Hello sign

B2B email spam laws

A refresher for on the rules around sending email (and SMS) to prospects.

New Zealand privacy and email marketing

With regard to the NZ Privacy Act 2017 and updated 2020.

Top level obligations

  • Be transparent. Don’t hide anything.
  • Make sure you have consent.
  • Always give people the opportunity to opt-out or unsubscribe.

Deemed consent is what most B2B marketing would be using for email marketing.

[Quote from article linked above]

However, the area of ‘deemed’ consent is still an area open to interpretation in New Zealand. What was Keith’s advice on this?

“In New Zealand, if you deem your service or product is relevant to the person whose data you’ve collected (or whose contact information is publicly available), then you have permission to send them communications as long as this is covered in your Privacy Policy.” However Keith pointed out that this is actually a requirement of the UEM Act, not the Privacy Act.

BUT you first need a strong privacy policy on your business website.

Here’s a sample NZ privacy policy (and one from Australia).

USA and Canada and GDPR (Europe)

These jurisdictions have different rules – but many of the underlying principles are similar.

Hope that’s useful for everyone.

spam tin as a metaphor for bad email

Overcoming a spam label by MailChimp

One of my clients did something ill-advised and their account got flagged by MailChimp as  spammer.

Goodness that’s a tough call and the restrictions placed on the account are significant.

The good news is that I succeeded in untangling the situation and restoring the account.  BUT it would have been better never to have got into that situation in the first place.

And so if you’re tempted to re-use an old mailing list, don’t.  Digging out old lists from a few years ago who haven’t been mailed and who haven’t had a history on your account is a big risk.  If your email service provider gets a higher than normal bounce or spam reporting rate, it will be noticed.  I think ISPs are very vigilant at this time.

If you do want to re-use an old list, I suggest you create a separate audience and after the first mail-out has identified unsubscribes and bounces, then later merge it into your main audience so it doesn’t contaminate your good standing.

Good mailing list hygiene

Something to do today – run through your email list and check off whether you have everything in place to enable personalisation.  Correct first name, last name, company name?  No capitals? Can you deduce recipients’ names from their email address e.g.

Now start planning out your segmentation.  Here are three easy segments for you to set up.

  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • Industry groups

Focus on retention

For most direct marketing at these times, I recommend retention rather than acquisition.  It’s easier to keep than acquire a new customer.

Three quick campaigns you can run

  • Repurchases – a suitable date after the last event
  • Best sellers – your top 20% of sales by product
  • Referrals and testimonials – ask your customer to do ONE thing for you

Untangle a spam label by Mailchimp


click stream, analysis, email click

Click Analysis to raise ROI

Take a look at your most recent email marketing campaign and review where people clicks and how many people clicked on each link.

I found that we were getting a lot of clicks in an unexpected place and we were able to correct that in our next campaign iteration. I also recommend a chrome extension which will help you appraise your website clicks.

Watch more Recession Marketing videos

and find the top 6 actions for marketing strategy for a recession.

How to write a good Covid-19 email

There are 3 types of message – two are a waste of time and effort.

  • Focus appropriately.
  • Give clear messages.
  • Understand the customer’s point of view.
  • Be practical.

Help others to stay within the Government’s Level 4 guidelines.

Subscribe to get these short update videos in YouTube or LinkedIn and please pass them to folks who need help.


Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

A nicely written GDPR email

Today I received a GDPR email message from a LinkedIn connection – we are 1st degree connected.  But because he’s in Europe, all his written electronic mass communications are now governed by GDPR – the European Union legislation General Data Protection Regulation.

The full email is reproduced below.  Here is my analysis of why it’s such a nicely composed text.  If you are in B2B marketing, I recommend taking a close look and deciding if this sort of annual review of your mailing list is appropriate.

Because we pay (mostly) for our email mass communications in a monthly fee calculated on the size of our mailing list, it’s worthwhile doing a “cull” to remove people who are either not reading your messages (since Gmail introduced the tabbed viewing this has increased for my list)  or those who are no longer relevant to you or vice versa.  It keeps your messaging tight and focused.

6 direct mail copywriting tips

  1. The opener explains why – in large font.  The subject line is “Why did we connect in the first place?” so I was intrigued to open it.
  2. The addressee (me) is personalised.
  3. The four points summarise Paul’s brand offering and gives me more reason to check out his current work.
  4. Then he justifies continuing to mail me post-GDPR (not sure I buy this – but points for trying)
  5. He gives permission to unsubscribe and suggests reasons why I should do this.
  6. Lastly, in the footer he reminds me to update my LinkedIn contact preferences – a very nice touch

So here’s his article in which he explains what IDK means and here’s the list management options for future communications showing my selections.

