While summer may be in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, back-to-school and the back-half of the year will be here before you know it. Before you ramp up your emails, there are some key email marketing fundamentals you should revisit:
1. Always keep a goal in mind
There are several reasons to send email: To share news, build loyalty, educate, invite people to events, drive traffic to your site, sell your product or service, etc. But what is your specific purpose? Before you create an email, think about the outcome you want. Are you trying to grow your business or email list? Sell a product or get more donations?
Have a goal in mind and tailor your email’s information and call-to-action to that idea or plan. Are you trying to establish yourself or brand as an industry expert? Send a frequent email newsletter with educational information, tips, how-tos, and industry news. There are many types of emails you can send; keep them all on track to your specific goal.
2. Follow these basic email tips
- Mail regularly – You want your email subscribers to think of your business when they need the product or service you offer, so remind them of your presence with email. Mail at the least, once per month.
- Send what you promised at sign-up. If subscribers signed up for tips and tactics delivered twice a week, that’s what you should deliver. Part of keeping your email readers engaged is sending the information they actually wanted.
- Use images and links – Always include a mix of images and text, and include links back to your website, products or services.
- Make it readable – At every step of the email creation process, think of your readers. Use a sans serif (no curlicues or swishes on the letters) font such as Verdana, Arial or Times New Roman in black or dark grey for easy reading.
- Include a postal address and unsubscribe link – A postal address and unsubscribe link is required by CAN-SPAM.
3. Understand delivery
Getting your email to your subscriber’s inbox is important – if it ends up in a SPAM folder, all that hard work you put into it won’t be seen by anyone. Do you understand the basics of email delivery, and more importantly, how you can affect it?
Most business emails are made up of HTML; there’s usually a template involved, which includes images and links. HTML emails are multi-part MIME, which means there’s the nice HTML version, and a just-in-case backup that’s only text. If you’re using an email service provider, like VerticalResponse, you don’t need to think about this, we take care of it for you. Once you’ve created your email and hit send, the email moves through the Internet ether and through a number of authentication gates until it gets to your reader’s ISP (internet service provider). This is where your email gets a thumbs up (or down) and then moves on to your reader’s inbox, hopefully. The ISP gate is where the content of your email in part determines where your email will end up. Working with an ESP like VerticalResponse helps your email get to this gate; we make sure all the tech stuff you need is there, but you need to make sure the content is relevant and valuable. A few things to keep in mind when creating your email to ensure top-notch delivery:
- Have a good balance of text and images, and make sure your important information is listed in the text just in case images are blocked.
- Use links in your emails, but make sure you only link to trusted sites. Bad links can cause delivery issues.
- Keep your HTML code clean, or use a pre-designed template from your ESP.
- Send what you promised at sign up to keep your readers engaged. ISPs look at many things, and engagement is part of that.
- Mail only to people who have requested your emails.
For more help and information on email delivery, here’s our free guide To the Inbox and Beyond – The Ultimate Guide to Email Delivery.
4. Build quality lists
The better quality your email lists are, the more likely your email will get delivered. Only use “opted in” email addresses for your marketing – Those who have agreed to receive emails from you. You’ll see higher engagement, better inbox placement and fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints. Once you’ve been mailing for a while, segment your lists. Never consider buying a list – It goes against the rules for most ESPs and spam laws, plus it’s not the best way to start a relationship with your potential customers. Slow and steady list growth wins the race every time.
5. Use an ESP
An email service provider (ESP) can help your small business generate and send emails that are targeted to your customer niche, and provide results. We’re here to make it easy. We’ve put together a list of criteria you’ll want to look for in your search for the right ESP.
Have any email fundamentals you think are important to add to the list? Let us know below.
Want more marketing tips and advice? Get the VR Buzz delivered daily.
© 2014 – 2015, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.