Direct Mail 5.3: Introducing Personal Data Reports

Our latest free update to Direct Mail began rolling out today, and we’re excited to share with you some of the improvements you can look forward to!

Personal Data Reports

New data privacy laws around the world mean that our customers may find it necessary to respond to personal information access and erasure requests that they receive from their mailing list members. In order to make it easier for you to respond to these requests, Direct Mail now includes the ability to generate and print (or save) a formatted personal information report. If necessary, you can also now easily erase all personal information related to an individual. These features can be found by choosing Window > Personal Data from the menu bar.

Improved Performance

Updated database technology under the hood means that you should enjoy a smoother, faster Direct Mail experience, with less waiting on a spinning cursor. In addition, campaign deliveries now start 2× faster!

…and More

A new emoji button in the toolbar ?, a new “Starter” template, and a host of bug fixes are just some of the additional improvements you will find in Direct Mail 5.3. To get a full list, check out the release notes (or see them in-app by choosing Help > What’s New in Direct Mail from the menu bar).

How to Update

Your copy of Direct Mail will update automatically over the next few days. If you want to grab the update right away, open Direct Mail and choose Direct Mail > Check for Software Update from the menu bar.

July 2018 API Update

This is a technical blog post for consumers of our Direct Mail API. If you would like to receive email notifications each time our API is updated, please sign up here.

If you currently use our API, we want to make you aware of some minor, non-breaking changes that rolled out this week in conjunction with our Direct Mail 5.3 update. In order to help our users comply with lawful data erasure requests that they may receive from EU citizens, Direct Mail is now able, upon user request, to delete and anonymize campaign report data specific to a particular individual. This has implications for consumers of our API:

  • The JSON object that represents a campaign report recipient now has an additional boolean property named anonymized. If this property is true, it means that the information for the recipient has been anonymized/deleted, and you will find that other properties on the JSON object (e.g. email, bounce reason, etc.) are null or false, so as not to reveal information about the recipient.
  • The JSON object that represents a campaign report recipient has always included links to resources related to that recipient, including archived-address, live-address, opens, and clicks. If the recipient has been anonymized, those linked resources will be anonymized (as in the case of archived-address), return 404 not found (as in the case of live-address), or return empty data sets (as in the case of opens and clicks)
  • It is now possible for the number of reported opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, etc. for a campaign to decrease over time. This is only possible in the case that the Direct Mail user chooses to delete data for a particular individual.

We do not anticipate that the above changes will break anyone’s use of the API. This information may be useful as you update your own business processes and software to be compatible with privacy law changes around the world.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact our support team.

Making Your Email Accessible

If you’re like us, you’re always searching for the perfect combination of subject lines, photos, content, and more that will maximize the reach and impact of your email campaigns. These are all key considerations, but you might be missing out on some simple tweaks that will help you connect with an important subset of your mailing list: visually impaired or physically disabled subscribers. Here are some simple tips that will not only make your email accessible to them, but better for everyone, as well.

Add Image Descriptions or “Alt Text”

One of the easiest things you can do is make sure that each image in your email has a text-only description (also known as “alt text”). These descriptions are used in a variety of ways: screen-reading software (like VoiceOver on the Mac or iOS) can read the descriptions to the user using text-to-speech technology, email clients display the descriptions when the user has turned off image loading, and devices that don’t support HTML email (like Apple Watch) show them as part of the plain text version of your email. Adding a text-only description is easy, just click on the image and fill out the text box at the top:

Screenshot of the image editor popover

You may find it useful to use the Preview window to see which images in your email are still missing descriptions. You can use the “Show/Hide Images” button in the toolbar of the Preview window to toggle images on and off:

Screenshot highlighting the "Hide Images" toolbar button in the Preview window

Avoid Low Contrast Colors

This tip is especially important for text blocks in your email. Subscribers with declining eyesight may find it difficult to read text that is placed on a low-contrast background. For example, light gray text on a white background (or dark gray text on a black background). For examples of text blocks that have sufficient contrast, take a look at the templates that come built-in to Direct Mail.

Screenshot of an email with low-contrast text

It’s easy to adjust the colors in your email. If you are using one of Direct Mail’s modern templates, just click the “Fonts & Colors” button in the message editor toolbar. If you are using a different template, select the text and click the color picker icon in the message editor toolbar.

Bump Up the Font Size

Small font sizes may be too difficult to read (even for normally sighted readers), which might dissuade subscribes from diving into your great content. Although sizes vary by font, a good rule of thumb is to go no smaller than 14pt or 16pt. This guideline is especially important when it comes to the unsubscribe link—don’t make it hard to find! It is never a good idea to make the unsubscribe link difficult to find, because you only end up angering subscribers and inviting spam complaints.

The templates that come built-in to Direct Mail include good examples of proper font sizes. You can adjust font sizes in the “Fonts & Colors” panel. Pro-tip: click on the “Fonts” popup menu to see font combinations that look great and can be applied to your email with just one click (modern templates only).

Screenshot of the "Colors & Fonts" panel in Direct Mail

Direct Mail works great with VoiceOver!

VoiceOver icon

Not only does Direct Mail make it easy to create accessible emails, it’s also a very accessible app itself. We’ve put a lot of care into making sure that Direct Mail works great with VoiceOver, Apple’s technology for assisting low vision users navigate and use apps. Every part of Direct Mail, from the message editor to campaign reports, is accessible to users of all abilities. If you know someone that could benefit from this attention to accessibility, spread the word!

