and Manchester they drive site traffic and sales through strategy and design, providing smart, easy to use but sophisticated digital marketing products along with professional services.

Covering areas such as Search Engine Optimisation (www.dotSeo.co.uk), creative graphical design, strategy and implementation through dotAgency, email marketing through dotMailer, content management through dotEditor, and ecommerce solutions via dotCommerce, the dotDigital Group PLC is uniquely placed to provide the full circle digital marketing mix.

Tink is Managing Director of dotMailer, launched in 2000, designed to offer the features of a high-end email marketing system but with an intuitive easy to use front end. Tink has extensive experience in introducing the concepts of digital marketing to companies new to the field, as well as in servicing major brands such as the BBC, Shell, HP and Rank. Previously he had worked on the roll-out of global corporate CMS based intranets at IBM, giving him over thirteen years experience in interactive digital communications.

Tink speaks regularly in industry for not only the dotDigital Group, but also at events and tradeshows for the Direct Marketing Association and the Internet Advertising Bureau. His seminars are always well attended and received.

Tink joined the DMA’s Email Marketing Council in 2006 whilst working in the Deliverability Hub which produced the white page ‘How we Got Here and What Marketer’s Should do About It’. Tink also provided the Benchmarking Hub with an on-line survey application (formBuilder) enabling them to carry out their quarterly and annual benchmarking reports. Tink introduced Hotmail to the DMA’s Email Marketing Council as both parties look to form much closer relations with opportunities such as providing Key Note speakers at major events. Tink was instrumental in helping Hotmail bring the UK ESP community together at the deliverability seminar held at Microsoft.

Tink was re-elected to the council to serve another 3 years in March 2010 and remains Chairman of the DMA’s Partnership hub which promotes Email Marketing’s Best Practise where he has a remit of creating links with other industry bodies in the USA, UK and Europe.

Tink also sits on the IAB’s E-communications Council. As a result the IAB announced that it endorsed the DMA’s Best Practice Guidelines. In doing so the IAB and DMA formed a coalition which aims to raise industry standards and stimulate the positive development of email as an effective and respected marketing channel.

The IAB’s endorsement marks an important step towards establishing a consistent industry approach to email marketing standards and having Tink as a member of both councils was instrumental in bringing the two bodies together. 

Working with both the IAB and DMA Tink is one of the co-founders of the landmark joint event named Ready Steady Email, which is a hands-on email workshop designed to help delegates to understand and apply best practise.

Tink is available to speak at events, please contact him or dotMailer if you would like to invite him to your event.

Changes to the EU Data Protection Regulation: What are the penalties?

When the updated European Commission’s Draft Data Protection legislation was announced last year, a lot was made of the sweeping changes to the fundamental data principles. Many of the have already been covered in other blog posts but what I want to delve into here, are the changes in financial penalties involved for failure to comply with the rules. There are two separate provisions which could hit your corporate wallet. The first allows the regulators to levy a fine for breaches. While the other gives individuals the right to be awarded compensation for breaches.

Fines from Regulators

The original proposal gave regulators the power to levy a full €1m, or up to 2% of a business’s global turnover for breaches of the regulations. On the 20th of February, the Industry Committee of the European Parliament voted against mandatory fines and to give the power to set the size of the fine to the national regulators, which is in line with the current regulations. While many consumer and privacy advocates have said this will water down the new regulations, I for one applaud this move as it will allow fines to be in-line with local attitudes about data privacy and economic conditions.

Do not think that because the power to set mandatory fines has been taken away from Brussels and granted to the UK Information Commissioner that companies dealing in personal data will have an easy ride here in the UK. The ICO continues to lobby for greater enforcement powers and more importantly, greater budget to dedicate towards enforcement. The ICO’s office has also been using their current ability to assess financial penalties more over recent years with a two fold increase in the number of fines issued in 2012 over 2011 and a fourfold increase in the monetary penalty over the same period. The trend is clear the ICO is issuing more penalties and the fines are getting bigger.