I think this is clear and totally appropriate.  Get in touch if you’d like me to review your mailing list strategies.

Email list, marketing permission, contact options, GDPR

Email list marketing permission options

The Full Email Text

Rebecca, You are receiving this email because we are 1st. grade connected on LinkedIn.


“I did not have time to write a short note” sic. Mark Twain The words appeared in a letter [JRMT] 1871 June 15, Letter from Mark Twain to James Redpath, Elmira, New York

  1. Was it because my profile caught you attention, or was it something in my Company  page which appealed to you?
  2. Was it one of my groups on Business Development or Logistics Collaboration that inspired you?
  3. I know …it’s my management books drew you over the hurdle, and gave you courage to send me an invitation!
  4. Or you wanted to network and reach out to bring your services or product under my attention.
Good because Linked-In delivers leads!

We are lost without connections!
Sic. Owen Jones

All good reasons and fine with me…, as these are my reasons too.

By connecting 1st grade you signed-in = pre GDPR opt-in – when accepting the connection request.
Your connection is as valuable to me as exchanging a business card containing all contact data during a life network event. A licence to contact… by phone, fax (I still remember), mobile phone (now WhatsApp), mail … This in order to set-up a business deal, meeting (now virtual) and social event… stay in contact.

And which is more, exchange or reach out for knowledge, an introduction, bring articles, whitepapers, books – all now with e- extension – which added to our success to each other’s attention and use. Shortcutting the learning curve, avoiding pitfalls, grow faster.

It is cumbersome to maintain contact with your network (it contains the verb …work) so here is how I do it: I am a giver – the golden rule in networking: give and not expect to be given – by sharing courtesy content, summits, introductions…. Proper GDPR set-up in place to safeguard and cherish our contact.

When your interest, position, business evolves, it is okay to: * Unsubscribe * or hit the * No longer interested *,  * Unspecified * , * Other * (a reason appreciated) tab. No hard feelings!

But don’t throw * Did not sign up * back at me because you did  – pre- GDPR – check your linked-in connection list.

It gets worse  with * Inappropriate content *: how am I supposed to know things changed when you are not telling me, your once 1st linked-in chosen contact, what changed, what your interests are today… so Update your preference.

Have we lost the art of 1to1 communication?

Do not *S.s.s.s.p.p.p.p.a.a.a.m.m.m.m.m.m.* me.
I for one will never do that. Never!!!

Next time before sending: IDK * Think 2-ice .. Here is Why 

Having said this, I rest my case with respect for your decision and the consequence that our 1st connection will be discarded.

Best Personal Regards,
Paul Van den Brande
Co-Managing Partner

—We Never Forget You Have A Choice —


You are receiving this email because we connected on LinkedIn.

Our mailing address is:

Noble House Group

Max Hermanlei 74a

Brasschaat 2930


Add us to your address book

–We Never Forget You Have A Choice! —

Your GDPR safety requires you to update your preferences

GDPR Contact Paul Van den Brande –
Your data will never be shared without prior information.
You can change your mind at any time using the unsubscribe from this list
No hard feelings!

Push Notifications: Is this the death of email newsletters?

In the world of Digital Marketing, there is a constant need for innovation to stay ahead of competitors and create the next novel experience in order to sell to customers. We saw it first with the use of email marketing communications in the 90s which was a bandwagon – everyone jumped on board and our in-boxes got swamped with newsletter.

Nowadays there are a plethora of services available to the digitally savvy, but how effective are they, and are they likely to oust the tried and tested methods?

So our thesis is that email newsletter subscriptions are falling because we get too many of them. EdgeRank removes the free postings by businesses on Facebook and Twitter is too crowded.

BUT people want high quality content.

So how can we deliver content from our website without using a newsletter or social media?

To answer this question, let’s look at a relatively new service to enter the market, Push Notifications  and how they compare to our most powerful channel at present, the good old fashion email/newsletter subscriber list.

So before we go any further, what exactly are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are simply alerts that pop up on your computer or mobile, on demand when the publisher releases something of interest to you.

“Hmm well this sounds kind of invasive though…“

I hear you. Pop-ups generally are annoying and frustrating, however these alerts only appear when you opt in to the list. A cookie is placed in your browser and each time the publisher wants to send out a notification, every browser containing that specific cookie receives the alert, regardless of whether they are browsing the web or not. In some ways they are less invasive than the hassle of having to enter your contact details to download an eBook. 

