6 Tips For Troubleshooting Email HTML Code

Posted by on February 26th, 2015

An important aspect of creating a great email is testing it within a variety of email providers to ensure the layout looks the way you envisioned it would look. Are your images rendering correctly? Does your font look the way you coded it? Are the tables stacking up correctly? These are typical questions you might be asking yourself. Oftentimes, the mistakes that are occurring can be fixed by checking some specific areas to ensure the code is correct. We have identified some simple fixes that you can use to remedy some common problems before you feel like you have to bring a developer into the mix.

1. Blue Borders Around Images.
Blue borders will appear around images that include a link.
To remove the blue border, but keep the image linked, add this CSS code to an image:
<img src=“THIS IS YOUR IMAGE” style=“border-style: none;”>

2. Gaps Under Images.
In some emails, it may be necessary to stack images on top of each other in a table design in order to make a singular image fit into a designated space, and you don’t want a large gap of white space breaking up an image.
Stacked TN Stacked TN
To keep these images from having gaps add this inline CSS to each of the troublesome images:
<img src=“THIS IS YOUR IMAGE LINK” style=“display: block;”>

3. Set your column width the same width and height as the image it contains.
By coding your images to be the same width and height as the column, you will prevent problems on how images will render from one email service provider to the next. If your image is 600px wide and 80px high, your code should look like this:
<td width=”600″ height=”80″>
<img src=”THIS IS YOUR IMAGE” width=”600″ height=”80″ />
</td>

4.Removing hyperlinks from dates and telephone numbers.
While this only makes addresses, telephone numbers and dates blend in more and not totally disappear, it is a quick fix especially for those of your clients who read their emails on smart phones.
Add this inline CSS to the link:
style=”color: #XXXX; text-decoration: none;
NOTE: In order for this to work, you must know the color of your font based on the style sheet.
123-123-1234 123-123-1234

5. Your font isn’t displaying the way you intended.
I always suggest that you use popular fonts such as Arial, Verdana and Times New Roman to avoid running into a situation where a specified font isn’t available on a computer. But, if the font-type is designated in the CSS rules in the <header> of your email, Gmail® will strip that out. The best way to avoid any missteps in font-type, font-size or font-color is to put the styling inline.
Add this inline CSS to the text: style=”font-family:XXX; font-size:XXXpx; color:#XXXX;”
For example, I want to make a line of text: 20 point, Arial font in green.
ENTER YOUR TEXT

6. Zero out your table settings.
Some email providers utilize default settings, because they think they know what looks best in their platform. Include “0” values for cell-spacing, cell-padding and table borders to override the default settings and avoid headaches.
Add this inline CSS to your tables:
 <table cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”0″ border=”0″>

So, why is it important that you test your communication in all email providers? If the email is sloppy or looks like it was hastily put together, readers may not take your messages seriously, which might increase your unsubscribe rate or in worst case scenarios, your deliverability. Also, being aware of common HTML issues can help avoid headaches within your development team and eliminate team frustrations.
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LinkedIn® Part I: There’s A Person Behind That Profile

Posted by on February 24th, 2015


ML_Blog_22415
Have you ever been talking with someone who tells you, “I have over 1000 LinkedIn® connections,” and seems that he/she has measured his/her success based upon this number? Well, you aren’t alone. Since the introduction of social media, the new measurements of prosperity and popularity, for some, are embedded in the number of “likes,” “friends” and in the case of LinkedIn, “connections.” Look, we’re not voting for homecoming queen or the “most likely to succeed” when we choose to connect with another person. This, my friends, is business.

So what does it mean to have connections on LinkedIn? Furthermore, what expectations do your connections have of you?

Yes. Expectations.

I know what you’re thinking, “It depends on the context of the relationship.” You’re right. Some people connect because they attended the same college, some because they have a common employer, etc. However, there are those who connect, because they both believe there is potential for a mutually beneficial business relationship. Of course, this means someone has to make the first move, and it’s usually the person who wants to make the sale.

Enter the LinkedIn “cold call.” There are many ways to hunt down a contact within LinkedIn; InMail, LinkedIn’s direct messaging system, and if listed, email and phone. Truth is, once you know where a person is employed you can pretty much find them.

I have a friend who despises LinkedIn cold calls. Why? In her words, “because most of the cold calls I receive are hollow solicitations backed by nothing more than desperation and self-promotion.”

Ouch! But is she right? The use of digital platforms makes reaching out to potential clients easier especially if you’ve already established some sort of connection with them. You’ve essentially passed the gatekeeper and found the person who can influence decisions, but there are steps and rules that you should follow so you don’t immediately turn someone off to your business, because he/she thinks what you’re saying is thoughtless and void of emotion.

