All posts in Email

Facebook to help companies direct ads to you using phone numbers and email addresses.

Ok, I know it sounds a little creepy but give me a chance to explain before you decide.
So here’s how it works: First of all it’s important to notice that this service is only currently available to all “managed” advertisers, meaning the ones who receive support from Facebook, meaning those that are paying Facebook. That being said, say you walk into a Best Buy and decide that you want a new TV, so you bring it up to the checkout at which the cashier asks if you would like to participate in their rewards program. You say sure cause it seems like a good idea (which it very well may be, this is not meant to be an attack on Best Buy), they give you a form to fill out that asks for the basics, name, number, address, email address and your favorite kind of marsupial (ok maybe not that last one). You get your little card and coupon and they get your information. Now this last part is important because one of the stipulations of this program is that companies can only use email address, phone numbers, etc that they have already acquired legally. Now the next step is that these companies will now upload their list to Facebook and upon doing so the information will be hashed so that Facebook itself won’t be able to collect info and sell it or something. At this point the utility will match your info from the list to your Facebook account and then allow the companies to choose to include you in a targeted ad campaign. In this case you may now see a Best Buy ad over to the right of the screen (where the ads exist now). That’s basically it, there is of course a little more to it like companies will be able point ads at specific demographics depending on what information you have given them. Keep in mind Facebook swears that there will be no ability for companies that have found you to harvest anymore information that you do not offer them.
As a marketer and a Facebook user I personally think this will be a pretty cool thing. Sure I am not crazy about seeing ads on Facebook because I go on to use it primarily for social purposes, but let’s face it, they’re a public company now and need to make money (badly at this point), so we are going to see ads. At least this way I will be seeing ads from companies that I actually might be interested in. And it will be great for advertisers to grow their list and target people that they want to, and that at least some point, cared enough about them to shop with them and give up some info.
Sure, there are always people buying lists and spammers getting you’re email addresses, but if you think about it, those people that would use a bought or stolen list would be spending money to reach people that may not have even heard of them. Not to mention there are already ads there anyway, why not see some that might get you a deal at your favorite restaurant or marsupial supply store.
As always if you need any help with this or any other web marketing stuff drop us a line at!

It’s getting to be that time again (even if we hate to see the summer end)

This is going to be a hard blog post to write because of my love for the warm months and summertime fun (it’s a rough day for me when I have to put the golf clubs and fishing poles away). However what I have to say is VERY important. The holidays are coming and with them come family, friends, food, fun and for many of our clients, the busiest sales time of the year.

So don’t get caught unprepared! Start implementing your changes now so they are ready when the time comes.

Other than making sure your site is running correctly (duh), here are a couple of very important areas to make sure you have rocking and rolling:


Product Pages:

Make sure your product pages are ripe with reviews, have pleasing photos of your products, and please please please have big colorful and properly located call to actions (add to cart buttons).


Checkout Process:

Have a very clean, easy, and fast checkout process. Have you looked at your abandoned cart numbers recently? Almost everyone that I have looked at these numbers with are shocked to see how many people have picked out their purchase and start to go through the process to buy and end up leaving before finishing. These abandonments are very often lessened by doing a few alterations to your checkout process, so get together with us or an expert and take a good hard look at what can be done to improve this VERY important area of your site.


Triggered Emails:

Triggered Emails are great for business. They have a vast array of functions that are all really powerful. You have your review request email sent after a purchase (of course you want to allow a bit of time for delivery) that are great for building up your review section and passing on the words of happy customers (and also great for “mending the fences” with people that may have had a less then satisfactory experience). There is your gift certificate emails, great for bringing in customers, new and returning. Of course the most important triggered email is the abandon cart email. I cannot stress this one enough, this email quickly pays for itself. It is sent a day or so after someone leaves the checkout process without finishing. It sends a gentle reminder to let the customer know that they have left something in their shopping cart and provides a link back to checkout process. These emails have an average of a 15% conversion rate and, in some of client’s cases, over a hundred thousand dollars is missed revenue!!! This is free money people!!! So if you don’t have triggered emails you should very strongly consider having a nice template made that relays your branding and styles to assist in your online business. You are seriously missing out if you don’t.