Individuals Right to Compensation

The other potential hit to your corporate wallet is the new proposal giving individuals the right to compensation for breaches in the data protection regulations. This is worrying for a number of reasons. First, there are no guidelines around how a court or regulator would determine when personal compensation is warranted, how the compensation should be calculated or limits to the compensation award. A second concern is that this proposal will drive the EU to be more litigious.

The third and greatest worry for us as an industry is that this personal compensation can be sought from both the data owner and the data processor. Making data processors responsible for the actions of the data controllers is a new and very troubling concept which will significantly impact the email marketing industry.

Up till now, data processors primarily in the form of ESPs acted only on the instruction of the data controller and therefore were not required to ensure that the behaviour of the data controller was in fact legal. There is already an extra burden on our industry because as we all know we deal with the “second regulator” in the form of ISPs deciding whether to accept our email transmissions or not. Should this new provision go through, ESPs will not only have to ensure that their clients are following the best practices to optimise deliverability but they also have to get right under the skin of the client’s business to ensure that they are legally compliant with data protection regulations. This will be an intrusion that many client companies will not want, it is a process which ESPs are not currently structured to handle and one that will have to be funded in the form of higher send costs.

Should I Worry?

At the end of the day it is email marketing 101 type stuff. Any email marketing professional worth their salt, or any member of the DMA should be following the basics of best practice closely enough to not be doing anything wrong and should therefore have nothing to generally worry about. The worry comes as a result of simple human error which can cause a file to be corrupted, or a laptop left on a train or a password that is too easy to crack. These “simple human errors” could get to be very costly.

Take action now!

If you haven’t already, take time to read the DMA’s assessment of the impact of the new regulations Think about how this could hurt your business and then reach out to your MEP and make your voice heard.

LOCOG deserves a gold medal for email marketing

 

Well the Olympics was pretty stunning, wasn’t it? I think it’s fair to say that London 2012 delivered and then some. Olympic fever gripped the nation and left us all clambering for information as Team GB soared up the medal table.

As the main Olympic broadcaster in the UK, the BBC certainly gets a fair dollop of credit for the 24/7 coverage it provided across the full spectrum of digital channels. But I think LOCOG – the organisation in charge of running the Games – needs to be commended. The London2012 official website did a great job of providing real-time updates and the mobile apps were another leap forward providing information whether you were attending events live or just catching up on the train.

But, for me (as you can imagine!), the way LOCOG used email was particularly interesting. And I was very, very impressed.

Every day, I woke up to find a ‘Today at the Games’ email waiting for me. Across the spectrum it really ticked the box, offering a one-stop shop with all the detail and information needed to plan every Olympic day. Not only this, but one of my friends who went to see the handball received an email on the way to the event advertising related handball souvenirs that could be purchased onsite or online – a great personalised upsell opportunity.

In particular, these areas really stood out:

  • Calls to action – there are powerful calls to action throughout this email. Whether it is viewing further information (like medal tables) on the website, downloading the mobile apps or topping up your Olympic merchandise in the official ecommerce store, these are all designed to encourage engagement.
  • Personalised – the email I received was clearly targeted to someone living in the UK, supporting TeamGB. In fact, right up there in the top right hand corner, you can see the postcode you registered with and the country you are supporting. There are also links to allow you to change these options. Fantastic! With an event like the Olympics, where there is so much going on, selecting the right content for each recipient is vital to success.
  • Mobile – these emails are great examples of responsive design. When viewed on an iPhone (see image) the two-column structure you see on a desktop email client automatically shrinks to a one-column version. This makes it easy to read and visually appealing, no matter what device you are viewing the email on.
  • Images – this email has a great balance of images and text. Images are used sparingly to ensure that the email size isn’t too large but, when they are used, it’s in a way that really brings the message to life and engages anyone that opens.
  • Content – there is a perfect mix of content in this email. It’s actually quite long, which isn’t a bad thing at all. More important is the fact that content is varied throughout the email. There’s a mixture of news, features and calls to action. There really is something for everyone here; you don’t need to be an Olympic obsessive to get value but the message perfect captures the excitement around the games.
  • Sharing – links to social media channels are clearly visible in this email and, with the large numbers of social media that ran throughout the two weeks, it’s no surprise to see LOCOG making the most of this. The ‘forward to a friend’ link is also prominent in this message.

