Newsletters

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for you to direct traffic to your store and keep your customers informed about new products, deals, and promotions. Your Volusion store comes with a robust Newsletters feature to help you manage email marketing campaigns.

Contents

Getting Started

To access our Newsletters feature, log in to your your Admin Area and go to Marketing Newsletters. Here, you can design newsletters to send to your list of subscribers. Please be aware that your monthly hosting plan comes with a newsletter email limit. The limit resets on the first day of each month, regardless of your billing cycle dates.

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How to Create a Newsletter

The way your newsletters look and what they contain is entirely up to you. You can use plain text, or you can use HTML to design elaborate presentations with product photos and more. To create a newsletter:

  1. Go to Marketing > Newsletters.
  2. Click Add

Each email newsletter you create includes the following settings: 

Details

ID A unique ID number automatically assigned to each newsletter you create.
Newsletter Name * A name you give the newsletter for administrative reference.
Scheduled Send Date The date you intend to send the newsletter to your subscribers. This field is also only for administrative reference; it doesn't control the send date.
Email Template * A list of email templates used throughout your store. Choose Newsletter.asp from this list.
Send Test Email To * Before you can send a newsletter to your subscribers, you must test it by sending it to a valid email address. Enter the test recipient address here. Note that any address you enter must be listed at Customers > Accounts.
Send To * This menu lets you choose which kinds of newsletter subscribers will receive the email (you can identify whether a customer is a subscriber by viewing its account page at Customers > Accounts, opening the Optional Fields section, and examining the Email Subscriber check box). From the menu, you can select all subscribers, all subscribed customers, all subscribed affiliates, or all subscribed administrators. These customer groups are based on the Access Key setting on each account page, under the Basic Customer Info section.
Include people who un-subscribed When you select this check box, the newsletter sends to all of your customers, including those who aren't subscribed to your mailing list. This setting is intended only for critical announcements you must send to all customers, such as product recall notices. Using it in a non-emergency fashion is a violation of our Terms of Service.
Email Subject * The subject line for the email.
Email Body (HTML) * The content of the email for recipients who can (or want to) receive email in HTML format.
Email Body (Text) * The content of the email for recipients who can only (or want to) receive email in plain text.

*Required for each newsletter.

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How to Test and Send a Newsletter

Once you've created a newsletter, you must test it to verify that its content and appearance meet your preferences. Use the following steps:

  1. Go to Marketing > Newsletters
  2. Click the newsletter ID number.
  3. Click Preview and Send.

You'll arrive at the newsletter's test page.

Here, you can test the newsletter and view statistics for that billing cycle's newsletter activity. You'll find the following data:

  • the number of newsletters sent during the current billing cycle
  • the number of emails that recipients opened during the current billing cycle
  • the number of customers who unsubscribed from your mailing list
  • the number of customers who marked your newsletters as spam

This data can be instrumental in gauging the effectiveness of your newsletter campaigns.

How to Test Your Newsletter

To test your newsletter, click Send Test Email.

Note that the email address you use must be a valid email address and belong to a customer account at Customers > Accounts. We recommend using an administrator's email address. Once the feature sends the test email, a Stop Here warning displays.

Go to the inbox you specified and examine the test newsletter carefully to verify that it displays as you intended. Once you're happy with the contents and design, return to the warning message and click Send.

Because there are limits to the number of email newsletters you can send each month, it's a good idea to check how many recipients you'll be sending to before you proceed. For more information, see Determining the Number of Subscribers below. If you find that your number of remaining emails available is lower than the number of subscribers, you may want to upgrade your account. For more information, see Newsletter Limits below.

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How to Track Newsletter ROI

To determine if you've met your goals for a given newsletter, you can measure its effectiveness using statistics. Each newsletter you create is automatically assigned a tracking URL that you can manually insert into the body of your newsletter. The feature tracks the number of visits, clicks, and total orders and purchase amounts generated by all recipients who visited your store using the URL in the newsletter. To view tracking information:

  1. Go to Marketing > Newsletters
  2. Click the ID number of the newsletter you want to examine.
  3. On the newsletter's settings page, locate the ROI Tracking section.  
  4. Click View ROI Tracking Reports.    

You can use the information available here to evaluate the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

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Subscribers With Specific Interests

You can also fine-tune your audience by targeting customers with specific interests, thereby increasing your newsletter's effectiveness. Use the following steps:

  1. At the bottom of the newsletter edit page, open the Send to Customers w/ the Following Interests Only section. Here, you'll find 20 different options. By default, each option is listed as Newsletter 1-20. These options represent topics of interest that correspond to subsets of your subscriber list.
  2. Click Edit next to the section heading to rename one or more of the labels in a more useful fashion, then click Save. The renamed values now appear as selectable special interest groups.
  3. When you create a newsletter, you can select one or more of these special interest group options to apply for that newsletter. If any special interest check boxes are selected, only subscribers with the corresponding check boxes selected in their customer accounts will receive the newsletter.

To assign special interest groups for a specific customer, go to Customers > Accounts and click to edit the customer's account. Expand the Newsletter Subscriptions & Interests section and select the applicable interest groups, then click Save.

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How to Edit the Subscription Option

By default, your store asks shoppers if they'd like to receive occasional newsletters from your store when they create a customer account at checkout. The text reads, "I wish to receive occasional newsletter emails from...", followed by the name of your store.

You can edit this text as you like using the following steps:

  1. Go to Design > Site Content.
  2. From the Article Group menu, select PageText.
  3. In the Category menu, select Checkout.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and locate article ID number 694.

