Email Feed

VDP Web & Social Media – JavaScript and JQuery

By Eleanor Heins

The marketer’s challenge is to be able to distribute information across multiple channels as widely as possible with minimal effort.  A natural next step would be the ability to add social media functionality to landing pages.  We now offer the ability to “like” and “publish” landing pages and “retweet” the link for your friends to receive the offer. 

This can potentially expand your distribution methods many times over.   Allowing people to send an offer through their own channels will cost less for you, and grow your list exponentially with no direct effort on your part.

For a sample of this in action, look for this ability on our holiday mailing, coming soon.  Not on the mail list?  Click here.

How is it done?  JavaScript, JQuery and HTML

I’ve heard of Javascript. What is it again?
Definition: JavaScript and is an object oriented scripting language that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML. It simplifies the creation of animations, communications to server requests, document transversing and event handling. JQuery is the most popular JavaScript library used.

Great. What does that mean?
Implementing JavaScript/JQuery takes a rudimentary knowledge of html and a few conditional statements, such as “if-then” statements. This method allows users to create conditional questions and display variable content with the same functionality used to make a slick accordion menu or an image slideshow. With Javascript/JQuery, it is very easy to show/hide different sets of content based on information in the data file. In this manner one can custom tailor the content on the landing page for each prospect by changing text, images, movies, and even surveys. The options are endless.

Why not just use a form to create the conditions?
VDP Web decided to open our platform up to Javascript/JQuery because it gives us a single solution for nearly limitless functions. Conditional questions, variable content, animations and visual effects are all possible, keeping the control of scope in our clients hands. Complicated rules based forms can be limited in scope and can require quite a bit of extra training for an end result that is centered around a single function and does not make use of anyone’s existing skill set. We also knew that a large portion of our clients already had staff in house that either knew enough JavaScript to work with the system or were in the position to learn. JavaScript and its many reference libraries such as JQuery are either already known – or really, really easily learned – by pretty much every web designer out there. 

It was time to put the creativity back into the functionality instead of relying on a form that tells you what you can and can’t do with your landing page.

Enhanced QR Code Generation Available in VDP Web

JFM Concepts has just announced additional QR Code functionality to further enhance its industry leading VDP Web® cross media marketing suite.  The creation and implementation of QR Codes, with a seamless integration into reporting, allows immediate and easy coordination of Personalized URLs (PURLs), SMS-Text, Unique 800#s, static landing pages and more.  A complete integration of response mechanisms avoids data silos and fragmented work environments that isolate data and complicate coordination.


According to John Fager, JFM Concepts’s Chief Technology Officer, “The new print-ready QR Code functionality in VDP Web allows one-click generation of an infinite number of QR images that are automatically tied into reporting without the need for an additional platform.  The export database is formatted for easy implementation to any print driver.”


Since 2004, JFM Concepts ( has developed and executed national cross media marketing strategies for direct clients, traditional agencies and commercial printers. Campaigns include broadcast and print media, direct mail, SMS-text, email, PURLs (personal URLs) and variable data landing pages with surveys and opt-ins.

Cross Media Automation – Not for the Faint of Heart

By Joshua Driver

Recently, I was on the phone with a valued client and we discussed the latest automated technologies for cross media integration.  There are numerous platforms that can execute messages across various channels, automatically, but who is really doing this right?

With the economy and buyer behavior being as predictable as Lindsey Lohan’s rehab calendar, marketers are looking for ways to automate targeted messages over direct mail, email, social media, and more.  This can help reduce long term internal resources, but there is a significant upfront investment: You have to prep your data, beef up your content and implement a manageable segmentation and rules strategy.

A male colleague of mine received a postcard that proudly proclaimed, “For Women Only.”  The piece was urging him to try out the latest in feminine products.  There is no short cut for keeping your data clean and accurate, for targeting appropriate prospects and for creating good content.  If your content and data isn’t up to a certain level, automation will not benefit your organization.  If you send blatantly inappropriate messages, it will damage an existing relationship.

Data has a shelf-life.  Things change.  People change.  Often what our internal database tells us about a customer may not be entirely accurate.  It takes a savvy marketer to deliver the right message at the right time.  Marketing automation can certainly increase productivity and returns, but with challenges involving technical knowhow, data accuracy and content relevance, it falls short of being truly effective for most organizations.

Much like goal setting, you must set initiatives for the short, medium and long term.  It is imperative that you are continuously reviewing the data, and how your technology is segmenting this.  Take the time to gather survey responses and reevaluate future campaigns.  Be prepared for content changes and rule revisions throughout the year.

Take Away:
Before you jump on the automated marketing technology band wagon, be sure to evaluate the premium cost of not only the solution but also the heavy internal lifting that will be required to get your strategy, data, content and touch point rules in place.

