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I have been consulting about social media since it was brand new. I remember when people moved from MySpace to this thing called Facebook…. and, at that time, Facebook was really easy to use with limited options. :)

When social media was just emerging, CBC created a documentary called “The Selling Game” that profiled some of the groundbreaking work we were doing with Sauza Tequila & Facebook. It was new, different, and hadn’t been done before.

Since that time, I have probably had a thousand conversations with organizations and brands of all sizes from all over the world about how to properly use social media, develop a good content calendar, measuring social ROI, and more.

Throughout all those conversations, I have always seen the different stages the leadership teams go through, especially when it’s their first time dipping their tool into the social media ecosystem.

So, when I saw this graphic from one of my favorite bloggers, Tom Fishburne, I had to post it here. He just captures each phase so perfectly!

Stages of Social Network Adoption


Ad retargeting has really changed the advertising landscape and redefined how marketers can put their message in front of you.

The age-old sales motto has been that it takes 7 touchpoints to convert a prospect.

While in the past it might have been difficult to get those 7 touchpoints, ad retargeting makes it a breeze. After all, if you were a media buyer years ago limited only to TV, radio and print, it was a challenge to forecast just how often your message would reach the same individual. You would know the total impressions, and you could hypothesize if that same person had watched your ad yesterday and saw it again today, but it was a challenge.

With ad retargeting, you can literally have an advertisement follow someone around the web based on their specific behavior.

Let me give you an example….

Last October, my wife and I had a beautiful baby girl. When this happened (aside from being over-joyed and sleep deprived), I must have gone on several websites looking for information about diapers.

Prior to October, never (never ever!) had I seen an ad online for diapers. After October, almost every single ad I saw on any website was for diapers. It was like Huggies and Pampers had invaded my cyberspace. It didn’t matter what website I was on or what I was reading, there was always that ad reminding me I needed diapers somewhere on the screen.

This is ad retargeting in all it’s glory.

Of course, the layers of retargeting go much deeper and I’m just beginning to scratch the surface. You can retarget people based on their search terms, the sites they visit and more.

Let me give you an example of how we use ad retargeting here at Elite Email.

Through Google AdWords and the Google Display Network, we have it setup so that if you visit Elite Email, but do not signup for our free trial or login to an account, then our ads will follow you around the web for the next 60 days. If you didn’t know about ad retargeting, you may think that Elite Email has bought up every advertising slot on the entire web…. but that isn’t the case. During those 60 days, if you click on an ad, come back to Elite Email, and signup, then the ads will stop.

We even get a bit fancier here (oh so fancy!) because the ads you see as you traverse the web will actually be different depending on what pages you looked at. So, if you were focused on our “Features” pages, the ads will be really feature focused. Whereas if you were spending time on our “Pricing” page, the ads you see will remind you just how awesome our pricing is.

To the consumer ad retargeting could be a bit annoying at times, and possibly even border on creepy. However, to the advertiser, it is a game changer that opens up a world of possibilities.

We have done some fancy things with our enterprise clients where we tie in email marketing, landing pages and retargeting. Essentially, if you click on a link in our client’s newsletter about a certain product, you arrive at a specific landing page. That page has a special tracking pixel that acts as the trigger to begin the remarketing campaign. Now, as you travel around the web, you will see ads about that specific product until you come back to the site and complete your purchase or more than 60 days has gone by. This is a great way to boost conversions and tie in all the marketing together to get the best possible results.

Here is a great cartoon from Tom Fishburne who is one of my favorite illustrators that really sums up ad retargeting…

Ad Re-targeting Cartoon


Everyone who knows me, knows that I am always preaching the importance of testing when it comes to email marketing.
Test to see how your email displays on different clients…. test different subject lines…. test different sending times…. test different calls to action…. TEST, TEST, TEST!

Whenever we release a new email marketing template for our customers, we spend days checking and re-checking the design on almost 70 different email clients. It’s not a fun process (as my designers will tell you), but it’s a vital one nonetheless.

Yesterday I saw a really great and funny example of a campaign that probably could have used a bit more email client testing. I obviously subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and have seen all sorts of funny things over the years, but this one easily jumps to the top. And, since I always talk about content & context, in the context of yesterday being Valentine’s Day, this might be even more funny.

Before you check out the image below, I do want to say that I am a huge fan of Search Engine Watch. I have been a subscriber and loyal user of their site for more years then I can remember. They produce excellent content and are always very reliable. They are true leaders in their field and I have the utmost respect for them and all their contributors. Anyway, moving along….

When their daily newsletter landed in my inbox on my iPhone 4S, this was the subject line I saw:

Email Subject Line Length on iPhone 4S - Search Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013)

Unless the search engine optimization world has changed a lot and Search Engine Watch is promoting some sort of new link building tactic, I think this was just an honest mistake… LOL!

The actual subject line is “A Guide to Getting Started With Analytics” and on desktop clients, such as Gmail shown below, this displayed correctly.

Sesrch Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013) - Gmail

These days it is hard to test your subject line across every desktop, web-based, and mobile client since there are so many. But, without testing you certainly run the risk of having display issues like this. Ultimately, I suspect the guys at Search Engine Watch would have a laugh about this, but for many other organizations this would be far from a laughing matter.

