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 WordPress.com site. From tomorrow, all new posts will be landing on our shiny, new self-hosted WordPress.org site at www.wildorangemedia.com.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
If you follow this blog on the http://allisterfrost.com 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 http://www.wildorangemedia.com/blog/.
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!
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.
I think you’ll like this. http://www.followupthen.com 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]@followupthen.com from your authenticated email address and the service will act on your request. For instance, if you were to ‘bcc’ firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
email@example.com – to get an email reminder next month
firstname.lastname@example.org – to get an email reminder on 28th May
email@example.com – to get an email reminder at 17.00 local time
firstname.lastname@example.org – to get an email reminder on the 1st day of every month (handy if you like giving people “a pinch and a punch…”!)
every6amMar30@followupthen.com – to get an email reminder at 6.00am every 30th March
email@example.com – to get an email reminder five months from now
firstname.lastname@example.org – to get an email containing a list of all your pending follow-ups and links to cancel them
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. Friday630amemail@example.com, 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 http://www.followupthen.com/ and let me know what you think.
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 www.archant.co.uk, trading under the www.subscriptionsave.co.uk 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:
…which takes me to this page (I’ve masked the pre-filled email addresses for confidentiality reasons):
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:
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:
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.
Copyblogger.com 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:
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.
Crowdsourcing suggestions about your product can give you instant access to a wealth of customer feedback that can help improve your offering.
Sometimes it’s the finest details that can make the biggest difference, as proved by Christine’s clever use of “this” instead of “the”.
Some 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.