How (not) to write email subject lines

by Eleanor Heins

Email subject lines are often a last minute, overlooked item on many marketers’ campaign checklist. We’ve compiled a few ideas, industry standards and best practices to help get your emails to the inbox.

It’s not me, it’s you.
An email subject line should tell readers what is in the email in just a few words. A long message usually contains a chain of complex concepts. This not only makes the subject line difficult to comprehend, it also will likely to have the end cut off in the email client’s title pane. How many times have you seen 3 or 4 separate features of a product shoehorned into one line, with comma’s and semicolons gasping for breath?  Promotional emails and company newsletters often try to compress the entire company philosophy and product features into a single sentence.  There is a fine line between tagline and paragraph.

Industry Standard
Keep the length around 40-55 characters.

Best Practice
Do not leave email copy for just anyone to write at the last moment.  A staff member experienced in email marketing should oversee the process.  A list of previous subject lines and emails should be reviewed upon every send with their response rates in hand.

Status Check - Its Complicated
How do we keep our subject lines simple and effective? One of the greatest books for marketers ever produced is Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think”. Run, do not walk (no, we are not affiliated) to your nearest bookseller and pick up a copy or download it to your Kindle for you tech types. The concepts in this book about web usability easily apply to email - the title says it all. Save the complex concepts for the cut sheets and the deep content on your landing page. If the staff in charge of writing the email copy says, “This subject line will really make them think!” Think again. If you don’t have time to figure out your email word jumble, neither will your customers.

Industry Standard:  Keep it simple….you know the rest.

Best Practice: See above


“Opening Night – Acme Diner” versus
"A new cutting edge entertainment & dining facility is opening soon in your area - check it out NOW!

"Acme Toolkit Launch" versus 
“Is your business ready for Acme’s New Online Customer Management Business Solution Toolkit?”

Free Words to Avoid N O W !! Please Read and Save BIG $!
Everyone should already know that it is best to keep such terms as “free” and “cash” out of the subject line and content.  Even so, we are asked constantly by our clients about what words to avoid and what to use.  One suggestion is to watch your own activity. What did you just delete without reading? Why? Were you interesting in saving more on your generic service? No? Well, your prospects won’t be either.  First, safely open up a full junk mail box and flip through some titles.  Now, evaluate honestly. If some of the titles and content have a familiar theme, you may want to revisit what you are sending your customers. It may not be what they want to read.

Common SPAM Triggers
Here is a short collection of SPAM triggers, by no means all inclusive, that may trigger a trip to the junk email folder.  Of course, these are many of the words you will want to use...

New, Best, Price, Guarantee, Sale, Congratulations, Claims, Win, Buy direct, No gimmicks, Success, Help (insert topic here…), See for yourself, Save $, Risk Free, Please Read, Free Gift, Free Info, Hidden, Now Only, Limited Time Offer, and of course,  S P R E A D I N G   Y O U R   T E X T, and ALL CAPS.

Who are you?
The From Name and From Email should be clear and help users immediately identify you and relate you with your subject line.  What address are they used to receiving email from? If they aren’t familiar with this particular product from your company, then who on your team would they recognize? My junk mail is filled with names of people I have never heard of, many with incredibly long subject lines selling me everything from software to furniture to medication.  Delete!

Data. It is really, really important. REALLY.
A long, complicated subject line can be a symptom of a greater problem.  Is it possible your list has been decreasing in performance over time? Are these customers who you haven’t hear from in a while and there is concern that they won’t recognize your From Name or From Email? The subject line is no place to compensate for a stale, error filled database.  It might be time to refresh your CRM and get your sales team to identify who really is among your active contacts. The response rates will tell the tale.

New Study Shows Direct Mail beats Email

Here is the meat from from an recent article in Targeted Marketing that proves something we have konw all along.

"In a very recent study titled Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice, ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, surveyed over 2500 U.S. and 2200 Canadian households, specifically targeting consumers in the 18-34 year-old demographic. The study found that these consumers overwhelmingly prefered—by two to three times—to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers, rather than online sources such as social media sites

Examples among merchandisers include 62 percent of this age group prefering personal care product offers coming in the mail while only 22 percent prefer online. Food products? 66 percent want the offline approach versus 23 percent for online offers. Over-the-counter medicine? 53 percent versus 21 percent."

For years the United States Postal service has reported that online sales were significantly higher when combined with direct mail and this study helps confirm that fact.  Remember the mail moment:
Such online giants as Google and Zappos advertise via direct mail, and if they need traditional marketing channels to drive traffic, chances are you do too.  Remember to drive all your marketign channels to a landing page to start a two way conversation and collect data.  Purls on the direct marketing peice will help improve repsonse rates and assure the prospect sees the correct content.


