Thursday, March 31, 2016

Could digital marketing help cure the health care industry?

I realize I’m a bit obsessed with this topic as I’m working for a struggling hospital despite its prime location.  So, revenue growth for most nonprofit hospitals is declining (also thanks to Obamacare and its embarrassingly low reimbursement), and hospitals are scrambling for ways to attract revenue-generating patients while also controlling spending.  Digital media can measure the success of online campaigns by measuring the return on marketing investment.  TV, radio, print, and out of home ads can built brand awareness, but search engine marketing is more significant as it takes a targeted approach.  Digital’s measurability helps defend marketing budgets.
Mobile – health-care marketers like Mayo Clinic are building responsive sites that emphasize the mobile experience as patients look for easy access to wellness advice, e.g., pregnancy app.  Telemedicine, in which patients receive treatment via video calls, also has a growing presence.  It also cuts costs for hospitals and patients. Although reimbursements for telemedicine services are tricky, one can’t argue with its effectiveness in efficient care.

Social – power of the testimonial is key in healthcare, as patients and families researching diagnoses often turn to patients with similar experiences.  They help patients connect and share.


Email marketing....part of the Core?

Given our class two weeks ago on email marketing, this article was timely, and corroborated what Professor Kagan and Brian Hecht told us – it comes via a new study by email marketing provider AWeber.

They polled 1600 of their small business customers. Of course, they are a self-selecting group, since presumably they wouldn’t be a customer of AWeber unless they used email marketing, but still, I found some of the points particularly interesting:

            *75% of small business owners use email marketing to leverage their business

            *91% of them fulfill their marketing needs themselves (my highlight)

            *30% of them attribute 25% or more of their revenue to email marketing

*”The business owners who are rocking it with email marketing…see the value in growing an audience of email subscribers as part of the overall growth strategy for their business.”

Of course, the company that did the study has a vested interest in having the results support email marketing, but since they support what we learned in class, I am going to assume they are correct.
In any case, when you look at the numbers above, and the fact that these small business owners are also email marketers, it made me think that perhaps an email marketing class (or at least a segment) – the why’s and the how’s – should be part of our required classes. Because if this is one of the most powerful and most efficient marketing tools available for small businesses, and there are so many budding entrepreneurs at CBS, it feels like it should be part of the curriculum for everyone…maybe part of our Marketing class in the core?

The article ended with the advice that every email marketing message should contain a call to action, because apparently not all of them do: “the SMB owner doesn’t drive all the way to what they want the outcome to be….” When I think about my own habits, the marketing emails I click through on are always focused on getting me to act…bills, sales, offers for upgrades in status (hotels and airlines), etc etc., so clearly they are getting to the relevance and the call-to-action in the emails I receive (at least the ones that work). Anyway, the article put a nice exclamation point on the class for me, and has me thinking about email marketing for a nonprofit I am working with. It is something I haven’t done professionally, but I can see both from the research and from my own experience how important it is.


What is digital marketing and why is it important to hospitals

Over the years, traditional marketing worked because the fee-for-service mentality prevailed and hospitals had no problems getting patients.  Patients didn’t think twice about price, didn’t shop around for service, and insurance companies paid.  But with rising healthcare costs, insurance premiums and copays, patients/consumers had to become more cost/value-conscious.  So, consumers shop around and delay/cancel elective procedures.  This is where digital marketing becomes super important, as discussed in my previous blog, and budget-tight hospitals need to be cost-conscious and optimize the means to entice customers.

Sadly, but realistically, hospital admins have to think harder, for once.  


3 proven digital marketing strategies for hospital patient acquisition

In the era of competitive healthcare market, hospitals are visibly optimizing their visibility to the public.  Apparently, 3 approaches have been proven to be effective in acquiring new patients.

