My last column introduced my view that email marketing success hinges on the successful combination of four components, and trying to skirt the pitfalls of each. They are: database, content (the words), Technical set up / design and distribution.
Each have significant baring on how well received (including if received at all) your email will be; and if action is required, it's taken. The primary points covered for databases was one, you'll be more successful if you target.
Send fewer emails - to the correct demographic rather than sending it to everyone. Two - if you're selling something don't keep trying. Only do one or two mail outs. You'll catch the 'sales' and you won't you're your database with unsubscribes.
For content, a significantly important yet rarely discussed point covered was the necessity to write with spam filters in mind. You can read the article here.
Let's move on to the next component, design of the email, the technical set up.
Here are my three top pieces of advice.
1. Dump graphics. I know, you're thinking no, no no!!!! But let's be honest. Think back to your inbox when you go through it in the morning. If it's like mine, lots to go through (especially now with social media updates from Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook).
I can say with 100% certainty that every single formatted email I receive, from Life Pharmacy to Whitcoulls, to Jetstar all get sent straight (by Outlook) into the junk mail folder. And this is with Outlook's spam filter on a moderate setting. For those that do get allowed into the Inbox, 99 per cent show a big blank nothing or a lot of small square boxes pleading with me to right click to view the images. Ditto with Gmail.
As you know Outlook stopped showing images over 7 years ago. I haven't changed my internal setting to automatically allow images and I never will. I believe most people are the same -especially those working in offices. Both Outlook and Gmail have settings to enable the graphic content, but in this day and age of viruses, time constraints and boring emails - who's going to change the setting?
I still can't understand why agencies or their clients haven't taken notice or still lower their potential success with the 'they know us so they'll give us the click' mentality.
How many red x's do you click to see what that marketing email has to say? Case rested.
If you feel you need images, then please follow this advice. First a touch of background information. Most emails are based on a table format. Think Excel, rows and columns. The intersection is a 'cell' and in emails, it's used to keep an image in an exact location (locked within that cell). Each email normally has a whole row across the top of it - called the header. An image is normally placed here being the name of the newsletter, the name of the company. As mentioned above what happens for most is the image is barred from showing and all most recipients see is empty space or the 'click here to view images' in their preview pane.
My advice is to either completely remove the header or use text instead. Then for all other images in the email, put them on the right hand side of the email as most people use a preview pane which is the right third of their computer screen.
2. Often plain text is best. When I want to really ensure my newsletter or marketing email gets through to the most number of recipients I ditch the formatting the colours and send it out in plain text. Plain text means typewriter design. You'll find that people respond more to these as they'll think them more personal the removal of formatting helps reduce the spam filter chew. Spam filters take points away for formatting like non standard colour use, the size of fonts, the image to html code ratio. Have a look here.
Distribution - sending personalised emails.
You have three options:
1. Use MS Office Word to write the email and it will bind it to Outlook contacts or any Excel, Access or CSV file for a personalised merge which it sends through OutlookWith one click you can send as many emails as you like - each different. Be it ten, two hundred or more. Three main constraints. You cannot personalise the subject line, you can't add attachments and finally - sending too many emails through your server could alert your ISP or your internal firewall. That moves us to option two.
2. Purchase email merging software for your computer. For about $100 or so you'll be able to personalise the subject line, add attachments and send them straight out via your server skipping your ISP.
3. Finally to bypass your computer as the postman, track readers and their click-throughs and have subscriptions automatically managed (new on, removal requests auctioned) then use an online email distribution service. All the NZ ones are very affordable.