In this field, the variable {0} is a placeholder that's automatically filled in with your Company Name (Settings > Company).

Note that the box is pre-checked for newly registering customers in the United States. A script on the checkout page scans for each visitor's browser language setting, and recognizes a U.S. shopper when the "en-US" language code is detected. The mailing list subscriber check box will be unchecked for visitors outside the United States. You can also set the default value of the check box to an unselected state for all shoppers by default.

If you want to use a third-party solution for managing newsletters, or if you don't want to use newsletters at all, you can remove the check box from your checkout page entirely by deleting all text from this field and saving. Note that the check box may still display when you're logged in as an administrator, but it doesn't display on the storefront to shoppers.

To add a newsletter or mailing list button to your navigation menu:

  1. Go to Marketing > Nav Menu Promotions.
  2. Your store may already have a button you can use, so look in the Body column for HTML code that contains the text action="MailingList_subscribe.asp". If you find this text, you can turn on the button as-is, or edit it and then turn it on. To turn it on, clear the Hidden check box and save.
  3. To create a new button, click Add.
  4. From the Group menu, select Misc.
  5. To create a button, we recommend the following HTML format:
<form name="MailingList" method="post" action="MailingList_subscribe.asp">
<center>
   <input type="submit" name="Submit" value="Join our Mailing List"
    style="margin-top:.25em;">
  </center>
</form>
  1. Enter an appropriate value in the Display Order field to display the button in the position of your choice among your other nav menu promotions.

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Tips and Special Settings

Note on Unsolicited Email

Email can be a very powerful marketing tool, but some recipients consider email communications to be an annoyance or even an intrusion of privacy, especially if unsolicited. Unsolicited email is often known as "spam." Your store's email is hosted by Rackspace, which has a zero-tolerance policy toward spam (or UCE: Unsolicited Commercial Email). If Rackspace feels that an email account is engaging in spamming practices, they may delete it with or without prior notice.

Furthermore, note that Rackspace limits outgoing mail to 250 emails per hour per email account to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2004. For additional information about spam, we encourage you to examine the details of the law.

Recipients Who Want to Unsubscribe

In order for your store to remain in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, your newsletter recipients must be able to unsubscribe from your mailing list. The Newsletters feature contains two built-in methods recipients can use. By default, all newsletters contain a Click Here to Unsubscribe link in the footer. Alternatively, if a recipient's store account isn't anonymous and has a password, they can log in to it from your storefront, click Change My E-mail Preferences, and click Remove Me from the Mailing List. This action clears the Email Subscriber check box in the customer's account.

For subscribers with anonymous accounts, or for those who contact you and request to be removed from your mailing list, you can perform this action manually. To do so:

  1. Go to Customers > Accounts.
  2. Click Search.
  3. Type the recipient's address in the E-mail Address field.
  4. Click the blue Search button.
  5. On the search results page, click the account ID number.
  6. In the Optional Fields section, deselect the Email Subscriber check box and save.

Note that if a customer's account is marked as belonging to a specific interest group, the customer will still receive any newsletters sent to that special interest group. For this reason, it's important to make sure that none of your non-subscribing customers' accounts are assigned to specific interest groups. You can remove a customer from a specific interest group by editing the Newsletter Subscriptions & Interests section of their customer account.

Newsletter Limits

Each of our monthly hosting plans comes with a predefined maximum number of newsletter emails you can send from your store each month. Newsletter sending limits refresh on the first day of each calendar month, rather than on the first day of your plan's billing cycle. By default, you can send no more than the following number of newsletter emails per month:

Mini Plan: newsletter emails not included
Plus Plan: 200 emails / month
Pro Plan: 1000 emails / month
Premium Plan: 2000 emails / month

You can increase your newsletter limit on any plan by upgrading in your myVolusion account. Under the my Account heading, click Plans / Orders.

If you have more than one hosting plan, choose the one you'd like to upgrade from the Choose Order menu and then click Add next to your current limit in the Qty column to review options.

Running Out of Newsletters

If you send a newsletter and then discover that you have more subscribers than your plan allows you to send to, you can upgrade and then resend the newsletter.

Note on First-Time Newsletter Use

When you send an email newsletter for the first time, you may have to send the email more than once. On the newsletter Preview & Send page, beneath the Send Test Email button, the following information displays:

X of Y total emails have been sent
X of Y certified emails have been sent
X of Y non-certified emails have been sent

Certified emails are emails sent to addresses that have previously received at least one previous newsletter email from your store. Non-certified emails are emails sent to addresses that haven't previously received a newsletter email from you. They generally belong to newly-registered customers.

When sending newsletters to non-certified addresses, particularly to a large number of them, you should attempt to send the email up to three times within a 72 hour period. This will ensure that the newsletter is delivered to all intended recipients. Note, however, that you should never send a newsletter more than once in a 24-hour period.

How to Determine the Number of Subscribers

To view a list of current newsletter subscribers:

  1. Go to Customers Accounts.
  2. Click the three-dot actions menu icon and select Customize Columns.
  3. Select the Email Subscriber check box.
  4. Click Apply Preferences.

Once these steps are complete, you'll see an Email Subscriber column on your list of customer accounts.

Point to the column heading and click Edit to reorder your customers based on the status of the check box.

Any account with a value of Y is configured to receive your newsletter emails.

Summary

Volusion gives you access to powerful tools to conduct and analyze email-based marketing campaigns. For additional tips on newsletter content, frequency, and strategy, see Newsletter Best Practices.