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Archive: Oct 2015

  1. How to Sidestep the Spam Folder in Your Email Marketing

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    by Elizabeth Victor
    Spam is the scourge of the Internet. From phishing messages to malicious attachments and links to viruses, spam affects billions of email users each year. Although spam messages are at a 12-year low, nearly half of email sent is spam.

    If you’re running an email marketing campaign, and your emails are mistakenly flagged as spam, you’ll lose conversions as well as revenue.

    This article will outline how a small business or email marketer can avoid the spam folder by following the CAN-SPAM law, using email best-practices, and testing regularly.

    Follow the law

    The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 protects consumers from common spamming practices by fining violators up to $11,000 for each email address violated, along with criminal prosecution. It requires that emailers avoid using deceptive headers, subject lines, and reply-to addresses. It also requires that the sender provide a physical address in emails and include an unsubscribe link that’s valid for at least 30 days.

    If you’re working with a reputable email service provider (ESP), following the major provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act is easy because your ESP will have checks in place to avoid violations. (For example, Mailchimp will not allow you to send any emails unless you have filled in a physical mailing address.)

    Require double opt-in

    The best way to stay out of the spam folder is to make sure you’re sending mail to people who actually want it.

    Some marketers live by the motto that any email address they have access to is fair game for their marketing emails. But doing that puts you at risk of being marked as spam when the person gets that first email.

    Instead, add people to your list only if they are expecting emails from you. And to make sure that’s the case, require double opt-in: After your subscribers sign up or are added, your ESP will send a confirmation email that asks the owner of the email address to click a link to confirm their subscription. Only after they have confirmed will they be added to your list and receive your emails.

    Keep your lists fresh

    Subscribers will also mark your emails as spam if they can’t remember signing up for your messages.

    Let’s say you collected emails for your company newsletter at a conference event. When you got back, you added the emails to your marketing list. Your ESP sent a confirmation email and got a confirmation from the subscriber. At this point, those subscribers know who you are and why they are receiving these emails.

    But if you don’t send any emails for a few months, it’s possible that subscribers may forget they ever signed up. So, the next time you send an email, they don’t remember you and mark you as spam. So… send messages regularly. You don’t need to overload your subscribers, but avoid long periods of no contact.

    Don’t use spammy copy

    Your recipients can’t read your emails if spam filters block the delivery of your messages. Filters work by examining your email content for signs of spam. They flag each instance, assigning points, the amount of which can vary depending on how the server weighs the specific spammy words or phrases it flags. Once the accumulated points reach the ESP’s spam threshold, the email is automatically sent to the spam folder.

    Filtering standards aren’t published, because then spammers would know how to beat them. However, here are some common practices that can trigger filters:

    • Using all caps
    • Mentioning a lot of money
    • Promising a money-back guarantee
    • Using lots of exclamation points
    • Using the word “free” too many times
    • Using trigger words like “iPhone 6,” “XXX,” “money making,” “earn big buck,” or “$$$.”

    Keep testing

    Keep in mind that spam filters adapt and evolve over time. When email users mark messages as spam, the email filters learn more about which emails recipients consider required reading and which they think are a nuisance. Accordingly, you need to perform regular testing of your email marketing campaigns to determine your deliverability rates.

    Many ESPs have metrics built into their products. You can see the deliverability rates for each campaign. By analyzing those metrics based on the content of your campaigns, you can get an idea of whether you need to change your approach.

    If you don’t have that information available through your ESP, consider doing homemade tests. You’ll need to create email addresses from various major providers—Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.—and use various email clients to access them. Add those addresses to your email marketing list. When you send out your campaigns, log into each address to determine whether the message was delivered.

    If you find that a campaign has not been delivered, check your content and practices for characteristics that may have triggered the spam filters. (If you find that after a few tries your messages still end up in the spam folder, you may have been blacklisted.)

  2. Women in the Workplace in 2015: Promotion Trends and Challenges

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    by Ayaz Nanji
    Women are still underrepresented at every level in major North American corporations, and the disparity is greatest in senior leadership, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org.