New VDP Web Feature

JFM Concepts has rolled out a powerful new feature for the industry leading VDP Web cross media suite.  Users can now control privileges and account access on a very granular level.  This functionality allows either internal or third party users to be given only the permissions they need to specific parts of the utility.

For example, if you wanted to give access to a designer or data person, you can limit the areas that they can see to their specific task.  The following configuration would give access to a designer to manage content for web and email, but nothing else:


For more information, please call us at 800-735-2578.

George Culbertson and GAP Marketing

This is a shameless plug from George Culbertson while he was presenting a Hewlett-Packard case study featuring VDP Web at Interact! 2010 in Chicago.



Capitalizing on the Postal Service Price Increase

After several quarters of mounting losses, the Postal Service is once again ready to raise rates across the board.  The reaction from direct marketers was immediate and clear – volumes will fall and the shift will be toward online channels.  If it was not already hard enough to convince the CMO to spend on direct mail, the problem just got that much harder.

How this helps Marketing Service Providers

To capitalize on this challenge, offer to assist your clients with developing an email marketing list.  A simple plan that has been successfully used by many MSPs follows:

Step 1
Add a landing page with opt-in to every customer communication and touch the client makes

Step 2
Offer an incentive on the landing page for the client to opt-in and provide an email address.  For B2B applications exclusive content works well and for B2C applications discounts and coupons are effective.

Step 3
Use the collected opt-ins for direct marketing with both direct mail and email.

To price a project like this, consider doing it on spec and charging per lead and follow up.  We have never met a CMO that won’t pay for a qualified lead and an automated follow on program.  Since landing pages are available with VDP Web for only $40 there is virtually no risk.  Typical prices for leads can run from $3-5 for small consumer goods to more than a hundred for auto loans, insurance, and mortgages.  For not for profits consider a percentage of the donation.  The possibilities are endless as overburdened marketers look for automated, but cost effective, ways to do their jobs.

Know thy Customer!

Followers of this blog know that we are pretty merciless when it comes to bad direct marketing.  AT & T has joined the ranks of shame with this brilliant effort.  The following letter arrived in a generic white envelope and if I was not always on the lookout for the next great pitch it probably would have ended up in the trash.  Unfortunately for AT&T, I read it.
I was going to add more commentary, but let’s skip to the chase.

Take Aways

• Only make relevant offers to the target audience and clean your data to make sure you know who you are talking to.   Never offer as “new” services (in this case 800#s and international calling) that the client already has.  The will feel poorly treated and unappreciated.  If you tell us that we are a high volume firm, we expect more.

• Provide a call to action and response mechanism on every piece.  Never make a prospect go looking elsewhere for a way to buy.

• Use multiple channels to offer choice to your customer – They may prefer another channel.  Use PURLs, landing pages, and the web to enhance the customer experience.

• If AT&T can’t use a campaign specific 800# to track response by offer then they should quit marketing.  Seriously, you’re the PHONE COMPANY.

• Personalization works:  “Dear Long Distance Business Customer” ?  Come on, that was lame in 1975.  We have a sales rep. We know her name. Why is this letter not from her?


Before marketing, analyze your data in order to provide a relevant and personalized customer experience.  If you offer a marketing product (in this case web and telephony) use it in every single piece of marketing, every time.  There can never be any reason that justifies ignoring these rules.

PS – Anybody have the number for Verizon? 

One to One: How hard can it be?

Here is another email from XM Pie that deifies all logic to explain.  In a header that claims “one to one” marketing, there follows a "spray and pray" email that contains one variable field and that is only the first name of the recipient.  There are no links relevant to the content, no PURL, no landing pages, no opt-ins, no two way conversation is started, and the list goes on.  Here is the message:


What XM Pie did wrong
• Poorly targeted to the wrong audience
• Generic content that can’t be easily scanned
• Generic links to the main home page
• No two way conversation is started
• No easy opt-in mechanism is provided
• Verbose and boring text
• Poorly defined callouts and highlights
• Spam to a mined address (more on this topic later…)

What XM Pie did right
They sent something out (although sending the wrong message, to the wrong customer on the wrong channel may out weigh this)

Take Aways

• Drink your own Kool Aid
Creating and executing cross media campaigns takes more than paying ungodly amounts of money for a tool.  If you are going to sell cross media campaigns, you need to market using those tools.  There is no excuse not to make each touch count.  Don’t waste them with poorly executed drival.

• Understand your data 
Know who you are communicating with.  Break those prospects into segments and create a persona for each to deliver relevant content.  If you can’t do this out of the box, do data work first, then reach out.

• Don’t waste communications
Make every touch timely and relevant with easy opt-ins.  Start a two way conversation by asking questions, adding PURLs, using links to landing pages with content relevant to the message, utilizing segmentation and personas, and do this on every touch. 

There is no excuse to waste your clients’ and prospects’ time.  They may not give you a second chance.