Email Feed

Easy to avoid email blunder

The following email arrived in my inbox today and reminds me of the juicy goofs that Heidi Tolliver-Negro frequently uncovers.


Lessons Learned:

  1. Proof on a small mail list before you send and have someone else check it over.  It’s too easy to miss details as the brain often sees what it expects to see, not what is actually there
  2. Use an email client like VDP Web® that allows you to preview your contents as it will go out, so that errors like this one in the merge field are glaringly obvious

On an editorial note, it still amazes me how many firms send spam.  Even if they are not based in the United States and are not subject to the CAN  SPAM Act of 2003, American marketers will get annoyed if you ignore these rules, and that can’t be good for business.

Impossible Expectations: Why no one marketing channel is King of the Jungle

No one marketing channel is now, or ever will be king of the jungle.  One method may be better than others in any given circumstance, but no one channel will ever be best.  A report that recently went viral on the internet (so it must be true, right?) claimed that email was “king” in a sample of 35,000 prospects.  The data and response rates as referenced in the article follow:

Here are the issues:

1. No mention is made is made of the size of the data set that the 35,000 records were drawn from.  To get a 25% response rate, the respondents were cherry picked from a much larger pool.  How do I know?  Given one client’s data of 650,000 prospects with detailed sales and contact history we can universally pick a slice and get a fantastic response with targeted offers and specific channels.  With realistic constraints (such as not giving each respondent $100 gift card for simply visiting a link) the same cannot be said for 35,000 cold records.  Channel your inner Kirk here:  Not, going, to………

2. How did the firm in question get that many opted-in email leads?  Email is the end game of marketing efforts.  It is almost impossible to exponentially grow an email list from an email campaign, regardless how good the referral spiff is.  For email to be King, something else, such as social media, direct mail, experiential events, paid search, point of sale, or a mix of many methods is required, and usually at substantial cost. Speaking of which…


3. For the ROI calculations in the article to be of any use, the cost of gathering the email opt-ins must be calculated.  Of course, the cost of direct mail is exponentially higher than email as a cost per piece.  To compare the two at face value is pointless.  The recipient of the sales lead, in this case email, must absorb a portion of the cost in generating the address as part of the return on investment calculation.  Throw those figures into the mix, and what happens to that massive ROI advantage claimed by email?

Marketing is a spider web, not a pyramid.  No one channel or strategy will ever be sufficient.  Like your portfolio, a diversified strategy will always be necessary.

Full disclosure: 

James Michelson is Founder of VDP Web® Cross Media Marketing which offers email marketing as part of a well-balanced marketing diet.  The entire article just lambasted can be found here.

JFM Concepts and VDP Web support Great Lakes Graphics Association in Cross Media Marketing effort

The marketing technology experts at JFM Concepts are proud to announce they have partnered with the Great Lakes Graphics Association, part of the Print Industries Association of America, to provide cross media marketing services.

JFM Concepts has used its industry leading VDP Web® cross media marketing platform to support the Great Lakes Graphics Association in membership development and retention efforts.  The campaign included a multi-channel distribution effort to current and former association members to conduct a highly complex and detailed survey.  The questions were designed to gather detailed feedback from the membership in order to improve services to boost both relevancy and values in a rapidly changing marketplace.


Since 1886, the Great Lakes Graphics Association has represented the printing industry and its allied partners.  The GLGA is a professional trade association representing members in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin that helps businesses achieve powerful results.  JFM Concepts and VDP Web are proud to assist the Association in developing industry leading cross media marketing tools and systems to accomplish their mission.

JFM Concepts is a full service cross media marketing technology firm featuring the VDP Complete® marketing system and VDP Web® Online software as a service. JFM specializes in creating variable data cross media marketing technologies with Personalized URLs, Email, SMS Text, QR Codes, Phone Tracking, Video, QR Codes, and more for commercial printers, agencies, and marketing departments of all sizes. The firm knows that technology development and marketing should come together to document both improved response rates and improved return on investment (ROI).

Special thanks to Steve Anzalone, COO of the Harding Poorman Group for his efforts in this project.


2011 Connections Presentation

JFM Concepts, the makers of VDP Web, is proud to announce that principal and founder James Michelson will be speaking at the Exact Target 2011 Connections conference in Indianapolis.  The session is titled “Email + Direct Mail: Response Rates on Steroids?”  Reports of "direct mail deaths" have been greatly exaggerated.  In fact, when used in combination with email, direct mail can lift response to new heights.

Connections 2011 is the world’s largest interactive marketing conference with more than 3,000 global marketers attending the three-day event Sept. 13-15. Connections ’11 follows ExactTarget Connections ‘10, which welcomed more than 2,000 marketers to Indianapolis and featured a lineup of industry titans including Virgin Group Founder and Chairman Sir Richard Branson, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and a private concert from Grammy Award-winning band Train.

If you cannot make the event, please contact us to obtain a copy.

Cover sheet 

To obtain a copy, contact us!


VDP Web at Exact Target Conenctions 2011

JFM Concepts, makers of the VDP Web cross media marketing platform is proud to announce that James Michelson, founder and principal, has been invited to present in the Advanced Marketing Track at Exact Target’s Connections 2011 to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 13-15, 2011.

The title of the session will be “Integrated Cross Media Marketing with Email, Direct Mail, SMS Text, SEO and Landing Pages for the Print Services Distribution Association (PSDA)”.

