Friday, 19 April 2013

Easy guide to creating an effective email marketing strategy: Part 3

In the third and final part, we will learn the final essentials on how to create an effective email marketing campaign. This includes writing an effective call to action, combining social media and mobile devices and how to maximise your email campaign results. So let’s get started….

Writing an effective call to action 

The clue is in the subheading and that is to use words that describe the action. Examples can be:
·         Visit our website

·         Call to order

·         Read the review

·         Print this email

·         Download our menu

It’s good to provide incentives like scroll down for coupon and asking people to share your email via a Facebook ‘like’ button for example.

Creating effective “from addresses and subject lines”
Unfamiliar ‘from lines’ can result in spam complaints, even when people have signed up to your email list. The easiest way for someone to determine the legitimacy of an email is by using your company name. If you are part of a larger organisation, it would be good to include your business location to add clarity to your email.

If you have a personal relationship with the person that you are sending an email to, it could be a good idea to use your first and last name. The key is to stay consistent with your subject and address lines.
When writing subject lines you have to consider that your text will get cut off after 40/50 characters. Your subject line is your gem to lure in potential customers and can effectively be the make or break point as to whether you gain a customer or not. The best way to utilise this opportunity is by describing the immediate benefit with as few a words possible. Examples of using value words could be:

·         Compare our app to the competition.

·         25% discount on web development.

A useful way to see what subject lines work best for you is by testing new ideas by using a small sample of your email list.
It’s vital that you do not use words phrases such as:

·         SALE

·         Sale!!!

·         Hurry!

·         Deal Ending!
These can be off-putting for you audience and can result in spam complaints. If you’re still struggling to come to terms with what spam exactly is, try looking at your own email accounts to see what not to do.

Combining email with social media and mobile devices

Another great way to try and enhance your opportunities is by using social media. Emails can be:
·         Forwarded

·         Shared

·         Reviewed

·         Rated

·         Liked

·         Tweeted
The last two actions can potentially have a significant impact on spreading the word about your company. By simply including links to social media pages in the body of your email such as the ‘Like Us’ Facebook icon or ‘Tweet’ icon,  there is an opportunity for your company’s services to be spread to a mass market. Vice versa as mentioned in the previous blog, your company can also use signup forms on each of your social media platforms to try and increase the number of people joining your mailing list.

Email providers (EMP’s) can be used to distribute emails automatically to inboxes, Facebook walls, Twitter pages and so on for when your email scheduled to go out. This way, you can create email content once and publish it anywhere as one campaign.
Things to consider when creating a mobile friendly design

Nowadays, a lot of people access their email inbox with mobile phones and smartphones. When people use smartphones on their computer, they tend to sort through emails to:
·         Open emails now

·         Save emails for later

·         Delete emails immediately
Therefore, it’s imperative to consider your design for mobile and to make it as mobile friendly as possible.

For companies that have retail outlets, it’s worthwhile thinking about the use of email coupons on mobile devices that can be shown on purchase in store. This is a far better method than using a lengthy process that involves a lot of typing on a mobile device.

How will email look on a mobile device

When people view content on mobile devices, content for a lot of devices is displayed from the upper left hand side of the mail. To take advantage of the upper left hand side of the email, you could place:

·    Your logo

·    Main headline

·    Images: Make sure that text is small enough beside or below it, so that people can scroll within your email.

·    Navigation links: This is for when you have a lot of content in your email, allowing people to quickly scroll through it.
Mobile call to action

As mentioned in the previous blog, mobile devices can allow people to directly dial numbers and to search for an address with map directions when clicking on a link.

Other ways to optimise mobile pages is by:
  • Using simplified navigation.
  • Using content that is easy to read on screen.
  • Using site content that is friendly for each mobile device.
  • Posting videos to YouTube, so that they will play on all devices.
You can use email content to suggest mobile friendly actions like:
  • Attaching images.
  • Encouraging visits to social media sites
  • Checking in on location servers
  • Showing emails to someone else: This works great for coupons and other offers.
Maximising your email campaign results

Managing bounced and blocked emails
When emails are undelivered, it does not necessarily mean a void opportunity. Emails which are undelivered are returned to the email sender’s address with a code saying why it was blocked. EMP’s can provide bounce reports, which can help you to define why the email bounced and provide you with a chance to take appropriate action.
Emails that are permanently undeliverable are called a hard bounce. A hard bounce is when:

·         An email address doesn’t exist.

·         An address is misspelled.

·         An address has changed.

·         An address has been abandoned.

It may be worthwhile to contact subscribers to find out their new email address or if you decide not to, it’s best to permanently delete them from your database.
Your report may suggest that you have has a soft bounce, this is when

·         Your email box is full.

