Send email campaigns? Six things to consider before you send the next one
One aspect of marketing which I will be covering a lot of in this blog is email marketing – how to increase response rates and conversions from making the best use of your email newsletters and email campaigns. Before I do however I thought I would outline some of the basics to consider when putting together an email newsletter or campaign.
The Contact list:
Who are you sending the email newsletter to? Collecting and managing your data list should be your most important consideration in email marketing. You could spend days crafting the perfect email, applying all the best practice principles, but if the people you are sending it to a) didn't ask for it or want it; or b) are not interested in your organisation, your cause or your products or services, then they won’t read it or act on it.
Build up your own list of interested contacts from people who have engaged with you across all your ‘touchpoints’ and clean it regularly. Emails are not ‘no cost’ in many ways, so ensure you update and maintain your list as you would your direct mail postal list.
What content should you include? Think about the e-newsletters you may subscribe to. Which are the ones you value? I’m guessing it's not the ones that just constantly send ‘sales’ type messages over and over again, but they are those that offer you relevant content (you may pick out the odd Amazon email but probably not all the time). For business-to-business emails, offer tips, information and advice. Give your contacts what they need and not just what your organisation wants to send. Do tell them about your latest conference or fundraising campaign, but make sure the ratio of content-to-sales messages is in favour of relevant content.
Subject lines and the ‘from name’:
Do I know the sender and do I trust them? Does this email interest me? should I open it? These are the things (even if it is just on a subconscious level) that your readers will consider when an opening an email. Research has shown that these things have the biggest impact on whether someone opens and then takes action from an email.
So what should you include? Well, a personalised name followed by your recognised organisation name is a good start for the ‘from field.’ People want to communicate with other on a one-to-one basis, hence the personal name, and they will have a strong connection with your organisation (if they have opted in!) so utilise this.
The topic of subject lines merits a whole series of blogs in itself. In a nutshell, treat this as you would your headline in direct mail or display adverts. (Discover more on headline writing). Remember you are 'competing' with every other email in your reader’s inbox, so why should they open your email? You have to give them a good reason to do so, which you can achieve by writing a compelling subject line. Offer news or a benefit, highlight the offer if you are providing one and perhaps even repeat your organisation name to reinforce the brand recognition. Don't just state 'monthly newsletter', as this doesn't tell your reader anything.
A simple step, but so easily overlooked. You have collected the contact’s name, so use it. By personalising the email with ‘Dear Claire’ you are showing and reinforcing that you have a ‘relationship’ with your reader. And it does help lift response – look at also personalising your sign-off. Email is a one-to one communication medium, so the more ‘personal’ you can be, the better response you will get.
Try to keep it simple. More and more people are reading their emails on hand-held devices and have ‘image blockers’ installed on their email systems. Your email may look beautiful when it leaves your computer, but what does your reader see when they receive the email? Find out by sending test copies of your email to a number of different ISP accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and Outlook.
Too many images at the top, and they may just see a blank screen in their preview pane. This is prime space. Use it to get people to open your email. Don’t waste your opportunity by filling it all with images your reader can’t view.
Finally (but not exhaustively), always include an unsubscribe link. But don’t hide it in small text in the footer where people can’t see it. Make it easy for your contacts to unsubscribe. If people no longer want to receive your email, perhaps it is just not relevant to them anymore, you will get no benefit from them being on your list. Making the ability to unsubscribe difficult not only harms your email reputation (as people may just click on the ‘report as spam’ button, which may affect your long term deliverability), but also that of your brand and organisation.
So make it clear, keep it simple and provide the content your readers want to keep them engaged and to get the sales and conversions you need.
I will be covering all the above items (and more) in detail over the coming months, sharing with you my experiences, but in the meantime if you have any comments then please do let me know.
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Claire Rollinson, former Enterprise Manager, discusses all things marketing.