This is a real value-add email. With so much information being shared about the Olympics over the last two weeks, making sense of all the noise was a real challenge. This email hits home by providing a succinct but detailed companion to what many think was the greatest sporting show this country has ever seen.

The Olympics, piggybacking and how to make the most of it

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the Olympics are just around the corner. Despite the tight regulations around branding, marketers have been hard at work already sending their Olympic themed email campaigns.

Piggybacking off events like the Olympics not only gives marketers the opportunity to tap into some of the stardust surrounding the event, it’s also a chance to break away from the norm; increase sends and achieve an even greater ROI on your email marketing.

But despite this, I’m constantly amazed by the number of retailers that seem to quickly ignore all the well-held best practices that have served them well in the past when it comes to seasonal email marketing.

Email marketer and recipient = man chasing woman of his dreams

The relationship between an email marketer and recipients can be likened to that of a man and the woman of his dreams he’s trying to woo. No words are wasted, no contact is without motive and not a single landmark date goes by without a gesture to show he only has eyes for her.

In much the same way, a seasonal email campaign offers marketers the chance to woo new recipients and to make existing recipients fall in love with them all over again. It’s an opportunity to make a gesture that either keeps them coming back for more or catches their eye for the first time.

Don’t just send out anything

Careful analysis of your database cannot be underestimated. One of the biggest mistakes any email marketer could make would be to send out a campaign without careful analysis.

It could be argued that the Olympics are fairly universal but other seasonal events will be more suited for particular segments. For example, a database of mainly elderly women are very unlikely to respond favourably to a campaign relating to the commencement of the new Premier League season, that is until you meet my mother!

Consider how campaign fits in with you overall strategy

It is easy to loosely attach the ‘O’ word to any campaign or to throw a ‘gold medal’ into the subject line without strategically weaving the theme into other aspects of the message. A lot of marketers lazily jump on a bandwagon without a proper plan of how the campaign fits in with the overall marketing strategy.

These campaigns will come across as desperate and, even if they don’t end up in the junk folder, they will end up as the email equivalent of that gift you got for Christmas ten years ago but never really used.

It’s another chance to send more emails

As mentioned earlier, seasonal campaigns are an opportunity to send more emails and reach more inboxes. There is a common belief in email marketing that the more you send, the more money you make. There is also research that suggests many businesses are missing out on opportunities and leaving money on the table by not sending enough targeted email campaigns in sufficient volume.

Events like the Olympics offer you another opportunity to score brownie points with recipients. It’s also an opportunity to win hearts and minds with your latest offering.

Don’t forget those who are not involved

In the midst of it all, it is important to remember those who might not be interested in the season or event your campaign is focused on. Use the information you gathered at the initial sign-up stage to segment your database and approach them with the appropriate campaigns. With something like the Olympics, it might be difficult to make that distinction based on sign-up information but with other seasonal sending, those distinctions will be easier to make.

Once you have sent a seasonal email, review your results and use this to inform future events.

What do you have planned for the Olympics?

Mobile email marketing: what to do and why

It’ll surprise no-one to hear that smartphones and mobile devices are changing the way we receive email. Research suggests 63% of women and 71% of men access email services on their mobile device.

But it’s important to remember this isn’t just a platform used on the bus or in shops. There’s just as much chance you’ll find someone surfing through emails on their mobile while at home on the sofa.

It is perhaps the most ubiquitous way of consuming email in the modern day. So it’s important to take it seriously.

Whether that means making sure emails render properly on mobile devices or ensuring a smooth transition when recipients click through to a mobile landing page, mobile integration can’t be just an afterthought – it needs to be discussed and considered at a strategic level.

