Can’t you see I don’t like you? Why are you making this so hard?!? [a tale of unsubscribing]

[this post was originally featured on my LinkedIn Profile]


Lots of businesses think it should be hard (or rather, not easy) for users to get off their email list. I argue that if someone wants to leave, you should practically walk them to do the door so they don’t hurt your IP or domain reputation. This seems to be (IMHO) some common sense that many businesses can’t stomach.

Consider this scenario:

I signed up for your product/ service/ newsletter some time back. Let’s go as far as saying a long time back. Even though I don’t engage with your content, you still keep emailing me. *cough* Don’t Do This *cough*.

Finally, I decide that today is the day I want to stop receiving your emails. So I click the unsubscribe/ manage preferences link you have provided in your email. (You do have this in your email, don’t you?)

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But what’s this? You want me to log in first? I can’t recall my info (I signed up a long time ago, remember) and honestly, I couldn’t be bothered.

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You’re making this a chore now, so I’ll just mark you as spam. I’ll solve the problem my way since your way is too annoying.

Aaaaaaand scene.

You see what happened there? Making it harder for users to let you know that they’re no longer interested in your content is a sure fire way to boost your complaints. And I’ve said before, it takes a lot less than you think to get your domain or IP address blacklisted

I hope this helps 😉



“Can we make the unsubscribe link smaller?”

[this post originally appeared on my LinkedIn Profile]

I hear this all the time from clients. Fundamentally, it’s about fear – fear that they will lose their customer. Fear of rejection. But it’s definitely the wrong question. Here’s the correct question:

Can we make the unsubscribe link highly visible and basically impossible to miss?

Here’s the thing:

If you’re sending timely, relevant and engaging content to your subscribers, they’ll keep wanting more from you.

If your content is not relevant or interesting to your subscriber, they’re going to want off your list, and you should make this as simple as possible for them to achieve.

The alternative is a Spam complaint.

Trust me, you never want a Spam complaint. Not even one. Not ever. So make it as painless as possible for someone to let you know that they’re just not that in to you without anyone getting hurt.

Here’s an example of getting it wrong:

I cancelled my Vudu account a little over a year ago. I haven’t used their service since and really, I have no desire to do so. Every now and again I see an email from them pop in to my Promotions folder, and today I thought to my self “I should probably unsubscribe”. Except I couldn’t.

There’s no way to get to a preference center or an unsubscribe link from this email. Which means that I have just one option. The dreaded Report Spam button.

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Let’s forget for a minute that this violates CANSPAM laws and just focus on the customer convenience aspect.

Don’t force your customers to mark you as spam, because they will. Give them an easy, one click way to get off your list – it’s better for your data integrity, and its better for your customer.

Make it clear that you understand if they’re just not that in to you, and that you’re OK with that.


Bloody Brilliant, Extremely Scary Ghost In The Elevator Prank

I love a good prank, especially one that scares the bejesus out of the person on the receiving end. In this stunt, an unsuspecting visitor boards an elevator in an office building. A few seconds in to the ascent, the lights flicker and the elevator prank gets underway. The lights go out for a short time and the occupant is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, the victim finds that they are no longer alone….

Ghost In The Elevator Prank

The prank was commissioned by a Brazilian TV station.

WTF is a website KPI?

KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are supposed to help you check that you’re doing the right things on your website. This ‘help’ hinges on you understanding just what a KPI is when it comes to your website. Modern website analytics tools like Google Analytics give us the chance to track and measure everything that is happening on our websites. That used to be the hard part; the real challenge now is understanding what the numbers mean for your website and your business.

Use Google Chrome to measure your website KPIs

Before digging in to KPIs, we need to understand two other, related, terms – Objectives and Goals.

Put simply, your Objective is the reason your business exists. Make money, save the rain forest, eradicate tawny pygmy worms, whatever. It’s the one thing you live for.

Goals are related to objectives in that they are stepping stones on the way to completing your objective.

Here’s what I mean.

Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Increase Average Order Amount
  • Understanding Your Website KPI

    KPIs are metrics that help you measure whether or not your goals are on track to help you achieve your objective. A KPI is generally expressed either as a number or a ratio. Let’s look at our previous example and this time we’ll include a website KPI.

    Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Increase Average Order Amount
  • KPI: % of recommended items added to cart
  • In this scenario, if your KPI is not met and your customer does not add items you recommend to their cart, you know where you need to direct your energy: give better recommendations. If you do, the customer will add more stuff to their cart (Goal met) and you will Make More Money (Objective Met).

    It is deceptively simple. The trick is to extract meaningful KPIs that will actually help you analyse whether or not your goals are met, so you can tell whether or not it’s time to break out the bubbly or burn the midnight oil.

    e.g. If your KPI was “Time spent on checkout page”

    This is an example of a bad KPI for this specific goal. If the results swing one way or the other, the order size will not increase, so the goal will not be met. If, however the goal was to Improve Usability of Checkout Pages, then this KPI might have significance.

