Category Archives: Uncategorized

Good Raiser’s Edge Resource

RE Decoded:


Evertrue & Alumnify


Millennials more altuistic than GenXers?

And more inclined to give to education…
WSJ: A Generational Gap: Giving to Charity

Email Clients

I’ve been attempting to remove Google from my life due to privacy concerns. I’ve never been overly concerned about privacy, but I think Google has gone over the line. I’ve made the switch from Google search to Bing and am quite pleased with the switch.  I’ve also switched back to Firefox from Chrome; both are good browsers.  I’ve also been using Safari more and more.

Google+ has never been an issue because I’ve never really adopted it.

But it has been tough to find an alternative to gmail. I’ve switched some of my email accounts to hotmail and have found it to be OK, but the spam filtering is not quite as good as Gmail’s. I also want to separate my email account from the search engine I use, and since I’ve switched to Bing, I don’t want to also use Microsoft’s email client.

That left Yahoo mail as the only other option. Although I like the yahoo interface, their spam filter is horrible. Every time I’d flag an email as spam, I’d get this response from Yahoo: “Thank you! Every message you report helps SpamGuard perform better.” Unfortunately, the same spammy emails would show up repeatedly: SpamGuard just never got better, so I had to dump Yahoo.

For now I’ve split my email accounts between gmail and hotmail…at least until I can find an alternative online email client. If only there were an online version of Mozilla Thunderbird.

Subject Lines (non-promotional): Week Ending 2/19

I’m keeping an eye out for subject lines that are not discount oriented.  Here’s what I found this week.

From Altrec, this one is either brilliant or the copywriter was bored:
New for Spring

Now this one from Bedford Fair isn’t bad.  It is qualifying the products that are in the email and making the subscriber feel special:
The looks we love, just for you!

For the procrastinators, from Pagamagram:
Last Chance for Romance

Actually, there were a lot of Valentine Last Chance emails, the above just happened to be the first I came across.

Here’s another one that tells us exactly what we should expect.  The open rates might not be great, but conversion might make up for it.  From Crate & Barrel:
Looking for the perfect rice cooker? We found it

This email also targets a very specific audience:
Get in and out of bed with ease…

This subject line (actually the whole email) from Ben & Jerry’s deserves a special attention, but unfortunately, there is no “see it here” link:
Take the Dough out of politics!

The first paragraph of copy reads as follows:
At Ben & Jerry’s we’re so fond of dough we invented Cookie Dough ice cream! But when it comes to politics, there’s no place for “dough”. So why are corporations allowed to spend as much money as they want to influence our elections? Join us to take back American democracy with a Constitutional Amendment that will keep corporate money out of our elections. Take action at!

But most of the subject lines that didn’t feature discounts or offers were product or product category specific, like this one from Valley Vet:
Udderly EZ Goat Milker Sale @

Or this one from Costco:
Safeguard Your Home Or Business With Security And Monitoring Systems.

And here’s one from Campmor:
Coleman Outdoor Gear




Subject Lines: Week Ending 1/14/2011

Here are some subject lines from last week…

A timely one from Sam’s Club (if you’re into football):
Get ready for the Big Game with savings on HDTVs and more

An invitation to join Frontgate’s Customer Advisory Panel (and save 20%):
Final Days to Save 20% Sitewide With Your Input

And of course. from DR Power:
Oops. We just did year end inventory and found…

A little play on the lack of snow this year:
It’s Our No Snow Snowbank Sale! Up to 50% off

Wow, this is a long subject line, from
80+ Cases Sold, and It’s No Surprise! At Under $25 By the Case, Goldschmidt’s ’07 Napa Cab is Blowing Everyone Away! (‘Glad I Bought 2 Cases’, Customers Say)

Hard to find anything at Danforth for < $3
Beautiful And Unique Lighting – $3 Shipping From Danforth

Interesting combination from Walmart:
Save on Tax-Prep Tools + Get Ready for Game Time Excitement

I’ve been selected, this time by SmartBargins:
You’ve been selected: save up to 80% today

Only a few Friday the 13 related subject lines, here’s the best:
What Luck! Save $13 On $50 Orders + 13 Cent Shipping

And we’re already starting to see some Valentine’s oriented emails:
Oh, sweet heart! Valentine baking must-haves

Everybody’s dream?
Weekend plans? Time to finally organize that closet.

