Saturday, 25 October 2008

getting email newsletters right

I have over the years subscribed (either intentionally, or been 'forcefully' subscribed) to a lot of email newsletters. Having also been involved in creating and sending out newsletters by email, I've recently been mulling over how to get them right - from both ends.

My ideas on keeping your subscribers happy:
  • Always provide multipart emails (a combo plain text and html email) - not everyone enables html emails, and a lot of people consume emails in multiple platforms as well, so make sure you provide both
  • Don't overdo it - site marketing only needs to come out every two weeks to once a month - any more than that, and I feel like I'm being spammed. If I want to know about every new deal or update to your site, I'll probabaly subscribe to your RSS feed
  • Set up some good tracking links if you're interested in tracking conversions or hits based on an email - google analytics is dead easy, and can track and report on most of the info you need. Either use this method from Think Vitamin of adding query string parameters to your links, or set up referral redirects, all depends on your setup - tho if you use redirects, make sure they either 'live forever', or get a process up and running to replace those redirects with something more relevant in the future
  • Make it timely - fine tune your sending mechanism to be fast, fast, fast! If you take a week to send out the mails, a lot of your content may now be out of date. Find the most efficient way to get those mails out fast
  • Find out what platforms your target audience uses, and go with a design that works for that platform - there isn't a perfect formula for doing HTML emails that work 100% of the time, but if 50% of your possible (or current!) subscribers use Lotus notes or other clients that don't support full css, you're probabaly stuck with the terror of the old HTML tables. If 80% are only consuming the plain text versions, then don't invest days of work on nice html or graphics. Put your css styles in the body of the mail to support Hotmail
  • Don't make the plain text consumers feel like the poor cousin! I've seen multipart emails that have a rich, content full HTML version, yet just a link to an on-line version of the mail for the plain text version
  • So you've lost their interest, let them go! Always provide a one-click unsubscribe link, or a unsubscribe email address, which is easy to find in your mail. Don't make your subscriber sign into a site they probabaly can't remember their password for, don't keep sending out 'why are you leaving' emails or three step unsubscriptions. Make sure your unsubscribe process works, and takes effect as soon as possible (I've had a lot of cases where an unsubscribe email either bounces, or is totally ignored), or you might get accused of spamming

Thursday, 16 October 2008

when fanboys go wrong

yep, I'm a mac fan. but not like this lot... slightly disturbing

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

What a difference a day makes...

Here are two photos I took in NZ earlier this year on a 2 day kayaking trip, that highlight the total change in an image that can be had on different times of day.

The first is a late afternoon shot - prob 4-5pm

(Buy from Shutterstock)

The second is a early morning shot - 7amish? Just as the sun started coming over the top of the Fijord - no wind, and a eerie mist on the water

(Buy from Shutterstock)

So... same view, slightly different composition, different time of day. I love the morning shot (think I was actually wading about in the water to take it as the tide had come in overnight), but I'm not a morning person! Lucky the early morning birds woke us up in time to take this one.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

my first automator script

I was getting bored of going to all the hassle of copying stuff onto our network server where we store our music files, then in iTunes having to navigate back to the folder to add the new beats to the library, and thought there must be an easier way... now I have it!

So... I created an Automator workflow in about 2 minutes that:
  • Grabs the current selected directory
  • Recursivley grabs all files from recursive directories
  • Adds them to the iTunes library (note - I have 'Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library' turned off in the iTunes Preferences | Advanced pane, to stop the files copying back to my local disk)
  • Adds the beats to my iPhone playlist (as we manage a couple of iPods and iPhones off the same library)
  • Syncs the attached device
And I saved it as a Finder Plugin, so it activates on right-click of the folder in Finder. Hurray, one click add-and-sync :) (yep, it's basic, but it does the job for me!)

ringing the bell

Was just reading this boing-boing post on a wireless bell for a restaurant (, and it reminded me of our first trip to Yo Sushi! in London, and ringing the bell there.

For anyone that hasn't been, it's a chain of Sushi restaurants, and there is always a bell you can push to grab attention of a waiter (to order some yummy hot food or more miso or green tea mmm). At some branches, the bell is a nice quiet ding thing with a light, but at the first one we visited (at The Brunswick, Russell Square, London, I think), it was a huge jarring noise with a big flashing light, that totally made us jump! Very embarrassing, until you realise everyone else has a big noisy one too, and it's not really *that* loud...

Monday, 6 October 2008

carpark for rent!

Montreaux apts - motorway viewA carpark we own in Wellington, NZ has just come up for rent again...
Great location in the Montreaux Apartment building on The Terrace, secure, covered and only $70/week. Handy for Lambton Quay, Willis St and Parliament.

See the ad here if anyone is interested!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

The revolution is slowly building...

AppleInsider posted some stats today showing that mac usage is steadily growing on the web.
Good to see! I checked my blog stats, and unsurprisingly almost 50% of hits are from Macs, however as I post a lot about mac related stuff, and hit the blog myself (haven't figured out how to remove my stats from feedburner yet) it's not all that big a surprise.

I wish there was some way to filter out 'corporate' usage from the stats - as the consumer market is much more interesting seeing as you get to use what you choose, not what your workplace forces you to use. I have worked in one place where developers got the choice, and were actually encouraged to have a Linux build PC rather than Windows - coding was all Java on Apache and Tomcat, and the prod servers were Unix/Linux anyway. And there is usually a few Macs hanging about in the design departments of most companies, but I get the feeling they are just tolerated (use at your own risk!) and don't get a lot of support from operations desks, which is probably just a knowledge issue - Mac OSX is getting more and more 'compatible' with LDAP etc, and the average Mac user is probably willing to dig around in the shell and work out how to get up and running...

With the enterprise moving more and more towards Web based applications (which I have mixed feelings about!), the dependance on windows thin/thick client apps is slowly decreasing - I think I have about two or three non web based apps installed at work currently, and I barely use them at all.

Would be interesting to hear from some sys admins as to how easy it is to integrate Linux and Mac desktops into traditional windows based networks.