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This blog is moving, please join me on the other side


My lovely company, Wild Orange Media, is almost two years old, so we’ve had a bit of a revamp and have being tying up some loose ends.

I’ve been blogging across various platforms since 2003 but this is the last post I’ll be making to this personal site. From tomorrow, all new posts will be landing on our shiny, new self-hosted site at



If you follow this blog on the website or through WordPress Reader or an RSS reader like Feedly or Digg Reader, you’ll need to update your reader subscription so it points to

If, however, you have subscribed to receive email updates from this blog, you’re all set to go. We’ll automatically transfer your subscription over to the new site so your emails will continue like magic!

Thanks for your support over the years, see you on the other side!

Productivity tip: Neat little email reminder service

Lee Roy tweet

I started blogging in 2003 when I was Marketing Manager for Microsoft’s email technology. I used to write a lot about how to become highly proficient with email, calendaring and tasks in Microsoft Outlook. Some of my early posts are still accessible via Microsoft TechNet  and, even today, every now and then I see a neat way to work with email that I want to share.

Followupthen logoI think you’ll like this. is a lightweight online service that helps you and your email recipients stay on top of important emails. It’s simplicity itself: just send an email to [instructions] from your authenticated email address and the service will act on your request. For instance, if you were to ‘bcc’ on your outgoing email, the service will email you back at 9am tomorrow with a reminder about your email. If you use the ‘cc’ field, both you and the other recipients will get a reminder at that time unless someone has already replied using the ‘Reply All’ button.

Some other addresses you might find useful:

When you receive your email reminder you can act on it or hit one of the ‘postpone’ links (it’s like a ‘snooze’ button for emails!) to have another reminder sent at a later time.

The basic service is free. There’s also a premium service which costs US$24 per year which adds SMS reminders (e.g., great for an alarm call!), support for attachments, enables follow-ups to show on your calendar and has some neat design customisation features. There’s a free 30 day trial of the premium features; take it for a spin before you splash any cash.

Microsoft Outlook does have features baked into it that provide a similar functionality, including tasks and follow-up flags. But there’s something lovely about the fact that you can use FollowUpThen from any email client and by simply adding an extra address to the cc or bcc fields. Give it a whirl at and let me know what you think.

The Evil Web Lunatic Award goes to…

Bad marketing is everywhere on the internet. Hopefully this example will encourage you to check that your company doesn’t commit the same mistakes.

This month’s Evil Web Lunatic Award goes to, trading under the name. They work in a dying industry, producing and selling printed magazines, so perhaps it’s understandable that they are reluctant to let any customer go.

But that’s exactly what I wanted to do when I received their email earlier today.

Thankfully there’s an unsubscribe button in the email footer:

Email footer with unsubscribe link

…which takes me to this page (I’ve masked the pre-filled email addresses for confidentiality reasons):

Archant Manage Profile page

We now have two choices: option one is to ‘Update’ our email address or option two which is to unsubscribe via a ‘Resubscribe’ button. Neither makes much sense so let’s try each in turn:

Archant Route One Manage Profile Screen

The Archant Opt-in button was pre-selected so I deselect it as the last thing I want is to opt-in to more emails. When I hit ‘Update’ I’m warned I must check one of the opt-in check boxes, the opposite of what I want to do.

So that didn’t work. Let’s go back and press the confusingly titled “Resubscribe” button:

Archant Route Two Unsubscribe page

This time my ‘Unsubscribe’ request has successfully ‘Resubscribed’ my email address.

What sort of evil lunatic designed these pages and how are they holding down a job at a publishing company?

These sort of blatant attempts to mislead consumers and lock them in to unwanted services are outdated, highly unprofessional and potentially illegal.

So, reluctantly, I have to say well done Archant Community Media Ltd of Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 1RE. You win my Evil Web Lunatic Award for making it truly impossible to unsubscribe from your emails.

One competition, three great marketing lessons

gold trophy award recognition winner recently ran a competition with MarketingExperiments inviting people to submit email subject line ideas to help them promote a conference.

