eSimply Overview

eSimply is a Web application that allows for the easy implementation of bulk email campaigns. eSimply has the following high level features:

  • Email job creation
  • Email list management
  • Email job management

What Is An Email Job?

An eSimply email job is a scheduled sending of one HTML email to several users, which are specified in an email list.

Email Job Creation

An email job may be created via any of the following methods:

  • Advanced Drag & Drop Email Builder
  • Traditional WYSIWYG Editor
  • Specifying the URL of a Web page that contains the content you’d like to email
  • Uploading a HTML page and any required images and stylesheets
  • Uploading a JPEG image
  • Uploading a PDF file
  • Uploading a Word document (.doc or .docx). Please Note: eSimply may or may not convert these perfectly. We suggest that our clients convert their files to PDF format before uploading
  • Uploading a text file
  • Uploading a ZIP file which contains all of the resources required to render a HTML page (similar to the file structure that you would get if you chose to save a HTML file from within your browser)

When you upload a PDF/DOC/DOCX file eSimply will automatically attempt to convert your existing Web links to HTML hyperlinks. You should take a close look at the preview to confirm that eSimply converted them all. If you find any Web links that were incorrectly set or misplaced, or you would just like to add additional links, you can create "hotspot" shapes within your preview to link to a specific URL by clicking on "Add Hotspots To" for a given page.

Once you’ve successfully submitted your job content via one of the methods above, you can review it in the preview job screen. Then you may set up the options for your email job. The most important of these is the email list that contains the email addresses of the job recipients (see EMAIL LIST MANAGEMENT).

One more thing, if you would like to personalize your emails, you may insert place holders into your HTML source, such as "{Dear}" and eSimply will prompt you to match these "merge fields" with available fields in your selected databases.

You can also add these merge fields in the SUBJECT, FROM EMAIL ADDRESS, REPLY TO ADDRESS, HOTSPOT LINKS, and ANY HOTSPOT TOOLTIP TEXT FIELDS.

In addition, if you would like to have a default value when a particular record has no value for the merge, use the following syntax: "{Dear|Valued Customer}"

After you’ve set the options, you choose to have a proof email sent to your email address and/or other email addresses. This is an opportunity for you to preview what your email job will look like. Once you have seen your proof, you can launch your email job in eSimply, based on the time that you set up for the job to launch.

When your job launches, you will receive an email report detailing how many times the job has been viewed by the customers in your email list. This report also includes click-through statistics on the links embedded inside of your HTML job.

Advanced Drag & Drop Email Builder

To add a Forward To A Friend link when using the Advanced Drag & Drop Email Builder do the following:
Step#1 Drag a Text Element to a blank area
Step#2 Double Click that "Text" area and Type "> FORWARD TO A FRIEND <"
Step#3 Select the Link icon which looks like a chain-link
Step#4 Select -> Link Type: URL
Step#5 Select -> Protocol: http://
Step#6 Select -> URL: FORWARD_LINK

Email List Management

Email lists contain the email addresses of the recipients of a given email job. You may upload an email list in either Excel or CSV (comma separated value) format. Alternatively, you can create, edit, or delete individual entries in your email list. eSimply automatically removes problematic entries from your email lists.

Email Job Mangement

You can check on the status of your various email jobs by clicking on the “Job History” tab. This will give you real time feedback on the status of your email jobs.

eSimply.com’s Best Practices for Creating and Sending HTML Email

Physical layout

  • Use more text than images. Spam filters are likely to catch an email containing an excessive number of pictures and a small amount of text.
  • Be judicious with the number of images and graphic you use. Of those used, keep them reasonably sized.
  • A good rule of thumb is to place the company or organization’s logo in the upper-left hand corner so at least it will be displayed if your recipient’s preview pane is narrower than, say, 300 pixels.

Structural layout

  • When using tables, the simpler the better. For example, to create a simple two-column layout, make one table for the header, a second for the text, and a third for the footer. Wrap these tables into a large table setting the width to 90 percent or greater. This will help account for cushioning, gutters and other possible problems. The width of all internal tables should be 100 percent.
  • Try to avoid nesting tables within tables.
  • Since many emails are viewed in preview panes, it is best to limit the width of an HTML email is to around 600 pixels.
  • It is good practice to specify height and weight for an image tag to prevent images from getting distorted.
  • Use absolute paths when referencing images, graphics and documents. When your recipients open your email, they are doing so using a remote email client with no relationship to the server storing your images, graphics and documents. An absolute link points to the exact address where a file is located.

Coding

  • Avoid complex coding. Use basic HTML as much as possible. When in doubt, use HTML.
  • CSS is the standard for web pages, but can be problematic when using it to format HTML. If you decide to use CSS, consider inline CSS. It is the most reliable method of using CSS in HTML email.
  • If you choose to embed CSS, place it below the body tag. Some email clients with ignore CSS placed within the head tags.
  • Do not use external style sheets. Email clients will ignore them and all that hard work you did will be for naught.
  • Do not embed movies, JavaScript or ActiveX. Flash is a standard feature on many website, but using it in an HTML email is asking for trouble.
  • Avoid attachments. Good spam filters are apt to catch them.
  • Use alt tags and title tags with images in case the images do not appear or are slow in rendering. In addition to describing the image, consider including any text that appears on the image. These provide a courtesy to the recipient as well as an indication of what is intended to appear.

Writing

  • As they say in the news reporting industry, don’t bury the lede. Place your most important item/message/article first and foremost. It’s the item in which you want your recipients to make their primary focus.
  • As Blaise Pascal said, “I’ve made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.” Translation: write brief, tight, quick-hitting items. This goes for headlines and text. In this constantly on-the-go age, readers prefer items that are direct and to the point. If you can rewrite a 20-word sentence in 10 words, try doing so. Make it sing.
  • Bulleted lists and “In This Edition” previews are among some of the to-the-point features that help make your email concise and easy to read.
  • Make it a rule not to use hard sell, too good to be true, you’re an instant winner phrases. When spam filters spot them, good-bye mail.

Text style and page elements

  • Make your text readable, which means, mixed case. DO NOT USE ALL CAPS. It’s considered shouting and spam filters may catch it. For emphasis, use bold, italics or bold italics. Also, minimize the use of underlining as it often leads a reader to believe the underlined word or words are a hyperlink.
  • An exclamation mark here and there within the various items of your email is fine. A bunch of them highlighting a call to action will get your email flagged as spam.
  • Include an opt-out link on all email. This is common courtesy and often demonstrates credibility. It’s also the law (CAN-SPAM Act)
  • List your physical address in all commercial email. This complies with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Testing and diagnostics

  • Check for dead or misdirected links before you send your email. Few things frustrate mail recipients more than clicking on a link only to discover it is broken or goes to the wrong site.
  • When finished creating your email, the next step should be a standard: test it. If possible, test it using a variety of email clients such as Gmail, Outlook Express, Eudora, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL. Each will process and render email differently. When testing, make sure your items contain the actual text as opposed to placeholder text such as Lorem Ipsum. The repetition of Lorem Ipsum or other such placeholder text can attract the attention of spam filters.
  • Always have a plain-text version of your HTML email in case the HTML version renders poorly or not at all. This is known as Multi-part MIME.
  • When in doubt on compliance issues involving email marketing refer to the CAN-SPAM Act (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm). Enacted in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act establishes rules for commercial email and requirements for commercial messages. It provides email recipients the right to prohibit marketers from sending them email and specifies strict penalties for violations. If you use email as a marketing tool or are considering it, consult this statute to ensure you are following the law...