To find out if Push Notifications were a worthy substitute or indeed even a necessary supplement to our tried and tested marketing methods, we asked ourselves the following questions:

Are consumers growing weary of newsletters and email marketing?

I recently unsubscribed from at least 5 different brands’ emails because of the constant bombardment of marketing material. If others are finding themselves doing the same, does that pose a risk to the future of email marketing communications? And if so, are Push Notifications a smarter way to engage?

Are people still interested in content?

The old adage that ‘content is king’ may have held weight in the past, but do customers actually want to receive endless articles and information related to products they might purchase? With every brand under the sun fighting for your attention as a consumer, how much is too much?

My answer is yes. Emphatically. Good content gets liked, shared and commented upon.

Will people actually engage with these invasive interruptions?

My initial thoughts are yes, if used sparingly. Too much of anything can be bad. I feel the key to making the most out of Push Notifications is moderation. Subscribers aren’t going to respond well to being pestered several times a day while they browse the web. But they may be interested in what’s been going on if it is restricted to once a week, for example. Similar to SMS notifications, users must interact with the push notification in order to view it or close it. Compare this with email, where readers can simply delete, filter, file or ignore without having to open the message at all. Push notifications by-pass this barrier to opening email by displaying the message title straight away. 

You have to respond one way or another!

Would Push subscribers never have joined the email list anyway?

Perhaps. Even if there is no clear preference for one over the other, having both allows your brand to capture your audience’s attention in a medium that works for them. Without having to provide an email address, we may never know who has opted in to Push Notifications, which makes communicating outside of Push challenging unless we can cross-match against other subscriber actions.

With email and push running simultaneously, which one performs better?

We ran Push Notifications for the second half of February on a client website. Our provider of choice was OneSignal – a service that promises to remain free forever! An interesting claim, but what’s the REAL cost? I suspect Edward Snowden would fall off his стул (chair) in frustration  – let’s save it for another day.

Results from Push Notifications test

  • At the beginning of February, we had 5,334 email subscribers. At the end of the month, that figure had risen to 5,426 – a gain of 92 subscribers.
  • Push Notifications began on February 15th. Two weeks later we had 63 push subscribers.

Our Push Notifications were promoting the same material as our emails, so which one performed better?

Our blog article “Plan, Develop and Write – Content Training Workshop” was published on both. The newsletter received a respectable open rate of 30% and a Click Through Rate (CTR) of 1.4%. The Push Notification received a surprising CTR of 21.43%!

The Push list is much smaller than the email list; that is a significant difference.

This was obviously only one campaign and we have not yet built up a data set large enough to draw significant conclusions.

So do we think Push could supersede email? Well the jury is still out on that one, we’ll continue to test them both and come back with our conclusions in the future.

In the mean time, what do you think about Push?

abandoned cart email campaign

Reclaiming lost income with an abandoned cart email campaign

Ecommerce is, by its nature, prone to being a slave to usage stats. The most important of these being conversions, or how many people your website can convince to transition from spectator to a purchaser. A little-considered but significant subset of that data is the proportion of abandoned carts.

What is an Abandoned Cart?

Any visitor to your website who goes to the trouble, not only to look at your products, but to add them to their cart, proceed to checkout, but then, for one of several possible reasons, fails to purchase. These prospects have “abandoned” their carts. Most good shopping cart software should track these abandonments, and where possible record contact details for your reference.

These abandoned carts represent a significant portion of “lost” revenue. In an aggregation of survey data the Baymard Institute suggests that on average 68.63% of shoppers are likely to leave their purchases incomplete. That data pulls on a range of studies, some of which estimate the abandonment rate is as low as 59.80% or as high as 78.00% (although, the company reporting the highest rate of abandonment just happens to sell you a product to tract and prevent abandonment). However, whatever way you look at it, a good half the people that express interest in your products might never actually purchase.

An abandoned cart email, or campaign, may save you lost revenue by reclaiming or “remarking” to your prospects, but it also might help you find out how to boost sales and make your ecommerce store easier, friendlier and more profitable by minimising the number of people who abandon your checkout process.

And an abandoned cart strategy is something even some of the largest brands, from Apple to Macy’s, are failing to employ. That’s perhaps because their tone and purpose is hard to get right. Nonetheless, the numbers say they are effective: emails remarking to visitors who abandoned their carts have higher than average open and click rates.