    The report was based on data from 118 large companies across North America that were weighted by industry to match the Fortune 500, as well as data from a survey of 30,000 employees.

    Women comprise 45% of all entry-level employees at the companies examined, yet they account for just 32% of senior managers and 17% of C-suite executives, the analysis found. Those numbers are slightly improved over 2012’s.

    Below, additional key findings from the report.

    Desire for Advancement

    Entry-level and mid-level women and men share similar aspirations for promotion to the next level; however, senior-level women are less interested in advancing than are senior-level men.

    Women are more likely to cite “stress/pressure” as a top issue for not wanting to advance compared with men.

    An Uneven Playing Field

    Women are almost four times more likely than men to believe they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender; women are also twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future.

    About the research: The report was based on data from 118 companies across North America that were weighted by industry to match the Fortune 500, as well as data from a survey of 30,000 employees.

  3. 3 things you need to know about bot traffic

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    Home  › Media › Display Advertising
    robots

    Mike O’Brien

    Most advertisers don’t think they’re affected by bots. But since more than half of the Internet’s traffic is not human – though it’s not necessarily nefarious – that assumption is most likely false.

    It’s no secret that fraudulent traffic costs advertising billions every year. But surprisingly few think their sites are affected.

    According to Distil Networks’ 2015 Digital Publisher’s Guide to Measuring and Mitigating Non-Human Traffic, only 37 percent of advertisers think non-human traffic has a significantly negative effect on their campaigns. Among publishers, it’s only 14 percent.

    “I think a lot of people feel like because they’re not actively doing anything to engage in that ecosystem, it doesn’t impact them,” says Rami Essaid, CEO of Distil Networks. “They feel like they haven’t gotten their hands dirty so they’re clean. They don’t realize how widespread it is.”

    Bot traffic denial could be compared to if a principal sends home letters about the rampant bullying at school. Most parents would have the same reaction: “My child would never!”

    For many advertisers, seeing good ROI after investing in legitimate channels leads them to believe everything is going well. They often fail to realize how much better it could be going.

    “Nobody really has the tools in place to really detect these things. I think that goes hand-in-hand with everybody’s ‘not me’ mentality. Why would you do anything if you don’t think it’s impacting you?” says Essaid.

    Here are three things you need to know:

    1. How do you realize if it’s affecting you?

    First, realize that it most likely is. Distil Networks found that 22.7 percent of 2014’s web traffic was bad bots and cyber criminals don’t really discriminate.

    And while they’re often crafty and sophisticated, in many cases, they don’t even have to be.

    “They’re practically walking through the front doors,” says Essaid. “If you don’t lock your door or have a security system, are the robbers going to have to be that sophisticated to rob you?”

    sophistication-level

    The first step to stopping fraudulent traffic is being able to recognize it. According to the report, three-quarters of publishers and 59 percent of advertisers are either unable – or unsure how – to do so.

    A few ways to protect yourself against bots include:

    • Only buying from known sources and working with reputable vendors.
    • Setting up a piece of JavaScript that will alert you if it’s seen bots.
    • Correlating your campaigns and their performance on the most granular level possible. Being aware of every dollar spent and tracking every click, you’ll have a much better picture of what did and didn’t convert. As a result, you’ll waste a lot less of your advertising dollars.
    • Learn what to look for. Analyzing views to video platforms like YouTube and Dailymotion, a group of European researchers was able to recognize bots by atypical human actions, such as many times for very short periods of time.
    • Educating yourself on the threats most common to your industry and business model

    According to the report, areas like digital publishing, travel and e-commerce are among the hardest hit. It makes sense to Mike Zaneis, executive vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), who points out that the cyber criminals are simply following the money.

    “Think about how valuable a would-be traveler in the U.S. who might want to do a European trip is to an airline or a hotel,” Zaneis says. “Those are very high ROI, very high cost demographics.

