Short title, right? You may well be reading this item along with the circa-35% of recipients who open e-mail based on the subject line. Also, there’s roughly a 54% chance you’re reading this on a mobile device too. If that’s the case, then bear in mind that an ideal subject line should be around just three words, based on the fact that an average mobile device can fit just 4 to 7 words across the screen. Phew!
So, email marketing: It’s effective and it’s affordable when compared to other forms of marketing. However, there are a number of important considerations to bear in mind if you want to succeed. In fact, you may well be asking yourself “How do I get e-mail marketing right?”
In our short guide to direct e-mail, we clarify the ambiguous and we present e-mail marketing as easy as 1, 2, 3 – 1: Design; 2: Copy; and 3: The Law.
Your e-shot needs to be visually appealing, but it also needs to actually work i.e. display consistently across all web-based email platforms, from Outlook to Gmail. It needs to be as striking on a Mac as it is on a PC and just as effective on an Android smartphone as it is on an iPhone or iPad.
Bearing the above in mind and that mobile e-mail is increasingly important, images and design need to be responsive (i.e. resize and reformat accordingly). Outlook and Mac Mail programs feature preview windows, smartphones are small, and Outlook and Gmail have narrow display panels. Therefore, a starting point for e-mail design should be within a 600 pixel-wide space.
A lot of experienced e-marketers use something known as the “pyramid” when designing their emails. In essence, this is a framework for structuring overall design, starting with the header, imagery, buttons and so forth. Following this hierarchy of messaging ensures that the key elements of the e-mail attract and draw-in the reader, ultimately instilling a desire to click-through to the website.
With the various platforms and recipient device-types, the most important stage of your design is the testing stage! Test your e-mails thoroughly. Do this by sending test e-mails to all platforms and to all devices. You’d be surprised how differently the various platforms all read style information, or as mentioned, simply strip it out and ignore it. Make the necessary changes and then, test again!
We’ve touched on the subject line, so if you will, consider the sheer volume of non-relevant e-mails that we all receive on a day-to-day basis. Bearing in mind the character and space limitations, our titles need to be succinct and they need to connect effectively with target groups in order to leverage opens. In other words, they need to stand-out from the crowd! So that said, consider that, before we buy anything, many marketers believe that the buyer has recognised a ‘problem’ and that they are searching for products and services as a solution to that problem. If we can communicate an understanding of these problems and suggest that we can provide the key to the solution within these short e-mail titles, then we’re half-way there. However, a word of caution: You must avoid what are referred to as ‘spammy’ words in your title and indeed, in your body text to a (slightly) lesser extent.
Something worth exploring is using symbols in your titles. A recent Experian report showed an increase in open rates compared to plain text titles. But please, send those test emails prior to broadcast to ensure consistent reproduction across all platforms.
If your titles, headings and copy contain ‘spammy’ words, especially ‘monetary’, ‘sales’ and ‘offers’ related terms, the chances are that e-mail servers and platforms that subscribe to blacklists will identify your message as spam and block you at best. At worst, they’ll blacklist you. If you end up on a blacklist, something easily achieved, it’s time-consuming and often a confusing process to delist, and until you have done so successfully, your day-to-day business e-mails may well be blocked, thus compromising your business operations.
Of course, like all marketing communications, your e-mail copy needs to be in the register, tone and language of your target group. Keep email copy minimal and to the point, and ask yourself “Is my copy relevant and is it useful?”. If you can answer this with an honest ‘Yes, of course it is”, then try and write your e-mail in excerpts rather than full posts. After all, the primary objective of your e-mail is surely to push people towards your website to find more information, to hopefully buy something, or to click the ‘contact us’ button.
If your messaging is less formal, how about utilising emojis? A picture speaks a thousand words, they say. However, consider that Google’s emojis are slightly different from say Android’s emojis and may well look a little different when they arrive in the inbox. But then, you’ll be testing your e-mails of course.
A hugely attractive feature of e-mail marketing is how we can personalise our messages. We can include the recipient’s name in the salutation, the body text and even the title by using simple short-codes that link to your data (pulling in first and surnames when required). With personalised emails being 26% more likely to be opened, this is undoubtedly a technique not be be ignored. But, overuse personalisation and it might well work against you and repel readers. Once they’ve opted-out of your emails, you can’t legally e-mail them again!
We all know that e-mails are rather ‘viral’ by nature, meaning that recipients can easily share the content by forwarding them to friends and colleagues who they feel might also find the content of use and interest. We can easily add social media ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons to our messages, forward-to-a-friend hyperlinks, as well as subscribe buttons for those who may have come across the message indirectly, or were forwarded the e-mail.
3. The Law
Sounds like the stuffy part, right? Wrong! Well, right, but ‘Ahhh GDPR is here!’ – E-mail marketing works very well as a ‘relationship marketing’ tool; It’s ideal for keeping in touch with existing clients and contacts. It’s cheap to produce with no postage costs and advert placement costs. Conversely though, it’s not ideal as a first-point-of-contact medium and unless you bear in mind a few established guidelines and legalities, you may well land yourself in hot water at worst and with annoyed customers at best.
Firstly, your e-mail must state your company name, its legal status and registered address, usually in the footer. It must feature an opt-out feature and you cannot by law send e-mails to contacts again unless they specifically double opt-(back)in to your list. Double opt-in means that targets click to join your list, are sent a confirmation e-mail and are required to respond to this to confirm legitimacy.
With the European-wide GDPR data protection laws coming into force this May, organisations face fines for sending to lists and individuals who have not expressly given their permission to be sent information. This has been consumer law for some time now, but GDPR is going to make it very enforceable and very real!
… and finally
With 92% of online adults utilising e-mail and 61% of these using it on an average day, we hope you don’t need any more convincing that, when executed correctly, e-mail marketing is highly advantageous.
E-mail is a superb way of communicating regularly with your customers and target groups and unlike other forms of marketing, you can track e-mail marketing through the broadcast software, as well as through your own website analytics. Stay on the right side of data protection law, e-mail servers and e-mail blacklists and you could well see a significant return on a comparatively minimal investment in no time.
So, follow our ‘easy as 1, 2, 3’ steps and as we’ve mentioned, TEST your email! Once you’ve sent it, you’ve sent it. Test it on all e-mail platforms, on all desktop and mobile devices. Ask your colleagues and favourite clients to read it. Test it on your grandma. Test it on your pets. Just…
OK, to learn more about sending effective e-mails for business, get in touch.