Optimise the User Experience First

The first job is to think about how you can minimise the need for your abandoned cart email or campaign, and that means considering the reasons someone might not complete the checkout process. The common reasons may surprise you.

Answer these questions for yourself:

  • Are your postage, packaging, handling, and tax charges easy to find and displayed transparently?
  • Is your cart requiring users to register before they buy?
  • Is your checkout process cumbersome, i.e., does it have too many steps or prompt for too much personal data?
  • Do you have clear, reassuring refund and privacy policies?
  • Is it easy and obvious how to add and delete items or quantities from your cart?
  • Do you have a valid SSL certificate, are you using the https:// protocol by default, and is your cart showing a friendly ‘padlock’ icon to visitors?
  • Does your site work smoothly; are the buttons and steps clearly marked?

If the honest answer to any of these are “no,” rethinking some of these components might earn you sales, not just from abandoned carts but also from visitors who never get as far as entering their contact details.

In Hubspot’s research, some 41% of people abandoned because of “hidden charges.” Shopify surveyed a range of online stores and visitors to find that 39% of visitors reported leaving a store after experiencing a technical problem like a “crash” or network timeout. Therefore, it’s highly likely it’s not your prices, products or services themselves that are driving people away.

All this means that 80% of abandonment is recoverable, either by improving the technical speed and performance of your site or by being clear and transparent with the process and associated costs of purchase (shipping, tax, etc).

Don’t Beg, Don’t Bully, Welcome Them Back

Once you’re satisfied that the user experience is as good as you can imagine it, then it’s time to start thinking about what to send to your potential drop-offs.

As with any email marketing, being friendly and helpful rather than forceful is key. As suggested above, the open rate on these kinds of emails are often higher than a usual campaign, but that doesn’t mean the best place to start isn’t your subject line. Most successful lines are personalised and even a little cheeky. Some tried and tested subject lines are:

  • [Name], we missed you at [store]
  • [Name], thanks for visiting [store]
  • Did you forget something, [Name]?
  • Can we help you with anything, [Name]?
  • There’s still time for a deal at [store]

or simply:

  • You left items in your cart

The body of the email should: (a) invite and encourage the user to purchase again; (b) offer personal help with their purchase, or the opportunity to provide feedback if warranted. Striking a balance between the two goals of the abandoned cart email may be tricky, but keep them both in mind as you write.

Also keep in mind the disparate reasons that someone might have abandoned their cart:

  • The product is “big ticket” which requires commitment/consideration
  • The shopper may have been distracted, but genuinely wishes to purchase.
  • Some facet of the purchase worried the prospect: price, support, trustworthiness of the checkout process, returns policy, etc.

Use language like “we’ve kept your products safe” or “saved your selection”. If at all possible include the basic details – including a photo – of the product(s) left in the cart. Photos stimulate emotional engagement and remind the reader what they’re missing. For the same reason it is important to contact the prospect quickly after they left, experts suggest no more than 24 hours after your shopping cart detected an abandoned cart. Where possible, link to reviews of the items they’re considering purchasing to reinstate confidence with the product.

After reminding people what they’re missing out on, further emphasise the support they’ll receive now and into the future. Offer a chance to chat with you in person about their purchase by providing a genuine email address and your phone number. Take the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of shopping with you: perhaps you’ve got a great money-back guarantee or the best after-sales support?

Lastly, make sure you have a clearly designed email with a call-to-action – a button that is, after all, the primary purpose of your email – to get your prospect back on your site and completing the checkout.

Sign your email off personally, and include a variety of ways to get in touch in your signature.

Tracking, A Follow Up Campaign, and Incentivising Purchase

Once you’ve built the basics, you can perfect the process by installing tracking code into your button to record that this visit was the result of a remarketing opportunity. Ask your Google Analytics expert or webmaster to show you how.

Next, think about what happens if the email isn’t persuasive enough, and how much those lost sales are really worth? Some marketers recommend following up the first email with a second, throwing in an e-book or free resource, something that costs you little to produce but that will encourage a buyer to commit. Some other added incentive might be useful, giving your prospect a coupon to use to get free shipping or 5% off their order may be enough to turn a prospect into a purchaser. Simply experiment with different deals that suit your budget and make sense for your product.

