8 things I’ve learned about email marketing

Email marketing should not be about rolling the dice and seeing what happens.

“The perfect email is like the perfect meal. In order to send the perfect email, you must: Send timely, targeted, relevant emails to subscribers who have asked for them.” via Bronto Blog

When I started working with email marketing I thought I knew what I was doing. You input your emails, select who you want to send it to (opted in, of course), and hit ‘submit.’

It’s not that simple. Good email marketing is in the details. It’s in the care and precision to ensure clarity, and delivering the right message to the right people. You may gloss over the bulleted list below and think that I am pointing out the obvious, but it’s the obvious that counts.

Before approaching the list below, remember first and foremost: always respect your email recipients. Do not ignore complaints and feedback, as they may be pointing right at the things that make a difference to them.

1. Check every link, every file, and every video. You might think that everything’s working a-okay, but when you’re using a variety of web services it’s easy to get your wires crossed. Let me use an example: Viddler allows you to restrict the domain names allowed to embed your videos. You wouldn’t think that this would affect domain extensions (example.com/extention), but guess again. Thankfully, this was one potential disaster I was able to offset.

2. Always check your email templates in multiple formats. Email clients don’t use one uniformed standard, and what you create in one place may look completely different elsewhere. Aim to hit the big 3 at least: Outlook, Gmail and Hotmail.

3. People like it when your signature includes links – not just URL’s. Make it as easy as possible for others to navigate to wherever it is you might want them to go.

4. Despite what anyone tells you, never send one marketing message to an entire email list – particularly when there are significant differences between the statuses of those subscribers. Prospective customers should be treated differently from current customers.

5. Avoid putting timetables and schedules and booking links into emails unless you are 100% sure they are accurate, and that they’re not going to change. Why? Emails can hang around for a long time before they’re read or deleted – long after you’ve changed a date or cancelled an event, or after you’ve realised a minor time zone error. Placing timetables, schedules and booking links on separate pages ensures that you remain in complete control over any booking processes.

6. Say one thing well. People are often overwhelmed by their inboxes, so make it as easy as possible for them to understand your email. Specify a required action if you want them to do something. Don’t leave them wondering what the point of your email was.

7. There will always be someone who needs a follow up. Don’t let them reply to a black hole!

8. Consider what your respondents see when they first receive your message. There are 3 components, the sender name and email address, the subject line, and the snippet/preview text. Be sure to use a sender name and address that makes sense, and use it consistently. Build rapport, so that people can identify an email from you straight away. The subject line is the most important, you want to encourage people to open the email but also to be engaged with the email message. The snippet text is the first 40 – 75 characters of an email message that are displayed alongside the subject line. Crafted right, this can increase interest in the email message.

Are you putting these points into action? What are some success tricks you’ve learnt for email marketing?

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...

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