Microsoft Press Release: Black Pearl Mail Moves to Microsoft Azure to Help Unlock Better Email

Trailblazing email enhancement company Black Pearl Mail has moved its hosting infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.  The catalyst for the move was based on deepening the company’s integration with Microsoft Office 365, but the benefits didn’t stop there.

Black Pearl Mail was founded in 2012 with the aim of improving email effectiveness through enriched branding, central management, end-user email optimization apps and analytics.

“Black Pearl Mail’s services augment Microsoft Office 365, so we moved to Microsoft Azure because we wanted tighter network integration,” says Dan Gentry, CTO of Black Pearl Mail.  “However, utilizing Azure’s data analytics services has enabled Black Pearl Mail to more efficiently glean insights in email behaviour, which has helped us to further transform our customers’ daily business email into a more powerful communication tool.  Early insights have been obtained using Azure Data Factory and Microsoft Power BI, with the intent to take these learnings and explore the potential of Azure Data Lake services as the business – and associated volumes of data – grow.”

Black Pearl Mail’s latest research has added more weight to the power of branding daily business email.  It’s shown that branding at the top of an email can increase reply rates by as much as 12 percent.

Black Pearl Mail recently released a partner program targeted at resellers of Office 365.  Black Pearl CEO Mr. Nick Lissette says the latest findings should be a big boost for partners.

“Everything we do is aimed at ensuring our partner’s cost of sale is low.  We’ve invested heavily in automating provisioning and simplifying email template creation to just a few mouse clicks.  Being able to sell enhanced branding by demonstrating a tangible lift in replies to email will be another key to maximising the profitability of selling Black Pearl Mail at either time of migration or relicensing.”

Rob Howard, director of Office Ecosystem, Microsoft Corp. said, “Email is a central pillar of business communication, so initiatives that make daily email more effective are important business tools.  We’re pleased to see Black Pearl Mail’s commitment to Microsoft services as it expands its integration with Office 365.”

“Email is dead!”… Journalists love that headline.

“Email is dead!”. Journalists love that headline, as does every second hip IT startup who creates a new communications platform.

I remember when Facebook took off and people said that would kill email. What Facebook did was remove ‘social’ emails from inboxes, thus turning email into a more hardened business channel. Same gig with Instant Messaging (which removed ‘pass the stapler’ type emails).

What is dying is the chance of your email getting read . And I’m not talking about campaign/advertising email. I am talking about the email you send from your laptops and smartphones 50+ times a day. Email use isn’t dying, it’s growing year on year which means your email has to fight to get the real estate at the top of a recipient’s inbox.

In order to help make businesses email effective again Black Pearl Mail has crunched anonymised metadata from millions emails. to see how we can help make business’s email more effective again. What we now know is that there is a definite tipping point where if your email hasn’t already been read then the chance of it getting read is less than 10%. What may shock you is that this is less than 48 hours (the precise time fluctuates throughout the year).

That means if you are trying to communicate something important, something you want action or an outcome on, then you need to remind yourself to follow up on that email.

Black Pearl Mail’s Engage plug-in integrates customers personal email delivery/read history into their sent folder in g-suite or task pane in O365. However we have just introduced a smart algorithm which notifies the sender if their email hasn’t been opened and the chance of it getting opened reduces below 10%.

If you don’t use Black Pearl Mail and use a read-receipt product you can of course schedule a reminder for yourself. Some products let you set up a reminder when you send an email. It’s an extra few steps and not as exact as AI, but it can get the job done.

What worked for Ray Tomlinson in 1971 doesn’t cut the mustard anymore so whatever method you use it’s important to start emailing smarter – make sure your email gets read and just as importantly get replied to.

Why does a logo up the top of an email increase replies by 12%?

When we started Black Pearl Mail over four years ago (before that we were in the exciting world of cloud anti-spam) one of the drivers was a personal frustration at not being able to easily get your logo at the top of the emails you send to people.

It made sense to me that in a world where people’s inboxes are becoming more crowded by the day, a classy letterhead styled email signature would help make email stand out in a busy inbox.

