One of my businesses is a small manufacturing company that makes backpacks and outdoor clothing. A little while ago Zoli suggested to me that I should use the experience we have (in the “real world” as it were) to draw some conclusions as to directions technology companies could take. Today it’s the turn of internet marketing, and in particular newsletter campaigns.
My company uses campaign monitor to run it’s email newsletters, we‘ve had a look at some other offerings but Campaign Monitor is economical and, most importantly, user friendly.
Of late we’ve had the situation where we needed to send a subscriber list an email inviting them to join our newsletter list – sure we could have just uploaded all the addresses directly into the main subscriber list but there are some ethical (and in some countries, legal) problems with that, so we wanted to pursue an opt-in approach.
We spent awhile looking at ways to do it – initially we thought we’d send an email out with a subscribe link within it… some investigation (and some help from the responsive campaign Monitor twitter account) and we discovered the depressing statistics around email forms (see table below) – the chances of having it works successfully are incredibly low.
Of course this begs the question as to why such a simple thing as an embedded form within an email doesn’t work on all but a handful of email clients – this is 2009 after all….
The next avenue to investigate was creating a landing page and inserting a URL to that page within the email. Users could then click the link, get to a landing page and sign up. Of course it’s yet another step in the process and as such something we would have preferred not to need but it seems that standards being what they are, it’d be the only option to get this working. I sent a tweet out asking if people knew how to set up landing pages as part of the Campaign Monitor application – seemingly that was a logical requirement of business – Campaign Monitor replied advising me that in fact there is no way to do this. They can provide code for a subscribe box, but users then need to create and format a page and then work out how to get it into their own site.
Now I’m aware that most readers of this blog are early adopters and some basic HTML/CSS and FTPing is easy as pie – but we’re trying to think about the laggards for a minute – this stuff is hard for them (and generally involves third parties and expense). Campaign Monitor makes it super easy to customise a newsletter template, to then leave users unsupported when setting up the very page that directs subscribers to the newsletter is, in my opinion, a glaring omission.
I had a twitter tete-a-tete with someone that went something like this…
@CampaignMonitor …you guys should really offer CM hosted landing pages i reckon…..
annahaggerty @benkepes but there are advantages of having the landing page on your own website. Would you give that up to someone else?
@annahaggerty hmmm – joe bloggs user would – because it’s easier. Always gotta think about the late adopters
annahaggerty @benkepes Joe Bloggs would surely get a website first, email newsletter second, and would Joe Bloggs even know what a landing page is?
@annahaggerty he sure as hell wouldn’t know how to create and ftp one to his own site….
annahaggerty @benkepes Hes doing well to create a HTML email newsletter then
@annahaggerty well not really – CM makes it easy, it should also make other associated processes easy
Which just goes to show how much of a disconnect there is between those of us anointed ones who “get technology” and the other 99% of the world that actually produces stuff. I can’t help but think that’s a sad, an ultimately risky state of affairs.
Postscript – I’m told that MailChimp, a competing email newsletter service (and one I’ve used an been impressed with other than it’s shocking slowness) allows for customs landing pages to be hosted as part of the application. Just goes to show huh?