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An effective email marketing campaign is much more than just bombarding your customers and potential customers with endless amounts of information. They will soon get fed up of an approach such as this and either unsubscribe from your newsletter or simply ignore it. This is why an email marketing campaign needs to be carefully considered before you jump in and make mistakes that will cost you in the future.
This article is a comprehensive guide that I have compiled from my own research and findings. It features key areas of focus for a successful bulk (email) campaign, which every internet marketer should find useful; either as a refresher guide or to glean some new ideas. It concentrates on six important aspects that your email marketing campaign should adhere to and gives advice/tips in every section.
TABLE OF CONTENT
First however, I’ll start by outlining a few crucial rules that your email marketing campaign should abide by no matter what its purpose, content or audience. These four pieces of advice all loosely relate to the concept of spam. We all know what spam is by definition but how do you prevent your bulk (email) campaign from coming across as ‘spam-esque’. It’s actually a fine art achieving the right balance between an informational, well-constructed email marketing campaign and a mass-produced digital communication intended to get results.
A bulk (email) campaign is designed to inform your customers of useful information, new products, special offers and anything else of value. This is why you should only ever send your newsletter or email marketing campaign to people who have subscribed to it out of choice; to people who have signed up through your website or other medium and expressed an interest in your brand. If people receive your email marketing campaign and consider it spam, it could have a detrimental effect on your domain/brand’s reputation. Offering a simple opt-out or unsubscribe facility will make readers feel as though they are in control of the content they receive and is an easy way to appease customers who don’t want future newsletters.
One mistake that a lot of companies make is they buy lists of email addresses in an attempt to get quick results and exposure. This is a bad idea. There are a number of reasons why and I will summarise as follows:
- It’s unsolicited – high likelihood to get flagged as spam
- Only disreputable companies will allow bought lists – do you want that association?
- Low response rates – the recipients don’t know you!
- Even lower response rates – due to list fatigue and quality of data
- Poor ROI – damaged reputation, poor response rates - need I say more?
It’s also worth remembering that spam filters keep an eye out for certain phrases like “free!”, “free offer”, “cash” and other terms which may be associated with spam. Bear this in mind when you are choosing the content of your bulk (email) campaign.
The content of your email marketing campaign is probably the most important success factor, which is also why this is the longest section in this guide. Don’t undo all your hard work of building a decent-sized customer database and then see those numbers diminish because your email content is not up to scratch.
Content is king right? Absolutely! But without a strong, enticing title your readers won’t even click-through to your content. Brilliant content may not even get read if it isn’t done justice by an eye-catching title. This is why the subject of your email marketing campaign needs to be alluring. Give your reader a reason to keep reading and not a reason to file your email in the trash folder.
Create a sense of urgency with phrases like “Don’t miss out!” which will arouse your reader’s curiosity and inevitably make them read on. Ask a question like “What would you do…” as engaging your reader early on is a critical success factor. Engaged customers will keep reading because they feel part of the conversation. Bold/strong language is also attention grabbing and provokes intrigue, which leads to higher click-through rates; terms like “killer idea” will stand out to readers right off the bat.
Your next potential stumbling block is the opening sentence of your email. What a shame to lure your reader in with a killer title only for them to feel disappointed with your opening line. Start your communication with a staggering fact, mind-blowing piece of information or simply another question. Sparking intrigue in your reader is the key to seeing them read on and if they believe the information that follows will be of benefit to them, then you will achieve a much higher engagement level.
This idea of engaging your reader is a concept that you need to apply throughout your email and to the very end. Don’t just bombard your reader with sales pitches as they will soon get very bored. Instead, provide them with useful information and ideas relating to something that they are ultimately interested in. You can then look to work in a sales proposal subliminally, so that your reader doesn’t feel as though the entire email is one big sales display, even though it probably is.
It’s an old cliché but a picture really is worth a thousand words and so relevant images within your email marketing campaign are crucial. Long, verbose chunks of text can seem daunting to some readers, so breaking up the monotony with informative graphics will keep your reader’s attention. It is worth noting though that a lot of email providers and email clients do not display images automatically, especially if you are not on the recipient’s whitelist. Bear this in mind when sending out your first communication.
Your email marketing campaign’s ultimate goal is to get the reader to follow your “call to action”, whatever it may be. It’s pointless if your message simply gets read and then deleted. You need to give your reader a reason to visit your website, from which you can push your offers, products and services. One method is to have links in your content which offer further information and subsequently take your reader to location on your website. Offering free demonstrations and limited time offers can also be effective ways to navigate your readers elsewhere.