As most of you know achieving this used to not be a simple exercise. There are thousands of send/receive permutations which need to be accounted for. Over 60% of email is opened on mobile so of course that is a key area to address. Making it super simple so that anyone, even with no design skill, can create amazing looking emails was the toughest nut to crack.

We spent a lot of time and money perfecting this because we believed email needed to be taken to the next level. What we didn’t know back then was precisely how much more effective up top branding would make email. We now do and it took us by surprise!

Processing anonymized metadata from the millions of emails we process there was a clear trend indicating that a neatly placed logo at the top of an email significantly increased the replies an email got. The key factors are:

  1. Placement – up the top of the email. Left, center or right justified.
  2. Logo/name only
  3. Responsive to and from all devices and platforms (obviously!).

The second point is an interesting one because minimalist designs yielded far higher replies (as high at 12%) than busy banners. We theorize that is because banner type headers can be mistaken as campaign emails if your are not careful with design.

Given the anonymized nature of the data we used to conduct this study we can’t know why this is the case, though we have plenty of theories. What we can say is that over time, as the adoption of full letterhead branding continues to become mainstream, this boost won’t last forever. However, for the immediate future this is an affordable and easy way to improve the efficiency of daily business email.

Black Pearl Mail Names McDonalds IT as Premier Valued Channel Partner


Highly Successful Google Apps & Office 365 Solutions Provider Partners With World-Leading Email Signature & Digital Marketing Provider


WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 1, 2016

Black Pearl Mail, provider of the world-leading service that transforms business email into an enhanced communication and digital marketing tool, today announced that McDonalds IT has signed on as Black Pearl Mail’s first Valued Channel Partner.  A well-respected Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 solutions provider, McDonalds IT brings unparalleled expert advice, fantastic services and industry leading solutions to businesses in New Zealand – organisations who will benefit greatly from the Black Pearl Mail service.

As well as having a great range of abilities in technical areas, McDonalds IT succeeded by paying special attention to what their customer’s business needs are.  McDonalds IT have long recognised that businesses – of all sizes and across all industry sectors – struggle with consistency of branding and fail to take advantage of the full extent of digital marketing opportunities – areas that Black Pearl Mail address by helping their customers transform their everyday business email.

McDonalds IT chose Black Pearl Mail because consistent, good looking email signatures across all devices has been the one thing missing from cloud mail services for years,” says Tony McDonald, Managing Director, McDonalds IT.

Black Pearl Mail has a quality of product that we feel our customers can rely on, a great team to deal with, and have an open mind to enhancing their product to meet our customer’s needs.  We feel our partnership with Black Pearl Mail will grow and flourish.  It’s a sure fire winner!

Nick Lissette, founder of Wellington-based Black Pearl Mail, says the technology represents the evolution of business email and provides major benefits for McDonalds IT and their customers.

“Email is the number-one form of business communication and yet has some fundamental flaws that our technology, which has a patent pending, solves.  Ensuring all employees’ emails and email signatures have a consistent appearance on all devices, and via all global mail servers, is a step change and a significant branding benefit for any company trying to stay relevant in an online world.”

He says Black Pearl Mail also enables employees’ email branding to be centrally controlled.

“For example, signatures are no longer set up at the device level and there is no deviation in format, which is often an issue for companies with a large number of mobile devices – particularly with the proliferation of BYOD.”

Black Pearl Mail also provides customised reports including key analytics such as percentage of emails opened and links clicked on.  Users can also opt to see if an email they’ve sent has been opened.

“The real advantage for companies, however, is the application of dynamic email templates,” says Lissette, “which enables senders to apply different templates depending on the call to action sought from the email recipient.  There is no other service on the market that enables everyday business email to be used for pinpoint marketing and promotions.  Black Pearl Mail provides effective digital marketing to the number-one form of business communication.”

ENDS

About Black Pearl Mail

Black Pearl Mail transforms everyday business email into an enhanced communication tool and dynamic digital marketing asset.  By harnessing the ubiquity of everyday business email, Black Pearl Mail provides companies with powerful email signatures, simplified email signature management, and the ability to use everyday email as a digital marketing channel.

