Senators flag 'unusual' Susan Rice email on Russia probe from Inauguration Day

Ex-national security adviser Susan Rice sent an “unusual email” to herself the day President Trump was sworn into office documenting former President Barack Obama’s guidance at a high-level meeting about how law enforcement should investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, two Republican senators said Monday.

Don’t send yet! Putting Test Kit to work in your email campaigns

You’ve spent hours, maybe even days, carefully crafting that email. The subject line is a home run. The graphics look great. The promotion is irresistible. You’ve proofread it three times, and you know it’s perfect. You hit the send button and sit back with the relief of a job well done…

…only to realize you forgot to fix that broken link before the email went out.

And now it’s too late to cancel the campaign. In a panic, you throw together a correction and push it out. But the damage is done. It feels like all your hard work was for nothing, and you’re embarrassed to have your readers — subscribers you’ve spent years cultivating — click on that broken link.

We’ve all been there, of course. Anyone who sends out emails, posts on social media or creates print marketing has had that dreaded “Oops!” moment when something doesn’t go as planned. Fortunately, those days are over for email marketers.

Email with confidence

VerticalResponse recently introduced Test Kit, a suite of easy-to-use tools designed to prevent those “Oops!” moments. Test Kit is composed of Inbox Preview, Subject Line Preview and Link Checker. These error eradicators help you create campaigns that will pass muster with even the most eagle-eyed or device-deficient readers.

When you incorporate Test Kit into your regular email creation process, you’ll improve your success rate in no time. Here’s how to put Test Kit to work for you.

See your work on dozens of devices and browsers

An exquisitely designed email that displays properly on an iPhone or iPad may look like a modern art misstep on a Samsung Note or in Microsoft Outlook. You may already be in the habit of sending test emails to yourself, your employees, your friends and your family. But there’s no way you can possibly test all the permutations an email may be put through.

Trying to keep up with all the different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, etc.), all the different email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Mail, etc.), and all the different devices (laptop, desktop, phone, tablet, etc.) that may be used to open an email is a fool’s errand. Wouldn’t it be nice to just press a button and see how one email will show up on all of them?

You can. Test Kit’s Inbox Preview does just that. With one click of the “Run Test” button, you get an omniscient view of nearly 60 different versions of one email: on dozens of apps, browsers and devices. If something’s not rendering correctly, you can resume editing your email to fix the issue right away. Even better, when you take advantage of the Email Analytics that come with Advanced Reporting, you can focus on the devices, apps and browsers that the majority of your readers use. 

inbox preview

See if that subject line shows up

The body of your email isn’t the only thing you need to worry about displaying correctly. A quick scan of your own inbox will likely show you that not all subject lines are created equal. Some appear in full while others get truncated, sometimes to the point of meaning absolutely nothing. 

Subject Line Preview is the key to making sure that doesn’t happen to the emails you send. One click of the “Run Test” button here shows where your subject line will be cut off, depending on how your readers open your email. This way you can tweak those all-important subject lines right from the VerticalResponse email editor, before the campaign goes out.

subject line preview

One-click link testing

Inserted hyperlinks can be notoriously error-prone, unless you carefully copy and paste each one. Even then, mistakes still happen. Yet every email marketer knows that testing those links by clicking each one manually is a dreary bit of tedium, albeit a necessary one. That’s why Test Kit’s Link Checker is such a breath of fresh air. 

This third member of the Test Kit suite of tools may be the least glamorous, but it’s perhaps the most important. Just click the “Run Test” button, and Link Checker instantly tests all of your links. If any of them are broken, you can fix them right from the email editor. This way, you’ll never inadvertently send readers to a broken link or nonexistent landing page again. 

Make testing part of your email routine

Start incorporating Test Kit into your email marketing in order to catch mistakes or problems before they occur. After you’ve mocked up your email in the VerticalResponse email editor, simply click on “Preview” at the top, and select Test Kit from the drop-down menu. Then you can toggle between Inbox Preview, Subject Line Preview and Link Checker.

preview menu

test kit menu

Because you haven’t yet left the email editor, you can quickly address any Test Kit-determined issues right then and there. When the email is perfect, continue on to scheduling it or simply sending it then. 

