Seven steps to effective email marketing

Over two million emails are sent every second according to the Radicati Group, a company dedicated to research on messaging, security, email archiving and a wide range of web services. Around 70% are trapped by spam filters and never reach their destinations. With those two figures in mind, it’s easy to see just how important email marketing is, and just how many pitfalls there can be between pushing the send button and reaching your customer. And that’s just for starters. Once the email arrives, you have to convince people to click, engage and act.

1. A word about data protection

The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulation 2003 requires you to have permission to contact the people you’re sending emails to. You’re also required to tell the recipient who you are and provide a valid contact address. An opt-out option is also a legal requirement and allows people to get a message directly to you. In fact, a double opt-in is a good idea. This allows people to indicate their interest and then receive a confirmation email.

2. Who do you want to reach?

Seems obvious, but you need to segment your audience carefully, and craft your approach to each of the different groups. For example, if you’re promoting a new offer on a mobile phone, you might want to develop different messages that match the ways different target groups use mobile phones or feel about the brand. Just because people have signed up to receive information from you, you shouldn’t assume the same subject field and content will be equally acceptable to all of them. You have permission to contact people, now you need to do your best to engage them.

3. Email fields of dreams

The different fields that appear at the top of an email are your opportunity to make a first impression. Based on what people see, they’ll click or just push the delete button. Here’s a few tips to get you started.

  • The FROM Field – Be honest and if you have a brand name use it. People won’t always recognise or remember a name and connect it to a business. You’ll usually have around 30 characters.
  • The SUBJECT Field – You only have about ten words to win people over. Think benefits and engagement. Write something that will make people think and click. A play on words, an ironic twist, a phrase that get people chuckling. Don’t forget exclamation points or questionable language will make your email look like spam.
  • The DATE Field – Testing can really help you here. Late night is prime spammers time, so give this some thought. There’s much wisdom that suggests Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days people are most receptive to receiving information. If you’re sending out a weekly bulletin, send it on the same day and at the same time.
  • The FILE SIZE Field – Even though it seems like everyone has broadband, don’t send an email that’s more than about 30k. So don’t imbed images. Happily, images hosted on servers don’t count toward file size.

4. A good preview is worth a thousand words

Outlook, Lotus Notes, Windows and other email packages let people preview a message before it’s opened. Email campaign management software also allows for message testing. So experiment with this yourself, and think about what would make someone want to open an email. There has to be clear proposition in the headline supported by a brief summary. Most people won’t see the images enabled, so it’s essential to ensure the preview pane contains your message

5. Content

Once people have opened the email, you want them to stick around long enough to do something. That could be clicking on a link that takes them to a site where they could buy insurance. Or, they could be asked to put a date in their calendar, or even join a forum. Your text should be engaging and clear about what your want them to do. Hyperlinks make it easy for them to act. Images can be a great asset, provided they are not too large.

6. Avoid being blacklisted

Every email broadcast platform has a unique IP address. Your IP address can be blacklisted without you even knowing it. Complaints about spam go directly to blacklist management companies. Servers can look up the sender’s IP address and see if it appears on the blacklist. If it does the email will be blocked. People make complaints because they’ve forgotten they opted in to receive information or they think they’ve received spam. If you want to find out, visit and use their IP address tool to see if you’ve been blacklisted. If your agency is working with a good Email Service Provider, they can help you manage your reputation.

7. Measure the impact

There are different ways to measure the impact of your email marketing campaign. For starters there’s the delivery rate. This measures both hard and soft bounces. Hard bounces are emails that are returned because they can’t be delivered. The address may be incorrect or simply not exist. Soft bounces are good addresses, but there could be a problem with the server that stops the email from being delivered. Then there’s the click rate – that tells you how many emails are opened. Finally, if you’re asking your customers to click on a link, or respond digitally, that too can be measured.

Final words

Email marketing can be a great tool and a key part of a wider marketing plan, but requires a robust plan, strong data and good measurement. It is something a lot of businesses ask an agency to get involved in. So if you’d like to sit down to discuss your next campaign and the role you think email marketing should take, get in touch with us at Marketing Zone.