Email Blasting/Newsletters:

Have a great template put together and get the word out about sales events, new products and reminders to get holiday shopping done ahead of time. Sure, not everyone reads every newsletter, but plenty of people take a look, and if you’re offering something special there is a good chance for you to drum up some solid business.


Remarketing Ads

These little babies are a great way to spread the word of holiday sales, upcoming events, new products and so much more. They are fairly inexpensive and very much worth your time to get set up.


I have very rarely seen a website that is perfect for ecommerce, and I have often seen sites that could stand a lot of improvement. I said it before and I’ll say it again; Now is the time to make sure your ready to have a great holiday season. So get together with us soon and let’s make sure that while you’re enjoying the festivities with your loved ones your website is busy working away and making you the money that your company relies on!

Let’s talk!

Power of the written word

What do you do before making a purchase? Personally I do a few things. I look around for a good deal, I try to decide whether or not I really need said item, and I research, research, research. Part of my research is understanding the item, for instance, I recently set out to purchase a new television (my old one somehow managed to get a remote lodged in it during a certain sporting event). I realized I didn’t know the difference between plasma and LCD, so I looked it up and decided what technology was right for me. Then it came time to decide on a model. Let me tell you, there are a lot of TV models out there. I found a few that matched the specifications that I wanted and narrowed down my choices. This is the point at which the most important part of my research happens, product reviews. How many times have you done something or bought something simply because someone recommended it? People want to hear that others were happy with their experience in their own words.

So if you looking to make an online purchase and you don’t actually know anyone that owns the item where do you go? Savvy folks may have a favorite review site. Some may just type it into a search engine. Why not make it easier for your clients by adding review area to your product’s page! And how do you populate this review area you ask? Two ways, you can have a “write a review for this product” link on your product’s page and/or the more effective version, you have a self triggered email that requests a review from the recipient. You would be very surprised how many people will take a minute or two to write a few sentences about a product they love. Which brings up an interesting point. What about bad reviews or those few bad apples out there that might write something rude? Simple, your administrator must approve any review that gets posted to your site. Not to mention poor review gives you the opportunity to comment back to the unsatisfied party and the chance to show your great customer service. I also encourage you to put a few “three star” reviews as apposed to all “five star” just to show the validity of your review area.  So how do you get this wonderful service? Simple again, you can add it to your site along with other custom email services in the email 6 pack upgrade (to be addressed in an upcoming blog) or by it’s self  by contacting us at!

Worried about not getting the bang for you buck? A client of ours recently added it to their site and within the first week had over 70 great comments over a bunch of different product pages. Take a look at! The reviews are in the tabbed area under the product area.

In the end this is a great way to promote your product, encourage sales, and put a smile on your face for a job well done!

Pull the Trigger

Triggered email pays eCommerce dividends.

Triggered Emails are a powerful tool you have at your disposal on CV3. And they are very high on the bang-for-your-buck scale. They increase your touches with key site visitors, at key times, and are relatively simple to set up.  Best of all, triggered email campaigns pay dividends indefinitely. If you are doing anything cool with triggered emails, I would be very interested to hear about it. Drop me a line –

Abandoned Cart Emails and Request for Review Emails are a great place to start working on your triggered email strategy.

Abandoned cart emails are sent automatically to visitors who started the checkout process on your website, provided an email address, but never completed the order.  To understand the value of this technique think for a second about the conversion funnel on your website. If your site is like most eCommerce websites, the vast majority of visitors do not add a product to their cart. They come in, look around and leave.   Of those that do add a product, only a minority get to the point where they begin checkout. Of those that do begin checkout, you likely have a large minority that do not complete the process. This audience is THE MOST QUALIFIED LEAD SOURCE I can imagine. These are people who have come very close to ordering. Don’t let them get away!