Test Kit provides the sigh of relief you didn’t know you were waiting for. It’s peace of mind you’ll thank yourself for using — and so will your readers. Make email gaffes a thing of the past by implementing Test Kit today.

Spend less time reaching more customers

Try VerticalResponse today

(It’s free!)

© 2018, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Don’t send yet! Putting Test Kit to work in your email campaigns appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

[New Feature] Animated GIFs for email, social, website & e-commerce

What is an animated GIF? A GIF is a type of image file. An animated GIF means the image includes animation or movement. A GIF does not include sound. Think of it as a looped, short, silent video or a slideshow. You can now use this image type in emails, social media posts, and your SnapRetail-powered website.

Why GIFs? GIFs catch the eye, and they keep a viewer’s attention longer than a still image.

How to use GIFs:GIFs can be uploaded in the Images section and uploaded to any email, social media post, or website page. The maximum image size is 25 MB.


  • Use a GIF in an image widget, video widget, and product widget.
  • GIFs can be transformed just like any other image. You can zoom in/out, rotate, add or remove padding, and add a background color.
  • Save frequently used GIFs as My Widgets to reuse them in the future quickly


  • Use a GIF for a Facebook post, tweet, or Pinterest pin.
  • GIFs will NOT be animated in a Facebook photo album. You can add a GIF to an album, but Facebook will only show the first frame.


  • Use a GIF in an image widget, video widget, image carousel, and product widget
  • Use a GIF as a background image. GIFs used as a row background can be stretched to edge, tiled or centered. Color overlay in the row background can also apply to gifs.


Account Settings

  • A GIF can be use as a store logo.
  • A GIF can be used as a storefront photo.

Resources to Create a GIF

A GIF can easily be created from a video or by combining several images into a continually looping animated image.

Best Practices

  • Use only one GIF in an email or website page. More than one GIF per page will be distracting to the viewer
  • The first frame of the GIF is important. Some email clients or a user’s social media settings may cause a GIF to not animate, and it will display the first frame instead, so pick your first frame carefully.
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Getting Started with Email Marketing

From the first time I received an email marketing campaign in early 2002, I saw the potential. I believed then and, 16 years later, still believe that email marketing is a powerful tool for small business owners.

It is an easy way to stay connected with customers, drive repeat business and referrals, and move prospects through your sales funnel. And when you consider the high cost of traditional advertising methods such as print, radio, and television and the ever-changing social networks that are now limiting your ability to reach your customers and prospects, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools you can employ.

Don’t believe me? Here are just a few compelling statistics.

  • Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined helping your business acquire new customers. (McKinsey, 2014)
  • 66 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message. (DMA, 2013)
  • Email outperforms direct mail with more than four times the return on investment. (DMA, 2013)

So now that I have made my case for email marketing, here are several things to keep in mind as you are getting started with email marketing and links to resources which will help along the way.

Permission Only

People open email from people they know, and they delete or mark as spam email from people they don’t recognize. This is why it’s critical that you always ask for permission before adding a new contact to your email list.

Be Personal

Don’t treat your contacts like names on a list, treat them like people. Ellen McDowell, the Social Butterfly, will even argue that you need to go a step further and make them feel as if they are the one person you are talking with.

Remember when someone joins your email list, they are opting-in to learn more about your business but they are not all doing it for the same reason. Some are completely new to your business and want to learn more about what you have to offer. Others are repeat customers who joined your list to make sure they’re staying up-to-date with everything you have going on. Be prepared to build segmented lists to deliver relevant content to each group.

Be Relevant

Remember that email marketing isn’t just about getting your information in front of current and potential customers. It’s also about listening to what your audience is interested in and providing an experience that’s relevant and valuable to them. Using your segmented list, you can send timely information they are likely to respond to and take action rather than simply skipping over it in their inbox.

Use your reports to identify topics which generate the most interaction and give your audience a chance to sign up for specialized messages and campaigns from time to time.