    “If I’m running bots, I’m going to make my bots look like those types of consumers,” he adds.

    traffic-by-website

    2. Mobile’s newness is a double-edged sword

    All advertisers know that mobile has a unique set of challenges, such as the difficulty of measurement and lack of viewability standards. The decreased sophistication carries over to fraud detection, as well.

    However, mobile also presents challenges to cyber criminals. With significantly smaller screens, there are simply less ads on each page for them to work with. As a result, the criminals are most attracted to those ads with the highest cost-per-mille.

    “There are challenges, but with every challenge, there’s also an opportunity,” says Zaneis.

    The newness of mobile, at least compared to desktop, usually works against marketers. But in this case, that relatively novelty helps them: the industry is far enough along that marketers have a better sense of what to look out for.

    When thousands of fraudulent apps were spotted in Google Play earlier this year they were suspended very shortly after the report’s release.

    “Mobile might be fraud with more fraud, but it might be easier for us to clean it up because we’re aware of it sooner than [we were] in the desktop world,” says Zaneis.

    3. There are different kinds of bots

    The word “bot” has a very negative connotation because of how often they’re used nefariously. But a bot isn’t necessarily criminal.

    Distil Networks’ report is full of references to “bad bots” – malware – and “good bots.” The latter generally refers to things like search engine spiders, which make up more than 36 percent of web traffic.

    badbot-goodbot-human

    The difference, however, is that Google, Yahoo and Bing self-identify their bots as bots. That way, publishers know not to count the non-human traffic the search engines generate as part of their sold inventory.

    But behind door number three is another kind of web traffic: not human, but not insidious, either. For example, someone using a bot to compare prices.

    “It’s not human traffic a marketer would want to pay for, but it’s not criminal,” he continues. “We need to create a system so we can identify that kind of traffic and take it out of the inventory that’s sold because it generates a massive amount of traffic on the Internet.”

    “No matter what, we want to stop [cyber criminals] from ever making a penny on digital advertising, but we also don’t want to shut down things like search engine spiders and e-commerce spiders,” he continues. “We don’t want to undermine the trust marketers have in our supply chain by selling them bots.”

    Summary

    Some non-human traffic is fraudulent and some merely causes a technical problem. Both kinds can cost advertisers a lot of money, whether intentionally or not.

    To combat this problem, it’s crucial to stick to reputable sources and vendors, and to educate yourself on your industry’s common threats, as well as the signs of non-human traffic.

    On an industry-wide level, major organizations working to fight the issue, as well. Earlier this week, the Media Rating Council (MRC) issued new guidelines for digital media vendors and companies to detect and filter out non-human traffic.

    In addition, TAG announced a new anti-fraud program this morning. “Verified by TAG” has two main elements: an official registry of legitimate advertisers and publishers, and a payment identification system connecting all ad inventory to those who are to be paid for them.

  4. How Uber thinks locally to expand globally

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    by Sophie Loras

    Asia Pacific’s diverse markets mean a localization strategy is an imperative part of Uber’s marketing and expansion plans for the region.

    Localization is a key ingredient of Uber’s Asia Pacific (APAC) marketing strategy as it battles to stay ahead of regional competition, a company executive has told delegates at ClickZ Live Singapore.

    Western technology giants that have failed in the region previously have often implemented Western business models, instead of thinking and hiring locally, said Vidit Agrawal, Uber’s Singapore-based strategic finance manager for APAC.

    “Asia is a very interesting market for us and it’s amazing that a lot of people don’t understand that this is a massive continent,” said Agrawal. “The APAC region has so many different countries, so many different cultures, each country is different, laws are different, the media is different, the people are different and the requirements are different… so we customize our product and then customize our marketing to the needs of each city,” he said.

    Competition is particularly fierce in the China market, where Uber has a prescence in 18 cities.

    Earlier this year, two of China’s biggest technology competitors, Tencent and Alibaba, joined forces in a US$6 billion merger forming Didi Kuaidi, to counter Uber’s move into the country. As a result, China has an enormous amount of money in the online taxi-hailing market, as everyone tries to recruit new users.