The email you send can be timed, can include special incentives to completing the order and will prepopulate the abandoned cart info to make ordering easier.  This is free money, people! What are you waiting for?

Reviews matter. They give people unfamiliar with your brand a sense of trust about your company and your products and can help your natural search rankings by bringing fresh, keyword rich content to your site. An automated Request for a Review email message X days after an order can help you bring a stream of reviews to your website with little ongoing effort.  Simply configure an email to be sent asking the buyer to review your site and products. You may also consider holding off on the prompt until after the return period has expired (so your request doesn’t serve as a reminder to return) but sometimes sooner is better, depending on your business.

One of the keys for successful eCommerce is “working smarter, not harder”.  A robust, hosted solution like CommerceV3 is a step in the right direction.   On CV3, you don’t have to own the problem of hosting, web development, bug tracking, etc.   You can simply use the features of the system and focus on selling your products.

But as with all tools, you have to use them to get the benefit.

You can do this yourself by checking out the user documentation (or ask support to help you find it). Or if you are on the Growth Plan, talk to your coach about triggered emails. He can give you information on copy strategies and together you can make a plan. There are even email packages available where his team could do the work for you.

More Holiday Marketing Tips

Last week we talked about last minute holiday marketing tips. I received some good feedback and wanted to pass on a few extra ideas.

1) Don’t forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

I blushed when I read this email. It was an important omission. These two days help companies and customers kick off the holiday buying season early.   It certainly will vary by company and the brand relationship you have with your customers, but typically you have to be pretty aggressive to stand out on these days, e.g. 20% off or more. Perhaps you can try this to reactivate nonbuyers, nonclickers or other segments of your file while still “keeping your powder dry” for emailing your best customers other holiday offers later in the season.

  • Try subject lines that promote urgency: “Today Only… 20% Off All Blue Widgets”
  • Try to incentivize volume on items that might not normally be bought in volume “Buy 3, Get 2 Free”

2) Try a 12 Deals over 12 Days Promotion

Typically these are set up to feature one blow out item or premium on each day. Choose items that have high margin cross sells or which are lead in products to other products in your line.

3) Look Sideways for Best Practices

Study what other companies are doing for online promotion during the holidays. During the Holiday 2010 Season, Responsys tracked emails from more than 100 large retailers and published a report of holiday email trends. They cover the takeaways and outline some predictions on 2011 in this guide: Retail Email Guide to the Holiday Season in 2011.

I found it be a value source of information and an excellent guide for brainstorming, but don’t forget – it’s a marketing piece for their very high end mailing solution. Not all of their “Best Practices” are appropriate for small and medium sized retailers.

One final takeaway:  Retailers have been pushing holiday marketing earlier and earlier in the season, i.e. “Black November” to start holiday promotions on November 1st.  So if you haven’t started your messaging plan in earnest, it’s high time you start.   We are in the 11th hour, but it’s not too late if you get going now. Giddyup! … and Happy Holidays.



Your Holiday Plan – Time to “Turn the Crank”

Ah, the holidays…   time with the family, good cheer, snowflakes on kittens and the crush of eCommerce retailing.

For many eCommerce retailers, this is the sales performance Super Bowl.   This post is to designed to give a few quick marketing tips to help you “get yourself right” for gameday.




If you did CPC last year, look at the corresponding keyterm performance reports for comparable periods of time last year.   It’s always interesting to me that different parts of the product selection seem to have different curves during the holiday season.   Some items peak earlier than others. Some items tend to be more for last minute shopping.   Peak season is the time to pay special attention to these trends. There are a lot of companies that don’t play the CPC game aggressively until the peak season.   You’ll see an influx of competition and price pressure to maintain position. You want to maintain your position on the terms that you are profitable on.  You need to have clarity on which terms those are. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of smaller retailers give away a lot of profit by being overly aggressive on their terms during the holiday because the prices went beyond where good ROI could be had. Conversely, you leave money on the table by not bidding aggressively on your best terms during the buying frenzy.