1.        SEO and marketing with an emphasis on services and location.  For most potential patients, the selection process starts with a search engine and a hospital’s website.  77% potential patients turn to a search engine and 76% look at an organization’s website, compared with 32% from TV, 20% magazines, and 18% from newspapers.  Patients are also likely to choose a hospital based on convenient location (58%) than copay or even outcomes data (30%)

2.       Relevant digital content about health conditions.  37% health searchers are trying to learn more about conditions/diseases, so hospitals have a huge opportunity to engage potential patients by providing this content.

3.       Social media Engagement with a purpose.  Top organizations doing the best job of connecting with their patients through social media were highly selectively about what they shared – they didn’t clog up their feeds with internal matter news, instead, they provided useful health info to prospective patients.

Only if my hospital admin would listen and act accordingly...


Running a Great Campaign: Fitness brands particularly effective in motivating on Instagram

People want to see interesting, appealing, motivational content from the brands they are following and this is even more important for fitness brands. In order to make the users feel part of this fit community, they are curating visual content that speaks directly to their audience, whether it’s about running gear, weight loss, or a healthier lifestyle. And there is no better platform for this than a visual social media feed. Instagram thrives in this environment, and even surpasses Facebook, even if it is the largest social network. Users primarily use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends and check the most important news, according to their interests. As fitness-related content decided to rely mostly on visual content, Instagram’s creativity, along with the audience’s willingness to be part of a community, made it an ideal platform to increase engagement and brand awareness. High quality images are appreciated by users, again, a reason why Instagram excels. Belonging to a community--strongly encouraged on Instagram---is favoured by the fact that users are more willing to engage with brands on Instagram. 68% of Instagram users embrace with brands regularly, with the percentage of dropping at just 32% for Facebook users.


11 reasons why bulk email internet marketing does NOT work

Here are 11 reasons why bulk email internet marketing does NOT work – because
1. 45% of emails are spam, so they are not even opened
2. Companies that invest in spam bulk emails gain a bad reputation
3. Returns are low without a targeted opt-in list
4. Repeat bulk emails to unsolicited customers can give you poor reviews
5. Which leads to dip in online sales
6. Which makes it more difficult for opt-in email marketers to get their point across
7. It’s a form of cold calling and “it sucks”
8. A response from an unsolicited bulk email receiver is out of ignorance or frustration
9. As a social media marketer, your personal reputation may get damaged
10. Companies hiring third party email marketer results in poor grammar, low open rates, etc.
11. Without an “unsubscribe” button, you keep spamming people.  No one will be able to receive your mails.

So, always invite people to opt-in to an email list, never buy one.  Just don’t do it.  Yes, we heard this in class, so independent confirmation.


The rise of "Edutainment" in digital branding

Small businesses with new and innovative products face a particular challenge when it comes to educating consumers on what they sell. In addition to creating distinctive products and meeting the ongoing and evolving needs of their customers with limited resources, they face challenges like effectively building their brands and driving website traffic. The result of this challenge is a unique type of platform that is more along the lines of a portal. The portal acts as more than just a website to gather information--it provides interactive content (videos, games, reviews, etc.) that familiarizes the viewer with the brand and bolster the brand reputation. Often, these attempts to reach the audience are more playful and represent the human side of the brand. For example, Remy Martin has an interactive timeline so that viewers can explore the company's 300-year history in videos, games, and information. These "portals" are having an impact, as studies show that viewers prefer content that is funny or informative. This accomplishes both. The content also often focuses on the uniqueness of the brand, something that small companies often excel in. Again, this is a strategy pushed by many small businesses that cannot afford mainstream big marketing, but it proves that often it is the style of content that gets impressions, not might of the brand.


First Step to Digital Marketing: Have a website that works!

Since I started the Digital Marketing class, I have played with the tools learned by going into different websites from successful brands to small businesses (mostly owned by friends and family).  I have tried different free online tools to grade them, find their faults, things that could be done better, etc.  And to my surprise more than often I found websites that not even meet the 50/100 grade.

In most cases, I believe, they are not worried about search or they simply don’t have the budget to even think about it, or maybe they imagine there is a complicated algorithm to it.