First up, their approach is really clever because it engaged the community with their message at very little cost or effort. Entries were made through the comments section of a blog post which included the necessary legal link to the contest’s terms & conditions. I can think of few simpler ways to run an online competition.

Secondly, they received nearly 500 suggestions for their email subject line. What better way to source a huge number of great ideas to help promote the conference?

But most importantly, they learned a lot from their customers about what they think is most appealing about the conference. By crowdsourcing the entries for the competition, Copyblogger not only gave its readers an irresistible reason to participate in the online conversation, they were also conducting free research amongst high value blog visitors that might help them refine their offering.

The winning entry is a peach too. Experienced writer Christine Parizo picked up the first prize with her subject line suggestion:

“Do your landing pages pass this test?”

That’s a brilliant, tight bit of copy. The offering is clearly laid out so the reader immediately knows this is something to do with landing page testing. And, by playing on the reader’s potential fear of not having optimal landing pages or failing the test, this subject line is almost guaranteed to elicit an immediate response.

But it’s the word “this” that strikes me as really clever. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger explained that they received another nearly identical entry which read “Do your landing pages pass the test?” Using “the” instead of “this” results in the loss of much of the immediacy and specificity of Christine’s entry.

So, lots of great lessons here from Copyblogger’s approach. In summary, here are three things we can learn from this example:

  1. Online competitions needn’t be complicated to administer. Simply collecting entries via blog comments can suffice as long as the T&Cs are in place.
  2. Crowdsourcing suggestions about your product can give you instant access to a wealth of customer feedback that can help improve your offering.
  3. Sometimes it’s the finest details that can make the biggest difference, as proved by Christine’s clever use of “this” instead of “the”.

The 2 minute rule that will stop you sending bad emails

Just two minutes to save your reputationSome tips are just too good to share only once.

You know that that “Doh!” moment you get after you press ‘Send’ on an email and instantly realise you forgot to include someone or something? Way back in July 2005, when blogging had barely been invented, I shared my top tip to eliminate it.

So, stop sending those embarrassing follow-up emails that explain how stupid you are and read my all time favourite tip for Microsoft Outlook: “The defer two minutes rule”. You can find it on my now antique ‘Useful Technology’ blog right here.

Advice for Marketers: How not to be unliked

Many online marketers spend their days obsessing about attracting new fans and followers, but new research from ExactTarget and CoTweet suggest that they might be wise to spend more time thinking about how to stop people ‘unliking’ their brands.

The top reasons people cite for unsubscribing from emails is that they come too frequently, are boring, or are contributing to an email overload problem.


The study also looked at Facebook, where the same three complaints are the main reason given for ‘unliking’ brands:


(And shame on you if you can see your own brand in the category that 26% cited (“I only ‘liked’ the brand to take advantage of a one-time offer”), you should know better than to use social channels to create an artificial community.)

Finally, the research examined Twitter use and found, yet again, the exact same three reasons as the main drivers for ‘unfollowing’ a brand:


Here’s a thought: perhaps the reason people find your content repetitive is that you post the same messages to multiple channels, forcing your most ardent fans to see the same stuff numerous times. I’ve always recommended that you should treat every channel differently and respect the nuances that each channel provides. These data from ExactTarget/CoTweet seem to back this up. It’s not just common sense, it’s fact.

One final thought. When a brand relationship goes sour, 17% of email subscribers will continually delete or ignore email from companies they no longer wish to interact with rather than making the effort to unsubscribe. So, not only do they no longer like you, you’re also now spamming them repeatedly. On Facebook, 19% of fans will choose to ignore posts from a brand they no longer like rather than formally ‘unliking’ your page. That’s like having a big fall out with a partner then having your ex- turn up everyday to rub your face in their newfound happiness. Ugly… As ExactTarget points out, in social channels it’s far better to try to keep the romance alive than to suffer the misery of an unhappy break-up.

The Social Break-UP video

Full research available from:

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