7 Guidelines For Perfect Email Marketing

With so many elements and factors involved in creating an email marketing campaign perfectly optimised for maximum response, it can be easy to forget the basic principles that lead to successful email campaigns. With this in mind, I have put together a list of guidelines that are essential to effective campaigns and better results.

1. Promote sign-ups everywhere

Adding new people to your mailing list is one of the most important things in email marketing. It is therefore of utmost importance to promote sign-up whenever and wherever possible. From Facebook to Google+ and offline, any opportunity you neglect may be one your competitors are taking. It also pays to review all touch points you have with your clients and prospects to see if you have a clear and up-to-date opt- in statement. Don’t be afraid to use the same tone in your opt-in statement as you would in other parts of your email, but be clear on what you will be doing with the data you collect and sell in the benefits of subscribing.

2. Avoid large or all images in your email

Apart from the fact that some companies have a limit on the size of incoming files, image emails can also trigger spam filters that could move your emails to the junk folder. Images are also turned off for around 45% of email client by default so it’s critical to test graphical vs non-graphical performance on a behaviour basis. Remember, no matter how great the creative, your copywriting or promotion, this will not make any difference if it is never seen. However, graphical email, when seen, can look stunning so we should consider when to use them. It is worth testing your database by sending a more graphical email to those users who you can see from open, click and ROI rates are very engaged with your brand. You can also use heavily graphical emails if you have been certified as a sender by an organisation such as Return Path, it would be easy to select all @hotmail and @yahoo domains for example and send them a different creative.

3. Nail your subject line

The subject line is one of the best ways to sell your email. Make this catchy and interesting and people will want to read more. 35% of recipients will open an email specifically because of the content of the subject line. Make sure you’re testing different subject lines and making the most of the opportunity to discover what works best. I have seen tremendous opening rates for longer subject lines when users can see them in full for example on a wide screen laptop. So fear not about having a longer subject line, but remember that not everyone will see this in its entirety therefore make sure you put the key message or your brand in the first 20-40 characters to ensure those who only see part of the subject line can tell who the message is from and what it is about.

4. Front load the most important information

It is very important to get the key elements of your subject line as high up as possible into the body of the email. Get your key message above the fold, including a call to action and don’t forget to make sure it is just as effective on horizontal and vertical preview panes. Messages that use colour backgrounds to images stand out even when images are turned off. I would also make sure you mention your brand in web text somewhere above the fold for those scanning their inboxes.

5. Personalise email wherever possible

A report found that over two-thirds (69%) of emails are sent without any personalisation whatsoever. Including recipients’ names is the most basic element of this. It’s also worth considering dynamic content that shifts the design and products referenced for ultimate relevance. This is the key to building that one-to-one feeling. Remember there are different types of dynamic content. Content that might always be present for example address and contact information of your local store/office.

6. Get the right database

An excellent email with excellent offers in the wrong inbox is useless. Always try to build your own database and remember that the data you collect is always more effective, achieving much higher engagement and ROI rates, Users will recall opting in and giving their permission to you to mail them. If you are mailing an older in-house list for the first time in a while or you have had to source 3rd party data, be sure to send a non-commercial welcome first. Introduce yourself ,explain what they’ll be receiving, why you think its of value to them, where you got there data from and give them the option to opt out. This gives you the opportunity to look like one of the good guys and stops them reporting your email as Spam which could have implications on your delivery for willing recipients.

7. Make sure your email is optimized for mobile

With a massive 68% using email on a mobile device, it is important to make sure emails are optimized so that recipients can access them on the go. Many Email Service Providers (ESP’s) will be able to provide you statistics on the numbers of recipients opening your emails on mobile devices. If the number is very significant you can always consider the use of Media Queries, which can change the way your emails are presented to the recipient based on the device they are reading it on. It is also very important to complete the whole user experience by focussing time and attention on the mobile onsite experience as this is the area that often lets more recipients down rather than the emails appearance in the inbox itself.

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Tink Taylor, Business Development Director, dotMailer, has many years experience in the field of interactive electronic communications. Tink has wide ranging experience in introducing the concept of digital marketing to companies large and small. He is an elected member of the Direct Marketing Association's Email Marketing Council and also a member of the Internet Advertising Bureaus E-communications Council. Tink was a judge for the Email and Virals category at the DMA awards 2008.