In reality, it is kind of simple. You don’t need to be an expert in programming, you just need to know what to ask for, and find someone to fix those little problems for you.  Your website can rank high on search engines, putting you on the top of the search results, by simply remembering the following:

Freshness – Refresh content often. Search engines look for the most updated content and tend to display these results first.
Social Engagement - Linking your social media accounts to your website helps drive better customer relationships and allows for instant interaction between your brand and current/prospective customers
Mobile Friendly  - The future of search is mobile, and those websites that are not mobile friendly really suffer when getting a ranking from search engines.
Contact Info – Make it easy for customers to contact you if they have questions that are not easily found or if they simply want to say hi! This small adjustment provides a better user experience for your website visitors.
Security - SSL certificates protect websites from attacks and give visitors confidence that your site is authentic and trustworthy.  

SEO (This is where it turns technical)
Sitemap File – This is somehow technical, but if you are not sure, ask your programmer to include one. As explained on one of the tools “Sitemaps allow search engines to find all of your webpages that they might otherwise overlook when indexing your website. If you are not using the standard naming conventions of sitemap.xml or sitemap_index.xml, (…) search engines may not be able to index all of your webpages”.
Main Heading – Having a <h1> main heading tag is the most important text on the page, because that's what search engines look for!
Image Descriptions - Search engines can't "see" your photos, graphics, and videos unless you tell them they are there with <alt> tags. If you don't include descriptions, you are missing an opportunity to get your images included in search results.
Site Title - Of all the things on your page that search engines look at, the site title is one of the most important to your website. Make sure it is specific, unique and compelling, and not the name of your web domain.
Site Description - The meta description for a page describes what that page is about. The description should convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website. It doesn't necessarily show up on the page itself when people visit your site, but the search engines see it.       

Ask your website developer to remember things like Page Size, Page Speed,
Browser Caching, and Compression.  All these make your website rank higher on search engines and offer a better user experience.

So go and test your website now!!

Recommended Free Online Tools for grading your website:


Digital Marketing Tendencies

Here we have an interesting articles about  digital marketing tendencies that worked in 2015 and will boost your strategy moving forward.

1.       Stop relying on Google.
a.      The advice her is that digital marketers to rely less on Google, and engage more direct forms of interacting with their target market.

2.       Mobile. Just mobile.
a.      Mobile is the method of the masses, and should, therefore, be a priority of the marketers.

3.       Social conversion is coming.
a.      For ecommerce and lead generation sites, social provides a growing opportunity to improve conversion rates and gain new conversion channels.

4.       New payment methods are on the rise.
a.      Privacy issues are a mainstream concern and it’s up to digital marketers to lead the way in reassuring, educating, and coaching customers through the transition.

5.       Paid advertising is here to stay.
a.      Rising methods of organic/paid advertising are entering into the marketing methods of some brands, signaling a growing trend.

6.       Marketing automation becomes de rigueur.
a.      Marketing automation is nothing new. It is, however, bigger than ever. Marketing automation is now easy and affordable enough for any marketer with a budget to do it. Once upon a not-so-far-away time, the only organizations doing automation were big companies with world-recognized brand names.
b.      Marketing automation is the use of software to automate marketing processes such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would have otherwise been performed manually much more efficient, and makes new processes possible. Marketing automation is an integral component of customer relationship management.

7.       Content creators are more necessary than ever.
a.      But it’s no longer enough simply to find a “great writer.” You need to find a writer who knows your niche. The world’s greatest writing skills don’t count for much unless the writer possesses knowledge, ideally experiential knowledge, of his or her subject matter.

8.       The algorithm will change. And change again.
a.      Nowadays, besides Google’s search algorithm, the almighty search machine that decides which content ranks highest in the search engine results page (SERPs). We need to consider Facebook’s algorithm, Bing’s algorithm, and even the mashup of Twitter and Google’s algorithm.

9.       Conversion optimization has high ROI.
a.      Conversion rate optimization is the process of maximizing the number of site visitors who convert or make a purchase.By thoroughly understanding users and split testing changes on a website, marketers can determine what elements of a website or landing page will produce the highest number of conversions. The process pays off. Instead of paying big bucks for ad placements and organic traffic, marketers can instead funnel more of their existing traffic into sales.