A gift is always tempting, from Kate Somerville, but now web version of the email:
Your Gift: CytoCell Dermal Energizing Treatment + New Skin Solutions




Why Vermont Senators Should Vote Against H.143

Below is a copy of a letter I recently sent to the members of the Senate Finance Committee, which is currently reviewing H.143.


I am writing to encourage you to vote against H.143.

This bill was envisioned to both “level the playing field” and generate additional tax revenue for the state of Vermont.  It will not accomplish the former and will actually cause a decrease in taxes collected by the State.

Leveling the Playing Field

The proponents of this bill look at it as a way to force Internet retailers to collect Vermont Sales Tax on sales made to Vermonters.  If this were to happen it would in fact be beneficial to the State and its retailers.  The intentions are good, I believe, and I sympathize with the plight of our local retailers in their effort to compete with out-of-state Internet retailers.

Unfortunately, this bill will do nothing to level the playing field.  If this bill is signed into law, Amazon and other Internet retailers will still sell books and other products to Vermonters and will still not be required to collect sales taxes on those sales: the playing field will still be tilted in favor of Internet retailers.  This is so because all the major Internet retailers will simply cancel existing contracts with Vermont affiliates, such as myself, and will thereby no longer have any “independent contractors, agents, or other representatives” in this state.  The Internet retailers will still be unencumbered by the need to collect sales taxes.

The only change that will happen will be that Vermonters who earn income from their relationships with Amazon and other Internet retailers will lose that source of income, and Vermont will lose the taxes it collects on that income.  This leads me to my second point.

Generating Additional Tax Revenue

The goal of collecting Sales and Use Taxes that are due to the State is also a worthwhile goal.  As with the above goal, however, this bill will accomplish nothing of the sort.  Instead it will actually decrease the State’s revenues.  When Internet retailers cancel contracts with Vermont businesses, those businesses will lose an important source of income.  With the income gone, income taxes collected by the state will also decrease.  Entrepreneurs who have built a business based on affiliate advertising will either need to close their business or move to another state.  Certainly, Internet content providers and advertisers who might have considered moving to Vermont will no longer consider that an option.

Here is an interesting statistic: 99% of the visitors to my site are from people who do not live in Vermont.  Given that statistic, it is safe to assume that approximately 99% of the revenue I generate is from sales to people in other states.  For example, if a person in New York buys a book from Amazon after clicking on a link from on my site, I generate income.  Neither Amazon nor the shopper have a presence in Vermont, yet Vermont benefits from the income I generate.  Under H.143, this benefit will disappear when Internet retailers cancel contracts with Vermont affiliates.

Who Benefits and Who Loses under H.143

Under H.143, nobody benefits: not Vermont retailers, not the State of Vermont.  Well, perhaps Internet content providers in other states who compete against Vermont content providers benefit; they would benefit as their competition dwindles.  The only real impact of this bill will be felt by Vermont content providers and affiliate advertisers (who sell mostly to residents of other states) who will lose this source of income.

Victor E Nuovo

Vermont Bill H.143 Will Hurt Vermont Businesses and Reduce Its Tax Base.

I never planned on getting political in this blog, but this deserves special attention.  Below is a copy of an email I sent to my state senators.  If you wish to read the text of the bill you can find it here.

——- Email Dated 3/13/2011 to the Senators of Chittenden County —————————–

I recently became aware that the House had passed and the Senate was considering a law that would eliminate the primary source of revenue for my small business.  The sponsors of this bill (H.143) aim to generate additional revenue by requiring out of state retailers to collect sales tax if they engage with independent affiliates who reside within Vermont.  Being one of those independent affiliates, I can assure you the bill will do nothing of the sort.

  • Major retailers will simply cancel all contracts with Vermont affiliates.  This means that any hoped for tax revenue will not materialize since there will no longer be any “independent contractors, agents, or other representatives” in Vermont doing business with Internet retailers.
  • Small entrepreneurs, such as myself, will no longer be generating income from these affiliate fees, reducing Vermont’s income tax base.  This is an important point.  Internet affiliates, such as myself, make most of their sales to out-of-state residents.  Only 1% of the visitors to my site come from Vermont.  This means that roughly 99% of my affiliate revenue comes from people from other states.  If a person in California buys a pair of running shoes from after clicking on a link on my site, I generate income, and I pay taxes on that income to the state of Vermont.  That Californian has just put money in my pocket that I can then spend locally.  If this bill is enacted, Vermont affiliates, and the Vermont Department of Taxes, will be cut out of that loop.
  • Any hoped for boost to local retailers will not materialize since these Internet retailers will still sell to Vermont residents.