The general “best practices” rule that we tell our customers is for a subject line to be less than 50 characters. That being said, the iPhone in portrait orientation only displays about 40 characters so if you have anything longer than that, it might be truncated. Certainly there are some situations that call for longer subject lines with more details and there are others that can call for shorter subject lines. The key is really to come up with something that will entice the reader to open your message. But, if you’re one of the people writing a longer subject line, be careful of where it might get cut off so you don’t make the same mistake as Search Engine Watch.


This past weekend I was browsing through a Break.com picture gallery (…very funny stuff!) when I stumbled upon a really interesting “Join Our Mailing List” type advertisement.

I’m a big fan of asking people in-store to join your mailing list as I believe that can be a key growth driver of your mailing list (in addition to online signups from your website, Facebook page, etc).

Over the years, I’ve seen all sorts of incentives to get people to join your mailing list. Often there are ads to be entered in a draw for a certain prize, to win a free lunch, etc, etc.

But, this Godfather’s Pizza add puts a whole new spin on it…

Godfather's Pizza: "Join Our Mailing List" Ad

I’m usually the first one to praise the amazing limitless possibilities of email marketing, but in this case, I think things may have been pushed too far. I think I can admit that where email marketing falls short is in delivering you a “free medium pizza by email”. I wonder if that pizza via email would be hot when it gets to me? Can I order other toppings on this ‘pizza by email’ or is a basic cheese pizza the only one that transmits nicely through cyberspace?

Let this be a lesson to everyone…
Driving mailing list growth in-store = GREAT!
Offering to send a pizza by email = REQUIRES MORE THOUGHT (and maybe a new flyer!)


Yesterday was a big day, tomorrow is a big day and now we’ve made today a big day.

What am I talking about…?

Well, for fans of the Terminator movie franchise, you might be interested in knowing that yesterday (April 19, 2011) at 8:11pm Skynet came online.

What that means is that the infamous “Judgment Day” is set to happen tomorrow.
[Source: Terminator Wiki ]

Yesterday, director James Cameron actually tweeted “Skynet was supposed to go operational tonight.”

So, just to recap:

April 19: Skynet comes online
April 20: Database server upgrades at Elite Email completed
April 21: Judgment Day

Is that a coincidence? Yep, probably…
But, still, it’s worth mentioning!
[As a legal disclaimer the chance of our new database server turning against mankind is slim… very slim…]

In all honesty, I am very happy to say that we have successfully completed an upgrade to our database servers. We now have a LOT more power under the hood.

We’ve grown a lot in the past 12 months with new users signing up every day from around the world, and we needed to make sure our backend infrastructure is always a step ahead so we can continue to provide a flawless experience when using Elite Email.

This round of upgrades puts us way ahead and it was all done with less than 5 minutes of downtime.
[Kudos to our system administrators!]

Plus, these upgrades will help power all the new reporting features that we just released (in beta).


No one panic, but the world as we know it just changed.
Things will never be the same, and there’s no going back now.
Gone are the simpler times when a good ol’ fashioned hyphen in the word “e-mail” would clearly mean that you were referring to ‘electronic mail’.

Now that hyphen is gone… it has moved on…. it’s in a better place.

At least we can all take comfort in knowing that the hyphen is not alone. It can now rest easy alongside its friend, the ‘space’ in the word “web site”, and its cousin, the ‘hyphen’ in the word “on-line”.

It goes without saying that this profound loss will have an effect on us all. Now all those times you are at the water cooler and you say “Hey John, can you send me that electronic mail about our meeting…”, well, that’s not entirely correct because you could have just said ‘email’. One word, no dash, all by itself. Oh my.

And, think about the children (oh, the children!). They will grow up in a world without possibly knowing that there was once a time when all of humanity needed that hyphen to help us with the understanding that this form of communication was in fact electronic mail, not to be confused with putting a paper envelope in the mailbox.

But, alas, we must all remain strong and think about the future. We must lean on each other’s shoulders and prepare for the days ahead. The days may be longer and more difficult as we all cope with this loss, but we will persevere. We will, as one, remember the good days we had with the hyphen and welcome ‘email’ in its new form into our hearts.

And, now a moment of silence to reflect on all the times we spent with our beloved hyphen…

RIP - hyphen in e-mail removed

For those that don’t know, the AP Stylebook announced on Twitter that they are officially changing the spelling from e-mail to email and dropping the hyphen. This will appear in the 2011 print version of the stylebook and will take effect immediately online.

AP Stylebook Removes Hyphen from e-mail

In my opinion, this is a good move for two reasons.

  1. The hyphen is a relic from our past where internet technology and terminology needed to be explained carefully and fully. The sheer fact that the AP Stylebook broke the news via a Tweet is a sign that the world has moved past this.
  2. Most people had already dropped the hyphen, which you can also clearly see on Google Trends. I’m not saying that if everyone does something it makes it right, but in this case it’s pretty compelling evidence that the hyphen had generally already been taken away.

The Email Experience Council (which Elite Email has been a member of since the beginning) started a petition in October 2008 to remove the hyphen. This made it clear that those heavily connected to the industry knew it was time for a change. So, today I say congratulations to the EEC because whether or not the petition made the entire difference, it definitely played its part.

Now the question is, what words will change next?

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