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Friday, December 14, 2012

Subscribers are like Volcanoes

Subscribers come in all shapes and sizes, however, its not how they look and weigh that is important; but how they behave and interact (with you, the marketer). And it is in this respect that subscribers are very much like volcanoes.

Like volcanoes, subscribers can also be classified as: Erupting, Active, Dormant, and Extinct.

Erupting volcanoes burst with activity and are vital for life and earth’s ecology. Similarly, such subscribers are very important for the success of your email marketing campaigns. They engage, convert and respond to you with least effort.

Active volcanoes have great potential to erupt. Similarly, subscribers who seem calm but have been full of activity in the recent past can easily be re-ignited with the right communication and targeted content.

Dormant volcanoes are volcanoes that used to be active but haven’t shown any signs of activity in the recent past. Such subscribers are like a Question Mark, your efforts should be focused at trying not to lose them. With careful communication and re-engagement strategies you should be able to win some back.

Extinct volcanoes have no history of eruption in considerable past and are not expected to erupt in comparable time scale of future. Subscribers that fall under this category, unfortunately only add cosmetic value to your database (Size!). They are cost heads that hardly provide any return and worse; they can even affect your sender reputation and deliverability.

Identifying such segments is the first step towards defining your communication strategy for your subscribers. By classifying subscribers into appropriate buckets you’ll be able to channel your efforts to:

- Ensure Erupting subscribers stay Erupting
- Push Active subscribers to move to the Erupting state
- Convert the Dormant subscribers to become Active and consequently Erupting
- With careful and infrequent communication identify how many Extinct might still be Dormant.

On paper this approach looks simple and elegant, but how do we ensure that at a given time of day we have the most updated information on these segments? In other words, your subscribers will keep jumping from one category to another, how do we ensure that every jump is recorded and tagged in real time?

Well, we have a super awesome magic potion just for this very purpose, get in touch and one of our wizards will fix this up for you in no time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Give Customers the Power of Choice

Nothing is permanent except change.
Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)          
People change and so do their interests, habits, hobbies etc. Hence, it’s safe to assume that your email subscribers will change. The question is whether you can adapt to this change. Acknowledging this change doesn’t require you to revamp your email strategy every time your subscribers profile changes, instead it requires your email program to be flexible enough to let them choose what is right for them.

Research shows that subscribers (customers) will choose to maintain a deeper and long lasting relationship with you, when they are given the power of choice.

Furthermore, enabling subscribers to make choices makes them feel that they are in control and that they have the ability to dictate what and when they wish to hear from you. This increases the likelihood that they’ll look forward to your email messages and increases the chances that they’ll respond. This is the power of preferences.

What are Preferences?
Preferences are what that differentiates your subscribers. These are information about your subscribers that allow you to tailor your communication to suit their needs. For example, some might eagerly look forward to a daily promotional mailer, where as other might find these annoying. Similarly, you may have various product or service to offer and your subscribers will prefer some over others.

What is an Email Preference Center?
An Email Preference Center allows your recipients to easily change their subscription details. This might include content type, frequency, interests in various offerings, ability to opt down or opt out etc.

Hidden Potential?
Preference Center gives you a means to know more about your subscribers. In addition to the basic information that is captured at the time of sign up, your preference center enables you to collect important information that will help improve and nurture your relationship with your subscribers.
Furthermore, marketers who use preference centers are more successful at retaining un-subscribers than the ones who don’t…
Get in touch to obtain your copy of the complete whitepaper on Email Preference Center or speak to one of our consultants today to see how you can improve your email marketing programs with the power of Preference Center.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A new Indian market price discovery website

A price discovery site on the internet allows the shoppers to see prices in the market for the various products  with their details. It is one place to see the products in detail and a comprehensive specifications of the product with images and videos.

In US and UK, there are several popular sites, where shoppers will go and do a product research and the pricing comparison on different shopping sites.

As Indian Internet commerce is booming, there are some portals that offer market price information of the products.  The maturity of the portals have to evolve to the standards of US and UK portals.

One such promising portal is

It is just less than a month old and there are already more than 1000 products in listing.  The products are listed by categories and sub categories that can be navigated easily.

Each of the product has very detailed information with images and videos that you don't find on other sites.

Pretty cool sites for shoppers to visit before they can make their purchase decisions.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guide to a Better HTML Email Design - Images in HTML

You can use as many images in an email message as you wish – the right number depends on the purpose, type and focus of the email. For instance, e-commerce emails often have more images than promotional emails.

Consider using graphic images and buttons to draw a reader’s attention. These images can convey concepts in combination with your copy. Make sure your call-to-action is not only supported by an image but also by text. This way, if the images are turned off, the call-to-action is still clear.

Images for emails should be hosted on a Website and not embedded within the email to ensure proper rendering and to minimize the email’s file size.

Make sure that the alt tags are properly described in text. If the images are suppressed, the recipients still get to see the description in text.

Important note:

Define the size and parameters (horizontal and vertical height in pixels) of each graphic in the tags.

For example:


Monday, July 2, 2012

Email Marketing Best Practices: Use of Style Sheets in Email Newsletter

Many Web designers use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to simplify the coding process and ensure a consistent style throughout a Website. Use of CSS in HTML emails can be problematic, however, as many email clients will not render style sheets correctly.

Here is a handy reference on whether an email client renders certain types of style sheets correctly.

CSS and Rendering in email Clients

Avoid using CSS if possible; but if you must use them, choose the embedded styles also known as ‘inline’. Embed the style within the two container tags and not within the header because some email clients will truncate or strip out the header.

So, add the style within the body tags, like this:

Main Text


Friday, June 29, 2012

Email Marketing Best Practices: Use of Buttons, Charts & Other Supporting Images in Email Newsletter

Buttons, charts, and other supporting images should use the colors of your design elements to pull the reader’s eye to the images. Make sure the text color used on your images stands out and is readable. Most importantly, make sure the recipient understands the action with the corresponding text or icons in the Buttons. 

See the examples below:  

Shop Now button

Buy Now button

Free Shipping button    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Digital marketing is built on the core principles of traditional marketing

Kenscio Digital Marketing Pvt Ltd is among India's early pioneers and a leading provider of Digital Direct Marketing solutions and services. It is among the few players to effectively plan, develop, manage and execute digital one to one communication campaigns for a large number of reputed companies in India.

Mr. Manjunatha Kutarahalli is the Co-Founder and CEO of Kenscio. He has over 28 years of experience in technology and product management. He has vast experience in large-scale operations, building competencies in niche technology areas, turnaround and high growth companies that develop leading-edge applications for diverse industry channels and client needs.

In 2009, Mr. Manjunatha co-founded Kenscio Digital Marketing, a digital direct marketing company, catering services to world's largest players and managed to get 50 clients in its very first year. He did his M.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Madras and then one-year senior management programme from IIM Kolkata. He is an electronic gadgets freak and enjoys writing blogs.

Mr. Manjunatha spoke to The Hindu Opportunities on careers in digital marketing field.

What propelled the digital marketing boom in India?

India's Internet population is growing at an exponential rate propelled by factors like de-regulation in the telecom sector, increased use of social networking sites, adoption of e-commerce, and daily deals portals trading goods and services in economical way, etc. So, to tap the growing Internet audience, marketers are now exploring opportunities to connect to them through digital mediums like the Internet, search engines, email, social, mobile, video etc.

Who constitute the typical audience of a digital marketing strategy?

The primary audience is from metros and tier 1 cities who are tech-savvy and want the convenience and comfort of shopping online from their offices or homes. There is a considerable increase in audience from tier 2 and 3 cities. Age group from 20 to 45 years is the most active audience, and they are also aiding their parents who are above 50s. Male shoppers are still the largest audience for online marketers, while women centric portals continue to expand.

How is a career in digital marketing different from a career in traditional marketing?