    Objective: Make Money

  • Goal: Optimize Checkout process
  • KPI: Time spent on checkout page
  • In this example, the time spent on the checkout page has significance in that it gives you information about whether or not your goals are being met. If the time on page goes up, your goal is not met. If the time on page goes down, you are closer to achieving your goals.

    Here’s another example:

    Objective: Increase advertising revenue generated by website

    Goal: Get more people to read posts (increase impressions)
    KPI: Social Media conversion rate

    By getting more traffic from your social media efforts, you will get more reads and display more ad impressions and achieve your goal. There is more than one way to achieve your goal though, let’s have a look.

    Objective: Increase advertising revenue generated by website

  • Goal: Find position for 468×60 banner with best conversion.
  • KPI: Click through rate
  • In this scenario, when you find the best placement for your banner, you get more clicks and in this way increase your advertising revenue. Same objective, but different goals to achieve it.

    As you can see, it is important to understand both your business and website strategies in order to effectively decide what your KPIs should be. Once you can determine the KPIs for your website, it’s easier to evaluate decisions based on data and take out a lot of the ‘gut feel’ and guesswork. The numbers don’t lie

    What are Spam Traps and Honey Pots?

    If you’re doing email marketing, chances are you’ve heard the terms ‘Spam Trap’ or ‘Honey Pot’ bandied about, but what are they and how can you avoid them?

    Spam Traps are email addresses that ISPs use to identify unethical senders. If you have one of these email addresses on your list, chances are that it was not added in a legitimate manner. If you are repeatedly found to be sending to a Spam Trap, you could end up blacklisted at an ISP and your mail won’t be delivered.

    Spam Traps are usually old email inboxes that are no longer in use by clients, but can still accept email.

    Let’s say for example I open up a Hotmail account, I use the email address a few times but then abandon it for fear of ridicule, never to return again. After a period of time, mail will bounce from this inbox and after an even longer period, Hotmail may use this inbox as a spam trap. Any marketers sending email to this dead inbox are clearly doing something fishy, since the original owner of the email address is no longer using it. This tells Hotmail that your Email Marketing is not up to scratch and your deliverability will be affected.

    The second kind of trap is called a Honey Pot. It’s am email address created specifically to catch spammers. Here’s how it would typically work. I will create an email address called and publish it on my site in a way that is not visible to normal subscribers, e.g. white text on a white background. If an email harvester visited my site and scraped it for email addresses, it would find this Honey Pot. Before too long, I would start to receive unsolicited email. Since I would not use this email address to subscribe to anything to send mail to any real people, I can now identify the source as a spammer. All in all it’s pretty neat and tidy.
    Another way that this is often used it to add the Honey Pot to the WHOIS record for a domain, as that is a popular target for spammers.

    How Did The Spam Trap Get On To My Email List?

    99% of the time the answer is very simple – list buying. When marketers use list brokers or buy lists from other 3rd parties, this is the most common way for a bad email address to make it in to your database.
    If you do aquire new data in a legitimate fashion (e.g. via a merger) my advice would be to relegate that data to its own sending IP and keep is seperate from your existing lists until you are 100% sure that the data is clean. Blending the new data right away is risky, as it could affect your IP Reputation if it contains bad records. I would advise a 3 month quarantine period.

    What should you do if you have hit a Spam Trap?

    Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) there is no way to know which email addresses on your list are honey pots or spam traps. The best way to avoid the problems these emails cause (blacklisting) is to segment your list by subscriber engagement. If someone hasn’t opened one of your emails in a year, it’s probably a good time to stop sending them campaigns – you’re not getting any ROI for that user anyway. I have found that an inactivity period of 6 months is usually a good benchmark.

    Another important step is bounce management. Since some ISPs will take over dead inboxes and use them as Spam Traps, it’s important that you remove hard bounces from your list, that way you might dodge the bullet by removing the inbox before it becomes a spam trap.

    Lastly, if you do get black listed because of a spam trap, you should open a support ticket with the source of the blacklisting and request a removal. The process can be slow, but the effects on your delivery make it worth the effort.

    How the internet lets me stay awake 24 hours a day. Sort of.

    Right now, I am asleep. And it’s not even today. Right now, it’s actually last week, which is when I wrote this post.

    You see, this is a scheduled post, which means I wrote it, set a posting date and then went along my business (probably writing another post). But what about the Facebook post and the Tweet I sent out about this post? Also scheduled, so that they would go out after the article was published. I was, in fact having a sandwhich at the time.

    How does it work?

    I run my blog on WordPress, which I consider one of the best bloggin platforms around. Whenever I write my blog posts (usually on Sundays) I schedule them to be posted at different times and dates using the built in scheduling option. There’s not much to it, and anyone can learn how to schedule wordpress posts in just three steps

    How To Schedule WordPress Posts

    how to schedule a wordpress post

    1. Write your post
    2. Click on the Publish date and set it to whatever you want
    3. Click ‘Publish’ et voila.

    You will receive a confirmation message above the post editor that let’s you know when your post will be published.

    “Post scheduled for: Jun 22, 2012 @ 6:00”

    That really is all there is to it

    Tip #1 – WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin.