The three-year old company is headquartered in Wellington, New Zealand, and has offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Zurich, Switzerland.

blackpearlmail.com

About McDonalds IT

McDonalds IT is a specialist New Zealand IT solutions provider, whose goal is to help businesses in New Zealand achieve success.  McDonalds IT focuses on people first; then the information technology they use.  Their mission is to make IT invisible – solving customers’ technology problems, so that they can concentrate on what they do best.

McDonalds IT have offices located in Auckland and Wellington, ensuring that customers are well supported throughout New Zealand.  Their dedicated team of people care and want their customers to succeed.

mcdonaldsit.co.nz / +64 4 974 9051

Want a million more bites of the cherry without the usual cost?

Think you’re a true digital marketer? How’s your email signature marketing going? You are using email signature marketing… right?

If every employee email includes a well-presented call-to-action and leads the reader to a specific landing page, then you are using email signature marketing in an effective way. If not, you are probably losing around 8,000 – 10,000 captive opportunities, per employee, to reach your target audience. Ouch!

With Black Pearl Mail, email signatures become a significant marketing opportunity. Most of us have our contact details and name, maybe a company logo, at the base of our email, but we can now take this to the next level by creating a signature that talks about current campaigns, events or deals. The sales and marketing staff will grab at another opportunity to get something in front of your audience; another opportunity to spread brand awareness simply by using email signature marketing. The net effect will be more traffic to pages you want to show and that can only boost conversion rates.

Easy-to-use email signature marketing software such as Black Pearl Mail allows for efficient set up, update or change across the whole business, or by business unit, making your email signature marketing another marketing asset just like your blog, newsletter, website, etc. And you already have digital assets for use in these areas so why not use them again, or point clients to those assets with email signature marketing?

Employee email signatures have long been a huge irritation for many marketing managers with their lack of brand, or off-brand, changes to fonts (remember Comic Sans?), colors, and even the addition of the dreaded ‘Cat GIF’ from time to time. Most marketers tolerate this because there has been no choice and it’s a battle not worth fighting – until now. With our in-the-cloud central management console, a cunning marketer turns this nuisance into an opportunity for thousands more click-throughs and an increase in conversion without bothering the overall marketing budget. Cue the promotion, corner office, and keys to the exec bathroom.

Email signature marketing gives the brand a completely measurable voice in every employee email. At the end of the day this is measured in conversion, but before that comes reach. It becomes our job as marketers to take this opportunity to put the right content into those inboxes via email signature marketing with every email that is sent.

If its measurable it offers ROI and email signature marketing offers some seriously good ROI, given the average company employee sends up to 10,000 emails per annum. Assuming a 3% click-through to a landing page from the email signature marketing campaign, that provides at least 300 new visits, per employee, per annum. Not sexy enough? If your company has 200 employees, that’s 60,000+ free clicks per year. If these clicks were paid AdWords, you could expect this to cost in the order of $180,000 at an average CPC of $3. Make your emails better and smarter, and you will be sure to get even more than 3% click through… the numbers add up very quickly!

Email that’s tailor-made

Take a look at the signature at the end of your business emails. It probably includes your name, email address and direct phone number. Then there will be your organisation’s details, perhaps the main office phone number, website and address. It may also include other forms of contact, such as corporate social media accounts. After that there’s probably a block of legalese, written by your company lawyers. This will tell the recipients, in complex detail, that they shouldn’t read what they’ve just read, if it wasn’t meant to be read by them.

And that, with perhaps a brief mention of virus-scanning tacked on at the end, will be that. The same signature on every email, regardless of the recipient.

All across your organisation, the situation is likely to be the same. The names and phone numbers may change, but the rest will be identical. It’s called boilerplate text, and companies use it because it’s easy. One block of text fits all. Set it up and forget about it.

But it’s also inefficient. Think of all the different types of people your organisation contacts on a daily basis. Emails are fired out from marketing, sales, support, customer service and other departments. Potentially thousands of emails every day, all with the same bland boilerplate text.

It’s time to be more creative. Instead of one template for your entire organisation’s email, you can break it down. Not down to the level of individual staff – that would create a huge amount of work and might also appear inconsistent to your customers. But you can certainly drill down to the departmental level.