Plan Ahead

Yes, I know you have lots of things to do every day, but don’t let email fall to the bottom of the list. Take time to plan ahead. Great content starts with having a well-thought-out content plan, seasonal themes, and products and programs you will feature. Also, brainstorm a list of reliable content sources. These sources can be individuals within your organization who are experts in areas you will need to write about or industry websites and journals which contain information you may want to refer to from time to time.

Improve Deliverability

Your email is not very valuable if it doesn’t actually reach people’s inbox. One of the biggest benefits of using email marketing software like Constant Contact is that they take the necessary steps to make sure your emails are safely delivered to your recipient’s inbox.

But there are things you can do to improve your open rate as well. Look at your bounce reports and clean up emails which bounce for invalid or suspended email addresses. Keeping an eye on your bounces will help you to remove any addresses with ongoing issues and maintain high delivery rates.

Also, check your unsubscribes and spam reports. If an individual on your email list reports your email as unwanted or unsolicited, it will be marked as spam. If you consistently have a high number of spam reports it may be time to review the content you’re sending.

The best way to set expectations for your audience is to use your email sign-up page. Make sure your audience understands the value of signing up right from the start.

 Content Your Readers Want

When someone signs up to receive your email communications, they do so with the expectation of receiving something of value. If you don’t communicate clearly what that value is, your audience might lose interest quickly. Your open and click-through rates signal that interest. These metrics can be influenced by how often you send information, the time of day, the quality of your subject line, and the actual content you share,

It seems like a lot to keep in mind, but start small. Send a few campaigns, try some different approaches and see what works. Looking for more resources? Check out our Email Bootcamp:

Improve Your Email in Just Five Days.

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Watch your email for an update from us every Monday morning.




10 Email Best Practice Tips for Independent Retail Stores

Maintaining an up-to-date email list is often an important tool for small business marketing. Independent retailers rely on direct engagement in order to drive repeat business into their stores. Facing stiff competition from big box chains that may compete on selection and price, independent shops have to offer a unique experience and superior service.

Given that objective, it’s important to think of email outreach as driving the shop’s public image. In addition, federal legislation makes it illegal to mislead your recipients, so it’s important to craft every email with care and not risk receiving a fine. Adhering to some basic rules will also help ensure your email is seen and stays out of the spam folder.

  1. Identify Yourself
    To comply with the CAN-SPAM act, you have to make it clear who’s sending the email. You also want your customers to know it’s you. Use the store’s name and an individual name if you like, such as the shop owner, e.g. “Jessica from Beadworks Craft Shop.” Be mindful of the fact that only the first few words may show up on some email providers.
  2. Write a Compelling Subject Line
    You want your recipients to open your email, but it’s vital you don’t deliberately mislead them. Be explicit about the contents of the email or retain a bit of mystery without being deceptive. For example, a phrase like, “Thank you to our loyal customers” could indicate an in-store event, a coupon, or just a note of appreciation. In any case, it is honest while still piquing curiosity.
  3. Spell and Grammar Check
    Even if customers will only skim your email, you have to stay professional. Proofread to look for errors and correct before sending. A typo will stick out to your readers and detract from your main message. If you’re able, show the email to a couple of staff members before distributing it to your list.
  4. Choose Images Wisely
    Images make for compelling emails, but customers read your emails on all kinds of different devices. Pictures may not show up on all phones or laptops and may trigger spam filters, so make sure your main messages are in the non-image text. Avoid using background images, use .jpeg or .gif format, and optimize size so pictures show up on smaller devices.
  5. Use Consistent Branding
    The last thing you want is your customers to forget you. You also have to be realistic that they may not remember your name right away, especially if they signed up for your list after making a spontaneous purchase while walking by. Make sure your brand logo, including font and key messaging, is part of the email so it jogs the recipient’s memory.
  6. Include an Unsubscribe Link
    By law, your customers have to agree to be on your list and have a way of getting off of it. At the bottom of every email, create a link to a page where they can manage their preferences. You can keep it simple and offer them the choice to just outright unsubscribe, or you can ask them to choose what kinds of emails they want to continue receiving. You can also include an optional survey asking them why they’re asking to be removed from your list.
  7. Keep it Short
    Your emails should be like your in-shop experience. Customers know where to go to find what they need, and it’s easy for them to spend time browsing. Your emails should similarly be easy-to-navigate. Don’t take too much time getting to the meat of the email. If you’re having a 50 percent off sale, let readers know within the first sentence or two.
  8. Clear Call to Action
    You typically want your customers to take action after reading your email. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and a way for you to measure the ROI of your marketing strategy. Place your call to action in a colored box or prominent piece of text. Even if you’re holding an event at a later date, an RSVP request can give you insight into the effectiveness of your email marketing.
  9. Ask to Add to Whitelist
    You want to make sure all of your emails end up in recipients’ inboxes. To avoid being labeled as spam, include a note at the bottom requesting that your customers add your address to their safelist. Usually they can use the options given by their email provider in order to take this step.
  10. Social Media Links
    At the end of your email, include a call to action to follow your social media pages. Again, this not only increases your chances of getting your message out to customers, but also helps measure the effectiveness of your email marketing. Remember to use the site logos, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which are easily recognizable to customers.

