Off Topic: Oracle Acquires Responsys

Oracke at Delphi

Earlier today, Oracle announced that it entered into an agreement to acquire Responsys in a deal worth nearly $1.5 billion.  Predictably — no pun intended (maybe) — this set off some classic Movable Ink geek banter:

  • Vivek Sharma, CEO: I called it! http://www.cnbc.com/id/101289244
  • Jordan Cohen, VP of Marketing: It took an Oracle to call that one.
  • Vince PeGan, Sr. Account Manager: Great Responsys, Jordan!
  • Adam Stambleck, VP of Client Experience: Seeing the news this morning, put a big Springer in my step.
  • Vivek Sharma: I have been gifted with ESP to make calls like that.

Huge congrats to our friends at Responsys!

-The Movable Ink Team

Let’s Make This Holiday Season Inkredible: Help Movable Ink Support Meals on Wheels

Movable Ink Wishing You an Inkredible Holiday Season

Together, we can make an impact this season. For every tweet shared using the button below, Movable Ink will donate $1 to Meals on Wheels to help bring warm meals to those in need for the holidays.

Click below to help us reach our $500 goal, and check back on this post to see our real-time progress. Thank you for your support, and Happy Holidays!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Back to the Future: Gmail Turns on Images in Email

Gmail_ImagesOn

UPDATE: Since this post was originally published, real-time content and re-open tracking have returned to Gmail. Learn more in our latest post on how Gmail handles images.

If you’ve been an email marketer (or user) long enough, you might remember a time when you didn’t have to “click here to display images” in order to see images inside of an email. Several large email services began suppressing images by default in the mid 2000s as part of their efforts to protect users from the rampant, uncontrollable messaging abuse that was taking place back then.

Images in email were a primary mechanism for not only confirming live email addresses to spammers, but also for delivering fraudulent phishing emails and dropping viruses and other types of malicious code on users’ desktops. Anti-spam technology has come a long way since those dark days, and today most consumers rarely, if ever, see unwanted and harmful messages in their inbox.

Last Thursday, December 12, Google’s Gmail email service clarified the reasoning behind its recent image handling changes and announced that going forward, all images will be displayed by default in the Gmail inbox. Gmail openers will now immediately see your email with on-brand creative, offers, and clear calls to action. If you are using agile email marketing technology to personalize emails at the moment of open, then you’ve just been given a much greater opportunity to make the sale.

Auto-enabled images provide a better consumer email experience, and are an opportunity for marketers to present more relevant offers. The majority of what Movable Ink offers still works on Gmail (web crops, countdown timers, creative optimization, video) while others (geo-targeting, weather targeting) will work when passing in the location data you have on file. Device targeting is the one real lost opportunity on Gmail, although if Gmail continues to innovate and decides to support media queries, this could change.

Auto-enabling images will give agile email marketers a better opportunity to deliver creative, memorable, and engaging campaigns that stand out in the inbox, and in turn drive increased customer loyalty and conversions. The increase in the number of opens we can expect to see at Gmail is a net positive and, in the long run, a win for both marketers and their customers.

Texas is the Most Smartphone Friendly State: WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth Broadcast Report

 

Texas is the most smartphone friendly state in the country, with over 53% of marketing emails opened on smartphones. WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate station for the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, recently shared these findings from our US Consumer Device Preference Report, Q3 2013 in the above TV broadcast.

Do you live in a smartphone state or a desktop state? The chart below gives a look at the top 5 states for smartphone and desktop use, based on the percentage of email opens per device. Download the full report to see a detailed breakdown by state, as well as more device use findings based on Movable Ink’s aggregate email open data from over 100 enterprise B2C brands.

Email Opens by US State Movable Ink Q3 2013

Gmail’s Recent Image Handling Changes

Gmail image caching changes

UPDATE: Since this post was originally published, real-time content and re-open tracking have returned to Gmail. Learn more in our latest post on how Gmail handles images.

Last week, Gmail implemented changes that impact the way the email service renders images that will impact real-time content for a segment of Gmail users.

Below, we hope to clarify the Gmail changes, summarize their impact, and share what actions Movable Ink has taken and is continuing to pursue to address any concerns.

1. What changes were made in Gmail, and what is the impact to Movable Ink?
Traditionally, when a recipient views an email, images are downloaded from the server that hosts the images. This allows information to be communicated back to the image’s host source—such as the user’s current location, device, and time of day.

a.) Gmail is now requesting all images from proxy servers (googleusercontent.com), which incorrectly situates users in its headquarters in Mountain View, California when images are downloaded. This impacts the ability to geo-target image content for those Gmail users who are affected by the changes. (Note: Local Maps using zip codes appended as query parameters are unaffected.)

b.) Gmail is stripping the user-agent headers from the client request, which eliminates the ability to determine the Gmail user’s device and target image content appropriately.

c.) Gmail is removing the cache-control headers from the responses, which forces the user’s images to be stored in their browser’s cache for up to a day. This only impacts live image content if a Gmail user re-opens the email after the first open.