By segmenting your business into logical sections, you can create email signatures that suit each one. For example, sales emails could include recommendations of new or related products. Think of Amazon’s “People who bought this also bought…” suggestions. Customer service mails could direct users to online resources to help them help themselves. Support emails could point to your technical knowledge-base and support forums.

Maybe you’re already doing this, or at least some of it. If so, great. But that’s just the start. Your email signatures don’t have to be set in stone. What works one month might not work the next. Seasons change, products come and go, customer requirements evolve and your business grows. So why not change your signatures each month too?

Again, that sounds like a lot of work, but this time it doesn’t have to be. If you use Black Pearl Mail, signatures can be applied for you automatically. Every outgoing email, whether it’s from a computer, tablet or smartphone, can have consistent email signatures applied. They can be properly designed with your logo and graphics.

You could use services like this to add the same, identical email signature for everyone in your business. But you could also break it down by department, so you get the best of both worlds – a consistent email appearance with signatures that are tailor-made for each department.

What’s more, you can track the response. Professional email signature tools include the ability to see who has opened your mails, and when. They can tell you which links have been clicked on. In this way you can refine the email signatures of each department until you find the best. You can compare click-through rates (CTRs) and find out what works and what doesn’t.

Before you know it, you’ll have turned your email signatures into a powerful sales, marketing and support tool. All it takes is a little thought and planning, and the help of a professional email signature management company.

Signing off in style: Email designs that work for you

When the first web pages appeared over 20 years ago, many of them had garish designs. Web developers loved to try out all the different design elements at their disposal. Dozens of fonts, flashing text, lots of colours, animated images… in fact early websites looked pretty awful.

But nobody cared because the medium was new. Luckily, web designers soon took over and brought style and elegance to the web. Today it’s unusual to see badly designed business websites.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of emails. The ability to send HTML emails has been around for almost as long as the web. Yet good email design is the exception, not the rule.

Companies spend small fortunes on corporate branding, yet forget about this major communications channel. Sometimes they tack on a few icons for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, add a low-resolution company logo, and leave it at that.

So it’s common to see badly designed and badly formatted emails. Sometimes the HTML is broken and doesn’t display properly. Sometimes it doesn’t fit on the screens of mobile devices. And often the design is just plain ugly.

This is unprofessional, and reflects badly on the company sending the emails. So here are some ideas for better email design.

Be consistent across all platforms

Before you start, think about how your outgoing company emails are sent. Some will be sent from your employees’ desktop computers, others from newsletter mail servers. Some will come from your sales team’s laptops, others from mobile phones or tablets. How are you going to send well formatted, consistently designed emails from every device?

You could ask your IT team to do it, but that would be a lot of work. Ideally you should outsource this instead. Ask an email signature management company to help. They’ll apply the same consistent signature and branding to every outgoing email – regardless which device was used to send it.

Get a designer involved

You have a designer for your website, and probably also for some of your marketing material. So ask one to help design your email templates. The body of the text may not need much formatting, but the signature area represents your corporate branding.

Make sure the design looks good, and keep it light. You don’t need lots of graphics and different fonts. The design should complement the body text of the email – not overwhelm it.

Create valid emails

Email clients are pretty good at handling broken email formatting. But it doesn’t hurt to check that the HTML in your emails is valid. Again, you could ask your IT team to do this. But if you use an email signature management company, they’ll check it for you as part of the service.

View your design on different devices

Send a few sample emails to your own email address. Do they look good? More importantly, do they look good everywhere? Your emails might look elegant and professional on your laptop. But that doesn’t mean they’ll also look good on a smartphone. Test lots of different devices, including iPhone, Android phone, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

Email signature management companies can help here. They’re experienced in managing email presentation across a wide range of different devices.

Invest in good presentation

It’s one of the most successful marketing channels. Yet email is often a forgotten part of corporate communications – and it shows. Companies that don’t make any effort with their email designs do themselves no favours. Their messages look unprofessional and inconsistent.

Just a small investment can make a big difference. Good design and consistency across devices are vital. That’s how you get better brand awareness and greater perception of professionalism. Email signature management companies charge as little as a dollar per user per month. So this is one business decision that’s easy to make.

