Do you delete email before ever reading it? You’re not alone.
Email marketing is a skill. And while it’s been around since last century (and by that I mean since around 1997), it’s not something everyone does well. Which is not to say that everyone CAN’T do it well, just that it is not necessarily intuitive. There needs to be a well thought out plan and execution to achieve really good and effective email marketing.
Time is valuable and people are more discerning than ever about how they spend it. Therefore, creating email that gets opened and creates buzz about your business is not only critical, but also more challenging than at first it might appear. It is truly both an art and a science.
Those who approach email marketing primarily from the aesthetic viewpoint—that is, focused on layout, design, color, typefaces, etc.—can only go so far. Content is king, and the reader must come to rely upon you as an expert in your field with good, solid, reliably relevant information. Simply stated, you want them to look forward to—no, eagerly anticipate—receiving email from you.
That said, packaging that thrilling content in a pretty wrapper is a lot more effective than just sending an email “newsletter” through your regular email server.
There are other good reasons to use a dedicated graphical email service such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response, iContact, and others. With such a service, there is virtually no limit on the number of emails you can send at one time, whereas Outlook and other regular email servers have set limits on how many people can be entered into your “To” line. You can see how cumbersome that would be if you had an email distribution list of even 500 people!
Then there are the statistical reporting that they provide—which email addresses bounced (and why), who opened your email, how many clicked through the live links in your eNewsletter (and who clicked through to which ones), who opted out of future mailings, and more.
So, here’s our checklist of the…
Elements of Effective Email Marketing
A compelling “Subject” line
Good subject line strategies for increasing open rates include posing a question (the human mind inherently wants to know the answer!), using numbered lists (“The Top 5 Things Every Wedding Planner Must Ask Up Front”), or using provocative wording that creates the desire to know more (“I Tried to Tell Him It Wouldn’t Work”).
A clear “From” line. Don’t risk getting sent to the trash folder because the recipient doesn’t recognize who sent it. If they know you by your name, use it. If your company name is more recognizable, use that. This is not the place to get cute or clever because doing so can kill your message before it ever gets read.
Avoid being seen as SPAM
SPAM filters are more sophisticated than ever, but there are still some obvious things to avoid: words like “FREE” and “money” and “sex,” as well as symbols like “$” and “!”. However, others may surprise you. How about “guaranteed” or “click here”? If you’d like a list of “SPAM Trigger Words to Avoid in Emails,” with my compliments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Focus on the benefit to the customer
Remember that the recipient is wondering, “What’s In It For Me?” so give them a reason—preferably a lot of reasons—to open your email and keep on opening them in the future.
Use readable fonts
All fonts are not created equal. Some display well on some computers, some display well on all computers. Go with the latter. Typically Times New Roman or Garamond (serif) and Arial or Verdana (sans serif) are your best bets.
A balance of words and graphics
Copy-heavy emails don’t capture the imagination of the reader; in fact, if it looks like too much work to slog through it, it likely won’t be read at all. Likewise, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to photos and graphics, too. Try to strike a balance by illustrating only the most important points (maximum one or two photos/graphics per article). In addition, make sure that your words convey the message fully and accurately, in case the graphics do not display to the reader.
Have a mobile strategy
Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and recent surveys indicate that mobile email will account for 15% to 70% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. Therefore, be sure to optimize your email marketing to accommodate the preference of a growing number of your target audience. Add iPads and other tablets into the mix, and you can see where this is going.
Include a clickable call to action
Just sending out free, valuable information is not the objective, after all. The ultimate purpose of all marketing—including email marketing—is to encourage the reader to do something. So don’t forget to ask them specifically to take that action: visit your website, send you an email, download the free report, buy the product, order the book, etc. Making the action a clickable link just makes it easy for them to do.
The last word: Yes, email is inexpensive, but it is effective only if people read it.
WhiteHOT, Inc. is led by owner Phil Clouser, a seasoned creative director with over 20 years in sales and marketing. Whether you’re doing a full-blown campaign or a single project, we do it more competitively than the big agencies. That’s the advantage of our streamlined, boutique approach. We are aggressive as well as responsive. We’ll meet with you, analyze your goals and expectations, design your project, and expedite it before the “big guys” assign a team and traffic number. Call Phil today at (609) 429-2972 to get the best value for your money, without the aggravation!