Question: Is it ever OK to send eMail content as a file attachment in a PDF? I get tired of having spam filters block my newsletter as spam. Plus, I send out special reports to new subscribers and those are too long to put into a regular message.
Answer: Don't do it. Attaching any file to a bulk eMail message is much more likely to get your message blocked because it is a potential virus threat.
To protect your newsletter from spam filters, you'd be better off in the long run reviewing both the content and the templates, both text and HTML, to make sure nothing that unduly triggers a filter.
Besides, you don't want to put an extra barrier between your content and your readers.
Those who scan eMail in a preview pane might neither see nor be able to open the link to get to the PDF and others never download attachments.
On the other hand, when you need to distribute special reports, White Papers, premium content or rich media that would consume a lot of bandwidth to download via eMail, you should house that material at your website.
This protects it from anti-spam programs that could filter it for potential content or virus threats and also gives you another chance to sell your readers or visitors on the benefits of the information they requested.
If the content is an incentive for subscribing to your eMail programme, just drop the link into the eMail confirmation and promote it with enticing copy that will send the reader racing to your site to download it.
Question: If most newer or upgraded eMail clients block images by default, do ALT tags really help?
Answer: Yes, they do, and they're more important than ever, now that major desktop eMail clients such as Outlook and web clients like Yahoo! Mail block images unless recipients specifically request to view them.
An ALT tag is HTML coded to describe its accompanying image. It's what you see instead of an image when you block images in eMail. Here's why you need to optimise your use of ALT tags in your eMail messages:
Not having ALT tags associated with images is a spam signature. It can raise your spam score, trigger a filter and contribute to your eMail being blocked or routed to the junk folder.
ALT tags can give recipients, who block images, more reason either to click on the image or to show the image in their eMail client. They're especially important if you don't use a lot of text in your creative content.
This means you have to spend almost as much time creating a useful and descriptive ALT tag as you do on the rest of the eMail copy. A tag that says merely "click here" doesn't give the reader any incentive to do so.
A good ALT tag has two to ten short words that either describe the image or specify the action you want the recipient to take.
Use them on every image that helps your reader know instantly who you are and why they should pay attention to you, such as your logo and action items including unsubscribe, forward to friends and contact information.
Here are some real-world examples: "Save 75% on winter coats;" "Click for 50% off peak rates," "Forward this newsletter to friends."
Question: If FREE is such a bad word to use in an eMail subject line or in the message, why do I get so many eMails in my own inbox that say "free shipping?" Shouldn't they all go to my junk folder?
Answer: It usually takes more than a moderate use of the word "free" in a message subject line or content to trigger a spam filter or block.
A few years ago, however, when content scoring was less sophisticated, many ISPs and corporate eMail servers blocked unwanted eMail that contained even one word associated with spam like "free." So, any eMail message, even personal eMail or messages coming from trusted sources, was filtered to the junk folder or banned outright.
Today, content-scoring programs such as SpamAssassin look at multiple factors that make up a possible spam or fraudulent message and assign points each time a factor matches one of its filters.
If the total point value exceeds the ISP or eMail server's allowed limit, the message will get blocked or filtered as spam.
One use of "free" usually isn't enough to trigger a block or filter. However, if you have enough other problems, such as broken HTML coding, and if you use the word many times or in all capital letters, the fraction of a point you get penalised using it could put you over the limit.
Is it OK to use the same subject line?
Question: We use the same subject line for each issue of our bi-monthly newsletter. Do you have any statistics to show whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage for our "read" percentage?
Answer: There aren't any reliable statistics that show whether a subject line that never varies will draw better or worse than one which changes to reflect the new content in each issue. You can test this on your own audience, however, using a standard A/B split test.
Divide your database in two. eMail the newsletter with the standard subject line to one segment, then create a unique subject line for the other segment.
Do this for at least three publishing cycles and always send the same subject-line configuration to the same segment of your database.
Compare the results: a difference of more than 5 to 10% in your open statistics is probably significant enough to drive your decision.
Why Go Unique? When you repeat the subject line over and over, you don't give readers a compelling reason to open the eMail. We believe the Best Practice is to create a unique and compelling subject line for each issue.
You can create a subject line that's both instantly familiar AND unique each time by incorporating your newsletter name in either the sender line (the "from" line) or by putting it first in the subject line.
We do this with our monthly eNewsletter Down2Earth by setting it off in the subject line and then summing up the key content in two to three words (any more than that and the inbox view could cut it off).
Question: Besides personalising with the recipient's name, what else can we do to make our eMails stand out in the inbox? We are worried about getting lost in all the discounts and free shipping messages from other companies.
Answer: These three strategies will make your eMail more eye-catching in the inbox:
You might be thinking about subject lines, but first make sure your sender ("from") line lists your company, brand or newsletter name. That will catch your reader's eye.
Our research shows the sender line is the No. 1 factor that readers use to decide whether to open or delete an eMail. An eMail address instead of a name, or a department or employee's name doesn't deliver the same information.
Regarding the subject line: If you can't put your company or brand name in the sender line, list it first in the subject line.
Announce the offer in the subject line. Don't be coy and hint at what's inside ("Save 10% this week only" instead of "Open to find your special savings").
Make sure the offer's key elements appear in the first 50 or 60 characters. That's all many eMail clients will show in the inbox. Don't wait until the end to deliver the hook.