Steps From Here

  1.    Find out what kinds of funnel reporting you have on your ecommerce processes.
  2.    Ask your webmaster/analytics provider to produce a report on abandoned carts.
  3.    Find out how many of those clients actually left an email address.
  4.    Think about how great it would be to receive just 3% of that lost revenue.
  5.    Optimise your cart to provide the least amount of resistance.
  6.    Write and install some savvy abandoned cart emails
  7.   Test, tweak, and consider what incentives if any are right for your business.

Have you got an e-commerce platform that needs optimising? Get in touch with Creative Agency Secrets and see how we can help.

Autoresponders Email Marketing – A Good Example

We recently visited GetSpokal.Com and were pleasantly surprised when we received 3 spaced apart automated emails after signing up to their newsletter.

This is a brilliant example to show you Autoresponder Email Marketing done right.

Not to mention their service description landing page is magnificent. Here are the autoresponders we received…

Autoresponder Email 1: intro and thank you

Hi Rebecca,

I was just browsing the web and came across Creative Agency Secrets’ site. I’m a bit of a marketing nerd, so love to look and compare the strategies of different inbound marketing agencies – I actually think it’s fun! What you and your team are doing with Creative Agency Secrets looks really interesting.

I wanted to reach out to you today, because my company, helps agencies like yours manage their inbound marketing strategies quickly and more efficiently.

It’s kind of like HubSpot but at a much more affordable price point, and integrates seamlessly with WordPress.

First off, I’d like to invite you and your team to a free 14 day trial of Spokal to get a feel for how it works and how it can help your inbound marketing strategies.

If you like Spokal, and want to start using it for your clients, we also have an agency program where you can earn a 30% commission on all client accounts you manage. So not only does your work with clients become easier, it becomes more profitable too.

To set up a trial account and get familiar with our platform, just head over to If you like what you see, I’ll personally help you get set up on agency program so you can start using Spokal with your clients.

If you have any questions at all about our platform or agency program, just reply back to this email and I’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

Chris Mack
Co-Founder & CEO
1 888 470 5990

Autoresponer Email 2: service description and offerings

Hi Rebecca,

I just wanted to follow up with you to see if you received my previous email. I think Spokal would make a great fit for your agency, both for your internal use and for your clients.

I’d love to invite you to a free trial of Spokal at and if you like what you see, we can get you set up on an agency plan where you earn 30% back for all of your clients who you manage while using Spokal.

Just reply back here if you have any questions.

Chris Mack
Co-Founder & CEO
1 888 470 5990

Autorseponder Email 3: reminder and farewell

Hi Rebecca,

I just wanted to send one last email to make sure my emails weren’t missing your inbox.

Your agency looks like a great fit for what Spokal offers – a full-fledged marketing automation solution for WordPress.

Would you like to give Spokal a spin for a free 14 day trial? If so, just head over to and sign up for our free trial. I’m sure you’ll like what you see, and if you want to get your clients set up on Spokal, you can earn 30% back in commission as an agency. Just like that, your client work becomes more efficient and more profitable.

Just hit reply if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Chris Mack
Co-Founder & CEO
1 888 470 5990

cas ebook front templateTeach yourself how to use Autoresponders. 

They can be an effective weapon in  your marketing arsenal

Buy a training programme!

Includes E-book, Workshop video and Workshop powerpoint slides.


A note on subject lines for cold email

I am subscribed to get emails from Nick Johnson from Incite.  His copywriting is exemplary and I regularly find myself wanting to take the actions he requests.

Look at this picture taken from my in box of recent messages I’ve received from Incite.

Cold email subject lines

Cold email subject lines

Did you notice that few of the subject lines actually say what’s in the message.   So if I want to know what it’s about I HAVE to open the email.

some of the message subjects aren’t written with capital letters – makes it look like Nick wrote it quickly and forgot – but it’s more a feature of personal email not mass email and so I think this is clever, if used occasionally.

They clearly experiment with subject lines – one of them is a ‘Newsletter’ and is titled as such, but the content of many of them could be classified as news.

I have highlighted two parts because they show best practice.

The Red box surrounds subject lines in which they’ve included my name.  It feels like it was written just for me – but I know it’s just a personalisation insert from their database – but nonetheless it’s effective.

The Orange box encloses a subject “a quick heads up” which they used twice.  The first one follows the pattern of not saying what’s in the body of the email.  The second is sent with the same subject but as a forwarded (FW) message from Nick’s colleague, Kate.  It is the same message inside, but it makes me think I’ve overlooked the earlier message and so I feel more inclined to open this one.

Very clever people – I recommend you subscribe to their newsletter – Insight and Debate on Marketing Innovation.