Email is a cost-effective way for you to develop your customer following. Since inboxes fill up quickly, however, it’s vital to make your message direct and compelling so customers are motivated to take action. Whether they download a coupon, attend an end-of-season sale or visit your online store, you want to make sure their experience is positive and leads to repeat purchases.

.fusion-button.button-1 .fusion-button-text, .fusion-button.button-1 i {color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1 {border-width:0px;border-color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1 .fusion-button-icon-divider{border-color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1:hover .fusion-button-text, .fusion-button.button-1:hover i,.fusion-button.button-1:focus .fusion-button-text, .fusion-button.button-1:focus i,.fusion-button.button-1:active .fusion-button-text, .fusion-button.button-1:active{color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1:hover, .fusion-button.button-1:focus, .fusion-button.button-1:active{border-width:0px;border-color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1:hover .fusion-button-icon-divider, .fusion-button.button-1:hover .fusion-button-icon-divider, .fusion-button.button-1:active .fusion-button-icon-divider{border-color:#ffffff;}.fusion-button.button-1{width:auto;}Download Our Free Email 101 Guide for More Tips

The post 10 Email Best Practice Tips for Independent Retail Stores appeared first on SnapRetail.

Romance your readers with email valentines

February is the perfect time of year to show a little love to your customers.

After all, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Last year, consumers spent an average of $136.57 on loved ones for Valentine’s Day, bringing U.S. spending to $18.2 billion

You don’t need to be in the jewelry, flowers or chocolate business to promote your products or services on Valentine’s Day. Every holiday is an opportunity to show ’em what you got. A Valentine’s Day-themed email marketing campaign can make a lasting impression with customers. With prospects, it could lead to love at first sight.

Let your subscribers know you care. Here are 10 emails and subject lines that we’re loving:


Subject line: You’ll <3 these…

Even though they sell accessories, Claire’s keeps their Valentine’s Day email sweet and simple with a clear offer.


Subject line: Two Days Only! Valentine’s Day Buy More, Save More

Bloomingdale’s “Buy More, Save More” email is a surefire way to get customers to spend even more on their loved ones (or themselves). The lure of an even-bigger discount is irresistible.


Subject line: FINAL HOURS: Extra 14% Off, 2X Points & Looks We Love

Gymboree knows that email marketing isn’t mere child’s play. The kids’ retailer creates a sense of urgency for their Valentine’s Day promotion with their FINAL HOURS email. Tick tock. Tick tock. 

Williams Sonoma

Subject line: ❤ Happy Valentine’s Day! LOVE: Your friends at Williams Sonoma


Williams-Sonoma serves up a Valentine’s Day-themed email that not only promotes their merchandise, but their brand too, with the company’s associates sharing the products they love and how they use them.

