Are you breaking any email marketing rules? We delve into this very particular side of online etiquette to ensure you give the best impression.
It’s easy to think that the mere act of sending out a marketing email will attract a few takers. But in our increasingly commercial society, people are becoming skeptical of all things “marketing.”
Email marketing in particular comes with its own etiquette that many companies get wrong. However, if you follow these golden rules to creating the perfect mailout, you can’t go far wrong.
1. Basic Email Faux-Pas
First off, you must never send an email campaign without the option to unsubscribe, and never send email with all of the subscribers’ email addresses listed in plain sight in the “To:” or “CC:” fields. Any email marketing tool worth its salt will automatically comply with this rule.
Similarly you should avoid using a “noreply” address to send out marketing materials. Ideally, the reader should be able to get in touch with you by simply clicking “Reply.” The whole reason of any kind of marketing effort is so people will engage with you; so if you want a response, don’t make people jump through hoops to do so! Remember to include hyperlinks to your website and social media channels for much the same reason.
2. Work Hard on Your Subject Line
The subject line of your email is the first thing your subscribers are going to see in their inbox when they chance across your email, so it’s the main thing that’s going to tempt them to click. Be succinct and appropriately sum up the email’s topic or pitch – you may find that this is easier to do after you’ve composed the content. The most damaging thing you can do here is to promise more tempting content in the header than the email actually provides – never lie to get clicks!
3. Focus Your Intentions
Email marketing might seem like a new and exciting frontier. You may feel like you want to fill all of your subscribers in on every aspect of how your company can help them; but fight the temptation and take a step back. Don’t cram one email with loads of disparate topics and elements, you’ll confuse your reader. What is the single most important thing you want your readers to take away from your email? What is the simplest way of conveying that? Stick fast to one product range or service and sell that one thing well. You can send emails about the other subjects at a later date – email marketing is an ongoing process after all!
4. Words that Sell
It is important to produce some text for your email marketing campaigns. Don’t just send a promotional image or flyer with your contact details in text underneath. It’s important to remember that images are incompatible with some email services and devices, and only the text from your email will be displayed to them. So include some kind of textual content for each campaign which brings us nicely on to…
5. Benefits Over Features
This is an important rule to remember when you are writing any kind of persuasive marketing copy. Remember the ways in which the customer will benefit, and ensure that these take precedence over the product’s features. For example, a second-hand car may have a certain engine size, X-many miles on the clock, parking proximity warnings and automatic windscreen wipers; these “cold hard facts” are features. Though features are important, the buyer is chiefly looking for benefits such as reliability, safety, convenience, and a vehicle that is going to serve their needs for years to come. Copy needs to work with the features and translate them into benefits. Make the copy more about the customer’s needs rather than making it all about your company.
6. No Passive-Aggression!
One thing that gets a lot of people’s backs up is passive aggression in marketing; and when it’s delivered directly to someone’s inbox (seen to many as a very personal space) people tend to respond even less favourably. To coin an example taken – and liberally paraphrased – from the wild: “If you don’t want better X, Y and Z, why are you still reading this email?!” Statements like that one are very presumptuous, even accusatory, and are generally seen as an attempt at a low blow. Avoid it at all costs.
7. Work in Related Content
Many high-end marketing campaigns have bespoke landing pages for each of their mailing campaigns, but this isn’t always possible for smaller businesses and budgets. However, if your website has a blog functionality, there is a way around this. If you produce a blog post on a related topic to that of the campaign, you can link to that in the email, saying something like “if you’d like to read more, click here for our latest blog post.” This way, you are creating content that bolsters your email campaign that you can also share on your social media feeds for as long as the topic is relevant.
8. Telegraph the Next Step
“Calls to action” are an important element in marketing and copywriting. They basically tell the reader what you want them to do with a concise direction. Ask yourself – what do you want the reader to do after seeing your email? Include a button or link in a prominent place (usually near the end of your email) with a tempting, related next step such as “Get in touch for your free quote today!” which in that particular instance may link to your email address or the contact page on your website.
9. Appearance is Everything
After creating your perfect campaign it would be a shame if a major email provider didn’t display it properly. Most mailout campaign providers allow you to send test emails, so set up your own test email addresses with a number of the major free email providers (Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo are a great place to start) and send your campaign to these test addresses. Remember to also check how your email looks on mobiles and tablets if you can. Typos and misspellings can make your campaign seem unprofessional and rushed, so don’t forget to proofread thoroughly too.
10. Broadcasting at the Right Frequency
How frequently you send your email campaigns is a tough one to get right, especially as it can vary so wildly between different industries and types of business. The best option here would be to subscribe to your competitors using a personal or anonymous email address, and see how regularly they send mailouts. Use this information to get your creative juices flowing, but by all means avoid any copying of their content or ideas. Hopefully this will help you find an equilibrium that works within your industry, not to mention your team’s workload.
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