Too long, too short or just right? Finding the sweet spot for your emails

A few years ago, the ‘TL;DR’ acronym started to appear in discussion forums and the comments of long blog posts. It stands for “Too long; didn’t read” and it quickly became a blunt way of telling people that they were waffling on too much.

You’re unlikely to receive such a response to your emails, of course. That’s because sending sending an email is a more personal form of communication. Some blog readers have no qualms about being rude, but email recipients are usually more polite. They’re less likely to point out the flaws in your writing.

And that’s a problem, because without such feedback your emails run the risk of being ignored. Your email recipients might not reply with ‘TL;DR’ but in some cases that’s what they’ll be thinking – and doing.

Consider what happens when you’re forced to listen to someone droning on about something that could easily have been said in a few sentences. Your mind will drift, your attention will wander, your body language will indicate that you are bored. But there’s no body language with email.

So if you want to maintain the interest and attention of your email contacts, you need to think carefully. Here are some tips for writing emails that aren’t too long or too short – but just right.

Change your vocabulary

Some business people still think it’s clever to use long and complex words in emails. But the opposite is true. Complex words don’t make you sound clever. They make you sound as though you’re being condescending to your audience. In fact there’s a good example: why not use ‘talking down’ instead of ‘being condescending’?

Get to the point quickly

Email is not a formal method of communication, so don’t treat it as one. “Hi” or “Hello” is all you need before getting to the point. There’s no need for “Dear Sir or Madam…” followed by paragraphs of background text. This is 2015, not 1915.

Keep the bulky stuff out of the way

If you need to send something long and complex, do it as an attachment. Keep the body of the email pure and simple. It’s easier for people to process separate documents than see everything in one long wall of text.

Ask for a sanity check

You probably work in an office surrounded by people firing off their own emails. It doesn’t hurt to ask one of them to read through your important emails before you send them. And you could do the same for theirs. Professional writers always have their work checked by editors and sub-editors. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

Think about the medium

There’s an old saying that the medium is the message. The medium in this case is different to speech, letters, instant messaging or social media. So adjust your writing to the medium. It’s not appropriate to use ‘txt spk’ or lots of emojis in emails. But it’s not appropriate to send the equivalent of a three-page letter either.

Learn from people you admire

Think about other people’s emails. Which ones do you read and actually take in? Which ones do you ignore because they’re short and meaningless? Which ones do you find long and boring? Learn from everyone, and find the right length for your own emails.

Don’t make them too short!

Finally, while you’re pruning your emails down to size, be careful not to prune the meaning. It’s good to keep your emails brief. But if you’re not careful you can confuse people by not being clear enough. Bear in mind this quote, attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

Many points of contact: making the most of staff email contacts across your organisation

Once your organisation reaches a certain size, it becomes impossible to keep track of every point of outside contact. Each department will have its own address book, its own email contacts database. Marketing will talk to one group of people, sales another, business development yet another. Developers and engineers, PR people, managers – each department will have their own contacts.

There will be some overlap between departments, but not as much as you might expect. Sales and support teams will share some organisational contacts, for example, but the people they talk to within those organisations will be different.

What this means is that you have a wide range of external business contacts in your organisation, spread throughout numerous departments. And the chances are you’re not making the most of this network. But you should – and you can.

For once, the solution to this problem isn’t solely a technological one. Instead, you can learn from scientists. Until a few years ago it was rare for scientists from different disciplines to talk to one another. Physicists avoided biologists, chemists steered clear of sociologists and psychologists, while mathematicians and cosmologists wandered off and did their own thing.

It’s only in the last ten years that inter-disciplinary scientific seminars have become really popular, and the results have been spectacular. Each discipline has learned from the others, and continues to do so. For example, evolutionary psychology and mathematics are being used to predict future crimes, while physics and chemistry are helping unravel the biology of our senses. Much of this has come about through the sharing of information – and contacts.

The same approach can work for your business. Begin by finding ways in which different departments can interact more often, on an informal basis. A good start can be made by rearranging your office space so that social areas such as kitchens and breakout rooms are shared by different departments. This will help reduce any ‘them and us’ feeling between different groups of people.