In summary, a limited set of Movable Ink features will not work within a segment of Gmail accounts and, in those cases, will be replaced with default content.

2. What email users are affected by the changes? How big is the impact to my list?
After analyzing our data since the changes were implemented late last week, 2% – 5% of the average enterprise B2C email marketer’s subscriber list is affected by Gmail’s changes, since they only affect recipients that open emails through the Gmail.com desktop client, the Android Gmail app, and the iOS Gmail app.

Not all Gmail users are impacted.

The changes have no impact on Gmail users who access their accounts through Mac Mail, the native Mail app on iOS devices, non-Gmail Android apps, non-Gmail Windows apps, Gmail via Outlook, etc. Additionally, all email domains that are not @gmail.com are not impacted. (Update: As of 12/12, Gmail has rolled out the changes to custom domains as well.)

More Gmail recipients open email on iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) than through any other email service — including web-based Gmail itself, which greatly mitigates the impact of the changes, and is the reason why they only affect 2% – 5% of most email marketers’ subscribers.

Below is a summary of who is affected by the changes:

Gmail Image Caching Impact

3. How is Movable Ink responding to the affected features?
a.) Geo-targeting: We have made it possible for marketers to show default content to users that have images hosted within the Gmail proxy domain. This eliminates any concerns about displaying incorrectly geo-targeted content when a user is falsely identified as being in Mountain View, California.

b.) Device targeting: If a user’s device cannot be detected for any reason, a default version of an email will be rendered and is configurable within the Movable Ink dashboard.

c.) All other real-time content: Other types of real-time content such as countdown timers, social feeds, web crops, and video will appear as intended on the first open of an email. Subsequent opens from an individual recipient will display the original image due to Google’s caching which can last for up to a day.

Our team is in contact with representatives at Google to recommend and discuss alternatives to last week’s changes. We will be sure to share updates as we have more information. If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at contact@movableink.com.

Movable Ink Names Ali Byrd Chief Financial Officer

Ali Byrd CFO Movable Ink

We recently announced the appointment of finance and technology industry veteran, Ali Byrd, as our Chief Financial Officer. In this role, Byrd will assume a key position in the overall management of the company, leading finance and strategic planning efforts and managing investor relationships.

“With more than 100 major brands on our client roster and a headcount that has tripled in the past year, our company is growing at an incredible pace,” said Vivek Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO of Movable Ink. “Ali brings a balance of finance, technology and business development experience to our executive team, and will be an invaluable resource as we continue to revolutionize the email marketing space and grow as a company.”

Mr. Byrd has nearly 20 years of experience in technology, corporate development and finance. Prior to joining Movable Ink, Byrd served as Senior Vice President at SecondMarket, where he was responsible for the origination and execution of secondary transactions in the U.S. and Europe. Previous to his role at SecondMarket, Byrd was a Vice President at LimeWire, where he drove monetization of the company’s user base and helped lead the company’s expansion into the paid digital music market. Earlier in his career, Byrd was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and before that, he spent nearly a decade at Microsoft.

“I believe that Movable Ink’s technology is unmatched in the marketplace, and as brands continue to seek new ways to break through the inbox clutter, we have a tremendous opportunity ahead of us,” said Byrd. “I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this team, and to help this innovative company continue to grow.”

View the full press release here. Welcome to the team, Ali!

Emails We Love: RadioShack’s 2013 Cyber Monday “24 Deals in 24 Hours”

RadioShack Cyber Monday email marketing

A glimpse at how the email dynamically changed each hour.

This creative Cyber Monday campaign from RadioShack encouraged subscribers to open the same email at the top of every hour to discover a brand new deal. The featured deal updated automatically within the email so that whenever a subscriber chose to open the message, the latest offer was always displayed. The offers promoted in the email corresponded directly with the hourly deals featured on RadioShack.com.

RadioShack originally tested the idea of updating offers in a single email during Cyber Monday last year, and experienced a 25% lift in click-through rates compared to the year prior. Read more about the retailer’s past experiences with Agile Email Marketing technology and future plans here in Adweek.

This year, RadioShack incorporated even more real-time email content and interactive cross-channel functionality to fully amplify the Cyber Monday shopping experience:

  • RadioShack deep linking pre-populated tweet

    A pre-populated tweet about RadioShack’s #24dealsin24 loaded from a single click in the email.

    countdown clock animated to show how many minutes and seconds remained until the next big “deal reveal”. The timer automatically reset at the start of each hour.

