With globalization and online marketers realizing the huge potential that expanding their efforts internationally has, it is of utmost importance to realize that what constitutes email best practices in one country is different than the other. However, there is one common denominator upon reviewing email marketing laws worldwide: opt-In.
Clearswift, has released a poll of over 1,200 business people around the world, concentrated in Germany, France, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The poll found that 84 percent of businesses are unaware of local spam laws.
The following is a synopsis on email marketing laws worldwide. (Please note this is the first review of a three-piece segment.)
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia
The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia developed "The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)," a common directive on privacy and electronic communications.
According to the memorandum, spam violations in all three countries constitutes:
- Sending commercial email containing deceptive content;
- Sending commercial email without providing the recipient with a means, such as a valid email address or an Internet based mechanism, to request that such communications cease;
- Sending commercial email that contains misleading information about the message initiator, or fails to disclose the sender's address; or
- Sending commercial email, when the recipient has specifically requested the sender not to do so.
Currently, there is no spam-specific national legislation in Canada although evaluation and recommendations are in process. Marketers interested in penetrating Canada should take a look at the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) which explains the restrictions placed on the collection of personal information online.
In recent years international trade issues with China have been contentious. However, when it comes to controlling the international flow of spam, China is very much on board.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Information, China is the world's 2nd largest producer of SPAM behind the United States. Thus, any effort to combat this costly nuisance requires a commitment from China. As of yet, China has no national legislation dealing with spam. However, the Chinese Ministry of Information is working on developing such regulations. Perhaps more importantly, China has declared its commitment to make its best efforts to fight spam and cooperate with other signatories when it signed the London Action Plan on Spam Enforcement Collaboration -- a U.S. and U.K. led international effort to combat spam -- on July 20, 2005.
According to UK Ecommerce Minister Alun Michael,
"China engaged constructively in the Asia-Europe Meeting on ecommerce in London in February. We have long been keen to engage with China on the issue of spam, in particular because China is probably the second biggest source of spam in the world. As China reaches the 100 million internet users mark, we welcome this opportunity to work with China to make the internet safer for users."
Another important development is the increasing efforts made by private parties to address the problem of spam. First, there is the Internet Society of China which includes all of China's largest ISPs (internet service providers) whose members are bound by its "standards for web-based public email service" which requires policies against spam and rates ISPs partly based on spam ratios.
On Sep 2, 2004, the ISC and eBay/MS/America Online/Yahoo! signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which is an agreement to explore areas of cooperation in protecting users from spam, developing anti-spam technology, promoting public education about spam, and promoting the punishment of spammers. Additionally, the ISC and the Internet Industry Association (IIA), an Australian agency, signed an agreement to help manage spam, reduce the inappropriate blacklisting of ISPs and minimize the effects on internet users' ability to send and receive emails.
When it comes to email laws, Japan is an interesting country.
According to Toshihiko Shibuya, deputy director of the Telecommunications Consumer Policy Division in the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Communications (MIC), "around 73 percent of all spam in Japan is sent to mobile phones and about 80 percent of that is from dating agencies." Due to this, the government is currently revising the anti-spam law passed in April 2002 titled "The Law on Regulation of Transmission of Specified Electronic Mail"
The law defines "Specified Electronic Mail," as email sent for advertisement purposes of sender's business to individual users." Advertisers, or email marketing companies that deploy on their behalf, are required to comply with the following "obligations of labeling for senders of specified electronic mail:
- Identification as specified electronic mail
- Senders name and address, senders email address, opt-out email address
- Administrative Orders by Minister to publicize the law (As of July 1, Japanese legislation requires senders of email advertising to attach messages telling receivers the email is unsolicited advertising and how to reject any future ads).
At the end of the day, whether it is in China, the U.K., or U.S., responsible email marketing adheres to the same key elements:
- Marketers are required to use the opt-in approach
- Prohibition against using false or misleading transmission information
- Prohibition against using randomly generated or harvested addresses
- Prohibition against relaying email from computers without authorization
Please stay tuned for next week as I explore The Global Inbox in Korea, Spain, Malaysia, and Germany.
Elizabeth M. Lloyd is Chief Marketing Officer of DMO Global, Inc. a leading affiliate network solely dedicated to serving international and multicultural markets. Lloyd's work on international online marketing has been highlighted in numerous publications as well as in academic curricula for MBA programs worldwide. DMO Global is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dragon Media Online, Inc., an international media and technology company.
Creating a content library
Once you've got personas in place, it's time to take stock of the content that you have and how that addresses the needs and wants of each persona. While auditing your content can be a lengthy process, it pays off in many ways. Right away you'll discover the content that can be leveraged and how much content you have already generated. Then you'll uncover gaps in your content that need to be addressed.
Mapping content to personas
With your audit complete you then need to map the content to both the persona's role and the buying stage.
- Gate keeper
Customer buying stages:
- Need recognition
- Information search
- Evaluation of alternatives
- Purchase decision
- Post-purchase behavior
In the end, you've created a living document that outlines the appropriate content for delivering the right information to the right person at the right time. With this in place, you are now in a position to build email campaigns that will be both more personalized and more relevant to your audience. Your prospects and customers will be more engaged and more likely to pay attention to your email marketing efforts. The good news is that your opens and click-throughs will increase.
To assist in the process, you should make sure that each email campaign is based on a specific persona and a specific buying stage. This can be done by creating emails around themes and issues that you've uncovered during the persona exercise. To maximize your results, make sure to attach a strong call to action that's related to that issue or concern. You also might consider testing both the theme and the offer in your campaigns to further optimize your efforts.
Not only will you get stronger opens and higher click-throughs, but you'll also have established a dialogue based on content that's specifically relevant to each prospect. Marketing gets the win with greater metrics, and the sales team will enjoy higher rapport with qualified prospects that have been pre-introduced to the company. Sales can then take the ball to provide further service to their customers and close more business.