Conclusion

As an email marketer, you have many different variables you can tune and tweak to get great results. These accessibility tips will help you reach an even larger chunk of your list, and will make your emails better for everyone in the process. We hope you take advantage, and pass the word along!

Direct Mail and the GDPR

A new European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is set to take effect later this year, and its requirements are something that all email marketers should be familiar with, even if you live outside the EU. This law places new obligations on anyone that processes the personal data of EU citizens, and limits the ways in which personal data can be used. Since the definition of “personal data” includes information like names and email addresses, the GDPR very much applies to email marketing and your use of Direct Mail. You’re encouraged to familiarize yourself with the new law, and, if necessary, update your business practices to comply with the new requirements.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers

We have put together a guide to the GDPR, including information on how it specifically applies to your use of Direct Mail, and how Direct Mail can help you meet the requirements of the new law. For our customers in the EU who require it, we also have a Data Processing Addendum available.

Yes, Direct Mail is compatible with the GDPR

As outlined in our guide to the GDPR, Direct Mail is compatible with the requirements of the new law and can be used to process the personal data (i.e. email addresses, names, etc.) of your mailing list subscribers. It is important to remember, however, that you control the personal data that is being inputted into Direct Mail and, as such, should only do so in a manner compatible with the requirements of the GDPR. Among other things, this means making sure you obtained consent from the people on your mailing list, or have another legal basis for emailing them. Please see our guide for more detail.

Yes, you can use Direct Mail if you are located in the EU

You can lawfully use Direct Mail even if you are located in an EU member state. As explained in our guide to the GDPR, we have certified to the cross-border Privacy Shield framework, which provides you a recognized legal basis for using Direct Mail to process the personal data of EU citizens.

How Direct Mail can help

There are many ways that Direct Mail can help you meet the requirements of the new law—our guide explains them all—but one of the best is our easy-to-use subscribe forms. You can use Direct Mail’s subscribe form editor to create attractive email sign-up forms that can be placed on your website, Facebook page, iPad, and more. When people join your mailing list via these forms, you’ll have a full record of their consent that meets the requirements of the GDPR.

Direct Mail’s email sign-up forms are an easy to way capture consent from each subscriber on your list

Another easy way Direct Mail can help is through the use of our built-in “unsubscribe” and “update email address” links. These links allow your subscribers to easily withdraw their consent or update their personal data at any time, without requiring any work on your part. Direct Mail’s built-in templates already include these links by default, but if you are using a custom template (or a “Plain” template), then you can add them by following these instructions: adding an “unsubscribe” link, adding an “update email address” link

Conclusion

The new GDPR law is set to take effect soon, and it’s important to be aware of its requirements. Our guide to the GDPR is a great place to start to familiarize yourself with the new rules. Luckily, Direct Mail is fully compatible with the GDPR for users inside the EU and out, and includes tools you can use to bring your own business into compliance. Our support team stands ready to answer any questions you might have, and, as always, welcomes your feedback.

Direct Mail 5.2 Now Available

We released Direct Mail version 5.2 today, and we’re excited to share with you some of the improvements that can be found in this new update. As always, this update is free for all users, and can be obtained via a simple software update.

Two-Way Contact Syncing via PieSync

Direct Mail already integrates with over 700 popular apps and websites, allowing you to automate away the work of keeping your mailing lists up to date. In this latest update, we are introducing support for two-way contacting syncing via PieSync. PieSync allows you to keep your Direct Mail mailing lists in sync with any one of a number of supported apps and services (like Act!, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Quickbooks, Salesforce, and more). Direct Mail stays up-to-date in the background without you having to touch a thing, and special care is taken to handle unsubscribes, too.

You’ll find this new feature in Direct Mail’s integrations directory. Just choose Window > Integrations from the menu bar at the top of your screen and search for the app you’d like to connect to Direct Mail.

Design Tests Available for iPhone X, iPhone SE, Libero, and Orange.fr

 

You can now see pixel-perfect screenshots of what your email will look like on an iPhone X and iPhone SE, as well as how it will appear in webmail clients from Libero and Orange.fr. The addition of these email clients brings the total number of design test email clients to 70 (everything from Outlook to Android, Gmail, Yahoo, and more).

If you’re not familiar with our Design Test feature, it’s a great way to see, ahead of time, exactly what your subscribers will see when they open your email on their own devices or browsers. We’ve also recently revamped the pricing. Unlimited Plan customers now can run a number of design tests for free each month, and Pay Per Email Plan customers can run tests using their existing email credit balance.

To check it out, choose Message > New Design Test from the menu bar at the top of your screen, or click the Design Test button in the toolbar.

Updated Fonts

The custom fonts included with Direct Mail have been updated for improved legibility and compatibility. Of particular note is the Montserrat font, which now renders using a slightly heavier weight for easier reading (especially on mobile devices). If you haven’t already, we suggest taking a look at the new templates that shipped in version 5 to get an idea of how nice the new typography and layouts can be. Just click the “Choose Template” button in Direct Mail.

That’s Not All, Folks

Some additional improvements in this release include: more reliable uploading over spotty or slow network connections, improved keyboard navigation in the message editor, and several bug fixes. You can see a full list of everything that has changed in version 5.2 by choosing Help > What’s New in Direct Mail from the menu bar, or by clicking here.

Thank You!

As always, thank you for your continued support, emails, feature requests, reviews, and all manner of feedback! We love to hear from our customers (and potential customers) about how Direct Mail is working for you, and how it could be even better. We hope you enjoy the improvements in Direct Mail 5.2 and we look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks.

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