  • Subscribers were encouraged to tweet their guesses for the next deal, and RadioShack made it as easy as possible for recipients to participate by deep linking to Twitter with a pre-populated tweet. After clicking on “Tweet Your Guess Now”, a ready-to-send tweet loaded in twitter.com if the email was opened on desktop. If the email recipient was instead using a mobile device, the tweet loaded within the mobile Twitter app.
  • A live social media feed showed @RadioShack’s latest tweets, which included hints about upcoming deals.

Interested in learning more about how Movable Ink can take your holiday season email campaigns to the next level? Reach out to us at contact@movableink.com or request a demo.

For Email Marketers, Black Friday is the New Cyber Monday

Black Friday Cyber Monday email marketing

 38% more email opens took place on Black Friday as online retailers started the battle for consumers’ inboxes earlier than ever

Black Friday was the biggest day of the year for brand email marketers so far this holiday season, with marketers seeing 38% more email opens than they did on Cyber Monday, according to our research. With competition for consumers’ attention – and wallets – fiercer than ever, brands started their holiday email marketing programs early.

Our study also found substantial differences in the devices used to open email marketing messages throughout the holiday weekend:

  • Thanksgiving Day was the biggest day for smartphone opens. On Thanksgiving, 59.9 percent of marketing email opens occurred on smartphones; by comparison, 45.5 percent of all marketing email opens in Q3 2013 took place on smartphones. Black Friday was the second biggest smartphone day, with 57.5 percent.
  • Cyber Monday was the biggest day for desktops. While still beat by smartphone opens (45.5 percent), Cyber Monday showed the strongest showing for desktops, with 40.1 percent of all marketing email opens.
  • Tablet use surged over the weekend. 19.3 percent of Saturday’s opens and 18.7 percent of Sunday’s took place on iPads and Android-based tablets.

In total, the volume of Movable Ink-powered emails between Black Friday and Cyber Monday increased a whopping 3,085% year-over-year, as leading brands continue to embrace innovative Agile Email Marketing technology and strategies to cut through the clutter of the inbox.

“Black Friday is now officially the biggest day of the year for email marketers,” said Vivek Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO of Movable Ink. “It should come as no surprise that in a controversial year where many leading retailers opened their brick and mortar locations on Thanksgiving Day itself, that they’d be just as aggressive in starting their email marketing sales events ahead of Cyber Monday. The surge in mobile opens should also make marketers take notice – without mobile optimization in place, a lot of money could have been left on the table.”

About Movable Ink’s 2013 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Research:
The findings above are based on data collected through Movable Ink’s Agile Email Marketing platform between November 20 and December 2 2013. The data reflects aggregate statistics across Movable Ink’s customer base, which includes more than 100 enterprise B2C marketers from the retail, travel, financial, media, and telecommunications industries. Because determining email opens requires images to load, the percentages for some devices and platforms might be over or underrepresented.

Infographic: The 5 Coolest Email Campaigns You’ll See On Cyber Monday

When you check your inbox this Cyber Monday, get ready to discover a few surprises along the way. This holiday season, many of your favorite brands will be using Agile Email Marketing technology to deliver great deals in eye-catching, interactive, and innovative ways that you’ve never seen before.

Check out our infographic below to see the top 5 emails to look out for this coming Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday email marketing infographic

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The Next Generation of Email Marketing: Interview with Vivek Sharma, CEO of Movable Ink, on Bloomberg West

 

While visiting San Francisco for Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last week, our Co-Founder and CEO, Vivek Sharma, had the chance to sit down with Bloomberg West to discuss Movable Ink’s role in propelling the next generation of email marketing. View the full video of Vivek’s interview with Jon Erlichman, Sr. West Coast Correspondent for Bloomberg TV, above, and read on for highlights.

In the interview, Vivek describes how email marketing has slowly evolved over time and traditionally has failed to keep pace with the hyper-relevant and real-time nature of the web. This is no longer the case, as the email marketing industry is rapidly moving toward actuality-based marketing, or what we at Movable Ink describe as “agile email marketing“. Today, over 110 Fortune 1000 brands use Movable Ink to create highly innovative agile email marketing campaigns.

Agile email marketing enables marketers to personalize an email’s content at the precise moment when a subscriber opens the message. Email is now able to sense and respond to where a recipient is, what device is being used, and even the weather outside. Beyond delivering powerfully relevant content, agile email marketers also optimize emails on-the-fly and let the audience decide what offers and content are working more effectively while the campaign is still running.

If you’re interested in learning how Movable Ink could benefit your email marketing program, reach out to us at contact@movableink.com or request a demo.

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