This is a bill that will hurt small, Vermont business while also negatively impacting Vermont’s revenue base.  This bill provides no benefits, certainly none of the benefits intended by its authors, while hurting those entrepreneurial Vermonters trying to leverage the power of the Internet.

For me, personnaly, having to shut down my affiliate programs won’t be the end of my livelihood.  It is a part-time business for me, but it does supplement the income from my “day job” and allow me to spend money in restaurants, on lift tickets, etc., that I might not otherwise spend.  But there are small Vermont business that are solely reliant on affiliate income.  Those entrepreneurs will be faced with the choice of either closing their business or moving it to another state.

I strongly encourage all of you to vote against this bill and thereby block this attempt to reduce Vermont’s tax base.

NCDM Notes: Driving customer egagement in the first 90 days

Presenter: Dell’s Global CRM Manager

Dell looked at the actions within the attention -> interest -> new customer funnel to establish triggers.  Initially, Dell was looking at only the conversion step, and felt they needed to also consider other events in the funnel, attention, interest, and post conversion.  If they can keep a person’s interest up, they don’t need to start with this person back at the top of the funnel at attention.

First they build an integrated datamart, with behavioral data, segmentation, contact frequency, sales & support data, purchase history, demographics, preferences, etc.  They are now integrating site traffic data and linking that to offline data.  Sales and support data (mostly unstructured data?) has been the latest to integrate.

Their 90 day program included increasing engagement and experience and increase awareness of other products.  They increase revenue/margin in first 90 days.

The strategy was multi-channel.  It took these 90 day customers out of scheduled marketing efforts.  They provided both marketing messages with educational content.

They generated a 10-40% increase in response and revenue while reducing costs.

So here’s the strategy:

  1. Welcome kit (day 5-7) – mailed (not emailed) and personalized around their system.  Includes a pass-along “refer a friend” coupon.
  2. “Did you forget” trigger (day 14) provided discounts for items that make sense for this customer.
  3. Ratings and reviews (day 21-28)
  4. Solution based triggers (day 29-72) which provided personalized content addressing specific issue of interest to the customer.  They pitched category focused content and items, for example, home network security, home theater placement and products, etc.

Critical to this effort was the creation of a centralized data mart; templates for dynamic content enabling efficient dynamic printing; establishing relationships with global partners.

Execution can be a major stumbling block, given the complexity.  Failure can not be apparent and hard to pinpoint.

Shutterfly Business Solutions:

  • They have the technology to product mass volume but individualized content.
  • They’ve made huge investments in variable content printing.

When working with Dell, they knew they needed to utilize behavioral data and react quickly.  The felt they needed to get materials in the hands of the consumer within 10 days of a purchase, so Shutterfly is focused on getting out materials as quickly as possible.

Shutterfly doesn’t look at dynamic content from the perspective of templates filled with dynamic content.  To them it is all dynamic.  With the Dell effort, they limited themselves to three form factor.

Complicated decision trees are used to build content.

NCDM Notes: Pragmatic Analytics

Presented by Portrait and AAA South

Overwhelming amounts of data combined with rapid growth (especially in unstructured data) makes our job difficult: difficult to gather isight and difficult to implement chages once we have insight.  We also need to make sure we are solving the right problem, and not waisting time on results which are not actionable.

Analysts need to minimize time required to understand and prepare the data: tasks that are necessary before any analytics or modeling can be started. 

There are a couple of solutions:

First, create analytical tables that summarize and aggregate data that is now manually pre-processed.  AAA builds a big table that aggregates data at the household level.  It icludes activity summaries (could be transactional and promotional), prefereces, and  demographics.  For AAA this includes about 150 colums, with some colums updated weekly and some monthly.

AAA uses SAS to create this analytical table, but Portrait could do this too.  AAA is moving towards having Portrait create the analytical table.  This table is kept on its own server that the analytics department controls, unlike the primary DB surver (DB2), which MIS controls.

This more structred data table allowed AAA to help managers do some analytics theselves.

Second, use tools that ease the analytical and modeling process.  AAA uses Portrait software.  The output AAA uses is a matrix of various segment intersections, which simplifies the understand of how each segment will perform; it shows how each element in the matrix will perform relative to the norm.

These two efforts shortened AAA’s modeling process from 5 months to 2 months.

Take-away: Modeling can be easy.  You only need the right structure and tools.