·         Your email is temporarily undeliverable.

·         Your emails have been blocked.

3 soft bounces equate to a hard bounce, so it’s best just to give it up if this is the case. If you are getting irregular soft bounces, it may be best for you to send your emails at a later date.
Avoiding getting caught up by filters
Not all folders are negative, as some people may organise their emails into folders. It goes without saying that you want to avoid junk/spam folders. Most email filters are set by email companies in order protects their customers. It’s best to avoid:

·         All capital letters

·         Attachments

·         Profanities

It’s good to establish a good sender reputation with the likes of hotmail, gmail and yahoo. This is usually calculated by:

·         Length of time, people spend browsing your email.

·         The number of emails sent.

·         The number of spam complaints that you receive,

It could be useful to use a well-established EMP on your behalf that has earned their reputation with email companies and have sent emails to permission based lists in the past. Make sure that your emails are complaint with email companies’ policies to avoid future complications.

Tracking non click responses
It’s not just about tracking click data; non-click data is just as important. There are simple ways to do this, for instance you can have a special promotion that is only available to customers who ring your company up. Alternatively, you could have a unique phone number for the offer. If you have a physical store, you could provide an email print out or use mobile email confirmation. Lastly if you are sending emails for a specific event, you could use an email print out as ticket confirmation.

Automating your email marketing

There are two ways in which to send out automated in response to a customer action.

1.       Auto responder, which is a response to a:

Ø  Specific action.

Ø  Specific date.

Ø  Specific time.

Ø  A customer filling out a form.

Ø  A click on a link, picture or video.

2.   A sequence: This is a number of emails sent in response to specific events/actions. An example sequence could be:

Ø  An immediate welcome email.

Ø  A follow up email: 3 days later

Ø  An email newsletter: 1 weeks later

Ø  A promotional email or thanks for joining email: 2 weeks later

A promotional email should be sent to correspond with clicks, dates and periods of time.

Evaluating click through data

Email tracking can be done via html coding if you have the IT expertise to do so or by using an EMP. The most essential data to measure is your open email rate. Your open email rate is when images are displayed or when a link is clicked on by the user.  However, it’s important to note that people may have noticed your email without enabling images or clicking on links.

A click report notes who and how many people have clicked on your emails. The report provides an indicator of interest so that you can narrow down your focus on each of your customers. For example if:

Ø  20 people clicked on an iPhone link…and…

Ø  20 people clicked on an Android link.

The next time you were to send out an email, there would be an opportunity to customize and send out more focused emails to those who clicked on your iPhone link and for those who clicked on your Android link. This is a good way to know whether your email content is valuable and interesting to readers.

When people click on features within your email, they are engaging with you and it helps them to remember your business and message for when they are ready to buy. It’s always a good idea to leave some content out of the link, so that you know who is interested in your business and who isn’t. 

It’s also worthwhile to compare data between your email and website. If you are getting a lot of email clicks but people are not buying, then there is something wrong with your site rather than with the emails that you are sending out.

That’s the end of my guide...hopefully it will be of help!!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Easy guide to creating an effective email marketing strategy: Part 2

In part 1, we learnt about the fundamentals of email marketing. In part 2, I'll show you how to design an effective marketing email to drive your strategy.

What formats to use
There are a number of different formats that you can use when sending an email.  The different email formats that your company can have are:

·         Newsletters

·         Promotions

·         Event invitations

·         Holiday greetings
People respond to different email formats in different ways. For example emails for immediate attention may be successful to begin with, however if you send too many emails in this format, the urgency factor can wear off overtime. To communicate effectively you need as many formats as reasons to communicate by placing your emails into logical groupings. So let’s take a closer look at the different email formats that you can use.

Email newsletters: Newsletters should contain information rather than promotions. There should be no more than 20% promotional content, otherwise this would defeat the purpose of it being a newsletter. They should be sent on a regular and consistent basis, once a month should be good enough for most companies.
Promotional emails: A promotional email can be used to promote a single product, multiple products or a sales theme, like Christmas for example. 

Promotional emails can also be triggered by a specific customer action. For instance, if a customer buys a basket of tulips from a flower company, the company can then send promotional emails about the daffodils they may have in stock, as well as a confirmation email.
It’s recommended that you hold some information back from your email to encourage clicks on your site.

Event Invitations: You can send emails for 1 event or a series of events which should be in similar formats. It’s useful to plan when you send your emails on a calendar to keep on top of things.
Email announcements: These can be used for relationship building, greetings, thank you messages, press releases and order confirmation.