Digital marketing career covers the basics of traditional marketing and marketing in a new internet environment. A career in digital marketing would cover internet marketing paradigm, web analytics and intelligence – a quantitative way to interpret data and create market intelligence for decision makers, market research to include internet mediums, digital marketing issues, consumer behaviour and internet laws.

What are the unique roles available in digital marketing field? What are the skills required to assume those roles?

Digital media provides a variety of career roles. Content Marketing, SEO, SEM, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Blog and Article Marketing, Reputation Management, Web Design, Video Marketing, Social Media Marketing and Media Planning are some specialised areas.

Each of these roles requires unique skill sets; sometime these are pure technical roles. For instance, a SEO marketing professional has to know how to optimise the website for better organic ranking in various search engines for key words consumers may be querying. An email-marketing specialist should possess email-marketing skills and be aware of relevant laws governing email-marketing communication. He should have an insight to consumer behaviour and analytics, and marketing spends and returns.

Should every aspirant of a career in digital marketing possess both technology and marketing skills?

Understanding of the Internet technology is a must for a successful career in digital marketing along with the core traditional marketing skills. An understanding of the Internet consumer behaviour, web analytics, consumer engagement with different digital channels, applicable rules and regulations governing each digital channels and for protecting consumers, are very important for a digital marketer.

Can professionals from traditional marketing upgrade to digital marketing? What does the transition involve?

Yes, digital marketing techniques and expertise is built on the core principles of traditional marketing. For those who have a basic degree in computers, transition is very easy. For those who don't have a basic degree in computers it would be a little difficult. Also, there are several certification, diploma and postgraduate courses on digital marketing from several institutes, industry, organisations and universities.

What does it take to be at the top in this field?

The success for any marketing function is to assist the business. Marketing spend is directly related to sales. As digital marketing is more measurable, the performance of digital marketing professional is easily assessed. So he has to master the marketing medium and show results. He has to experiment with different digital marketing mediums, and find where the customers are most engaged and which medium provides the best returns on the investment both for acquisition of new customers or influencing existing customers to buy more.

What are the challenges professionals in digital marketing face?

There are two kinds of challenges. Technical challenges include how each digital channel works, and the corresponding expertise required in those, implementation and day to day execution. Marketing challenge is to understand the consumer behaviour and assimilating marketing analytics and ROI from different mediums.

How is the future for digital marketing professionals?

The future for digital marketing professionals is bright. The country's Internet population is predicted to reach 25% of the population, and e-commerce industry to reach 100 crores in revenues by 2015. There is a big need of skilled manpower in this industry. So, traditional marketers should acquire digital marketing skills and new marketing professionals can take up digital marketing courses and pursue a bright career here.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why a Fully Managed Email Service Provider (ESP) work best for your email marketing efforts?

Why Email Marketing?
Email is consistently rated as the world’s most popular and most widely used application on the internet and is now by far the leading means of business communication. It is second only to search in online marketing budgets with 97% of consumers and 94% of marketers using, piloting or planning email marketing programmes with 88% of people anticipating the effectiveness of email to increase in the next 3 years. In short, promoting your organization and its services via email is one of the most powerful, flexible and cost-efficient means of direct marketing and therefore it’s imperative that when choosing an Email Service Provider (ESP) that you select the right one who will match your needs perfectly.

What are the Different Types of ESP’s?
If you’re new to email marketing then embarking on your research can seem extremely daunting as initially there appears to be lots of organizations to choose from. One of the fundamental decisions you need to make is whether to outsource your email marketing or keep it in-house, and making this decision could have far-reaching consequences. There are a number of ESP’s on the market who provide a wide range of products, services and functionalities, so it’s imperative to understand the different types of ESP’s and their different areas of focus. To make things easier for you, we have analyzed the market and segmented it into four key categories as the following diagram shows:

Whilst each option has its merits, for the majority of organizations, an outsourced solution – whether a fully managed or ASP (Application Service Provider) solution – can be the most sensible option. ASP solutions are always up to date concerning any email marketing legalities and you automatically benefit from any system upgrades and new versions. Outsourcing will allow you to concentrate on your marketing strategy, letting your ESP take away some of the workload from you.

Solutions and Services Offered by ESP’s
Now you have seen a snapshot of the four different segments of the email market (Managed, ASP, Software License and In-House as seen in picture) you are now in a better position to take a look at the different solutions and services that each sector and ESP offer. These vary considerably from supplier to supplier so as always you need to make a hotlist of the most important services and solutions you are looking for. To point you in the right direction, take a look at the following guidelines, taking note of the solutions and services mentioned below which you feel are relevant to your organization:

  • Types of solution offered: Look at whether the ESP offers one product or a range of services such as end-to-end services, a technology, media campaigns, lead generation campaigns and market research.
  • Types of services offered: What types of services does the ESP offer. These can vary massively and can include some of the following: List provision; data management; data cleansing; best practice consultancy; broadcast, personalization and segmentation; real-time reporting; full campaign management; creative design and copywriting services; dynamic content solutions; hosting services; event triggered messaging and sequence messaging; integration with web analytics; if multicountry/ language campaigns can ESP support this – and so on!!
  • Email Deliverability: Does the ESP have an ongoing commitment to deliverability? Are they able to set up email platform on your own domain? Are they able to provide a dedicated IPs?  Are their email  infrastructure compliant with ISP's authentication requirements?  Are their platform can receive spam or complaint feedback loops from ISPs? How do they ensure that they don’t appear on blacklists and do they have a relationship with all the major ISP’s for white listing? Do they have a dedicated deliverability team?
  • Product Features: What features are important to you? E.g. rich media content capability, videomail, audio, integration, multi-channel capabilities, split testing, digital signatures to avoid phishing emails, management structure within the system, email receipts on online transactions etc. Build a list of all ESP’s who have these features as part of their solutions to aid your decision-making process.
  • Product Flexibility: Can the ESP be your partner today and in the future providing you with advice on market trends and new product capabilities?
  • Functionality: How comprehensive is the ESP’s functionality for planning, designing, executing and measuring email campaigns, compliance functionality.
  • Technology Platform: How easy to use is the technology? Can someone with no HTML training or know-how use the technology easily?
  • Email Data Security: Has your ESP taken all measures to secure your customer's email data? Is the technology infrastructure of your ESP has been hosted in a tier 4 data center? and policies are put in place for data security? and being audited by third parties? Is your ESP certified for Data security like DMA's Data Seal?
  • Reporting Capabilities: Does the ESP provide you with reports in your desired format allowing you to measure the success of the campaign? Whether you’re opting for an ASP or in-house solution you should be able to get comprehensive reports including open rates, click rates and bounces as well as advanced functionalities such as complex real time reports and the ability to link revenues generated from a specific campaign to individual email addresses etc.
  • Integration with Other Applications: Does the ESP easily integrate with your other applications like Web Analytics, CRM, E-Commerce, ERP and databases?
  • Training: Will the ESP provide you with full training and support on their product or service which you will be adopting? Does the ESP has a dedicated trainer? Can they offer onsite comprehensive training on the platform and best practices?

What Now?
Now you have had the chance to do some research into the different types of ESP’s on the market and the solutions and services they offer, you are now in the position where you can make an informed selection.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Best Practices on Constructing an Email Newsletter and Improving its Performance

Many companies would like to send their subscribers a periodic email newsletter. The primary objective is to get their subscribers to read what the company has to say and keep the subscribers either informed about or take action.  How to keep the subscribers get hooked to the newsletter and make them act?

Here are some great ideas to improve your email newsletters for better performance.  

Subject line: Use concise subject lines, emphasizing the recipient’s benefit and prompt him/her to take action. Personalization and Individualization with Title, First Name (or Last Name), City, Login Id or Email Id will also greatly benefit.