Join James Michelson, author of  “Cross Media Marketing 101: The concise guide to surviving in the C-Suite” and founder of embed partner VDP Web® as he creates and executes an integrated cross media marketing campaign that combines email, direct mail, landing pages, web, SMS-Text  and more into an integrated campaign to market the 2011 Print Solutions Expo.   In this session, discover how multiple marketing channels were coordinated and how personas were developed to deliver highly personalized content to prospects of the Print Services Distribution Association.  The speaker will re-create the process from start to finish on how content was created, channels selected, and follow up conducted in order to boost response rates, improve tracking, lower costs, and document return on investment.

The session will explore acquisition, lead generation, and sales techniques from this highly successful integrated campaign.  James will detail how pre and post-show follow up was conducted in order to maximize the impact of the event and to cross-sell / up-sell other association products and services during the campaign.  Detailed reporting metrics will be shared as will actual samples of content.  Items to be covered include:

  • Developing personas
  • Determining the correct contact channel
  • Coordinating content and channels
  • Developing a contact matrix and content for each persona
  • Follow up techniques
  • Results
  • Lessons Learned
  • Best Practices

Attendees will leave the session with a checklist of activities required to design, implement, and effectively track an integrated cross media marketing campaign using any combination of channels.

Logo with dates 

Connections 2011 is a must-attend event for ExactTarget customers. Sessions will appeal to those responsible for interactive marketing strategy and execution at all levels—from Vice Presidents to Email Marketing Specialists to Web Developers. Anyone looking for new ways to engage with customers through the latest interactive marketing tools and best practices is encouraged to attend. And because the educational value of Connections is unlike any other in the industry, attendees will be able to immediately apply what they learn to their marketing campaigns, prompting extraordinary impact on program results.

Campaign Monitor Shares Mobile Email Stats

The folks at Campaign Monitor shared the following stats about mobile email marketing that I wanted to pass along to our readers.  They analyzed their data from all email clients and more than 3 billion messages from May 2009.  The chart says it all.


The mix of mobile email clients is no surprise either.



I agree with the author of the original study, that it is time to pay attention to how your emails look on mobile devices, including tablets and to consider this as part of your cross media marketing strategy.

VDP Web Publishes New Education Cross Media Marketing Case Study

JFM Concepts and VDP Web® are proud to announce the publication of their latest case study on direct marketing for Education. Successful cross media tactics for admissions, events, alumni relations, planned giving, donations and more are covered. Campaign goals were to decrease cost, improve response rates, document and measure return on investment, and simplify the follow up process. Download the case study for free at

The VDP Web® cross media marketing platform has been deployed by public and private educational institutions of every size to deliver outstanding results. Successful projects have been launched by organizations as diverse in size and mission such as The University of Michigan and Northeast State Technical Community College to regional Christian institutions such as Calvin College and Grace Bible College. Not-For-Profit institutions such as Harrison College and various secondary schools have also used the system for admissions, alumni relations, fund raising and planned giving. Integrated campaigns have been cost effectively run for multiple departments without the need for internal technical assistance or support.

University of Michigan Landing Page, one of many samples in the case study.

There are common challenges faced by the academic institutions detailed in this case study. The goals of all the campaigns that follow were to decrease budget, lower man hours required for follow up and fulfillment, increase response rate and add personalization to generate leads. Each of these projects was executed by one decision maker and did not require the support of other departments. The cases examined assume that additional budget expenditures for new projects is unlikely, IT and other internal technical support is not available, and that the department does not have additional manpower resources to dedicate to a new project. If any of these assumptions are not true, so much the better.

It is possible to implement a basic cross media marketing strategy without any major changes to the current marketing mix. Unique landing pages, QR Codes, new 800 numbers, and SMS Text can be added to any existing marketing channel to add new data collection mechanisms and start a two way conversation with prospects, students, alumni and donors.

Email Template & Template Editor Webinar

New Email Functionality for VDP Web Clients

VDP Web has email templates for your use to dramatically decrease the time it takes to build email content. These are free of charge and easy to edit. Simply double click the highlighted variable areas to add images, links, and content without ANY coding knowledge. If you are currently using a template on another email platform, bring it over! Our Template Manager allows you to build your own custom templates to use for future campaigns.

We will be having a live demo on how to use this new technology on Tuesday, June 21st at 1:00pm EST and again on Thursday, June 23rd at 1:00pm EST.

Sign up at:

Canon Can't - Major Mistakes in PURL Email Marketing

Everyone makes mistakes.  The first time that Canon sent us an email a few months back that had a data mismatch on the PURL and took us to someone else’s landing page, we were shocked but willing to overlook it.  Stuff happens sometimes, no matter how hard you try.  But as an OEM manufacturer of digital presses, there is no excuse to have ongoing data errors in an ongoing campaign.  Here are the emails we received Thursday– two of them – within minutes of each other. 


The PURL in question on both emails is:  Try it.


You’ll notice the following issues with this landing page in addition to the fact that the data is crossed:

  • The links on both the email and the landing page are not dynamically rewritten and sent through a collection mechanism to allow link tracking.  There are lots of links to click, but no way to know if we clicked them.
  • There is a broken image at the bottom of the page.  See the little X.
  • Even after changing the contact info in the survey form, the page still says “Thanks, Jerry.”
  • We also dispute the claim of absolutely amazing accuracy, at least if they are referring to the data...

Recently, we also received a standard billing communication from a medical billing company that opened the wrong user account and displayed a different patient’s detailed billing summary.  The repercussions could be dire for both the medical facility and the billing partner. 

Take Away

Despite our best efforts mistakes will happen, but follow these tips to minimize the risk:

  • Be sure to test live data and real records every time
  • Use a checklist to assure all the details are handled
  • Never manipulate data in Excel or any other spreadsheet
  • Test again, be sure, wait ten minutes, and test again
  • Compare and test original data files versus lists that have been appended with data such as a PURL

Follow these steps, and fewer mistakes will happen.