Email marketing is a great way to reach your customers, so it’s important to get it right. Here are some tips to consider before rolling out that company newsletter.
1. Make it easy to subscribe
Opt-in subscriber lists are the best lists for email marketing. Businesses should always try and focus on the organic growth of their lists, and avoid paid for lists and non-consensual sign ups (refer to point 11 for more details). So make it easy for your customer to subscribe! Include a stand out sign up form on your website, mention your newsletter on your blog, across social media and anywhere else your audience is already active. Also, make sure the sign up form is simple and quick, first name, last name and email is all you should really require.
2. Let readers know what to expect
Whether you’re sending company updates, newsletters, deals, sales or tips, your content needs to be relevant to your subscribers. Make sure your email sign up form clearly details what your subscribers should expect in their inboxes. If your content is not what your readers signed up for, they’ll drag down your engagement stats, unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam.
3. Automated introductory email
It’s always smart to remind people why they’ve subscribed to your email, and to ensure them there are valuable things in store. It’s highly likely that people will subscribe with high expectations for what’s to come, and a welcome email is the perfect way to set the tone and show your readers the communication and information they can expect to receive. Set up an automated email which is sent to people as they subscribe, keep it sleek but well thought out. Your introductory piece is your time to shine, so let it reflect your business and the value and quality of content you will be distributing.
4. 90% educational, 10% promotional
When writing your email newsletters, avoid bombarding your readers with promotional content. While some is definitely okay, too much selling, too often, is a guaranteed way to lose your readers’ interest. Ideally, you should follow the 90/10 rule, that is 90% of your content is educational and 10% is promotional.
5. Compelling subject lines
Email subject lines are the first thing your subscribers will see in their inbox, and are evidently important. A compelling subject line can be the difference between an inactive subscriber and a regular reader. Your subject lines should be short and sharp, ideally under 50 characters or 6 to 10 words. Aim to invoke a sense of urgency, curiosity or excitement.
Here are some effective features to include in subject lines, which can be used alone or combined:
- Personalise with the readers first name
- Include numbers (50% off, Top 10, 7 Essentials)
- Ask a question (Does your cat jump on the counters?)
- Punchy phrases (cutting edge, top tips)
- Time factor (Today only, 4 hours left)
- Tim, does your cat jump on the counters?
- 8 Top Tips to an Organised Home
- Get 25% Evening Dresses Today Only!
- Ten Top Tips for Learning French
6. Streamline your design
A nicely formatted and eye-catching email is crucial to the success of your email campaigns. Getting your subscribers to open an email is one thing, but getting them to actually read and engage is another. Focus on the quality of your content rather than quantity.
Here are some tips to a simple, streamlined email design:
Although it’s important to provide lots of exciting and relevant content, it’s equally as important not to cram. Cramming dilutes the importance of each topic and creates an aesthetically unpleasing email. So break up your content and create some white space.
Use compelling images:
People don’t spend a lot of time on an email. So including high quality, compelling images (which are clickable) is a great way to grab attention fast. Though make sure you have written text in there too, as not all readers can view images.
Design with hierarchy in mind:
Your email sections should be arranged to pull the readers focus to the most important things first. So order your content with the most important things at the top of the page, ideally before they have to scroll.
7. Make it scannable
Following on from the design of your emails, it’s important to make them scannable. People typically don’t read an email subscription like a book, they rather skim and look for things of interest. So breaking your email down into easily consumable sections will help draw them in. It’s safe to assume that your subscribers are receiving a lot of email, and probably don’t have your undivided attention.
Avoid presenting your readers with a long block of text. Break things up into topic based sections which stand out individually, use images and subtitles that guide them through your email.
8. Call to action
To maximise click through rates, it’s important to include a stand out Call To Action (CTA) for each section of your email. These can be presented as a visible link, a contextual link or a clickable button. Just ensure that your CTAs are persuasive and very clear, making it easier for readers to take the action you’re asking them to take. For example, book now, learn more, RSVP, download the template or view menu.
9. Don’t forget the alt text
Images are an important and effective component to include in your emails, but if not entered correctly, they can work to your disadvantage. But if your email can’t load or your reader has images turned off in their settings, only the image ALT (alternative) text will display. This is the images cryptic fine name or image title (e.g. image1.jpg). It’s important to edit this text so that it will still make sense to the reader if they cannon see the images. Most email programs will have an alt editing functionality, or you can rename your image files before you upload them. That way unloaded images will display descriptive text that your readers will understand.
10. Know the spam rules
There are rules and regulations in place in Australia which effect the distribution of email content which offers, advertises or promotes the supply/supplier of “goods, services, land or business or investment opportunities”. To summarise the act, recipients must have consented to receiving your email, the sender must clearly and accurately identify themselves and all emails must contain an option to unsubscribe. Read and understand the SPAM ACT 2003 before you start your email campaign, in order to avoid possible penalties.
As well as complying to the spam act, there are other factors which may trigger your email as spam. Some of these factors include the use of ‘spam-trigger words’ in subject lines, using paid for email lists over opt-in lists, including large attachments and sending from a blacklisted server. Mequoda has written an extensive list of subject line spam trigger words to keep your emails out of the spam folder: Subject Line Spam Trigger Words.
11. Make it easy to unsubscribe
As outlined in the spam regulations, it is necessary for all email subscriptions to have a clear unsubscribe functionality available to readers. The best practice for this is a one-click un-subscription. Include a link in the footer of your email, simply titled ‘unsubscribe’ which takes the reader to a landing page to confirm their decision. Avoid making users login or enter their emails to confirm. You may want to ask readers why they unsubscribed, which is fine, but make it an option rather than a must.
Be sure to always test your emails before your send them to your entire subscription list. Create a test list which includes colleagues, or simply send one to yourself. Make sure the email is displaying correctly across a number of devices, including mobile phones, tablets and computers of varying sizes. Also check that your links work and get another person to proof read the copy for grammar and spelling you may have missed. Sending out a simple test can help avoid big mistakes.
13. Keep your list clean
Take out the time and effort to make sure that your email subscriptions list is clean. This means removing email addresses which are undeliverable, blacklisted, non-existent, or cause your emails to bounce. Double check to see if these bad emails are correctly formatted, and if they are, remove them all together to avoid dragging down your metrics or even potentially bringing down the trust of your server. If your list starts to show a high percentage of dud email addresses, email providers will flag you as spam.
14. Analyse & alter
After you’ve sent out your email, you want to keep track of how it is performing. Be sure to give your readers a couple of days to open and read your emails before you make any permanent changes or decisions. Review your email reports, which are available in any good email marketing program, and pay attention to metrics such as open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribes. There are a number of conclusions you can make from these metrics, just make sure they are all statistically significant. For example, if your open rate is low, it may not be a result of a bad subject line, perhaps some of your emails have bounced. Analyse all factors which are relevant to the initial objective of your email, and make adjustments to improve it for future sends.
15. Keep a publishing calendar
People subscribe to your emailing lists because they want to access your content. Going several weeks or months without sending an email may cause your subscribers to forget about you, unsubscribe, ignore and delete your emails or mark them as spam. A regular email newsletter is a commitment, so take the time to plan, write, design, schedule and send your emails regularly and on time.
If you need help developing and managing your email marketing strategy, contact us today.
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