    Sometimes looking at all your upcoming posts in list view can be a little disorientating – you don’t get a clear sense of what is posted when. To solve this problem, I use a plugin called WordPress Editorial Calendar to show me exactly when my posts will be sent out.

    Have a look – each of these is scheduled to be posted at around 2-3pm South African time, which is when I get the best response to content I post.

    Wordpress Editorial Calendar Plugin
    You can download the plugin here

    Tip #2 – Posting to Facebook and Twitter in the Future

    To help me schedule my Status updates and Tweets I use Buffer. It works by allowing you to set a time window for your content to be published. Most of the traffic to this blog comes from South Africa, which is why my posts are set to go out between 10am and 4pm SA time. That’s 2am to 8am my time. And I’m still fast asleep.

    Buffer App for Social Media

    Status updates and Tweets are intentionally scheduled to go out later than blog posts and not at the same time. I learned the hard way that it’s better to give it a little while (caching, daylight savings time, whatever).


    You can create a free Buffer account here

    Using these two simple tools, I’m able to post content, comments,status updates and tweets pretty much around the clock. Which in my opinion is pretty cool.

    Go ahead, try it for yourself – it’s easier than you think and people will think that you are somehow magically awake all the time.

    Img Src:

    The Science of Social Timing and 10 other awesome email infographics

    If you’re involved with Email Marketing, then the time at which you send your email can have a dramatic impact on the result of your campaign. Obviously, the optimal sending time will depend on your list profile – a B2B audience will have a different optimal time to the B2C list, and even then geographic and lifestyle factors will come in to play.

    Hubspot has put together a list of 11 infographics about Email Marketing, including the one below from Kissmetrics which looks at the best time to send campaigns for optimal response rate.

    View the full list of infographics here:

    Click the image to view the full infographic


    Sugru Story Page – How to create a great story about your brand

    While looking for ways to repair a car mirror, I found Sugru. It’s like play dough that hardens in to permanent silicone – perfect for custom life hacks. The things I like most about Sugru is not their product though – it’s their story (or brand for a more traditional term).

    One their Story page they actually have information about them, about how the product came to be, the upsets and near misses as well ad the triumphs and successes. It made me like them just by reading it. It make me like Sugru enough to write this blog post. The story is re-tellable, and it makes me see their team as people who followed their passion and not just another manufacturer cranking out a product. It humanises the brand and creates empathy in me.

    Sugru’s Story

    My favourite part of the page is “The bits we don’t have photos for:”


    The Sugru Story Page



    I received my Sugru in the mail and I made my first ‘thing.’

    It holds my RSA secure key and solves two problems I had, namely 1) Where the hell is my key and 2) having to always tilt the key to the correct angle to be able to see the numbers (1s and 7s often got confused)


    Diamond Shreddies, or how we can make fun of our perceptions

    Much of how we experience the world is based on our perceptions. These perceptions are filters that shape our individual realities, and often, just changing your perceptions (shifing your paradigms) can alter the way you experience your world.

    This commercial for Shreddies perfectly illustrates how advertising can have a little bit of fun with our perceptions.

    Quirk eMarketing Course has an annoying… quirk

    Quirk eMarketing Textbook

    I’ve just started a Digital Marketing course with the folks at Quirk Education. It’s a course I’ve been meaning to take for some time and I’ve finally taken the plunge. For a digital course, this one has an interesting… quirk.

    The course material relies on the (very good) Quirk eMarketing text book. I already have a copy of this book that I received a year or two ago and it is a great resource. I am, however, not in South Africa and I will not be for the duration of this course.

    sent an email to the course coordinator to ask if I could get the Kindle version of the text book. It is after all a distance learning course, and a digital one at that. The short answer was ‘no’.

    I don’t like that I was not able to get the Kindle version as part of the course. I explained to the course coordinator that I am not interesed in the physical book as I won’t be in SA for the duration of the course. She responded that they would gladly send me the book once I return. I’m not really sure what good that will do me AFTER the course.

    I was able to download a PDF version of the book, which is free for all, but the formatting is clumsy and browsing, scrolling and annotating the way I can in my Kindle is not possible. So now I have to spend the extra $25 and buy the Kindle version on Amazon. I’ll also have a book I won’t use once they post me the printed copy.

    What peeves me even more, is that Kindle version I want actually costs $20 less than the printed version they want to send me.

    Please don’t send me the $45 printed book, I would like the $25 Kindle version

    For a distance learning course on digital marketing, I would have thought that this issue would have been addressed.

    Who knew this would be so hard…

    Kenny from the Block goes at it again, Hollywood style

    Everyone’s favourite sneaker wearing lunatic racer, Ken Block, is up to his tricks once more. This time the Block head has taken to the home of the blockbuster – Universal Studios.

    Watch the nine minute DC Shoes viral vid below and see how he blasts by classic Hollywood history – including the Bates Motel.

    I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching these. Keep ’em coming DC shoes. Me likey Ken Block Gymkhana 4.

    Click here to watch Ken Block Gymkhana 5