Back to Basics: Email Marketing

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You’re a busy marketer. You have this to do, that to do. It’s only natural you might just forget to do something, like rushing out an email with a half-baked subject line. Or forgetting to format the content so it’s readable on mobile.

Sometimes, we tend to forget the basics – the most important things of all. But don’t worry: this handy guide is designed to act as your email marketing checklist.

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Stand out or stand down

‘Friendly from’ name

The ‘from’ or sender name is the inbox field that tells your customer who’s sent the message. Without something recognizable, your subscriber may dismiss it as spam. And no-one wants that!

Subject lines

Make it clear what the email is about in the subject line, and make it engaging. Around 40 emails from trusted brands land in your customer’s inbox each week, so it’s becoming more and more important for your message to leap out of the screen.

Pre-header text

A pre-header is the short summary that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. It’s a great way to tip your customer off on what the email contains before they open it. See it as yet another opportunity to encourage your readers to open your email.

TIP: Consider taking a humorous, personal, local, discount-led or emotional approach to help make you stand out .

Give them a cause to consume

Content and templates

First things first: did you know that 45% of emails are opened on mobile devices, 36% on desktops and 19% in a webmail? So, do make sure your templates are mobile-responsive and optimized to work well on all devices.

Headlines are important.

Make them actionable, tell the user what you want them to do and sum up the email’s content. They have lives to lead so don’t make them guess what it is you want from them.

Paragraphs or bullet points?

Before you start writing the body copy, this is pretty simple to answer: with tablet devices and smartphones as the ‘devices of choice’ for many, it’s more important than ever to keep your emails concise. Bullets are much quicker and easier to digest.

Get personal and get noticed.

By pulling in demographic and behavioral data, along with your customer’s interests, you can deliver compelling and relevant information to your customers in a way that feels…well, personal.

Dynamic content is another great way to engage your customers. Base it on their transactional data and social interests, or pull in live content from your website at the point of send, such as latest offers.

Finding out what makes them tick gets you clicks

No matter how big, bright or bold your call-to-action button, you need to give the reader a reason to click through first. If you’ve got that right, these points will only aid your proposition.

  • Make sure the button is visually striking with copy that compels them to click
  • Keep the copy short and sweet: a couple of words is best, no more than five is ideal
  • Begin with a verb like “Download” or “Register” to make it action-oriented
  • Place buttons in easy-to-find spots that follow organically from the flow of the webpage
  • Put them in a contrasting color from that of the webpage, while still fitting in with the overall design

FAIRFX enjoyed a jaw-dropping 300% additional turnover in eight months when the brand took a more personal approach with its customers.

Be selective with segments

You can’t be all things to all people (that’s why batch-and-blast emails are a thing of the past). Every customer is different and that’s why you should segment.

Use all the tools at your disposal to get a handle on who you’re talking to: what they like, what they don’t, what they’ve opened in the past, what they’ve bought in the past. Here are some examples of segments you can group your contacts into:

Simple segments

  • Female or male contacts under or over a certain age
  • Contacts living in a particular locality
  • Subscribers who’ve never opened an email campaign

An advanced segment

Female or male contacts between the ages of 16 and 25, living in New York, who’ve been sent at least one email campaign in the last six months, have not opened any email campaigns in that time, are not in the address book ‘gap year’, and have not been sent any of three ‘re engagement’ campaigns.

Plain-text emails make plain sense

They don’t look pretty but they play an important role in a well-rounded email marketing strategy. Why?

  • Some email clients and apps can’t handle HTML (yeah, it’s true but not as common these days) – so your email will look like a garbled mess when it lands in your recipient’s inbox
  • Some people turn off HTML for emails, which means either your message won’t be readable or it may not even arrive

Test to become the best

You might think you know what your customers want. But there’s only one real way to find out and that’s by going straight to the source.

Testing lets you find out what works and what doesn’t. Running A/B tests are a quick and simple way of seeing which campaigns generate the best opens and clicks. Here are some of the things you can try out:

  • Variations in subject lines, like emotional vs. offer-led
  • Different lengths of copy – i.e. long vs. short
  • Design can make a difference so test a suite of templates (but only two at a time)
  • When’s the best time to send?

Landing pages can land you customers

Imagine reading a sign before entering what you were led to believe was a doctor’s surgery, only to stroll in and find it’s a dentist.

You’d walk back out again, right? It’s no different to serving up an email about cats, to then click through to a page talking about feather dusters. A good, targeted landing page can turn potential customers into real customers. Here’s the perfect format to follow: The dotmailer Landing Pages tool makes it quick and simple to design on-brand pages, all mobile responsive and fully personalized.

Use your results to get better results

Every time you send an email you’re collecting data. But until you sit down and make sense of it, it’s just a mass of meaningless information. Data is your best friend when it comes to email marketing and can enable you to work smarter, not harder.

Create campaign reporting templates

A reporting template that’s easy to understand, with a useful amount of information, will help the entire company recognize how email marketing contributes to the business. A simple document containing the below details is a good start:

  • Number of emails sent
  • Deliverability rate – how many emails were sent
  • How many emails were opened
  • The number of recipients who clicked through
  • How many people unsubscribed
  • Conversion tracking and return on investment (ROI)

Analyze the trends

It’s important to get a broad overview of your email marketing results. Campaign-by-campaign analysis is fine but you can’t observe any trends without seeing the full picture.

Are the majority of your subscribers opening emails at 8am? Do they only ever click the email’s header image? Are you getting a good open rate but few click-throughs? It’s important to use this insight to analyze what is or isn’t going well.

Don’t forget to optimize

Reporting is there to help you. Remember to use it to make your campaigns get better and better. After all, you can’t argue with the numbers.

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