Amid the daily blizzard of unsolicited marketing emails and circulars, it’s easy to feel fatigued by the contents of our inboxes. Yet industry surveys repeatedly cite email marketing campaigns as the most effective way to acquire and retain customers. Average ROIs far exceed any other DM channel, while one famous report by McKinsey & Co suggested email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than the social media platforms we’re always being told to populate with content.
Clearly, email marketing campaigns can be valuable when handled correctly. But how can you ensure your next campaign doesn’t drown in an ocean of competing inbox content?
Here are our 12 top tips on how to create a great email marketing campaign:
- Build a subscriber base. No matter how tempting it may seem, never purchase third-party email marketing lists. These will have been overused already, and are probably full of defunct accounts. Instead, harvest opt-in contact details from interested parties, creating a duplicate-free database of active email accounts.
- Only target relevant sectors. This involves targeting your messages. A customer who’s just bought from you probably won’t be interested in the same product, but might want to know about aftersales or accessories. To avoid associations with spam, only contact specific audience groups if you have a justifiable reason.
- Send messages out of hours. The best time for capturing people’s attention is during those early-morning inbox clearouts. Messages sent in the evening or at weekends have better open rates and click-through rates – two of the benchmarks for measuring a campaign’s success. Never mark messages as important, or request read receipts.
- Design for mobile. A single-column email with compressed graphics and enlarged fonts offers good readability on a mobile device. Ensure hyperlinks are well-proportioned, and try to position clickable elements centrally on the screen for people using their thumbs. Readability isn’t just an issue for desktop audiences any more.
- Use an attention-grabbing headline. It’s been reported that over 200 billion emails are sent every day, making a dynamic headline crucial for capturing the attention of recipients. Options range from a brief, punchy command to a question that’ll pique interest. It’s also advisable to personalize messages with people’s names, if possible.
- Get to the point quickly. We’re all time poor nowadays – people often skim over an email’s message and body content, so a CTA or key point needs to be obvious at a glance. Show draft messages to colleagues and friends to see whether they instantly understand the message. If they don’t, reconsider the campaign.
- Start and finish with a call to action. Emails might link to a free ebook or corporate blog. They could also include a sales incentive or invite people to get in touch for more details. A call to action should drive audiences towards the email marketing campaign’s underlying objective, with click-throughs monitored by UTM tracking codes.
- Add an element of urgency. Time-limited offers and incentives provide a great reason for contacting people, as well as encouraging rapid action. If an email isn’t actioned quickly, it’ll get forgotten about within a day or so. Products described as ‘limited’ will encourage rapid action, as will a phrase like ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’.
- Use eye-catching visuals. A corporate logo and dynamic photos/background graphics are essential for breaking up text. White lettering on a darker background looks eye-catching, while headings should be concise yet bold. White space looks clean, particularly when paired with the same font throughout.
- Proofread carefully. Emails with the heading “Dear INSERT NAME” will usually be deleted, as will typo-filled messages. Proofread an email twice and spell check it once, before asking a colleague to read it with fresh eyes. Keep sentences and paragraphs short, break up blocks of text, and avoid technical jargon.
- Make it easy to unsubscribe. This might seem like an odd suggestion, but an unsubscribe option needs to be prominently displayed. People may otherwise resent the intrusion and develop negative associations with your brand. They might also flag the message as spam, which may cause problems with ISP whitelists in future that can keep your site from being seen at all.
- Deliver on any promises. Since email marketing campaigns are designed to achieve an objective, it’s vital to live up to any promises of product availability or service excellence. Even the most choreographed campaign will fail if customers can’t achieve the stated objective, so take great care never to over promise or under deliver.