Editorial for your readers: According to a recent survey, subscribers are engaged more by newsletters with an editorial, than a newsletter without a proper introduction. Another positive effect of the editorial is that you can highlight particular elements of your newsletter to your audience

Directory for a better orientation: If your newsletter consists of several articles, then a link directory is essential. This way your recipients can reach the article they are most interested in reading with one simple click. But make sure you don’t over burden them with too many articles.

Add to address book: Benefit from the positive effects an attractive image can bring you by ensuring that all images and illustrations are directly shown to your subscribers by simply asking your readers to add your email address to their address books. ISPs provides greater deliverability of your newsletter by directly putting them in the inbox of the recipient bypassing spam filters and enable images in the newsletter automatically.

Opportunity to subscribe: If a person receives a forwarded newsletter he/she should immediately have the opportunity to subscribe, so make sure you offer the possibility to subscribe after the obligatory unsubscribe link.

Show the recipient’s email address: State the recipient’s email address to raise the credibility of your email and facilitate readers who receive your newsletter several times to subscribe with the right email address.

Link to profile data: Your recipients should have the chance to update their profile. That way you are you able avoid unnecessary unsubscriptions.

Link to View Online link: Provide a view online link for subscribers whose email servers blocked the images, so that they can visit the landing page directly through their browser.

Engage with your audience: get people encouraged to share travel reviews/ advices / tips / pictures. Offer free reward points for people who help friends and family sign up for our newsletter.

Enable Social Media links: get your subscribers to interact with your social media accounts and share it with their networks.

Enable Forward to a Friend link: get your subscribers to share the email newsletter with their friends and also to invite them to join the newsletter subscription.

Take advantage of every single touch point: Think about every way you can increase subscribers, taking advantage of every contact you have with your customers and prospects. Have a subscription box on every page of your website; at events or in-store promotions ask if the interested person would like to receive the newsletter and preferably obtain permission there and then; add a footer to all staff emails; promote the benefits of signing up by enhancing the subscription value with customer testimonials and offering incentives for sign.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Email Marketing: Have you Found a Crystal Ball Yet?

If you are an email marketer you might have started to believe in destiny. With ISPs headstrong to tighten their policies for bulk senders, rubbing the good ol crystal ball and hoping for the best might seem like a good option. We don’t know much about crystal balls but can sure share some good practices that can help you control the destiny of your email communication.

Gmail has listed a set of guidelines and best practices for Email Marketers, when followed should yield favorable results.

Guidelines for Email Marketers

“The way Gmail classifies spam depends heavily on reports from our users. Gmail users can mark and unmark any message as spam, at any time. To increase the inbox delivery rate of your messages, make sure that all recipients on your distribution lists actually want to receive the mail.” – GMAIL

Presuming you do everything by the book i.e. ensure users opt-in to receive your messages, honor un-subscription, follow the best practices for HTML design, monitor bounces, and ensure your subscribers engage with you and so on; you should not need a crystal ball (or Aladdin’s lamp for that matter). That being said, you can request your faithful subscribers to white-list you!

Being white-listed by subscribers ensures:

1. Your mails almost always lands in their in-boxes.

2. Your reputation with ISPs is significantly improved, so consequently your deliverability improves even for the subscribers who have not white-listed you.

We have listed a set of step by step instructions that you can email to your subscribers and request them to white-list you:

White-Listing Instructions

To ensure the success of this exercise you may consider offering incentives!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Email Marketing Best Practices: Use of Colours in HTML Emails

In everything from images to fonts, colors play an important role in the email design process but can also create problems. For example, don’t choose a font color such as a muted gray on a gray background that makes your headlines and calls-to-action difficult to read. And don’t run the risk of hiding valuable information in your emails by blending the content into the background. Men and women react differently to colors, but several polls on color preferences by gender and age yield interesting results:  

Target AudienceFavorite ColorsLeast Favorite Colors
FemalesBlue, Purple, Green (all "cool" colors)Orange, Brown, Gray ("warm" and "neutral" colors)
MalesBlue, Green, Black (two "cool" and one "neutral" color)Brown, Orange, Purple ("neutral", "warm" and "mixed" colors)
All GendersPreferences for Green decrease with age; Preferences for purple increase with ageDislike of Orange increases with age
For more information on color preferences and perceptions, check out these resources:  

For Background Color, Use a white or very light-colored background with a dark to medium font color to make it easy for recipients to read your email message. Also, if you use background colors in sidebar boxes contain them within tables and avoid using a body background color, because Web-based clients remove the body tag and typically place its attributes within a table. Email clients such as Microsoft Outlook might retain the specified background color when replying to or forwarding the email, but other clients use their colors, making message text difficult to read in some instances.    

Monday, June 4, 2012

Email Marketing: How to Win back non responders?

Most of the marketers take things for granted that after having got the customer. They assume that their customers are engaged with their portal and brand. And their customers come back whenever they wish.  A lot of things can happen: Customers are increasingly having multiple brands offering them differentiation in the product range, servicing, speed of delivery, better customer support etc.  How does one know that their customers are loyal and engaged? How soon one would get to know that their customers have not engaged with them?

It is time for Marketers to get into depth of finding their customers behaviour.  Having understood the non engaged customer base, Marketers can now look into the win back strategies to getting their customers once again buying from them.

Here are some of the reasons, why your customers might have forgotten you!

The One-Way Conversation

Building active, long-term relationships with your customers should  be one of the prime objective of email marketers. At the core of doing email marketing well is remembering that building a relationship requires conversation.

 So what do marketers do when email recipients aren’t interested in conversing? We found that, as a whole,  marketers showed a lack of conversational skills in dealing width the apparently uninterested subscriber. The idea of email as a dialogue is missing. By pushing out email without regard for consumer interests or preferences, marketers are putting their email reputation at risk. A poor sender reputation, in turn, creates deliverability problems for their entire email program. By moving from a “one-way conversation” to a true dialogue, marketers can re-engage inactive recipients.

Preference Based Subscription

We recommend that email marketers ask subscribers about their preferences for email frequency and email subject matter when they subscribe or make their initial purchase.

Once preferences are known, they should be honored. While this best practice may not be realistic for all businesses, marketers should, at a minimum, make sure that expectations for mailing frequency are appropriately set.

Where customers are not offered the opportunity to express their frequency preferences, they should be offered the option of reduced frequency once a pattern of inactivity is seen.

Message Frequency

While there are some circumstances where an increase in message frequency is appropriate (e.g. before a holiday, to match recent subscriber activity or in response to a purchase), it doesn’t make sense to consistently increase message frequency on a monthly basis to inactive subscribers. If a subscriber does not respond when receiving an email message every day, they are not likely to respond when receiving more than one—and in either case, they are likely to be extremely annoyed. That increases the risk that the subscriber will click the spam button, contributing to deliverability problems for your company’s entire mailing list.
To maintain optimal frequency, monitor subscriber response—opens, click-throughs and conversions – over time. Note the points at which each metric shows a drop-off in response, and put business rules in place to manage your mailing strategy accordingly. For example, you could specify that you will only mail once a month to any subscriber who has no opens, clicks, or response for six continuous months. A re-permissioning policy (discussed below, page 4) should be a part of the overall email marketing strategy.
Deliverability at Risk

The longer marketers continue to mail to large numbers of inactive subscribers, the greater the chances that their entire program will suffer as the result of reputation problems. Lack of response indicates that a subscriber is not interested in the messages. Eventually that lack of interest will lead to spam complaints by subscribers who have reached their saturation point. Spam complaints directly and negatively affect a marketer’s sending reputation, adversely affecting deliverability  to all subscribers.

This risk is compounded when companies fail to include clear permissioning for promotional emails during the initial checkout (sign-up) process. Without clear permissioning, “subscribers” never really subscribed, and they have no expectation of what will arrive in their inboxes. These recipients are naturally less engaged and more likely to complain due to lack of disclosure.