If you're looking for more information about creating sticky content that engages your customer, check out these resources:
- Ardath Albee at Marketing Interactions and her book "eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale"
- Joe Pulizzi, Junta42 blogger and co-author of "Get Content. Get Customers"
- Ann Handley, the chief content officer at MarketingProfs
- Connected Marketer blog
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
Top 10 lists
This in an oldie but goodie, so let's start here. Top 10 lists (or "top 5" as the case might be) still work great for attracting readers, keeping them on the page, and encouraging sharing. Just ask BuzzFeed, which certainly didn't invent the top 10 list but is great at beating the concept to a pulp. The readers know that they're not going to have to work too hard, which is a nice promise. These lists are the ultimate skimmable types of content. Each example will be easy to identify, so the reader can scan through and choose to read the interesting ones but skip the boring ones. And top 10 lists get shared because each item on the list is like a mini article. So the chances of relating to the reader are higher than an article with only a single concept.
But don't stop at "top 10." The premise has many iterations like "the 5 best" or "the 8 craziest" or "the 7 tallest," and so on. For example, imagine that you are in charge of marketing for a small construction equipment sales, rental, and service company. Yawn, right? But how about a jazzy blog post entitled "The 8 mightiest machines that built Disneyland" or "The 6 strongest cranes in the world"? Now those are some clickable headlines! The subject matter is on topic with construction equipment, which allows marketing segues to your own brand's offerings without jarring the reader. Ultimately, your job as a content marketer is to keep your audience of existing and potential customers around long enough to pitch them whatever it is that earns revenue for your brand.
Brand a meme
Keep calm and [insert something silly related to your brand]. "Meme" has become almost synonymous with "image macro." But since image macros are frequently the most popular types of memes, we'll use them interchangeably here, if that's OK with you. For clarification, Wikipedia says that an image macro is "is an image superimposed with text for humorous effect," which is what I'm talking about here. Popular memes include "Keep calm and carry on," "Not sure if Fry," and "Scumbag Steve." But there are thousands, and a few of them are even funny. Spend an hour on http://knowyourmeme.com/ or http://www.reddit.com/r/memes, and you'll be up to speed.
Memes are like high school. Everybody wants to be a little different but not too different. Memes allow users to make a statement in a framework that has already been validated by huge numbers of other people. Humor is usually your best bet with a meme, but clever is good enough. For example, an insect repellent brand might create an image with Fry from Futurama contemplating "Not sure if bug spray or cheap perfume" in a self-effacing attempt to point out that the smell of bug spray has marginally improved over the past decade.
It's so easy to create a meme that you don't even need Photoshop. Just go to http://memegenerator.net/create/generator.
Or Instagram or YouTube or whatever. Let's just agree that it's video, and it's really short in length (that's what she said). At this point pretty much everybody that you know can shoot 1080p video with their phone, so no special equipment is needed. Find a spot with adequate light (sunlight is almost always better than fluorescent), and get to work. Hold the camera steady. Nobody besides J.J. Abrams and Paul Greengrass like shaky video, so relax and hold your arms at your sides. Or make sure that your camera software smooths your shaky video out for you. And for the love of everything that is good, turn your phone sideways and shoot widescreen. Don't get me started on portrait mode videos.
If you work in an office, you're already off to a good start. You have a cast of characters and a relatable set. People love corporate office hijinks, so brainstorm some ideas with your coworkers and spice things up with a little bit of joking around. Hidden camera scare pranks are great. Transforming an office while an employee is out of town is always a winner, and it only takes a few moments to shoot the reaction when it's seen for the first time.
Office hacks like computer cable organization tips or a better way to make coffee are definitely sharable. You don't even have to be completely original. Find other similar videos and put your own twist on them. And while office videos are not always on-brand, especially if you work in a sales office for gluten-free dog treats, you are creating relatable (humor, coworkers, office environment) content and humanizing the employees of your company.
We are a do-it-yourself generation. We live in the age of Esty, Instructables, Maker Faire, and the Raspberry Pi. There is something deeply satisfying about solving a persistent problem with only the materials in your desk drawer. Most of us like to feel like MacGyver from time to time, which is why DIY posts are so popular. Good DIY ideas for quick and easy content creation are mechanical devices, fixtures, or sculptures made from office supplies. Other materials are obviously OK, but make sure that it's stuff that most people would have access to in their home or office (or both). Popular choices are paper clips, retractable ballpoint pens, tape dispensers, sticky notes, and Sharpies.
The very best DIY office projects are the ones that make you slap your forehead and say, "How did I never think of this?" Text with pictures is fine. Video is OK too. Animated GIFs are perfect. Total originality isn't essential, but don't go around completely ripping off other people's ideas. Make sure to make a meaningful contribution of some sort. A quick stroll around your office could prove inspiring. Clever coworkers come up with great solutions to tricky problems all the time, and when they're truly useful, the DIY hacks can become popular with your readers. "Office hacks" has grown into its own distinct category of DIY projects in recent years.
Whatever the internet likes
Go ahead and pander. You won't be the first, and it's hardly a sin. Find a popular topic and relate it back to your brand. You'll want to appropriate subject matter that is perennially fresh. Think Star Wars, food porn, Futurama, and celebrities. You should, of course, always write for your audience specifically. But if you're looking for content that will always be a hit with the internet at large, these are surefire sources of material.
For example, if you are a blogger for a company that makes screen-printing ink, you might write a blog post about the evolution of graphic T-shirt printing from the '70s through today. Use official Star Wars merchandise as your examples, and you've elevated a ho-hum topic into a light piece of reading with wide appeal.
"Michelngelo God's touch" image via Shutterstock.