    To counter this competition, Uber segments users into groups, such as the 18-35 user group, the large expatriate group in Shanghai, cities beyond tier-one and tier-two, and localizes strategies for each one. “It’s not just marketing to China. It’s marketing to a city. You break it down to a city.”

    A partnership with Chinese search engine giant Baidu also gives Uber access to a network of apps and websites but it remains limited by Tencent’s blocking of its WeChat account – China’s most popular social app.

    Here, Agrawal outlines the five ways Uber has developed its marketing strategy for the APAC region:

    1. Brand your product

    An important lesson is to brand your product and tell your story, said Agrawal.

    “As a company, when we started we probably weren’t that great at telling our story and even before we started telling it, the media jumped onto us and there was a lot of negative stuff,” he said. Now, five years on, with exponential growth into 63 countries, across more than 300 cities, (around 20 percent of them in APAC), it has become increasingly important for Uber to tell that story.

    Part of that is having a more open strategy to engage media. Uber has also taken a lead from Apple’s Steve Jobs: to keep it simple.

    “What is Uber? Uber is a very simple app, that’s all we are, that connects a rider – which is you, to a driver partner. You request a driver, you take the ride, and you pay the driver.”

    uber-arriving-now-tokyo-white-5002. Sex is in the product, not the marketing

    Without the right products, a business will fail, said Agrawal. That means giving clients choice. Uber invests heavily in technology as a way to maintain its competitive edge.

    UberPOOL, for example, has been launched in several global markets, including most recently, Bangalore. The car-pooling service means cheaper fares for passengers and, in theory, less congested roads.

    Then there are autonomous cars. “This technology is coming, and it’s coming fast and as a company we realized how important it is to be ahead of technology,” said Agrawal.

    Innovation doesn’t stop at cars. The business has launched UberBOATS in Istanbul and earlier this year, UberCHOPPER in Shanghai.

    uberchopper-shanghai-500

    Beyond transport, Uber is testing food and other delivery services.

    “These are very tough markets and I don’t think any start up in the world has nailed the food delivery business,” said Agrawal. “But for us, because we have the network, because we have the bandwidth to do it, we can test these products, we can make mistakes and we can learn.”

    3. Localization

    Localization begins with hiring local people, said Agrawal. “We understand that India is a market which requires its own people, you need to think like an Indian. And it’s the same for China. Being local is very important and as a company we understand and respect that,” he said.

    Uber offers different products for different cities, such as UberAUTO, which was launched in New Delhi in April to accommodate auto-rickshaw users.

    However localization goes beyond services, said Agrawal. It might include cash payments for some emerging markets where credit cards are not feasible, or in China, where Uber has partnered with Alibaba’s Alipay system – the preferred payment method of Chinese consumers.

    uber-cashpayments-india-500

    4. Growth hacking

    “We realized that all you have to do, is make your user experience your product once, and he will become your sales guy, your marketer,” said Agrawal.

    Data

    Rather than spending big on media campaigns, Uber looks to growth hacking. Local markets such as India do require some forms of traditional advertising, where print media is still strong, and banners, but generally Uber avoids this.

    Instead Uber uses data to better understand user behavior, what products consumers like, at what times they are riding, which parts of the city they live in, and then targeting users with marketing they will be more receptive to.

    For a market like India, it will start by reaching out to the techies and then the 18-35 group. Then marketing will differ according to city size.

    “When you start going to smaller and smaller cities, a credit card may not work and you might have to think of cash options,” he said. “The offering has to be different, the approach to people has to be different, even the celebrities are very different.”

    In India, Uber also develops partnerships and events around the cricket, “because that’s the pulse of the country.”

    Word of Mouth

    Uber claims more than 95 percent of its riders have learnt about Uber from other riders, and that includes groups that are outside of the digital realm such as older demographics.