In addition, some ISPs are increasingly paying attention to whether or not their users respond to commercial mail. If a marketer is mailing at a high frequency and receives a disproportionately low response or no response at all over a consistent period of time, their sender reputation could be negatively impacted. This could lead to having all of the company’s email end up in the spam folder or, worse, having it blocked outright.

Missed Opportunities

Marketers are missing the opportunity to increase sales by re-engaging subscribers in the conversation. In addition, they may be interfering with their ability to optimize email content for their entire email list. This occurs because totally uninterested recipients dilute email response patterns, skewing email metrics and making optimization hard to achieve.


Don’t experiment—ask! Implement a strategy to get subscribers to renew their permission with your email program, ideally in combination with a preference center, to find out what subscribers want to receive, if anything, and when. Testing does have a place in refining your approach to re-permissioning and finding out what approaches are most effective in generating expressions of continued and future interest.


Include win-back messages in your strategy for re-engaging non-responsive subscribers. Use a methodical analytic approach to determining what offers and creative are most effective, as well as identifying the most effective message timing. Consider basing your offer on the subscriber’s previous purchase. The strategy should specify how many win-back messages will be sent, at what intervals, and at what point in the sequence you will send a re-permissioning message.

Former purchasers represent “low hanging fruit” in email marketing, as it is always less costly to reach out to former customers than it is to acquire new ones. By focusing on developing and maintaining a dialogue with subscribers—a dialogue in which the subscriber sets the terms—email marketers can re-engage subscribers who have been nonresponsive, and reap the benefits of increased sales.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Email Marketing - Using Right Fonts, and Colour in an HTML Newsletter

You might be wondering what is the right font, font sizes and colors to be used in a HTML newsletter?

In general, only universally-supported fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman should be used in email messages. Arial is a font that was specifically designed for ons-creen readability. Studies indicate that Web users prefer Arial, Verdana and Tahoma to others when viewing Web pages and email.

If you include fonts that are not loaded on your recipients’ machines, their email clients will substitute different fonts, which can affect your design. When using a special font (such as the unique font for a company logo), place it within an image.

Fonts can be specified in pixels, points or HTML font size value. Use a point size no smaller than 10 pixels, 10 point, or size “2”.

Beware of using white as a font color. While it is tempting to use a dark background and white font to make the text stand out, many spam filters identify the use of white (#FFFFFF) in a font tag as a possible spam trigger. Spammers often use a white font on white backgrounds to hide information from recipients. Use your color wheel to find contrasting colors that can accentuate your message and readability.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Email Marketing Services - Inbox Delivery Optimization Techniques - Dos and Donts

There is a misconception with marketers and providers that email marketing software is a bulk mailing solution. When the emails are blasted out of a bulk mailer, they are assured that it will reach the recipient’s inboxes.

Is that so simple?

Does your email marketing software or service provider guarantee email delivery optimization?

Certainly most do not!

There is a misconception with marketers and providers that email marketing software is a bulk mailing solution. When the emails are blasted out of a bulk mailer, they are assured that it will reach the recipient’s inboxes. Is that so simple?

Let us look at some of the email deliverability myths that most marketers seem to have.

  1. We don’t spam!
  2. We send emails only to opt-in lists
  3. Someone has blacklisted us for no reason
  4. ISPs (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL) treat us badly
  5. If our emails reach recipient’s junk folders, we will request recipient to add us to safe lists

We don’t send Spam!

The marketers first need understand the definition of Spam! It is not just the Viagra or the porn stuff! Any message that doesn’t suit the need of the customer is spam, whether it is the message subject line, content, broken or dodgy HTML code, relevance, frequency of the emails, etc. Moreover, messages that do not comply with CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) act may be classified as SPAM by receiving ISPs.

Marketers have to stop sending messages that are boring, mundane and uninteresting. Marketers need to check if their messages are CAN-SPAM compliant. Marketers have to monitor their campaigns reports like opens, clicks, spam complaints, and abuses from their customers and ISPs. If they don’t, they may be surprised to see sometime later, their messages are being categorized as SPAM and lying in junk folders or being blocked by ISPs.

We send emails only to opt-in lists

Sending email campaigns to opt-in lists is a good practice, because you are assured of good deliverability. But have you given control to your opt-in customers, the power to opt-out or unsubscribe in each campaign? If you haven’t, start doing it now. Even if you have given the power to opt-out or unsubscribe, are you acting promptly within a reasonable time (with one week) to stop sending further email campaigns? Have you opted them again, after a reasonable amount of time through another promotional campaign? Are you acting on bounces and taking action to get your list cleaned out of bounced email addresses? Are you educating your opt-in subscribers, to opt-out instead of complaining to ISPs about abuses from you? Are you capturing the opt-in subscriber preferences to send relevant campaigns that suit their interests and the frequency of email campaigns in a given period?

The success of keeping your list clean and emails reaching out to your opt-in customers lies in understanding the needs of the opt-in subscribers, measuring the success of each email campaign and working to address the issues above. If you don’t, even your opt-in customers will soon be opting out or complaining you to ISPs on email campaigns as SPAMs.

Someone has blacklisted us for no reason

Emails Marketers have to understand that email communication is being heavily abused by spammers around the world. For every genuine email sent, there are 90 others which are spam. Most of the email service providers and companies are putting tough measures to block spam emails reaching their infrastructure or for processing and storing Spam emails and damaging their employee productivity. There are service providers who constantly scout for spammers, monitor their activities on the web and maintain a list of their IP addresses and domains (blacklists). They provide various companies the blacklisted IPs and domain names, to block the email senders from those IPs and Domains. The black list service providers employ various complex and advance techniques to monitor increased email sending, patterns, and their web crawlers checking various things on their servers, and etc. to collect lot of statistics to classify them into the blacklists.

Hence Marketers need to understand the challenges if they are using their own bulk mailing solutions and constantly monitor if their IPs or Domains are blacklisted by any service providers. They should take immediate action, if needed with those service providers and get their IPs an Domains white listed.

ISPs (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL) treat us badly

Most of the opt-in customers have their email addresses on the major 4 ISPs Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Hence Marketers will be sending a bulk of their emails to these 4 ISPs. They have to ensure that their emails are getting delivered to recipient’s inboxes on these ISPs. Why should these ISPs block the marketer’s emails? They have several reasons and some of them have been stated earlier. Most of the ISPs provide free email infrastructure to their customers and hence they need to optimize their email infrastructure. They have to protect their recipient’s privacies and their reputation as the best ISP in the world.

The emails in those ISPs may also bounce for various reasons like account deletion, inbox full, etc. The sender email server or the email service provider has to remove these bounced addresses from the next mailing; else the ISPs may treat you as a spammer and deny service.

Major ISPs such as Google, AOL and MSN/Hotmail provide their users to complain on the sender of the emails or domains. The ISPs also have strong authentication and dynamic filtering mechanisms that your email software and service provider have to deal with.

If your email marketing software or email service provider doesn’t implement the authentication response mechanisms, adjusting to the filtering policies of the ISPs and dealing with the abuse complaints, there is no reason to complain against their unfair treatment!

If our emails reach recipient’s junk folders, we will request recipient to add us to safe lists

This is a myth that marketers have! If they request the recipients to add the sender email address into the recipient’s safe list, then the messages will be reaching the inbox. While this may be true, it still doesn’t address the deliverability of the sender emails.

ISPs will deliver the email to the recipient’s inbox after their server has successfully received the email, passing through white listed sender IP reputation, authentication mechanisms, dynamic filters (which are changing every moment).

Then there are other questions that marketers need to understand.

  1. Does the marketer always use the same send email id for sending different promotions? Is there a need to use different email ids for different e-mail communications like newsletters, campaigns, promotions? What about from different brands or departments in the company?
  2. Do you see a recipient adding every marketer’s email ids into the safe list? What is the guarantee that you will not start sending irrelevant and innumerable email communications to the recipient?
  3. If you don’t have answers for most of these questions, then this trick will not work in most of the cases. The marketer is back to seeing his email moved to junk folders and soon deliverability takes a hit.