Then you can go further. Invite key staff from each department to give regular presentations to the other departments. It doesn’t have to be often; perhaps once a month. Do this in person and keep it informal, with no Powerpoint slides or lengthy prepared notes. The idea is for people to share information about what they’re working on – and who they’re talking to.

You will soon find connections being made, new contacts that wouldn’t otherwise have surfaced. And these will lead to new business opportunities. The next step is to take advantage of those new opportunities. For each new connection that’s made, ask the primary contact in your organisation to send an email introducing the new person. For example:

“Hi Steve, it’s John from Big Corp here. I wanted to introduce you to Jane in Marketing (cc’d) as she has some ideas that might be of interest to you.”

Take the time to ensure all this email communication is professional and consistent. When people receive emails from different people in the same organisation, they expect those emails to have the same branding and design. That’s not always easy if your R&D department sends emails from a desktop PC but your sales team uses smartphones while on the road. So use a professional email signature service to do the work for you – they’ll add your branding to every outgoing email automatically, regardless which device it’s being sent from.

That’s all it takes to open up new connections from your business to a client or potential client. And the more of these connections you can create, the stronger your business network will become. It’s just like the human brain: the more connections we make, the more intelligent we become.

The written art of persuasion: How to write emails that work

How to write emails that work

Most writing is an attempt at persuasion. That’s especially true of email. For example, business emails often include information about your company, products or services. You want that information to be accepted by the recipient. Ideally you want them to understand and agree with your point of view.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re marketing to customers, attempting to close a deal, or trying to get the best price from a supplier. Email is all about the written art of persuasion.

Unfortunately it’s not an art that comes easily to everyone. Like many things in life, it has to be learned, honed and refined. But you can give yourself a head-start by bearing these rules in mind:

1. Who am I writing for?

Picture the recipient in your mind. Let’s say you’re sending an email newsletter to your customers. If you don’t already know what your customers are like, go out and meet some of them. Find out as much as you can, then write your emails as though you were speaking to them in person.

2. Choose your words wisely

Big words are impressive, right? Wrong. If your recipients have to reach for the dictionary, you’ve lost them. Intelligent use of words is vital. That means not using big, complex words when simple ones will do.

You don’t have to write like a child (although children do often have a direct, clear way of communicating). But you should always write using simple words and phrases.

3. Be on their side

Everyone has a perspective, a way of looking at the world. And everyone divides other people into those who are ‘like me’ and those who are ‘not like me’. This is human nature, and in extreme cases it can cause ugly social problems. But if you appear to be on the side of your email recipients, it can work in your favour.

So go out of your way to understand their perspective, and then tell them so. One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is, “I understand your point of view.” Even if you follow this with “But,” you’ve still got their attention.

4. Check your structure

Reading requires cognitive energy. Our brains consume about 20% of the energy our bodies generate. So we’ve learned ways to minimise the amount of thinking we do. We take short-cuts, we ‘cheat’ and sometimes we just can’t be bothered doing anything that looks hard.

All of which means that if you present your readers with a wall of email text, they won’t read it. They’ll wander off, make a cup of tea, talk to colleagues, and move on to the next unread email.

So make it easy for your readers’ brains. Give them emails that look easy to read. Break up blocks of email text into paragraphs. Use numbering or bullets for vital points. Use bold text sensibly and sparingly. Remember, if it looks easy to read, people are more likely to read it.

5. Presentation matters

There’s little excuse for poor email presentation in 2015. There are tools and services that can make your emails stand out. Use them to add logos and signatures to all your outgoing mails.

Even better, use a service that adds professional quality signatures to every outgoing email, from every device in your company. Such consistency will help persuade your email recipients that you’re serious about what you do.

6. Be nice

Attitude is important. Don’t try to force people around to your way of thinking, because it won’t work. You might as well try to hold back the tide. Politeness will get you much further.

And if you ever consider sending an email while angry, stop. Save it as a draft, walk away, do something else. Don’t even look at it again until at least three hours have passed. Preferably leave it overnight. Then re-read it. If you don’t cringe with embarrassment at your hasty words, it’s probably safe to send it.

Better results

Get all of this right and you should see much better results from the emails you send. That’s because persuasive content and professional presentation are hard to beat.