Consider testing a discount as a way to differentiate from the competition. For example, you might try a 10% off offer in your ad text or landing page. Run it as an A/B test with two different ads with two different tracking urls.

Lastly, double down on the holiday blitz by using Microsoft AdCenter. I’ve been impressed with the volume coming from Bing and Yahoo and you might find different veins of opportunity in the bidding environment in the AdCenter. Again, now is the time to try. There is volume and opportunity.



Turn the crank!   Have you a had a meeting to talk about ramping up your email strategy for the peak season? Whoever is in charge of email should be at the top of their game right now. This is the peak season! If ever there is a time to be aggressive, it is now. How aggressive? Short answer is “VERY”. Do you have data from last year? Use it! Unless you saw some real blowback from over mailing – ADD SOME MAILINGS. You really don’t know where the line is, until you push up against it.

Also, this is the time where you have the best chance to do some testing. Segment your list. Try 3 messages per week vs 2 messages per week and compare results.   You are trying to maximize your ROI for this year and learn for the future. The peak season is a great time to run statistically significant tests.

Testing ideas:
Try an A/B/A test. Break your list into three parts. Depending on your list size this could be 33%, 33%, 33% or 10%, 10%, 80%.  Test an offer on two of the parts and roll the winner to the remainder. This allows you to optimize your offers for more than half of your audience.

Abandoned Cart Emails

Do you have them in place?  There are incremental sales to be had here at no additional cost. Peak season is the time when you have the most abandons. If you don’t have abandoned cart emails in place there is no quicker route to ROI than to implement them now.

Likewise, Product Reviews and Review request emails. The holiday season is the time for you to get a good volume of these to build up the quantity of reviews on your site. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an abundance of fresh content for search engines and site visitors in Q1 2012?


Shopping Engines


Just make a point to revisit your feeds and tweak your listings before Thanksgiving.  Make sure your listed products are up to date and in stock.


Your Webstore


Freshen up your category list. Does it make sense to make a “Gifts” category or “Holiday” category? Consider some seasonal “Hero Images” for your homepage or category pages. If you don’t have any, there still might be time. Circle the wagons and schedule a photo shoot.




Not much to talk about here.   SEO is not something you can change quickly.  Hopefully the peak season is the time when you can reap the benefits from your natural listings (and the work you’ve done to make your site search friendly, fresh and content rich all year).


Design Studio: What Makes a Hero?

One of the most common challenges I face as a designer is the task of simplifying designs.   Most of the time, the companies I work with would like to be able to communicate many different things about their company and their products to customers.   In email newsletters, for example, they might want  to show new products, showcase best sellers, display all of the product categories, highlight some new press, talk about upcoming seasonal items, present a special offer, solicit participation on the site’s blog and also do a survey.   Most of the time my job is to meet all of these needs and to present the information in a visually appealing, easy to understand format.

Sometimes, however, it is also my job to push back.  Part of being a designer is to be proactive and to suggest other approaches to the presentation of the information that might actually bring greater success to the presentation or campaign.  eCommerce is customer-centric and prospective customers often have very limited attention.  I help my customers “get through” by helping them focus their messages.

In this post, I would like to talk  about one technique for getting through.  I will talk about using a single strong image to simplify and bring impact to your presentation.   This technique is called the “Hero Image”.

The basic idea of the “Hero Image” is this:  Show don’t tell.  When you use a Hero Image you let the presentation be a visceral experience that conveys your brand promise.  For a clothier, that could be the confidence and happiness that you feel when you look good.   For a gourmet company, it could be the sensual experience of quality food.    Perhaps the image has a few words that position the company or enhance the essence of the picture, but otherwise you let the image carry the load.

So what can this mean for eCommerce retailer?  Look at your messaging on your website and emails.   Is it overly complicated?    Consider trying a new approach that captures your company’s unique selling proposition with a hero image.  Here are some recent examples:

Do you have an image that really says who you are?  Try testing it head to head against your current creative and see how it does.   Let me know if you want a second opinion.  Email me:

Have fun!