10.   Growth hacking will continue to evolve.
a.      One of the most fascinating trends in 2015 is the continued evolution of growth hacking. Growth hacking will continue to demonstrate its indomitable power in the face of unlikely odds. 


Make it easy for people to buy your stuff.

That is, word for word, the tag line for Product Pins on the Pinterest business help page. This is how Pinterest drives eCommerce sales. Product pins include real time pricing, availability, and where the shopper can purchase the item.  Product pins are part of a family of six rich pins that Pinterest has created to help businesses include more information about the pinned images.  Rounding out the suite of rich pins are:

App Pins: Help People Get Your App
  • includes an install button so pinners can download your app without ever leaving Pinterest
  • currently only available with iOS apps

Place Pins: Take Travelers to their next adventure
  • include maps, addresses, and phone numbers
Article Pins: Help Pinners Create Their Reading Lists
  • include headlines, authors, story descriptions
  • helps Pinners find and save stories that matter to them
Recipe Pins: Teach Foodies To Make Recipes From Your Site
  • include ingredients, cooking times, and serving info
Movie Pins: Show Film Buffs Their Favorite Movies
  • include ratings, cast members, and reviews

Rich pins stand out when pinners are using Pinterest.  Increased sales can be achieved by having store links to the product itself versus the user doing a separate internet search for the item they just saw on Pinterest.  This is big business for retailers.  
  • In May 2012, Shopify did a study that showed an average sales order of $80 from Pinterest referral traffic, compared to $40 from Facebook referral traffic. Pins with prices were also 16% more likely to get likes than those without.
  • In February 2013, Sephora found that Pinterest users spent 15 times more than Facebook users.
  • In February 2013, Business Insider noted that Pinterest now has 25 million users, many of whom are wealthy young females who love to shop.
It is interesting to note that this research was done prior to rich pins being rolled out by Pinterest. The monetization will only increase for retailers as a result of the rich pins being implemented.


The End is Nigh - Instagram Changes Their Algo

Been seeing a lot of this in your Instagram feed lately?  The interwebs is bugging out because Instagram is changing their algorithm so that more popular posts will populate first in users feeds versus the feeds populating in reverse chronological order.  They say it is to improve the user experience; so "you'll see the moments we believe you care about first".  

Does anyone believe this?  Lest you forget, Instagram is now owned by Facebook.  Facebook conveniently has the same theory when it comes to their users feeds.  Pretty sure I am personally not seeing all that is important to me on Facebook so I am on the fence about how I feel when it pertains to the Instagram changes.  Even when Instagram does institute the changes, you can apparently circumvent the update by choosing to turn on notifications for individual Instas.  It is important to note that these changes are not in full effect yet.  All of the changes are being tested and will be rolled out slowly. 

That is not the point that matters though.  Why is Instagram doing this? Because they are basically telling brands to "Show me [Instagram] the money!!"   Essentially, they want brands to pay to play but Instagram will dispute this.  Their party line is the algo separates the wheat from the chaff for their users.  Brands, however, who are playing along with the new, now old, Facebook situation.. They have learned that the algorithm favors video.  So they, in turn, publish more video in the hope of gaming the algo and bumping up their status.  Gone are the days that a Like meant something... What will become of the Instagram heart and followers?


Instagram Update: The Algorithm Change Explained

By Blaire Townshend

A recent email blast sent out by Capacity Interactive—a digital arts marketing consultancy company—focused on the use of Instagram for digital marketing efforts, offering advice on best practices and updating its readership about the recent changes to Instagram—namely, the change from chronological feed to algorithm.

