Email is one of the most effective and readily available marketing methods that a business can use to generate leads and appointments. When developing or optimising your email marketing strategy there are a lot of different aspects to consider; there’s the choice of software such as Campaign Monitor or MailChimp, there’s the design and structure of the email, what tone will be used throughout the email, if the email will have links and where the links will direct the recipient – just to name a few.
With so many different factors to take into consideration, it can be easy to overlook some aspects that have a significant impact on the success of your campaign – especially if you’re new to the world of marketing.
Below are seven tips, tricks and methods that can help to optimise your email marketing strategy, improve your results, and overcome some of the common hurdles that can weigh down your campaign’s chances of success.
#1 – Proofread Your Message
As mentioned in an article we posted back in January; spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes can make your content seem rushed and unprofessional.
The same goes for your email copy. You may think this is an obvious mistake that is easily avoidable, which it is, however, there are still many people both new and veteran marketers that are still sending out emails that contain blatant errors.
Take the image below for example.
Everyone is prone to making spelling and grammatical errors from time to time, however; errors in your marketing can have a big impact on how your message is perceived. Even just a simple re-read of the email above could prevent the very obvious mistakes from ever seeing the light of day outside of the sender’s drafts folder.
When you are sending out email marketing campaigns, or any email for that matter, remember that you are representing your business and that any mistakes can greatly affect your audience’s perception of you or your company.
Another point to note is that word processors like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and even the premium version of Grammarly will not always understand the context in which you are writing. This means that some change suggestions will not always be accurate, and it is up to you to judge whether or not the right suggestion has been made.
If you are not sure if something reads correctly, the best thing to do is ask a colleague. If they proofread your email campaign before it goes out to hundreds, possibly thousands, of people, they may find mistakes that you have missed and could prevent your campaign from crashing and burning.
#2 – Don’t Overuse Links
Hyperlinks are an essential part of any email campaign. Whether you are directing your subscribers to your latest blog post, informing your customers about the latest sales and deals that you are offering, or directing prospects to information about your products or services; links are used to connect your audience to a wealth of information and resources and guide them to where you want them to go.
Despite links being an important part of an email campaign, overusing links or ‘link spamming’ can impact your email deliverability, and diminish the value of your message.
One effect is that the user’s email server may pick up on the number of links contained within the email and either send it straight to the junk folder or prevent it from being delivered at all.
Another impact is on your professionalism. When you receive an email, you would typically expect to see a summary of information or a brief description of what it is you want to discuss, with a few links to a website or social media page that can provide more information. However, if an email contains too many links, it can make it seem cluttered, poorly formatted, and generally unprofessional.
In short, if your email looks like a Wikipedia page, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate your approach.
#3 – Personalise Your Message
Some marketing emails feel too impersonal and make it painfully clear that it’s part of a mass email marketing campaign. The most common sign that you have received a mass email, is the overall lack of personalisation. They will often start with ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ and sometimes they’re not even relevant to you or your business. No matter how many people your email is being sent out to, you can still personalise every single one, providing you have the data of course. Typically, an in-depth email database will include personal information such as the contact’s first or last name, their job role, name of their organisation, their email address, and potentially their phone number.
If you have this data in your hands, why use salutations like ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, or ‘To whom it may concern’?
Adding salutations that include your prospect’s name such as ‘Hi Steven’ or ‘Dear Steven’, in your email’s subject line can increase the likelihood of your emails being opened by 22.2%. and also increase the click-through rate by up to 14%.
It can also help to improve the flow of your emails and can be beneficial if you are trying to build a relationship or rapport with your audience.
#4 – Optimise Your Subject Lines
One of the most important aspects of an email marketing campaign is the subject line. Your subject line needs to be able to grab the attention of your recipients, and what some people tend to do is try to cram it with industry buzzwords and try to make it as eye-catching as possible. Although creating a compelling subject line is important, it needs to be written in a way that doesn’t affect deliverability or set off alarm bells in your prospect’s head.
There is a multitude of words, phrases and symbols that should be avoided at all costs to prevent your emails from being seen as spam and to help maximise your deliverability. Words or phrases like ‘FREE’, ‘LIMITED TIME OFFER’, and ‘CASH’ are just a few examples of typical spam-related terms.
It’s important to familiarise yourself with common spam-related terms, particularly those related to your business and industry so that you can avoid using them in your email subject lines.