Okay, so now we’ve established what the content of our email marketing campaign is going to be, we need to decide upon the layout. Great content that is poorly laid out loses its impact very quickly and won’t lead to high conversion rates. This is why a well-structured template is a must for a professional bulk (email) campaign. Fortunately, there are numerous templates available online and a relevant Google search will bring up a significant amount of results. Pick and choose between template designs until you find something that works for you.
There are also online providers who offer newsletter management software and services. Companies like AWeber Communications and MailChimp are just two such examples who are used by millions of people across the globe for email marketing campaigns. If you don’t want to employ the services of a bespoke company, why not hire a designer to create something unique for your bulk (email) campaign? Sites like Freelancer.com and PeoplePerHour are full of talented individuals whose services can be hired at very reasonable rates.
Whatever template you decide upon and wherever it comes from is pretty much irrelevant however. The vital factor is how it displays on different devices and platforms. Testing multiple scenarios is crucial and will prevent any issues arising in the future. Send a dummy campaign to check compatibility for smartphones, tablets and also the variety of web browsers that exist today. Don’t ever send a mass email without thoroughly testing it first.
So you’ve now got a killer template and brilliant content, but the latter needs double-checking for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and other general issues. It is never a good idea to get the writer of the communication to check their own work. They are too emotionally attached and will miss any errors or talk themselves out of necessary changes. Have a few colleagues read it and give their constructive feedback. It will not only provide you with accurate amendments but may also give you some fresh ideas.
Alternatively or maybe even additionally, you could employ the services of a professional proofreader to check your text. There are many highly skilled individuals available for hire online, who will go over your entire email marketing campaign and make alterations where necessary. One such individual that I have personally used in the past is Daniel H. - an American writer who offers a number of services.
The frequency of your email marketing campaign depends on your business and also your customers. If your industry is rapidly changing every week then a weekly email may be appropriate. However, be sure not to bombard your readers with irrelevant information just to achieve a weekly correspondence.
It is sometimes a good idea to offer your customers a choice of different email marketing campaigns, so they can opt-in to a monthly, weekly or fortnightly communication where appropriate. It is worth noting also that many of your customers may be in different time zones, so think about the day/time when you send your campaign and don’t promote offers with very limited expiration times. Some general rules of thumb are to send on a Monday if you are in the news industry and on a Friday afternoon if your business focuses on leisure.
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of providers who offer solutions for sending your email marketing campaign. It is important however to choose a reputable firm who do not appear on any blacklists. These businesses act as mailing list managers and will do a lot more than just send your bulk (email) campaign.
Aweber Communications for example offer a comprehensive package for email newsletters. It includes over 600 templates of different colours, which are customisable and thoroughly tested. You can also email blog updates automatically, host your images on their site, integrate with social networks, publish your emails online and perhaps most importantly track effectiveness.
If your bulk (email) campaign only has a relatively small number of recipients, then you may choose to use a simpler, free solution like Gmail or Yahoo Mail. It will involve slightly more work as the process is manual but it gives you complete control over your email marketing campaign and is also more cost-effective. Other low-cost newsletter subscription alternatives can be found here, on PHPJabbers.com and even though it's affordable, it still provides a lot of functionality. The newsletter subscription allows you to host newsletter management software directly on your own site and involve no monthly fees.
This final section is by no means the least important. In fact, it’s one of the most important! It is also however one of the most simple. Analysing the effectiveness of your bulk (email) campaign can be the most rewarding part of your project or the most disheartening. Either way, it goes without saying that you need to understand whether your emails marketing campaign is serving its purpose.
Discovering the open rate for your campaigns is paramount and will give you an idea as to whether your titles are grabbing peoples’ attention. As I said earlier, the brilliant content in your email is irrelevant if none of your customers even open it. If your open rate is low then you need to figure out why. Maybe it’s because your titles aren’t captivating enough or simply that your demographics are indifferent to your campaign.
You also want to try and capture how many people unsubscribe from your email marketing campaign and after what period of time. It may be that you see long time subscribers suddenly opting-out and this could be an indication that the standard of your content has slipped. Don’t be discouraged by a high opt-out rate at the start though as this is relatively normal. You should be more concerned of increased opt-out rates for an established bulk (email) campaign.
The remaining statistic that you want to discover is the bounce rate of your email marketing campaign i.e. how many emails are not delivered for whatever reason. There’s not a lot you can do unfortunately about typos in collected email addresses but you obviously need to know if your messages are getting blocked due to their content. It could be that they are being classed as spam unfairly or flagged for profanities. Either way you need to find and rectify the issue as a matter of urgency.
Email marketing campaigns are powerful tools for conveying important messages and potential sales pitches but they have to be done right if you are going to experience success. Experiment and spend time planning before you hit the ‘send’ button. At the end of the day, your brand’s reputation depends on these communications, so you have to get them right or risk losing business to your competitors.