Email Marketing is a disciplined process and in order to get it right and realize the benefits, Marketers have to work with companies and agencies who really understand the science and art of email marketing.

If not, there will no differentiation between your marketing campaigns and the spammer’ campaigns.

Ultimately the recipient’s and the ISP’s are the better judges.

Hence it is very important to measure the success of each of your email marketing campaigns and fine tune your email marketing stategy not to blast, but use it to engage with your subscribers with relevant offers and deals.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is the worth of an email address?

What is the worth of an email address?

The value of an email address is Zero. Why? Read on.

Email marketers often speculate the value of an email address. You might hear compelling numbers backed by sober theories. Good email marketers spend time and money on acquiring an email address, where as not so good email marketers purchase email addresses from spammers at probably one fourth the cost (of genuinely acquiring an email address).

In addition there is revenue, conversions, ROI that email marketer’s measure against their email marketing efforts, all this should amount to something right?

Well it does, the value or the worth lies in the relationship and not the email address. You have a relationship with the person who owns that email address and not with the mere email address itself.
Why I’m highlighting this is because you can’t have a relationship with someone you do not know. So if you only have an email address your like a blindfolded chap in a dark room trying to have a conversation with an imaginary person. A real conversion requires engagement. Engagement requires you to know your subscribers, ask questions, find their opinions etc. Most importantly, engagement requires “two way conversation”, which cannot be initiated with just an email address.

An engaged subscriber is a valued subscriber. No engagement means zero value.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Email Marketing, Timing is everything!

Our friends in the Indian eCommerce space are Gung Ho about the current boom!  Never before have so many Indians – both in India and overseas filled up their shopping carts and proceeded to check out. Never have Call to Action buttons seen so much action.

Which brings us to one of the most important communication vehicles these propositions ride on..........Daily Mailers!

Digital direct marketing communication - your one on ones with potential buyers are not  as easy as ABC, but if you have been following our blog, you would’ve picked up the juiciest bits on email template best practices  and  set up a fantastic email template. You know the importance of deliverability and other success metrics and you are sure your recipients are definitely receiving your email campaigns….there’s just one more question you need to ask yourself…. are they reading them?

Some of the key considerations which email marketers must take into mind while creating a “read & respond”  campaign are:

  • Relevance:  making the content relevant to each recipient. If a recipient knows that when your brand arrives in their inbox, this email is definitely something they have expressed an interest in and want to read, they will act on that.
  • Segmentation: The best way to implement relevance is to effectively segment your database so you know what your customers are interested in and therefore what content will be the most relevant. You read a lot more on relevance on our blog soon!

You are now ready with that killer content, a solid Email Service Provider (ESP) behind you - btw choosing an ESP  can be quite a task , here’s hoping you’ve done it right , what next?

Ask Usain Bolt,  what the importance of timing is? No seriously, a great proposition, even with A/B split  tested subject lines and creatives  can turn horribly wrong if the timing is off . Common sense – nope .......experience !!  ( The school of hard knocks third semester )

A well timed campaign – other criteria remaining the same -  can work wonders on the open rates and further on the ROI of the campaign. Unfortunately, there is no formula or overall ‘ideal time slot’ which you can follow to achieve this elusive ‘golden hour’.  There are a number of factors that go in to your decision: what time is best to hit the send button? ( btw with a good ESP – it would be the Schedule button )

Timing – Day and hour depends on the answers to the following questions.

Who are your audience?

For a B2B audience, it doesn’t take an Einstein  to work out that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the optimum days. As we all know, Mondays are spent getting back in to the swing of work after the weekend and Friday sees offices winding down for the next weekend. Saturday and Sunday are redundant as offices are closed. Days before holidays are = Fridays and days after holidays are = Mondays irrespective of what days they fall on !

For B2C email marketing, timings are very different.  Very dependant on the demographic of your audience.  One can safely assume most prospects will mainly be checking their personal emails in the evenings, during lunchtimes and over the weekends. However it is best to test which brings us back to segmenting!  B2C sending can be a bit of a gamble without thorough testing of your specific target audience. Homework must be done and learnings interpreted. A great ESP will be able to deliver dynamic content with different propositions scheduled at different times of a day or even different days.

Is your campaign seasonal?

For the B2B sector, marketers must avoid sending their campaigns over school vacation season, long weekends  and of course  the many holidays that we have !

Again advice for the B2C sector is entirely opposite. If relevant, a seasonal approach can boost additional sales and therefore revenue. Most campaigns are timed to address seasonal offers!

So much for planned marketing communication…

However, there is another aspect to timing in direct digital communication.

Timing can never be as important as it is when the ‘Prospect ‘is on the verge of becoming a ‘Paying Customer’ ...many a sales person have rued their chances – having communicated a little later than they should have.

The optimum time for any recipient to receive your communication is when they have shown an interest in your brand or product. Using Automated mails  or  trigger campaigns, based on browsing behaviour or when they last clicked on or opened an email gives you a clear indication as to when to send the email and what content to include.

A typical scenario of such lost opportunities would be apparent in a colleague’s recent experience  on a  very popular  online store. As he described it  “ I was on my way to check out and proceed to pay when I saw this dangling banner in the right column : Sign up for our newsletter and  get 10% off. I paused, thought I could save this 10% by signing up and using the voucher code. So I smartly opened another browser, signed up and waited for the voucher. About an hour later, neither my inbox nor my  spam folder had  any sign of  an email from these guys . I gave up hope and eventually had lost all interest in buying that item at 10% higher than I could’ve”.

A simple Triggered email could have, rather, should have been used here  to enable interest being converted to action  at the point when the customer is most engaged.

Another cyclic practice is communication with non responders. Winning back non responders should be taken up as a part of your communication calendar and a definite cog in your wheel .

While still on timing, or should I say while there is time - it would be good to remind you to look for patterns in your open and click-through rates or other email metrics. Whether certain offers work better when sent at some time or another? Are there any influences that make your campaigns more successful, like salary days ( beginning of the month ) ? Are you responding to your customers at the optimum moment?

The only way for you to determine what works best for you is to, as always, test, test, test!

The “do not reply” Paradox in email communication

I like surveys, more than surveys I like to share my opinion.

The other day I came across an email asking me to fill in a questionnaire. As I read through the mail, I reached the footer that opened with “Please do not reply to this email”. This completely put me off.
Email marketers fight for a very competitive inbox space. Even with the most engaged email list; email marketer can hardly think of obtaining 100% subscribers attention all the time. In other words emails sent to even  engaged subscribers are often left unread.

When email marketing is referred to as Interactive digital marketing, It beats me why some email marketers would cut interactions with their subscribers with a do not reply message. If anything they should encourage people to reply. This is valuable feedback and the best part is; it comes for free!

Some people might counter this with arguments on scale of mails sent, lack of resources, etc. Email communication is not a one way mass communication. It is a direct digital communication that needs to be interactive in nature.  I don’t think there is any excuse valid enough for trying to ignore replies.

Incoming mails can be easily filtered and sorted by mail clients. Furthermore, ticketing systems can scan messages and even automatically respond to general queries or redirect people to a FAQ section. If it is a long reply and cannot be automatically responded to, may be it is worthwhile to have it read by a person! The interactivity could be made even simple by letting the subscribers answer to a set of choices, which makes the marketers job simple to find the trends of their subscribers.

A two way interaction / conversation ensures an on going dialogue and an on going dialogue ensures sustainable success of email marketing campaigns. 