See’s Candies 

Subject line: Wishing you a sweet and happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of See’s Candies’ biggest shopping seasons, which is why the candy chain not only promotes delectable treats, but also extended business hours in their email.


Subject line: Valentine’s Day sneak up on you? Send a virtual gift card!


Spa chain Bliss plays their cards just right with this email promoting their e-gift cards, which appeals to the last-minute Valentine’s Day shopper.

Uncommon Goods

Subject line: Do llamas fall in love?

Leave it to unique retailer Uncommon Goods to create a unique email that is sure to stand out and make an impression in a crowded inbox.

Party City

Subject line: Happy Valentine’s Day! 89¢ Red Heart Balloons!

Some customers need a little reminder to shop for special occasions. Party City lets their subscribers know that Valentine’s Day is today, and there are red heart balloons available for those last-minute shoppers. There’s a clear “FIND YOUR STORE” button so customers will know where to pick up their balloons for their valentines.


Subject line: True love: $7 OFF food favorites!

Food delivery service Seamless encourages a quiet romantic dinner at home as the best way to avoid the Valentine’s Day dinner rush. With a can’t-miss “ORDER NOW” button, clever copy and a tempting offer, Seamless’s email has an appetite for success. 

Dean & Deluca

Subject line: Post Valentine’s Day: 50% off select Valentine’s Day items

Sometimes the best Valentine’s Day candy is the candy you bought on sale! Dean & Deluca uses mouthwatering imagery to sell subscribers on the idea that the warm fuzzies you get from Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be limited to one day. 

Sweet subject lines

And because we love the warm fuzzies created by Valentine’s Day, here are 10 subject lines that you can personalize for your own Valentine’s Day email marketing campaigns:

  1. Crush-worthy deals just for you
  2. Share the love with our buy one, get one
  3. A reward for all your heart work!
  4. Love is in the air and in this email
  5. Special deal: Because we love you the most
  6. All you need is love … and 50% off
  7. Even if you hate Valentine’s Day, you’ll love this
  8. We have the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for you
  9. A special deal from your not-so secret admirer
  10. We’re sweetening the deal with this exclusive code

Not feeling the love?

If you’re not in the mood to promote your products or services on Valentine’s Day, no worries. It’s still a perfect opportunity to send a Valentine’s Day-themed email to thank your customers for their business. It will remind them why they love doing business with you in the first place.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration biweekly. Subscribe today and download our FREE Guide to Email List Management eBook.


© 2018, Sonia Mansfield. All rights reserved.

The post Romance your readers with email valentines appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Why I’m using ConvertKit for Email Marketing

Are you wondering if you’re using the right email marketing or marketing automation tool?

If you are, you’re not alone…

“What’s the best email service provider?” I hear this question all the time. Many people feel that there should be something better or more reasonably priced available than what they’re already using.

I’ve used many different email marketing tools over the years, but I recently discovered one that I’m very impressed with. It’s called ConvertKit and here I’m going to share a review of this pretty useful tool.


What is ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing tool built for bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and other businesses that are producing content and building audiences online. Their tagline reads “Email marketing for professional bloggers,” but it can be used for any type of organization.

If you used an email marketing tool before, you’ll be familiar with most of the ConvertKit features. What may surprise you, and in a good way, is the combination of simplicity and robust functionality that is not easily found in other solutions.

Besides email marketing, it also provides all the marketing automation capabilities you’ll need together with integration with a wide range of platforms.

How we use ConvertKit

The best way to give you an overview of Convertkit is by describing how we use it internally.  We recently did a prelaunch for our email Outreach software – OutreachPlus.

First of all, when someone registers for OutreachPlus, we wanted an account to be automatically created in ConvertKit. We enabled this through integration with their API.

The next thing we wanted to enable is adding tags to the new user so we can properly segment our audience in the future. What’s great about ConvertKit is that there is only ever one record for a subscriber and they can be part of many lists and have many tags.

