A lot of importance is placed on deliverability in email campaigns. What this refers to is the percentage of emails that actually make it into the subscribers’ inboxes.
But another important metric is the actual mix of email clients your subscribers are using to view your emails and how each of them displays your message. Even people who have been doing email marketing for a long time sometimes don’t pay enough attention to this.
For example, many email clients (“email client” means Gmail, Outlook, Eudora, etc.) will have a default setting that turns off all graphics in the preview window. The reason for this is spam-related, the details of which are beyond the scope of this post. And since most email campaigns have graphical banners at the top, those banners won’t load when graphics are turned off. If you’re not aware of this, and you don’t design your email template the right way in order to compensate, your viewer might see just a big blank box in their preview window. Clearly not what you want!
Some people might say, “But isn’t that why we also include a text-based version?” While it’s good to include a text version, the reason for doing so is not what you might think. The text based version is for people who specifically need text-only emails for accessibility or bandwidth reasons. HTML is text too, from a technical standpoint. Turning off graphics in an email client still renders the HTML properly, it just doesn’t download and display the images rendered via the HTML <img> tag.
Here’s one final tidbit to seal the deal… mobile devices do not load graphics in the email program, at least my iPhone doesn’t. It doesn’t even LET me load graphics! And guess what? The iPhone is the second most popular email client for one of my lists. My ESP (E-Mail Service Provider), which is MailChimp, tells me what email clients are used to view my emails. Take a look at the chart, Gmail is #1 and iPhone is #2. It would behoove you to check your own list to see what your email client mix is.
Another activity you should consider is email client testing. Any time you change your email template, you need to retest it on at least the top five email clients that are used by your subscribers. It’s easy enough to create accounts for yourself on these different clients, and send tests to those accounts and just view them. View them with graphics turned off and then on. View them in the preview window and the full reading window. View them on different devices if you can (Windows vs. Mac vs. iPhone/iPad, etc.)
Yes, this all sounds like a bit of a pain, but isn’t it worth it if it means just a few more of your subscribers will actually have a better reading experience? For all you know some of your readers are opening your email just to see a blank box (your header) and with 100 other emails waiting to be read, yours might just get passed by.
I don’t want that to happen to you any more than you do. If you need help, or have a question about this, just post a comment and I’ll be happy to respond with more details.
I spent quite a bit of time this week researching and playing with different options for displaying video.
Even for somebody fairly technical, I have to admit this stuff is pretty complicated. I want to help you by simplifying things a little bit. If you are thinking of putting a video on your web site and you either don’t want to or can’t afford a professional video person, I hope you will experiment with some DIY options. I hope this helps guide you.
Caveat: As with any attempt to simplify something complex, there are things I am glossing over, and other things I am omitting altogether. In some cases I’m using some “creative license” to illustrate a point, which I hope will make a complex concept easier for most of my audience to digest.
If you have questions please post a comment below.
Video comes in a variety of formats. The format is defined by the extension on the end of the filename of the video file. For example, if you are using a Blackberry or an iPhone to take video, you will end up with a .mov file extension. If you are using a Sony Flip camera on the other hand, you’ll have a .mp4 file. Flash video has a .flv extension. Different formats were developed by different companies or organizations, and each format has it’s own set of parameters, settings, and issues.
If you have a choice, it’s best to go with .mov or .mp4 as they are most compatible with all the browsers, including mobile devices. If you think your audience might be looking at your video with an iPhone or iPad however, stay away from Flash because it’s not supported on those devices.
The easiest way to get your video on your web site is to put it on YouTube (or some other video sharing site). Create an account if you don’t have one, and log in. In the corner of the screen is a link for “Upload a video”. Click that an it walks you through the upload process. It’s really easy. Just make sure your video is less than 10 minutes long (actually I recommend 5 minutes or less, just so you don’t bore your audience).
Once you have your video up on YouTube, you’ll see a box labeled “embed code”. That field has some html code in it, which you can copy and paste into your web page code. If you don’t know anything about HTML, just paste it into an email message and send it to your web guy or gal and tell them where on your web page you want it to display.
If you have a WordPress site, they make it even easier to put your video into your page. Here’s a screenshot of me writing this blog post in my WordPress “Edit Post” page:
See at the top of the screenshot, where it says “Upload/Insert”? Right next to it is a set of four icons. The second icon looks like a little film strip (well, sort of). If you click that you get another screen where you can either upload your video right to your web site host, or choose the “From URL” option and paste in the location of your video on YouTube. Like this:
Note that the “Video URL” value is an actual browser url, not the embed code as in the previous example.
If you don’t have a WordPress site, it’s pretty easy to convert an existing web site to WordPress. If you are interested in having someone do this for you, email me your web site address and I’ll give you a quote or point you to some resources to fit your budget.
I’m planning to have a complete online workshop that covers the entire process of creating and uploading a video. In that workshop I will demonstrate the basics, and then cover some of the more advanced topics like optimizing for search, promoting, how to write a good script. I’ll also cover different options for low-cost equipment, free format converters, editing software, and how to create a slideshows with voiceover.
If you’d like to be notified when the advanced class is available, please join our newsletter mailing list. When you join you’ll also get a copy of the abridged (free) version of my eBook, The Small Business Website Design Guide.
I recently parted ways with my Blackberry Tour (9630), which I’d had for 16 months, and got the iPhone 4. I did this on February 10th, the day it became available at Verizon stores nationwide.
People have said the iPhone is not as good as Blackberry for business use. I believe if you’re part of a big corporate entity that’s probably true. But as a small business owner, our businesses and personal lives blend. While I initially loved my Blackberry, I found over time there were a lot of little things that really got on my nerves about it.