Formats which are most consistent are those with a good layout.
Branding consistently

When sending emails, you should make sure that your brand is a good match with other marketing media. Your brand reflects your company personality and it should be something that all your clients/customers can relate to. Ways to do this could be by:
  1. Including your logo: Place your logo clearly in every email that you send.
  2. Using consistent colours: When sending emails, you should use consistent colours each and every time. When doing a specific promotion, like at Christmas for example, you should work promotional colours into your brand rather than replacing them.
  3. Use consistent image types: Input images types that fit your business personality.
When designing emails, make sure that they are based on similar email templates. Once again we’d like to remind you to keep your email content valuable and relevant to your audience.
Including Links
Effective emails should invite an action and push someone into making a decision. This can be done by including links within your email. There are a number of different links that you can include within your email. The following is a breakdown of link types that you can include within your email.

External links: An external link is when a person clicks on a link, opening up a browser window for a person to be directed to a web page. There is also an opportunity to create links for files to be shared on a server with email signups, e.g.
For mobile phones, you can include phone number links which will automatically dial when clicked on or if you include an address link you can be redirected to a map for the desired location.
Internal links: Internal links help to navigate people within your email if you have a lot of content. You can also place links to skip to content from the top to bottom of your email.

Text links: Avoid using the term ‘click here’ and instead use action words. The better the description, the better chance you will have of getting clicks.  Examples can be:
·         ‘Buy this item’

·         ‘Download our free catalogue’

·         ‘For more information’
Image links: It’s good to use text to help explain images, although some are intuitive like product pictures, company logos, audio icons and video icons.

Never attach files, as email blockers will filter these out. It’s always better to use links.
Creating a layout

Layouts can be created by building tables in HTML to implement cascading designs. Once again if you don’t have the IT skills to do this, you can use an email provider (EMP) to provide templates that can be customised. There are a number of sections to consider for your layout, including:

·         Visual anchors

·         Images

·         Headlines

·         Links

·         Icons

·         Divider lines

·         Background colours

·         Boarders
The most important content to consider is what is in the upper left hand side of the email. Most people start scanning this area first. It’s also the first viewed section on mobile devices if the whole email doesn’t fit the screen. 

You shouldn’t place too many visual anchors in all four corners of the email, as your audience will struggle to decide on what’s the most important content within your email. Columns can be an ideal way for customers to scan your content and organise groups of content. 

Equal columns



This places equal value to content which you have in both columns.
A larger column to the right hand side



This places emphasis on content to the right hand side of your email.

A larger column on the left hand side



This places emphasis on the content to the left hand side of your email.
When you have too much content in one email, it can overwhelm your customer. In these incidences it’s best to send multiple emails.
Sending valuable offers
It’s good to know your customers and what they want. For instance there are those who love discounts, but there may be those who think that they are cheap. So it’s more likely that people who enjoy discounts will respond to a sale and those who don’t like the idea of a discount will respond to a sneak peak of an expensive product line.

For the best results conduct a survey or watch your email tracking reports to see your customers’ value and then divide emails into different groups based on the different offer types that motivate each group.
To gain the best results possible, it’s important to match incentives to each buyer. Coupons in emails for emails can be printed out or shown on a mobile device to be redeemed in store or linked to an item in an online store. Use coupons to reward customers with offers that are not available to the general public.

Mail merge can be used to include subscribers or customers’ names with offers that aren’t available to the general public. This is a good way of personalising your emails and making your customers feel appreciated. Giveaways can also be used in exchange for personal information to offer value without discounting the value of a featured product.
Loss leaders could prove to be a beneficial way of attracting customers or clients to your business. A loss leader is a promotional price that results in a loss to the business when then product is purchased. Although you may make a loss initially, there is the potential for you to make up for this loss with repeat sales using future emails. This could prove to be an effective method in taking customers away from your competition.

Creating valuable information
It’s vital that you create valuable information on a consistent basis with genuine value to the customer each and every time because only a small proportion will be ready to buy your products/services when they receive your email. If you only limit yourselves to sending promotions and offers, your emails will be irrelevant the majority of the time.

It’s good to include information about the products and services that your company provides for new prospects. Offering tips and advice from yourself, fellow employees, satisfied customers or product suppliers can show that your company knows their stuff, which in return builds a sense of trust between yourself and your audience.

Instructions and directions for how you can get the most out of your products or services before or after a sale is a good way to make your customers feel smarter. Entertaining content involving humour and engaging stories are also a great way to attract customer attention. Finally, facts and research can give your customers more than just an opinion to purchase a product or service.
What have we learnt in Part 2

In part 2, we learnt:

·         What formats to use.

·         To brand your emails on a consistent basis.

·         To include a range of links.

·         How to create an effective layout.

·         To send valuable information.

·         To create valuable information.

In the third and final part, we will learn about writing an effective call to action, how to write an effective call to action, combining social media and mobile devices and how to maximise your email campaign results.