Here’s some tips I’ve gathered from the all powerful internet and my own experiences and education. If you want to see some proof that other folks out there agree with me, check out articles by Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. She’s written quite a few articles about the dos and don’ts of email marketing.
Deciding Who the Audience Is
The first thing we have to do is set up a good recipient list. The bests lists are ones that folks have opted-in to, but a bought list from a reputible source (Like Jigsaw.com) is great too. Now take that recipient list and think about whether or not you’ll need to divide it into multiple lists based on industry, level, interests, etc. You’re going to want to target as narrow an audience as possible in your emails so you are more likely to speak directly to the recipients.
Creating the Email
Subject line: It needs to grab the reader’s attention, tell them to perform an action, and maybe restrict their time to respond. When readers feel like they will miss out if they don’t act quickly, they are more likely to open the email and do what it says.
Header: Just as important as the subject line, the header draws the reader in to actually read the email. Sub heads are also important. Sub heads make skimming the email easier for the reader.
Look and feel: So, we came up with a great subject line and got the recipients to actually open our email. Great! But now, we need to do something to keep them interested. Text is great, its obviously important, but if you send out a word-heavy email with no pretty things to look at, you’ve just lost the reader. And the graphics have to be good. A nice, clean background is great. Add a slick logo, a nice demo or progression of screenshots and you’ve got their attention.
The Text: The text is there to do one thing. Call the reader to action. Use links with specific anchor text (don’t fall into the Click Here effect). Using active, rather than passive voice is also important.
- Unique Value Proposition: The content of your email should convince the reader that the product/service you have to offer is unique and better than anything they can get elsewhere.
- Testimonial: Including a customer quote relevant to to the product/service is great.
- KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. We’ve all heard this one. The best way to cut content is to write a draft, read it out loud, cut out what sounds awkward, boring, or confusing. Repeat. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you lose 30-50% of the original text.
- Call to Action: This is the most important part of the email. Its where we get to tell the customer what to do. It should be close to the top of the email, the link should describe what we want the customer to do, and we should limit the choices of actions to one or two different links. (The content of the page can have multiple links to your site as well)
- Branding: Branding is a great way to appear professional and organized. Its also a way to communicate our personality and objective. A clean, sleek logo with matching color scheme that ties into the website is ideal.
- Sending at the Right Time: Obviously first thing Monday and last thing Friday are out. That email is going in the trash, and quick. For B2B email marketing the best times are Tuesday and Wednesday mid-morning or mid-afternoon. For B2C email, try early evening during the week and Saturday afternoons.
The Results Are In!
So, we’ve run the campaign, and gotten our reports back. Let’s talk a little about what all of those stats mean.
Total Recipients: Pretty obvious. It’s all the people we sent the email to.
Successful Deliveries: These are the emails that made passed the spam filters and firewalls and landed in a real, bonafide email inbox.
Bounced Emails: These are the emails that did not make it to an inbox. There are generally two reasons for this:
- Hard Bounce: It’s an undeliverable address. The person closed their account, was fired, moved to Fiji, whatever. Basically this email address is useless and should be removed from the list
- Soft Bounce: Usually this means the email account was not available at the time we sent the email. This could mean the server was busy, the account was full, etc. This could be a good email address, but we’re just not sure.
Anything more than a 10% bounce rate and we need to reevaluate our email list. If we keep our bounce rate too high, we can start to look like a spammer and email services will automatically start flagging all ADX emails as spam. That’s no good, so we want to make sure we keep our email list nice and clean.
Total Opens: this is the total times the email was opened. This number is really misleading. If one person opens your email 200+ times, you might think you’ve had an effective campaign, but further investigation will show that what you really had was one person who really liked reading your email over and over.
Recipients Who Opened: This is much more useful. Our report shows who opened the email and how many times they opened it.
Total Unique Opens/Clicks: This shows the number of times the email was opened or a link was clicked with all duplicates removed. So, that person I mentioned earlier who opened the email 200 times now only counts for 1 open. (By the way, a good open rate across all industries is about 22% but see the bottom of this email for a breakdown of each industry).
- Bounced Emails: Determine how many emails bounced and why, then clean up the email list.
- Unsubscribes: How many unsubscribe requests did we have? Why are people unsubscribing?
- Open Rate: How was the open rate? If it was lower that 20%, rethink the subject line and the time the email was sent.
- Links: Did people click like we wanted them to? If not, go back to draft on the email layout and content.
- If they did click, were leads generated? If not, work on the website content.
- Longevity: At what point to people stop clicking and opening? If folks are still clicking a week after the email was sent, a follow-up newsletter may be a good option for us.
- Cost: How much did the campaign cost in effort and resources? Was it worth it? Is it worth it to do it again?