Email is a powerful marketing tool for any business operating in the digital age, and is an effective means of generating leads and sales.
It has been estimated that the number of emails sent globally in 2010 was in the vicinity 294 billion; that equates to 43 emails per person per day for every man, woman, and child on the planet.
The opportunities in the business marketplace for cost effective advertising are immense, and a properly run email marketing campaign is an important part of almost any business.
With email marketing, there are no social algorithms, but there is still some amount of “friction” which can prevent your messages being seen. Take a look at a few of the following tips.
Before you send ANY emails, consider the reputation of your website. If it has been penalized in the past due to spammy activity, this could have a negative effect on the associated email address you’re using to send the emails.
Your email address needs a clean bill of health otherwise there’s a possibility your recipient’s email spam filters will strangle your email campaign at birth.
Use a Top Level Domain Email Address!
If you’re trying to launch a serious email campaign you should really use a top level domain (TLD) email inbox, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A free inbox such as Gmail are fine for sending and receiving personal emails but to broadcast serious marketing messages you should get the professional inbox. It looks better in the eyes of your recipients and in the eyes of their email provider.
Remember, their email system will always be looking for telltale signs of your messages being “junk mail”.
The Message is King
First impressions are vitally important. Clear language which presents the core message simply and concisely is essential.
The potential client should not be confused or given an opportunity to lose interest.
The subject line is the first thing they will see, so keep it short, powerful and enticing. The reason you should keep it shorts is that there is usually a cut off point within a person’s inbox, meaning your clever subject line is truncated.
Appeal to Ego
A tactic to encourage people to click your email and read the contents is something called “Ego Bait”.
Personally I find that term a little off-putting, but the basic idea is that you learn something about the person you are wanting to reach and appeal to their ego in some way.
For example, if you were a small local retailer selling women’s shoes, you would already know your audience consists of ladies between such and such an age, with however much money to spend.
Instantly, there are dozens of ways to take advantage of ideas, perceptions or paradigms that certain types of women subscribe too. Beauty and appearance are probably important to these people so you could leverage this.
Personally, I find the ideas of manipulating of someone’s feelings uncomfortable (as a marketer, sometimes I don’t know how my bread is buttered!). However, these methods DO exist. And if that helps you get email open rates UP, you are not only getting eyeballs on your marketing messages, you are also building a positive reputation for your email list which affects how your email list is perceived by spam filters.
The best time of the day or week to prompt the best client response is part of your strategy. For example, research indicates that advertising leisure products at the weekend and business products during the working week is most effective.
Knowing your audience is key.
As a web designer, I know my busy self employed prospects look at their emails very early in the morning and perhaps when they get in from work. I find Sundays are a good time to reach people because they’re generally NOT at work on the weekend and are able to look at emails. I’ll keep testing to find the best time.
It is possible that sending emails early in the morning might be a good time because people are not burdened by the pressures of the average working day. They may be a little more open minded and clear headed first thing, and therefore more susceptible to persuasion and influence.
Remember this: you’re competing with all the other emails that ends up in someone’s email inbox. You’re trying to stand out in a sea of noise.
A “split run” aka A/B split testing is something you might consider.
In a split run, contact lists are divided into small chunks of approximately 100 people and several small email campaigns are then run to test different content and styles.
The email marketing data is analysed to determine which of the campaigns receives the best response. The most effective email is used as the template for the main body of the live email campaign.
If your email list is already small, you might not have the luxury of split testing in this way. You will have to grow your number of subscribers in order to have more meaningful data when you run tests.
What is the Recipient’s Device?
Due to their more compact size, devices such as smartphones display information differently than a desktop or laptop computer.
The screen widths impact how easy or hard it is to read the body of the email.
A test email to measure the effectiveness of the message on these devices is advisable.
This is a test you can run quite easily, and I recommend you set up a small test list, of just a few different recipients consisting of email addresses you own yourself.
I have Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo as well as some paid email providers. I can send a quick email blast to all of these and analyse what they look like on the other end. It gives you an idea of how exactly the subject lines and content are presented.
Tip: Gmail often sends emails to the “Promo” tab, and by default images are turned off in the body view of the email.
Shorter Lines of Text
Something else worth considering is that a lot of email list software uses HTML fixed width tables.
On a small mobile screen means the recipient has to scroll off to the right to read your message!
It is VERY annoying and a poor user experience.
To combat this, write shorter lines of text on separate lines.
Do you follow?
Notice how I have formatted this very section you are reading.
Basically, everything is left justified.
In an email, it creates a sort of vertical column.
It is easier on the eye.
This type of formatting makes it faster to quickly scan the contents of an email.
Spelling, Grammar and Presentation
No communication can be effective if the recipient is distracted by poor spelling or grammar. It is unprofessional and a poor advertisement for the company. Final drafts benefit from being spell checked and proofread, if possible by several people.
Graphics, Audio, Animations, Video Clips
The email marketer should consider whether graphics, audio or video attracts or distracts.
Large images are not recommended. Always hotlink images from a server. Never upload images directly to the email.
Tracking and Analysis
An important post-delivery task is to collect information on the click through success of any links you included in the email.
Most email list management software comes with statistical tracking analytics.
MailChimp (affiliate link) is free to use and has loads of great features. You can build a list of up to 2000 recipients free of charge with MailChimp.
I have used email marketing for my local web design list and it has gotten me some clients. I can definitely say email marketing works!
On Sundays I send free YouTube videos (linked from inside the email content) demonstrating various aspects of website design.
Your campaign statistics show you who is opening your emails and who is not.
The people who have never opened an email, I delete from the list.
Well, low open rates affects the overall success average of your campaign and therefore affects list reputation. This means emails you send in future are less likely to make it through to the inbox of the recipient, instead landing in the Junk/Spam folder.
So, if a recipient on your list has never actually opened an email you’ve sent, the chances are, they either are not interested, or your emails are already going to their Junk/Spam folder.
You’re much better off removing them from your list, because in the end, you’ll have an overall higher email open rate.
Make a plan
Rather than a series of ad hoc email campaigns performed at random times, it is advisable to draw up a timetable to target identifiable “slow” periods traditionally experienced by the business.
A campaign can be planned and delivered a month or two beforehand. Successful email marketing campaigns are based on preparation, clear messages, proper delivery, and analysis.
If the points listed in this post are used as guidelines, the potential for success will increase significantly.