For those unfamiliar with how Instagram has worked up until this point, the platform has used a chronological approach on its users' newsfeeds since its inception in 2010. The projected change means that, rather than seeing your friends' posts in the order in which they were posted, you will now see posts "based on your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post" (Valinsky 3.15.2016). The company has argued that the current format does not maximize viewing potential - in fact, they cited that users miss about 70% of the content on their feed. They believe that the implementation of an algorithm will curate content better suited to user interests. Instagram also assures its users that they will roll out this change slowly, and that it will not affect its advertising procedures. In fact, these adverts already utilize this same targeting technology to reach their intended audience—so in a way, the algorithm change is ensuring that social and marketing content operate in the same manner.

So what does this change mean for the 200,000 brands that utilize Instagram as an advertising platform (Instagram 3.29.2016)?

Not much, actually. At this point, you cannot actually directly target people with Instagram ads as you can on Facebook. On top of this, "organic" posts cannot be used for advertisements—the only promotional material allowed on Instagram is that which has been developed specifically for marketing purposes. On Facebook, on the other hand, marketers can post their own organic content and use it for promotional purposes. The algorithm will not change any of this (Instagram all).

However, Capacity Interactive made sure to remind its readership of a few important takeaways when considering Instagram advertisement for the arts: 

  • Make "thumb-stopping", visually arresting content a priority
  • Remember that Instagram is an overwhelmingly mobile platform, and plan accordingly
  • Make sure you are comfortable with Facebook first before graduating to Insta-advertising
  • And finally, don't worry about the algorithm change. It changes the user experience, not the advertising landscape.
As an Instagram user myself, I will be interested to see how my experience will change. I, for one, welcome the algorithm in theory, as I have often felt that the chronological template did not allow me to engage with my closest friends in a way that I would have liked. However, as a future arts marketer, it is heartening to know that this change will not negatively affect the advertising efforts of the organizations I hope to work for.  



David CAN beat Goliath: Digital Marketing & Startups.

“I remember reading a lot of stories about people complaining that the ice bucket challenge was a complete waste." Jonathan Ling, ALS Association. Well not so much. David did beat Goliath. ALS association raised a staggering $115 million from this off-the-wall campaign.  And still reap ripple effects from the initial campaign. How did they do it? Why was it successful? 

The Online World is Flat: Digital tools leveled the playing field for businesses globally. They have a flat hierarchy for success. A big budget has little effect on marketing campaign successes. Social media tools are free in most cases and their market reach far supersedes the traditional TV and print subscribers. There is definitely overlap in market segments in terms of customers using mediums across the gamut. However, social media is more powerful as its interactive and with major network effects. Startups with shoestring budgets can now test their products while raise money through a kickstarter. Non-profits can galvanize impact movements and charity walks by a simple message. Online marketing has taken all barriers and hierarchies. A homeless man can write an email to Leader of the Free World. Savvy startups need to sit up and take notice.

Be the message you want to see in the world: Online messaging for your business brand across social media is not an afterthought, it the the core of your business. As a founder of a recent Startup and an old school pick-up-the-phone-and-call-them marketer, I have learned that lesson the hard way. The world is changing faster than we can keep up with. The right online message far trumps the money offloaded into advertising. Less can really be more when it comes to targeting the right message to the right audience. Honest company in consumer goods and Under Armor in sportswear are prime examples of targeted messaging at the right time. Honest company crafted a message of chemical-free and safe everyday products for expecting and new mothers when the industry was inundated with negative press about harsh chemicals for babies. Under Armor pioneered a look-good-feel-good message to millennials about working out when big players like Nike and Reebok were churning out mass fitness products. A well crafted business message to a niche audience is key for market penetration. And startups are better equipped to take advantage and pivot if needed.

Get Emotional: Startups have a unique advantage of not having history. In other words, they haven't messed up yet. And if they do, its easier, safer and cheaper to fix. But business environment is always competitive and noisy. They need to beat out their message and rise above the din. Get their customers fired up about their products so they talk about them. Startups can do it much better than a GE or a Microsoft in gaining consumer trust. Little guy has more power than they think when it comes to having a unique value proposition. Think Sanders versus Clinton. Uber versus Taxi Commissions worldwide. Examples galore in every industry of startups making huge difference because they got their customers fired up. Who wants to talk about GE making a hybrid car versus Tesla launching a 100% electric sportscar that runs on a revolutionary technology with Elon Musk, a maverick captain of sorts. Do you think GE raises that same beat-the-chest emotion that Tesla can? 

