So You Think You Know Email Marketing?
Email Marketing can be the most powerful advertising and marketing tool out there. It is quick, efficient and cost effective, if done in the right way. If done properly, you can cut costs by saving on postage, advertising and so on. You can also evade the stress of whether or not users will come across your ad or content and actually connect with you. Email marketing allows you to directly connect with online users in many ways shape and forms.
There are many types of email marketing, the two main types being Opt-in Marketing and Third Party Marketing
Opt In marketing may take longer to achieve results, but it is well worth the wait. Customer lists are created organically through subscriptions and comment card and will result in your list being honest and useable. Your audience in this instance will want to hear from you and will interact more frequently with your content and business.
Third Party Marketing can be considered a little more tricky and unreliable. Third Party Marketing is when you purchase email lists from third parties. There are a number of factors that will affect the results of such a campaign, including the quality of the list you purchase and the users connect with your product or service.
Once you have figured out what marketing type you wish to go with, you must start looking at the key elements of your strategy.
Start from the bottom and work your way up. Make your plan and highlight in it:
- Geographical locations
When it comes to email marketing there is no 'one size fits all' and you must be clear from the beginning where exactly you want to take your campaign and how you wish to run it. Take into consideration what type of emails you wish to send, where you will send them and when they will be sent. Do you wish to start by simply advertising? Offering information about a specific service or product? Or, do you wish to begin by getting down to the 'nitty gritty' and sending out those highly appreciated and received promotional codes?
It goes without saying that in order to grab the readers attention, our content must be interesting and engaging. It must be relevant, informative and of the highest quality. Getting it just right is what is needed here, writing too much or too little can be dangerous and fatal to your campaign. Give your email a clear heading, make it stand out from the others and ensure that the content itself does not bombard or starve the user.
When coming up with a design for your email, it is vital that you are aware of the common traps that most fall into. Creating the perfect design for your email marketing campaigns does not mean including as many eye-catching and colorful banners and pictures as possible, it is about being clear and concise! Many forget that most email users are using their mobiles and that the layout and design of an email is displayed completely different on a mobile than a desktop. Another thing that you must pay attention to is the use of images. Images are not automatically displayed on an email, therefore it is of utmost importance that we do not rely purely on images to engage the reader and call them to action. The images that we use must simply add to the content that we have added textually. Last but not least, the most important part of our design is the call to action. Where we will place our call to action will be the difference between our emails having the effect we desire, or completely floating. The call to action should be placed at the top of the email or somewhere where it is clearly visible and must draw the readers attention, this is after all the whole purpose of the email.
It is advised here to use HTML code. Many email services still do not support CSS layout and let's face it, we do not want to run the risk of our emails becoming disabled when they reach the inbox. You may be using an email blast program that allows you to simply input your text / content into their pre-designed and coded formats, or you may wish to pay for the extra service of a custom design. Either way, make sure you code your email in the correct and most user-friendly way.
It goes without saying that your email has to be tested before it is sent out, we can seriously send out thousands of emails without knowing how they will look and work first. You should always check the following most important parts:
- Visual aspect – Look at your email through the end user's eyes: How does it look? Is it what you expected? Is the layout clear? Can all banners and text be seen?
- Headline – How does it look in your inbox? Does it stand out? Would you open it?
- Content – Is your call to action where it's supposed to be? Will it actually call people to action? Is your address and contact information visible? If someone wants to unsubscribe, can they quickly find the link to do so?
Keywords can grab the attention of the reader, or they can get your email spammed. When writing, we automatically use some words without thinking, but when writing our subject line we must be careful not to use specific keywords that may be picked up as spam. The list of keywords that can trigger spam filters to spam our mail is unfortunately quite long, here are a few examples of words to avoid using:
- As seen on
- Buy Direct
The spam filter will add up the amount of 'spammy' keywords you have used and then decide on whether your mail is spam or not, so choose your words wisely.
7.) COMPLYING WITH LAWS AND REGULATIONS
The CAN-SPAM Act was set up to protect the end user and sets out the guidelines for those who send email. The Act was put in place to ensure that users receive only honest and fair emails. In order to company with this act, you must be as transparent as possible with your customers. Your headline must be relevant to your content and you must clearly outline how and where subscribers can unsubscribe if they wish to. To read more about this act, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN-SPAM_Act_of_2003
8.) GETTING YOUR MESSAGE OUT THERE
Once you have your design and content in place and are confident that you have met all the applicable laws and regulations, the only thing left to do, is get sending. There are two options here, the first being to send them yourself. This option is near impossible for small to medium sized businesses as specific software is required and a large amount of bandwidth that may be too complicated and expensive for smaller businesses. The only option for those businesses will be the second option of using a third party service provider. For those business that have 'Opt- In' lists, finding a decent third party service provider will be easy. For those who are using 'Third Party' lists, finding a service provider may prove a little more difficult, however, the company from which you have bought or are renting the lists from should be able to point you in the right direction.
9.) CONTINUANCE (or REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT)
No one can guarantee that your mail will be seen first time round, so it might be a good idea to send out your email blast out numerous times. To increase our ROI, our email has to be opened, to be opened, it must be seen. In order for you to achieve the results your looking for, your content has to repeatedly reach your audience. Yet, there is a difference between being seen and being annoying, changing the content slowly each time is wise.
10.) RESULTS ANALYSIS
Ask your email service provider for a report of your email and follow through on your endeavors in order to maximize results. Email marketing is not about sending your email and waiting for the results to come in, you must act on the results and feedback. Check how many emails were opened, how many responded to your call to action and actually clicked through to your site and make sure you get a detailed report of the soft-bounces. A 'soft-bounce' is when the email did not reach the inbox, but due to issues such as a full inbox or filters that have been put in place. The emails that have 'Soft Bounced' do not indicate that the recipient is not interested in reading your mail and this should be kept in mind. A detailed report will also allow you to connect deeper with your customers and clients by showing you where you can follow up on those who responded well to the mail on a more personal level.
Most of the elements involved in email marketing are common sense, but some need expertise, patience and dedication. In an ever evolving technological world, do not get left behind. Virtual stores and business have changed the way we all do business and in order to stay alive we have to keep up with the game. It is claimed that the virtual store Amazon.com made a profit of 182.6 billion USD in 2012. Can you image the ROI they received from their email marketing campaigns? I know I'm guilty of clicking through at least one of their mails, are you?