I’ve now been using the iPhone 4 for all of five days and my Blackberry experience is still rather fresh in my mind. This is the perfect time for me to do a comparison of features, from a small business owner’s perspective.
My laptop is a MacBook Pro, and I’ve been using an iPod touch for a while, so I do have some familiarity with Mac design in general and iPod design in particular. But I have not read the iPhone manual and I’m learning this phone’s interface completely on the fly.
I loved the way Blackberry let me just start typing a phone number or a person’s name and it popped up with a list of possibilities to choose from. SUPER easy and perfect for dialing a number while in my car sitting at a red light. I could even call my husband by simply holding down the G key. I didn’t even need a red light for that. The downside of this is that I called my Dad many times by accident because the phone got pressed up against something in my purse. A girl problem for sure.
The iPhone, on the other hand, makes me click five times to get to my husband (or any other “favorite” person). Perhaps there is a voice command or something I’m not aware of, but from a noob’s perspective this is a bit of an annoyance.
To call a non-favorite person I have to go even further. The process of selecting someone from the contacts list is particularly vexing. You have to click one tiny letter from a tiny alphabet list in the tiny right margin. Apparently you also must use the first letter of the person’s last name. I have 2,000 contacts in my list, there’s no way I remember everyone’s last name. After you click their tiny little last name initial you have to scroll up or down to find their particular entry. Right, highly annoying.
Blackberry wins this round.
The texting (SMS not IM) on the BB was relatively easy and straightforward. Similar to making a phone call, you simply start typing the number or name of the person you want to text, choose them, select SMS and start typing.
iPhone’s home screen has a Messages icon, which you tap to view a list of all your conversations. It also defaults to your last conversation so if you want to text the same person again you just start typing. To text a different person you can type a few letters of their name in the search box and choose them from a list, then start typing. It’s very intuitive.
iPhone’s is slightly easier to use so I’m going to give it this round, but it’s a very narrow margin.
Both the Blackberry and iPhone have decent keyboards, considering the size of these units vs the size of many people’s fingers. I initially hated the iPod Touch keyboard (it’s the same as the iPhone), but after using the BB keyboard for over a year, and then switching to iPhone, I think I like the iPhone better.
iPhone does a great job of “guessing” which key you “intend” to tap even if you have large fingers and tap an area much larger than the key. BB’s tactile keyboard registers every click, so you can’t fat-finger it and hit 2-3 keys at once. I ended up typing with my fingernails a lot. I got used to it but I never liked it.
Even on a regular full-size keyboard I tend to type way too fast and make scads of errors, so autocorrect is my best friend. BB has no such feature. iPhone’s autocorrect is nice, but it’s not perfect. Particularly annoying is the way you have to actively tell it to NOT make a particular correction. Acronyms are particularly offensive to iPhone and it tends to want to make real words out of everything.
If you owned one of the original PalmPilot devices, you remember the graffiti language. It was very odd and clunky at first but people quickly got used to it. I think iPhone’s keyboard is like that. A little clunky at first but elegant once you get the hang of it. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet.
I’m going to call this one a draw, but I think I’m leaning towards the iPhone’s keyboard.
This is an easy one. The BB was not meant for surfing. To be blunt, it sucks.
On the iPhone surfing is a dream.
No contest, iPhone wins this one by like a thousand percent.
I detest having to tether my handheld device to my computer in order to sync data. It is just very old-fashioned. Devices should sync wirelessly. I ended up buying a utility to do this. It cost me $59 and never worked right. Tech support was no help at all. I won’t mention them by name because I’m not reviewing them. But it does add to my dissatisfaction with this particular feature.
iPhone 4 and my Macbook Pro sync flawlessly and ALMOST wirelessly. The only essential thing that needs a hard wire for syncing is my calendar. I use multiple calendars for multiple businesses. The ones that are on Google Calendar sync no problem. The others need to be sync’d using the hard wire. Obviously the solution is to put all of my calendars on Google. I just haven’t done it yet.
I also need the hard wire to sync photos and files but those are not as time sensitive and so it’s fine if they don’t sync for several days or even a week.
Anyway… iPhone wins.
Blackberry and iPhone both have apps for social media. The only reason the iPhone’s are better is because the app developers at Facebook and Twitter etc. have focused more energy on creating nice UIs for the iPhone than the BB.
It’s not the BB’s fault, but iPhone wins this too.
Both the cameras are very good. The BB camera has no flash though, which means you are limited to taking shots in good lighting conditions.
The iPhone camera is not perfect though. My 6 year old Canon point and shoot still takes clearer pictures, even though iPhone has a lot more megapixels. I’m not sure why that is, but the pictures are much clearer from the Canon.
I’m going to call this a draw.
Like the iPod touch, the iPhone has an amazing display. I can watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and not miss a thing. The sound is better with the earbuds on, but even without them the speaker is decent enough. But the picture, OMG the picture is amazing on this tiny little screen.
Video on the Blackberry? Surely you jest!
No contest. iPhone wins.
Finally, the coup de grace. The Blackberry’s email is wonderful… if you only have one email account. If you have two, things start to get messy. I have about 10, and I need four of them with me at all times. The Blackberry failed at this.
I will say, in its defense, that the BB’s email interface in general is very good. Intuitive, fast, logically laid out.
iPhone is also great if you have one email account. If you have several, it outshines the BB. I do have one complaint though. The BB had an indicator if I had new email, which disappeared when I checked my mail, whether I read them or not. The iPhone on the other hand has no such thing. It does have an indicator that I have unread messages, but I always have unread messages. I just want to know when a NEW message has come in since I last checked.
It’s clear that iPhone is better for small business owners. On the other hand, BB will probably keep the large business market share for a long time to come. I almost hope it does, I think the iPhone could lose a lot of its elegance if it starts changing design to please large businesses.
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