Do not reply message and donotreply@ email addresses suggest you don’t really care about your subscribers and that your communication flows one way. Such marketers usually end up with unengaged subscribers, or worse subscribers put an end to their subscription.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Digital Media Marketing is Directly Measurable

Companies are increasingly turning to digital media marketing for marketing their brands as it is cost-effective and has maximum reach, since people spend a lot of time online. EFYTimes spoke exclusively to Manjunatha Kutarahalli, co-founder and CEO, Kenscio Digital Marketing Pvt Ltd about the scope and future of digital marketing.

What is the main difference between digital media marketing and social media marketing?

Digital media marketing is marketing using a broad set of digital media, which also includes social media. Digital Media marketing encompasses all digital media like websites, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), video advertising, viral marketing, e-mail marketing and social media marketing.

How much have businesses started considering the seriousness and importance of social/ digital media marketing?

Businesses have understood the consumer behaviour for a long time and are using those channels where consumers are spending time, whether at home, or out of home or the places they are in or the newspapers, magazine they read, etc. As Consumer behavior and time is being spent more and more online, businesses are soon realising this and using the digital mediums (website visits, searches, e-mail, social, etc.) to reach, influence and engage with them. While in the West most of the people are online, businesses are spending more of their marketing budgets online, Indian business trend will soon follow the footsteps of Western businesses as Indian consumers are going online.

How and when was Kenscio Digital Pvt Ltd rolled out? Why the name Kenscio?

Kenscio started its roots as Sprinklr India in mid of 2009 and got its present name as Kenscio in mid of 2010, when it became a full-fledged company focusing on marketing solutions and services using digital direct mediums. It was founded by enterprising hard core experienced global digital media experts from e-mail and social background.

Ken means an expert or a guide and Scio is for social and e-mails or the social graph of consumers on internet. Hence, Kenscio was formed to assist marketers in reaching out to the social graph of the customers through digital direct mediums of e-mail and social with the expert knowledge and solutions from Kenscio.

Everyone is online these days. How do you filter the right target audience? What is the most challenging task in your business?

People are getting online and spending much of the time online. Hence, businesses are trying to utilise the online medium in reaching out to them. Kenscio is focused on serving emerging high growth Internet based companies and large enterprises, which have successful digital marketing channels. The most challenging campaign for us is to get the marketers to send their campaigns to the right customer segments and measure the success by analytics beyond opens and clicks.

What is the importance of digital media marketing for SMBs? How can they leverage its benefits without spending too much?

Digital Marketing offers the most cost effective medium for SMBs, who don’t have big marketing budgets. Moreover, the digital media is directly measurable. From building a website, optimising it for Search engines, collecting the footprints of the visitors, communicating with the visitors, branding on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, YouTube and articles, case studies on blogs etc are very cost effective.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter allow companies to set up their own marketing pages. Do you see it as diluting the effects of the medium or is it viewed as an emerging trend for the industry?

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and YouTube have more than several hundred online audiences and people spend considerable time on these mediums. Hence, companies are setting up their marketing pages on these social networking sites to get the audience that are hooked to these networks and build brand engagement, recall and sales. Facebook commerce is already happening now and now companies may not need a website as they can do everything on the Facebook itself from building a microsite, getting visitors and selling stuff. This makes the SMBs to get to market quickly without spending too much.

Can you share your clients and popular campaigns that received overwhelming response?

All of our client campaigns are receiving better responses through our expert advises and better targeting. One campaign can perform better than the other campaign of the same client, as the offer is better or timelier. Hence, it is very difficult to classify in general. One of our clients, Rupeemail recently launched the first newsletter which received an overwhelming response, with a CTR (Click-through rate, a measure of clicks to opens as a percentage) in excess of 200 per cent which is phenomenal for any campaign.

Original article at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The importance of keeping your email marketing lists clean

Email marketers have quite something to look forward to this year, as some of their prayers will be answered.

If email marketing were the Garden of Eden, it would certainly have its share of snakes. There are dangers lurking at every corner. Spam traps, bounces, zombie addresses, costs, etc are some of the perils that top the list.

Particularly this is very important for a country like India where most of the marketers have either no permission based email lists or just single opt-in database lists.  This is going to create havoc to their bulk mail campaigns as the email ids are not verified before blasting mails.

Kenscio ListCleanr is a solution that has been under development at Kenscio labs, to tackle this very challenge. Kenscio identified that a great deal of email marketers in India, get caught up with fixing reputation & deliverability issues, dodging spam traps, and they put quite a good bit of their time and resources struggling to get past spam filters. All of this can hinder a marketer’s ability to concentrate on factors such as engagement, subscriber loyalty, ROI etc.

In a growing market such as India, it is important for email marketers to be able to scale up at the opportune time. However, it is equally important to ensure that they do not end up being classified as spammers by ISPs, and never see the light of an inbox. So rather than being just another SAAS; Kenscio ListCleanr is a catalyst for email marketers in India.

Kenscio ListCleanr leaves almost no room for guess work. Probably this is why our clients have been able to consistently scale up and save upto 40% of their email marketing cost, while they benefit from an impeccable sender reputation.

To learn what ListCleanr can do for you, visit

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

HTML Form based mailer Format

Most of the Marketers are inclined to send HTML Form based mailers for lead generation, as this would enable the recipients to enter the information directly into the email without going to a landing page. Following are the tips for a better HTML Form based mailer.

  1. Form tags needs to be defined for the section that has the form details/elements to be captured.
  2. Specify relevant names for the data capture elements.
  3. All the data validations should be done on the server side at the client's end.
  4. Specify the form Method as GET.
  5. Define appropriate action for the form. The action should ideally take them to the page which captures and validates data on the server side at the client's end.
  6. There should be no Javascript code present in the email html.

Once data is validated then appropriate action needs to be taken, the process should be as follows:

  • Data should be captured from the GET parameters.
  • Once the data is captured, validate the data.
  • If everything is fine, then it should take the user to a Thank You page hosted by the client.
  • Else, it should redirect to the same or similar form page which will be hosted by the client, where all the errors should be highlighted and data should be pre-populated if needed

Here is a sample HTML code snippet for a form based mailer.

Name :
Email :

Monday, May 21, 2012

Email Marketing - Using Forms in HTML Emails

We generally discourage the use of forms in email to prevent delivery or usability problems. However, at times you might still need to use a form in an email instead of directing readers to your Website. Consider these factors before you use a form in your next email message.

Those recipients of your email who use Hotmail or those who use Outlook will not be able to use the form because:

  • Hotmail displays the form but strips all values from your
    tag and removes the name values of all form elements, rendering the form useless.
  • Hotmail recipients can complete the form, but nothing will happen when they hit the submit button so they will not know it has not been received .
  • Outlook has limitations when viewing forms in the mail client. Outlook can not see data in a "form tag", when a form is passed via email and viewed in Outlook as outlook strips out form elements.

You can refer to these articles:

Some email clients do not support forms that use “POST” method, which allows form data to appear within the message body. Instead you will need to replace it with the “GET” method, which will write all form content to the query string of the page to which the form is posted.

For example:

Most email clients that provide a preview pane don’t allow you to tab between form elements. This means that when a recipient completes the first field in your form and clicks the TAB key, the focus is automatically shifted to another part of the software. This hinders usability and can confuse your recipient.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Email Marketing - Validate HTML Content for compliance to W3C standards and Avoid Using Scripts

The vast majority of HTML emails do not comply with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML standards. This can cause rendering and delivery issues, particularly at AOL, MSN and Hotmail. AOL, for example, has a that is an HTML validator, which scans incoming messages for HTML syntax and formatting errors. If it detects invalid HTML, it will reject the message.

If you use HTML in your messages, make sure your code is error-free and follows W3C HTML standards. Popular HTML-editing software such as Homesite or Macromedia Dreamweaver already offer effective validation tools and will highlight any errors as you create your message. For a complete reference specification of HTML formatting, visit the World Wide Web Consortium documentation pages. Also, you can use the HTML validator in your email application or a third-party validator such as W3C Markup Validation Service.

