Monthly Archives: November 2009

daily smaily

t(s)weet roll:

  • At BNA (Nashville) and two cool things happened. 1. The TSA employees apologized to us for a short (very short) wait. Nice people. #
  • 2. Their is live music in the terminal. Nice touch. #
  • Chat with the 17 year old hacker who hacked my blog – The Next Web bit.ly/4NH8ve #
  • Four Useful Apps for Nonprofits bit.ly/4wn86r #
  • I keep forgetting to do this but if there is anyone out there that would like wave invites, let me know. #
  • Email mark/fundraising tips: "strategies any small retailer can employ to make their email campaign click" bit.ly/6NCoIC #
  • I just generated my #TweetCloud out of 3 months of my tweets – w33.us/1fs #
  • Animated Gifs: Back on the scene, crispy and clean post.ly/Dfav #

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twitter.com/seanpowell

Animated Gifs: Back on the scene, crispy and clean

A quick post about animated gifs as an easy to implement strategy for delivering video directly to the inbox.  Posted below are how-tos, examples, and references.

Just like last night’s pizza making a next day breakfast resurrection, animated gifs are back on the scene, at least for email anyways.  Before the saucy-hipness of web 2.0, the YouTube self-made-video insurrection, or the Hulu conglomerati; animated gifs graced us on internal work communiqué and early web incantations. Sadly, good looks and charm weren’t the artwork’s strong suit.  The winning combination of somewhat awkward video-like display and typically poor design beckoned for the trash bin (see Clippy).

Recently though, these bastions of poor design are now seen in a new light. Animated Gifs are delivering chic email ads for the like of Neiman-Marcus and Mercedes-Benz.  They are seen touting a makeover of super singer, Susan Boyle, in the inbox or confidently displaying company z’s latest fashion show directly in the email message body.

More importantly, animated gifs play very nice with the many email clients out there.  Deliverability and content display are generally a null issue*.  Email fundraisers are familiar with how not conforming to the many email inbox non conformists (read Outlook) can spell disaster.  Animated gifs done correctly are an excellent option for easily including video in your upcoming campaign.

Action: Push a little deeper with these posts from around the web chalk full of examples and how-tos.

The title says it all.  “Animated Gif = 26% increase in click-through rate”
http://stylecampaign.com/blog/?p=66

Some great example laden posts:
http://www.retailemailblog.com/2009/11/am-inbox-re-emergence-of-video-gifs.html
http://www.emailresponsibly.com/2009/11/23/neiman-puts-holiday-campaigns-in-motion/

Some nice how-tos for creating your not crappy animated gif:
http://stylecampaign.com/blog/?p=44 (Ladies, this one uses a Twilight movie campaign as an example)
http://creativetechs.com/tipsblog/build-animated-gifs-in-photoshop/

Other homework:
http://theemailwars.com/2009/10/21/animated-gifs-you-bet/

*Outlook 2007 will only display the first image.

daily smaily

t(s)weet roll:

  • It’s time to board but the plane is not here. Southwest still saying our flight is "on time." #helloTennessee #goodbyeDC #
  • I am thankful for wifi at the airport! #tweetsgiving #
  • I am thankful for good twitter friends: @AccuGuy @Sue_Anne @infinitypg @susancoebrown @johnbethel #tweetsgiving #

sp
twitter.com/seanpowell

daily smaily

t(s)weet roll:

  • A $10 donation to help prevent HIV, can get you some great year end copy advice from – Kivi Leroux Miller. bit.ly/7Z3MtQ #
  • You tag it, you got it: "IKEA’s Genius Use of Photo Tagging" bit.ly/6tUbJt #

sp
twitter.com/seanpowell

daily smaily

t(s)weet roll:

  • "drop just one star in an organization’s Charity Navigator rating corresponds with a decrease in donations of 39%" bit.ly/6lCoal #
  • "I’m so grateful this TweetsGiving" by @marcapitman bit.ly/8GiFLfj #
  • "How the H1N1 vaccine is made" … An army of chicken eggs, that’s how. From Kottke.org bit.ly/8fn45j #
  • Goodmail and Epostmarks to debut USPS postmarked e-mail – DMNews bit.ly/5zKjLO #
  • Muppets Take On Bohemian Rhapsody at 1080p bit.ly/7SutGq #
  • From The Chronicle: White House Antihunger Campaign bit.ly/5OLAo1 #
  • Perhaps the coolest site of all time. Longer even. (thx @kottke) – USS Enterprise Blueprints bit.ly/8GqOjR #

sp
twitter.com/seanpowell

In Email, Sharing is Caring but Content Remains King

This article first appeared in the November issue of Advents, the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s print magazine.

