You should never underestimate the power of email. This method of communication with existing and new clients can be powerful. This is only possible if you have a clear and well thought out approach to your email marketing campaigns. We have compiled a 10 point list of some of the best techniques to help you and your email marketing campaigns. Please feel free to add any further comments to this list below.

1 – Don’t underestimate the importance of the subject line

The subject line is easily one of the most important aspects you should consider in order to get the best response from your email campaigns.  It needs to be eye catching, engaging and not look spammy. You only have a few seconds (if that) to engage a potential prospect before they click on delete, therefore having a good, nay excellent subject line is of great importance.

Testing different subject lines by splitting your data and running A/B tests of varying subject lines to see what achieves the highest open rate will help you to learn what your audience responds best to.  You can also run potential subject lines past your colleagues, but you can’t get a more accurate result than testing your actual audience.

Keep a record of what works and what doesn’t. What unique selling points or benefits do your audience respond to best?  Do they prefer long or short subject lines? This data can be a great reference point for future email campaigns, and makes sure they don’t become repetitive.

For a real life case study, take a read of Conversion Rate Expert’s Voice Case Study.

2 – Keep it accessible: use all formats and link to a webpage version

Consider the format you create your email in. Send both a text and HTML version to ensure all users can receive your message, and include a link to a webpage version to maximise the number of people who can read your message.

Keep the HTML version image light, and use text instead of images where you can.  All images must also have relevant alt text that accurately describes them.  This is of great importance due to the advancement of spam filters, and the fact that a large proportion of emails arrive in many recipients’ inbox without images enabled.

A good test is to sense-check that your key message is easily identifiable without the use of images.

3 – Make sure the message is relevant to the recipient

Firstly, a well maintained email database or a targeted email list that you’ve purchased from a third party is crucial to the success of your campaign.  If you own the email database, cleaning it regularly by removing unsubscribers and adding new contacts will keep the audience active and relevant and really help boost your open rates. It also means your emails will not go to unsolicited recipients who have unsubscribed in the past, therefore helping you in analysing the success of the campaign by eliminating erroneous email addresses.

Secondly, is the message compelling to prospective customers?  Is it driven by their needs, or just a re-working of ideas or information the internal team want to share?  How does it compare to messages they are receiving from competitors? Asking these questions will help you keep your message relevant to your audience and help you stand out from the competition.

4 – Understand the science of timing

This can be overlooked, but it’s another aspect that should be carefully considered. When you send your email can have a huge impact on whether it is opened, read, ignored or consigned to the trash.

The day you send, time of day and if you have a seasonal product, the time of year when you send specific messages can all have an effect. Do your research. When are your customers most likely to be receptive to emails from your company? If your emails are business related, are they likely to get the best response during working hours? If they are more consumer focused is a lunch time, early morning or evening email likely to get higher open rates?

Researching your market and testing different timings is really the only way to find this out for sure.

5 – Is your branding consistent?

Integrating your email marketing with your other marketing activities is important. Are you presenting a unified image?  Is your branding aligned at all times? Inconsistency can be costly, and therefore making all marketing streams aligned is a relatively simple yet highly important consideration.

Maintain colours, fonts, images, and the overall content and marketing message.  You want seamless integration when a user clicks through the email, arrives on a particular landing page and possibly requests a brochure or further contact. Maintaining this will add professionalism to your business, your product offering, and should lead to increased success.

6 – Keep the content organised and scannable

You’ve achieved your first goal of getting your email opened, so don’t let all that hard work be for nothing by offering light, spammy, ill-conceived content.

Make sure the content is organised properly. This can include the words you use, how the email is organised & even where the text is positioned. You want to grab the recipient’s attention with a useful and beneficial message as soon as they open the email; this then needs to be reaffirmed with the content that precedes that initial message.

Formatting of the content is important. Most users do not read emails, they scan.  Therefore make sure you break down your key marketing messages into scannable headings and  simple bullet points that inform customers about the key features and benefits you want to highlight.

Images can be a useful aid in quickly conveying your message, so a well chosen image can go a long way to increasing your response rates (or reducing them if it’s inappropriate or low quality). Do remember though that a high majority of email clients block images by default, so don’t rely on an image to do all the work for you.

7 – Make your brand recognisable and feedback easy

The From Address must work as hard as the subject line to get your emails opened, so use something relevant such as your brand name, product name or something that prospective customers will feel recognise. You don’t want your message to be immediately consigned to the junk folder because of an ambiguous From Address.

It’s also important to include a share option such as “send to a friend” so that people can quickly and easily forward it to friends or colleagues that would find it useful. This is an effective way to reach new customers, and also allows you an opportunity to garner new  email addresses if you link to a “sign-up” page within your email.

8 – Track & analyse your email campaigns

Don’t begin an email marketing campaign without having some way to monitor its impact. This is key to measuring the success or failure of your campaigns. Being able to track, monitor and analyse your campaigns will allow you to edit future campaigns so that they have a greater impact.

Most reputable email marketing service providers will provide some form of analytics package, such as open rates and clicks, but it’s good to check this first.  If you have your own analytics package you can add tracking code to the end of your URLs so that all you visits and conversions are tracked. 

Google Analytics offers this functionality and has an easy URL builder to help you set these up for any number of campaigns.

9 – Use a dedicated email provider

Spend some time and money to get a professional email marketing company to help you build, distribute and track your email marketing campaigns. You may be surprised at what good value they are, and your costs will quickly be covered once the orders come rolling in.

Check the Approved Index Email List Pricing Guide for a comprehensive overview of the prices involved, and armed with that extra knowledge you can then go out and begin getting quotes from email list providers, and email marketing companies.

10 – Test, test and test

Never underestimate this!!! I still get nervous before sending out large scale email marketing campaigns. You have one chance to impress so read over your content, check that all the links work, check images are sized properly and then check it again.  Send it to a gmail, yahoo, hotmail and Outlook email address and see how the email looks when accessed via different email clients.  Test that email until you are bored of seeing it, and the marketing message is imprinted onto your brain.