email marketing - how to avoid the email rubbish bin
The benefits of email marketing are clear - greatly reduced costs, instant
response possibilities, unprecedented tracking and reporting
list goes on, and so it seems does the amount of emails that are appearing
in peoples' inboxes. The consumer is being bombarded with literally 100s
of emails that bear little relevance to the recipient. Even if they pass
the scrutiny of a 'From address and Subject line check' they generally
end up in the rubbish bin with a resounding thump.
To the legitimate email marketer, failing to follow some simple planning
guidelines can be both costly and unproductive, or worse yet, alienate
the very people you wanted to reach and retain.
So let's look at a few planning tips:
Know Your Audience
This may be a bit tricky if you're renting a list. Hopefully your list
provider has given you a match to your marketing prayers in terms of interests,
demographics and other types of *ographics that you may have specified.
If you have your own in-house list then you stand a far better chance
of creating an effective email campaign or delivering a regular newsletter
that bites. See 'In-house or the Outhouse?'
Decide on the Campain Objective
If you don't know it, neither will your audience. Be sure you identify
what it is you're attempting to achieve. Beyond having your email opened,
is it to retain existing customers, to gain action with click throughs,
introduce a product or sell something directly to the consumer?
Remember that the sales process should not be overlooked here. If you're
contacting a potential customer for the first time, you'll need to build
some sort of relationship before asking them to cough up for your once-in-a-lifetime
product special. Remember, you have time and you should use it wisely.
See 'How to write winning emails'
To Flash or not to Flash?
This could be a whole article in itself (and probably will be when I get
the chance). Although rich media emails have impressed, dazzled and can
look finer than the woman in red, sometimes the only action you will get
from a consumer is the dreaded 'block sender'.
Know your audience! Are they likely to have high speed connections? If
you're not sure, keep your emails to less than 100kb. Consumers don't
have the time to sit around and wait for your super-impressive flash presentation
to download. And at all costs, avoid attachments or executables that aren't
expected. With an annual increase of viruses from 1 in every 1000 emails
to 1 in every 200, your chance of being viewed has just been reduced by
a multiple of 5. Instead, use links to flash promotions and generate the
creative pizzazz with basic HTML.
Remember that email programs are temperamental beasts and with the added
minefield of firewalls, custom settings and security, all your recipient
may see is goobledegook. See 'Why use Email Software to Deliver Your Message?'
If you're using a rented list you may be restricted to the list providers
From address. Otherwise, be sure to use a trusted company spokesperson,
or failing that, ensure it is clear what company the email is from. Remember
to avoid obscure or unknown from addresses as they're usually the first
to find their way to the trash can.
The Subject Line
When starting a new business, one of the first things you decide on is
a name - and a good one at that. Treat your email with the same philosophy.
Don't wait until 5 minutes before sending to decide on a subject line.
The subject line is the dealmaker or deal breaker. If it's good, you'll
know from your open rates (See Glossary of Terms). An acceptable open
rate for pure marketing emails is >50%.
Once opened be sure to create interest, desire and a call for action
(See 'How to write winning Emails'). Send test emails with different subjects.
The one that gets the highest open rate is the one to use. Subject lines
that are personalised, curious and make it clear what to expect, generally
This is dependant on campaign objectives and target audience. For example,
if you're sending out a Christmas special targeting female executives,
you may consider sending this on Thursday or Friday afternoon - just before
the shopping rush. The general rule however is to send emails so they
are received Tuesday through Thursday. Monday and Friday seem to be days
where the executive is either too busy or has the weekend on their mind
and not much else.
Just prior to lunch is also popular as executives usually have some time
to filter through and read their emails. Note: not all recipients will
receive your email when you want them to - mail servers, connections and
the recipient not being there may affect your delivery time; and remember:
Objectives + Audience = when to send.
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