In addition to ensuring that your subject lines are safe from spam filters, you also need to consider the human aspect – is your email subject line interesting enough? Will it encourage engagement?
If you have already created a few subject lines for your email campaigns and you want to see which is the most effective or which requires improvement – you will need to conduct some A/B testing.
A/B testing is a way of finding out which subject line is the most effective by conducting a very simple test. By separating your email database in half you can send one half of the list the email with subject line #1, and the other half the email with subject line #2.
You can then analyse the results of the campaign and see which of the two had the highest open rate and lowest bounce rate. This may take a few attempts to get a definitive answer, especially if the results are similar in each round of testing.
A/B testing can also be used to determine the best day of the week and the best time to send email campaigns. By testing and analysing different aspects of your email campaigns, you can gain a deeper understanding of your approach. This can help to optimise your strategy, maximise your email deliverability and increase your engagement rate.
#5 – Familiarise Yourself with the Legislation
Email marketing is a relatively low maintenance and simple method when it comes to the creation and distribution of campaigns, and there are many aspects of an email strategy that can be automated. Despite handy features such as email suppression lists, software packages such as Campaign Monitor do not fully automate legislation compliance. What this means is that you are responsible for ensuring that any campaigns that you run are compliant with the relevant data protection and privacy laws. Failure to comply with data protection and privacy legislation can lead to serious fines and penalties. In September 2018, a company was fined £60,000 for sending over 1.43 million emails without consent within one year. Not only can a fine on this scale be crippling to a small business, but it can also have lasting effects on the company’s professional reputation. By familiarising yourself with the PECR, GDPR, and other legislation, you can gain an understanding of your responsibilities under data protection and privacy law. This includes what the restrictions are, what you need to provide the recipients with, and your obligations when it comes to data and privacy protection principles.
Maintaining compliance with all relevant legislation doesn’t just help you to avoid fines and other enforcement actions, but it also helps to build and maintain a level of trust between you and your audience.
#6 – Keep the Design Simple
The design and colour scheme of your email campaign has a big impact on how your message and your business is perceived by your audience. Your design should be suitable for your audience and should also match the tone of your message.
Overcomplicating the design could make your emails seem cluttered and make it harder to read. However, not doing enough can make your emails seem bland and generally unprofessional.
Above is a prime example of an email that is both overkill, and lacking on the design front. The changes in the text’s colour, the highlighted date of the meeting, and the italic style of the text are all unnecessary and make the email seem messy and unprofessional.
In addition to this, there is no company branding, there is an absence of a well-structured signature, and the classic ‘Comic Sans’ font that has been used is basic and isn’t the most appropriate choice for this type of email.
In this case, a simple plain text email with a consistent font style throughout, and an appropriate signature with company branding is all that is needed.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create bold, eye-catching designs as this is still very much an important part of email marketing, but it all depends on your audience, your message, and your purpose for sending the email. A badly misjudged email design can damage a campaign’s chances at success and in some serious cases, your professional reputation.
Even if you think your design is appropriate for your audience, you should always get a second opinion. When sending a test email to a colleague for proofreading, it might also be a good idea to ask for feedback on the design and layout.
This can give you a better insight into whether there is anything that needs to be added, removed, or altered to ensure that your design is professional, fit for purpose, and is suitable for your audience.
#7 – Always Optimise for Mobile
Multiple studies over the past few years have consistently shown that mobile devices are now the preferred method for reading emails. Nowadays, reading emails on your phone is a lot easier, and faster than having to boot up a desktop computer or laptop. With such a large number of people reading their emails on the go, you need to ensure that your emails are compatible with mobile devices.
Most email software packages come with preset designs and settings that are called ‘responsive’ designs. The purpose of a responsive design is to adapt to whichever device they are displayed on, whether it be desktop, laptop, mobile, or tablet.
Just as with other aspects of your email, testing is vital. Once you have developed your email, send a test to either yourself or a colleague and test the email on different devices. Make a note of any anomalies and look into how you can resolve the issue.
Emails that aren’t displayed correctly often result in disengagement from your audience. In fact, these emails are likely to be deleted in under 3 seconds in over 70% of cases.
To Wrap Up…
Email marketing, when used correctly, can be one of the most effective tools that a business can use to engage with its prospects, build an audience, and generate new business opportunities. There is a range of variables that factor into the success, or failure of a campaign. Familiarising yourself with these variables and how they can positively and negatively impact your campaign, will help you to understand how to avoid mistakes and build an effective email marketing strategy.