10 Steps to Effective E-mail Campaigns (940)
10 Steps to Effective E-mail Campaigns
By Michael Pridemore
More marketers are embracing permission e-mail marketing as an effective and affordable way to improve customer relationships.
However, marketers face a significant challenge when developing such campaigns. Research shows consumers read only about one-third of all e-mail messages received. The remainder get deleted without ever being opened.
To keep your carefully crafted campaigns from going straight to the delete folder, follow these steps:
1. Get permission. Do it every chance you get. Your Web site is not the only place consumers should be able to opt-in to your e-mail marketing programs. Trade shows, reader reply cards, traditional direct mail and print ads can extend the reach of your e-mail program. Direct prospects to your Web site to opt-in.
2. Carefully craft the "from" line. More than 30 percent of e-mails are deleted because the reader doesn't know the sender. In the "from" line, put your company name or brand name, whichever is more recognizable.
3. Keep the subject line short and direct—35 characters or less. Subject-line copy that's guaranteed to be turn-offs include the words: "Important Message," "Hi," "Unlimited Access" and "Guaranteed." Also don't use: ALL CAPS, "$$$" or "!!!." Above all, don't bait and switch.
4. Personalize it. When addressing a message, always use the recipient's name. This is one of the hallmarks of good e-mail marketing.
5. Write tight. The copy editor's age-old mantra applies here, too. Body copy should be brief, compelling and immediately engaging. Here are a few more guidelines to follow when creating the content of your e-mail:
• Benefits should be stated early in the text. Be sure your message is relevant to subscribers' needs. Sending useless, non-relevant copy in a campaign is one of the best ways to watch your unsubscribe rate rise.
• Interesting and relevant copy can make your database grow. Use your e-mail marketing tool's conditional content feature, which lets you embed a specific message or offer related to that person.
• Think of how many times you passed along an interesting e-mail to a friend or colleague. Why did you do it? Undoubtedly it was because of well-written copy, the heart of viral e-mail marketing. The tone of your message should be conversational, not hard sell. Remember, you're trying to build relationships, not end them.
• Keep it short. Don't overwhelm recipients with long e-mails, especially if you frequently send messages. If written concisely, you should be able to convey your message in two or three paragraphs. You can always include click-through URLs to redirect customers back to your Web site for more information.
• E-mail can allow you to maximize the power of the Internet as a direct-response tool. By inserting Web site content, such as surveys and feedback forms, into the body of your e-mail campaigns, you open opportunities to learn more about your customers and continue a dialogue with them.
• Banner ads also are a great way to market seamlessly with e-mail and your Web site.
6. Remarket to your subscribers. Surveys can provide the necessary information to remarket to your subscribers. Suppose you're sending e-mail campaigns for a travel agency. Consider campaign No. 1 (see graphic on page 46), which asks the survey question: "What transportation method do you prefer for leisure travel?" Two answer choices are given as links: airline or cruise ship.
Depending on the answers supplied by your subscribers in campaign No. 1, you can remarket to them with relevant information on the topics of their choice. That way, if subscriber A chooses cruise ship, and subscriber B selects airline, you can use your e-mail marketing tool to send them unique messages based on their preferences.
Campaign No. 2 asks different questions with links.
By continuing this process during multiple campaigns, you can pinpoint subscribers' needs and come closer to making a sale.
7. Include a call-to-action by, for example, sending readers to a specific page on your Web site created for the campaign. Keep Web forms simple.
Note: If conducting a survey, post a privacy notice on that page. Explain that you're asking these questions to be a better business partner by tailoring future e-mails to customers' specific needs.
8. Concentrate on format.
• Keep your message simple and, if possible, on one screen.
• Make it graphically attractive.
• Remember, your e-mail is a reflection of your company and should be similar in tone to your other marketing messages.
•To ensure that everyone can read your e-mails, create messages in HTML, text and AOL formats.
9. Include change-of-address/unsubscribe options in every message you send. And be sure there's a way—whether by return e-mail or a link to an opt-out option on your Web site—for readers to be taken off your list.
10. Control the timing and number of e-mail messages you send. Remember that quality, not quantity, keeps your messages welcome. Be sure you have something valuable to say every time you distribute.
One way to calculate the best frequency rate for sending your e-mails is to check your unsubscribe rate after each mailing. If it seems high, pull back frequency, or survey your customers to find the right balance. A good rule of thumb: If you don't have something important to say, don't send an e-mail!
These guidelines are meant to give every e-mail marketer the necessary ingredients for long-term success. And success starts with getting your message read before it goes in the delete folder.
Michael Pridemore is CEO of Atlanta-based Socketware, makers of Accucast (www.accucast.com) e-mail marketing software and hosted services. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (404) 815-1998.