by Iain Wilson
Email marketing can be one of the most effective online marketing activities. It doesn't cost much either - just a little of your time and maybe a monthly fee to a email marketing service.
We do a fair bit of email marketing consultancy and over time have come across quite a few of the pitfalls when companies just haven't done it right, so here are a few pointers to make sure you get the right foundation down.
This is perhaps blindingly obvious, but you need to be sure you know what you are trying to achieve. What that will be will depend on your business and your market. For instance, a retail company may well be aiming to generate direct sales from their email, while that may be totally unrealistic for a business-to-business service company. Some potential reasons:
Just knowing what your explicit reason for doing this will help you decide how much time you should be committing to it and how to prioritise it in the general scheme of things.
Make sure you're obeying all the legislation relating to email marketing. Number 1 rule is you cannot send an unsolicited email to someone who has not opted in to receive this from you, or with whom you don't have some sort of acknowledged business relationship. Obviously, the content of your email must be above board, too. If you're in doubt, contact an IT solicitor.
If you want to do email marketing well, you must do it regularly. In many ways, email marketing very like traditional direct mail advertising and there is a classic staged process to a success
With this in mind, if you want to be successful with email marketing, you MUST get into a discipline where your emails are always sent out to the schedule you decided is right for your business. Nothing must get in the way of this. That might be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly - whatever is appropriate, but don't, please don't, send out your first email and then find excuses for not sending out the subsequent ones.
In theory, you could send out your email using your Outlook program, but if you are serious about email marketing, forget it. The best way to send out email marketing messages is through a professional email marketing service. Why? Well here are a few reasons:
Should you use HTML or text in your emails? The answer is 'yes'! Your email should be in both formats - a multipart type of email that will have an HTML and a text version. Why? So that it can be read by as many email programs as possible.
An HTML email gives you the opportunity to make the email visually attractive, with colour, graphics, font sizes etc. But some email programs (webmail email clients are a good example of this) are not able to render HTML, so clients with this type of email program will at best be presented with HTML source code, and at worst with nothing at all. With a multipart email though, the email program will present the format that best suits it - text if that is all it can display or HTML if it can show that. Another good reason to use an email marketing service - most will allow you to create the two different versions - try doing that with Outlook!
If you want to have your own design layout created for the email, you will need to get your designer to create the HTML in very much exactly the same way for a web page. Well, not quite exactly, because email programs are not nearly as clever as web browsers in interpreting HTML. In fact, most only support a subset of HTML. So what might look great when viewed in the browser might fail miserably when viewed in Outlook or similar. So make sure your designer knows what code to use when creating your email design.
Obviously, you have something you want to tell people, but you should think carefully about how your email will be laid out. Here's a few things to think about
If your email has say, four items, you will only have 40-50 words about each item. Those words have a simple role to play
A lot of the time, your aim will be to get the reader to your website, where you can promote yourself and company a little more. To do this you need an area on the website where you can add your own webpages that perhaps explain more about items in the email or amplify certain services you provide. To do this, you will need some sort of Content Management System or blog.
Once you have this facility, you can write articles about any appropriate subjects and use them in your email marketing campaigns. In the email of course, you create a link (blue and underlined!) to the article in your news/article system. You will be able to see how popular the link is from the email tracking statistics - providing you with invaluable marketing information for the future.
Experience shows that the day and time you send your email can make a difference to the success of the email. For example, if your email goes out on Monday morning, people are far too busy catching up on things (or maybe in a foul mood at being back at work) to read your email, so if you send your emails out then, you will consistently get the worst results. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally considered to be the best days, with early afternoon considered the best time. That said, we've also found that Friday mornings at around 9:15am (after people have cleaned out their initial email) is also a good time.
Again, the email subject can make a big difference to how many people open your email. It's logical enough, most people will scan their emails for the subject and/or who it is from. If the subject is interesting and strikes a chord with the recipient, there is a better chance it will be opened. We've also found that different segments of the subscriber base will open the email when the subject is varied. Make sure your subject line is short and to the point. People won't bother to open the email if they can't grasp the content with a quick scan of the subject.
In summary then, if you want to use email marketing, make it professional, interesting, legal and REGULAR!comments powered by Disqus