    Referrals

    A referral reward system for first time riders is also employed for some markets.

    Influencers and celebrities

    When using influencers or celebrities, use the right people, Agrawal said. For example, when launching in a new market, Uber gets a local celebrity to be rider zero for that city. This brings in local media and events around that. Influencers and celebrities don’t need to be paid for their endorsements either if value can be achieved for both parties. For Britney Spears, that was the hype generated around the launch of her Pretty Girls album debut in May in specially kitted out UberSUVs in Los Angeles.

    In Singapore, Uber has a long-standing relationship with entertainer Hossan Leong.

    Discounts

    “A lot of companies have basically killed their business by giving out discounts,” said Agrawal. Companies wanting to use discounts as an incentive need to be smart about it.

    Uber only targets the first time user. “We are going to give them a free ride – we are happy to do that, but we are not going to keep giving free rides to our existing riders, because they have used the product, they have loved the product and we believe they will come back to our product again.”

    There was mixed feedback however on an UberX free ride day in Singapore last year. While the company said it received unprecedented media exposure and recruited new clients through the stunt, many users complained they could not get a car.

    5. Creative ad campaigns

    “A lot of times you don’t need to spend a lot to come up with creative campaigns,” said Agrawal. “You just need to be smart. Sometimes it’s cheesy and it’s funny, sometimes it is that emotional “aww” factor that is important – but you just need to see what will sell, and do it.”

    Beyond its Shanghai UberCHOPPER stunt, the company is continuously experimenting with clever initiatives. In April it cashed in on the buzz around HBO’s Game of Thrones by offering fans in New York the chance to ride the Iron Throne.

    In Hong Kong last year Uber partnered with local culinary start-up, Secret Ingredient, to test food delivery services and grow its profile.

    UberIceCream has become an annual global event in July, while UberKITTENS has proven so popular in some markets, UberPUPPIES have been introduced, allowing users to play with a pet.

    And in Asia, Uber now offers on-demand lion dancing over the Chinese New Year period.

    “[During these events] we are doing innovative testing and logistics capabilities, at the same time, people love it and it becomes synonymous with Uber,” said Agrawal.”

  5. 3 things you need to know about bot traffic

    Leave a Comment
    by Mike O’Brien

    Most advertisers don’t think they’re affected by bots. But since more than half of the Internet’s traffic is not human – though it’s not necessarily nefarious – that assumption is most likely false.

    It’s no secret that fraudulent traffic costs advertising billions every year. But surprisingly few think their sites are affected.

    According to Distil Networks’ 2015 Digital Publisher’s Guide to Measuring and Mitigating Non-Human Traffic, only 37 percent of advertisers think non-human traffic has a significantly negative effect on their campaigns. Among publishers, it’s only 14 percent.

    “I think a lot of people feel like because they’re not actively doing anything to engage in that ecosystem, it doesn’t impact them,” says Rami Essaid, CEO of Distil Networks. “They feel like they haven’t gotten their hands dirty so they’re clean. They don’t realize how widespread it is.”

    Bot traffic denial could be compared to if a principal sends home letters about the rampant bullying at school. Most parents would have the same reaction: “My child would never!”

    For many advertisers, seeing good ROI after investing in legitimate channels leads them to believe everything is going well. They often fail to realize how much better it could be going.

    “Nobody really has the tools in place to really detect these things. I think that goes hand-in-hand with everybody’s ‘not me’ mentality. Why would you do anything if you don’t think it’s impacting you?” says Essaid.

    Here are three things you need to know:

    1. How do you realize if it’s affecting you?

    First, realize that it most likely is. Distil Networks found that 22.7 percent of 2014’s web traffic was bad bots and cyber criminals don’t really discriminate.

    And while they’re often crafty and sophisticated, in many cases, they don’t even have to be.

    “They’re practically walking through the front doors,” says Essaid. “If you don’t lock your door or have a security system, are the robbers going to have to be that sophisticated to rob you?”

    sophistication-level

    The first step to stopping fraudulent traffic is being able to recognize it. According to the report, three-quarters of publishers and 59 percent of advertisers are either unable – or unsure how – to do so.