Rule #1: Do not ever forget you are asking for someone’s time. Be clear, be concise and don’t waste a bunch of time throwing your bag of tricks out there to close a sale on the first communication. This is supposed to be introductory and informative.  Also, do not forget to leave your contact information. Even though you can directly reply to an InMail message, you want to make yourself available through whatever channel your connection finds the most value in.

Rule #2: Check your spelling and use proper grammar. The connections you make on LinkedIn are business connections. Would you send an email to a superior or a co-worker without proof reading it? Proof read. Proof read. Proof read. If you do not, you could lose a potential client before even getting your foot in the door.

Rule #3: Give the connection personality. Do not begin the first email you send a new connection with “Thank you for connecting with me on here.” Along with being poorly written, the statement itself is very dry and can be viewed as a default message. It’s boring and shows a lack of effort put into learning a little bit more about who you are talking to, which is crazy, because you have loads of information right at your fingertips.

Rule #4: Read your connection’s profile before you send an email. Do not combine companies he/she has worked for into a new company. Learn what this connection’s job titles is and maybe even go a step further to make sure you know exactly what industry the company identifies with, but do not confuse the two. My friend once worked for an agency that created marketing materials for a medical care facility. She doesn’t work for a medical care facility. She shouldn’t be contacted about a program that could help attract more patients to her medical practice. She is not a doctor.

Now, maybe some are more forgiving than my friend. However, it doesn’t matter, because when you choose to cold call through LinkedIn or any other digital medium, the hard reality is you don’t have the benefit of face-to-face communication, which allows you to hear the inflection in your audience’s voice or the opportunity to read body language. You only have words. So make them count because, as I stated earlier, this is business.

In my next post, we will explore the importance of discovering the person behind the LinkedIn profile.

 

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Don’t Forget The Boomers

Posted by on February 20th, 2015

Financial institutions are focusing their 2015 acquisition efforts on Gen Y, and the younger segment of Gen X, as they should, because prospective customers in both of those age demographics possess a treasure trove of opportunity. However, financial institutions should not ignore Baby Boomers. While they are getting a bit long in the tooth as some 10k Boomers turn 60 every day, members of this generation can still be lucrative customers

According to a recent Gallup survey, half of all Baby Boomers have $100k in investable assets, compared to 37 percent of Gen Xers and 14 percent of those in the Gen Y segment. Even more appealing, many Baby Boomers are still on the borrowing side of town. Famously high divorce rates — followed by remarriages and second families — find many in this generation on a par with the younger demographic segments when it comes to family obligations.

Here is the challenge for financial institutions looking to take advantage of this opportunity…Baby Boomers have shared their business across a number of financial institutions. According to Gallup, only about four in 10 Boomers have a mortgage with the same bank or credit union that handles their primary banking, and only about two in 10 with investment accounts use their primary bank for their investing.

As the Gallup chart below attests, engaged account holders are more likely consider their respective financial institutions for additional products and services, but the hurdle is getting them engaged.

NikitasBlog_22015
*Source: Gallup U.S Retail Banking Survey

Financial institutions can start implementing proactive reach-out campaigns in order to cross sell products and services, a concept many banks and credit unions have put aside until of late. Utilizing analytics can help ensure these reach-out campaigns are relevant and ultimately can go a long way toward engaging Boomers and encouraging them to deepen their involvement with their financial institutions.

Source:
1. “For Banks, Baby Boomers Mean Lucrative Business,” Gallup. February 2015.

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Breaking Down the PESO Model

Posted by on February 17th, 2015

MGblog_21715With more emphasis being put on content creation in 2015, companies are spending a significant amount of time and marketing dollars on writing white papers and blogs, designing infographics, and creating videos and podcasts for their customers. This content can then be promoted via every communications channel available to you. Businesses are hoping the content they provide will attract customers who will eventually be converted into loyal customers as they move through the sales cycle. But for every new piece of content you create, your competitors have also published something new. So how do you stand out? The answer — By evaluating how you can share your content using the PESO model.

The PESO model is an acronym for the different media channels your audience uses to digest your content.

Paid: Any type of media channel that is hosted by a third party that you pay to advertise your content. Examples: Promoted social media posts, commercials, sponsorships, banner ads.

Earned: Refers to outside influencers whom you leverage to write positive content on your behalf, which is then shared on their platforms. Examples: Articles for news outlets, third-party blogs, reviews, shared press releases.

Shared: Engaging with audiences on social media channels where there is equal control between consumers and your brand. Examples: Twitter retweets, posts to Facebook timelines, comment threads.

Owned: These channels and the content on these channels are controlled entirely by you. Examples: Official websites and blog, company Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and Twitter accounts.

