Given the volume of spam pummeling most e-mail users, e-mail marketing toolmakers have been designing new applications that can help your message stand out in your target audience’s inbox.
The emergence of e-mails sporting graphic billboards, flash e-mail campaigns, video coupons and similar products indicates that although legitimate e-marketers JUNE never be able to completely overcome spam, they’ll at least be able to compete.
Here’s a sampling of what’s available:
E-mail Title Drop-down Billboards
E-mail marketing company Advenix, Milpitas, Calif., has come up with a way to program marketing e-mails so tiny, colorful company logos and product images spring up when recipients mouse over the subject lines.
“Advenix VisualSubject lifts the restrictions of the 10-word subject line, enabling marketers to more efficiently and effectively communicate with their customers,” says Justin Khoo, Advenix’s president. “E-mail recipients simply run their cursor over the subject line, and the billboard drops down with graphics and text.”
E-marketers create the graphic billboard for their e-mail subject lines by uploading an image to Advenix’s Web-based system before a campaign. Each e-mail they send also is encoded with a pointer, which calls up the image from Advenix’s server when a recipient’s mouse passes over the e-mail’s title line.
To see one of VisualSubject’s e-mail billboards, visit www.advenix.com/visualsubject.htm.
Flash E-mail Campaigns
E-marketing firm Great Big Noise, Marina Del Rey, Calif., is offering an online tool that enables marketers to create an Adobe Flash e-mail campaign in minutes.
In practice, a marketer signs up online for an account and picks an e-mail message template that works for his or her campaign. Borders for the template can be color-matched with a company’s own logo and colors. Then text, images, logos and other graphics are uploaded to complete the e-mail.
Even for the beginning e-marketer, a professional-looking flash campaign can be put together in minutes. Plus, the service will store all your images online for future use and perform a spam check on your e-mail to ensure your message does not sport any trigger words that many ISPs and companies use to filter incoming e-mails.
Examples of the kinds of flash animations you can drop into e-mails can be found on Great Big Noise’s Web site, www.greatbignoise.com/customexamples.asp.
YouTube, a top 10 spot for today’s avid Web surfers, has made creating video on-the-fly easy. E-marketers can use YouTube’s free video mixer at www. youtube.com to quickly assemble a marketing video for e-mail distribution and posting on YouTube.
Designed for the casual user, YouTube’s video mixer enables videos to be uploaded for editing, such as adding titles and captions over the content or including borders and clip art from your personal library. Plus, you can throw in some transitions and other more-advanced effects.
The type of video that can easily become part of an e-mail campaign can be found at Salem, Ore.-based Ames Research Laboratories, www.amesresearch.com/roof_coatings.htm, by clicking on the “video” button on the upper right-hand side of the page.
For years, e-marketers have been sending live-chat boxes in their e-mails. The chat boxes instantly engage a customer.Recipients click on a “click-to-talk” button, generally located below the chat box, and begin text-chatting with a company representative about a product or service. Some live-chat boxes even offer the option to auto-dial a customer if that customer types in a telephone number.
This past year, New York-based LivePerson, one of the pioneers in the field, upped the ante by backing its livechat boxes with behavioral-analysis software called Timpani Voice. Marketers can program the software’s behavioral-analysis function to sense when a marketing e-mail is being viewed by a potential customer, track how long it’s being viewed and other activity associated with that e-mail.
The application is good for companies looking to gauge how their marketing e-mails are being received and invite a potential customer to chat via text or phone with a live representative when a set number of conditions for a potential sale have been triggered. LivePerson’s system also enables a company to track a customer who clicks onto its Web site as a result of receiving one of its live-chat marketing messages.
“In today’s commoditized environment, customer interaction quality is a vital brand differentiator across all industries,” says Robert LoCascio, LivePerson chief executive officer. “By allowing companies to establish criteria that trigger automatic click-to-talk invitations, Timpani Voice helps sales and service organizations anticipate the needs of their online customers by proactively offering human assistance to deliver a cross-channel experience.”
Coupons Inc., Mountainview, Calif., one of a number of e-marketing firms offering e-coupons on the Web, has come up with an electronic coupon powered with a promotional video. Users must view the 10- to 60-second promotional video embedded in the coupon before the discount offer can be redeemed.
Firms aware of widgets—tools that track temperatures, headlines, stocks, etc.—have discovered that the free, downloadable programs are great Web-site traffic builders. Paste a link to a popular widget in your marketing e-mails and your company’s rank on search engines can spike significantly.
Scouting around for various e-marketing tools like these truly can make a difference for marketers looking to stand out in customers’ e-mail inboxes. Although spammers always will attempt to find new ways to create noise, there are many other technologists who are working to help you innovatively connect with your customer in a legitimate way.
Joe Dysart is an Internet business consultant based in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 233-4089, as well as throughwww.joedysart.com.