We all want to avoid making mistakes with our email marketing. But the best way to do the right thing is to start with the right strategy. Here are six of our top tips to help you manage your email campaigns for the best results possible.
1. Maintain a Scrupulously Clean List
List maintenance starts with permission, so consider using a double-opt-in procedure. Equally important as you build your list is regular data hygiene. A recent Experian survey found that more than 90 percent of companies suspected a quarter of their data to be inaccurate. As we’ve said before, dirty data will get you into trouble.
Relying on outdated customer lists with invalid or even fraudulent email addresses will increase the chance your emails bounce, get caught in spam filters or cause your customers to complain. And none of this will be good for your email reputation.
2. Protect Your Reputation Religiously
As we reported in an earlier post, as much as 77 percent of email delivery problems are based on sender reputation. Sender reputation is a measurement of the extent to which you follow the standards established by Internet service providers (ISPs). A poor reputation will cause your emails to end up in spam folders or even get blocked entirely.
To protect your reputation, keep your list clean using email validation, a double opt-in process and an easy way to unsubscribe. Use dedicated IP addresses as well so you don’t have to worry about the poor reputation of other mailers.
3. Welcome New Customers
Are you utilizing a stream of welcome emails? You should be. “After the customer has registered for future emails, downloaded your whitepaper or entered your sweepstakes, there often is nothing to enhance that relationship,” says Jeanniey Mullen, partner and director of email marketing at OgilvyOne Worldwide, in CRM Magazine. “Companies need to think about what should happen next.”
Ogilvy’s research suggests the first three emails are the most critical. Start with an introductory message that sets expectations and lets subscribers tell you what they want. Follow that up with an email that points subscribers’ attention toward the unique benefits of subscribing, whether that be discounts, coupons or high-value information. And finally, begin to deliver on subscribers’ expectations by sending the outstanding content they’re looking for.
4. Engage in a Dialogue
“Too many people approach email marketing as yet another opportunity to make their sales pitch,” says AJ Kumar in Entrepreneur. “But that’s often a shortsighted view.” Instead, Kumar suggests marketers should “help now and sell later.”
Marketing guru Seth Godin adds, “Every step along the way has to be interesting, useful and relevant.” In other words, marketers must take a long-term view of the relationship. After all, it’s only over time that the marketer will turn the subscriber’s permission into profits. Still, it’s worth it to wait. “This personalized, anticipated, frequent and relevant communication has infinitely more impact than a random message displayed in a random place at a random moment,” Godin claims.
5. Follow Smart Design Strategies
Because ISP filters often block images, important visual elements of your emails might never be seen. Ogilvy, however, has found users are most likely to respond to visuals, particularly when copy is on the left of the image. Ogilvy has even seen increases up to 75 percent by simply moving the call-to-action button next to the image rather than below it.
So how do you ensure your subscribers actually see what you send? Many marketers offer both plain and rich text email versions [LINK to “Optimizing Emails for HTML and Plain Text”], or provide links that display the full HTML version on their websites. Additionally, experts recommend you don’t base your entire message around an image. Instead, use live text for your most important copy. And where you must include an image, be sure to also add an alt tag so that, in the event the image does not render upon opening the email, the viewer can understand what the image is supposed to be and can choose whether to open it himself.
6. Have an Exit Strategy
If subscribers stop opening your emails, it’s likely they are no longer interested or no longer receiving your emails. In either case, Mullen recommends you define a set number of non-response messages after which you reconsider your strategy. Start by taking steps to validate the email address. If the address is still valid, offer the subscriber an “opt-down” option as an alternative to completely unsubscribing. With opt-down, the subscriber can choose to remain on your list but receive fewer emails or receive emails on only a limited number of topics. In this way, you’re able to maintain your list but honor your subscriber’s wishes and ultimately improve engagement.
Creating and managing an effective email marketing campaign may seem like a complicated challenge but follow these tips and you’ll soon be sending smarter emails that actually make it into the inbox and get read.
How clean is your email list? Get a free trial of TowerData’s email validation service to find out!
Photo Credit: Victor1558