For some, email marketing is a golden opportunity to reach numerous customers, increase brand recognition and cross-sell many different things. However, for others, email marketing is a bear; they get less than desirable results and have no idea how to improve their reach. My aim is to expose some simple guidelines to improve your email marketing campaigns. Even though some may seem obvious, many of these tips are often overlooked, resulting in email newsletters that simply don’t get the job done.
Keep the message short & concise
There’s nothing more daunting then getting a long, drawn out email that doesn’t get to the point and conceals the overall goal of the message at hand. Why muddle your marketing campaign with non–essential fluff, if all it does is detract the user from your goals? By keeping your message short, simple and easy to scan, it is more likely that a user will find the benefits, important message or whatever your promoting.
If Possible, Personalize
Instead of a generic “Dear Subscriber” or “Hello Sir/Madam” to open your message, why not use the first name of the person being addressed? Most email clients today allow you to include some type of code snippet that will search for that person’s name and apply it. This will create a more personal feel, inviting the user to read your content and hopefully click on your call to action.
Send on a Schedule and Amount
Most, if not all email software will allow messages to be sent at a specific date and time (usually down to the second); with that in mind, considering things like users time zones, day of the week and time of day are all important. For example – if you are on the east coast, but a majority of users are on the west coast, you wouldn’t want to send your message at 8AM, as west coast users would get it at 5AM. By the time they get to their email in the morning, your message will likely be buried.
Along the same lines, considering your message volume is an important factor. Too many messages in a period of time and it’s likely that you will be flagged as spam; too little and the message will probably will get discarded before it’s even read.
Use a smart Subject Line
Subject Lines are like the worm in fishing – they are the first thing seen by a user when your email comes through. If it doesn’t look enticing, the user won’t bite and will swim right past it. Keeping that in mind, getting to the point is critical in the subject — it will make the user decide whether they want to open your message or not. Also, steer clear of spam-like keywords, such as “Free”, “Discount” and “Promotion”, as your message will most likely get routed to the Junk folder before it reaches the inbox.
Provide Something Useful
In every email that you send, you need to provide something useful to the user. If anything else, it shows the user that you care about them and are willing to satisfy them. If you don’t give them anything besides another message in their inbox, they might consider it useless to keep getting your marketing. Things like a discount for a product or a free e-book can help garner some attention from your users.
Always provide an Unsubscribe Link & Contact Information
Not only is this information required by the CAN-SPAM Act (see numbers 4 and 5), it’s just good practice to give your users options and to give them another way of contacting you. Again, doing this shows that you care about the user, which provides a more personal feel.
Incorporate Social Media Links
By now, you know the buzz surrounding social media and what it can do for your business if used properly. Putting your email marketing to good use, you can link back to your Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. accounts, generate some talk between users and provide yet another way of communication. All you need is a few icons strategically placed in your message and you should see some feedback.
Now that we’ve covered some technical guidelines, here are a few design related tips that will ensure you reach a maximum number of users.
It’s fairly common that users will have some sort of preview pane to view their messages before opening them in a new window. Typically, these preview panes are less than half the size of a normal window, drastically reducing the amount of screen real estate available to view your message. If you keep your email design skinny, with the important information to the left portion of the message, there is a better chance of that content being seen even if the message never gets opened in a full sized window.
Keep your images to a minimum
Likewise, images are typically turned off by default in most email clients. Because of this, you should keep important text (dates, times, call to actions) as just that – text. If that important text is not displayed because images are turned off, a user might not get a chance to see your “message” in the email. Also, another important consideration is load time. If you have just a few images, the user won’t have to wait for them to load and can get on to reading your email faster.
Using the same types of graphics, colors and fonts, whether it be on your website, direct advertisements or email campaigns, will keep brand consistency at a maximum. Keeping an email design in line with the website design will create a seamless, polished and enjoyable experience for the viewer, hopefully increasing their trust in your brand.
While some of these tips may seem like common sense, more times than not, we see even the most basic tips go unnoticed. However, by taking a few minutes to include a few of these tips, you should see increased click throughs, better response and less bounces.
Do you have any more tips to add to the list?