An Update:     I don’t think any company has done this better than Apple.  Steve Jobs understood the value of simplicity.  Modern life for many people is frenetic and complicated and people are often overwhelmed by a barrage of marketing messages.  But look at Apple’s messaging.  It was calm.  It was clear.  It was confident.  Recently, it was also poignant.

Did you see the page in tribute to Steve Jobs?  It’s as good an example as I can think of and a fitting hommage to man that knew the power of simplicity.

Many times, “less” can be “more”.



Socialize Email Marketing Campaigns – Part 2

When you’re looking to engage your customers in your social network, go one step further. Posting your social icons where your customers will consistently see them is a great best practice, but if you want to get a bigger following in a shorter period of time, try other tactics too.

Involve them in a trade of sorts. Ask them to like you on Facebook and in return give them something back such as a discount on your products, early social fan sales, free shipping, etc. Below are some email marketing examples that spotlight great ways to do this:

Socialize Email
Facebook Friends PreviewLike Us on Facebook Example Image

Another great way to get a larger following on your social networks is to involve your customers in the community – exchanging ideas, following along on some longer event, creating fans of the week, etc. The ideas are endless and will get your customers involved in your community in a fun way and hopefully keep them coming back for more. Following are a couple of industry examples:Facebook Fan of the WeekSocialize your Email example Facebook Charitable Campaign Example

Get Out of the Import/Export Business

Many of the businesses we work with here at Timberline Interactive (and CommerceV3) use email service providers (ESP) like Bronto to send out their email marketing campaigns. The last thing any time-strapped creative director or marketing manager needs is to spend time exporting subscribers from their store, and uploading them to an ESP… And rightly so: their time is better spent creating better emails, more refined target segments, and everything else that makes their email marketing channel a success.

So we cut out the middleman, and leveraged Bronto’s sophisticated API to be able to directly import new subscribers from anywhere on your CommerceV3 site: checkout, catalog request pages, “my account” member signup forms, and (of course) your standard email newsletter signup. Any information collected on the pages can be brought over to the subscriber’s record in Bronto, allowing you to take advantage of Bronto’s segmentation capabilities by geotargeting, signup source and whatever other relevant segments you might conjure up (now that you’re not spending all of your time exporting/importing csv files).

Ready to streamline your website’s integration with your ESP? If you’re on the CommerceV3 platform and working with Bronto or another ESP, contact us here at Timberline Interactive, and we’ll discuss what what your integration options are.

Socialize your Email Marketing Campaigns

Socialize your Emails Part 1
by Kathie Ross

Rarely do you see an email marketing campaign these days without social links. They have become synonymous with email campaigns. There are many different ways to use them and to promote them.  Some of which are:

  1. Join Us and Like Us links
  2. Share with your friends links
  3. The big trade – offering something for liking them on Facebook, etc ( I will talk about this in a later blog post)
  4. Community involvement with a twist ( I will talk about this in a later blog post)

The most common way is to use the social icons as ways to get customers to “Like” or “Join” the social community. This allows companies to communicate with their email recipients in many different ways. It will also help the company to go more viral in their approach thus getting more followers, more email sign ups and ultimately more purchases.  Over time I have collected some of my favorite designs. It’s fun to see the style that each company puts into their individual email – the branding of their social programs.

Following are some of my favorites:


Socialize Email Marketing

Social Email Marketing

Social Email Campaigns

Socialize Email Campaigns

Facebook and Twitter in EMail

Facebook and Twitter in Email

Promote Facebook in your Emails

Icon for promoting Facebook in your Emails

Social Icons for Email

Social Icons for Email

SWYN (Share with Your Network) Share icons allow companies to get their email recipients to pass on their email campaigns to anyone in their Facebook, Twitter or other networks:

Socialize Your Email with Share Buttons

Socialize your Email with Share Buttons

Socialize Your Email with Facebook Buttons

Socialize Your Email with Facebook Buttons

The examples above are great ways to get started with socializing your email. In the next blog post I will follow up with some further examples of getting new followers.