Also, avoid scripting. Scripting languages, which can be imbedded within HTML, are often used to add dynamic functionality to a Web page. However, security risks due to script vulnerabilities in email browsers have increased over the years. The result is most scripts, such as JavaScript and VBScript, get stripped out of messages. Some email systems reject messages outright if they detect scripting. For greatest compatibility, avoid using scripts in messages. Instead, drive your readers to your Website, where dynamic components are easily rendered.

Friday, May 18, 2012

24 Dos and 8 Don'ts for a better HTML based Email Newsletters

Ever wondered if you had a quick guide of Dos and Don'ts for an HTML based email newsletter. Here we have compiled one that serves as a ready reckoner.

HTML Coding Do’s
  1. Code HTML emails as a single Web page with the basic <HTML>, <HEAD>, <TITLE>, and <BODY> tags.
  2. Code emails by hand where possible, as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors typically add extra code that creates havoc with certain email clients. If you must use an editor, use Dreamweaver or Homesite, which do not add extra code to the design process.
  3. Use HTML tables for the design layout.
  4. Keep emails at a fixed width of between 500-620 pixels wide.
  5. Instead of defining percentage widths use fixed widths. While this is not optimal, because people can and do resize their email windows when reading, sometimes using a fixed width is the only way for a layout to display properly in multiple email software.
  6. Use only the ASCII character set. More advanced word-processing software often inserts odd characters, such as the trailing dot characters or smart quotes (curly instead of straight), which can hamper display or create delivery problems in some email software.
  7. If you use CSS, include inline styles. Do not link to an external style sheet nor use embedded styles, as this code is often stripped out by email clients, creating display problems.
  8. Make sure all tags have supporting closing tags. The most common HTML errors come from not having a closing </FONT> tag or having open <TD> or <TR> tags in the HTML. While your HTML might render properly in a browser, these errors can cause problems with many email clients.
  9. Use the HTML table attributes within the TABLE and TD tags.
  10. For example: to set the table border=0, valign=top, align=left (or center, if that is the design), cellpadding=0, cellspacing=0, and so on. This primarily helps older email readers to display the html email in a minimally-acceptable way.
  11. Put general font style information in the table TD or DIV or P tags closest to the content. This can mean repetitive style declarations in multiple TD cells or DIV’s or P tag. Put font style definitions into heading (e.g. H1, H2), P, or A tags only when necessary.
  12. Use DIVs sparingly to float small boxes of content and links to the right or left inside a table TD cell. Google Mail appears to ignore the CSS Float property but Yahoo! and Hotmail work fine. Outlook 2007 ignores floats.
  13. Sometimes it is better to code a more complex table layout than rely on the Float property. Since email is easy to clutter, ask that the design put the floated content in the narrow side column. Floats are the one part of an email design that might require the design be reworked.
  14. Animated GIF files are acceptable, but use them sparingly.
  15. Use of images maps is acceptable.
  16. If there is a spacing issue with the columns in the email design, first tweak the cellpadding and cellspacing attributes of the HTML tables. If that does not work, use CSS margin and padding attributes. HTML spacing works better with older email software than spacing with CSS.
  17. If an image is cut up and spread across several HTML table cells, test the email with many test accounts. Sometimes it looks great in Outlook but shifts by 1 pixel or more in Hotmail and other services. Also consider putting the image as a background image on a new html table that encases all the table rows and columns that would display parts of your background image. sometimes this achieves the same effect as cutting an image up but with less code and better results.
Note that Outlook 2007 does not display background images. Be sure to test your email code with your target email client software.
  1. If you use background images, use the HTML table attribute background= instead of CSS. It works more consistently across email software except Outlook. Define appropriate bgcolor for the TD’s so that the color is displayed when the images are blocked.
  2. Be sure all your images use the alt tags, height, and width parameters. This helps with Google Mail as well as when a reader has their images turned off. However, Outlook 2007 does not recognize the alt= parameter.
  3. Use the target=”_blank” attribute for the HTML A tags so that people reading with a webmail service don’t have the requested page appear within their webmail interface.
  4. Avoid a big image above the fold in the email. This is another classic spammer practice and can increase the likelihood an email will be tagged as spam.
  5. Make sure your email content displays fine without images.
For example: if you use a background image to provide a background color with white font color over it, make sure the default background color for that part of the HTML table is dark, not white. Also be sure your alt=, height=, and width= parameters are set for images so they can help readers understand your content without images. Turning off your images will help you catch these issues and ensure the HTML email will display effectively if people see your email with images off.
  1. Test your HTML code. Make sure your code conforms to World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML standards
  2. When sending a multi-part message, remember to create the text version. Most email clients send HTML as a multi-part alternative by default. Failing to include the text part of the message can cause some filters to treat your email as spam.
HTML Coding don’ts
  1. HTML should not contain any JavaScript or any other script embedded in it. Some email clients do not support JavaScript, and others view it as a security risk.
  2. Avoid using CSS for positioning. The support is very limited and will, more than likely, result in a broken layout for most of your recipients.
  3. Avoid nested tables if possible. Some email clients, especially Lotus Notes and Netscape Messenger, might not render them correctly.
  4. Do not use canvas background images. Most email clients do not display canvas background images. Background images for individual table cells are generally acceptable but might not appear in some clients such as Lotus Notes.
  5. Do not apply attributes to the <BODY> tag. Attributes placed in the <BODY> tag are often flagged by spam filters and increase the likelihood of your message getting bulked or blocked.
  6. With multiple embedded images, which also might cause the email to be blocked
  7. Do not use EMBED tags.
  8. Avoid embedding forms, such as surveys, into emails. Some email clients such as Hotmail might not pass the data through to the collection point. Instead, link to a Web form through which the recipient can complete the survey.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Better Layout for a HTML Email Newsletter

   A better layout of a HTML Email creative provides a clear positioning of your content and a structured easy reading for the recipient.

Here are few good tips for well thought out HTML Email Creative.

Determining the layout design:

  1. Single column and two-column layouts work best for emails because they control the natural chaos that results when a lot of content is pushed into such a small space as email. Use a consistent HTML template.
  2. Add in a header that contains logo, view online links if the email is not rendered properly on recipient email client, instructions to add sender email id to recipients address book (improved deliverability), etc
  3. Body or the main section that contains the main content of the mailer.
  4. Footer should contain unsubscribe, contact us and forward to friend links and sender’s general terms and policies.

We analysed one of the best email from a top retailer in USA, Target Corporation.

You can notice the email layout in the images below. The header has all relevant detail of add to address book for inbox delivery, view online version, brand logo, etc.

The body of the mailer has a consistent look with a single column view, with a clear offer and an actionable main link. You can also notice actionable links to other categories of products on the retailer website. You would also notice more offers, clearance sales, and other attractive discounts at the bottom of the main offer.

You would notice multi-channel contact points for engagement on other digital channels and fine print of offer details, etc.

You would notice in the footer below, all relevant details on why you are receiving this email, to opt-out from further communications, company policies, etc.

Hope you find these HTML Newsletter design tips helpful.  And make your subscribers hooked to read your content and further actions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guide to a Better HTML Email Design

Email marketing is one of the most powerful and effective forms of marketing today. It is quick to deploy, offers immediate and highly-measurable results, enables advanced segmentation and personalization, and delivers a high return on investment.

However, achieving maximum results from your HTML email requires experience and expertise. Simple mistakes in the implementation of HTML emails can seriously affect delivery or usability and cripple your ROI.

To help marketers optimize results from their email marketing efforts, Kenscio has created this complete guide to create effective HTML email. These technical and design best practices give marketers the ability to improve their own email marketing campaigns. This guide is best shared amongst email marketers and the HTML coding staff that supports your email development efforts.