Here’s an example of the type of information we capture as part of tags for ConverKit. During the registration process, we ask people these questions:

email marketing

When the record is created within ConvertKit, here are the tags which includes the answers to these questions and more:

These tags show me the package they signed up for, if they chose annual or monthly billing, the number of employees, and more.

I can then send emails based on these tags. For example, I can send an email to everyone that has the ‘Basic’ tag set.

In addition to adding customers, we could also automatically add email subscribers. We use Optinmonster for building email subscribers and, since this tool integrates with ConvertKit, it’s easy to set this up.

Building an email sequence

When you add people to your list, you’ll naturally want to send them some emails. The most efficient way to email the right people at the right time is by setting up emails sequences.

Sequences are automated series of emails that are sent to a specific segment of your subscribers based on pre-set time intervals (e.g. immediately after opt-in, 7 days after purchase, etc.) or triggered by a specific event (e.g. subscribing to your list, downloading an e-book, purchasing a product).

Here is an example of an onboarding email sequence we created for new customers:

Setting up a sequence is very easy and you’ll have it up and running in minutes. When you set up a sequence, you can tell ConverKit to exclude subscribers you don’t want to receive your emails based on forms, tags, segments or other sequences.

Email Automation

After your sequence is live, you’ll be able to see how your emails are performing in terms of open and click rates under the Reports tab.


With ConvertKit you have the option to send one off emails to your subscribers. You can do this easily by creating a broadcast email.

The first step is to choose which subscribers you want to receive your Broadcast or segment subscribers based on specific filters. Next, you’ll be able to select your email template and write the content of your broadcast. Nothing complicated about it.

For example, we sent a broadcast with a bonus video to everyone who subscribed to OutreachPlus during our launch campaign.

Resend Broadcasts to Unopens

It’s highly likely that a percentage of your subscribers won’t open your broadcast email. ConvertKit has a cool feature that lets you resend your broadcast email to people who didn’t open it the first time.

When you send a broadcast, you’ll see the button that says “Resend to Unopens.” Click on this button and you’ll be able to edit your broadcast and send it to all the subscribers who didn’t open your first email. Pretty useful feature for getting the most out of every broadcast you send!

Visual Automation Builder

The visual automation builder allows you to create rules/automations based on specific events and actions. The automation rules are pretty easy to understand and create.

For example, when someone joins your list you can create an automation rule that adds a relevant tag to the new subscriber or ads them to a specific sequence. Among other things, we use this ConvertKit functionality to automatically add all new OutreachPlus customers to the onboarding sequence I mentioned earlier. Or if someone abandons purchase, we can add a ‘bounce’ tag to them and include them in a ‘reengagement’ sequence.

This allows us to send out more relevant and timely emails that are perfectly suited for a specific segment of our subscribers.

Why not use a tool like InfusionSoft?

InfusionSoft has more functionality and integration with other applications, but it’s difficult to use and most people who use InfusionSoft work with a consultant. One of the key selling points of ConverKit is that it has the power of Infusionsoft (not all of it) but the simplicity of Mailchimp. They are not quite there yet but they are close.


The pricing is based on the number of subscribers you have, and it starts at $29/month for up to 1000 subscribers. The price goes up to $79 /month for 3-5K subscribers. If your list counts more than 5K subscribers, you can easily calculate a custom price directly from their pricing page.

If you have thousands of subscribers, this may seem expensive to you, but only if you don’t consider the return. In fact, according to Capterra, the average return on $1 spent on email marketing is a whopping $44.25!

It’s also important to note that all ConvertKit pricing plans include unlimited emails, forms, landing pages, automation rules, and more.


It’s not easy to find an email marketing tool that is both simple and robust. Most tools available on the market are “either this or that.” That’s why I was surprised with what ConvertKit has to offer.

Whether you’re just starting out and looking to build your email list, or you want more sophisticated capabilities to start segmenting your audience, target them with relevant sequences, and grow your list – this tool can help you achieve your goals.

What are your thoughts on ConvertKit? What tool(s) are you using for your email marketing and automation needs?

The post Why I’m using ConvertKit for Email Marketing appeared first on Find and get the most out of the best marketing tools to promote your business.