Startups and non-profits are in a unique position to spread their message online. And that is all they have to do. It can't be an afterthought. Else those startups will end up in dotcoms' cemetery.


Donald Trump's Contribution: Twitter Launches a 136-page Manual for Politicians

NPR reported that Donald Trump help launch a 136-page expansive manual specifically for politicians by Twitter to reach their electorate directly and effectively:

From questions concerning What is Twitter? to What to Expect After You Tweet?, Twitter responds to their 140 character statement with a 140 page document. It clearly shows the importance of Twitter as a platform for messaging and change. At the very least, Twitter is here to stay.

Donald Trump has given Twitter what every company wants: free marketing. Its a mutually viable experience. Not only is Twitter benefiting from becoming a political vehicle for constant messaging, politicians are reaching a whole new electorate. With an average of 5-10 tweets a day, Donald Trump is staying relevant in news, attacking opponents and baiting his followers with sensationalism. Twitter gives politicians an ability to handshake with millions of supporters through carefully crafted messages. Tweets act as sound bites for major news outlets and there are considerable network effects from retweets and replays. It also allows politicians to chisel their message down to its essence so their followers can digest and understand what their leaders are trying to convey without lengthy discourses.

Twitter humanizes the politician. It politician is a person who eats ice cream and tweets about foreign policy. It also gives the followers a chance to reply, comment and debate with their leaders, something that was impossible even a decade ago. Conversely, if you're not a politician who can genuinely tweet about his or her life and political agenda, you risk alienating your constituents.

Politicians have multiple Twitter channels for them to spread the message. They can use text, pictures, short videos in combination or individually to figure out the highest impact. Brevity is the wit of soul is most relevant on Twitter when you as a leader is trying to reach millions. The message can't just be informational and relevant but also genuine. And its up to the leader to figure out what digital tool will best accomplish that goal. Donald Trump recently compared Ted Cruz's wife to his' for a campaign to malign Heidi Cruz. Without going into the ethics and morality debate, Trump accomplished his goal to keep his followers engaged and his opponents on guard. It was the single most retweet-ed picture of that day. As they say in politics and is clearly true for Donald Trump, no marketing is bad marketing.

Hashtag phenomenon is another Twitter tool that has become its own living organism. Its the quickest way to aggregate information under key words. Politicians use them to direct their followers to something that's trending or happening live. It gives emotions life on-the-spot and bridges the gap between a leader and the younger generations. Examples #Lyin'Ted #Runnerup #JustCan'tWin . Itss critical that the politician chooses the right keywords and the right number of tweets in a day to be effective. It could make or break his or her campaign.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

More Lobster (not the Lobster you are thinking)

I discovered a new advertising product (well, new to me) called Lobster, which is a marketplace for buying and selling user generated ad content.  I came across the article below that announces Lobster  integration with Facebook, allowing Facebook users to sign up with Lobster to sell their content to advertisers.   I thought about all the pictures I post and how with a simple hashtag I could license them out if I wanted to (I did not know a concept existed).  I think the concept is pretty neat for social media users but also for advertisers looking for affordable alternatives to finding creative content for digital campaigns.  This alternative will be something I plan to evaluate for Seashells, the company I am working with for the digital marketing project.

Here's a few specifics as to how Lobster-Facebook integration works:

1) Facebook users sign up with Lobster to have their Facebook photos marketed on the platform
2) Advertisers browse the photos to license them at $2/piece or on a subscription basis.
3) Majority of the commission goes to the content creator and a small fee to Lobster.

Lobster recently expanded to YouTube videos at $7/video license.