In this guide we will cover:

    Email Layout
    HTML coding do’s and don’ts
    Validate HTML content and avoid using scripts
    Using forms in HTML emails
    Font and font size
    Background colors
    Font colors
    Buttons, charts & other supporting images
    Style sheets
    Image alt tags
    Creating a Web version of your email newsletter
    Preview panes and blocked images
    Number of hyperlinks
    Phishing and HTML Links
    Message file size
    Length of email messages
    Navigation of email messages
    Search capability in email
    Email format/Versions
    Add to Address Book
    Forward-to-a-friend functionality
    Rich Media/Flash
    Video email
    Tips Email Deliverability to Inbox
    Five common flaws that you can avoid in Email Marketing Campaigns

Everyday we will cover the above topics in details.

Your feedback and comments are most welcome!

Happy Reading!

@Kenscio Email Design Team

Copy rights to articles on Kenscio blog reserved. Any article from Kenscio blog can be reproduced by providing credits to Kenscio or providing a link back to Kenscio blog.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What is a DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) Signature? Why it is required for your mailing server infrastructure?

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a possibility to make an email sender more easily identifiable for the email service providers (ESPs) who receive and filter email. The message is identified by the domain it is sent from, that is, the part of the address after the @.

If the delivery address differs from that that has been registered with the DNS server (Domain Name Server), there is an increased likelihood that the email will be classified as Spam by the email service provider.

DKIM signatures are created, in consultation with you, when your Kenscio mailing system is first set up. The DKIM signatures may differ from the actual domains of your Kenscio mailing system.


The domain of your Kenscio mailing system is:

You send email messages using the domains:

The sender domains and must be registered with the DNS server. The registered domains should be the domains used for sendout.

This means that, if possible, all domains that will be used for email sendout should receive DKIM signatures.

The part of the address before the @ can be freely set (eg., This part of the address is not a part of the DKIM signature.

If you would like to add a DKIM signature to more sendout domains, or if you need information about which of your domains already have the DKIM signature, please contact your Kenscio representative.

The sendout process with a DKIM signature (simplified):

The sender (that is, the domains) are registered with the DNS server. A special encrypted signature is created that makes these domains clearly identifiable.

During email sendout, the signature and sender information are embedded in the email header.

When an email provider receives an email that contains a DKIM signature, it obtains the key to decipher the signature from the DNS server.

If the sender is correctly identified by the DKIM signature, this increases the chances of delivery in the inbox.

If the DKIM signature does not match the sender identity, the email is probably marked as Spam.


The primary advantage for e-mail recipients is it allows the signing domain to reliably identify a stream of legitimate email, thereby allowing domain-based blacklists and whitelists to be more effective. This is also likely to make some kinds of phishing attacks easier to detect.
Use with spam filtering

DKIM is a method of labeling a message, and it does not itself filter or identify spam. However, widespread use of DKIM can prevent spammers from forging the source address of their messages, a technique they commonly employ today. If spammers are forced to show a correct source domain, other filtering techniques can work more effectively. In particular, the source domain can feed into a reputation system to better identify spam. Conversely, DKIM can make it easier to identify mail that is known not to be spam and need not be filtered. If a receiving system has a whitelist of known good sending domains, either locally maintained or from third party certifiers, it can skip the filtering on signed mail from those domains, and perhaps filter the remaining mail more aggressively.

DKIM can be useful as an anti-phishing technology. Mailers in heavily phished domains can sign their mail to show that it is genuine. Recipients can take the absence of a valid signature on mail from those domains to be an indication that the mail is probably forged. The best way to determine the set of domains that merit this degree of scrutiny remains an open question; DKIM will likely have an optional feature called ADSP that lets authors that sign all their mail self-identify, but the effectiveness of this approach remains to be tested.

Working with eBay and PayPal, Google has effectively utilized DKIM in GMail in such a way that any e-mail that claims to be coming from or will not be accepted at all if they cannot be verified successfully with DKIM. Such messages won’t even appear in the Spam folder.
Feedback Loops (FBLs)

Most of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like gmail, yahoo, hotmail and etc. now demand the Email Service Providers (ESPs) to set up DKIM for the sending mailing infrastructure in order that they receive a copy of a message that one of their subscribers has reported as spam — usually by hitting a “report spam” button in that ISP’s mail interface. Feedback Loop recipients are generally expected to remove any subscriber from their mailing lists to prevent similar “spam complaints” — but the core requirement is simply that they fix whichever problems within their network caused the complaints.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Does your email marketing campaigns surprise you?

Surprises are over rated, more often than not they back fire. Getting a surprise birthday party or winning the lottery can be fun, but they happen rarely.

When it comes to your business, the less the surprises, the better. It’s quite like driving a race car. You’d want to be sure that: you know the track, the tires are correctly inflated, the engine won’t explode if you rev it on the red line, the breaks work, etc.

Similarly, when you execute an email marketing campaign, you ensure that the content is relevant, it has a strong value proposition and your subscribers know why they have received the email. The last thing you would want is that your email campaign did not perform as you had expected.

Although, the success of an email marketing campaign depends on a lot of factors, content surely plays a very important role. As strange as it may sound, relevance is not all that you need to worry about when it comes to content.

Email marketers operate in the realms of ISPs who scrutinize email content not just in terms of relevance but also in terms of quality.

What is quality? Quality here is the degree or the grade that helps differentiate a genuine email from spam.

Who defines this quality? ISPs do. They guard the interest of their users and have complex set of rules that automatically filter incoming emails.

What can you do about quality? To begin with, you should follow the best practices defined by ISPs. These are standard set of guidelines that establish a broad framework for genuine email marketers. Can anything else be done?

Kenscio Labs has been secretly working on a powerful tool that will analyse and score the quality of email content. Our geeks are working hard because like you, they dislike nasty surprises. They know what its like to see a well planned and executed campaign crumble, simply because it couldn’t meet the stringent quality standards defined by the ISPs.

In simple words, this secret tool will let you test the quality of your email campaign, before you execute it.

More Control, less surprises, smarter strategies, better performance.

Stay tuned on the blog!

Why Add-to-Address book instruction is very important in your email communication?

You might have seen in the email newsletters you receive that there is a message at the top asking you  “please add our sender address to your address book”. Do you know the importance of this message?

It is known that ISPs like yahoo, gmail, hotmail, and etc. have spam filters which will filter mails from reaching your inbox.  These junk or spam filters as often called run a variety of algorithms to check if the mail is needed by you and hence should be put in inbox. If not, they should be placed in junk or spam folder thereby saving your time and botheration.

These spam or junk filters work on message content, sender's reputation, and your own actions on such messages in the past based on who sent it, subject line of the message, or whether the sender id of the message is in your address book etc.These filters sometime give higher priority to your actions than their generic rules.

Moreover some ISPs like Yahoo and AOL display images in the messages automatically if the sender address is in your address book. Spam email killer Services like Boxbee which works with several ISPs automatically deliver emails to inbox, if the message sender address is in your address book, else the mail will end up either in junk or spam folder.

Gmail spam filter work on how do you interact with the sender message in the past from opening, clicking, responding to the message and seeing the sender address in your address book or contact list to prioritize the message delivery to inbox vis-a-vis to junk or spam folder.

Understanding these issues, most of the smart marketers today have a strong call to action to advice their customers to add their sender address to their address books, so that their messages will be seen more in inbox.  The customers can then take subsequent actions of opening and clicking.

However there is a bigger challenge in educating the customers on how to add the sender address to their address books or contact lists. Each of the ISPs has their own ways to adding the sender address to the address book or contact list.

Kenscio Digital has come with an exhaustive guide to assist customers to add the sender address to the address book or contact list.  Click the link below to find the detailed instructions.  Marketers can insert this link in the message to advice their customers on how to add their sender address to their address book or contact list.

Also, if you find email from in your spam or junk folder, please take that opportunity to tell your mail program that it is not spam by hitting the "not spam", "not junk" or similar button, as that will train your program to whitelist it.

Happy inboxing!