Use what you already know

One piece of good news in considering mobile email is that you don’t have to invest in new technologies to get ahead of the game- you’ve got them already. Many email service providers will be able to tell you the exact devices your recipients are using to read your emails and help you focus your attention on certain screen sizes or platforms.

Once you have this baseline understanding, the other important signal to look for is whether this audience is growing and how fast. The opportunity once you have this group segmented is to send them different emails optimised for the platform and test open rates and reactions.

A big part of the potential success here will depend on your business – what works for a retailer may not be so effective if you are a massive B2B services house. But there’s only one way to find out and get ahead of the game.

Responsive design is the future of email

Even better than a separate version though is a relatively old trick, stolen from the world of website development, called responsive design. This allows you to intelligently juggle two style sheets within the same email, but it’s not often that I see this used in all the emails I receive.

It means you can have a more balanced layout specific to the screen size your recipients are using, without obscuring any important calls to action or rendering emails disproportionately.

The best of both worlds.

The last mile

What often lets recipients down is the user experience when they click through to the landing page.

Of course, responsive design could also provide a solution here on your mobile landing page conundrum. Many email marketers get everything right when it comes to the message itself, only to be let down when mobile recipients click through and find a landing page that is impossible to view without some radical scrolling.

It has been argued that perhaps for certain customer databases, mobile opens are not that high or that the rendering of emails on mobile email clients isn’t that bad on templates around 600 pixels wide. However, I would go the extra mile and take a serious look at media queries and responsive design if your mobile open rates are high. This is where it will pay off the most.

It is important to remember that every campaign is a process and that equal attention should be paid to all parts of the recipients’ user journey. Make the most of info you already have – especially when it comes to mobile.

Simplicity, clarify and accessibility

With mobile email marketing, simplicity, clarity and accessibility are always the most important considerations. Smartphone screens are small, the connection can be flaky and a recipient’s time is short. If that recipient is to be worth anything to you, you should consider their time as money!

Mobile presents a world of opportunity and it’s vitally important to tap into this but, at the same time, it is crucial to keep on top of changing trends. Innovations in mobile technology are being so rapidly adopted that some recommendations are out of date as soon as they are published.

On your marks, London… Ready, Steady, EMAIL!

There are plenty of useful resources out there for learning about email marketing and you can read them to your heart’s content but sometimes, there’s no better way to learn than to get out there and get your hands dirty.

But, rather than taking risks and pushing the envelope with your own monthly newsletter, which can be daunting and potentially disastrous, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a safe environment where you could throw ideas out there, learn from you peers and get insight from industry leaders on all your email woes?

Well, good news, dear reader – the DMA and IAB’s latest “Ready Steady Email” Event is coming up this December in London and provides all of the above. Held in central London, attendees from all industries are put into teams and compete against each other to create an exceptional campaign, with top digital marketing professionals on hand to provide insight, judge the entries and, ultimately, pick a winning team.

It’s all about a hands on experience – there are plenty of opportunities out there to sit and listen to people give you advice but Ready Steady Email is all about getting your hands stuck in with a morning of activity and interaction.

Sounds good right?

Head over to book your place and check out the details below for exact dates and location. Look forward to seeing you there and may the best email-marketer win!

WHEN?

Wednesday 14th December, 08:45 – 13:00

WHERE?

IAB Offices, 14 Macklin St, London, WC2B 5NF

MORE INFO?

Send us an email or get in touch with Anna on 0207 050 6969 or anna@iabuk.net.

Put Yourself in a Recipient’s Shoes and Improve the User Lifecycle

There’s a famous proverb which suggests that to truly understand how people function, you should walk a mile in their shoes.

I think this is something that applies to email marketing in a big way. To really be successful, marketers should put themselves in the shoes of their recipients. This will help understand what the experience is like on their end, allowing future messages to be improved and results increased.