    A few ways to protect yourself against bots include:

    • Only buying from known sources and working with reputable vendors.
    • Setting up a piece of JavaScript that will alert you if it’s seen bots.
    • Correlating your campaigns and their performance on the most granular level possible. Being aware of every dollar spent and tracking every click, you’ll have a much better picture of what did and didn’t convert. As a result, you’ll waste a lot less of your advertising dollars.
    • Learn what to look for. Analyzing views to video platforms like YouTube and Dailymotion, a group of European researchers was able to recognize bots by atypical human actions, such as many times for very short periods of time.
    • Educating yourself on the threats most common to your industry and business model

    According to the report, areas like digital publishing, travel and e-commerce are among the hardest hit. It makes sense to Mike Zaneis, executive vice president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), who points out that the cyber criminals are simply following the money.

    “Think about how valuable a would-be traveler in the U.S. who might want to do a European trip is to an airline or a hotel,” Zaneis says. “Those are very high ROI, very high cost demographics.

    “If I’m running bots, I’m going to make my bots look like those types of consumers,” he adds.

    traffic-by-website

    2. Mobile’s newness is a double-edged sword

    All advertisers know that mobile has a unique set of challenges, such as the difficulty of measurement and lack of viewability standards. The decreased sophistication carries over to fraud detection, as well.

    However, mobile also presents challenges to cyber criminals. With significantly smaller screens, there are simply less ads on each page for them to work with. As a result, the criminals are most attracted to those ads with the highest cost-per-mille.

    “There are challenges, but with every challenge, there’s also an opportunity,” says Zaneis.

    The newness of mobile, at least compared to desktop, usually works against marketers. But in this case, that relatively novelty helps them: the industry is far enough along that marketers have a better sense of what to look out for.

    When thousands of fraudulent apps were spotted in Google Play earlier this year they were suspended very shortly after the report’s release.

    “Mobile might be fraud with more fraud, but it might be easier for us to clean it up because we’re aware of it sooner than [we were] in the desktop world,” says Zaneis.

    3. There are different kinds of bots

    The word “bot” has a very negative connotation because of how often they’re used nefariously. But a bot isn’t necessarily criminal.

    Distil Networks’ report is full of references to “bad bots” – malware – and “good bots.” The latter generally refers to things like search engine spiders, which make up more than 36 percent of web traffic.

    badbot-goodbot-human

    The difference, however, is that Google, Yahoo and Bing self-identify their bots as bots. That way, publishers know not to count the non-human traffic the search engines generate as part of their sold inventory.

    But behind door number three is another kind of web traffic: not human, but not insidious, either. For example, someone using a bot to compare prices.

    “It’s not human traffic a marketer would want to pay for, but it’s not criminal,” he continues. “We need to create a system so we can identify that kind of traffic and take it out of the inventory that’s sold because it generates a massive amount of traffic on the Internet.”

    “No matter what, we want to stop [cyber criminals] from ever making a penny on digital advertising, but we also don’t want to shut down things like search engine spiders and e-commerce spiders,” he continues. “We don’t want to undermine the trust marketers have in our supply chain by selling them bots.”

    Summary

    Some non-human traffic is fraudulent and some merely causes a technical problem. Both kinds can cost advertisers a lot of money, whether intentionally or not.

    To combat this problem, it’s crucial to stick to reputable sources and vendors, and to educate yourself on your industry’s common threats, as well as the signs of non-human traffic.

    On an industry-wide level, major organizations working to fight the issue, as well. Earlier this week, the Media Rating Council (MRC) issued new guidelines for digital media vendors and companies to detect and filter out non-human traffic.

    In addition, TAG announced a new anti-fraud program this morning. “Verified by TAG” has two main elements: an official registry of legitimate advertisers and publishers, and a payment identification system connecting all ad inventory to those who are to be paid for them.