You are testing everything from the length of your subject line to the time of launch.  You are segmenting (at the very least you are not batching and blasting) and your double opt in list has the kind of permission only a 16 year-old could wish.

You want more.  You are not just satisfied with keeping up.  Like Queen famously sang (more like bellowed), you want it all and you want it now.  While I can’t promise you email marketing dominance (or any of it all for that matter), I can hip-you-to some of the latest trends that will keep you ahead of the curve.

Number one on the short list, Video, is forcing itself into email inboxes everywhere.  The power of the word video in your messaging is enough to raise open rates and increase engagement.  However, the problem with video is that it does not always deliver well and if it does get delivered it might not display properly.  To get around these issues you can use two different strategies:

  • Send a message with a still image of your video and then link to it on your site.  This allows you to take advantage of the allure of video and avoid the pitfalls of spam filters and flags.  Sign up to receive emails from BarackObama.com and you can see some of the most extensive use of video in email out there.
  • Use animated GIF images to display video to the reader inside of the inbox.  This can work nicely because an animated GIF won’t raise any red flags with spam filters and is generally quick to load and play.  Note that animated GIFs don’t play sound and some email clients won’t play them.   Animated GIFs are used frequently for quick movie trailers and product demos.  See Lexus and Mercedes-Benz campaigns for examples.

The second (and possibly the sexiest) trend is the inclusion of social media sharing options in your message.  Everyone from newborns to grandmothers, seems to have a Facebook page or Twitter account, and you see more messages encouraging readers to – as Greg Cangialosi, President of Blue Sky Factory, calls it –  “Share with your network” or “SWYN” for short.  Greg, a veteran in the email-marketing field, loves this new trend.  He says that with SWYN, “the reach that email marketing has is growing every day, and the possibilities seem to be endless.”

A couple of quick items to note when incorporating SWYN:

  • Brainstorm on how you are going to include sharing and what social networks you want to focus on.  Talk to your email service provider about what they are doing to help.
  • When you have selected particular social networks, I encourage you to use the branded images supplied by each.  It helps the reader recognize where they are clicking to and adds to the legitimacy of your message.

The third and final trend has emailers saying less and encouraging more action from the reader.   This pushes the engagement paradigm from just click thrus and open rates to more fulfilling actions like direct customer-to-customer interactions or even discussing topics in real time with the sender.  Rick Christ, VP of Online Fundraising at NPA/Amergent, is doing that very thing by “working with emails that invite the recipient to DO something.” It’s not uncommon to see short (sometimes text only) email communications that quickly ask the reader to respond.  Rick adds, “People don’t read web pages. They prefer to DO them, or at least watch them. So we include surveys, videos, and other engagement techniques in our emails.”

Remember to test any new addition to your program to make sure that these trends (or any for that matter) work with your particular audience – can they help increase your engagement and even your overall reader satisfaction?  At the very least, these new additions can help your campaigns stay fresh and interesting.

daily smaily

t(s)weet roll:

  • Charities Target Smaller Donations in Tight Holiday Season bit.ly/4LAB1I #
  • "13 Twitter Search Examples for Nonprofits" bit.ly/6JnDvg #
  • "Study shows why donors aren’t exactly flocking online – Jeff Brooks" bit.ly/5ufsdN #
  • Post-Click Analytics Closer to Becoming Reality – MarketingVOX bit.ly/8i2r6H #
  • NIST Drafts Cybersecurity Guidance — Cybersecurity — InformationWeek bit.ly/7VflQx #
  • Multi-Channel Fundraising: Strategies and Tools to Engage Donors through Integrated Campaigns bit.ly/5xISaO #

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twitter.com/seanpowell