Here are two elements of the user lifecycle where email marketers should put themselves in the shoes of their recipients:

1. The sign-up form

Once you realise the possibilities of a good email marketing strategy, it’s easy to get a bit lost on a power trip of segmentation and personalisation, ruthlessly demanding more and more data from registrants to try and get more value from them.

It’s true that being able to target and segment campaigns effectively and efficiently is a noble goal. Getting the right data is imperative, but thinking about precisely what you need them to input is just as important. Are all the questions you ask necessary and relevant when you send out your campaigns?  Remember to test your sign up page: how does the number of questions, the format of the questions (check boxes, drop downs) and wording of the questions effect sign up rates?

2. Sharing is caring

In all the presentations I’ve ever given over the years, I’ve always asked attendees if they use the ‘forward to a friend’ link as a recipient. A handful people – usually 5% – put their hands up. However, when asked ‘who has ever used it to actually forward a message to more than five people’, no one has ever left their hand up. This is clearly a much more personal one to one communication tool. Therefore, as an email marketer, it’s important for us to consider why people use such links and when.

Maybe the ‘forward to a friend’ link just isn’t as popular as it used to be. Look at how the world has changed; since the rise in popularity of social media and its integration into all our work, is email the first medium we think of when sharing content?

One thing I love about social sharing via email is that it is a fantastic tool to explain the benefits of targeting and relevancy. By ‘putting ourselves in the user’s shoes’, as marketers, we should know that when a recipient finds content relevant, compelling and stimulating, they’re more like to share it. Often this can take time, effort and budget. But the size of the prize is what makes people’s eyes light up. In my personal world, with just three quick clicks, to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, I can share a message with thousands of my friends and followers.

Build your links and lists

The engagement stats and additional reach these messages have can be phenomenal. It appears that my friends can’t help but click on the content I have shared with them. But why? Its simple: they are in my social network because they share common interests.

Therefore make sure your email creative includes a link back to your sign up page. It’s a great way to build your list with new subscribers that are interested in your products and services.

 

Does Facebook underestimate spammers?

When I wrote about Facebook Messages back in November, I closed the piece with the thought that it was really just another form of electronic mail. Or “email”, if you will. As such, it’s bound to live or die by the same rules.

So we were a little disturbed to read this post talking about how Facebook Pages admins can load 5000 email addresses at a time to “recommend” they like the page. If Facebook finds an associated profile, it’ll do the invite internally but if not, it simply sends out a traditional email to them.

What’s more, there’s no feedback method for people who don’t want to receive such invitations. This wasn’t quite what we had in mind when they said it would revolutionise email.

Angry or disappointed?

This goes against everything responsible email marketers have fought for in the last decade and shows you can’t just saunter into the messaging businesses without a few lessons to learn. Something Google learned with Wave in its own way.

My business is currently the number one result on Google when searching for ‘email marketing’, we get all sorts of enquiries from all corners of industry. We actually end up turning many of them away based on unsuitable content, databases or other factors.

The thorough human checks we put in place mean we tend to only end up with the best most responsible clients on our books. But even as if that wasn’t enough, we also have our ultra-sophisticated last line of defence; the merciless dotMailer Watchdog.

Terms and conditions

In the case of Facebook, they seem to simply lay out the terms and conditions how they expect users to deploy the service. How carefully will they keep watch on this though? Time will tell. You can imagine the spammers’ eyes twinkling at the opportunity here.

When you consider that there actually appears to have been something of a crackdown on spammers recently, have the criminal fraternity started to look at other ways of driving traffic to their websites? ESPs with lots of data and with IPs of great reputation are also a natural target to pursue as we have seen in the recent warnings from Returnpath.

This is something that people in our business including resellers have to take really seriously- and something Facebook will have to pay real attention to.

Moving on

Facebook Messages is just in the trial phase at the moment so hopefully this is something that will be ironed out but its exemplary of the dangers it faces. If they can slip up in an area of such fundamental importance, does that bode well for the rest of this new offering?

Time will tell.