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How to Prevent an Email Campaign Epic Fail

September 14, 2011 By Jonathan Chicquette
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If you want to meet people at a fancy cocktail party, you don't come wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops. People will either ignore you or have you physically removed. Email marketing campaigns without best practices risk the same sorry result, and become a marketing disaster. You dress your email up in a Panama hat, send it to the crowd you thought might work, and realize too late that it crashed the wrong party. Now that's embarrassing.

Here are the five best practices you should employ to make your email campaign turn heads—in a good way.
 
1. Planning
Plan your campaign first. That way, you figure out how to provide real value to your customers (vs. that Panama hat disaster). What's its budget and scope? How many people are you sending it to?

Define your audience. Decide on which demographic and psychographic you want, as well as geographic location(s). Think about the intended outcome of your campaign. Are you trying to sell a product? Are you trying to brand something new, or just get your name out there? Your answers will affect the content and design of your creative. Finally, decide how often you want to communicate and what kinds of content—press releases, product announcements, newsletters, etc.—you want to send.
 
2. Content
Once you've planned your campaign, you need to create content that addresses the classic question of "What's in it for me?" The "me," of course, is your target audience. Once you've decided that, make it the foundation of your written content, from subject line to the call to action. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
  • Write a subject line that describes what's inside your message. Avoid spammy-sounding subject lines.
  • Make your hook—your first sentence—compelling.
  • Keep your message to the point.
  • Use an active voice to keep readers' attention.
  • Create a simple, clear call to action.
  • Avoid spammy content (like an excessive use of exclamation points, all caps or bright red font).
  • Check your grammar and spelling.
3. Design
Once you have your message, make it shine with good design. Take what you know about your audience and create a branded theme around that. If you have a cocktail party audience … do we really need to make this point again? Put another way, if your branding is all about blues and greens and yellows, work around that color scheme. Then nuance your theme by what you know about the audience. For a female audience, for example, you might use softer edges.
 
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