Email marketing, when done well, can be a very cost-effective way of reaching your target audience. It can help you to build and maintain good relationships with prospective customers, existing clients and referrers, and spread the word about your products and services.
Here, are our 10 top tips for making your email marketing campaigns more effective – including a list of words and phrases to avoid if you want to stay out of the spam box.
1. Have a purpose - the key to a successful email marketing campaign is getting your aims and objectives right from the start. You need to decide the purpose of your campaign whether that’s to find new customers, get additional business from existing customers or to build relationships with clients and prospects.
2. Get your mailing list together – once you know your objective you can start pulling together a well-targeted and qualified mailing list – and remember that quality is far more important than quantity. As your email campaign moves forward, keep an eye on building your list. Even if it is just a case of making sure when you meet someone in your target group, to ask them if they're happy to receive your e-newsletter and remember to add them to your database.
3. Decide what software to use – you can use your email system such as Outlook but it has its limitations. As an alternative, you could choose to use an email marketing software package, which would enable you to send out emails and e-newsletters laid out like web pages, containing graphics. These make it easier to deal with unsubscribers and obtain useful statistics to help you measure the success of your campaigns. This software is usually either paid for on a monthly or annual subscription basis, or with a fee per message sent, or a combination of both. Some are hosted micro-sites in themselves, which can provide additional inbound links to your own website and help with Google rankings.
4. Content is king – great content is essential. Remember (particularly with B2B marketing) you are not so much trying to sell your services/product directly, but more to engage with your audience and to develop your position as an expert in your field. If people have confidence in you and believe you can meet their needs, they will buy from you. Try to keep the content short and easy to scan. Most recipients aren't going to read the full text of your email. They're going to scan it for key points that they may be interested in. Keep your text short (very small paragraphs or bullets) and use font bolding and additional colours to highlight words or phrases that you know will be important to your readers.
5. Include obvious links - the main purpose of your email is to drive traffic to your website. Without driving clicks to your website, recipients can't convert to sign-ups or customers. The key to accomplishing this is, quite simple; capitalize on every moment where a reader may feel compelled to click. Include lots of links and make sure that your links look like links. Using strong calls to action and even authoritative "click here" messaging will also help you.
6. Minimize your use of images - always keep in mind that an email is not a print mail piece. Many of your recipients will not see the images included in your email, which means that every image you include can be wasted space. Use well coded html instead of image-heavy design. Never send an email that is simply one big image and certainly don't put any messaging in an image that a user must see to complete the action you want from an email (i.e. "click here" or "order now" messages).
7. Words and phrases to avoid in your email content - there are about 200 words and phrases that can get you into spam trouble with your email content. That's not to say that you can't ever use these words, but it is to say that you should minimize them and certainly don't use them in the subject line. Here are 20 "email disaster words and phrases." If you're having a problem staying out of the spam or junk folder, these are the words that are most likely to be putting you there.
• Visit our website
• 50% off
• Click here
• Call now
• Save up to
• Information you requested
• Important information regarding
• Guarantee or guaranteed
• Special promotion
• Great offer/deal
• All new
• One time
• Order now
The more that you use the above words, the more likely you are to experience deliverability problems. Be aware of these "disaster" words and know that if you over-use them or begin to experience deliverability problems they are your likely culprits.
8. Commit and plan – good email marketing is a sustained process rather than a one off. In our experience this is one area where people fall down. Publishing your first e-newsletter is a great feeling, but it is publishing your 5th, 10th or 20th when the process really starts to work. It’s not about sending one every week, but more about looking at what you have to say, and how often you can practically resource producing good quality content. Planning the frequency and content of emails should simply be a part of the on-going management process and should dovetail with other activities (see rule 10).
9. Measure your success – if you use a software system (rather than Outlook) it should provide you with a good level of information about how many emails have been sent (and not been caught in spam filters), which parts of the email have been read and which links have been clicked. This will help you to evaluate the success of your campaign – for a B2B campaign a good opening rate is around 20–30%. It will also provide insights to your sales team who can identify those people show interest in a particular product, service or news item.
10. Join it up - email should not be seen in isolation, but rather as an element of a joined-up marketing approach. Often email can be used to support and promote other activities (e.g. events or exhibitions) and in turn, these activities will feed great content into the email process. Although email is a great tool, it is not a magic wand, and to be effective it needs to be used as a tool in a joined-up marketing programme. When it is used in this way, it is a great resource for engaging and communicating effective messages within your target market – which is fundamentally what marketing is about.
Follow these 10 golden rules, and you will be well on the way to delivering an effective email marketing programme