More info on Lobster:


Adobe Announces New Data-Sharing Effort for Cross-device Ad Targeting

On March 22nd, Adobe revealed a new cross-device targeting effort to help advertisers target the same user across multiple devices.  Adobe is not the first company to launch a cross-device targeting platform. Existing companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon have cross-device targeting capabilities.  These companies use what is called a "Deterministic Approach", which is when login information is used to track the same user across multiple devices.  For instance, if a user signs into Facebook on a desktop and then the same account on a mobile device, then the targeting tool determines it is the same user.

Adobe understands that not all advertisers can be of the same caliber as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, so it has decided to launch the Cloud Device Co-op platform to enable advertisers of smaller scale to share data with each other.  With the Cloud Device Co-op platform, if one company has been able to use login data to determine two devices belong to the same person, other members of the co-op can take advantage of that and tailor their ads accordingly. If a business wanted to target ads at a user on a laptop, they could now also reach that user on a smartphone.  The targeting can also determine if a user looked at a product on a laptop but bought it on a tablet, and therefore inform advertisers not to re-target ads for something the user has already purchased.   

There are some privacy concerns with the platform, but Adobe notes that advertisers will only participate in the program if they explicitly opt in and that no personally identifiable information will be shared about individual users- only the fact that certain devices have linkages to each other.   



My Good, Bad, and Ugly E-mail Roundup

As we continue to learn about the process and best practices involved with e-mail marketing in class, I wanted to look back on the marketing e-mails I have been getting.  The following is a small sampling of e-mails I have received in the past few weeks, and a short reflection on what sparked - or crushed - my interest in what they contained.

The Good

These first two e-mails from Gothamist and The Reductress are terrific.  I get a Gothamist e-mail every day (yes, seven days a week!) and The Reductress sends a newsletter about six times a month.  Both contain a number of relevant and usually amusing stories whose impact is self-contained within the e-mail, or I can easily click to read more.  

This next e-mail from The American Red Cross came through today.  I haven't had any interaction with them in over a year, but this was a great re-engagement message.  The content is short and to the point; it quickly directs me to helpful links to get me to act (give blood) without beating around the bush with pleas and guilt trips like other charity e-mails and letters I receive (see The Ugly below).  They also include quick links to view the message on their website and the unsubscribe link is front and center.

The Bad

This e-mail from FlatRate Moving almost had something going for it.  It's short and offers a very real benefit ($100) for being a loyal customer.  The only thing is, it's an incredibly poorly timed message considering I used them to move in January last year.  This offer would have been much more useful had it come in December/January, when FlatRate could have guessed my lease would have been up and I would be most likely to be moving again!

Similarly, on it's face, this e-mail from Daily Harvest looks fairly innoculous; a friendly sweepstakes full of things that fit my advertising demographic.  Daily Harvest hits my inbox pretty hard with e-mails like these, and I was originally confused why because I had never heard of Daily Harvest, let alone signed up for their mailing list.  After a bit more digging, I noticed the e-mail address they sent it to, which ended with ""  A while back, I had entered a similar sweepstakes run by WellPath (and cross promoted by a company whose e-mails I had signed up for).  Being suspicious, I tried a trick I had learned to use when signing up for potentially spammy sites.  It turns out I was right to be cautious, as WellPath had gone on to sell out my e-mail address; Daily Harvest is only one of many companies that send me e-mails every week to my "+wellpath" extended address.  I learned my lesson that entering any of these sweepstakes with tons of "partners" listed means you can expect to be put on every single on of their mailing lists as well!

The Ugly

The Central Park Conservancy takes the prize for most annoying e-mail marketing I receive.  Not only are their messages regularly dense and completely uninformative, they are always addressed to "Fred."  My name is not Fred, or anything close to Fred.  I have attempted to unsubscribe, I have reported them to Gmail as spam, and I have deleted them on more times than I can count.  The only positive thing I can say about the marketing people for the Central Park Conservancy is that they are incredibly tenacious. 

On top of this, The Central Park Conservancy has clear sold out my e-mail, as I have started getting a string of e-mails for political campaigns, all addressed to the same mysterious "Fred."  Ben Carson was a popular one I got for a while, though here is a more recent (and ugly) example: