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One Evening with Email Marketing…

Email MarketingI was recently asked to participate in a panel discussion for email marketing. As I was preparing my remarks, I had a hard time deciding what I should review with the audience. Do I talk about strategy, design, purpose, misperceptions? I really wasn’t sure what the audience would be most interested in learning. So I prepared information on securing an IP address, the dos and don’ts of design, hard bounces and soft bounces, and the importance of reporting metrics. With all of my information in hand, I approached the podium, introduced myself, and then asked the audience why they were there. Do you want to learn about email for yourself? For a client? With about an equal split of hands, I still didn’t know what they wanted-and there’s nothing worse than giving an audience what they don’t want. Okay-more questions, “By a show of hands, how many of you know what A/B targeting is? Segmentation?” No hands. Now I was getting somewhere….and then it dawned on me….what may seem like the basics for marketers, is still great information for novices. Fast forward to this post. I thought with all of the detailed information out there, it would be great idea to bring it back to the basics. So here are some basic principles that everyone embarking on a marketing campaign should consider:
  • Start with your goals. Do you have them? If not-take the time to set some. Without clearly defined goals, it will be tough to assess your outcomes.
  • Remember-email is just one channel. Do not hinge an entire campaign on one channel-you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
  • When developing content for your email-don’t forget your subject. The success of your email depends largely on getting people to read it. If you don’t have an intriguing, alluring, or otherwise relevant subject, you are dead in the water.
  • Not sure about the brilliance of your subject? TEST. A/B testing is a feature that is built into many email systems, but if it’s not, you can create your own. To test which subjects will perform better, take two small samplings from your distribution list. Send the exact same email to both-but alter the subjects. Wait a short period of time (this could range from a few hours to a day or longer, depending on the urgency of your email), determine which subject triggered more opens-then send the email with that subject to the balance of your distribution list. This simple test can have a huge impact on your open rates.
  • While we are talking about subjects, keep the exclamation points, caps, and special characters to a minimum. They are likely to increase the chances of your email ending up in a junk folder.
  • Everyone is exactly alike, right? WRONG. Since we are all not the same and our interests vary, be sure to tailor your message to the intended audience. If you have a robust email list, try segmenting it. Segmenting a list basically allows you, as the sender, to provide relevant messaging to people who share a common attribute on your list. Respect the people on your list enough to NOT send them information you know they don’t want. That’s the quickest way to shorten your list.
So now that your email was opened, what’s next? During the aforementioned presentation, I had an interesting question from an audience member. How do I get more people to engage? This very enthusiastic business owner thought he was doing all the right things. He had a plan. He was executing. He was getting opens, but nothing else. So I asked…how did you ask your audience to engage…..what was your call to action? The business owner responded to my question with a blank stare. The stare was quickly followed by an almost magical moment. I saw the epiphany happen right before my eyes (insert light bulb above the head here). “I didn’t ask them to do anything. I didn’t have a call to action.” He got what he asked for . . . There’s a lot to know about email marketing, that’s why it’s always advisable to seek the help of professionals…eh-hum…queue commercial for wedu… Seriously, if you are venturing into the world of email marketing without the help of the pros, get the basics down first. Set your goals, create a plan for execution, draft relevant content, create and test subject lines, and for all that you hold dear, don’t forget a compelling call to action. And just when you think you can sit back….you’ll start checking your analytics. And that’s fodder for another post…   Image Credit: ideagirlmedia
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