More often than not, we see brands that practice owned and shared media, but the use of paid and earned media strategies are used less frequently, because companies have a hard time achieving success and experiencing ROI. A good way to incorporate earned media is to write press releases to share important news like when you business wins an award, enters into an important partnership or reaches a milestone like 25 years in business. These can then be distributed on public relations websites like PR Web. This also might influence others to engage with your content and write about it, which could ultimately build awareness and improve lead generation.

Paid media is a less popular channel, because it can be very expensive. Digital ads, pay-per-clicks and commercials can all take a significant chunk out of any marketing budget. But paid media can be highly effective if used the right away, because it is highly targeted. If you sell fishing equipment, there are hundreds of relevant outlets available, both in print and digitally, you can use to promote your product. You get to choose the keywords that trigger your pay-per-click ads, which means those people who are specifically looking for what you have to offer will see your ad thus leading to more qualified leads. Don’t be afraid to test out the waters in paid media, but monitor your budget, and it’s better to start off small and scale up if you are experiencing success.

The PESO model will help you put a label on the types of content you have available and how that content can be presented to your audience. By taking a holistic view at the media channels available to you, you can make sure you are promoting your content in as many ways as possible. This approach will help your company shift customer behavior from shopping around to intent to purchase to converted sale as well as increase the number of your brand advocates.

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Enchantment, Deliverability and The Beatles

Posted by on February 13th, 2015

KJBlog_21315The Email Evolution Conference (EEC) in Miami was all it promised to be. As we boarded the yacht of information and sailed along the smooth sea of industry-expert knowledge, I was able to soak in an abundance of informative ideas, trends and industry information.

Here are a few key points I took away from the conference:

Opening keynote speaker, Guy Kawasaki spoke to the “Art of Enchantment.” He defined enchantment as, “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea,” and introduced this concept with the idea of creating an atmosphere of likability and trust in any given situation. He went further by stating that, “cultivating those elements  into a service or product, we can “enchant” a consumer.”

As marketers, our email campaigns rely heavily on engagement. We create and deploy several emails within one campaign, collect data, test and analyze metrics. But sometimes, no matter what we do, we do not get the results we are looking for. Kawasaki’s theory is not rocket science, anyone can assume that being “delighted” with a service or product would initiate the click of a button to open an email or request more information, but to actually attain that level of enchantment through elements such as likeability and trust is the challenge.

An email marketing conference would not be complete without the topic of deliverability. In his Deliverability 101 session, Spencer Kollas spoke to the importance deliverability has on an organization as, “98% of brands use email as a marketing channel.” Clearly, this indicates the importance email deliverability can have on an organization’s overall marketing plan.

Kollas also discussed how, “78% of organizations globally have had deliverability issues within the last 12 months.” The results are not only staggering, but they prove the point that an organization must continuously monitor bounce rates, manage list hygiene and ensure its sender reputation is not susceptible to email filtering. The discussion lead to various types of spam traps, and the impact they have on inbox delivery. Once an IP address is blacklisted in a spam database, 85-90% of mail can be blocked. These are frightening figures for any marketer, but it’s more proof that organizations need to pro-actively take all the necessary steps to stay clear of simple spam traps.

Through a series of cleverly chosen song and album titles, a panel of industry experts lead a discussion on trending topics that encompass the future of email marketing.

The Beatles’ “Here, There and Every Where,” began a discussion on today’s omnichannel consumer. Today, marketers have the ability to reach customers through multiple channels other than email. What does this mean for today’s marketer? While it’s still necessary to utilize and optimize an email communications plan, we must  use a multi-level approach for any email campaign can offer greater opportunity for success.

R.E.M.’s “Automatic For the People,” lead to a conversation of traditional vs. behavioral marketing. Traditional email included the idea of filling up a marketing calendar with general content. Today, behavioral marketing is more impactful and easily accessible through data collection and marketing automation. The general idea was to go from being a push marketer to advancing into a pull marketer. This means instead of pushing out all sorts of content and information that is relevant to your brand as a whole, you take the time to learn more about what your consumers want to read by pulling in data and revising and personalizing your content calendar on a regular basis.

will.i.am’s “Geekin’” brought about a discussion on the ever present struggle between a company’s marketing department and respective technical teams. As we progress into the future, marketers need to get their left-brain wheels turning, so to speak. Technology is now a big part of marketing and everything we do seems to be more data-centric. In order to progress towards these technological advances, pairing up with other departments and working cohesively can ensure successful outcomes.

Beginning with a keynote session on enchantment, a seminar on deliverability and a panel discussion on what we can expect for the future of email marketing, the EEC proved to be an informative and insightful success.

For more insight from the EEC, check out the Twitter stream from attendees using the EEC15 hashtag.

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